It didn’t.


Sunlight through the open shutter roused Korin from his fitful sleep. From dreams of himself and Ádan in the alley, in the darkness. Dreams where Ádan's smile had twisted into something cruel and mocking, where Nikki’s words had come out of Ádan’s mouth. Dreams where Ádan hadn’t been alone, where Teriad and Jonathan had stood behind him. The names they’d called Korin had been even worse.

What Korin needed was to stop thinking about Ádan, and to that end, he had a plan for the day. Korin hadn’t forgotten Dustin. The man was healed, but he’d picked up the blight somehow, from somewhere. If that magic, that infection was in Triome, Korin needed to find it.

Even this early, Triome was awake and bustling. Korin fell in with the moving crowd, kept his head down, tried to avoid attention.

Until a familiar voice said, “I’m sorry.”

“What?” Korin looked up, surprised, almost tripped.

Ádan caught his elbow, steadied him. “That’s what I should have started with last night. I’m sorry.”

Had Ádan held on longer than was necessary, or was Korin so focused on every casual touch that they seemed to go on forever?

Oh, Light, he was in trouble. “You’re not forgiven.” But the words didn’t have the energy to be convincing.

“What Nikki said was terrible, and I know you have no reason in the world to trust me. I don’t know how to prove to you that I’m not like that. But…” Ádan’s voice lowered, his tone now utterly serious. “There’s something bad happening in this city. We both saw it. And no one else seems to care.”

Even harder to believe than the idea that Korin had found the one non-wizard who was completely comfortable with magic was the idea that he’d randomly stumbled across a nobleman concerned for the health of people in his city. “You’re telling me you want to help track down the blight.”

“Was that in question?” The familiar cheer had returned to Ádan’s voice. “So where are we going?”

“I suppose it does me no good to say you aren’t invited.”

Korin expected a quick retort, but there was only silence from Ádan. When he looked over, Korin had to stop walking, his entire attention drawn to the serious depths of Ádan's dark eyes. “Do you truly want me to leave you alone?” Ádan asked softly.

The rational answer was yes. The answer that belonged to this new life, a life of keeping his head down, of staying safe. But the word caught in Korin’s throat. He couldn’t say it, not caught in the trap of those beautiful eyes. “I’m going to talk to Renée. She’s been in the city longer than me. I’m hoping she might have some idea of how to start looking.”

Ádan broke the eye contact. A good thing, or Korin would have stood like that all day. Ádan waved his hand forward, gesturing for Korin to precede him. After only another moment’s hesitation, Korin started walking again and allowed Ádan to follow.


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About the author

Barbara J Webb


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