Rise An Eve Novel - By Anna Carey Page 0,2

thin, his hair still cropped close to his skull. His skin was a deep reddish brown from the sun. The Lieutenant stared at me as I took my seat at the table. He lowered his voice, but before the next song started I could hear him saying something about the labor camps. He was here to bring news of the revolt.

The King’s head was cocked so his ear was level with the Lieutenant’s mouth. I didn’t dare look at Moss. Instead I kept my eyes on the mirrored wall opposite me. From where I was sitting I could see my father’s reflection in the glass. There was a nervousness in his expression I’d never seen before. He held his chin in his hand, his cheeks drained of all color.

Another song began, the conservatory filling with the sound of the choir. “To the Princess,” Charles said, holding up a thin flute of cider. I clinked my glass against his, thinking only of Moss’s words.

Within the week, my father would be dead.

two

AT FIRST I WASN’T CERTAIN WHAT I WAS HEARING; THE SOUND existed in the hazy space of dreams. I pulled the covers closer, but the noise persisted. The room slowly came into focus, the wardrobe and chairs lit by the soft glow from outside. Charles was sleeping as he always did on the chaise in the corner, his feet hanging a few inches off the short cushion. Whenever I saw him like that, curled up, his expression softened by sleep, guilt ripped through me. I had to remind myself who he was, why we were both here, and that he wasn’t anything to me.

I sat up and listened. The sharp, sporadic squeaking of brakes was fainter from so high up, but unmistakable. I’d heard it as we moved west toward Califia and on the long drive to the City of Sand. I went to the window and looked out at the main road, where a line of government Jeeps snaked through the City, their headlights lighting up the dark.

“What is it?” Charles asked.

From twenty stories up, I could just make out the shadowy figures packed into the beds. “I think they’re taking people out of the City,” I said, watching as the Jeeps moved south along the road. The line stretched on forever in each direction, one after the next.

Charles wiped the sleep from his eyes. “I didn’t think they would do it,” he muttered.

“What do you mean?” I turned to him, but he refused to look at me. “Where are they taking them?”

He joined me at the window, our reflections barely visible in the glass. “They’re coming, not going,” he said finally. He pointed to the abandoned hospital in the Outlands. “The girls.”

“What girls?” I watched the Jeeps make their way down the main road, stopping and starting up again. A handful of soldiers were standing in the middle of the pavement, directing them. There were a few dozen trucks, at least. It was the most cars I’d ever seen driving in one place.

“The girls from the Schools,” he said. He rested his hand on my back, as if that gesture alone could calm me. “I heard your father talking about it today. They said it was a preventive measure after what happened at the camps.”

The King had been locked in his office with his advisers after dinner. I knew they were developing a defense strategy, that much was clear, but I hadn’t imagined they would go so far as to evacuate the Schools. Before I could process it, tears collected in the corners of my eyes, blurring my vision. They were here, finally, impossibly—Ruby, Arden, and Pip.

“Is it all of the girls? How many total?” I moved quickly around the room, pulling a sweater from the wardrobe and a pair of narrow pants from the closet. I yanked them on under my nightgown, not bothering to go into the bathroom as I normally did. I turned my bare back to Charles as I traded the gown for a soft beige sweater.

When I spun back around he was staring at me, his cheeks flushed. “I believe it’s all of them. It’s supposed to be done by sunrise. They don’t want it to be public.”

“That’ll be impossible.” I glanced behind him, at the building across the way. A few other lights had gone on in the apartments. Silhouettes passed behind the curtains, looking down at the scene below.

He didn’t respond. Instead he studied me as I pulled on the shiny black

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