What I had told Kazi was true. There was no Previzi driver who looked like him.
But there used to be.
Now he worked for us.
My father had hired him a year ago.
* * *
She’s racked with guilt, Jase. I’ve tried talking to her. You have to speak to her.
My mother had intercepted me after dinner, pulled me aside. Talk to her.
I watched Kazi walk away to her room—our room. I wanted to go after her, but I saw the worry in my mother’s eyes.
I tapped on Jalaine’s door and called to her.
She didn’t answer.
I knocked a little louder.
“Jalaine, open up. I need to talk to you.”
A Patrei never apologizes for decisions he’s made. And my father never did. This was one of his deathbed instructions—right after he had said I’d be faced with countless decisions. I didn’t regret pulling Jalaine from the arena. I didn’t regret our talk in the study or reprimanding her, but my anger was still loose and hot when we were in the dining room that night. When I had seen Kazi pinned beneath Fertig and soaked in blood, something furious and ugly had ripped through me. I wanted to tear something apart. Or someone. I shamed Jalaine in front of the family.
She was sixteen years old. She made a mistake. A serious one that nearly cost us our lives, but she was still my sister. She was family. And Patreis made mistakes too.
“I shouldn’t have shamed you in front of the family,” I whispered through the door. “I’m sorry.”
There was no answer.
If the job of Patrei were easy, I would have given it to someone else.
Sometimes, I wished he had. I wasn’t just having to live with my bad decisions, but his too, even decisions that seemed right at the time but now were all wrong, ones that had grown rotten over time, like forgotten eggs in the larder.
* * *
I stepped lightly through the hall, careful not to wake anyone. I had a new understanding of my father. There were decisions he had made that I had vehemently disagreed with. Decisions he put off that I railed against. And decisions he had made that I never blinked at. Like hiring Previzi drivers.
How can you look the other way?
And now I couldn’t. Kazi had described Zane, our man who coordinated deliveries at the arena, and the only one we trusted to make discreet deliveries to Beaufort. We didn’t want it to become common knowledge that he and his men were here. Zane was thirty-three, an older version of the cook’s husband.
“Mason,” I whispered and pushed his shoulder to wake him.
He lunged from his sleep, knocking me to the floor, a knife in his hand.
He blinked, realizing it was me. “Are you crazy?” he asked, his eyes wild, still coming awake. “I could have killed you.”
I should have known better than to push his shoulder to wake him. Mason always slept with a knife under his pillow. He was too young to remember details about his parents’ deaths, but he still had vague haunting memories of the night they died. They were killed in their sleep—an attack by a league that no longer existed. My father had wiped them out. Mason’s father was my father’s closest friend. That was when he became part of our family.
“It’s the middle of the night,” he groaned, still annoyed. “What do you want?” He pushed off me and stood, giving me a hand up.
“Let’s go to the kitchen and find something to eat.”