Chapter no 22

These Hollow Vows (These Hollow Vows, 1)

“WHAT HAPPENED TO HER?” The low voice barely enters my consciousness, drowned out by the pain that’s so intense it’s become a beast screaming inside my brain.

“The Sluagh lured her into the woods. She was surrounded by flames and smoke. Her leg is in bad shape, and her mind . . .”

“She fought us, even after we chased them off,” another voice says. “She said she wouldn’t leave her sister.”

I force my eyes open, grasping for reality. “Jas?” My voice is hoarse. Too much smoke in my lungs. It was real. “Did you get my sister?”

“Shh. Don’t talk.” Silver eyes study my face. Finn. He turns away. “Heal her.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?” another male voice asks. Kane? “This is a blessing. A gift from the old gods. Take it.

Finn growls a low warning I can’t quite make out.

“Do what you want, but I won’t stand here and watch you throw everything away.” Footsteps. A slamming door.

“I don’t want to see her hurt either,” Pretha says. I want to open my eyes, but it takes more strength than I have. “After what she did for Jalek, none of us do, but you need to stop making the same self-righteous mistakes that made me a widow.”

“I am not Vexius.”

“And she is not Isabel.”

“Don’t you dare,” Finn growls.

“Your kingdom is doomed without you, don’t you get that? And these injuries—”

“Don’t tell me about my kingdom, Pretha. Letting her die when we have the means to save her is as good as murder. Do you want the magic to turn against us?” Finn asks. Then silence, so much heavy silence I nearly manage to open my eyes. “Heal her. Now.

I force my eyes open, and Pretha is kneeling beside the bed, one hand on my brow, the other on my chest. “Sleep now,” she says. “You’ll feel better

when you wake up.”



Voices cut into my dreams. Finn. Pretha. They’re arguing again. “She’ll be fine,” Pretha says. “She just needs to rest.”

“Thanks to you,” Finn says. His voice sounds ragged, exhaustion hanging on every syllable.

“We need to talk about this decision you made tonight,” Pretha says. “We don’t,” he says. “It’s done.”

“Are you sleeping with her?” “No,” he snarls.

“But you’re falling for her. I saw the way you were looking at her when you returned with Jalek. I watched you two on the patio, and I saw—”

“You saw nothing.”

“Are you sure about that? Because you’re supposed to be focusing on—” “I know my duty. Now maybe it’s time for you to remember yours.”

Sleep begins to pull me back under when I hear Pretha say, “You’re not the only one who has something at stake, Finn.”



I dream of a faerie child with big silver eyes and a mischievous smile.

We’re in a field of flowers, and she has a lollipop in her mouth as she skips along beside me. The sunshine is lovely and the flowers smell like heaven. She looks so cherubic with her chubby cheeks, I wonder if this is it. I died in the fire—just like Lark warned me I might.

“Did I die?” I ask.

“Only the once, but not this time.” She beams at me, her mouth pink and sticky with candy. “I’m glad. The other path is better for everyone.”

“The other path?”

“Well, one of them. Some of them are bad. You die forever sometimes,

and the golden queen rejoices. But other times you become fae. Other times you become queen.” She tosses her lollipop to the side and a puffy pink ball of cotton candy appears in her hand.

“What kind of queen?”

She smiles. As if she’s been waiting for this question. “A different kind. A new kind.” She closes her eyes for a moment, and her face grows serious, as if she’s trying to concentrate on something. “And sometimes a bad kind. Sometimes the anger is too much and you let it make your insides ugly.

Don’t do that. I don’t like you like that. Finn will explain if you let him.”

She talks in riddles, and I can’t make right or left of them. “What if I don’t want to be fae or a queen?” I ask.

“Why wouldn’t you want to be a faerie?” She frowns around a bite of cotton candy. “Would you rather be dead?”

I don’t know how to answer that question. “I don’t know anything about being a queen. I don’t like the idea of having so much when others have nothing.”

“I guess this is perfect then,” she says. “Because you’ll lose everything.” She plucks a chunk of cotton candy off the ball and offers it to me.

I decline with a shake of my head, and she happily pops the sugar into her mouth. “Are you always right about the future?” I ask.

“Not possible. Because sometimes the future is wrong about you.” She turns around. “I have to go. Don’t tell my mom I was here.”

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