“You dare glamour me?” he growled, his violet eyes burning as they bore into my own. Lucien just pressed me harder into the wall.
Tamlin’s chair groaned as it was shoved back. He rose, claws at the ready, deadlier than any of the knives strapped to him.
Rhysand’s face became a mask of calm fury as he stared and stared at me. “I remember you,” he purred. “It seems like you ignored my warning to stay out of trouble.” He turned to Tamlin. “Who, pray tell, is your guest?”
“My betrothed,” Lucien answered.
“Oh? Here I was, thinking you still mourned your commoner lover after all these centuries,” Rhysand said, stalking toward me. The sunlight didn’t gleam on the metallic threads of his tunic, as if it balked from the darkness pulsing from him.
Lucien spat at Rhysand’s feet and shoved his sword between us.
Rhysand’s venom-coated smile grew. “You draw blood from me, Lucien, and you’ll learn how quickly Amarantha’s whore can make the entire Autumn Court bleed. Especially its darling Lady.”
The color leached from Lucien’s face, but he held his ground. It was Tamlin who answered. “Put your sword down, Lucien.”
Rhysand ran an eye over me. “I knew you liked to stoop low with your lovers, Lucien, but I never thought you’d actually dabble with mortal trash.” My face burned. Lucien was trembling—with rage or fear or sorrow, I couldn’t tell. “The Lady of the Autumn Court will be grieved indeed when she hears of her youngest son. If I were you, I’d keep your new pet well away from your father.”
“Leave, Rhys,” Tamlin commanded, standing a few feet behind the High Lord of the Night Court. And yet he didn’t make a move to attack, despite the claws, despite Rhysand still approaching me. Perhaps a battle between two High Lords could tear this manor to its foundations—and leave only dust in its wake. Or perhaps, if Rhysand was indeed this woman’s lover, the retaliation from hurting him would be too great. Especially with the added burden of facing the blight.
Rhysand brushed Lucien aside as if he were a curtain.
There was nothing between us now, and the air was sharp and cold. But Tamlin remained where he was, and Lucien didn’t so much as blink as Rhysand, with horrific gentleness, pried the knife from my hands and sent it scattering across the room.
“That won’t do you any good, anyway,” Rhysand said to me. “If you were wise, you would be screaming and running from this place, from these people. It’s a wonder that you’re still here, actually.” My confusion must have been written across my face, for Rhysand laughed loudly. “Oh, she doesn’t know, does she?”
I trembled, unable to find words or courage.
“You have seconds, Rhys,” Tamlin warned. “Seconds to get out.”
“If I were you, I wouldn’t speak to me like that.”
Against my volition, my body straightened, every muscle going taut, my bones straining. Magic, but deeper than that. Power that seized everything inside me and took control: even my blood flowed where he willed it.
I couldn’t move. An invisible, talon-tipped hand scraped against my mind. And I knew—one push, one swipe of those mental claws, and who I was would cease to exist.
“Let her go,” Tamlin said, bristling, but didn’t advance forward. A kind of panic had entered his eyes, and he glanced from me to Rhysand. “Enough.”
“I’d forgotten that human minds are as easy to shatter as eggshells,” Rhysand said, and ran a finger across the base of my throat. I shuddered, my eyes burning. “Look at how delightful she is—look how she’s trying not to cry out in terror. It would be quick, I promise.”
Had I retained any semblance of control over my body, I might have vomited.
“She has the most delicious thoughts about you, Tamlin,” he said. “She’s wondered about the feeling of your fingers on her thighs—between them, too.” He chuckled. Even as he said my most private thoughts, even as I burned with outrage and shame, I trembled at the grip still on my mind. Rhysand turned to the High Lord. “I’m curious: Why did she wonder if it would feel good to have you bite her breast the way you bit her neck?”
“Let. Her. Go.” Tamlin’s face was twisted with such feral rage that it struck a different, deeper chord of terror in me.
“If it’s any consolation,” Rhysand confided to him, “she would have been the one for you—and you might have gotten away with it. A bit late, though. She’s more stubborn than you are.”
Those invisible claws lazily caressed my mind again—then vanished. I sank to the floor, curling over my knees as I reeled in everything that I was, as I tried to keep from sobbing, from screaming, from emptying my stomach onto the floor.
“Amarantha will enjoy breaking her,” Rhysand observed to Tamlin. “Almost as much as she’ll enjoy watching you as she shatters her bit by bit.”
Tamlin was frozen, his arms—his claws—hanging limply at his side. I’d never seen him look like that. “Please” was all that Tamlin said.
“Please what?” Rhysand said—gently, coaxingly. Like a lover.
“Don’t tell Amarantha about her,” Tamlin said, his voice strained.
“And why not? As her whore,” he said with a glance tossed in Lucien’s direction, “I should tell her everything.”
“Please,” Tamlin managed, as if it were difficult to breathe.
Rhysand pointed at the ground, and his smile became vicious. “Beg, and I’ll consider not telling Amarantha.”
Tamlin dropped to his knees and bowed his head.
Tamlin pressed his forehead to the floor, his hands sliding along the floor toward Rhysand’s boots. I could have wept with rage at the sight of Tamlin being forced to bow to someone, at the sight of my High Lord being put so low. Rhysand pointed at Lucien. “You too, fox-boy.”
Lucien’s face was dark, but he lowered himself to his knees, then touched his head to the ground. I wished for the knife Rhysand had chucked away, for anything with which to kill him.
I stopped shaking long enough to hear Rhys speak again. “Are you doing this for your sake, or for hers?” he pondered, then shrugged, as if he weren’t forcing a High Lord of Prythian to grovel. “You’re far too desperate, Tamlin. It’s off-putting. Becoming High Lord made you so boring.”
“Are you going to tell Amarantha?” Tamlin said, keeping his face on the floor.