He told himself a story. Not at first. At first, there wasn’t time for thoughts that came in the shape of words. His head was blessedly empty of stories then. War was coming. It was upon him. Arin had been born in the year of the god of death, and he was finally glad of it. He surrendered himself to his god, who smiled and came close. Stories will get you killed, he murmured in Arin’s ear. Now, you just listen. Listen to me.
Her innocence was maddening. She should know. She should know what her steward had done. She should know it to be her fault whether she’d given the order or not–and whether she knew or not. Innocent? Her? Never.
He did not want her to know. He did not want her to see. But:
Look at me, he found himself thinking furiously at her. Look at me.She lifted her eyes, and did.
later, kestrel wished she had spoken then, that no time had been lost. she wished that she’d had the courage that very moment to tell arin what she’d finally known to be true: that she loved him with the whole of her heart.
The footsteps stopped. Her shackles rattled as she fumbled to get a finger and thumb up her left sleeve. She pinched the moth she had hidden there and pulled it free. She put her hand through the bars.
“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.
“She turned to look at him, and he was already looking at her. “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.””