If her heart were truly a scroll, she could burn it. It would become a tunnel of flame, a handful of ash. The secrets she had written inside herself would be gone. No one would know. Her father would choose the water for Kestrel if he knew. Yet she couldn’t. In the end, it wasn’t cunning that kept her from jumping, or determination. It was a glassy fear. She didn’t want to die. Arin was right. She played a game to its end.
“Congratulate me. I am to marry the heir to the empire.” She saw him believe it. She saw betrayal wash across his features, then understanding. She saw his thoughts. Hadn’t she pulled away from his embrace, escaped across his roof, and nearly drawn a weapon on him? Who was he, to her? And Kestrel liked to win. Wasn’t the someday role of empress a tempting stake? Power might persuade where Ronan hadn’t.
❝Did he even know what love was? For that matter, did I? Even my parents didn’t seem to know. […] Maybe there was no one way to define it. Maybe there were as many shades of love as the blues of the sky.❞
She had sworn to herself not to speak to Arin, but then he said, “You’re coming with me to the harbor.” This suprised her into saying, “To do what? Why not lock me up in the barrackes? It would be a perfect prison for your prize.” He continued to walk her down the halls of her home. “Unless Cheat changes his mind about you.” Kestrel imagined the auctioneer unlocking her cell door. “I suppose I’m no good for you dead.” “I would never let that happen.” “What a touching concern for Valorian life. As if you hadn’t let your leader kill that woman. As if you’re not responsible for the death of my friends.” They stopped before the door to Kestrel’s suite. Arin faced her. "I will let every single Valorian in this city die if it means that you don’t.“
“It will never fade, Alina. It will only grow worse, no matter how many scarves you hide behind or what lies you tell, no matter how far or how fast you run.” I tried to turn away, but he reached out and took hold of my chin, forcing me to look at him. He was so close I could feel his breath. “There are no others like us, Alina,” he whispered. “And there never will be.” I lurched away from him, knocking the chair over, nearly losing my balance. I pounded on the door with my iron-bound fists, calling out to Ivan as the Darkling looked on. He didn’t come until the Darkling gave the order. (insp)
“I’m going to miss you when I wake up,” she whispered, because she realized that she must have fallen asleep under the sun. Arin was too real for her imagination. He was a dream.
“Don’t wake up,” he said.
I cut my hands over my face and exhale, inhale, exhale again. Just keep breathing. No matter what happens, no matter who turnds on me, no matter what pompous swine thinks he has power over me, I am still me. I will always be me.
I am Adelina Amouteru, the phantoms whispered to my father, speaking my most frightening thoughts in a chorus of voices, dripping with hatred. My hatred. I belong to no one. On this night, I swear to you that I will rise above everything you’ve ever taught me. I will become a force that this world has never known. I will come into such power that none will dare hurt me again.
He walked, thinking of the things he had learned in the parlor. His mind touched them, considering their shares and sizes as if they were beads on a string. He dwelled momentarily on one particular fact: his new mistress had freed a slave. Arin let this information slip along the string in his mind, click against the other beads, and be silent.
"So? You don’t know everything. People are unhappy for many reasons.“ Arin’s voice was impatient, and she thought that they were no longer talking about the captain. "What do you know of unhappiness? he said. "What makes you think you can see into the hearts of men?” He spurred his horse ahead, and the puzzle about the senator and the captain flew out of Kestrel’s mind as she concentrated on keeping up.
He holds my hands as if they’re the only things pinning him to the earth, and I focus on that as I prepare myself for the words coming, the promises I’ll never break. It’s magical, really, the power of this day. But even I know this isn’t a fairy tale.I know that we’ll have hard times, confusing times. I know that things won’t always happen the way we want them to and that we’ll have to work to remember that we chose this. It won’t be perfect, not all the time. This isn’t happily ever after. It’s so much more than that.
Kestrel caught the haughty tone of her thoughts. She felt the way it thinned her mouth. She realized she was furious at this letter. At herself. At the way her heart had leaped to see her name scrawled in the Herrani alphabet. She had hoped so hard that the envelope was from Arin. But she’d had no contact with him for nearly a month, not since she’d offered him his country’s freedom. And the evelope hadn’t even been addressed in his hand. She knew his writing. She knew the fingers that would hold the pen. Blunt-cut nails, silver scars from old burns, the calloused scrape of his palm, all very at odds with his elegant cursive. Kestrel should have know right away that the letter w a s n ’ t f r o m h i m.