So I didn’t call.
“What are you having?” the waitress on the other side of the cracked vinyl counter asked me, interrupting my staring contest with the phone.
“Um…” A badly worn laminated menu sat on the counter next to my phone, and I quickly scanned it to see if anything appealed to me. Most things sounded as if they were cooked in a vat of grease, and my stomach rolled in disgust. That was the price of stopping in dive diners like this, but I didn’t know how long I’d be on the run, and these places had the cheapest food—even if all the food was repulsive.
“Just an unsweetened iced tea,” I decided.
“Coming right up.” She smiled at me as she took the menu. Even though she had the weary expression of someone who was at the end of a ten-hour shift, there was sympathy in her eyes as she looked at me, so I knew I had to look as bad as I felt.
The metal side of the napkin holder worked as an okay mirror, so I tilted it toward me to get a better look. My attempt at dyeing my hair hadn’t worked, failing the way it always did since my hair refused to hold any color. The black dye had faded into a sickly grayish-blue, and in another day or two it would be gone entirely.
The black eye Kennet had given me had finally begun to heal. The first few days it had been an awful puffy purple, and now it was fading to a putrid yellow. I tried to cover it up with makeup, but it was still obvious that there was something going on with my eye.
It didn’t help that I wasn’t sleeping, so there were bags under my eyes, and my skin had an unpleasant pallor. I hadn’t been eating well either, since it was hard to find anything that sat well with me on the road. I’d made the mistake of grabbing turkey jerky in desperation last night and ended up throwing it up.
So far, my only plan was to get south and lay low for a little while until I felt like most of the heat was off. I knew Evert wouldn’t want to spare many soldiers to go after me, but he would probably send a few. The Skojare would definitely send some of their guards, not that I thought they’d be able to do anything.
But since I was accused of killing a Prince, other Skojare allies might send troops to help find me, like the Trylle or maybe even the Vittra. They lived farther south than we did, which meant I’d have to go even farther to get out of their range until everyone got tired of looking and went home.
I didn’t know where I was exactly, but the last sign I’d seen had been for Missouri. I hadn’t decided if this was far enough, or if I should keep going. I didn’t know where the end of this journey was for me.
The waitress brought back my tea, and I pushed away the napkin holder so I wouldn’t have to look at myself anymore. I leaned forward, letting my hair fall over my face as if I could hide myself, and went back to my staring contest with the phone.
I heard the stool next to me creak as someone sat down, which annoyed me since the entire bar was empty. There were plenty of seats for them to sit in without crowding me.
“Need any company?” the guy next to me asked.
“No, I’m good,” I said firmly, and tilted my stool away from him a bit.
“A girl alone like you, I really think you could use a friend,” he persisted, and it didn’t look like he’d get the hint without more force.
“Listen—” I turned to him, preparing to tell him off—but when I saw I was face-to-face with Konstantin Black, the argument died on my lips.
He looked exactly the way he had in the lysa—his hair longer than it had been before, the raven curls framing his face. From the scruff on his cheeks it had to have been a couple days since his last shave, and he wore all black. His smoky gray eyes studied me, and he offered me a hopeful smile.
“So, what do you say, white rabbit?” Konstantin asked. “Friends?”