Chapter no 11 – ‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌BEFORE

Nightbane (The Lightlark Saga Book 2)

She was kicking off her shoes, rubbing her toes. No matter how many times Poppy made her stride in straight lines, or even forced Terra to make her train in the ridiculous heeled shoes, she would never get used to them.

And the dresses.

The ones with all the ties and buttons hell-bent on not letting her breathe. Each stitch and clip of her corset was conspiring together to suffocate her, she was sure of it.

Your face and words will be just as important as your blades and swords during the Centennial, Poppy said.

Isla highly doubted it.

She had all the buttons down the back of her dress undone when she noticed a shadow in the corner of her room. A shadow that flickered.

In a moment, the dagger she kept hidden beneath her vanity was in her fingers, and she whirled around, only to be face-to-face with the shadow now as it rippled then settled.

Grim was standing over her, eyes trained on the dress that hung from her shoulders, not her blade.

“Hello, Hearteater,” he said.

He had found her. She had foolishly hoped it would take him longer to figure out her identity. Or that her stabbing had wounded him enough to buy her a few weeks to figure out a plan. She knew it wouldn’t kill him. She had just wanted to incapacitate him long enough to make her escape.

Now here he was.

Impossibly, in her room, in the Wildling newland. Here to kill her.

Before she could breathe, his hand was wrapped around hers—the one that held the dagger—so painfully that she flinched.

Isla grunted, adrenaline rushing through her, as she tried to wrestle herself away. That only made him angry. He growled and shoved her against the glass wall of her room. It felt nothing like before.

No, this time he twisted her arm painfully, so that her own knife was at her throat.

She writhed beneath him, heart pounding, arm flashing in pain. All he did was frown down at her, eyes fixed in a glare.

“You cursed hearteater”—he spat the word like it disgusted him—“dare to come to my realm, disguised, to assassinate me.” The blade dug against her neck. She had sharpened the tip herself; it was so sharp that it immediately cut into her skin. She smelled her own blood. He was going to kill her, stab her just like she had him.

She wasn’t like him. She didn’t have power that would delay her death. Isla flicked the wrist that he wasn’t holding. The weapon disguised as a bracelet unveiled its spike. She stabbed it through his thigh.

The Nightshade ruler roared, and her dagger dropped to the floor—but before she could take her chance to escape, the blade to her neck was replaced with an invisible grip.

She choked as she floated in the air, clawing at her throat. He stood there, focused, as she was hauled farther up the wall.

Isla gasped for breath, but the grip didn’t loosen. She saw stars. Could barely hear him as he said, “Was this your plan to keep me from the Centennial? To try and break the curses? Did you mean to make a fool of me?” The pressure gripped even tighter, and her vision went white. “Who are you working with?”

Isla tried to speak, but her words sounded like whimpers. “How did you travel to Nightshade so quickly?”

At that, Isla glared at him, enraged, exasperated. How was she supposed to answer all his questions when he had her throat in an invisible fist?

Like he could read her thoughts, he bared his teeth— And released her.

Isla fell to the floor in a heap, gasping, her fevered forehead and hands flat against the cold ground. Her unbuttoned dress slipped down her shoulders.

It took what seemed like a lifetime to catch her breath. Once she did, she gripped the dagger from the floor, scuttled to the corner of her room, away from him, that monster, that filth—

He had almost killed her.

Across the room, Grimshaw frowned. Frowned.

It was her turn to bare her teeth at him. She lifted the dagger in his direction, with a shaking arm. “Monster,” she said, her voice just a rasp against the back of her throbbing throat. She spat at him.

He had the nerve to laugh. He took a step forward, and she had to force herself not to flinch.

I’m the monster?” he said. Another step. “When Wildlings eat the hearts of men?” He looked down at her with disgust.

He didn’t know, then, that the curse didn’t apply to her. That was good. Her hand went to her neck, and she winced. The skin there was tender.

Grimshaw followed the trace of her fingers. “Do I need to remind you that you stabbed me?” With a furious motion, he tore his shirt up to reveal an angry scar just inches from his heart.

Isla swallowed. Stabbing him had been a mistake. She had been panicked, acting on instinct.

Now she knew how foolish it had been. If he hadn’t been her enemy then, he certainly was now. Grimshaw would be at the Centennial if he decided to accept the invitation. He would kill her.

The Nightshade ruler took a step closer. Prowled, really. His chin bent low, he looked at her with eyes dark as charcoal, squinted into a glare.

She scuttled back an inch. Another.

“How did you get into my realm?” he demanded.

Panic spiked through her chest. She forced her eyes not to dart to the floorboard where she hid her starstick. Her spine was drenched in fear, but she used all her strength to sit up straight, to meet his gaze.

The Nightshade ruler’s voice became eerily calm. “How,” he said, taking another step. “Did.” Another step. “You.” The word held the same poison as his look as he regarded her, splayed against the greenhouse glass like a weakling. “Get. In.”

He bent down low, eyes never leaving hers. By the time he was almost nose to nose with her, she used that fear as a cover. As she cowered beneath his shadow, she gripped the blade still in her hand.

Before he could take another breath, its tip was resting just below his chin.

Her nostrils flared. Her voice shook, out of not just fear now but anger.

Anger at herself for being so weak.

“Get,” she said, matching his tone. “Out.” Something in his expression flinched at the spit flying from her mouth, from the intensity of her words. Good. “Of. My. Room.

She pushed the blade into his skin for emphasis, waited to feel the heat of his blood on her hand.

But before she could apply enough pressure, he vanished.

She collapsed fully against the floor, shaking like a child, wondering how the Nightshade seemed to have the same portaling ability as her starstick.

You'll Also Like