Chapter Twenty-Six

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There was a tingling sensation in May's limbs, like she was in a freefall.

"Are you sure?" she breathed, almost afraid to acknowledge what Necar had said. As if speaking in hushed tones would make it any less true.

"Absolutely," Necar confirmed with a stern nod. "No one was willing to move that thing. Or buy it, for that matter. It was more trouble than it was worth. And if you knew half the goods I've moved you'd understand that I don't say that lightly."

May had known there was a chance this would happen – a good one, in fact. She already knew  her birth parents had struggled to offload the wishing star once they realized they were being pursued. But she had held out hope nonetheless. Now her mind spun, trying to decide what to do next.

She must have looked as stunned as she felt, because Necar gave her a sympathetic smile. "Sorry to disappoint you, kiddo."

Running a hand over the shaved side of her head, May sighed and considered her options. Fargus leaned in, craning his head up at her with another gentle rattle. Cautiously, she raised a finger at him – he had never let her touch him before. Apparently something had changed though; he dipped his head and gave her finger a nudge until she was stroking his soft feathery forehead.

From her seat, the Art Collector waited, glancing between May and Necar. When it became clear that neither was going to say any more, she sat up and frowned.

"Well? Is no one going to tell me what this wishing star business is all about?" Her voice was deep and tinted with an accent May didn't recognize.

Necar motioned to May, who shrugged.

"It's exactly what it sounds like," she answered dispassionately.

"A fallen star?" the Art Collector said.

"That's right."

"And it grants wishes?"

"Exactly."

The Art Collector turned her wide eyes to Necar. "Clearly I'm missing something. That sounds exactly like something you'd want to move."

"It was hot," Necar said with a shrug.

"So?" The Art Collector replied with a laugh. "You're the best at moving hot merchandise."
"Have you heard of the Loyals?" May offered, filling in where Necar didn't seem willing.

"Vaguely."

"They're dangerous zealots, and they've been after that star ever since my birth parents stole it."

The Art Collector seemed nonplussed. "Sounds like the sort of people who would have paid good money for it then."

Necar shook her head. "Those lunatics weren't interested in doing business with anyone. From what I heard, they thought the star was their rightful property, and they were willing to kill to get it back."

"A star that grants wishes still sounds worth the risk to me," the Art Collector confessed, inspecting her manicure. "I would have bid on it."

"It only granted one wish per person," Necar replied. "Does it still sound worth it?"

The Art Collector scowled. "Ugh, no."

May gaped. "I didn't know that."

"You know what they say: if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is." Necar beckoned to Blake. "I feel like a drink. What would you like?"

"Nothing, thank you," May answered. Her mind was still on the star. "Can you tell me anything else about the wishing star? Do you know what it looks like?"

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