Home > Dark Harmony (The Bargainer #3)(9)

Dark Harmony (The Bargainer #3)(9)
Author: Laura Thalassa

“You walk on thin ice right now, Callie,” the Bargainer growls.

I swivel to face him, his words riling me up. “I’m the one on thin ice?” I say, my voice rising. “You’re the one who screwed the prisoner.”

Brought that up sooner than I intended.

“Two centuries ago,” Des says. “Do you expect me to give you a formal apology for every person I’ve slept with? Because if so, I damn well better receive the same from you.”

“You are insane.”

The Night King disappears from my side only to reappear in front of me, his body blocking the way and forcing me to stop.

“You goaded him,” he growls. “You goaded the Thief of Souls to find you.” He runs an agitated hand through his hair, the movement exposing one of his pointed ears. “Can you not see, this is the same reason I stopped taking you on my bargains when you attended Peel Academy.”

I’d glamoured a man back then too … a man who, ironically enough, knew information on the Thief of Souls. He’d been willing to die rather than share his knowledge, and still I made him talk.

I still flush at the memory. And now the Bargainer is essentially saying that in all that time, I haven’t changed.

I take issue with that. “I’m already in the Thief’s line of sight. I will not let that monster provoke me without provoking him back.”

A muscle in the Bargainer’s face ticks. He steps in close. “You want to know a secret, cherub?” he asks, his voice dropping low. “Earlier this evening, when I tried to stop all those sleeping soldiers back in our chambers—it didn’t work.”

There was that moment in his bedroom when I thought he’d bleed into the darkness and end those sleeping soldiers just as he had Karnon and his men. But he hadn’t been able to.

“Do you want to know why that wouldn’t work?” Des asks. He doesn’t wait for me to answer. “The darkness is loyal to its own—it won’t hurt another fairy that wields its power.”

I feel the first thread of unease at his words.

“That means the Thief is one of my kind—he’s a Night fae.”

My knees go a little weak. A Night fae? One who is impervious to Des’s magic?

He is not impervious to ours, my siren whispers, her voice seductive.

The King of the Night cups my face. “I am mad with fear for you,” he says, his voice pitched low. “It feels like the wheels of fate are pushing you closer and closer to the Thief, and nothing I do can prevent it. That terrifies me.”

To hear Des admit to being afraid … it’s like that moment as a child when you see an adult cry for the first time. Like the person you depended on to have their shit together really doesn’t. It’s the kind of thing that shakes your world.

“I am sorry you had to hear about my … past … the way you did,” he says hoarsely.

I think this is an apology.

He leans in close, his lips a hair’s breadth from mine. “But I will admit, I greedily drank up your reaction.” With that confession, his lips press against mine.

It’s stupid how fast his kiss can banish my frayed nerves. He kisses away our discussion, his taste and touch consuming my thoughts. And even though the day is a mess, and I’m a mess, and the Otherworld has gone to crap, for a few blissful seconds, everything is as it should be.

All I want right now is a shower, coffee, and bed—preferably all at the same time. Don’t tell me it can’t happen; I’m in the Otherworld, impossible is this place’s middle name.

But am I going to get what I want?

Nope.

Instead I have to freaking adult it, which means hauling my butt into some random room in the castle and making sense of the clusterfuck that is the present state of affairs.

“Well, well, well, look what the cat dragged in.” Temperance Darling, my best friend, colleague and fellow troublemaker, calls out as soon as we enter.

She sits alongside Malaki and several fae officials, her ankles propped on the table in front of her. Her eyes move over me. “And damn girl, looks like the cat didn’t just drag you in, it had a little fun with you too.”

My relief at seeing Temper alive is quickly eclipsed by her words. I spare my bloody battle leathers a glance before I take in Temper. She wears a white jumpsuit, and that outfit is pristine.

Next to her Malaki looks stern, his scar especially stark beneath his eyepatch. He keeps opening and closing his hands, and I get the distinct impression that he wants to hurt something.

As soon as he sees Des, he stands and crosses the room in a few quick strides. He brings his friend in close, slapping him on the back.

I move to the seat next to Temper. “You could take a few tips from him,” I say.

She waves the comment away. “Hugs are for pussies.”

I let out a little snicker, grabbing the cup of coffee resting in front of her and taking a sip from it.

“Hey, bitch, that was mine.”

“Awww,” I say, giving her a precious look, “does someone have trouble sharing?” I take a long drink from it.

Temper’s eyes narrow. “Careful I don’t hex that coffee to splash you in the face every time you drink it,” she says.

I smile over the rim of the coffee. “Careful I don’t glamour you to tell Malaki how you really feel about him.”

To be honest, I don’t even know if my magic works on humans anymore. But she doesn’t need to know that.

Temper shakes her head. “That’s low, Callie.”

The two of us fall to silence, watching Des and Malaki grip each other’s shoulders and make all sorts of man-oaths about dying by the blade to protect one another and yadda, yadda, yadda.

“Malaki is just being excessive,” Temper says. “We heard hours ago that you two were okay.” She nudges my shoulder with her own. “Heard you can now glamour fae.” She puts her fist out, and I bump my knuckles against hers. “Fuck yeah, my girl.”

Des and Malaki speak in low tones for a little longer. Something the Night King says causes Malaki to chuckle, and something the general says draws Des’s eyes to me, his gaze intense enough to make my stomach flutter.

He pulls away from his friend and heads over to the table, taking a seat next to me. His hand falls to my thigh as he nods at each of the advisors seated at the table who’ve also been waiting for us. A few of the advisors cast me and Temper curious looks. I doubt they’re used to having humans (former or otherwise) at these meetings.

“I’m glad to see everyone alive and well,” Des begins as Malaki takes his seat. “Let’s get straight to the matter: the Night Kingdom fell under siege tonight at the hands of our own people. What do we know about the situation?”

And thus, the talks begin.

The group of us rehash what we already know—a bunch of sleeping soldiers woke up from their long slumber, each possessed with the need to kill and maim and conquer. Then we tally up the dead and wounded, then note the damage wrought to the kingdom.

“We were not alone,” one of the advisors says. “We received reports from the other three kingdoms that they too were attacked.”

My dream floods back to me in all its vividness. Of the Thief standing amongst those poisoned oaks as they splintered open. I don’t know where the line between fantasy and reality is anymore.

“The Kingdom of Flora fell,” the advisor continues.

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