Chapter no 8 – Evie

Assistant to the Villain

Everything seemed to move slower at first. The air stilled along with her as she stared down in abject horror at the little device sitting against her palm.

Then her heart began to catch up on the moment of impending doom, and she felt it pound so hard that she gasped for breath. Her free hand flew up to clutch at her chest, begging it to slow. She couldn’t think. She couldn’t do anything.

The device was gold and rectangular, a tiny timepiece dangling lightly off the bottom. With a shaking gentleness, Evie moved her hand to turn the round timepiece over. When her eyes found what they were looking for, her already cold blood froze solid, binding her stiffened limbs tightly together.

Three minutes. Only three minutes before the small gold-tipped arrows pointed to the twelve on the top.

A ringing began in her ears, one so piercing that it made her want to throw the device to the ground and squeeze both of her hands to the sides of her head. A ragged breath escaped her lips along with a light sob.

She was hysterical and— She was wasting time.

Get rid of it!

She clutched the device, peeking at the timepiece once more. Two minutes and thirty seconds left.

She thought about tossing it out the window, but Blade and the dragon trained directly below The Villain’s office window, so that option was out. Maybe if she could contain the blast, perhaps she could spare just a few people. Keep the castle standing at the very least. She looked up to see Kingsley watching her with a new word on his tiny sign. RUN.

Throwing the doors open with one hand, Evie exploded into the main office space, ignoring the people stopping to stare at her. A few caught sight of the device in her pale fingers and gasped, diving out of her way as she searched for a place to get rid of the thing.

A voice, which under different circumstances would grate at her, grounded her in its familiarity. “The parapet!”

Evie turned toward Becky, who’d swung the door to the outside open, waving her hands frantically for Evie to move.

And move Evie did.

She burst into a sprint and ran into the cool, open air, huffing a quiet “thank you” to the woman as she passed. Evie had to have been in some sort of adrenaline fog, because she thought she saw concern on Becky’s pinched face.

The heat of the summer sun hit the top of Evie’s head—the first time it had appeared from behind the clouds all morning. Her heart was racing, her skirts kicking up around her with each furious step. The device remained cool in her hands, despite her rising body temperature, the ticking a cruel reminder.

You want the ticking! she reminded herself. No ticking means you’re dead!

If she could just get to the end, she could send the device over the small rise at the end of the parapet. She could save the manor, or most of it, at least. More importantly, she could save the people inside.

Had the parapet always been this long? It felt like she wasn’t even close to the end. She pushed her legs to the brink and ran harder, watching her destination grow closer and closer. Still not fast enough, she impossibly pushed herself farther, nearly reaching the end when— No!

The stiletto heel of her boot snagged beneath a loose cement block, bending her ankle unnaturally as she stumbled.

Evie watched in horror as the bomb slipped from her fingers, sailing through the air. Watched it soar up, high, high enough that it skimmed the top of the stone rise, but it didn’t make it over. It clanged down, landing far too close to keep her from the blast.

“Oh gods,” Evie whispered, diving to remove her heel from the hole it was now wedged into. Her breathing was so short that her vision began to blur, the tips of her fingers beginning to bleed from scraping against the rough surface of the brick where the heel of her boot was stuck.

But it wasn’t budging. Realization hit like a cool mist. She turned toward the opposite end of the parapet, toward the doors at the other end.

This is it. She’d never make it in time.

She had forgotten to hug Lyssa before she sent her off to school that morning, had of course assumed she would get another chance. She’d yelled to her father that she loved him, but had he heard her? Did he know?

A different face flashed in her mind—her boss, The Villain. Evie couldn’t believe she was leaving him when he needed her most. Who would make him begrudgingly smile now?

As a lone tear ran down Evie’s face, she thought that must be the saddest thing of all.

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