Days of Blood & Starlight

Written By: Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor




For Jim,

extremely





Once upon a time, an angel and a devil held a wishbone between them.



And its snap split the world in two.





1


THE GIRL ON THE BRIDGE


Prague, early May. The sky weighed gray over fairy-tale rooftops, and all the world was watching. Satellites had even been tasked to surveil the Charles Bridge, in case the… visitors… returned. Strange things had happened in this city before, but not this strange. At least, not since video existed to prove it. Or to milk it.

“Please tell me you have to pee.”

“What? No. No, I do not. Don’t even ask.”

“Oh, come on. I’d do it myself if I could, but I can’t. I’m a girl.”

“I know. Life is so unfair. I’m still not going to pee on Karou’s ex-boyfriend for you.”

“What? I wasn’t even going to ask you to.” In her most reasonable tone, Zuzana explained, “I just want you to pee in a balloon so I can drop it on him.”

“Oh.” Mik pretended to consider this for approximately one and a half seconds. “No.”

Zuzana exhaled heavily through her mouth. “Fine. But you know he deserves it.”

The target was standing ten feet in front of them with a full international news crew, giving an interview. It was not his first interview. It was not even his tenth. Zuzana had lost count. What made this one especially irksome was that he was conducting it on the front steps of Karou’s apartment building, which had already gotten quite enough attention from various police and security agencies without the address being splashed on the news for all and sundry.

Kaz was busily making a name for himself as the ex-boyfriend of “the Girl on the Bridge,” as Karou was being called in the wake of the extraordinary melee that had fixed the eyes of the world on Prague.

“Angels,” breathed the reporter, who was young and pretty in the usual catalog-model-meets-assassin way of TV reporters. “Did you have any idea?”

Kaz laughed. Predicting it, Zuzana fake-laughed right along with him. “What, you mean that there really are angels, or that my girlfriend is on their bad side?”

“Ex-girlfriend,” hissed Zuzana.

“Both, I guess,” laughed the reporter.

“No, neither,” admitted Kaz. “But there were always mysteries with Karou.”

“Like what?”

“Well, she was so secretive you wouldn’t believe it. I mean, I don’t even know her nationality, or her last name, if she even has one.”

“And that didn’t bother you?”

“Nah, it was cool. A beautiful, mysterious girl? She kept a knife in her boot, and she could speak all these languages, and she was always drawing monsters in her—”

Zuzana shouted, “Tell about how she threw you through the window!”

Kaz tried to ignore her, but the reporter had heard. “Is it true? Did she hurt you?”

“Well, it wasn’t my favorite thing that’s ever happened to me.” Cue charming laughter. “But I wasn’t hurt. It was my fault, I guess. I scared her. I didn’t mean to, but she’d been in some kind of fight, and she was jumpy. She was bloody all over, and barefoot in the snow.”

“How awful! Did she tell you what happened?”

Again Zuzana shouted. “No! Because she was too busy throwing him through the window!”

“It was a door, actually,” said Kaz, shooting Zuzana a look. He pointed at the glass door behind him. “That door.”

“This one, right here?” The reporter was delighted. She reached out and touched it like it meant something—like the replacement glass of a door once shattered by the flung body of a bad actor was some kind of important symbol to the world.

“Please?” Zuzana asked Mik. “He’s standing right under the balcony.” She had the keys to Karou’s flat, which had come in handy for spiriting her friend’s sketchbooks from the premises before investigators could get their hands on them. Karou had wanted her to live here, but right now, thanks to Kaz, it was too much of a circus. “Look.” Zuzana pointed up. “It’s a straight drop onto his head. And you did drink all that tea—”

“No.”

The reporter leaned in close to Kaz. Conspiratorial. “So. Where is she now?”

“Seriously?” Zuzana muttered. “As if he knows. Like he didn’t tell the last twenty-five reporters because he was saving this excellent secret knowledge just for her?”

On the steps, Kaz shrugged. “We all saw it. She flew away.” He shook his head like he couldn’t believe it, and looked right into the camera. He was so much better-looking than he deserved to be. Kaz made Zuzana wish that beauty were something that could be revoked for bad behavior. “She flew away,” he repeated, wide-eyed with fake wonder. He was performing these interviews like a play: the same show again and again, with only minor ad-libs depending on the questions. It was getting really old.

“And you have no idea where she might have gone?”

“No. She was always taking off, disappearing for days. She never said where she went, but she was always exhausted when she came back.”