Home > Fate's Edge (The Edge #3)(13)

Fate's Edge (The Edge #3)(13)
Author: Ilona Andrews

Jack shook his head. "She said that she and I were too much of the same. She said I was wild and she was wild, and when we got together, we were crazy. She says she isn't mad at me, but she won't go to the woods to hunt with me anymore. She spends time with George now. She says he's civilized."

He wasn't even sure what the hell that meant. One day, Lark was there; the next, she wasn't. It pissed him off and made him sad, until he was too confused to do anything about it.

William fixed him with his wolf eyes. "Lark is broken in the head."

"Damaged," Cerise said with steel in her voice.

"Damaged," William repeated. "Sorry. You know about the slavers?"

Jack nodded. Years ago, slavers had come to their house in the Edge and tried to kidnap Rose. His sister had the strongest magic in the Edge. Her flash was pure white, and she still practiced with it at least an hour every day. The magic made her valuable.

"Slavers stole Lark," William told him. "They put her in a hole in a ground and didn't feed her. One of them got into the hole with her to molest her."

Jack bared his teeth. "What?"

"She killed him with her magic," Cerise said. Her face looked strained, as if she was trying to keep herself calm. "They stopped feeding her. It was just her and his body for over a week. She didn't know how long she would stay in the hole or when we'd find her."

They both looked at him. This was an adult thing or a human thing, and he wasn't getting it, so he just waited.

"She might have eaten the slaver," William said.

Jack nodded. It was a fair kill. It was gross, but if he were stuck in a hole in the ground for a week, surrounded by enemies, he might have eaten human flesh, too.

"It's different for not-changeling people," William said. "It damages them."

"Why? Is there poison in the meat?"

"It's not that kind of damage," Cerise said. "Lark thinks that she is a horrible monster because of what she did. She hates herself a little, and she is trying to forget about it. Have you noticed how she is always wearing pretty dresses now, and her hair is always brushed really well?"

He'd noticed. He also noticed that she wouldn't go to the woods with him anymore. They used to have fun. They'd hunt and hang out. Now she wanted to sit on the chair on the balcony and have tea with Rose.

"She wants to be normal right now," Cerise told him. "She wants to forget the ugliness, so she is making everything around her pretty."

"And I am ugly," Jack said.

Cerise put her hand over her face. "Oy."

"You're not ugly," William said. "You're violent. You like to hunt and kill, and she can't handle the blood right now. Let her work it out on her own. When she's ready, she'll find you."

"Girls just don't like me," Jack said. "They prefer George."

"The girls at school like George because he is safe," Cerise said. "George has perfect manners, he is calm, and they know that if they are alone with him, nothing will happen. Don't try to be George. The kind of girls that like him are the wrong girls for you. You're looking for the girls that are attracted to a boy with a dark, dangerous side."

"I don't have a dark side," Jack said.

"Of course you do. At this age, it's all about the roles you play. When William and I do work for the Mirror, we often have to be somebody else. We have to put on different costumes and look the part."

"But I don't want to be somebody else."

"That's not what I am saying." Cerise sighed. "Let's take George. He puts on his costume, goes to school, and plays the role of the Tragic Prince."

"Cursed," Jack corrected.

"Cursed. But at home he's normal, right?"

Jack considered it. True, George was a bit weird at school. He rarely laughed, and sometimes he would stand by the windows and stare into the distance, looking sad, while a gaggle of girls whispered about him nearby.

"Yes," Jack said. "I get it."

"You just need to find your role. George is a Cursed Prince, and you might do better as the Mysterious Dark Loner."

William stared at his wife. "You thought way too much about this."

Cerise waved her hand at him. "You hush. Jack, look, it's very simple. You just have to keep to yourself and look nonchalant."

Jack blinked. "What?"

"William does a really good nonchalant look." Cerise turned to William. "Do the nonchalant for him."

William sighed and looked at Jack. It wasn't any sort of special look. It was just flat.

"So I have to look bored?"

"You have to look like you don't care. Like you would rather be somewhere else."

"I would! I would rather be anywhere else."

"Then it shouldn't be too hard. Don't tell people about yourself. Try not to get excited about anything where people can see you. If someone challenges you to a fight, shrug and keep going. If they persist, kick their ass. And once in a while, be yourself and do something randomly kind, the way you usually do, like help a smaller kid. If someone asks you why you do something, look nonchalant and tell them they just wouldn't understand and that there are things about you they're better off not knowing. Girls will eat it up."

Jack glanced at William for confirmation. William shrugged and looked nonchalant.

"Give it a shot," Cerise said. "Jack, you have to go to school. Trust me, you can't do anything in the Weird without at least a third-degree graduation scroll in your hand."

Jack inspected the table for a bit. "Nonchalant won't work on Rose and Declan," he said.

"What happened?" William leaned toward him and fixed Jack with his wolf stare. It was a hard, merciless stare that pinned Jack in place like a knife. If he met a wolf who looked at him like that in the forest, Jack would've puffed his fur out and snarled. And if that didn't work, he'd take off as fast as he could.

"There was a ball," Jack said, trying to keep his voice monotone. "Or a banquet. One of those things Declan does because of his job as Marshal. A lot of people came. I walked around. They never notice me because I am quiet. Some people were standing there eating shrimp and those crab things on toast. I walked up behind them. They were talking about Rose. An older man said that Declan had all those women he could've picked and he had to go to the Edge to get himself a whore, and why do they suppose he had to do that?"

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