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The Singer Elizabeth Hunter 2022/7/22 11:38:22

“The way you’re sitting. You always sit like that. And your expressions. They are exactly the same. Sorry. Not important.”

Max frowned at his cousin, then turned back to Malachi. “Please. Continue.”

“Now I remember them in detail,” Malachi said. “I remember how they felt. I remember… scribing them. Is there any way of knowing whether or not they’ll return?” Hundreds of hours of careful work had vanished from his skin, and he felt the loss of power keenly.

“None,” Rhys said. “Not unless Evren’s scribes find something in the archives that mentions Irin returning from the dead.”

Max was looking at Malachi with narrowed eyes. “The more important question is are they still working? If they’re not, you’re aging right now. Your magic is channeled by your talesm. If they’re gone—”

“You’ll be weak,” Leo’s face was pale. “Unprotected. Like… a human.”

Max said, “Not to mention, you look a bit naked. It’s unnerving.”

Rhys patted Malachi’s shoulder. “At least we know his natural powers are still intact. Language seems to come normally, otherwise he’d not be able to speak Turkish like he did at the gate.”

“I thought I was born here,” Malachi said.

Rhys shrugged. “You’re Irin. The Old Language is our first tongue, the only one we’re born knowing. The humans who found you, did you understand them at first?”

“No. I had to find a newspaper. I could read it. After that… the pieces of the language just seemed to fall into place, and I could understand them.”

“See?” Rhys said to Max. “His natural magic still works, which means he can build his other magic from there. He’ll have to relearn his spells and rescribe his talesm, but he should be able to recover.”

“And who knows?” Leo said. “Maybe when you find Ava, she can help.”

Rhys nodded. “Agreed. The first step is to find Ava and Damien. One, she shouldn’t grieve any longer than necessary. Two, she’s his marked mate. She may be able to heal him.”

“Do you think she could give me back my memories?”

The hollow corners of his mind mocked him. Malachi knew he had lost his past, but he didn’t know where to find it. Or even where to look. Isolated knowledge and bits of the past kept popping up unexpectedly, tucking themselves into pockets in his mind. But with each new revelation, the depth of his loss only became more disturbing.

“She might be able to help,” Max said. “You remembered her? Immediately?”

“No—yes. I remember her voice. Her face.” He grasped at the fragments, as if his very existence depended on holding them. “Hers was the first face I saw in my mind. I saw us here. Together. We were…” He looked around at the curious faces of the men. “None of your business.”

Leo grinned and Max shook his head.

“Still a lucky bastard,” Rhys said. “Even half-alive and naked.”

Rhys ledhim out of the sitting room where they’d been enjoying the fire, up to a terrace that led to a series of stairs, which twisted and crawled up the hill. The sky was deep blue and the first stars were beginning to shine. Lamplight flickered along the face of the cliffs, and Malachi stopped. Looking up, his eyes hung on the majesty of stars that littered the sky. Pure white against the deep blue and purple night, he blinked and caught a glimpse of a dark sun rising in his mind.

He shook off the vision and continued to follow Rhys down a narrow corridor carved into the rocks.

“My rooms are all the way back here?”

“You like your privacy. You always pick rooms that are isolated if you can.”

The green door flashed in Malachi’s mind a second before they turned the corner and saw it.

“This was my room. Was Ava here, too?”

Rhys’s voice was thick. “Yes. She stayed here after you died. Her things are still there. She wanted… Well, she wanted to sleep where you had been.”

His heart tripped as he put a hand on the door and pushed it open. Her scent hit him immediately, and traces of her were scattered around the room. The shoes tucked under the bed. The large suitcase in front of the wardrobe. This was the room he’d seen in his mind. There was the spot on the wall where she’d braced her hand as they made love. He walked around the room, willing more memories to come, but his mind was stubbornly silent.

“These are her things?”

“She needed warm clothes wherever Damien was taking her, so she left her other things here. Said she’d just come back for them. She even left her computer.”

Malachi frowned, picking up a sweater that lay draped across the chair by the door. He held it up to his face and inhaled.

“Did she take her camera?” he asked, his face still buried in her scent.

Rhys was wearing a huge smile when he looked up.

“Her camera. She’s a photographer. Did you remember?”

He walked over to the bed and touched the edge of a pillow. “I don’t know. The question just popped into my head.”

“Hmm.” Rhys watched him taking in the room. “To answer your question, yes, she took her camera. I don’t know why she left her laptop. Maybe where they’re going there’s no Wi-Fi.”

Malachi looked for the small silver laptop and found it on the desk. He walked over and opened it.

“I’m fairly sure it’s password protected,” Rhys said. “So I doubt…”

Malachi let his fingers type without thinking.

“I hate that password,” he muttered, staring at the picture of him and Ava that popped up as the background.

“How did you know her password?”