Unhinged Page 64

“Vow it,” Morpheus says. “And make the words count.”

Cheeks hot, I hold my palm over my heart. “I vow on my life-magic to give you one day and one night, the moment we defeat Red.”

“Done.” Expression unchanging, Morpheus removes his remaining glove.

When he starts to peel off his jacket, I get up on my knees and shove at his lapels, hurrying him. Together we drag the sleeves down his shoulders. Despite my efforts to be businesslike, I find myself overcome by the intimacy of undressing him with Jeb lying unconscious on the floor. If he were to wake and see this …

Two slits open in the back of the blazer to release Morpheus’s wings. One of them grazes my hand, causing my own wing buds to tingle behind my shoulder blades. I fidget. He watches my reaction intently. My stomach knots as I take his wrist and unbutton his shirt cuff, pushing the sleeve to his elbow to reveal the birthmark on his forearm. His skin is soft and warm.

I release his arm and untie my boot to expose the netherling mark on my ankle.

Morpheus rocks back on his heels and studies me. “Of all the times you’ve undressed me in my fantasies, I never remember feeling this … unfulfilled.”

“Please, Morpheus,” I beg upon hearing Jeb stir in the background.

“Ah, but those delectable words,” Morpheus says with a provocative smirk, “those are always in the fantasy.”

I glare at him. “You’re unbelievable.”

“And that sentiment is reserved for the end.”

“Shut. Up.” I drag his forearm over to match it to my birthmark.

He pulls free before we make contact. “A moment, please. Allow me to bask in your devotion.” He’s referring to my ankle tattoo.

I blush. “I’ve told you a hundred times. It’s only a set of wings.”

“Nonsense.” Morpheus grins. “I know a moth when I see one.”

I groan in frustration, and he surrenders, letting me press our markings together. A spark rushes between them, expanding to a firestorm through my veins. His gaze locks on mine, and the bottomless depths flicker—like black clouds alive with lightning. For that instant, I’m bared to the bone. He looks inside my heart; I look inside his. And the similarities there terrify me.

I avert my eyes, breaking our mental connection. My neck stops throbbing, my throat soothes, and my limbs feel languid. I relax against the wall.

Morpheus’s pale skin flushes, and he lifts his arm off my ankle. There’s something new behind his eyes—resolution—and I know I’ve just signed my soul away.

Crouched beside me, he weaves his fingers through my hair on either side of my face, his expression changing to reverence. “You were magnificent today, little blossom. My one regret is the same as yours. That we didn’t share a dance in the flames.”

I gasp. He was at school this morning, luring me into the fire, daring me to give over to the darkness. Before I can react, Chessie flies between us in the same instant Morpheus is jerked away.

“Get off of her!” Jeb flings him across the room, surprisingly strong for someone who was unconscious seconds ago. Morpheus hits the floor and rolls, wings acting as a cushion. His hat slaps the wall, dispersing into the moths once more. Some fly up to the skylights, others toward the closet, and the remainder flutter to the loft.

Jeb staggers, struggling with his balance. In wide-eyed wonder, he watches Chessie buzz along the ceiling with the moths. “That’s no costume.”

“Bloody genius observation.” Morpheus stands and shakes out his wings.

“What … is … that thing?” Jeb asks, staring at Morpheus now.

“You don’t remember?” I respond. I motion to the paintings around us. Jeb turns on his heel to take them in, then pales. “Agh!” He grabs his temples, crumpling to a fetal position on the floor.

Horrified, I kneel down, dragging his head into my lap. He wails.

“Jeb, open your eyes, please.”

He grips his temples with white-knuckled hands—face scrunched up in pain.

“What’s wrong with him?” I shout to Morpheus.

Morpheus brushes himself off leisurely, as if Jeb’s screaming were a trivial inconvenience. “Those weren’t his memories he painted. They were yours, held within your blood. Some residual blood on the paintbrushes must have gotten mixed in with the regular paint.”

Jeb moans and curls into a ball. He convulses—his chest and arm muscles contracting.

My body twitches and aches in sympathy. It’s like barbed wire wraps my joints and tendons, tightening with Jeb’s movements. “What’s happening to him?” I whimper.

Morpheus looks up at the moths bumping against the ceiling’s glass panes, unconcerned. He squints in the sunlight. “Seeing your memories has made his subconscious aware that there are holes in his own. It must be an excruciating sensation, having Swiss cheese for your brain. Now, if you don’t mind, I need to remedy my hat.”

I struggle to contain the rage rising in me. “Who cares about your stupid hat! For once think of someone besides yourself!”

My outburst catches Morpheus’s attention. He looks at me curiously, almost detached.

“Help Jeb. For me,” I urge, feeling only a sliver of guilt for exploiting his affections. After all, he’s the one who taught me how to use people’s weaknesses.

There’s a crack in his veneer of indifference. He strides over, kneels down, and cups his palms around Jeb’s temples. Blue light pulses through Jeb from his head to his bare feet, and he relaxes.

Clearing his throat, Morpheus stands and walks away. “I made him sleep. His dreams will keep him out of pain for now. But the only way to save him from madness is to reunite him with his lost memories. That means a train ride. And I am not getting on any train without my Peregrination Cap.”

With Chessie’s help, he coaxes the frightened moths down from the skylights, rebuilding his hat piece by piece. Enough insects are still missing to leave noticeable gaps. He and Chessie head toward the bathroom to search for more.

I clench my fists until my nails leave imprints on my skin, fighting the urge to yell at him for his vanity, but it won’t do any good. Morpheus is Morpheus. At least he made Jeb comfortable.

I push back a lock of dark hair hanging over Jeb’s eyes, then lean down and kiss his forehead. “I’m sorry. I should’ve told you everything. I’ll never keep the truth from you again.”

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