Page 91

The Singer Elizabeth Hunter 2022/7/22 11:38:40

As much as Ava enjoyed seeing Brooke at the scribe house in Oslo, she was anxious to get away. It only made her decision to go back to the human world that much harder. She didn’t want to witness the easy camaraderie of the Oslo scribes, which reminded her so much of Istanbul. She didn’t want to recognize the open adoration the men showered on Brooke and her mother—whom Ava had finally discovered was named Candace. They delighted in every childish story the girl told and answered any question Candace put to them. The older scribes were obviously more accustomed to Irina—one of the men was mated to Chelsea, who had been at Sarih?fn—but they doted on the women no less because of it.

They were exhausted from patrolling but still had time to cook breakfast for all of them and make them welcome in the large old house in the middle of Oslo. They welcomed Orsala with wonder, clearly honored to have the elder Irina in their home. They greeted Damien and Sari with respect. One young-looking scribe clearly had to hold himself back from openly embracing Ava when she walked through the door.

“They’ve come back,” she heard him whisper to his brother. He didn’t even try to hide the tears in his eyes. “Do you think… they’ve really come back?”

Ava tried to ignore it all. She hid in the small room they’d given her, ignoring their kind eyes and welcoming voices. She tried to sleep but couldn’t, even though she was exhausted. When she finally dozed off midmorning, she woke to see a familiar figure sitting near the foot of the bed.

“Rhys? What are you doing here?”

“No one had seen you for hours,” Rhys said quietly. A bashful smile was on his lips. “I’m sorry to intrude. It’s just… very good to see you, Ava.”

“What are you doing in Oslo?” Her voice was hoarse, and she reached for the bottle of water near the bed.

“Max called us. He’s in the city.”

He nodded. “Things happened. We needed to go to Vienna. I went to the archives there. Tried to find out more about your family. I… uh, I did find out a bit more, but where you come from is still a mystery.”

“It’s not important.” Not anymore.

He just nodded. “I met Orsala. She says you’re doing very well with your lessons. Says you’re going to be very powerful. A daughter of Leoc? That’s wonderful, Ava. Such a gift.”

“She’s a good teacher.” What would she do about living in the human world again? Would she continue to have visions? Would the spells Orsala had taught her continue to shield her? If so, she could live a far more normal life than she had before. Sure, she wouldn’t be in physical contact with the Irin again, and her anxiety would probably skyrocket, but she could deal. She’d dealt before. The drugs were improving all the time.

Awkward silence descended. Part of her was ecstatic to see Rhys again. Even with the friends she’d made at Sarih?fn, she’d still felt different. Set apart. She wondered if part of her would always think of Istanbul as home, simply because he’d been there.

But the other part of her—the pragmatic one—didn’t want to see any of Malachi’s brothers. Especially Rhys. She didn’t want to remember his grief or hers. Didn’t want to remember his friendship. After she left for London tomorrow morning, she wouldn’t see him again.

A clean break from everyone was better. She just hoped she could get to the airport without Damien finding out.

Rhys was still staring at her. “How have you been?”

She nodded. “Fine. Good.”

“What?” She rubbed her eyes.

“I don’t know.” He smiled. “Sorry. It’s been so long since I’ve seen you.”

“Only a few weeks, really.”

Was it only a few weeks? Her days and nights had run together in one long ribbon of confusion, revelation, and grief.

“I suppose it only seems longer. We missed you very much.”

“Max and Leo are here, too?”

He nodded. “Max keeps a flat here in the city. Which no one knew about. Get him out of Istanbul and he’s quite the man of mystery. I suppose we know part of where he goes when he leaves town. We just assumed it was Monte Carlo or Las Vegas.”

She smiled. Somehow, it wasn’t all that surprising. “And Leo?”

He hesitated. “Out patrolling right now. Helping the scribes here. There’s been an unexpected influx of Grigori and no one knows why.”

Ava’s eyes narrowed, and she opened her mind to listen to his inner voice. Rhys was lying. But why? What was Leo actually doing, if not patrolling?

“Good of him to help out. I heard about the Grigori. I mean, we didn’t get all that much news in Sarih?fn, but once we got here, everyone was buzzing.”

He didn’t say anything, just continued watching her with those solemn green eyes.

[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======

“What’s going on, Ava?”

How could he even tell?