Home > House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2)(9)

House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2)(9)
Author: Sarah J. Maas

A knock on the box door shut off her reply, and a satyr server appeared, carrying a tray of complimentary champagne. “From Miss Andromeda,” the cloven-hoofed male announced.

Bryce grinned. “Wow.” She made a mental note to double the size of the bouquet she’d planned to send to June tomorrow. She took the glass the satyr extended to her, but before she could raise it to her lips, Hunt halted her with a gentle hand on her wrist. She’d officially ended her No Drinking rule after this spring, but she suspected the touch had nothing to do with reminding her to go slow.

Arching a brow, she waited until the server had left before asking, “You want to make a toast?”

Hunt reached into an inner pocket of his suit and pulled out a small container of mints. Or what seemed like mints. She barely had time to react before he plopped a white pill into her glass.

“What the Hel—”

“Just testing.” Hunt studied her glass. “If it’s drugged or poisoned, it’ll turn green.”

Ember chimed in with her approval. “The satyr said the drinks are from Juniper, but how do you know, Bryce? Anything could be in it.” Her mom nodded at Hunt. “Good thinking.”

Bryce wanted to object, but … Hunt had a point. “And what am I supposed to do with it now? It’s ruined.”

“The pill is tasteless,” Hunt said, clinking his flute against hers when the liquid remained pale gold. “Bottoms up.”

“Classy,” she said, but drank. It still tasted like champagne—no hint of the dissolved pill lingered.

The golden sconces and dangling starburst chandeliers dimmed twice in a five-minute warning, and Bryce and Hunt took their seats behind her parents. From this angle, she could barely make out Fury in the front row.

Hunt seemed to track the direction of her attention. “She didn’t want to sit with us?”

“Nope.” Bryce took in her friend’s shining dark hair, her black suit. “She wants to see every drop of Juniper’s sweat.”

“I’d think she saw that every night,” Hunt said wryly, and Bryce waggled her eyebrows.

But Ember twisted in her seat, a genuine smile lighting her face. “How are Fury and Juniper doing? Did they move in together yet?”

“Two weeks ago.” Bryce craned her neck to study Fury, who seemed to be reading the playbill. “And they’re really good. I think Fury’s here to stay this time.”

Her mom asked carefully, “And you and Fury? I know things were weird for a while.”

Hunt did her a favor and made himself busy on his phone. Bryce idly flipped the pages of her playbill. “Working things out with Fury took some time. But we’re good.”

Randall asked, “Is Axtar still doing what she does best?”

“Yep.” Bryce was content to leave her friend’s mercenary business at that. “She’s happy, though. And more important, June and Fury are happy together.”

“Good,” Ember said, smiling softly. “They make such a beautiful couple.” And because her mom was … well, her mom, Ember sized up Bryce and Hunt and said with no shame whatsoever, “You two would as well, if you got your shit together.”

Bryce slouched down in her seat, lifting her playbill to block her red-hot face. Why weren’t the lights dimming yet? But Hunt took it in stride and said, “All good things come to those who wait, Ember.”

Bryce scowled at the arrogance and amusement in his tone, throwing her playbill into her lap as she declared, “Tonight’s a big deal for June. Try not to ruin it with nonsensical banter.”

Ember patted Bryce’s knee before twisting back to face the stage.

Hunt drained his champagne, and Bryce’s mouth dried out again at the sight of the broad, strong column of his throat working as he swallowed, then said, “Here I was, thinking you loved the banter.”

Bryce had the option of either drooling or turning away, so rather than ruin her dress, she observed the crowd filtering into their seats. More than one person peered toward her box.

Especially from the Fae boxes across the way. No sign of her father or Ruhn, but she recognized a few cold faces. Tristan Flynn’s parents—Lord and Lady Hawthorne—were among them, their professional snob of a daughter Sathia sitting between them. None of the glittering nobility seemed pleased at Bryce’s presence. Good.

“Tonight’s a big deal for June, remember,” Hunt murmured, lips quirking upward.

She glowered. “What?”

Hunt inclined his head toward the Fae nobility sneering across the space. “I can see you thinking about some way to piss them off.”

“I was not.”

He leaned in to whisper, his breath brushing her neck, “You were, and I know it because I was thinking the same thing.” A few cameras flashed from above and below, and she knew people weren’t snapping photos of the stage curtain.

Bryce peeled back to survey Hunt, the face she knew as well as her own. For a moment, for a too-brief eternity, they stared at each other. Bryce swallowed, but couldn’t bring herself to move. To break the contact.

Hunt’s throat bobbed. But he said nothing more, either.

Three fucking months of this torture. Stupid agreement. Friends, but more. More, but without any of the physical benefits.

Hunt said at last, voice thick, “It’s really nice of you to be here for Juniper.”

She tossed her hair over a shoulder. “You’re making it sound like it’s some big sacrifice.”

He jerked his chin toward the still-sneering Fae nobility. “You can’t wear a hat and sunglasses here, so … yeah.”

She admitted, “I wish she’d gotten us seats in the nosebleed section.”

Instead, Juniper—to accommodate Hunt’s wings—had gotten them this box. Right where everyone could see the Starborn Princess and the Fallen Angel.

The orchestra began tuning up, and the sounds of slowly awakening violins and flutes drew Bryce’s attention to the pit. Her muscles tensed of their own volition, as if priming to move. To dance.

Hunt leaned in again, voice a low purr, “You look beautiful, you know.”

“Oh, I know,” she said, even as she bit her lower lip to keep from grinning. The lights began dimming, so Bryce decided to Hel with it. “When do I get to count those abs, Athalar?”

The angel cleared his throat—once, twice—and shifted in his seat, feathers rustling. Bryce smiled smugly.

He murmured, “Four more months, Quinlan.”

“And three days,” she shot back.

His eyes shone in the growing darkness.

“What are you two talking about back there?” Ember asked, and Bryce replied without tearing her gaze from Hunt’s, “Nothing.”

But it wasn’t nothing. It was the stupid bargain she’d made with Hunt: that rather than diving right into bed, they’d wait until Winter Solstice to act on their desires. Spend the summer and autumn getting to know each other without the burdens of a psychotic Archangel and demons on the prowl.

So they had. Torturing each other with flirting was allowed, but sometimes, tonight especially … she really wished she’d never suggested it. Wished she could drag him into the coat closet of the vestibule behind them and show him precisely how much she liked that suit.

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