The Gargoyle Gets His Girl

Page 46

Shay stared into Nick’s cell. “Zane said he’s a levitating gargoyle.”

“Leviathan,” Nick corrected. “But I can fly.”

Shay took a step closer to Willa. “You’re friends with a gargoyle?”

Willa had no way of knowing if Shay had been sent down here to spy on them or not, so she chose her words carefully. “Yes. Very good friends.”

Shay looked at Nick again. “He looks mean.”

“He’s not mean at all.” Well, he was a mean kisser, but that was neither here nor there. “Zane’s meaner. He put duct tape over my mouth and wrapped my wrists and ankles in it to keep me from getting away from him.”

“That is mean.” Shay’s mouth bunched up on one side. “But Kyanna’s meaner.”

That felt like progress. “Is she mean to you?”

Shay shrugged. “Not too much anymore. She thinks I’m useless now so she leaves me alone.”

“I’m sure you’re not useless.” Willa hesitated. “Why does she think that now? Did she have a reason to think something else before?”

Shay’s gaze narrowed. “Are you a lapidus?”

That wasn’t an answer to Willa’s question, but she let it go and nodded. “Yes. And Kyanna wants me to work for her. But I refused. That’s why she locked me up.”

Shay came closer, shaking her head. “That’s not why she locked you up.”

“It’s not?”

“Nope.” Shay’s little nose scrunched up, and her voice grew softer as she leaned in. “The king is dying. Kyanna wants to be queen. But she thinks you’re dangerous.”

“Dangerous? In what way?”

“She thinks you might challenge her to be queen.”

“I can’t imagine why she thinks that. I’m just a jewelry maker.”

Shay nodded. “I heard her talking to Mom and Dad. She wanted them to go get you. They wouldn’t. I was listening through the door. She made Zane do it.” Shay shook her head. “He’ll do anything she tells him because he likes all the stuff she gives him.”

Willa let that sink in. Her parents had refused to help hunt her down. That was something. The news about Zane came as no surprise. He was definitely riding Kyanna’s jewel-encrusted coat tails. “I’m glad you were listening. It’s good to know that Mom and Dad didn’t want to help her.”

“Yeah, well, she got real mad at them. Told them they’d better not try to stop her.”

Willa sighed. Her middle sister was turning out to have a real goddess complex. And it looked like Willa had been thrust into the position of doing something about it. “Shay, how did you get in here?”

“I told the guards Kyanna said I could.”

“Smart girl.” Willa smiled at her little sister. “Do you think you could help us get out of here?”

Shay backed up, shaking her head. “You won’t be able to get past the guards.” Fear danced in her eyes. “And Kyanna will hurt me if I do.”

“I’ll protect you, Shay, I promise. Please, help me.”

Shay paused, confusion clouding her sweet face. “I can’t. I’m too scared of Kyanna. But if you’re as powerful as she says you are, you should be able to get yourself out of here.”

“Why does Kyanna think I’m so strong?”

Shay’s eyes flicked toward the door. “Because Mom and Dad told her you were.” She canted her head. “Isn’t that why you ran away? Because you couldn’t handle your gifts? That’s what Dad said. They were too much for you.”

“No, Shay.” Willa leaned her head on the slats. “I ran because I hated being forced to do things I didn’t want to. I hated having my life planned out for me. And for not having any say about it. I didn’t want to spend my life in service to the king. So I ran…because I wanted to live a different kind of life.”

Shay came close again. “The kind of life you live now?”

“Yes. Free. My gifts are my own, to use as I see fit.”

“You could be queen.”

Anyone could be in Rhoswynn. The crown passed through the royal family, but if the line ended, a new ruler was chosen from the citizenry, usually someone highly gifted. “I don’t want to be queen.”

She wanted to be a wife. Maybe Nick’s wife. And to be a mother. And a woman whose life was filled with love and friends and family. Not politics and power games and scheming.

Shay sat on the other side. “I wouldn’t mind being queen. You get a lot of pretty dresses.”

Willa looked hard at her little sister and thought about some of the things the girl had said. “Could you be?”

Shay shrugged. “Maybe. Someday.”

Next to her Nick made a noise like, Isn’t that something?

“Shay, Kyanna said you don’t have any gifts.” She’d also said Shay was useless, but no child should ever hear such a thing said about them. “That’s not true, is it?”

Shay pursed her lips. “I’m not supposed to talk about that.”

“You can tell me. I’m your big sister. It’s my job to protect you. Even though I know I haven’t been here to do that.”

Shay gave her a curious look. “Kyanna is my big sister, too.”

“Good point. And since it’s my fault that she’s become a problem for you, I’m going to do my best to make it up to you.”

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