Tilly slams into me from behind and the chest’s lid flies open and my shadow darts out.
The fae queen shoves her blade into my gut and I exhale in a rush.
“Your time is up, Never King,” she says through gritted teeth. She’s easily a foot shorter than I am, but I’ve underestimated the strength of the fae queen.
The blade hits bone and my vision goes white.
“Bash!” I yell. “Kas!”
Tilly’s eyes narrow and the room slips away. I’m back at the lagoon, but the water is dark and the trees are dead.
“No,” I say to Tilly and swim my way back to reality.
She plants her hand on my forehead and shoves me back in.
The sky grows dark and the wind picks up.
This is the Neverland that terrifies me. The one that has no shadow and no king.
I wrap my hand around Tilly’s wrist and the connection brings me back, blink by blink.
“You betrayed me,” I tell Tilly. “Just like your fucking mother.”
She screams at me, driving the blade deeper, and I cough up blood.
“Give me the shell!” Vane yells and I’m so relieved to see him, I almost weep.
I fetch it from my pocket and toss it to him.
He holds it up and my shadow grows still in the far corner of the library.
Tilly pulls her knife from my gut and races toward Vane just as her brothers run into the room and tackle her.
My shadow leaps from the corner and disappears into the shell.
Vane turns to me, tossing the shell back.
When I snatch it from the air, my arm vibrates with the connection of energy.
I drop the shell to the floor, smash it with my boot, and hunch to all fours over it.
And my shadow finally comes home.
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