Mala signed and Renata said, “Do you hear any others?”
She tried to focus again, narrowing her mind to the area around the small hotel. “I think… there are some in the hotel, too. Two more voices. It’s hard to say for sure.”
“That would make the three Sari heard about. Hunting on the ski slopes, it looks like. Tourist areas are always popular. Makes women disappearing much harder to find if they’re not in their regular routine. This is good, actually. It means they’re not here because of anything but the tourists. It’s no wonder with this mild weather we’re having.”
Ava said, “This is mild?”
Mala just grinned and shook her head. Renata said, “Only in Norway.”
Ava murmured the shielding spell and happily slammed the door shut. She took a deep breath and felt immediate relief. The world around her muffled and her vision cleared. Her eyes returned to the Grigori, who was helping the woman load two sets of skis onto the top of her car.
“So, what are we doing with Prince Charming there?”
Renata and Mala exchanged a flurry of signs before Mala nodded and Renata said, “I have all my gear at my place. I’ll follow them up the mountain. Skiing is the perfect cover.” She smiled. “Snow. Dust. It’s easy to lose yourself on the trails.”
“You’re going after all three by yourself?”
“I’ll be fine. You and Mala hang out here until I get back. Then we’ll return to Sarih?fn in the morning.”
“You have my number if you need help?”
Renata gave her an indulgent smile. “Trust me, I’m looking forward to this. Humans have their fun…” She waved at a car full of skiers as they walked back to Renata’s flat. “…and we have ours. Mala’s just jealous right now because she doesn’t ski.”
Mala gave Renata a sign that needed no interpretation.
“What doyou do when you’re not here?” he asked.
She stared into the dark branches overhead. Her head still ached, but she couldn’t remember why.
He took his arms from around her waist and put both palms at her temples. She closed her eyes and felt the soft whisper of his power as he traced spells on her skin. Slowly, the pain began to recede.
“Whatever you are doing, it hurts you.” There was disapproval in his tone.
“But then I come here, and you make me feel better. I’m fine now.”
She was. The pain was gone, and in its place was a reassuring warmth. The sounds of the forest began to creep in. Low rustles and bird calls. Wind in the trees. They were lying on a bed again, but this time it wasn’t in the meadow. It had been drawn farther into the forest. She could hear water flowing in the distance.
He tucked her head on his shoulder and lay back, looking up into the trees as they rested. He lifted one arm, and she could see the marks there, silver and gleaming in the moonlight.
“When you sang to me. They grew. I noticed it later.”
She lifted her head and frowned. “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
“Oh.” She lay back down again. If it was good, then she’d sing some more. “What do you want me to sing for you?”
“What do you remember?”
She closed her eyes and let her mind loose. The pictures fell into her memory, like photographs scattered across a table. She focused on one and smiled.
“We were near the ocean once. There were lanterns, and they floated into the sky.”
She sang softly, and as the old words left her mouth, she could see them take flight, winging their way to his mind. She reached down and felt for his hand. She knit their fingers together, and she could feel the warmth and magic flow between them.
Her eyes opened and she looked down to where their hands joined. She saw it. The spells on his arm creeped up and over, curling into themselves as if drawn by an invisible hand. She watched them, still singing, and when she finally fell silent, the marks remained.
“I remember when you sing to me,” he said. “My mind. My heart.” He smiled before he kissed her. “You’re bringing me back to life.”
She smiled and leaned forward, craving another kiss.
There was a rustle in the forest and a blast of cold air.
His eyes narrowed and swung toward the disturbance.