She sucked in a deep breath and sank back on her heels, her body slightly numb and her limbs leaden. The work had been draining, but the result was perfect. Her best yet. She ran her fingers over the bracelet and smiled. It looked exactly like the one Nick was already wearing. No one would be able to tell the difference.
Not by looking at it.
“Nick,” she whispered. “It’s done. And it’s good.”
“I knew you could do it.”
“Thanks.” She heard the exhaustion in her voice so she knew Nick heard it, too. “Just give me a minute and we’ll do the next step.”
Willa was quiet for about a quarter of an hour before she spoke again. He let her be. Whatever she’d done, she’d done for him. For them, yes, but making a bracelet that would free him from the commands of Kyanna and Zane was first and foremost for him.
Gratefulness overwhelmed him, but there was no way to show it when he was still separated from her by rock and steel and wood. He rested his head against the rock separating them and tried to think of the right words to express how appreciative he was. Then she called his name.
“Right here, sweetness.”
“I’m ready for the next step.”
She still sounded tired. “You sure you don’t want to rest some more?”
He waited a beat. “I could use a nap.”
She laughed softly. “Is that your way of trying to get me to nap, too?”
He heard movement, then her hand appeared through the bars outside his cell and gave him a little wave. “Let’s go. I need the wrist with the bracelet on it. Before I lose my confidence.”
He stuck his arm through as far as it would go and tried to get comfortable. She took hold of him, and he closed his eyes, enjoying the feel of her touch and the reassuring wash of her power. He wished he could see her pretty face. Kiss her soft mouth. Run his hands over her body.
Damn, it sucked being separated from her.
Her fingers worked at the slave bracelet, but the thing didn’t seem to want to move. She huffed out an annoyed breath. “This stupid thing won’t budge. I thought after practicing that I was getting better at using my gifts. I guess not.”
“Didn’t you just use your gifts successfully?”
“Yes, but I’m not now.” She sighed.
“I thought you were going to put the new one on first anyway?”
“I just wanted one more crack at it. All right, let’s get the new one on.”
She sounded disappointed and a little tired. “Maybe you should rest first.”
“No. We’ve got to keep pushing.”
“If you don’t rest, you may not be able to keep pushing.”
“I’m fine, I promise.”
He didn’t really believe that, but she clearly was determined to keep going. He pulled his arm back in. “You know, if Kyanna figures out that you’ve overridden her bracelet with one of your own, she’ll punish you.” He wasn’t about to be responsible for Willa’s situation deteriorating further.
“I know that, but I’m not scared of her. And besides, she already sees me as a threat. It’s not like I’m getting out of here unharmed either way. We have to do something.”
He agreed, but he wanted to make sure she knew exactly what she was getting into. “This could make things worse.”
“I accept that. And the consequences. Please, Nick, put your arm back through. I’m doing this.”
He didn’t like this option, but he knew she was right. He stared down at the slave bracelet. “We have to figure out a way to keep Shay safe, too. She’s got more power than you think, and eventually Kyanna’s going to figure that out.”
“I already knew that—but how did you figure that out?”
“When Shay brought me the ring, she touched me. Shot me through with the same kind of power you did that first night at the fountain.”
“You can feel fae powers?”
“Yes. Can’t you?”
“No, we can’t sense them in each other. That’s why children go through so much testing. Unless someone demonstrates their gifts, we don’t know about them.”
“Interesting. I’m surprised the fae don’t also use gargoyles as power detectors. But that would mean getting the gargoyles to cooperate.”
“I’m guessing it’s been tried.”
“And I’m guessing it failed. We can be a stubborn people.”
“I noticed.” She went quiet for a moment. “You think Shay’s as powerful as I am? As Kyanna is?”
“Easily. Maybe more.”
“Then we really need to get out of here. Wrist.”
He stuck his arm through. “Whatever you want to do, I’m with you.”
“Good. Now let me concentrate.”
He smiled and said nothing, closing his eyes to revel in her closeness again. Her confidence was sexy.
Her fingers worked the new metal onto his wrist, zaps of energy and power shooting through him like gentle electrical current. She pressed the cuff firmly into place above the other one, and a single, hard jolt shook him.
He took a deep breath. He’d felt worse. Much worse. But he hadn’t expected it. “It must be on, I just got a jolt of power.”
“Yes, it’s on. Sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you.”