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The barrier evaporated

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The barrier evaporated. Calponia slumped to the ground, steam curling off her skin. Jacob frowned. Not what he expected, but the Heart was within his reach. He stepped forward and placed a hand against the hard surface. It was warm to the touch. A beat pulsed against his palm.

"He should have chosen me," says Jacob

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"He should have chosen me," says Jacob. The knife slides up under Melvin's ribs. Warm blood slicks the blade, coats his hand. He sobs. How could he do this to the boy? I never meant to take it this far. He hears Melvin's gasp. Hands close on his wrists. Jacob looks up at Melvin's wide grey green eyes.

"Oh sweet Jacob, did you do all this to catch my attention?"

What?

"It's his best chance," says Mack

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"It's his best chance," says Mack. His fingers drum the bar. Each beat is a stab in Jacob's chest.

"I thought I was your apprentice."

Mack stands. This is not what happened. Jacob backs up a step but Mack places a hand on his shoulder and another against the center of his chest.

"Your heart is not strong enough, Jacob. Even in his weakest moments of doubt, Mack always reached for me. Always came back to me, steadfast and true."

Jacob shoves him. Anger gives clarity. "Stop messing with my mind!" The Edgewise stares at him, wearing Mack's face. The tavern master's expression is somber. Jacob shoves him again, anger hot and bitter in his gut. Memories flood back with such force it sends him reeling.

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