A Lesson in Thorns (Thornchapel Book 1) by Sierra Simone

A Lesson in Thorns (Thornchapel Book 1) by Sierra Simone

Author:Sierra Simone [Simone, Sierra]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2019-03-18T18:30:00+00:00

Chapter 16

He’s facing the snow when I get to the window, the fingers of one hand splayed against the glass while his other hand fists and unfists in slow, methodical pulses. This deep into the night-gloom of the library, he’s only the barest highlights of himself—eyelashes caught with shadows like drops of water, the wide mouth, the patrician nose and elegant tumbles of light brown hair. He’d dressed simply today—or as simply as he ever does—in dark red trousers and a white button-down, and the collar of his shirt is open enough for me to trace the strong lines of his throat and the mesmerizing crescent of his collarbone. I still feel that primal urge to go to my knees and beg him to pull my hair, but I ignore it. I refuse to kneel to a coward.

I may apologize, but I won’t kneel.

“You were right,” he says without looking at me, before I can even speak. “You were right about what you said.”

I think about this a moment. “I came to say I’m sorry, and I think I still should. I shouldn’t have said those things in front of everyone else. I know what happened between you and your father was painful.”

His eyes are still on the snow. “Painful,” he says. “Yes.”

“And I shouldn’t have shamed you for how you’re handling his death.” Guilt tightens my throat as I realize that I did fuck up pretty badly back there. “You’re grieving and you are grieving a man who was cruel to you, and I . . . I should have known better.”

“Yes,” Auden says, finally turning to face me. “You should have.” He sighs and scrubs at his hair. “But you also weren’t wrong. It’s easier to draw up wiring schedules and review wood samples than it is to think of Thornchapel as my own.”

He looks at me for a moment, then extends a hand. It’s cool from the glass, and I feel that coolness everywhere as I give him my hand in return.

“I want to show you something,” he says, pulling me away from the window. “In the south tower.”

I follow him, but I do tug my hand free, feeling strange about holding hands with him and not wanting Delphine to get the wrong idea as we go past the group by the fire. I needn’t have worried though; they’re so absorbed with the ledgers that they don’t notice us leaving the library at all.

Snow buffets the windows of the corridor leading back to the hall, gusting against the newly repaired windowpane and piling atop the sills. We take another corridor to the south wing, passing more windows looking onto a paved courtyard with a single bench and empty fountain, and then into the locus of the renovation mayhem, stepping over wood planks and spools of wire and random piles of tarp and scrap. We go up the stairs to the first floor, where the renovated bedrooms are mostly finished and awaiting final coats of paint, and then up another floor to the former servants’ quarters, where Auden’s studio will be.


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