Sneak peek! Book 2 of The Feathered Princess series will be out December 16th! Book 1 will be available FREE on Amazon, every Saturday leading up!
“Why did you save us?”
Katya can make out the vague shape of beds as they round the final corner, step through a doorway into a large open room, windows the full length of the far wall, the moon shining through, but not enough light, not enough to see the woman, not enough to see more than four furniture legs and something lump-shaped atop.
“Why else would I save your lives?” the woman drawls. “I plan to barter with them.”
“But Elana wants me dead.”
The woman only laughs. Not a pleasant sound. And then that condescending voice raises Katya’s hackles even though she knows she’s in no position to be offended.
“Not until you sign over your newfound wealth,” the woman reminds her.
“So you’re bartering our lives with me? I’ll sign it all over as soon as you show me the papers.”
She’s not sure how, but somehow this time the woman’s sigh sounds genuine; it’s regret-heavy; it’s sad. “I don’t have time to wait through twenty years of legal battles, and that’s assuming the Mad Mother suddenly grows so completely incompetent she lets me live that long. I want out.” It’s a whisper now, a confession. “I don’t want to do this anymore.” Almost a wailed whisper, something sacred, a fragile hope. And then the tone is all business again, abrupt. “But if I want out, I need a damn good hiding place. And the only way you get a good hiding place is if you’ve got more than a couple million to throw around, covering all your burrow-holes, buying enough food to keep you hibernating for the rest of your natural life.”
“But who – ”
“Mamma and baby,” the woman cuts her off. “Don’t you think Daddy will pay to have you back?”
Katya feels her heart breaking all over again. Like it does every damn morning when she wakes up and remembers, “No, I don’t think he will.”
Because he doesn’t give a damn. Not about either of them.
The woman laughs.
“Oh, he will. Trust me. He will.”
“But he – ”
The shadow of the woman stops right before her, cuts her off again, non-sequitur.
“I’m the best,” the woman declares. “You’ve kept some tab on Elana, haven’t you? Heard about all the old family, dying off one by one as a series of mysterious accidents sweep across Eurasia?”
“I’m the best,” the woman repeats. “And do you know why I’m the best?” She answers her own question. “Because I do the best research. I know you,” she says with frightening intensity. “I know everyone you know. I know everything you’re going to do, before you decide to do it. I know everything they’re going to do. And I’m telling you, Niall will pay every last cent he has to get you back.”
Katya doesn’t believe her. And it’s that very fact that makes this conversation too painful to continue. So she harkens back to the earlier comment about mysterious accidents across Eurasia, asks, “So I should stick with Morana then?”
The Angel of Death.
An appropriate name for an assassin.
The woman shrugs.
“As good a name as any,” she agrees.
But Katya catches it, just the hint of a hoarse tone beneath the words. Hurt. She wants out.
“But that’s not your name,” Katya prompts.
Katya is lying in bed, one hand handcuffed to the headboard before she gets an answer. The woman is standing in the dark, against the wall, peering out one of the windows. Maybe she even thinks Katya is asleep by now.
“Finch,” she murmurs. “It’s the only name I’ve ever known.”
“Kate,” Katya offers.
And then, to her surprise, she slips to sleep.