She would have auctioned off the Milky Way if it would have made his intentions a little less honorable.

You're right, she said. Selene doesn't need you to be warriors. Maha Kesley certainly wasn't, but she was brave and believed in our cause. That resolve is what this revolution needs.

Yes, exactly! And it's beautiful. Thorne snorted. If this is how you feel about a desert, I can't wait until you see your first real tree. Your mind will explode.

So long as anarchy is synonymous with chaos and despair, the Anarchists will always be synonymous with villains.

Do you still have those tranquilizer darts I gave you? Oh, please. Cinder forced herself to stand, though her legs still shook. Do you have any idea how many times I've nearly died since you gave me those? They're long gone. Dr. Erland harrumphed. I'll make you some more. I have a feeling you're going to need them.

But mostly I just think I'm not the best person to demonstrate all the goodness humanity has to offer. I don't want you to be too disappointed when you realize that.

And she had every intention of being blissfully happy for ever, ever after.

This must be weird for you, Thorne said, dragging his fingers across a radar screen. Your cyborg girlfriend being a wanted outlaw and your fiancée's niece and all that. Kai grimaced, which made his cheek start smarting again. Honestly, I try not to think about the details.

It's dumb, I know. It's not like Levana cares if I, you know, might have actual feelings for someone. He craned his head again, tossing the screw back onto its pile. Cinder's entire body tingled at his words, but she gulped, forcing the giddiness away. She reminded herself that this was the last time she would ever see him.

Don't try to push your swoony psychodrama on me.

Besides, I did work for it. Thievery isn't easy, you know.

How different everything could have been" she said, "if you had asked me that before.

I don't compute.

Nova started. Your mom? Adrian gave her a look, at first surprised, then amused. Leaning toward her, he fake-whispered, I'm not actually related to the Captain and the Dread Warden, you know.

Wolf, are you asking me to be … your alpha female?

How I find myself in the company of such an unadorned cranium, gallivanting about mazes and wells, is ever the mystery.

Channary did not like to take the elevators. She had once told Levana that she felt queenly having to lift her skirts as she went up and down the stairs. It had taken all of Levana's efforts not to ask if that was the same reason she lifted her skirts all those other times too.

She stole glimpses of him again and again, like gathering unsatisfying crumbs in hopes they could be re-formed into a cake. When.

Do I have permission to take control of you first? Just your bodies, not your minds. I've been waiting for you to admit you wanted my body, said Thorne. He laid a hand on the gun at his waist. Be my guest. Wolf.

Cress's adrenaline was pumping like jet fuel through her veins as she scanned the room. She was surrounded by invisi-screens and holographs and programming, and the familiarity of it all made the knot in her stomach loosen. Instinct and habit. She formed a checklist in her mind.

His hands were achingly gentle as he lowered her to the platform, and lingered a second too long after her feet were firmly planted, or not nearly long enough.

You and your taste buds can stop bragging anytime now.

She realized, He, was the home she'd been missing.

I'm surprised Thorne hasn't asked if he can start leading guided tours down here. I bet you could charge a hefty admission fee. Cinder snorted. Please don't plant that idea in his head.

Scarlet's hand instinctively went to her lower back, where a small pistol was warm against her skin. Her grandma had given it to her on her eleventh birthday with the paranoid warning: You just never know when a stranger will want to take you somewhere you don't mean to go.

He was surprised at how angry he sounded -no, how angry he felt. Because it was impossible. It was impossible and unfair, and he had spent too many years in the trenches of unfairness to get riled up about it now.

Her heart fluttered like a firefly with a missing wing.

If this is how you feel about a desert, I can't wait until you see your first real tree. Your mind will explode.

How are your eyes? she asked. Well, I've been told they're dreamy, but I'll let you decide for yourself.

Sweet Crescent Moon...," he whispered, his lips barely able to form the words. He began to shiver. "Up in the sky..." He hummed a few bars of a song, a lullaby that seemed barely familiar. "You sing your sweetly...after sunshine passes....

The mirror answered: You, my queen, are fair; it's true. But the young queen is far more fair than you.

Her headache began to fade, replaced with the strength of his heartbeat and the way she felt almost delicate when she was pressed up against him like this. Almost fragile. Almost safe. Almost like a princess.

One can not be brave who has no fear.

A good queen was a well-informed queen.

His posture spoke of condescension, his expression disinterest. He was all brambles and icicles as he strode closer to her cage.

Ideally, a lady will have three toys at once. One to romance her, one to bed her, and one to adorn her with very expensive jewelry.

She ruled with fear, yes, but also with adoration. It would be easy to abuse a person when they never recognized it as abuse.

First," said Adrian, "you missed a sprinkle." He reached out and brushed a thumb across the corner of Nova's mouth. She froze, the touch sending a quiver through her insides. When he pulled back, a small orange sprinkle was resting on the pad of his thumb, which he popped into his mouth, eyes teasing. "Second, you're absolutely right.

She was the one hallucinating now. She took a stumbling, uncertain step forward. Wanting to run toward him, but terrified it was a trick.

Captain! To your left there's a Lunar guard and on your right is a doctor who's running tests on Lunars and I'm being held by one of Levana's wolf hybrids and please be careful!

Leave it to Winter to make a bunch of sadistic, hot-headed predators get all swoony over her.

This made Cinder pause and squint into Iko's blinding light. Why would the prince dance with me? Iko's fan hummed as she sought an answer. Because you won't have grease on your face this time.

So they don't like mirrors because they don't want to see themselves?

In fact, Cinder continued, my understanding is that, under Kai—Emperor Kai—Kaito? She raised her eyebrows at him, realizing this was the first time she'd ever been expected to be formal in his presence.

Try princess?" He smirked up at her. "I can't seem to think of much else.

Iko held up a hand. You need a system debug if you're suggesting that I would abandon you now. Thorne.

I have a confession, Kai mumbled into her hair. She tilted her head to peer at him. Careful. There could be paparazzi hiding behind these trees. Any confessions might end up on tomorrow's newsfeeds. He pretended to consider this for a moment, eyes twinkling, before he said, I could live with that.

She knew it wasn't real. She knew the holograph wouldn't hurt. But she also knew that fire was dangerous, and illusions were dangerous, and being tricked into believing things that weren't real was often the most dangerous thing of all.

The stress of the past weeks had caused him to lose a few pounds, and yet he felt heavier than ever, as if the weight of every person in the Commonwealth were pressing down on him.