Chapter no 16 – Evie

Assistant to the Villain

Evie didn’t scream.

She did, however, pull her arm forward and slam her elbow back into Blade’s stomach.

“Argh!” Blade grunted, doubling over when he released her. Evie whipped around, gripping the certificate in her hand.

“What. Is. This?” she bit out.

“It’s not what you think, okay? Can I explain?” Blade’s eyes darted around, panicked. “Please don’t tell the boss, Evie. I’m begging you.” His desperation was palpable, and she softened for a second before Blade made to dive and snatch the certificate from her hands. She quickly ducked to turn away from him, and Blade’s hand ended up slapping against her cheek.


Blade pulled back, a horrified expression on his face. “You hit my face!” Evie gasped.

“I’m so sorry; it was an accident! Are you okay?” Blade reached for her, but Evie took a step back.

“You hit my face,” she repeated, holding her cheek.

“I know, I’m sorry!” Blade said, holding both sides of his head. “Okay.” He sucked in a breath and leaned his face toward her. “Free shot, go ahead.”

Evie looked at him with an exasperated expression. “I’m not going to hit you.”

Blade looked at her with wild eyes. “No! Do it! I deserve it.” “Blade, I’m not—”

“Hit me!” he wailed.

“No!” Evie screamed back, throwing her hands in the air. “This is ridiculous. Why do you have this?” She held up the letter and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally, Blade sighed and sat on his bed, which did in fact creak, and looked at her with a sheepish smile. “So, I didn’t exactly find the dragon

egg when I was hiking in the east.”

Evie trying to piece together what he was saying, knitting her eyebrows together. “You didn’t…?”

Blade picked up the toy dragon on the nightstand and started nervously picking at the frayed edges. “I grew up in the Gleaming City.”

“I thought you were from the coast?” Evie’s brain was churning, the spike of adrenaline leaving her feeling lightheaded as it abated.

“I lied. I had to,” Blade admitted, and Evie swore she saw tears glistening in the warm brown of his eyes. “I needed a place to take the dragon, a place big enough to hide and protect him. The boss never would’ve hired me if he’d known the truth.”

“Which is…what? You worked for King Benedict?”

“No!” Blade insisted. “No, that wasn’t it at all. I grew up in the Gleaming City, and my father worked as a political adviser for the king. I never really met him, save for a few times when I was a child. I hated it there.”

Evie wanted to ask more as her stomach twisted, but she waited for Blade to finish.

“My father was so involved in court, and he wanted me to be, too. Every day, he waited for me to take an interest in the kingdom’s political network, take an interest in anything besides the creatures that creeped outside our townhome. But I never understood people, not the way I understood animals.”

Evie crossed her arms, refusing to feel sympathy for him yet in case he had plans to harm her boss. “I don’t understand people, either, but that doesn’t give me permission to betray them.”

Blade snorted as he shook his head. “Evie, you’re great with people.

Everyone likes you—”

“People like you, too!” Evie interrupted, confused.

“Sure, and I like them, but at the end of the day, people don’t make sense to me,” Blade said, rubbing the toe of his boot along the wooden floor. “But animals, they’ve always made sense. They have rules, they do exactly what their instincts tell them to do, and they never waver from it. They’re honest.”

Evie held up the letter again. “Oh, the irony.”

“I know!” Blade groaned and swiped the palm of his hand against his eyes. “I thought my father had given up on me when it came to having a career in the king’s court, but he insisted I come with him a few months ago

and at least sit in on a meeting. So I did, and it was boring. I didn’t pay attention, my focus kept going in and out, until one of Rennedawn’s treasurers started talking about making the kingdom a large sum from the sale of a dragon egg to a faraway kingdom that I’d never heard of.”

Evie began to understand where Blade’s story was going.

He continued. “I couldn’t believe they had a real dragon egg, and they were just going to trade it away…for money?” Blade shook his head. “I kept thinking, If I had a dragon egg, I would never give it away. I would do everything I could to make sure the animal was safe and loved. But then they brought the egg out.”

Evie walked over and sat next to him, ignoring the sting in her cheek.

“I had never felt that drawn to something in my entire life, such a possessiveness. It was mine; I knew it before they placed it on the table. I knew I had to take it—I had to take it and I had to disappear.”

“You stole the dragon…from the king?” Evie said, her heart beginning to pound furiously in her chest.

“I found out the day they were transporting it, and I snuck in and lied, telling them I was there on business for my father. I waited until nobody was looking and just picked up the crate with the egg and took it away. Nobody stopped me, nobody said a word, and then I was gone.”

“And you came here,” Evie finished.

“I knew about The Villain because of my father, so I knew he was the only person not afraid of the king. Of course, the way that group of old men spoke about him, I was a little afraid to seek him out. But this was too important not to try. When the dragon hatched, it became even more urgent to find him, and when I caught wind of the whisper network to become employed, I wrote up a résumé and the boss hired me that very day.”

“Blade, you must tell him the truth. He needs to know about this. I mean

—this could be why—” Evie shut her lips tight before she revealed too much and stood to pace the room.

“Why someone is in here trying to sabotage him?” Blade finished.

Evie stared at him with her jaw hanging open. “How do you know about that?”

“The interns figured it out…and they never shut up,” Blade said, chuckling, and Evie went ramrod straight, blowing out a breath.

“It’s not funny! I thought it was you, you fool!” Evie picked up a pillow that sat against the wall and threw it at his head.

“Me?” Blade ducked as the pillow sang by and laughed. “I couldn’t pull that off if I tried.”

“But you are carrying around a gigantic lie!” Evie pressed.

“It’s not gigantic—it’s a tiny lie. More like an embellishment of the truth. I never actually told the boss where I got the egg, and he didn’t ask, so I think it’s for the best we just keep this between us, please, Evie.”

She took a deep breath and considered her options. “I believe you,” she said. “I do. But we can’t keep this from the boss, Blade. You’ll only look guiltier if he finds out on his own, and he will find out.”

Blade sighed and gripped the knit dragon a bit closer. “I know, I know. Can you give me a little time to do it? And maybe soften him up some before I do?”

Evie tucked the employee letter into the pocket of her light-green dress. She believed Blade wasn’t the traitor, but she wouldn’t take any chances by leaving the slip of paper with him. “I don’t have the capability to soften The Villain, Blade. Tell him and do it soon, or I will.”

Evie walked toward the door, making her way down the spiral stairs once more, but she heard Blade mumble under his breath before she left. She couldn’t make out the words exactly, but it sounded like he said, “You have no idea, do you?”

Her stomach twisted as she wondered if continuing to trust her friends would be the thing that doomed them all.

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