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.She sprang away from the stranger’s arms and wiped her suddenly sweaty hands on her dress.Mistin jogged up to them.She had changed from an Apprentice’s plain green dress to a loose-fitting tunic and trousers.“Senna, have you met my brother?”Her face burning under Reden’s scrutiny, Senna shook her head.“Cord, this is Brusenna, but she goes by Senna because she wants to be new and better.”His eyes were still locked on her.She saw the resemblance.He had Mistin’s almond-shaped eyes, though his face had sharper planes.He was shorter than Joshen but taller than Reden, with a wiry build.His dark eyes seemed to weigh everything around him.And they were weighing Senna.She cleared her throat.“Do I know you? You seem familiar?”He grinned and his face went from brooding to handsome in a moment, but it was a dangerous kind of handsome.Senna could tell he used his beauty like a tool—an adept tool.“I think I’d remember meeting you.”Mistin glared at him.He turned his dazzling smile on her.She rolled her eyes.“Ignore him.He’s a bit of a flirt.”Reden cleared his throat.“If you two will excuse Senna and me.”Mistin grabbed Cord’s arm and hauled him towards the bow.Reden watched them walk away.“He doesn’t just want to help us.He wants to be your Guardian.”Senna lifted an eyebrow.“Another one?”Reden shrugged.“We could use the help.”She studied Cord.“Is he any good?”“He’s somewhat competent.” Reden said something in Tarten.Senna glanced askance at him.“What does that mean?”He hesitated.“A poor soldier’s worse than no soldier.”Senna absorbed this before saying the words that had been bearing down on her since they’d left the island.“Why did you come with us?” she asked softly.“Because of me, you lost your place as commander of the Tarten armies.And now you’ve lost the Leadership of the Guardians as well.”He spoke carefully.“We teach our Guardians to protect their witches—sometimes from their own folly.That includes the Heads.Three times, you were attacked by strangers on the island.I’m convinced someone with a lot of power is helping them.That means there’s a traitor.And if there’s a traitor, there’s some kind of treachery afoot.”He studied her, his gaze steady.“It all comes back to you, Senna.You’re the key to this.So I’m going to follow your lead.” He rested his hand on her shoulder.“I’ll be Leader of the Guardians again, because we’re going to save the Witches from their own foolishness.”She tried not to wince.“Are we doing the right thing?” After all, she’d betrayed those who trusted her.Had risked her mother’s happiness and Joshen’s love.“One can’t sacrifice a higher law for a lower one.”She stared at him.Reden nodded to himself.“When you’re in that moment of decision, where right and wrong are so mixed up you can’t tell which is which, always remember to follow the higher law.”It’s what he’d done when he’d sacrificed his home country for the world.“But how do you know which law is higher?”“It’s usually the decision that’s harder at first, but better in the long run.”She digested that quietly.He rested a hand on her back.“Now, how about we lend these sailors a hand mending the sails?”Senna glanced at him, startled.“You can sew?”He chuckled.“If I didn’t mend my clothes, who would?”“But you were the Commander.”Reden’s warm eyes studied her.“I wasn’t always, Senna.Once, I was a lot like you.”***It was the middle of the night when the cabin door creaked open.Senna’s breath caught in her throat, but she couldn’t see anything through the darkness clinging to her like pitch.Above the rhythmic sounds of the ship, she heard nothing.She considered reaching over and waking Mistin, but that might alert the intruder that she was aware of his presence.She reached for the dagger she kept in her seed belt beside the bed.“Senna, it’s just me.”She recognized Joshen’s whisper and sighed in relief.He crossed the room and crouched beside her bed.“What are you doing?” She glanced at Mistin, who hadn’t stirred.“We need you to sing.”Taking one of the spare blankets, she wrapped it around her shoulders and led him from her cabin.She started towards the bow, but he pulled her back.“Are things all right between us?” he asked.Her head dropped.“I don’t know.” Which really meant no.He shifted awkwardly.“Well then, how do I make it right?”“Joshen…” She sighed.How could she explain this so he would understand? “I have never believed in myself.Maybe it was because I was taunted as a child, and I came to believe those taunts.Eventually, I didn’t need the town bullies anymore—I did well enough belittling myself.”In the moonlight, Joshen’s sad eyes nearly undid her, but she continued.“After that, I never had to believe in myself.I had you to do that for me.” She went on, her voice barely a whisper.“It’s not all your fault, Joshen.This isn’t really even about you.I want to be strong.I want to believe in myself.Give me some time to learn who I am.”His mouth pressed in a thin line, and she hesitated.She hated confrontation.Her instinct was to pretend things were fine.But that wouldn’t help anything.“I’m not sure I can trust you.You would have stopped me from leaving Haven.”Joshen dragged his hand through his hair.“I was just trying to keep you from getting hurt.And it’s not like you’re perfect.” They were both silent for a while.“So I’m just supposed to accept that I might lose you?” His voice was thick with anger.She rubbed her face.“I am Witch born.It’s what I am.”He took a step towards her.“What you are is my love.”Her shoulders drooped.“Oh, Joshen.You fell in love with a Witch, and there’s a cost for that.” Her father had paid with his life [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]