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A Game of Hearts and Heists: Epilogue


We spent the night in each other’s arms, fucking each other senseless until both of us felt uncomfortable walking and our mouths and jaws ached.

It wasn’t until Malachi knocked on the door, finally well enough to be out of bed, that we showered and dressed. The Sanatio worked, or is working, I should say. While Malachi isn’t completely vocal, he’s well on his way. He’s up and about, dismissing soldiers and disbanding everything his father built. Quinn’s mother, though, is doing less well. She’s taken to drinking and hasn’t left her bed. Quinn, though, said this isn’t unusual and that they’ll make sure she gets the help she needs.

We left the palace, travelling in one of her father’s carriages. She didn’t speak much. Just stared out the window at the ruined city, her eyes hollow.

It will take her time. She hasn’t grieved her father.

No one stopped us at the Border. The Queen has called for her guard to return to the palace while they prepare for “The Great Healing” as I hear the whispers say. But in all honesty, no one is sure what exactly is going to happen once the Queen repairs the map and heals the land.

Jacob let us use his spare bike garage for all our belongings. We were evicted as I was leaving for the Border, but Jacob and Remy helped Stirling put our belongings in his garage.

Neither of them impressed with what I’d done over the Sanatio Plant, risking their pay day.

We meet outside the palace. A guard shows us to the same meeting room this began in five weeks ago.

Queen Calandra welcomes us in. She’s wearing a maroon pant suit the same ruby colour as the guard uniform.

“Your Majesty. Quinn and Stirling, you know. This is Remy, Jacob and—”

Calandra sucks in a breath. I stop talking, frowning as I observe Calandra’s expression. She’s fixated on Morrigan.

“What is…? I don’t understand? Is this a joke?” Calandra says.

“Umm, no? This is—” I start, but she cuts me off.

“Morrigan. Yes, I’m well aware of who this is. What do you think you’re doing?” Calandra barks at Morrigan.

Morrigan’s cheeks heat. Stirling’s eyes dart between the two, searching for an answer. I glance from Calandra to Morrigan, trying to work out what it is she sees.

The curves, the olive skin.

Oh. My. Gods.

“Hello, mother,” Morrigan says.

My jaw hits the floor. Stirling sits down heavy in a chair, her hand wiping over her face.

“You’re… you’re a…” Stirling stutters and turns to Calandra, “she’s a p…”

“Princess, yes. One of my two daughters. And apparently on your team.”

“Don’t make a big deal out of it. Let’s get this over with,” Morrigan says and waves her mother off.

“This is a very big deal,” Stirling says, pointing at Morrigan.

Morrigan rolls her eyes. “We’ll discuss this later.”

There’s a knock on the door.

“Enter,” Calandra says, and a butler wheels in a trolley of food and six sealed envelopes. He distributes the plates of food, drinks and glasses. Piles of chicken and meats, salads and fruit.

“Morrigan, I will deal with you later. Everyone, please do sit, help yourselves to whatever you’d like and make yourselves comfortable. I wanted to thank you once again for going above and beyond with this mission.”

She turns to Quinn. “I am truly sorry for your loss. I know that this is a difficult time for you, but I wanted you to know, New Imperium owes you a debt for your sacrifice.”

Quinn, Remy, Jacob and Morrigan sit, though Stirling still hasn’t moved. She’s staring into the void from the armchair in the corner. I drag her up by the arm, pinching the skin underneath. She hisses at me, but it snatches her out of her daze. And she takes a seat beside me.

And then, under her breath, she growls, “She was a princess the whole time?”

“Hush,” I breathe back.

Calandra takes a seat at the head of the table and opens her arms. “I’ve decided, by way of repaying the debt, to provide you all with an opportunity.”

I glance at Stirling, and then narrow my eyes. “An opportunity?”

“What sort of opportunity?” Jacob pipes up, his creamy coloured hair slicked back today.

Calandra interlocks her fingers and takes a deep breath. “Work for me. As a team. Work for me on cases, discrete political business, missions if you like. And if you do, not only will I reinstate your titles, Lady Grey, but you may return to your land, holdings, and properties. Your parents’ account will be unfrozen, and I’ll ensure the banks give you access to what is rightfully yours and more.”

She pours herself a glass of wine and holds it up. “I will even pay your team for their time for retrieving the map.”

“But, why?” I ask.

She snorts, “I should think that’s obvious. I will gain access to the most promising team of magicians I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.”

I turn to the team. Could we work for her? Morrigan, Jacob and Remy are all nodding violently.

They’re in.

But Calandra wrongfully ordered the execution of our parents. She’s been the sum of everything I hated, everything I’ve spent half a decade trying to seek vengeance for. But now we’re here… Now she accepts her mistake and that my parents are innocent. I’m unsure.

“I’d want my parents publicly pardoned. Their record absolved.”

She raises her glass to me. “That would only be fair.”

“You’d have to give up racing, Jacob. And Collecting, Morrigan. Do you really want to do that? And Remy, what about you? No more moonlighting.”

She shrugs. “Life’s an adventure. Just because we’re a team for now, doesn’t mean we have to give up everything. Who knows, maybe Morrigan can Collect while we’re working. Or Jacob can race on the side. But there’s no higher honour than working for the Queen.”

I turn to Stirling. Her jaw is flexing. She’s scarcely moved her eyes from Morrigan. “Are you ready to move on?”

Stirling wipes her mouth. “This wasn’t how it was meant to go.”

“I know, Stir. But none of this went the way we thought.”

Stirling tears herself away from Morrigan and stares out the window, watching the night clouds cross the moon. She’s silent so long I fidget in my seat. Eventually, Stirling takes a breath and turns to me, grinning.

“Toss for it?”

My face pales, and I scoff a laugh out. “Of all the times, you choose now to place our fate in the hands of Chance?”

“Why not? Life’s a game, is it not?”

I pull Chance out of my pocket, rub the surface, and give her a kiss. Silently praying that this time she plays fair. She warms under my fingers.

I flick Chance high in the air. My breath catches in my throat. I can scarcely breathe. What if it lands on no? What if it lands on…

It drops into my palm, and I flip it onto the back of my hand, covering the surface. I swallow hard and reveal our destiny.

My grin deepens. I show it to Stirling.

“The fates are with you, your majesty,” I say.

“I think…” she says, “that if I’m not very much mistaken, the fates are with you, Lady Grey.”

She stands and pulls down the screen behind her.

“Let us begin…”

As she explains the job, I slide my hand under the table and into Quinn’s grip. My angry woman, now and forever.

And a smile creeps over my face.

I won.


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