With: Brenda Drake
“Are you seeking a Chiave? How many do you possess? Is there one in this library? Want me to help? I’m good at finding things. Found a spool once for Laila.”
Aetnae had helped me several times with searching for the Chiavi and finding the Shelter when I needed it. We’d become good friends. I could count on her.
“I am. We’ve found five.” A lump formed in my throat. We found. Nick and me. Thinking of him was like an ice pick to the heart. “There’s one somewhere in this library,” I said, shaking off the thought of him.
“And what are we searching for exactly?” she asked.
I stopped. “That.”
By the subject’s white wig and the uniform he wore, the portrait had to be from around the eighteenth century. One of his hands rested on a parchment unrolled across on a tabletop, and the other was placed on his hip. Pinned to his military jacket was a gold badge of honor with a cross on top of a starburst, and a large ruby in the center.
I grasped my locket with Pip’s feather inside and chanted the spell to release the Chiavi. “Libero il Tesoro.” Release the treasure.
A gust of wind swirled around me, blowing Aetnae away.
Gasping, I turned away from the painting. “Aetnae?”
She was gone.
“Why have you called me only to ignore my entrance?” A man’s voice came from behind me.
I faced him. “I’m sorry. It’s just that my friend—”
He held up his hand to stop me. “I am the spirit of the Chiave you seek. Go on now. Remove my badge, but carefully, you understand. You aren’t to ruin the material.” He pushed out his chest and lifted his chin.
Oh gosh, someone thinks he’s special. I dropped my trench coat and worked to free the clasp with nervous fingers.
“Hurry. I haven’t all day, simple girl.”
Simple? Better than being a royal jerk like you. Of course, I would never say that to him. The dude was full-on scary.
The clasp finally opened, and I removed the badge.
He snapped around and pulled himself back into the portrait.
“Wait,” I said.
His eyes went to me as he placed his hand back on the table. When I didn’t continue right away, he snapped, “Out with it.”
“Aren’t you supposed to tell me what the Chiave does? The other spirits had an entire spiel about what theirs did. You know, other than actually being one of the keys.”
“Must you annoy me?” A frown deepened the lines around his mouth as he settled back into his pose. “But since you asked, I’m obliged to tell you. It’s a shield, but don’t dally with it. The spell won’t last but a few minutes.”
I glanced down at the metal in my hand. It was a heavy badge. The arms of the cross were thin and widened at the ends, and the ruby was dull with age. “A shield? Will people be able to see me?” I glanced up. He had already frozen in the portrait. “You must’ve been a rude man when you were alive.”
A squeak came from behind me. If the library hadn’t been so quiet, I wouldn’t have heard it.
“Aetnae?” Rushing around the globes, I shoved the badge into the main pocket of my messenger bag. “Where are you?” I called.
I stopped. My boot was just inches from Aetnae’s tiny body sprawled on the marble floor. Gingerly, I picked her up. She was unmoving in the palms of my hands. I sucked in a breath and tensed as if any movement would make her crumble.
Oh my God, she’s dead.
I gently poked her shoulder. “Aetnae?”
She groaned and pushed herself up into a sitting position. My muscles relaxed, and I expelled a breath. “Are you hurt?”
About Assassin of Truths:
The gateways linking the great libraries of the world don’t require a library card, but they do harbor incredible dangers.
And it’s not your normal bump-in-the-night kind. The threats Gia Kearns faces are the kind with sharp teeth and knifelike claws. Not to mention there’s an evil wizard trying to use his magical abilities to take her down. Because she has the keys to end his devious plan. That is, once she figures out what to do with them.
With the handsome, cocky, and maybe-perfect-for-her Bastien by her side, Gia travels through the beautiful wizard havens and Mystik covens to gather the answers she seeks. The journey is harrowing, and it pits Gia against someone she loves. But there’s only one way to destroy her enemies—if she can uncover it before they catch up to her.
Because sometimes facing our demons is the only way out.
About Brenda Drake:
Brenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up is of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. With kids of all ages populating Brenda’s world, it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical for both younger readers and the young at heart. And because she married her prince charming, there’s always a romance warming the pages. Her favorite books are The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, Kings Row by Henry Bellamann, and Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. When she’s not writing, she hosts workshops and contests for writers such as Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness on her blog, and holds Twitter pitch parties on the hashtag, #PitMad. In her free time, Brenda enjoys hanging out with her family, haunting libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or just reading someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).