Page 29 of Pretty Little Thief

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Tristan narrows his eyes, trying to get an understanding of what’s going on.

“No, Princess, you are the one with all the jokes.”

I keep my eyes on Tristan as we walk, pretending not to see her coming toward us. Tristan pegs me with a confused look, but he plays along as the queen dowager draws near.

My attention is fully on Tristan when Mortianna mumbles under her breath as she passes. “Heathen.”

My feet stumble, tripping over nothing. My body falls directly into her.

She quickly shoves me off. “Watch your step, heathen. Apparently, you can’t even walk properly.”

“My apologies, My Lady. I’m just so clumsy that I stumbled over my own feet,” I respond, using her body to regain my balance.

Her eyes dart suspiciously between Tristan and me.

“If you know what’s best for you, then stay out of my way, little girl,” she growls, stalking off.

My mouth drops open, stunned by her words. Patiently, I wait for her to round the corner out of sight.

I skip happily down the hall, stopping in front of the room she exited.

“Your mood swings are giving me whiplash, Princess,” Tristan huffs, rolling his eyes. My smile is big and bright with a hint of mischief. “What was that all about?”

My hand slips into my pocket. Baring my teeth, I dangle her room key in front of his face.

His lips turn up in the most gorgeous smile I’ve ever seen. “You pretty, little thief.” He smirks as I hurry to unlock the door.

“I think I like that better than little bird,” I joke.

He lets out a chuckle as we step into her room.

We both scrunch our noses at the foul smell. The room is cold and dark. There’s two candles lit, one on a shelf, another beside her bed.

The walls are lined with shelves from one corner to the next, filled with potions, glass jars, and enough books to start her own library. I’m sort of jealous.

“What exactly are we looking for here, Princess?” Tristan whispers, moving around to get a look at the room.

I shrug. “Anything that looks suspicious or may help us understand more about her magic,” I reply, inspecting every inch of her shelves.

I come across a book that catches my eye labeledBlood of New Beginnings. Opening it up, I begin flipping through the pages.

My voice catches in my throat. “You were right, itisblood magic,” I whisper.

Fear swells inside me, but my hands keep flicking through the pages.

Tristan rushes to my side to look at what I’m holding.

This book is ancient. From the looks of it, it’s had several different owners as well. Different handwritings scribbled all over the pages, some in different languages.

The binding is coming undone and pages start to fall to the ground.

Tristan squats down, picking up the pages, and I move to help him.

My heart is hammering in my chest, and I begin shaking nervously.

Tristan’s hand brushes over mine as we reach for the same sheet, sending an electrifying shock to my system.

His eyes shoot up, locking with mine.