Chapter no 63

House of Earth and Blood

“Is Athie okay, BB?”

Bryce rubbed her eyes as she studied the computer screen in the gallery library. “He’s sleeping it off.”

Lehabah had cried this morning when Bryce had trudged in to tell her what had occurred. She’d barely noticed that her leg had no pain— not a whisper. She’d wanted to stay home, to care for Hunt, but when she’d called Jesiba, the answer had been clear: No.

She’d spent the first half of the morning filling out job applications. And had sent each and every one of them in.

She didn’t know where the Hel she would end up, but getting out of this place was the first step. Of many.

She’d taken a few more today.

Ruhn had picked up on the first ring, and come right over to the apartment.

Hunt had still been asleep when she’d left him in her brother’s care. She didn’t want anyone from that fucking legion in her house. Didn’t want to see Isaiah or Viktoria or any of the triarii anytime soon.

Ruhn had taken one glance at Hunt’s mutilated back and gagged. But he’d promised to stay on the pills-and-wound-care schedule she laid out for him.

“Micah went easy on him,” Ruhn said when she stopped by at lunch, toying with one of his earrings. “Really fucking easy. Sabine had the right to call for his death.” As a slave, Hunt had no rights whatsoever. None.

“I will never forget it as long as I live,” Bryce answered, her voice dull. The flash of Micah’s sword. Hunt’s scream, as if his soul was being shredded. Sabine’s smile.

“I should have been the one to shut Amelie up.” Shadows flickered in the room.

“Well, you weren’t.” She measured the potion for Ruhn to give Hunt at the top of the hour.

Ruhn stretched an arm over the back of the sofa. “I’d like to be, Bryce.”

She met her brother’s gaze. “Why?” “Because you’re my sister.”

She didn’t have a response—not yet.

She could have sworn hurt flashed in his eyes at her silence. She was out of her apartment in another minute, and barely reached the gallery before Jesiba had called, raging about how Bryce wasn’t ready for the two o’clock meeting with the owl shifter who was ready to buy a marble statuette worth three million gold marks.

Bryce executed the meeting, and the sale, and didn’t hear half of what was said.

Sign, stamp, goodbye.

She returned to the library by three. Lehabah warmed her shoulder as she opened her laptop. “Why are you on Redner Industries’ site?”

Bryce just stared at the two small fields:

Username. Password.

She typed in dfendyr. The cursor hovered over the password.

Someone might be tipped off that she was trying to get in. And if she did get access, someone might very well receive an alert. But … It was a risk worth taking. She was out of options.

Lehabah read the username. “Does this somehow tie in to the Horn?” “Danika knew something—something big,” Bryce mused.

Password. What would Danika’s password be?

Redner Industries would have told her to write something random and full of symbols.

Danika would have hated being told what to do, and would have done the opposite.

Bryce typed in SabineSucks.

No luck. Though she’d done it the other day, she again typed in Danika’s birthday. Her own birthday. The holy numbers. Nothing.

Her phone buzzed, and a message from Ruhn lit up her screen.

He woke up, took his potions like a good boy, and demanded to know where you were.

Ruhn added, He’s not a bad male.

She wrote back, No, he’s not.

Ruhn replied, He’s sleeping again, but seemed in good enough spirits, all things considered.

A pause, and then her brother wrote, He told me to tell you thanks.

For everything.

Bryce read the messages three times before she looked at the interface again. And typed in the only other password she could think of. The words written on the back of a leather jacket she’d worn constantly for the last two years. The words inked on her own back in an ancient alphabet. Danika’s favorite phrase, whispered to her by the Oracle on her sixteenth birthday.

The Old Language of the Fae didn’t work. Neither did the formal tongue of the Asteri.

So she wrote it in the common language.

Through love, all is possible.

The login screen vanished. And a list of files appeared.

Most were reports on Redner’s latest projects: improving tracking quality on phones; comparing the speed at which shifters could change forms; analyzing the healing rates of witch magic versus Redner medicines. Boring everyday science.

She’d almost given up when she noticed a subfolder: Party Invites.

Danika had never been organized enough to keep such things, let alone put them in a folder. She either deleted them right away or let them rot in her inbox, unanswered.

It was enough of an anomaly that Bryce clicked on it and found a list of folders within. Including one titled Bryce.

A file with her name on it. Hidden in another file. Exactly as Bryce had hidden her own job applications on this computer.

“What is that?” Lehabah whispered at her shoulder.

Bryce opened the file. “I don’t know. I never sent invites to her work address.”

The folder contained a single photo.

“Why does she have a picture of her old jacket?” Lehabah asked. “Was she going to sell it?”

Bryce stared and stared at the image. Then she moved, logging out of the account before running up the stairs to the showroom, where she grabbed the leather jacket from her chair.

“It was a clue,” she said breathlessly to Lehabah as she flew back down the stairs, fingers running and pawing over every seam of the jacket. “The photo is a fucking clue—”

Something hard snagged her fingers. A lump. Right along the vertical line of the in love.

“Through love, all is possible,” Bryce whispered, and grabbed a pair of scissors from the cup on the table. Danika had even tattooed the hint on Bryce’s fucking back, for fuck’s sake. Lehabah peered over her shoulder as Bryce cut into the leather.

A small, thin metal rectangle fell onto the table. A flash drive.

“Why would she hide that in her coat?” Lehabah asked, but Bryce was already moving again, hands shaking as she fitted the drive into the slot on her laptop.

Three unmarked videos lay within.

She opened the first video. She and Lehabah watched in silence.

Lehabah’s whisper filled the library, even over the scratching of the nøkk.

“Gods spare us.”

You'll Also Like