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“What happens at sundown?”
“The veil falls and the feast begins. But they can’t start without the bride, which means he’ll have to pay your ransom, which means bargaining with me. The poltergeist. He will be very embarrassed. Andthatis the point.”
Serilda considered this. “All this, just to humiliate him?”
“You say that like it’s a petty goal.”
“Well … it is. A bit.”
“I can’t kill him,” said Gild. “I can’t defeat him. I can’t keep him from marrying you. Let me have this, Serilda.”
She wilted. “All right. Until sundown, then.”
It wasn’t that far away. An hour at most.
An hour.51
What would they do for an hour?
She inhaled sharply, suddenly aware of just how confined this cabinet was. The heavy cloaks pressing against them. The wooden walls squeezing them in together. The length of his arm against hers. The warmth of his palm. The way her skin tingled with every accidental touch.
If they were accidental at all.
Whatcouldthey do for an hour?…?
Gild cleared his throat and scooted an inch away from her, which was all the space he could move. “Those were, um—” he started, then cleared his throat a second time. “Some pretty intense vows, during the ceremony. Almost romantic, even.”
It was as if he’d known exactly what to say to chill the feelings that had started to simmer inside her.
She released his hand and pulled back toward her corner of the cabinet.
“Just another one of his games,” she said, wishing she weren’t already so flustered, for her wavering voice did not make the statement sound particularly sincere. “He was mocking me.”
“Yeah. Yeah. That really sounded like mockery.”
“Gild, you know I don’t love him. I could never love him. Or evenlikehim. I would never choose him if I had a choice.”
“Of course,” he said. “Of course I know that.”
But she wasn’t sure if she believed him.
“He killed my father,” she said, more forcefully now. “He killed—”
“No, Gild, you have to—”
She froze, hearing it, too, now. Howling.
They had released the hellhounds.
“Great,” whispered Serilda. “How long before they find us?” She hesitated, considering. “Canthey find us? We’re spirits. Can they still smell us?”
“Us, maybe not,” said Gild. “But I bet they can smell that ridiculous costume you’re wearing easily enough.”52