“You can’t really believe that. ”
Liv bit her lower lip. “No,” she said. “I don’t. ”
“Will you tell him the truth? Roar needs to know what you’re doing. He needs to know why. ”
“You think it will help?”
“No. But you owe it to him. ”
Liv watched her for a long moment. “All right. I’ll talk to him tomorrow. ” She scooted higher on the bed, drawing the blanket over her legs. The sounds of the storm filtered into the room, and a cold draft flowed in beneath the bedroom door. “How is my brother really doing?”
Just a short while ago, she had threatened Aria. Now she was close and relaxed. Lost in her thoughts. Hot and cold, Aria thought. She wondered if there was anything in-between with Liv.
Aria pulled the other side of the blanket over her. The last time she’d seen Perry, he’d been bruised and abandoned by so many people. By her. She hated knowing she’d added to his pain. “It hasn’t been easy. ”
“It’s so much to do. So much to take care of,” Liv said. “He must be out of his mind missing Talon. ”
“He is, but we’re getting Talon back,” Aria said before she could stop herself.
Liv frowned, her green eyes roaming over Aria’s face. “Where are you from?”
Aria hesitated. She had the feeling her answer would shape their relationship from that moment on. Should she risk telling Liv the truth? She wanted trust between them, and here, late at night and in the quiet of her room, she just wanted to be herself. She drew a breath and answered. “I’m from Reverie. ”
Liv blinked at her. “You’re a Dweller?”
“Yes. . . . Well, a half Dweller. ”
Liv smiled, a small laugh bubbling out of her. “How did that happen?”
Aria shifted to her side and rested her head on her arm, mirroring Liv. Then she explained how she’d been cast out of the Pod in the fall and met Perry. She told Liv everything that had happened at the Tides’, and how she needed to find the Still Blue to get Talon back. When Aria finished, Liv was silent, and the sounds of the Aether funnels had faded. Rim had seen the worst of the storm.
“I’ve heard Sable mention the Still Blue a few times,” Liv said. Her eyes were heavy with sleep. “He knows where it is. We’ll find out and get Talon back. ”
We. Such a small word, but it felt huge. Aria felt a grounding, settling sort of thrill. Liv would help.
Liv studied her for a long moment. “So you don’t care what happened at the Tides’? That you were poisoned? You’re going back to my brother?”
Aria nodded. “I care, but I can’t imagine not going back to him. ” Lyrics sprang into mind, well-worn in her singer’s memory. “‘Love is a rebellious bird that nobody can tame,’” she said. “It’s from an opera called Carmen. ”
Liv narrowed her eyes. “Are you the bird, or is my brother?”
Aria smiled. “I think the bird is the connection between us. . . . I’d do anything for him,” she said, and realized that it really was that simple.
Liv’s gaze grew distant. “It’s a good saying,” she said after a long while. She yawned. “I’m going to sleep here. Sorry if I snore. ”
“Sure, why don’t you stay? There’s plenty of room if neither one of us moves. ”
“That won’t be a problem. I can’t move anyway. This dress is like wearing a tourniquet. ”
“You tied the belt wrong. I’ve worn that style of dress before in the Realms. I could show you the right way. ”
“No need. It’s a stupid dress. ”
Aria laughed. “It’s not stupid. You look amazing in it. Like Athena. ”
“Yeah?” Liv yawned again and closed her eyes. “I thought Roar would like it. All right. Show me how to tie the stupid dress tomorrow. ”
Soon, as promised, Liv snored. It wasn’t loud. Just a soft purr that wove with the sound of the wind, lulling Aria to sleep.