Unhinged Page 66

Ivory frowns. “No, there were four. Red knew. Sister One has a foolish habit of confessing secrets to her dead spirits when she tends them, and that was well out of the boundaries of our vows not to tell a living soul.”

“Perfect,” Morpheus snarls.

“Red tried to invade the cemetery this morning,” Ivory continues. “The sisters captured her and were preparing to exorcise her spirit from the flower fae so they could seal her in a toy for eternity. But Red told Sister Two the secret about Alison to distract her. Sister Two turned on her twin in a rage, and Red escaped. Sister Two came here to find a replacement for what Alyssa’s family has stolen from her, one way or another. Those were her final words as she wound me in the web.”

I shake my head. “I don’t understand. Is she still mad about Chessie’s smile or how I accidentally helped Red escape last year? But what’s that have to do with my mom?”

“What Sister Two seeks compensation for wasn’t an accident,” Ivory answers. “And the payment will be steep. She intends to take your mortal knight for reparation.”

I still don’t understand what exactly is going on, but the fear clutching at my heart overpowers any curiosity. “Jeb was outside when I got here,” I say, trying to talk over my terror. “That must’ve saved him. She thought he was gone.”

“Yes,” Morpheus says. “The boy escaped by chasing a white rabbit. There’s poetic irony in that, aye?”

We turn our combined glares on him.

“Simply trying to lighten the mood.” His expression sours.

“There is nothing lighthearted about Sister Two’s threats,” Ivory scolds. “Alyssa’s mortal knight is in true danger now.”

“Now?” I huff. “We’ve been in danger from Red for a week. She’s been stalking us. At school, at the hospital. And she’s been masquerading as an art collector—that’s how she got Jeb out here.”

Neither one responds.

I look back and forth between them. There’s something they’re not telling me, and I’m tired of ambiguous revelations. “This is my world you’ve invaded, my life being screwed up, and my loved ones in the middle of it all. I have a right to know what’s going on.”

“She does,” Ivory insists.

“She knows all she needs to know,” Morpheus says.

“Curse you, Morpheus.” Ivory says exactly what I’m thinking. “These human lives we trifle with. There is a heavy price to be paid.” She rolls to her side in a rustle of lace and satin so we can’t see her expression. “Will I never learn? Time and again … you offer me glimpses of love and companionship, and I am too weak to turn you away.”

Morpheus reaches around me and tips her chin in his direction. “That’s not entirely true. You were the one offering glimpses of love this time.” He dries her ice-encrusted tears with a knuckle.

Another private moment passes between them, a look I can’t quite decipher, as if he’s relaying a message to her mind. I’m so used to being the recipient of his silent messages, it’s unsettling to sit on the outside.

“What’s going on between you two?” Suspicion wavers in my vocal cords.

“You’re supposed to be working on that lack of trust,” he reminds me.

I stare at him until my eyes itch from not blinking.

Ivory pats my hand. “You misunderstand. I gave Morpheus a glimpse into his future. Something I saw in a vision.”

“That’s enough, Ivory,” he says, a threatening edge to his voice that makes the hair on my neck bristle.

She blinks twice. “In gratitude for my help, Morpheus offered me the gift of companionship, but not his own. A young man from your world, who needs my love as much as I need his.”

“Finley.” I’d almost forgotten the pawn Morpheus stole from the real world. “Is he okay?”

She nods. “He’s safe in my palace, as a ward of my knights. Though he came with a stipulation. I owed Morpheus a favor, so that’s why I am here. Nothing is ever free with him. Nothing.”

“Exactly why we have this trust issue,” I answer her but shoot a glare at Morpheus.

He traces a split in the mattress, ignoring me.

Ivory gives him her hand, and he helps her sit up. She takes my elbows, coaxing me to join her on the edge of the bed.

As Ivory strokes the ends of my hair, her voice becomes gentle. “There is one thing you can trust about Morpheus. He is loyal to you. It is his desire to be with you that drives him to these desperate schemes.”

Morpheus stands in a rush of wings and rustling clothes. His shoulders droop as he turns his back to us. “There is nothing desperate about enlisting Alyssa’s help. It is her place. She is the bearer of the ruby crown. Wonderland is as much her home as ours, no matter how she denies it. I had to make her see.”

I push off the mattress. “By lying?”

Morpheus responds with silence, not even glancing over his shoulder to acknowledge me.

Blood rushes to my cheeks. I’m more furious with myself for believing in him than anything else. I move to the loft’s railing and look pointedly at Ivory, an ugly theory taking form. “The real Ivy Raven. She’s never even seen Jeb’s artwork, has she?”

Ivory shakes her head.

“You didn’t need her imprint for a glamour. You just needed a legitimate name in case we checked up on her. It was you who showed up to meet Jeb at the art gallery.” I grit my teeth. Neither of them deny it. “He was so blown away by your amazing ‘costume.’ And you weren’t even wearing one. You kept him here last night. Why?”

Ivory looks at the lace and webs sweeping the floor at her feet, long lashes veiling her eyes in a white curtain. “Only those with royal blood can see through Chessie’s filter and decipher visions. Morpheus needed me to read your mosaics. And since your mother hid the others, he had to arrange for replicas. We were running out of time.”

My stomach drops. “Why the big hurry? You’ve already said Red isn’t here.”

Morpheus’s muscles tense at the statement, but he stays maddeningly silent.

Ivory answers, “Morpheus needed to know if Wonderland could be saved if he ignored Red’s threats. She had given him an ultimatum: Surrender to her and meet his death, or watch his beloved nether-realm fall to rot at his feet.”

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