39 ※ His Rooms

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Chapter 39 ※ His Rooms

Gulping a deep breath, Elle tapped Cerid on his navy painted shoulder, smiling sheepishly. 'I'm sorry, I visited the restroom. Did I leave you waiting long?'

'Not long, don't worry yourself.' He amended, handing her a fancy flute of clear liquid. 'Is this—'

'—water.' He interrupted, clinking their glasses. 'I guessed you wouldn't want any more of the wine.'

She smiled, 'you would be correct in assuming that.' Rearranging and running her hand over the skirts, she traced the crystal patterns as the band struck up another beat. Cerid turned to her and brushed a shorter lock of hair that had fallen in front of her eyes.

'Shall we dance?' His smile was hopeful. Elle bit her lip, her hand curling into a fist where her nails dug into her palm, hard.

'I need some air—well, as much air as we can find down here.' She laughed at herself, although her insides churned uncomfortably.

'Are you proposing we sneak away?' His eyebrow quirked. Elle tugged on his jacket, lowering her voice. 'That's exactly what I'm proposing. Let's have an adventure.'

In a flash of silver and blue, the girl was already darting through people, at a brisk pace to limit the questions asked but not a full out sprint since attracting attention as the Imperial Heir exited before his duties were complete.

As they left, Elle caught eyes with the copper haired agent watching them passively. He made the smallest movement, bringing his hand up and slowly tapping his wrist.

Time was running out.

She knew that DETRA would soon go on a lockdown, their security increased: doubled, tripled in the past few days. Tonight, it was lax, however, due to the customary ball. Tristan had been correct when he said this would be their best chance.

If only they could have all escaped.

Jax's death hounded her the way a feral wolf would, waiting to pounce. It was her fault, again. This was why working in teams, trusting other people, never worked out well.

Just as they rounded the corner, Elle threw a glance back at the grand wooden doors and found the grey-suited agent casually sauntering out, nodding to the guards manning the entrance, eyes flicking to the pair as they walked a little way in front of him. Calculating eyes snapped to hers. Resting there for a second, then moving on.

'So, you don't stay in the barracks, I'm guessing?' Elle looked at the man striding beside her.

'No, I have my own private chambers,' he supplied. 'I have my prized books there as well.'

'I should like to see your collection someday—I'm sure it's much bigger than my own.' She suggested, demurely lowering her head and watching him through dark lashes.

Cerid cleared his throat, 'I don't see why you couldn't see them tonight. In fact, it's almost perfect!' His face snapped back into cunning assassin. 'Both my parents will be at the party a few hours more, so there's no chance they'll visit my chambers and find you.'

'Is it that scandalous?' She teased, nudging him. Tristan's presence a few feet behind them was still there as he skulked in the shadows.

He laughed, 'no. Just for the purpose of privacy.'

They arrived at the box, finding Boyo sleeping against one of the pulleys. Although his hair was greying, his smile kept that childlike joy captive. Gently, she woke him.

'Hello, there. Don't you look absolutely stunning. Give us a twirl!' Wide and beaming with excitement, he clapped when Elle stiffly did what he asked. 'Wonderful!'

'To my chambers, please.'

His eyebrows raised but Boyo needed no further instruction before he leapt all over the place, pulling and pushing various things. When he stepped back, pronouncing the contraption's journey as "set and ready" Elle couldn't help but feel a little ache in her chest. The chances of survival were dwindling for the man.

While Cerid was busying himself unlatching the stiff door, she clasped his hands in hers. 'Good-bye, Boyo.' 

He bowed his head. 'Is anything the matter, lady?'

Snowy locks flickered through her mind again like a whisper of a ghost. She squeezed his hands once more, then let them fall and followed Cerid into the lift.

There was no answer she could have given him. That was the reality of the treacherous life within agencies.

Her heart pounded as they ascended one of the Vault's walls, but this time it was a different fear of falling.

The box took them higher than she had ever been before. Up to a jagged cliff edge, with nothing stopping someone from plummeting down into the abyss below. Down until their body cracked and broke on the hard stone. Where Jax's body had swung.

Gulping, she turned away from the view, squeezing her eyes shut.

Beyond the edge was an iron plated door, fit with a lock. Elle traced the intricate design of flowers, then, from out of his breast pocket Cerid produced the onyx key. Sliding it into the hold and wiggling it around, mentioning how it had become rather stiff in the last year or so.

Clanking open, the room beyond sucked all the breath out of her. Speechless, all she could do was wander around the space. Impeccably clean, courtesy of the staff that slaved away all hours to keep it so.

Blue lace and silver adorned almost every item. The plump loungers had various throw blankets over them, untouched trays of food lying on his side tables waiting to be disposed of. Cerid seemed oblivious to the waste.

Archways led to different rooms, and the tallest main one she could see inside to his grand bedroom already. She had hardly seen a room matching the style and size of this.

The old clock face watched with a crude smirk and quickening hands. Eyes followed Elle as she stepped into the room, but when she turned, the painting's expressions hadn't changed.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Agonizing seconds passed. Where was the vault? Walking around the room, she picked up the ornaments on display—vases and statues, examining framed pictures with feigned interest. Her eyes darting, scouring, every inch of the room for its secrets.

Still in her chiffon garment the assassin was thankful that the flowy item didn't restrict all movement. Not long now for the last member of Team 33 to slip away from the vibrant dance. An assassin couldn't feel guilty about every person getting in her way.

Boyo would likely be dead by the time the other agents climb the Vault's walls in the lift. The course would be the same since the contraption would have just made its way down. Simple.

All she had to do was find the bloody tomb with Mikel's precious item inside. But even that was proving to be so much harder than she had anticipated. Elle could only pray that the others were alright and that they were coming, fast.

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