Home > Fate's Edge (The Edge #3)(14)

Fate's Edge (The Edge #3)(14)
Author: Ilona Andrews

His voice was building. Jack knew he should keep calm, but the fury he'd felt last night woke up again inside him, like an animal that rose to find himself caged. He remembered every word and every sound of that conversation. William had told him before that it was a changeling thing, and his perfect memory was spurring him on now.

"And then the woman in blue on his left said that maybe there was something wrong with Declan, physically. He had to get the kind of woman who was dependent on him completely, so she wouldn't say anything."

The anger was scratching at him now, trying to rip him up from the inside out and escape. The skin between his knuckles itched, eager to let his claws out.

"And the other woman, in yellow, she said, 'Like mother like son. His mother was an Edge woman of ill repute.' And the man said that he questioned the wisdom of associating with a woman who brought two mongrel children with her and that there must be something really valuable in the services she performs in the bedroom for Declan to keep her around. And then I said . . ."

His voice snapped into a deep, ragged growl. The fury broke and took him off his chair. He knew his eyes were glowing, and he didn't care. "And I said that the Edgers take care of themselves and don't come to other people's houses looking for handouts and insulting people who're feeding them, like fat ticks leeching off their hosts and complaining that the blood they're stealing doesn't taste right. I said, you think my sister is an Edge whore? Then don't come here to eat her food."

"Oh, Jack," Cerise whispered.

"And then everyone was shocked." Jack paced up and down, snarling. The hair on his arms was standing on end. He remembered the man's scent, vivid and sharp, his face, his voice. "I wanted to kill him. They should've let me kill him! I would snap his neck with my teeth!"

"What happened next?" Cerise asked.

"Declan got this crazy look, and he said, 'Either the boy is lying, which he never does, or you've insulted my wife.' The man said, 'At our house, we chain our animals before the arrival of guests. Perhaps you should do the same.' Then Declan said, 'Leave or I will throw you out.' The man said, 'Is that a threat?' And Declan said, 'Would you like it to be?' The man said, 'If you insist,' and put his hand on his sword. And then Rose did her flash. It was shooting around her in spirals like white lightning, and her eyes were glowing with white, and she said, 'This is over! Leave before I slice you and your family into ribbons.'"

Jack kept pacing. "And then the banquet was over, and I had to go to Declan's office. He was really mad. I said, 'I was defending my family! He was a bad guy.' Declan said that he knew the guy was bad. I asked him why he invited him, and Declan said that he wanted to see who was friendly with this guy, so Declan could learn who his enemies are, and that I pretty much stabbed that plan through the heart. He said that he didn't expect me to be perfect, but we can't keep having these catastrophes every time I show my face in public. He said it's causing problems between him and Rose, and he doesn't want those kinds of problems, so we couldn't keep going on like this, and something had to change. He also said that I needed more supervision and that I left him no choice. And then he told me I could go."

Jack took a deep breath. "I know what this means. He doesn't have to spell it out. He's sending me to Hawk's! For supervision!"

"Sit down!" William barked, his eyes glowing with green.

Jack landed on the floor and shut up.

"The animal thing inside you, the Wild. Has it ever taken over?"

Jack shook his head.

"You ever see red?"

Jack nodded.

William glanced at Cerise. "He needs to rend and soon, and we don't have time. The first time is always the hardest." He turned back to Jack. "Listen to me. We have a thing inside us, the Wild. The Wild sleeps in a den deep in you. When you get angry, or worried, or excited, the Wild wakes up, and if you let it, it will break out. When the Wild takes over, you forget that there are rules. If it ever happens, you will kill in a frenzy, and you won't stop until you're dead or exhausted. It will take you to a place without gods. This is called rending. We all do this from time to time. There is the right way to rend and the wrong way. Rending in the middle of dinner filled with civilians is the wrong way. Do you understand?"

Jack nodded. "Yes."

"You must keep the Wild in check until you and I can find a way to release it safely."

"How?" Jack asked.

"I told you, the Wild sleeps in its den. When you see red, it's about to escape. That's when you push it back into its den and make it stay there. If the red ever goes black, you're gone. Don't let it drag you under, Jack. You get me?"

Jack nodded again.

"Next, Declan won't send you to Hawk's. That's not the kind of man he is. Even if he did, they probably wouldn't take you. You're too old. You wouldn't survive - they would have to crush your spirit completely, which would make you a lousy soldier and useless to them."

Yeah, yeah. They would take him if Declan asked, but now didn't seem like the best time to mention that.

"But the Camarine Castle might not be the best place for you for the next few years, no matter how much Declan and Rose love you. Their house is the house of the Marshal. Cerise and I are leaving tomorrow morning. We have a mission for the Mirror. When we come back, I'll speak to Declan about it."

The full enormity of the statement crashed on Jack. William was leaving. There would be no help. "Where are you going?" Jack asked in a small voice.

"You know I can't tell you where or how long we'll be gone." William leaned forward.

A weak hope flared in Jack's mind. "Can you talk to Declan tonight?"

"No. It's a long and complicated conversation."

The hope died. A mission for the Mirror could take a week or a month or half a year. He needed help now.

"So what am I supposed to do?" Jack asked. His voice sounded defeated even to him.

"Keep your head down, and don't do anything stupid," William said. "Stay out of trouble until I come back."

"Not going to happen," Jack said. He couldn't stay out of trouble because he had no idea where normal ended and trouble began. "I can't do that. I don't know how."

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