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Dreams of gods & monster.., p.48
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       Dreams of Gods & Monsters, p.48

         Part #3 of Daughter of Smoke & Bone series by Laini Taylor
 

  “In happiness,” said Eliza, looking as though she knew what she was talking about, “the anima blooms.”

  Issa nodded along with everything the women said, I told you so fixed firmly on her face. Of course she’d said the same thing herself, if not in quite the same terms. “It is your duty, sweet girl,” she chimed in now, “to be well in body and soul.”

  Happiness has to go somewhere, Karou remembered, and she settled deeper into the water with a sigh. Some fates were difficult to accept, but this wasn’t one of them. “Well, okay,” she said, with mock reluctance. “If I have to.”

  They washed, and Karou emerged from the pool feeling purified in body and spirit. It was good to be cared for by women, and what a group they were. The deadliest of all the chimaera alongside the deadliest of seraphim, with a Naja, a ferocious neek-neek in deceptively adorable human form, a pair of fire-eyed Stelians of unfathomable power, and Eliza, who had been the answer. The key that fit the lock. And also, just a really cool chick.

  They brushed Karou’s hair and twisted it, still damp, into vine-tied coils down her bare back. They brought out light, silken raiments in the Stelian style and held lengths of cloth against her skin. “White won’t do for you,” said Scarab, tossing a dress aside. “You’ll look like a phantom.” She produced, instead, a whisper of midnight-dark silk, aglimmer with clusters of tiny crystals like constellations, and Karou laughed. She let it pass through her hands like water, and the past with it.

  “What?” asked Zuzana.

  “Nothing,” she replied, and let them dress her. It was a kind of sari gathered over one shoulder, leaving her arms bare, and Karou almost wished for a bowl of sugar and a puff with which to dust herself. An echo of another first night. The gown was so like the one she’d worn at the Warlord’s ball, when Akiva had come to find her.

  “Do you want to keep your clothes?” Eliza asked, nudging the discarded pile with her foot.

  “Burn them,” said Karou. “Oh. Wait.” She delved into a trouser pocket for the wishbone she’d carried with her all these months. “Okay,” she said. “Now burn them.”

  She felt like a bride as they led her back outside. The rain had stopped, but the night was alive with its memory in drips and rivulets, and with creature trills and honey scents, the air balmy and rich with mist.

  And there was Akiva.

  Soaked to the skin and haloed in vapor where the heat of his body was cooking away the rain. His eyes were ablaze, he was furious with waiting. His hands shook and clenched, and then stilled when he saw Karou.

  Time stuttered, or else it only felt like it did. No use, any longer, for those invasive seconds in which they weren’t touching. They’d had too many of them already, and made short work of these final few.

  They flew together. Time itself leapt out of the way, and Karou and Akiva were spinning, and the ground was falling away. The island was falling away. The sky drew them up and the moons hid in the clouds, keeping their tears to themselves, and their regret, which belonged to the ended age.

  Lips and breath and wings and dance. Gratitude, relief, and hunger. And laughter. Laughter breathed and tasted. Faces kissed, no spot neglected. Lashes wet with tears, salt kissed lips to lips. Lips, at last, soft and hot—the soft, hot center of the universe—and heartbeats not in unison but passed back and forth across the press of bodies, like a conversation made up only of the word yes.

  And so it was. Karou and Akiva held on to each other and didn’t let go.

  It was not a happy ending, but a happy middle—at last, after so many fraught beginnings. Their story would be long. Much would be written of them, some of it in verse, some sung, and some in plain prose, in volumes to be penned for the archives of cities not yet built. Against Karou’s express wish, none of it would be dull.

  Which she would have cause to be glad of a million times over, beginning that night.

  Flight through sifting mists, hands joined. An island among hundreds. A house on a small crescent beach. Akiva had spoken truly when he told Melliel it was a stretch to call it a house. He’d imagined a door once to shut out the world, but there was no door here, so that the world seemed an extension of the house itself: sea and stars forever.

  The structure was a pavilion: a thatched roof on posts, snug against the cliff and sheltered by it, its floor of soft sand, with living vines trailing down from the cliff to make green walls on two sides. That much Akiva had done before today. And there were a table and chairs. Well, they were hewn driftwood, but the “table” had a cloth on it, finer than it deserved. And now a wooden bowl of fruit sat atop that, and a beautiful kettle, too, with a box of tea and a pair of cups. Lanterns hung from hooks, and lengths of diaphanous fabric made a third, gently billowing wall, transparent as sea mist.

  Nightingale’s gift had been unwrapped and given its proper place, and when Akiva brought Karou to the home he’d made for her—a place out of fantasy, so perfect that she forgot how to breathe and had to learn again in a hurry—his wish had all but come true already.

  On the bed: a blanket to cover them, a blanket that was theirs together. And some time in the night they met on it and faced each other across lessening space, knees curled beneath themselves and wishbone held between.

  And they hooked their fingers around its slender spurs, and pulled.

  The End

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  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  An ending is reached. It’s deeply satisfying, a little bewildering, and unbelievably sad to be closing this chapter of my life. A trilogy, completed! I’m still dazed. I’m also still waiting for Razgut to show me a portal. Because obviously Eretz is real.

  What, you think I made this all up?

  There is really no way to prioritize the thanks due to so many. I’m bursting with gratitude for all these wonderful people:

  Readers! Deepest thanks to all the readers who’ve been rooting for me, and for Karou, since Daughter of Smoke & Bone, and who have kept me company on this entire journey. Thank you for being there, and for being excited, and for waiting. Series readers are the best readers. And thank you to the endlessly entertaining fandom, for art and humor and warmth.

  Here it is! I hope you love it.

  And thank you to the team at Little, Brown for bending time and space so that I could finish this book the way I wanted and needed to, while still ensuring its timely publication. I’m profoundly grateful for the support. To Alvina Ling for the invaluable editorial feedback and crucial enthusiasm that was like fuel, always just when I needed it. And to Bethany Strout, Lisa Moraleda, Melanie Chang, Faye Bi, Andrew Smith, Victoria Stapleton, Ann Dye, Nellie Kurtzman, Tina McIntyre, Adrian Palacios, Julia Costa, Amy Habayab, Kristin Dulaney, Nina Pombo, JoAnna Kremer, Andy Ball, Christine Ma, Rebecca Westall, Renée Gelman, Tracy Shaw, and Megan Tingley: deepest thanks for creating such an exceptional publishing home.

  And since I’m blessed to live in parallel worlds in this regard, to my second, amazing publishing home of Hodder & Stoughton in London: Thank you for always having such big, brilliant ideas, and for believing in me so wholeheartedly. To Kate Howard especially, who crossed an ocean and a continent for Karou, way back in the beginning. You really know how to sweep a writer off her feet! To Jamie Hodder-Williams, Carolyn Mays, Lucy Hale, Katie Wickham, Naomi Berwin, Veronique Norton, Lucy Foley, Fleur Clarke, Catherine Worsley, Claudette Morris, and Linnet Mattey: Thank you!

  To Jane Putch, my so-much-more-than-agent: so-much-more-than-thank-you! It’s been a crazy year—a crazy five years, on this trilogy!—and I couldn’t have done it without you. Not even close. Here’s to the past, the present, and the future. Cheers!

  And my family. First, to my sister, Dr. Emily Taylor, professor, researcher, and rattlesnake wrangler: Thank you for the science consul
tations and proofreading. I hope that I got Eliza’s work right in the end! (Astute readers may remember a “young blonde herpetologist” who Karou buys teeth from in Daughter of Smoke & Bone; that was Emily.) To my parents, Patti and Jim Taylor, for everything and more, and to my brother Alex.

  Thank you to Tone Almjhell for the heroic last-minute read and sanity check.

  And most of all, always, to Jim, who got me writing after I’d kind of given up—or at least had put it on indefinite hold—all those years ago, and who’s been my biggest cheerleader ever since. I’m so lucky. Here’s to three hundred more years!

  Lastly, to Clementine, who was born a month before Karou (though Karou gestated longer), and who has known her all her life. Thanks for being a little trooper, always, best kid in the world.

  Contents

  COVER

  TITLE PAGE

  DEDICATION

  1. NIGHTMARE ICE CREAM

  2. THE ARRIVAL

  ARRIVAL + 3 HOURS 3. CHOICE OF LIFE SKILLS

  4. A BEGINNING

  5. GETTING-ACQUAINTED GAME

  6. BEAST EXODUS

  7. A GIFT FROM THE WILD

  8. BRUISE THE SKY

  ARRIVAL + 6 HOURS 9. LANDFALL

  10. TILT TO PANIC

  ARRIVAL + 12 HOURS 11. BREEDS OF SILENCE

  12. A WARM IDEA

  13. TOGETHER

  14. THE LONGEST FIVE MINUTES IN HISTORY

  ARRIVAL + 18 HOURS 15. FAMILIAR TERROR

  16. WHAT PROMISES ARE WORTH

  17. HOPE, DYING UNSURPRISED

  18. A CANDLE FLAME EXTINGUISHED BY A SCREAM

  19. THE HUNT

  20. WARP

  21. NITID’S HANDS

  22. THE ABYSS’S MAD GAWK

  23. THE WHOLE POINT

  24. CUE APOCALYPSE

  ARRIVAL + 24 HOURS 25. YOU, PLURAL

  26. BLEED AND BLOOM

  27. JUST CREATURES IN A WORLD

  28. ANGEL-LOVER, BEAST-LOVER

  29. A DREAM COME TRUE

  30. NEARER AND TOUCHING

  31. THE OPPOSITE OF SURVIVAL

  32. CAKE FOR LATER

  ARRIVAL + 36 HOURS 33. LIKE AN ALIEN INVASION

  34. THINGS KNOWN AND BURIED

  35. THRICE-FALLEN

  36. THE ONLY NON-IDIOT ON THE PLANET

  37. PREOCCUPIED BY BLISS

  38. AN EXCELLENT ACCIDENT OF STARDUST

  39. SCION

  40. ASSUME THE WORST

  41. UNKNOWNS

  ARRIVAL + 48 HOURS 42. THE WORST

  43. FIRE IN THE SKY

  44. THIS JUST IN

  45. CATS OUT OF BAGS

  46. PIE AND DANDELIONS

  47. THE BOOK OF ELAZAEL

  48. HUNGRY

  49. AN OFFER OF PATRONAGE

  50. HAPPINESS HAS TO GO SOMEWHERE

  51. ABSCOND

  ARRIVAL + 60 HOURS 52. GUNPOWDER AND DECAY

  53. EYEBROW MASTER CLASS

  54. FAKE GRANDMOTHER

  55. LUNATIC POETRY

  56. MY SWEET BARBARIAN

  57. FED TO THE LIONS

  58. THE WRONG UGLINESS

  59. SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY

  60. NO ONE DIES TODAY

  61. SUPERPOWERS WILLY-NILLY

  62. THE AGE OF WARS

  63. AT THE EDGE OF A KNIFE

  64. PERSUASION

  65. CHOSEN

  66. SO MUCH MORE THAN SAVED

  67. A SPRAY OF SPARKS

  68. FALLEN

  ARRIVAL + 72 HOURS 69. DON’T LET THE SKY-FLAP THINGY HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT

  70. WHITE NO LONGER

  71. ABSENCE

  72. THE SEVERAL DAYS’ EMPEROR

  73. A BUTTERFLY IN A BOTTLE

  74. CHAPTER ONE

  75. WANT

  76. WAITING FOR MAGIC

  77. WE HAVEN’T BEEN INTRODUCED

  78. (BREATHE)

  79. LEGENDS

  80. A CHOICE

  81. THE WISH POLICE

  82. ABERRATION

  83. MOST THINGS THAT MATTER

  84. THE CATACLYSM

  85. AN ENDING

  EPILOGUE

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  COPYRIGHT

  Copyright

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

  Copyright © 2014 by Laini Taylor

  Cover photo illustration by Sammy Yuen

  Cover photography © Shutterstock

  Cover design by Alison Impey

  Cover © 2014 Hachette Book Group, Inc.

  All rights reserved. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained by contacting the publisher at [email protected] Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.

  Little, Brown and Company

  Hachette Book Group

  237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

  lb-teens.com

  Little, Brown and Company is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

  The Little, Brown name and logo are trademarks of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

  The publisher is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.

  First ebook edition: April 2014

  ISBN 978-0-316-28016-7

  For more about this book and author, visit Bookish.com.

  E3

 


 

  Laini Taylor, Dreams of Gods & Monsters

  (Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone # 3)

 

 


 

 
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