Star Cursed - Page 52/73

“Ruin them how?” Tess asks, and my stomach sinks.

“We’re going to erase their minds, the way the Daughters of Persephone did with their enemies. They won’t remember their own names once we’re finished with them.” My sister’s voice is vicious. “They’ll stop murdering innocent girls, and we’ll remind people what witches can do.”

This is why Inez wanted Finn to spy. So she could start a war.

“She would expose us like that? We’re not ready, Maura!” Tess’s face is pale.

Maura swipes her hair out of her eyes. “No one will connect it with the Sisterhood. They’ll only know witches were responsible.”

“This won’t stop the Brothers from murdering innocent girls. Don’t you see, they’ll crack down twice as hard!” I protest. “Inez can’t do this. Cora isn’t even dead yet, and once she is, Inez will only be regent until one of us comes of age.”

“It will be me,” Maura insists. “Why can’t you let me have this one thing?”

“It doesn’t work like that, Maura. We can’t just decide that it’s you. It’s up to Persephone,” Tess says, stepping closer, hands outstretched like Maura’s a wild animal.

“Even if you could, you wouldn’t choose me, would you?” Maura’s lip wobbles. “No one ever does.”

Tess puts a hand on her arm. “Maura, I love you.”

Maura shakes her off. “Get away from me!”

Tess skids backward—farther than Maura’s push warrants. Her feet slip on the snowy dock. She teeters for a moment on the very edge, windmilling her arms above the freezing river. She screams.

I grab her, pulling her back toward me. She throws both arms around my waist, clinging like a child, her whole body trembling.

Tears are streaming down Maura’s face now. “I didn’t mean—”

“You could have killed me,” Tess says, stunned. “I can’t swim. You know I can’t swim.”

She’s always been frightened of the water; she would never even wade in the pond with me. Mrs. O’Hare teases that Mother must have dropped her in the sink when she was a baby.

“I can’t—when I’m upset, I can’t control it,” Maura says. “I told you to stay away from me, I—just let me alone, both of you! I don’t need you. I don’t need anyone!”

And with that, she’s gone, running away down the snowy street. I hug Tess close and watch her go.

Chapter 14


I pick my way carefully up the snowy front steps of the convent. “I know.”

Tess’s nose is red from the cold and from crying. “People have had a hundred years to forget what the Daughters of Persephone did, and now she’ll make us into bogeymen again. It will ruin any chance we have for sharing power.”

“Maybe that’s what she wants—to make it so we’ll have to go to war.” I shiver into my cloak. “Lord knows what the Brothers will do in response.”

Tess sighs. “At least we saved the prisoners. We changed things, Cate! I saw them all being loaded onto the prison ship in the snow, and now they’re free. That means—”

“We can change the prophecy,” I realize, a grin nearly splitting my face in half.

“Maura might be angry with us now, but she’ll get past it. Who knows? Perhaps in the oracle’s vision, I did fall into the river today, and I drowned,” Tess says, kicking the snow off her boots. “But you saved me. You can’t know how much better this makes me feel. If I can change the things I see—if it’s not all set in stone—that changes everything.”

She wrenches open the heavy front door, and we hang up our wet cloaks and slide off our boots. The front parlor door is ajar, light spilling out, but I don’t hear any voices. Putting my finger to my lips, I tiptoe over in stocking feet and peer in.

“Finn?” I gasp. He’s standing before the fire in his gray vest and white shirtsleeves, hands clasped behind his back. “What are you doing here?”

Finn whirls around, smiling. “There you are! I worried when you weren’t at the trial. Rory said there was some emergency.”

I forgot all about Sachi’s trial. Rory is perched on the settee, dabbing at her eyes with her pink lace handkerchief.

“Was it Harwood?” I ask.

Rory nods, swiping at another tear. “It was awful. The things they said about her—and she looked so frightened.”

“We’ll find a way to get her out of there, I promise.” I turn to Finn, distracted. “You can’t call on me here. It’s too dangerous.”

He moves aside, ushering Tess to stand front of the fire. “I was worried. And I got the information Inez wanted about the next Head Council meeting. It’s going to be—”

“Hush!” I pull the door shut behind me, then cross the room, reach up, and pull the copper grate shut, too, for good measure. I don’t want anyone eavesdropping. Finn stares at me, stunned. “Whatever you found out, you can’t tell anyone. Don’t even tell me. I don’t want her compelling it out of me. I don’t know if she could, but I wouldn’t put it past her to try.”

Finn pales beneath his freckles. “Who?”

I take his warm hand in my two icy ones. “Inez. She’s not what I thought. We can’t trust her.”

Finn’s curses would make the dockworkers blush. “It’s too late. I’ve already told her.”

“No.” I look at Tess, who leans against the mantel and closes her gray eyes in dismay, and then I sink onto the brown silk chair.

“I asked the girl who answered the door if I could see you. She brought Inez, and Inez guessed who I was straight off. She said you’d gone out for a bit but I was welcome to wait for you in here, and she asked whether I’d been able to find out anything yet. I had, so—I told her. Dammit!” Finn puts a hand on my bare shoulder. “I thought that was what you wanted! What’s changed?”

“I was wrong,” I whisper. Stupid and trusting and so very wrong. “She wants to destroy them. Go into their minds and ruin them, like the witches used to do. The entire Head Council.”

Finn’s hand clenches on my collarbone. “She can’t do that.”

“Why not?” Rory stands up, crumpling her handkerchief in her fist. It’s the first time I’ve seen her in Sisterly black. “If you’d been at Sachi’s trial today, Cate, if you’d seen how frightened she was—we’ve got to fight back. We’ve got to do something.”

“Not this. It’s wrong. It’s murder, or as good as,” Tess snaps, tucking her damp blond hair behind her ears. “And it will only make things worse!”

“It’s unconscionable,” Finn agrees, eyes snapping. “And she used me to do it.”

“Both of us.” I stand, folding myself into his arms. “I’m so sorry I involved you in it.”

“I won’t lie to you, my new boss is no prize. Most of the Head Council are power-hungry bastards. But look at Sean Brennan; he’s a good man. And even the ones who aren’t—Tess is right; it’s akin to murder. The Brothers will strike back twice as hard to prove they’re still in control. For this—” Finn swallows hard. “They might resurrect the burnings. There are men who would vote for it. They’re just waiting for a reason, and this would give them one. What in the hell is Inez thinking?”