Shay gasped, eyes wide. “Wow,” she breathed. “You look like…stone.” Her hand opened, and her fingers flexed.
He glanced down. Damn bracelet had survived the shift. He reached out and laid his fingers on the cell’s crossbar. No way he’d get his hand through now. “You want to touch? See for yourself?”
She nodded, but wariness hung in her gaze and kept her from approaching him.
He closed his eyes. “I won’t look.”
Her small feet shuffled across the rock floor toward him. He kept his eyes shut. Didn’t matter. He knew exactly when her thin fingers touched his.
Power shot through him in a hard wave, the same way it had the first time Willa had come up to him at the fountain. He almost sucked in a breath, but she’d pulled her hand away just as fast. He opened his eyes and looked at her, almost expecting to see Willa there.
Shay stared at him with a solemn respect he hadn’t expected from one so young. He shivered and returned to his human form.
She came close to the bars, new knowledge shining in her eyes. “You love Willa. I felt it in you.”
He nodded, slightly in awe of the little girl’s gifts. “I do.”
Her small fist slipped between the bars, and she opened her hand, palm up. A gold filigree ring sat there. “Give this to her. It’s all I could get.”
He took the ring. “I will. Thank you.”
She nodded and left as quietly as she’d come, disappearing into a dark corner. Only the faintest shift in the air marked her passage through whatever hidden panel she’d used.
He held the ring up, then tried to slip it onto his pinky finger for safe keeping. It wouldn’t go past the first knuckle. He took his dog tags off, slipped the chain through the ring, then put the tags back on before settling in to attempt sleep again.
Shay’s powers were clearly being hidden, most likely because Willa’s parents had finally realized what a threat Kyanna was. And how dangerous that could be for Shay. He tucked one arm behind his head. How long before the little girl slipped up and Kyanna figured out Willa wasn’t her only threat?
He closed his eyes, but sleep eluded him. He had too much on his mind. Like how to save Willa and her little sister.
Willa woke, surprised she’d slept, but glad she had. Her plan was clear now. She just hoped she could pull it off.
The dungeon door swung open before she could speak to Nick. A guard came with food. Hard biscuits, a slab of cheese and a jug of water for each of them. Not exactly Mummy’s. She heard Nick moving in his cell and wondered if he’d slept.
“Morning, Nick,” she called over.
“Morning, beautiful,” he responded.
The guard grunted. Willa fixed him with a stare as he slid her tray through the slot. She grabbed it and went back to the bench to sit and eat. She was hungry and knew she needed to keep her strength up, but she also wanted to talk to Nick, and the guard wouldn’t leave them alone until they were done.
Nick finished first, a sign he understood the same thing. She drank as much water as she could stomach, split the biscuit and tucked the cheese into it, then shoved the tray out through the slats. It clattered to the ground.
“There,” she said to the guard. “Now you can go.”
He picked up both trays and left, scowling. Like she cared what he thought. She reached through the slats to grab the bars on Nick’s side.
Pings of fear, anger and sadness washed through her from the metal. She shuddered and forced the feelings down. “Nick. Come to the bars.”
His warm fingers interlaced with hers. “How are you doing?”
“I’m good. I have a plan. I just need Shay to come back with the things I requested.”
He sighed. “She came back last night. You were asleep. Kyanna took the things away from her.” His hand disappeared and the soft glide and clink of metal filled the space for a moment. “She told me to give you this.”
He held up a pretty gold ring made of whorls and spirals. Her mouth came open as she took the ring. Happiness and longing curled through her. “Shay gave this to you?”
“Yes. Does it mean anything?”
She nodded, then realized he couldn’t see her. “Yes,” she whispered. “It was mine.” Her parents had either given Shay the ring or Shay had found it. A few threads of worry coiled into Willa’s skin from the metal, probably the remnants of Shay’s feelings as she’d brought the ring to the dungeon. But that was the extent of the emotion. Perhaps Shay hadn’t worn it and had kept it in a jewelry box. Either way, there were no big negative feelings attached to it. “Did she say how she got it?”
She slid the ring onto her finger and leaned against the slats to reach her arm through to Nick’s side again. “I’m happy to have it, but it’s not enough.” Her plan was crashing down around her.
He laced his fingers with hers again. “What were you hoping for?”
“Enough metal to get us out of here.”
“Like for a key?”
She rested her head on the slats. “No. I was going to make you a new bracelet. One that would keep you safe from the influences of any other fae.”
“Maybe you could try again to get this one off me. Use the metal from that.”
“Won’t work. The metal on the bracelet is tainted with too much magic already. I wouldn’t want to risk reusing it. New magic layered on top of old could confuse it. Make it dangerous to you.” She let out a long sigh. Then a soft curse.