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

Ava stared out the window into the snow that fell over Bergen. She tried to ignore the tension in the small flat, tried to focus on the book of the Old Language that Orsala had given her before she went to the market, but she couldn’t.

Damien and Sari were fighting again.

“It’s not a good plan. We would be too exposed in Oslo, and Vienna is out of the question.”

“I’m not going to hide like a little girl, Damien. You’re the one who said change had to come. I’m only agreeing with you!”

Damien clenched his teeth. “Yes, change needs to come, but right now—”

“I don’t need to be protected.”

“Whoa!” Ava held up her hands and spoke up. “Do not pull me into this argument. This is between you two.”

“Exactly,” Sari agreed. “And I think we head to Oslo first, before we make our way to Vienna.”

“What exactly do you think you’re accomplishing, exposing yourself this way?” Damien shouted.

“Who is debating now?” Sari said. “Old men? Those who know nothing of the reality around us? I have been hiding for two hundred years and I know more about what’s going on in the world than some of them do.”

“The council will not understand. They’ll try to take you away from me. Try to punish me for abandoning my house. If we’re exposed now, milá—” His voice broke. “I could not bear it, Sari. Not now. Not when we’ve finally…”

Sari went into his arms, and Ava turned her head away. She could still hear them.

“They have nothing to condemn you. Your house burned. You reported it. You took shelter at a scribe house. You went to your mate, but you did not abandon your duties. Evren will confirm this, and you know how he is respected.”

“He’s a scholar, not a politician.”

“Gabriel will vouch for you, as well.”

“He hates me, Sari.” Guilt layered his voice. “As he should.”

Sari’s voice was muffled, as if she was speaking against Damien’s skin. Ava glanced over her shoulder. They were embracing, despite their angry words.

“You told me yourself, Tala insisted on going into that fight. I know my sister. Gabriel knew her, too. He knows this. He may be angry with you, as I was, but he knows his mate would not be held back from battle, whether she was carrying a child or not.”

“He lost so much more than we did, Sari. I have never blamed him for his hatred.”

“Even if he does hate you, he is pragmatic. My presence in Vienna will only bolster the voices on the council who call for the Irina to return.”

They drifted into a quieter argument, and Ava turned back to the book, still trying to concentrate. It was only three in the afternoon, but the sun was already fading. Soon it would be dark. She longed for sleep. Her dreams had been even more vivid in the last nights. Her memories of Malachi gave him life, even if it was only in her own mind. She knew it wasn’t healthy. Knew she was only holding on to an illusion. But for those few precious hours, she wasn’t alone. She’d take them. She’d take anything that let her feel his presence.

She hadn’t seen Jaron again, but the dream of him was far more vivid than any other she’d had. She’d awoken from it feeling perfectly alert. She remembered every word.

“He finds you because he can. Just as I can.”

Who was Jaron talking about? Volund? There was no way of knowing who the Grigori who had found Sarih?fn belonged to because they’d been killed immediately. But Volund was the most powerful Fallen angel in the region, so it seemed logical. But why could Jaron and Volund both find her so easily? According to Orsala, the Fallen had never seen past the spells Sari had worked on the land to shield Sarih?fn. What had caused them to fail?

“I do not know his purpose. Only that he would thwart mine.”

“And what is your purpose?”

“That is not for you to know yet. I gave you my vision once. I will give you others when you need them.”

Why would Jaron give her visions? Despite who he was and how he had lied to her, Ava couldn’t help but sense the Fallen angel did not mean her harm. If he had, he’d had too many opportunities to hurt her and nothing had happened. What did his visions mean? And why could she show them to the other Irina through her song?

She heard Sari’s voice but didn’t turn from staring out the window. “What’s up?”

“We’ve decided to stay here for a few more nights. I know it’s crowded in Renata’s flat, but—”

“It’s fine.” She closed the book and turned. “I’m fine. Have we decided what to do after that?”

Damien had disappeared to who-knows-where, but Sari sat next to her.

“He’s still voting for the scribe house in Cappadocia.”