Home > Dark Harmony (The Bargainer #3)(11)

Dark Harmony (The Bargainer #3)(11)
Author: Laura Thalassa

I take in a shuddering breath and watch his ministrations.

“You don’t have to clean—”

“Cherub.” With one word he stops my weak protest in its tracks.

It’s quiet for a few minutes as my breath evens, the only sound the slight splash of water as Des scours my body.

“This is …” Des begins, then starts again. “In my imaginings, we did this. I scrubbed the world’s filth off of you, until you were just you in my arms.”

“Stop,” I say, my voice breaking. I had almost put myself back together, but Des’s words are going to pull me apart again.

The washcloth gets to my face, and he tilts my chin up. “You saved my people tonight, Callie. You saved them. Who knows how many more would have died if you hadn’t been there.”

I stare into his moonlit eyes.

“I’ve never seen anything more beautiful or fearsome than you beguiling those fae. You are a force of nature.”

I swallow. “You’re no longer immune to it.”

I’d seen firsthand what my glamour could now do to Des.

“I’m delightfully terrified of the prospect. Our sex life has just gotten ten times kinkier.”

He has no idea.

I glance at the water. I don’t know what magic the Bargainer is dealing out, but the bath’s water is now crystal clear. Whatever blood once sullied it is no longer visible.

Des sets the washcloth aside and brushes his thumb along my lower lip. “Give me a wish,” he says, out of the blue.

“Why?” I ask.

“Because I want one.”

Demanding fairy.

I raise my eyebrows. “And what’s the cost?” I ask.

He taps my nose. “So jaded. I wish you had a little more faith in me.”

My eyebrows hike up farther. “So you’re giving me a free wish?”

“Hmm. Perhaps free is not the right word.”

That’s what I thought.

He plays with my hair. “But you’ll like the repayment. That, I promise.”

I don’t doubt it.

“Fine. I want coffee.”

“Out of all the wishes in the world, that’s the one you go for?” Des looks distinctly unimpressed.

I really want a cup o’ Joe, alright? So sue me. My brief taste of Temper’s wasn’t enough.

I tilt my head back and forth, weighing his words. “You’re right, on second thought, maybe I should wish for another boyfriend—”

A cup manifests out of the ether and into Des’s hand. “Alright baby siren,” he says, cutting me off. “I see how you’re going to play your hand.” He presses the mug into one of my palms.

I grin at him, the last of my earlier sadness vanishing with the action.

“Going to have to remind you later of why there will only ever be me …” he murmurs.

My grin widens, and the Bargainer leans in and steals a quick kiss, the action causing some of the blessed coffee in my mug to slosh into the water. As always, Des tastes like sin and wicked thoughts, and I’m almost more interested in drinking him up than I am the coffee.

Almost.

Once the kiss ends, I lean back against the rim of the tub and gather my knees to my chest.

“What was that song?” I ask, taking a sip of my coffee.

Des is appraising me like he wants to eat me for lunch. “What song?”

“The one you were humming just now.”

Recognition sparks in his eyes. “‘For my Lost Love, I Dream of Thee’.”

I set my mug next to one of the glowing lanterns. “I like it,” I admit.

He gives me a soft smile. “I’m glad you do. My mother used to sing it to me when I was little.”

That confession—freely given, I note—sends a pang through me. There’s a soft spot in Des’s heart that belongs to his mom and his mom alone, and for the hundredth time, I wish I could’ve met her.

“What’s the song about?” I ask.

The Bargainer’s expression turns a little melancholic. “A man loses the love of his life, and he yearns for night because in dreams they’re reunited,” he says.

The two of us are quiet for a moment.

“Well, that’s a fucking bummer,” I finally say.

That’s the song he’s been reassuring me with this whole time? That’s like chasing away a nightmare by telling someone a ghost story.

There’s a beat of silence, and then Des’s laughter fills the chamber. “Yeah, cherub, it really is.”

Chapter 8

I glance around me at the sun-scorched earth.

This is … not what I’d been expecting. I mean, I’m not sure what I had been expecting when it came to Galleghar Nyx’s resting place, but I think I’d assumed it would be somewhere in the Night Kingdom—and that a cemetery would be involved.

To be fair, the place feels about as morbid as a cemetery.

After I’d had coffee, a bath, and a wink—er, okay, a fuck-ton—of sleep, Des and I headed off to visit the tomb of Des’s father.

Which, apparently, is this wasteland of a place.

My eyes sweep over the landscape again. The dry, dusty earth stretches out for miles and miles around us, only interrupted here and there by a boulder. Off in the distance, some craggy cliffs rise, looking just as barren as the land. The wind whistles a lonesome, loveless tune as it tugs at my hair.

It’s more than just the austere look of the place. There’s something about this land … like color is seeping away and the senses are dulling—it feels as though the earth itself is sucking the life out of me.

“What is this place?” I ask.

“The Banished Lands,” Des says, squinting at our surroundings. “It’s a section of land that divides the Flora and Fauna Kingdoms. This is where exiled fairies go.”

You know what, I didn’t even know fairies could be exiled. I assumed fae rulers just made their criminals disappear.

I guess you learn something new every day.

“And you buried your dad here,” I say, putting the pieces together.

The Bargainer stares at the landscape, a troubled expression on his face, before his gaze meets mine. “This is as close to desecrating his body as I could get,” he says.

The admission sends a shiver through me. Des is so good to me that I often forget just how ruthless he can be.

Night’s falling here, and for once since I met Des, the darkness doesn’t feel welcoming.

I take the Bargainer’s hand. “Show me where your father is buried.”

We cut across the landscape, Des leading me towards an unassuming cluster of stones, the biggest of which is as large as a car. When we get to them, Des lifts his hand, his expression grim. Down our bond I sense the pull of magic, and then I feel it around us, saturating the parched air.

With a groan the massive stone in front of us drags itself aside, revealing a small and crudely made pit.

For a while, the Bargainer simply stares down into the inky darkness, his face expressionless.

I lick my parched lips. “Is this … ?”

“My father’s resting place,” Des says, his eyes never wavering from that hole in the ground.

As far as burials go, this one is pretty much the equivalent of giving the dead the middle finger—a final fuck you to send them off to the afterlife with.

So I guess it’s fitting for his A-hole dad.

“Why give him a tomb at all?” I ask.

I would’ve thrown his carcass to the wolves.

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