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Nightbane: Chapter 57

BEFORE

When Isla finished training, Grim was waiting for her in her room.

It had been weeks since he had told her the truth. She hadn’t sought him out, and he hadn’t returned.

“I told you I never wanted to see you again,” she said. The betrayal was still raw.

She didn’t mean it. She had missed him so much, but she needed time before she could think about forgiving him.

Grim tried at a smile. “I might have good news for you, then,” he said.

“What do you mean?”

He looked so serious.

Grim swept across the room and took her in his arms, and she let him, because she knew something was wrong. He studied every part of her face, as if trying to commit it to memory.

Her starstick was hot against her back. It was glimmering in his presence, as if in warning. Something isn’t right, it was saying. She gripped his chest and said, “What’s wrong?”

“The scar has opened. In a place it never has before. A place previously deemed safe.” Isla’s stomach sank. He had told her about the scar, about how he didn’t think Nightshade could survive much longer. “Hundreds of people live near it.”

Isla gasped. She opened her mouth, but he beat her to it.

“Whatever happens to me, heart, I want you to know something.”

“What?” she said. She tried to shake out of his arms. “Grim, nothing is going to happen to you, nothing—”

“Let me talk, heart,” he said, pressing a finger against her lips. “Interrupting is very rude.” She could tell he was trying to distract her. Trying to make her smile. She did not.

“I need you to know that you changed everything.” He ran his thumb down her cheek. “The gods don’t listen to people like me, but I would go on my knees and beg them to let me keep you. You were once the bane of my existence . . . and now, you are the center of it.”

He couldn’t possibly be saying this, not him, demon in the shadows, ruler of darkness. Not him, looking at her as if she was the answer to all his dreams. “My entire world was night, and you lit a match. No matter what happens to me in this life, I’ll find you in the next one. I’ll always find you. What I feel for you can never be extinguished. Like the nighttime sky, it is infinite. You and me . . . we’re infinite.”

Tears streamed down her face. Why did it sound like he was saying goodbye forever?

“No. Don’t go,” she said. “I can help you. We can figure this out, whatever it is, Grim, together. Let me go with you. We can try the sword. Let me go.”

“Okay, Hearteater,” he finally said. “You can come.”

He kissed her. It was quick, and brutal, and then soft—

She didn’t even notice when he slid a hand down her spine. By the time she did, it was too late.

He had taken her starstick and vanished, making sure she wouldn’t be able to follow.


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