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The Dark One: Chapter 34

PETER PAN

The twins look like they’re high, eyes glassy and unfocused. It takes me a second to realize they’re trapped in an illusion.

Darling is coherent though, with Tilly’s long nails threaded through her hair, her hand splayed over the top of Darling’s head.

I hold up my hands. “All right. You’ve got me. Now what do you plan to do with me?”

I don’t really care. I’m just trying to stall them.

Tilly laughs. “What do we plan to do? We want you dead. So consider this the invitation to your funeral.”

“Wait,” Hook says, teeth gritted. “I need to know how to claim the shadow before you off him.”

“Don’t worry, Hook. I’m sure we can figure it out.”

“Tilly, you always were too proud for your own good,” I say.

There are several fae with her, all of them dressed in the court’s dark battle gear, the cloth embroidered in iridescent thread, the shoulders and elbows outfitted with reticulated leather plates.

“Quite the outfits you all have there,” I say. “Tell me, do you polish your shiny leather boots before every battle too?”

Tilly’s mouth thins just as the room sways around me.

“I know what you’re doing,” I bite out as the darkness floats in and the air takes on the scent of wet earth. “Your illusions won’t work on me.”

Tilly fights me and my mind for another half minute before giving up with a huff. “Very well. Kill him.”

“Wait!” Hook steps between us. “My sister. They didn’t bring her.”

“Is that what you’re concerned about? You do realize these are my brothers. I’m literally risking their lives for this coup. And you’re worried about your sister, who’s been living with them for years?”

Hook’s nostrils flare as he inhales and schools his features. “I would just like some kind of proof that she’s okay or near. What if they did something to her? Or hid her? How would I ever find her?”

“Did you?” Tilly asks me. “Did you do something to Cherry?”

Certainly worth the bluff.

“I guess you’ll find out once I’m dead, won’t you?”

Tilly’s grip shifts on Darling and Darling cries out from a fresh wave of pain, the ache of it etching in the fine lines around her eyes.

My heart drops. “Stop!” I surge forward and the pirates lift their guns. The fae arm their bows.

I freeze.

Tilly wrenches Darling back. “Answer the question so we can get on with this.”

I meet Hook’s gaze. I don’t want to see any kind of emotion on his face. He didn’t seem to have any care for Cherry when he traded her for Smee.

But that was then. And this is now.

And he’s terrified we’ve done something to her. Maybe deep down he always knew he could get her back if she was at our house. Now he has no idea what to believe and no way of knowing the truth.

Now I’m glad we left her behind.

“Please,” Hook says.

I do not like being coerced by something so human as empathy.

The desperation on Hook’s face almost makes me change my mind.

Almost.

“She’s in a metal box at the bottom of the ocean.”

“No!” Hook screams right before he charges me.


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