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Lord of Shadows

Lord of Shadows

Page 21

Cristina snorted, then turned her face away. “I just feel so stupid,” she said. “He lied to me and I forgave him, and then he lied to me again—what kind of idiot am I? Why on earth did I think he was trustworthy?”

“Because you wanted to,” Emma said. “You’ve known him a long time, Tina, and that does make a difference. When someone’s been part of your life for that long, cutting them out is like cutting the roots out from under a plant.”

Cristina was silent for a long moment. “I know,” she said. “I know you understand.”

Emma tasted the acid burn of bitterness at the back of her throat and swallowed it back. She needed to be here for Cristina now, not dwell on her own worries. “When I was little,” she said, “Jules and I used to come up here together at sunset practically every night and wait for the green flash.”

“The what?”

“The green flash. When the sun goes down, just as it disappears, you’ll see a flash of green light.” They both looked out at the water. The sun was disappearing below the horizon, the sky streaked red and black. “If you make a wish on it, it’ll come true.”

“Will it?” Cristina spoke softly, her eyes on the horizon along with Emma’s.

“I don’t know,” Emma said. “I’ve made a lot of wishes by now.” The sun sank another few millimeters. Emma tried to think what she could wish for. Even when she’d been younger, she’d understood somehow that there were some things you couldn’t wish for: world peace, your dead parents back. The universe couldn’t turn itself inside out for you. Wishing only bought you small blessings: a sleep without nightmares, your best friend’s safety for another day, birthday sunshine.

“Do you remember,” Emma said, “before you saw Diego again, you said we should go to Mexico together? Spend a travel year there?”

Cristina nodded.

“It’d be a while before I could go,” said Emma. “I don’t turn eighteen until the winter. But when I do . . .”

Leaving Los Angeles. Spending the year with Cristina, learning and training and traveling.

Without Jules. Emma swallowed against the pain the thought caused. It was a pain she’d have to learn to live with.

“I’d like that,” Cristina said. The sun was just a rim of gold now. “I’ll wish for that. And maybe to forget Diego, too.”

“But then you have to forget the good things as well as the bad ones. And I know there were good things.” Emma wound her fingers through Cristina’s. “He’s not the right person for you. He isn’t strong enough. He keeps letting you down and disappointing you. I know he loves you, but that’s not enough.”

“Apparently I’m not the only one he loves.”

“Maybe he started dating her to try to forget you,” Emma said. “And then he got you back, even though he didn’t expect to, and he didn’t know how to break it off with her.”

“What an idiot,” said Cristina. “I mean, if that were true, which it isn’t.”

Emma laughed. “Okay, yeah, I don’t buy it either.” She leaned forward. “Look, just let me beat him up for you. You’ll feel so much better.”

“Emma, no. Don’t lay a hand on him. I mean it.”

“I could beat him up with my feet,” Emma suggested. “They’re registered as lethal weapons.” She wiggled them.

“You have to promise not to touch him.” Cristina glared so severely that Emma raised her free hand in submission.

“All right, all right, I promise,” she said. “I will not touch Perfect Diego.”

“And you can’t yell at Zara, either,” Cristina said. “It’s not her fault. I’m sure she has no idea I exist.”

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