Chapter no 33 – Evie

Assistant to the Villain

It was impossible to focus when one’s eyelids had been weighted with lead.

Evie pushed them wide with her hands, commanding her body to adhere to her wishes. “You’re not going to sleep,” she told herself. She’d just gone through her last vanilla candy—a tragedy, since she could use the jolt of sugar right about now. The office space was ominously empty, the only sounds the roar of the storm outside. Her father was probably beside himself with worry, but hopefully the missive she was able to send out on one of the ravens made it to him without delay.

According to her boss, the storm was plaguing most of the kingdom now. His guards had informed him that everyone was to remain indoors until the storm passed. But it wouldn’t, not until the guvre was set free, and that couldn’t happen until her boss got what he wanted.

The heavenly smell of cauldron brew filled her senses as she looked up to see a steaming chalice placed before her. “You are my favorite person,” Evie said before looking up. “Whoever you—”

Becky stood there with an equally disgusted expression.

Evie shrugged, taking a sip of the warm liquid before pulling the chalice from her lips to stare at it. “Is it poisoned?”

“Isn’t it a little pointless to ask that after you’ve already drunk it?” Becky asked in confusion.

“I needed the caffeination either way; a little poison never killed anybody,” Evie said, smiling into her mug when Becky looked frustrated to the point of pain.

“It quite literally kills everyone. That’s what it’s for, you ninny.” The woman was almost as literal as the boss.

“You bring me brew and then insult me.” Evie put her hand to her chest in mock offense, her words taking a moment to sink in. “Wait. Why did you bring me brew?” she asked with a healthy dose of suspicion.

“Anyone with eyes could see you were dead on your feet, and if you are determined not to go to the guest quarters like the rest of the workers to

wait this out, I would rather not have to listen to you snore while I actually work.” Becky returned to her desk across the room, completely ignoring Blade’s wave of greeting when he walked past her.

Looking a little like a kicked puppy, Blade appeared in front of Evie’s desk, dark hair damp from the rain. “It’s six in the evening—let’s go break into the boss’s wine cellar and make a night of it.”

“You will not be doing that!” Becky gasped, standing up, spilling the cup of pencils that was teetering at the edge of her desk.

“Have no fear, Becky. I won’t drag you into our shenanigans. I know better than to implicate you in any kind of unsanctioned fun.” Blade smirked and ducked when Becky chucked one of the pencils at his head, and it knocked into Evie with the eraser side.

“Hey!” Evie whipped around to Becky. “Didn’t you lecture the boss last week about throwing rocks, you hypocrite?” She grumbled, rubbing at her head, before Tatianna appeared with two bottles and five glasses.

“I’ve brought wine, Blade! Let’s drink. You too, Rebecka—I don’t want to hear it.” Tatianna placed a glass on her desk and filled it to the top.

“We can’t…” Becky stared at the glass like it was filled with actual poison instead of wine.

“We can. The workday is technically over, and this wine is from my personal stash,” Tatianna said, brushing one of her pink ribbon–tied braids behind her before pouring a glass each for Evie and Blade.

Evie accepted hers gratefully and took a bracing sip, feeling the warmth spread down her throat and her aching limbs.

“Can you call it ‘my personal stash’ if it’s stolen from my personal stash?” Their boss appeared like an apparition, and while Blade was damp, The Villain was soaked to the bone. As was Kingsley, who sat high up on the boss’s shoulder, his gold crown dripping and shiny like the rest of him.

The Villain’s black shirt clung to every curve of muscle on his torso. Evie gulped as he walked toward her, a thick intensity cloying the air.

“I told them they shouldn’t be drinking, sir,” Becky said quickly, knocking her chair over in her haste to stand.

“Please relax, Ms. Erring. I realize being here overnight is an inconvenience I imparted on you all. You may cope accordingly.” Their boss looked to Tatianna and the last empty glass. “As long as that glass is for me.”

“But of course!” Tatianna said jovially, filling it to the brim and handing it to him with a flourish.

“No sign of the female guvre?” Evie asked, watching her boss down his glass in three long sips, then holding it out for Tatianna to refill.

“None.” He walked toward one of the stained glass windows. Kingsley leaped off his shoulder and onto Evie’s desk as he walked past. “But I’m not surprised. It’ll take time.”

“How will we know when she comes?” Becky asked.

He turned to the group just as a crack of lightning lit up his face. “We’ll know,” The Villain said ominously.

“Did you plan that?” Evie asked, nodding toward the storm.

Blade chuckled into his hand, and their boss rolled his eyes at them. “You two are incorrigible.”

“I agree,” Becky muttered darkly, sending her glass of wine a longing glance.

“Just drink it, Rebecka.” Tatianna walked over, putting the full glass right under her nose. “The boss literally told you to relax. Where’s your rule-following spirit?”

It was hard for Evie to tell if Tatianna hated Becky or deeply respected her. Their interactions had always teetered somewhere in the middle.

Taking a tentative sip of her glass, followed by a contented sigh, Becky sank farther into her chair.

“Atta girl.” Tatianna gave her an encouraging pat on the shoulder that Becky nudged off while taking another sip of her drink.

“Careful, lovely Rebecka.” Blade raised his glass like he was about to give a toast. “You may enjoy yourself, and your body may go into shock.”

Evie chuckled when Becky lifted her middle finger back to him, making steady eye contact as she drained her glass. Evie saw Blade’s throat bob as he tracked the movement.

Another bout of lightning struck down, the crashing thunder shattering a window and causing each of them to duck their heads, covering them with their hands.

Blade peeked out from under his and frowned at the shattered glass. “Who, uh—who’s picking that up? Because all the interns are off for the night and my fingers are very sensitive.”

“To glass?” Tatianna said dryly, pouring more wine for Evie and a slightly dazed-looking Becky.

“I’ll clean it,” Evie said. The warmth was beginning to settle in, making her feel lighter, the threads in her chest unraveling. She moved to the closet to grab a dustpan but was halted by Tatianna, who raised her hand. With a flick of her wrist, the shards of glass lifted and clattered into the trash bin.

Blade sighed with a mock frown. “I wish I could do that.”

Tatianna’s beautiful smile stretched wide. “You have your own special talents, my dear.”

“Like being irritating,” Becky added. “Or getting injured.” Evie giggled.

“What about his complete lack of self-preservation?” Tatianna chuckled, sipping her drink.

“I don’t like this game,” Blade said darkly, downing his glass. “The color blindness is also something to be admired.”

All heads turned to look at their boss, who was watching the interaction from just a step away, like he didn’t want to fully immerse himself with the living. His wineglass was empty, and Tatianna moved to uncork another bottle to top him off.

Blade looked at The Villain with betrayed outrage. “You too, sir?”

Their boss shrugged, a blank look on his face, making his comment all the funnier for the seriousness with which he’d delivered it.

“We could do the boss’s talents next?” Tatianna looked gleeful, the wine making her eyes brighter, her face glowing.

“No, you will not—” But the boss’s voice was drowned out by Evie’s and Tatianna’s tittering.

“His inability to smile at anything that’s not related to death or torture.” Tatianna cackled, and Evie laughed with her.

She gripped her stomach, tears burning the corners of her eyes. It was the kind of laughter that was difficult to stop, and the more you tried, the more intoxicating the urge became—the best kind, her favorite.

“The obsession with his hair,” Evie added, wiping her eyes.

“What about his talent for heaving bodies out of windows!” Blade added. Kingsley held up two signs: BAD and JOKES.

“Making the interns cry just by looking at them for too long,” Becky added quietly, warily.

They all laughed even louder, Tatianna tilting her chalice toward the woman in a silent toast. Becky looked around, the smallest, almost indetectable smile appearing on her naturally downturned lips.

Evie’s laughter finally died down to something more manageable when she looked toward her boss, who was watching them all, watching her, with a strange look in his eyes. He was at ease, peaceful. That eternal lock on his jaw seemed to have come loose, and there was a relaxed feeling to him as he said, “I am not obsessed with my hair.”

That was what did it. All of them spiraled into a second, larger wave of hilarity. It was like medicine, healing all the broken pieces and forging them into something new, something different. Belonging was such a foreign concept to Evie, something she quietly longed for but had never figured out how to achieve, but here it was. Her moment, her people. It was worth the wait—

A flash of light and a thunderous boom shook the walls, sucking the levity from the room like a leeching.

The Villain’s jaw went back to its rigidness, and he walked over to look out the window.

“Sir? Not to pressure you, but do you have any idea when the female guvre will arrive?” Evie asked tentatively, walking up to his side.

A piercing screech wrenched the air. “Was that…”

“Yes.” The Villain nodded, keeping his gaze on something outside the window. “She’s here.”

You'll Also Like