I smiled. “Don’t worry, Patrei. I’m a good listener.” He began, still pressing my hand to his chest.
“I have no mouth, but my hunger is fed,
With glimpse, and touch, and kindness said.
I have no eyes, but see a soul,
The only one that makes me whole.
I swell beneath a soldier’s palm,
Its touch my breath, my blood, my calm.
I am utterly lost, but completely found,
Captured, taken … a prisoner bound.”
My throat ached. I knew the answer, but I played the game. “A key? The wind? A map?” His lips brushed mine between each wrong guess.
“It may take me a while to figure this out,” I said.
His mouth was warm against mine, his tongue gentle, his hands curling through my hair. “Take as long as you like.”
We were in no hurry.
We were alone, we had each other, and we had a whole wilderness ahead of us.
The bird was dead. He’d seen it fall from the sky. A dozen arrows had followed its flight. One had found its mark in the bird’s breast. He scooped it up with his bony fingers and cradled the bird. Its neck was broken, and its head fell back in an elegant swoon over his arm. He already knew what the note attached to its leg said. He’d stood behind Jalaine as she wrote it.
Jase, Kazi, anyone,
Come! Please! Samuel is dead.
They’re banging the door.
I have to—
He’d known she wouldn’t have time to finish the note. She had barely had time to release the bird. He looked down to where the arrow pierced its stained breast. He gripped the shaft and pulled it from the bird. A spray of downy white feathers floated to the ground. He didn’t know if it would help, but he had promised Jalaine, and he always kept his promises. He lifted the bird to his mouth and whispered against the feathers. Not yet. Not today, then threw the bird into the air.
Its wings snapped taut, catching the current, and it flew away from Tor’s Watch.
I am so thankful to the enormously talented team at Macmillan and Henry Holt: Jean Feiwel, Laura Godwin, Angus Killick, Jon Yaged, Christian Trimmer, Morgan Dubin, Brittany Pearlman, Ashley Woodfolk, Teresa Ferraiolo, Allison Verost, Lucy Del Priore, Katie Halata, Mariel Dawson, Robby Brown, Molly Ellis, Jennifer Gonzalez, Claire Taylor, Jennifer Edwards, Jess Brigman, Mark Von Bargen, Sofrina Hinton, and the army of you who work behind the scenes—from advertising to marketing, to sales and publicity, to hand-selling at every stage of the process—you make book magic happen. Without you, Dance of Thieves wouldn’t
exist, and I am grateful to all of you.
Additional accolades to Starr Baer, Ana Deboo, and Rachel Murray for careful and multiple reads and expert advice. Rachel, also extra thanks for all the hats you wear—you keep the wheels turning.
I am forever indebted and grateful to my extremely talented editor, Kate Farrell. She is so very smart, patient, always there with a listening ear, and offers up boatloads of wisdom at every turn. She is a rare gem, and I’m one lucky writer to have her.
Thanks and hugs to Caitlin Sweeny, who championed this book from the beginning and continued to support it from afar and offered the very first “review,” which meant the world to me.
Keith Thompson, map artist extraordinaire, worked his magic again. I am such a map geek, and I may have squealed when I found out he was creating a new map for Dance of Thieves. He brought the Remnant world and now Jase and Kazi’s world alive with positive brilliance.
I am always surprised by the breadth of talent of Rich Deas. The Dance of Thieves cover is perhaps one of the prettiest covers I have ever seen, and with wings and swords and thannis vine, he infuses meaning and beauty into his art. The cover is everything I could have hoped for and more. Thank you, Rich. Many thanks also to Becca Syracuse, who worked on the design details and made the whole book come together in a stunning way.