A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses 1) - Page 87

“Go to Hell,” I snapped, but the words were little more than a wheeze. My head was light and heavy all at once. If I tried to stand, I would topple over.

He stalked closer with that feline grace and dropped into an easy crouch before me. He sniffed, grimacing at the corner splattered with my vomit. I tried to bring my feet into a position more inclined for scrambling away or kicking him in the face, but they were full of lead.

Rhysand cocked his head. His pale skin seemed to radiate alabaster light. I blinked away the haze, but couldn’t even turn aside my face as his cold fingers grazed my brow. “What would Tamlin say,” he murmured, “if he knew his beloved was rotting away down here, burning up with fever? Not that he can even come here, not when his every move is watched.”

I kept my arm hidden in the shadows. The last thing I needed them to know was how weak I was. “Get away,” I said, and my eyes stung as the words burned my throat. I had difficulty swallowing.

He raised an eyebrow. “I come here to offer you help, and you have the nerve to tell me to leave?”

“Get away,” I repeated. My eyes were so sore that it hurt to keep them open.

“You made me a lot of money, you know. I figured I would repay the favor.”

I leaned my head against the wall. Everything was spinning—spinning like a top, spinning like … I kept my nausea down.

“Let me see your arm,” he said too quietly.

I kept my arm in the shadows—if only because it was too heavy to lift.

“Let me see it.” A growl rippled from him. Without waiting for my reaction, he grabbed my elbow and forced my arm into the dim light of the cell.

I bit my lip to keep from crying out—bit it hard enough to draw blood as rivers of fire exploded inside me, as my head swam, and all my senses narrowed down to the piece of bone sticking through my arm. They couldn’t know—couldn’t know how bad it was, because then they would use it against me.

Rhysand examined the wound, a smile appearing on his sensuous lips. “Oh, that’s wonderfully gruesome.” I swore at him, and he chuckled. “Such words from a lady.”

“Get out,” I wheezed. My frail voice was as terrifying as the wound.

“Don’t you want me to heal your arm?” His fingers tightened around my elbow.

“At what cost?” I shot back, but kept my head against the stone, needing its damp strength.

“Ah, that. Living among faeries has taught you some of our ways.”

I focused on the feeling of my good hand on my knee—focused on the dry mud beneath my fingernails.

“I’ll make a trade with you,” he said casually, and gently set my arm down. As it met with the floor, I had to close my eyes to brace against the flow of that poisoned lightning. “I’ll heal your arm in exchange for you. For two weeks every month, two weeks of my choosing, you’ll live with me at the Night Court. Starting after this messy three-trials business.”

My eyes flew open. “No.” I’d already made one fool’s bargain.

“No?” He braced his hands on his knees and leaned closer. “Really?”

Everything was starting to dance. “Get out,” I breathed.

“You’d turn down my offer—and for what?” I didn’t reply, so he went on. “You must be holding out for one of your friends—for Lucien, correct? After all, he healed you before, didn’t he? Oh, don’t look so innocent. The Attor and his cronies broke your nose. So unless you have some kind of magic you’re not telling us about, I don’t think human bones heal that quickly.” His eyes sparkled, and he stood, pacing a bit. “The way I see things, Feyre, you have two options. The first, and the smartest, would be to accept my offer.”

I spat at his feet, but he kept pacing, only giving me a disapproving look.

“The second option—and the one only a fool would take—would be for you to refuse my offer and place your life, and thus Tamlin’s, in the hands of chance.”

He stopped pacing and stared hard at me. Though the world spun and danced in my vision, something primal inside me went still and cold beneath that gaze.

“Let’s say I walk out of here. Perhaps Lucien will come to your aid within five minutes of my leaving. Perhaps he’ll come in five days. Perhaps he won’t come at all. Between you and me, he’s been keeping a low profile after his rather embarrassing outburst at your trial. Amarantha’s not exactly pleased with him. Tamlin even broke his delightful brooding to beg for him to be spared—such a noble warrior, your High Lord. She listened, of course—but only after she made Tamlin bestow Lucien’s punishment. Twenty lashes.”

I started shaking, sick all over again to think about what it had to have been like for my High Lord to be the one to punish his friend.

Rhysand shrugged, a beautiful, easy gesture. “So, it’s really a question of how much you’re willing to trust Lucien—and how much you’re willing to risk for it. Already you’re wondering if that fever of yours is the first sign of infection. Perhaps they’re unconnected, perhaps not. Maybe it’s fine. Maybe that worm’s mud isn’t full of festering filth. And maybe Amarantha will send a healer, and by that time, you’ll either be dead, or they’ll find your arm so infected that you’ll be lucky to keep anything above the elbow.”

My stomach tightened into a painful ball.

“I don’t need to invade your thoughts to know these things. I already know what you’ve slowly been realizing.” He again crouched in front of me. “You’re dying.”

My eyes stung, and I sucked my lips into my mouth.

“How much are you willing to risk on the hope that another form of help will come?”

I stared at him, sending as much hate as I could into my gaze. He’d been the one who’d caused all this. He’d told Amarantha about Clare; he’d made Tamlin beg.


I bared my teeth. “Go. To. Hell.”

Swift as lightning, he lashed out, grabbing the shard of bone in my arm and twisting. A scream shattered out of me, ravaging my aching throat. The world flashed black and white and red. I thrashed and writhed, but he kept his grip, twisting the bone a final time before releasing my arm.

Panting, half sobbing as the pain reverberated through my body, I found him smirking at me again. I spat in his face.

He only laughed as he stood, wiping his cheek with the dark sleeve of his tunic.

“This is the last time I’ll extend my assistance,” he said, pausing by the cell door. “Once I leave this cell, my offer is dead.” I spat again, and he shook his head. “I bet you’ll be spitting on Death’s face when she comes to claim you, too.”

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