Chapter 27 – A Court of Thorns and Roses

Chapter 27

I lay in bed, watching the pools of moonlight shift on the floor. It was an effort not to dwell on Tamlin’s face as he ordered me and Lucien to leave and shut the door to the dining room. Had I not been so bent on piecing myself together, I might have stayed. Might have even asked Lucien about it—about everything. But, like the coward I was, I bolted to my room, where Alis was waiting with a cup of molten chocolate. It was even more of an effort not to recall the roaring that rattled the chandelier or the cracking of shattering furniture that echoed through the house.

I didn’t go to dinner. I didn’t want to know if there was a dining room to eat in. And I couldn’t bring myself to paint.

The house had been quiet for some time now, but the ripples of Tamlin’s rage echoed through it, reverberating in the wood and stone and glass.

I didn’t want to think about all that Rhysand had said—didn’t want to think about the looming storm of the blight, or Under the Mountain—whatever it was called—and why I might be forced to go there. And Amarantha—at last a name to go with the female presence that stalked their lives. I shuddered each time I considered how deadly she must be to command the High Lords of Prythian. To hold Rhysand’s leash and to make Tamlin beg to keep me hidden from her.

The door creaked, and I jerked upright. Moonlight glimmered on gold, but my heart didn’t ease as Tamlin shut the door and approached my bed. His steps were slow and heavy—and he didn’t speak until he’d taken a seat on the edge of the mattress.

“I’m sorry,” he said. His voice was hoarse and empty.

“It’s fine,” I lied, clenching the sheets in my hands. If I thought too long about it, I could still feel the claw-tipped caresses of Rhysand’s power scraping against my mind.

“It’s not fine,” he growled, and grabbed one of my hands, wrenching my fingers from the sheets. “It’s …” He hung his head, sighing deeply as his hand tightened on mine. “Feyre … I wish …” He shook his head and cleared his throat. “I’m sending you home, Feyre.”

Something inside me splintered. “What?”

“I’m sending you home,” he repeated, and though his words were stronger—louder— they trembled a bit.

“What about the terms of the Treaty—”

“I have taken on your life-debt. Should someone come inquiring after the broken laws, I’ll take responsibility for Andras’s death.”

“But you once said that there was no other loophole. The Suriel said there was no—” A snarl. “If they have a problem with it, they can tell me.” And wind up in ribbons.

My chest caved in. Leaving—free. “Did I do something wrong—”

He lifted my hand to press it to his lower cheek. He was so invitingly warm. “You did nothing wrong.” He turned his face to kiss my palm. “You were perfect,” he murmured onto my skin, then lowered my hand.

“Then why do I have to go?” I yanked my hand away.

“Because there are … there are people who would hurt you, Feyre. Hurt you because of what you are to me. I thought I would be able to handle them, to shield you from it, but after today … I can’t. So you need to go home—far from here. You’ll be safe there.”

“I can hold my own, and—”

“You can’t,” he said, and his voice wobbled. “Because I can’t.” He seized my face in both hands. “I can’t even protect myself against them, against what’s happening in Prythian.” I felt every word as it passed from his mouth and onto my lips, a rush of hot, frantic air. “Even if we stood against the blight … they would hunt you down—she would find a way to kill you.”

“Amarantha.” He bristled at the name but nodded. “Who is—”

“When you get home,” he cut in, “don’t tell anyone the truth about where you were; let them believe the glamour. Don’t tell them who I am; don’t tell them where you stayed. Her spies will be looking for you.”

“I don’t understand.” I grabbed his forearm and squeezed it tight. “Tell me—” “You have to go home, Feyre.”

Home. It wasn’t my home—it was Hell. “I want to stay with you,” I whispered, my voice breaking. “Treaty or no treaty, blight or no blight.”

He ran a hand over his face. His fingers contracted when they met with his mask. “I know.”

“So let me—”

“There’s no debate,” he snarled, and I glared at him. “Don’t you understand?” He shot to his feet. “Rhys was the start of it. Do you want to be here when the Attor returns? Do you want to know what kind of creatures the Attor answers to? Things like the Bogge— and worse.”

“Let me help you—”

No.” He paced before the bed. “Didn’t you read between the lines today?”

I hadn’t, but I lifted my chin and crossed my arms. “So you’re sending me away because I’m useless in a fight?”

“I’m sending you away because it makes me sick thinking about you in their hands!” Silence fell, filled only by the sounds of his heavy breathing. He sank onto the bed and

pressed the heels of his palms into his eyes.

His words echoed through me, melting my anger, turning everything inside me watery and frail. “How … how long do I have to go away for?”

He didn’t reply.

“A week?” No answer. “A month?” He shook his head slowly. My upper lip curled, but I forced myself into neutrality. “A year?” That much time away from him …

“I don’t know.”

“But not forever, right?” Even if the blight spread to the Spring Court again, even if it could shred me apart … I would come back. He brushed the hair from my face. I shook him off. “I suppose it’ll be easier if I’m gone,” I said, looking away from him. “Who wants someone around who’s so covered in thorns?”


“Thorny. Prickly. Sour. Contrary.”

He leaned forward and kissed me lightly. “Not forever,” he said onto my mouth. And though I knew it was a lie, I put my arms around his neck and kissed him.

He pulled me onto his lap, holding me tightly against him as his lips parted mine. I became aware of every pore in my body when his tongue entered my mouth.

Though the horror of Rhysand’s magic still tore at me, I pushed Tamlin onto the bed, straddling him, pinning him as if it would somehow keep me from leaving, as if it would make time stop entirely.

His hands rested on my hips, and their heat singed me through the thin silk of my nightgown. My hair fell around our faces like a curtain. I couldn’t kiss him fast enough, hard enough to express the rushing need within me. He growled softly and deftly flipped us over, spreading me beneath him as he wrenched his lips from my mouth and made a trail of kisses down my neck.

My entire world constricted to the touch of his lips on my skin. Everything beyond them, beyond him, was a void of darkness and moonlight. My back arched as he reached the spot he’d once bitten, and I dragged my hands through his hair, savoring the silken smoothness.

He traced the arc of my hipbones, lingering at the edge of my undergarments. My nightgown had become hitched around my waist, but I didn’t care. I hooked my bare legs around his, running my feet down the hard muscles of his calves.

He breathed my name onto my chest, one of his hands exploring the plane of my torso, rising up to the slope of my breast. I trembled, anticipating the feel of his hand there, and his mouth found mine again as his fingers stopped just below.

His kissing was slower this time—gentler. The fingertips of his other hand slipped beneath the waist of my undergarment, and I sucked in a breath.

He hesitated at the sound, pulling back slightly. But I bit his lip in a silent command that had him growling into my mouth. With one long claw, he shredded through silk and

lace, and my undergarment fell away in pieces. The claw retracted, and his kiss deepened as his fingers slid between my legs, coaxing and teasing. I ground against his hand, yielding completely to the writhing wildness that had roared alive inside me, and breathed his name onto his skin.

He paused again—his fingers retracting—but I grabbed him, pulling him farther on top of me. I wanted him now—I wanted the barriers of our clothing to vanish, I wanted to taste his sweat, wanted to become full of him. “Don’t stop,” I gasped out.

“I—” he said thickly, resting his brow between my breasts as he shuddered. “If we keep going, I won’t be able to stop at all.”

I sat up and he watched me, hardly breathing. But I kept my eyes on his, my own breathing becoming steady as I raised my nightgown over my head and tossed it to the floor. Utterly naked before him, I watched his gaze travel to my bare breasts, peaked against the chill night, to my abdomen, to between my thighs. A ravenous, unyielding sort of hunger passed over his face. I bent a leg and slid it to the side, a silent invitation. He let out a low growl—and slowly, with predatory intent, raised his gaze to mine again.

The full force of that wild, unrelenting High Lord’s power focused solely on me—and I felt the storm contained beneath his skin, so capable of sweeping away everything I was, even in its lessened state. But I could trust him, trust myself to weather that mighty power. I could throw all that I was at him and he wouldn’t balk. “Give me everything,” I breathed.

He lunged, a beast freed of its tether.

We were a tangle of limbs and teeth, and I tore at his clothes until they were on the floor, then tore at his skin until I marked him down his back, his arms. His claws were out, but devastatingly gentle on my hips as he slid down between my thighs and feasted on me, stopping only after I shuddered and fractured. I was moaning his name when he sheathed himself inside me in a powerful, slow thrust that had me splintering around him.

We moved together, unending and wild and burning, and when I went over the edge the next time, he roared and went with me.

I fell asleep in his arms, and when I awoke a few hours later, we made love again, lazily and intently, a slow-burning smolder to the wildfire of earlier. Once we were both spent, panting and sweat-slicked, we lay in silence for a time, and I breathed in the smell of him, earthy and crisp. I would never be able to capture that—never be able to paint the feel and taste of him, no matter how many times I tried, no matter how many colors I used.

Tamlin traced idle circles on the plane of my stomach and murmured, “We should sleep. You have a long journey tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” I sat upright, not at all minding my nakedness, not after he’d seen everything, tasted everything.

His mouth was a hard line. “At dawn.” “But it’s—”

He sat up in a smooth motion. “Please, Feyre.”

Please. Tamlin had bowed before Rhysand. For my sake. He shifted toward the edge of the bed. “Where are you going?”

He looked over his shoulder at me. “If I stay, you won’t get any sleep.”

“Stay,” I said. “I promise to keep my hands to myself.” Lie—such an outright lie.

He gave me a half smile that told me he knew it, too, but nestled down, tugging me into his arms. I wrapped an arm around his waist and rested my head in the hollow of his shoulder.

He idly stroked my hair. I didn’t want to sleep—didn’t want to lose a minute with him

—but an immense exhaustion was pulling me away from consciousness, until all I knew was the touch of his fingers in my hair and the sounds of his breathing.

I was leaving. Just when this place had become more than a sanctuary, when the command of the Suriel had become a blessing and Tamlin far, far more than a savior or friend, I was leaving. It could be years until I saw this house again, years until I smelled his rose garden, until I saw those gold-flecked eyes. Home—this was home.

As consciousness left me at last, I thought I heard him speak, his mouth close to my ear.

“I love you,” he whispered, and kissed my brow. “Thorns and all.” He was gone when I awoke, and I was certain I had dreamed it.

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