We are at the point of bidding July goodbye, so I figured it was time for an Unmade snippet! I have been super out of it lately, with a trip to Texas for RWA (which was awesome! I didn’t know about the Riverwalk and the Alamo! And despite the MANY BETS LAID AGAINST ME, I did not fall into that river!) and with the fact I’ve been signing thousands of tip-in sheets for the Bane Chronicles.
Tip-in sheets are papers that are bound into the book later, and Cassie and Maureen have already signed them, so I am in a DODGY STATE because I am super in trouble if I spill apple juice or get Nutella on them. I’m also not used to the fanciness of signing thousands of pages at once, so my signature has degraded to the point where it looks like ‘Some Red Buttons’ and I also keep trying to copy MJ or Cassie’s signature a little bit to seem more FANCY. (But I always swoosh the R of Rees. That’s my THING.)
So, I know you guys have been slightly worried about Jared, and this snippet is all about him and bound to make you feel bet…
Whoop, back to signing.
Rob laughed again, deep and fatherly, and put his arm around Jared’s shoulders. Jared could remember a time when Rob had seemed like the father figure Jared had never had but had sometimes wished for, when Jared had desperately wanted this kind of affection and approval.
“You’re right to be afraid,” Rob told him, voice still warm with laughter. “I really do find that source girl very annoying.”
Jared knew how to take a hit. He drew in a deep breath. “You killed my mother for interfering with your plans. Don’t ask me to believe you’d let Kami run around loose.”
“I have no intention of doing so,” said Rob. “She’s enslaved both my sons at different times, and constantly tries to stir up trouble. But if you wanted to keep her, you could.”
It was Jared’s turn to laugh, a jagged thing that rang through the bell tower.
“Are you suggesting I wall her up with Edmund Prescott?”
“That would be my preference,” said Rob. “But you can do whatever you like with her, as long as she’s kept under control. So long as you don’t put her in one of Aurimere’s good bedrooms.”
Rob wasn’t stupid, Jared reflected, or perhaps it was just blazingly obvious what dark things Jared had thought about Kami: how he would have made any bargain to keep her.
He said nothing.
Rob squeezed his shoulder, as they stood united looking down at Sorry-in-the-Vale. The town lay in a valley, like something fragile and precious held in the hollow of a giant’s hand. Able at any moment to be crushed if the giant closed his fist.
“You don’t know anything yet,” he said. “You cannot even dream of what I have planned. So many people are going to die. But those you love will live. All you have to do is be the son I know you can be.”
The son Ash could never have been, the son who could murder without hesitation or regret, kill and kill savagely.
“I think I can do that,” Jared said slowly.
“That’s my boy.”
Jared had no choice. Maybe he could never have been anything else.
Rob walked with him down the tower stairs into the portrait gallery, patient with Jared’s faltering pace. He walked him all over Aurimere, as if he had acquired a hyena and wanted to put it on a leash and parade his exotic new possession around in front of everyone.
There were a lot of mirrors in Aurimere, which Jared had hated once. The mirrors’ reflective surfaces were golden instead of silvery, as if they were made out of gold, copper or bronze. Their frames were made of wrought-iron river weeds and flowers, surrounded by towers and the profiles of drowned women. Actually, it was the same woman, drowning over and over again.
Jared saw image after image of what they looked like walking together, Rob the proud father and benevolent leader, with his hair like a crown. And the boy with the stark scar and the empty eyes beside him, face stony pale over his black shirt, but unmistakably his son. Jared didn’t hate the mirrors of Aurimere any more: they showed him exactly what he wanted to see.
He saw the same reflection in the eyes of a coppery-haired girl in Kami’s English class, one of the sorcerers who sat with them at dinner. She looked at Jared and her eyes went wide with terror.
Jared smiled slowly at her and thought she was going to faint.
He leaned to the head of the table where his father sat, with Jared at his right-hand side, and said in Rob’s ear: “She’s very pretty.”
“Amber?” Rob asked, loud enough so Jared was sure Amber heard. “She is, isn’t she? And she’s your own kind.” He raised his voice even further. “I’m sure Amber would be delighted to instruct you in magic you have yet to learn. Wouldn’t you, Amber?”
Amber nodded mutely. Ross Phillips, at the bottom of the table, glared at Jared. But if looks could kill, Jared would have murdered everyone in this room before Ross had the chance.
Rob pushed his chair back and stood, picking up the glass by his plate. “I hope you’ll all lift a glass to welcome my son to Aurimere,” he said, voice booming.
The ceiling in the dining hall was curved with a hollow rising up in the center to form a cupola on the roof outside. A chandelier hung from the dome by a thick chain. When Rob’s voice rang out the tiny gold-leafed dagger shapes, hanging from the chandelier like jewels from a woman’s ears, jangled and made a sound like faraway bells.
Jared bowed his head in acknowledgment as all the dinner guests raised their glasses. Then he played a game with himself where he glanced at every guest in turn and saw how many he could make look away.
All of them, it appeared. Not one of them wanted to meet his eyes.