Home > The Forest of Shadow and Bones

The Forest of Shadow and Bones
Author: Jessica Sorensen

One

Dash


There are certain times when I love my job, but there are other times when I absolutely loathe it. Take ten minutes ago.

Ten minutes ago, I was having a blast at Glamor & Glitter & Wings, an all-exclusive fey club located in New York City. While I’m not fey, my—well, let’s call it a condition—makes me seemingly undetectable to every creature I cross paths with. So I have an easy time pretending I’m fey, werewolf, vampire—whatever my little heart desires.

But let’s get back to my story, back to where I went from having a fucking awesome time while flirting with a beautiful fey woman to my dead body being discarded in a dumpster behind the club.

It all started while I was following my boss Vivianne Monarelle, Head of Interrogation at Guardian Academy, the school where I’m training to become a paranormal investigator. That’s what Guardians do. They solve paranormal crimes and murders committed by the paranormal to the paranormal. And one day, if I can ever graduate, I’ll be able to work cases. But, as of right now—at least before I died—I’m currently stuck doing other people’s dirty work. And by dirty work, I mean tailing Vivianne and making sure she isn’t doing anything sketchy.

Normally, I don’t care about doing risky tasks, like tailing my boss. But Vivianne isn’t just my boss. She’s my linea vitam, which means I’m bound to her. If she asks me to do something, I have to do it, or else I’ll drop dead—I’m guessing you can probably see where this is going.

Normally, I try not to do anything to piss her off, but the woman has been doing some questionable stuff lately. Maybe that’s why I agreed to secretly follow her. Or perhaps I’m just an idiot who makes stupid choices. If I made wise choices, I would’ve focused on staying incognito, instead of flirting with half the fey in the club. Then again, what happened might have been inevitable if Vivianne knew I was following her the entire time and was just waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

“Dash, Dash, Dash.” Her shrill voice makes my muscles constrict and my lip curls. “What an odd coincidence meeting you here.” Her tone suggests otherwise.

“Could you excuse me for a moment?” I ask the gorgeous fey I was talking to.

I set my drink down on the bar top and face Vivianne, plastering a charming smile on my face. “Vivianne, I didn’t know you were in New York. I thought you didn’t have a vacation coming up for another month or so.”

She has her arms crossed, her hair is pulled back in a tight bun, and a pleased look lights up her pinched face. “You’ve always been terrible at following people, Dash.”

“Following people?” I feign dumb. “I’m not really sure what you mean.”

She inches toward me and lowers her voice to a hiss. “You should know by now that it’s pointless to lie to me.”

“I’m not lying.” My voice comes out as smooth as the whiskey I was just drinking, but inside, I’m on edge. I can tiptoe around the truth for as long as I want, find loopholes to Vivianne’s questions, but once she demands the truth, I have no choice except to give it to her. “And I’m not really sure what you think I’m lying about.”

“So we’re going to play it the hard way, then, are we?” She slants back and snaps her fingers. “Follow me outside. Now.”

I fight to keep my feet planted to the black, marble floor, but the bond kicks in, and a silent, slightly painful warning creeps up inside me.

If I don’t do as she says, I’ll take my last breath.

She grins, pleased with herself, as I gradually step toward her like a puppet.

“Good boy.” She pats my head before turning and pushing her way through the crowd and toward the back entrance.

I feel like an idiot for letting my guard down and getting caught. I thought she was upstairs and would be for a while—I overheard her talking with the manager of the club about a meeting that was supposed to last for hours. Why hadn’t I paid more attention to the stairway and making sure she didn’t decide to come downstairs early?

Because you were distracted by the fey with the pretty, silver eyes and luscious lips.

Vivianne reels toward me the second we step into the alleyway just outside the club. “So, do you want to tell me why you’re really here tonight? Or am I going to have to force the truth out of you?”

I shrug as the exit door behind me bangs shut. “I wasn’t here for anything in particular. Just having some fun. That is what clubs are for.”

“I demand that you tell me why you’re really here.” She folds her arms and taps her foot impatiently. “And no tiptoeing around the truth or finding loopholes. You’ll tell me the exact reason you came to Glamor & Glitter & Wings.”

Dammit! There she goes, using the word demand.

“I was …” I fight to bite back the words rushing up my throat, but end up choking on them. I’m left with no choice but to open my mouth. “I was following you.”

“I thought so.” She stalks toward me, her black heels clicking against the asphalt. “But what I really want to know is why? And who made you follow me?”

“I’d rather not tell you,” I say flatly, holding my ground, even though I want to run away from her like a coward.

Escaping her is the only way out of telling her everything. If I try to run at the wrong moment, though, she’ll just demand that I come back. I could clock her over the head, but the woman is freakishly strong.

“I don’t really give a crap if you don’t want to tell me.” Fury flames in her eyes. “You will tell me. I demand you to!” The rage fizzles to a look of sheer glee, which may be more frightening than her being angry. “And then, after you tell me, I’m going to have the person executed.” Her eerily sweet grin makes me hate her even more than I already do.

“You can’t do that.” I stand my ground, feigning calm, although the bond is screaming at me to open my mouth and pour out all of my secrets to her. “You’re not in charge of executions.”

“Aren’t I?” She thrums her finger against her lip. “Maybe you haven’t heard, but I just got promoted to Head of the Guardian Committee, which means I’m now in charge of the executions.”

My fingers fold inward, my fingernails splitting open my palms. “You’re lying,” I growl.

Her lips curl. “Then why are you so upset?”

I swallow the lump wedged in my throat. She could be lying, but with how happy she looks, I doubt it. I can’t tell her the truth, though. Not when the person she’s threatening to have executed is Jax, my twin brother.

“I won’t tell you.” I choke on the words as the air gets knocked out of my chest. I inhale, gasping for oxygen, but invisible fingers wind around my windpipe.

“Yes, you will!” Her voice trembles with rage as she storms toward me. “You don’t have a choice.”

Shaking my head, I clutch at my neck as I collapse to my knees. I do have a choice. I’ve always had a choice, ever since the day my father traded my freedom for something he wanted from Vivianne. I never knew what that thing was or why it was more important than his son. All I know is that, almost four years ago, I went from a carefree fifteen-year-old who did whatever he wanted whenever he wanted to this pathetic guy kneeling helplessly on the ground in front of Vivianne. I’ve just never had the balls to make that choice.

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