“How much metal do you need?”
“More than this ring.”
His hand disappeared again, then she heard the same soft metallic clinking she’d heard earlier. Then he held out his dog tags. “Would these work?”
“Oh, Nick, I can’t ask you to—”
“Of course you can. Our lives are at stake.”
“Even so, these must be important to you.”
“Not as important as you are.”
“Thank you.” She took them. The sensations spilling off them made her close her eyes. Courage was the strongest, followed by determination, then loneliness and discovery and, finally, trace amounts of fear. If she hadn’t already fallen for Nick, touching his dog tags would have pushed her over that edge. She smiled. “These are perfect.” His willingness to sacrifice something so dear would only strengthen the magic. Her confidence returned. “I’m going to work on this immediately.”
“Then I’ll put this new bracelet on you, get the old one off and we get out of here.” It wasn’t going to be quite that easy, but she worried that Nick would try to stop her if she told him the whole thing. Not only that, telling him would mean Kyanna could get the info out of him if she wanted.
Willa’s plan was risky. Life-or-death risky. She just didn’t know how else she was going to get them both free and protect Shay.
“Sounds good to me. You need anything else?”
She reached back to touch him one more time. “You don’t have a bar of gold over there, do you?”
“Not today.” She could hear the smile in his voice. “You can do this, Willa. I know you can.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”
“Is there any chance what you’re about to do could hurt you?”
She hesitated. “There’s always a chance. But it’s never happened yet.”
He gave her hand a little squeeze before sliding it back. “Well, be extra careful this time.”
“I will,” she said.
She took the dog tags and the ring and went to the bench. It was wood, like everything else in her cell. Not as pristine as her porcelain tub, but it would work. Before she’d moved into the apartment above the store, she’d done her magic in a large wooden salad bowl. She nodded. The bench would get the job done.
She peeled the rubber silencers off the dog tags, then put them on the bench. Next she slipped the ring off and set it beside them. With great focus, she kneeled and raised her hands over the two objects, closing her eyes and opening herself to the metal.
The heat and energy they emitted traveled into her palms and through her body, curling inside her rib cage with an easy pressure. The ring and the dog tags were still very distinct from one another. Both metals, gold and stainless steel, tended to be proud, but happy, which made them easy to work with.
The courage of the dog tags resonated the loudest. For the little gold ring, it was a true mix of happiness and longing. All three emotions would work well in the new piece.
She opened her eyes and took control of the metals. The ring sat up on its shank, while the dog tags rose to balance on their thin edges. The ball chain dangled down, pooling on the bench.
She pictured the bracelet Nick was wearing. She wanted to replicate that as closely as possible and melding two pieces into something brand new was tricky. And rare. Usually her work meant she was combining the sacrificed piece into the new piece she’d already created. She was going to have to be careful and precise. There would be no second chance to get this right, and she had no tools to use to make adjustments.
Whatever she ended up with was going to be the finished piece.
With that in mind, she fixed the image of Nick’s bracelet into her head. Focused on it. Then again on the pieces before her.
She willed them to obey her, to be open and agreeable to change. To accept their new form with happiness and to understand how important their purpose was.
She closed her eyes again and located their energies within her chest. She took hold of them and forced them toward each other with her mind and her hands.
When she opened her eyes, two shimmering clouds of metal danced before her. They overlapped slightly and her palms tingled, a sure sign that the process was working.
She smiled. And began to work the magic that would finalize the process. “Free Nick from the influence of all fae. Protect him from their commands. Let him be his own person, free to use his own mind and strength and true form in any way he wishes.”
She took a breath and brought the image of the bracelet to the forefront of her mind again. “Create this shape. Hold fast to it and meld with each other into something stronger. Become one with a new purpose.”
She closed her hands in, pressing the clouds of metal into each other. There was no resistance, a strange and wonderful thing. The clouds blended and the small sparks of gold and steel wove together to form a tight sparkling ball. The energy increased, growing stronger and slightly frantic. Eager, really, but a little hard to control. She clung to the magic, restraining the metal as best she could, but it was aligned with her, channeling her need for the end result to be flawless. She refocused her attention, holding strong to the image of the bracelet, then brought her hands together and gave the cloud one more push.
With a metallic twinkle, the cloud took on the shape of the bracelet and solidified. The brand new cuff stood on end for a moment, then fell to the bench, the shine and sparkle of the cloud gone, the metal transformed.