Amy gave a small smile. “I’ll see you and your grandfather both then. Maybe I’ll send your greetings.”
Nick grinned. “Yeah, that would be neat. ‘Another you told me to say hello?’ I’d want to know how much he was like me, and how. Of course, whoever that Nick is, he wouldn’t be me. It’s anyone’s guess what he’d think.”
She raised an eyebrow. “How different could he be?”
Shrugging, Nick said, “I don’t know. There are an infinity of possibilities. Even assuming I have the same potential everywhere, I’m sure I won’t care about exactly the same things, and who knows how different it might be? For example, maybe it worked out with Haley—the werewolf girl. Or maybe I never learned how to fight from Lee, or Grandpa died when I was two… It boggles the mind.”
Nodding, she got up from the bed and walked over to the window. The building was a little taller than the brick factory across the street, giving her a view of New Amsterdam’s skyline. Even at night, some towers stood out. Gyrocopters landed and took off from one tower far, far in the distance, running lights blinking.
She’d never see this city again after tomorrow, and if she were unlucky, she’d never see any city in the Northern Islands either.
Nick walked up and stood next to her. “I should probably go. Your guardians will notice me if I stay too long, and since I know what you want, I can tell Grandpa.”
She turned and looked up at him. He’d been looking out the window too, but as she turned, he did too, and their eyes met. “Thank you. I never expected anyone here to care what happened to me. I’m grateful you asked me if I wanted to escape before, and that you’re giving me choices now. There’s a chance that I’ll come back. It won’t be soon, but until then know that I won’t forget you.”
She took his hand, and then leaned toward him. It was inappropriate, and far too forward, but, she reminded herself, she was inherently scandalous now.
He caught her hint, leaned toward her, and they kissed. He didn’t quite aim perfectly. His lips ended up a little above where they should have been, but it was all right. They adjusted.
After a little while, they pulled away from each other, still holding hands.
“I didn’t expect that,” Nick said quietly.
She felt a hint of a smile tug at her mouth. “Neither did I.”
Letting go with his right hand, he touched above his heart. “Did you know that your necklace was glowing?”
She looked down. The red gem on her necklace was glowing. She’d hid it under her shirt where the gem made a soft red circle. “No. I didn’t.”
She touched it with her free hand, willing it to go dark. The glow dimmed, but didn’t fade entirely. “It appeared when I became the Bloodmaiden. I can’t take it off, and I can’t completely control it.”
“Really?” Nick stared at it. “Too bad that you’re leaving so soon. I’ve got friends who could analyze it, and maybe help you figure it out.”
“I wish I were staying longer too.” They hung on to each other’s hands for a minute longer, saying nothing.
Then Nick let go. “I should go,” he began.
“I know.” She watched as he stepped into the closet and shut the door. When she opened it a moment later, she found only coats inside.
She decided to find her nightclothes, walked over to the bed, and opened her suitcase. As she went through her clothes, she felt a twinge. She wasn’t sure for sure what it meant, but she suspected it was blood magic. It felt a little like her change, but much less powerful, and from a distance—maybe as close as the street below.
Turning off the lights so that no one outside would see her, she moved her face close to the window. She didn’t see anything on the street or on the roof of the buildings on the other side of the street.
Pulling out a pin, she stuck herself, and with a few words, used the drop of blood to see if any blood magic were being performed nearby.
Again, she couldn’t see anyone or any scrap of power. She considered transforming, but didn’t, guessing that if she’d felt a spell that was being used to search for her, the last thing she wanted to do was confirm it.
She’d have to tell Harcourt though. Just as well that she still hadn’t found her bedclothes yet, she wasn’t ever going to get to sleep.
* * *
The Next Morning:
Along with the Harcourts, and several suitcases, Amy stood on the black and silver platform she’d seen the night before. They were in the middle of the room. Joe and Nick stood behind the wooden podium near it. Nick read Joe numbers from his side of the podium. Joe pushed buttons and read off other numbers to Nick, causing Nick to run out into the room to check the rows of brass topped canisters, and the wiring that led from the canisters to the platform.
A low hum came from the platform below her.
She hadn’t had any time to talk with Nick. They’d exchanged waves from across the room when she’d come in, but nothing more. He’d been moving ever since and probably before. All for the best then that they’d said their goodbyes last night.
Footsteps came from outside the room, and a man in the red livery with a lightning bolt family crest stood in the doorway. “Mr. Vander Sloot. Master Hardwick and his heir have entered the building. He sends word that there are a number of men gathered down the street. He thinks that they’re coming toward this building, sir.”
Joe looked up from the dials on the podium, shook his head, and sighed.