Page 24 of Court of Nightmares

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I’m glad Nathair is guiding me, so I nod in understanding.

“Here,” Osis offers softly and places a plate before me. It holds the biggest pizza I have ever seen.

“Did . . . Did you just make this?” I ask, peering up at his mask. I don’t know how, but I can tell he’s smiling behind it.

“Of course.”

He makes pizza.

I think I’m in love.

His head drops as I feel a blast of happiness from him, and I realise I may have projected that thought too loudly. Unwilling to take it back, I thank him and take a bite, moaning as the cheese melts in my mouth.

“Either this is fucking incredible or food has never tasted this good,” I murmur after I swallow.

“Death has a way of enhancing things.” Nathair winks. “But also, Osis is one of the best chefs I have ever met.”

“Nathair is a flatterer,” Osis says, embarrassment colouring his voice.

“Nope, I’ve had plenty of pizza, trust me. Simon and I—” I swallow thickly at the reminder of my best friend. “Well, let’s just say I’ve had my fair share of pizza.” Now my stomach feels like lead, but I eat anyway because it would be rude not to.

Simon thinks I’m dead or worse.

He’ll never know I’m better. I was a fool to run. He would have stayed and loved me forever, but then he would have never had his own life. It doesn’t mean I don’t miss him. Nathair mentioned that we don’t play the other courts’ games, and no doubt Simon is at court now in his own place, maybe with a mate.

“Simon? I sense a great love there,” Nathair queries carefully, his voice tight.

“My best friend,” I reply.

For a moment, jealousy slams into me before it quickly dissipates, and I realise it wasn’t mine. I’m unable to stop the smile curving my lips. “He has excellent taste in films. We pretty much lived together since we were kids and shared everything,” I tease. “Oh, and he’s very, very gay,” I finish as I take the last bite of pizza.

I notice a lot of shoulders slumping in relief, and I’m unable to stop the giggle from escaping my lips.

“Oh, Nox, he would have loved seeing you all jealous because of him. In fact, no, he would have been flirting with every single one of you,” I tease.

“You miss him,” Nathair concludes.

“A great deal. He was the only family I had left,” I tell him.

There’s a deep silence filled with pain as I debate every single choice I made that led me here.

“I like movies,” Osis says. “We even have a cinema. It was a nightmare to upgrade the wiring, but we did it.”

The innocent, friendly way he says it as he tries to help me almost brings tears to my eyes. I see what Nathair meant about being careful with him. There’s almost a fragile innocence to him that I didn’t expect.

“Then you’ll have to show me one day,” I reply, offering him a grateful smile.

“We do not wish to overwhelm you. We all know how taxing the change is, so feel free to go back to your chamber if you wish, and if you need anything in there changed, let any one of us know and we’ll do it.”

“I’ve slept enough,” I murmur. “I’d like to look around, if that’s okay?”

“I’ll show her!” many voices reply, startling me with the volume.

Nathair laughs. “I think only one needs to be her guide so it isn’t too much. Reve, why don’t you?”

Reve looks shocked to have been picked, but he smiles silkily at me. “Gladly.” His response tells me he’s thinking more about what he could personally show me than the court, but I smile back and stand.

“Oh, and Althea?” Nathair catches my hand once more. “Welcome to the Court of Nightmares.”

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