Hands of Flame

Hands of Flame by Ce Murphy

Book: Hands of Flame by Ce Murphy Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ce Murphy
them.
    â€œWell, you know I’ll be here to listen.” Cam picked upher bagel and stuffed a full quarter in her mouth all at once. “Eee yrr baghl,” she ordered, then swallowed hard enough to grimace. “Eat your bagel before you go to work.”
    Margrit picked up the cooling bread and toasted Cameron with it. “Aye, aye, ma’am.” She got as far as the kitchen door, then turned back. “Hey, Cam? Thanks.”
    Cameron smiled. “It’s what friends are for.”
    Â 
    The phrase lingered in Margrit’s mind as she made her way downtown. Humans used it lightly. Margrit wasn’t certain she counted any of the Old Races as her friend , and yet she was pursuing Cara’s agenda with greater dedication than she typically offered any of her mortal friends.
    Then again, humans had never asked so many impossible things of her. The Luka Johnson case she’d worked on for years had required by far the most devotion of any single project she’d ever been involved with, but it hadn’t begun as a gesture of friendship. It had been part of the job. If Cara was right—and Margrit couldn’t conclusively argue she wasn’t—then mediating Old Races relationships was her job now, one she felt as strongly about as she had Luka’s case.
    And the reality was that Margrit had thrust herself into that position. Alban’s plea for help had been the start of it, but her decision to act on behalf of the selkies was a conscious, deliberate decision on her part. She’d even taken a step further than they’d asked, pushing to overturn the remaining laws the five Old Races held in common. The anger she’d felt over Cara’s demand was born from guilt at abandoning the mortal life she’d worked so hard to build. She would have to let that go somehow, thoughit would become easier once she’d stepped out of the legal world and began working for Eliseo Daisani.
    It would become easier once she and Alban could put his trial behind them and take a chance on something new and extraordinary for both of them. Head tipped against the subway-car window, Margrit let her eyes slip shut and a smile inch into place. She could all but feel the strength of his arms around her, surprisingly warm for a creature bound to stone. Encompassed in that circle, she felt safe and adventuresome all at once, trusting in the comfort she found there, certain of a chance to search and explore things she’d never known existed. Human lovers paled by comparison through no fault of their own; Alban brought magic simply by being, and that was something she hadn’t realized she’d craved until she found it. Her life had been built of deliberate goals and the steps necessary to achieve them. Finding those ambitions shattered by a single granite-strong touch was more exhilarating than alarming; that was the aspect of herself she’d never been able to explain to friends or family. Alban understood her in a way she’d thought no one could, and she hoped she offered him the same.
    Her own quiet laughter made her eyes open. She did understand the honor-bound gargoyle. She thought he was frequently thickheaded and wrong, but the strictures he’d placed on himself made a certain sense to her. He lived in a world constrained by particulars, as she had always done. Now that she’d broken free of them, Margrit was eager to see Alban do the same. Maybe if she explained herself in those words, he would be willing to take the risks that she was herself investigating. Challenging the laws of his people was a drastic way to start, but then, it was how she’d begun.
    And it seemed it was how she would continue. Margrit left the subway, brushing through crowds to make her way to the corner bookstore owned by Chelsea Huo. Clear glass with etched lettering proclaimed Huo’s On First, and in smaller letters beneath it, an eclectic bookstore . Margrit had never examined

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