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An hour later, I stand in an ornate ballroom at the Ryder mansion.
In a tux.
And my world has stopped spinning. Or perhaps it’s simply whirling too fast. At this point, it’s hard to know.
Myla Lewis is here.
Father steps up beside me. “How was the chat with Silvinio, my son?”
“Not too productive. He volunteered that he’s no longer gambling.” I leave out the tidbits about the Tithe and Aldred, since Father thinks those two can do no wrong.
“Is he gambling the demon fighting circuit again?” asks Father.
Father then launches into a recap on the latest winners and losers on the circuit. At least, I think that’s what he’s talking about. It’s hard to pay attention.
Myla is crossing the room.
And she’s heading in my direction.
At some point, Father stops talking. Myla pauses a few yards away. Her back is toward me, but even so, I’m a hunter. There’s no missing the slightest twitch in her ears. No one else stands near Myla. Only me and my father.
Myla must be listening to us.
My thoughts race. What did Walker say before? Myla might find me intriguing, and Walker didn’t want Myla to turn heartsick. And now, she seems to be paying attention. This is bad. True, I could be imagining her interest. But even if it’s one chance on a thousand that I could hurt her, I simply can’t risk it. Having Myla in my life will cause her nothing but pain, one way or another.
That leaves only one thing to do. Follow Walker’s instructions. His words echo through my mind.
If you ever encounter Miss Lewis, you should play the haughty thrax. Look down on her demonic side. She’ll hate it—and you—forever.
As Father walks off, I keep my gaze locked in Myla’s outline. She still seems alert, but isn’t fidgeting or clenching her fists. A wave of relief moves through me. Maybe I was imagining the connection between us. Every hunter makes mistakes.
Clang. Myla knocks over a can onto the floor.
Now I could leave, but my feet move toward Myla on their own. “Are you alright, Miss?”
She turns to face me and I could cheer for joy. Up close, she’s lovelier than I imagined. Life and light glitters in her brown eyes. My arms ache to envelop her. She smells of cinnamon and sunshine.
“I’m fine,” she says simply. “I dropped an empty can, that’s all.”
We pause. Lines of energy and interest flow between us, connecting our hearts. No, no, no. This isn’t supposed to happen. And it means I should definitely leave.
And I want to.
Yet I can’t.