Before I had a chance to feel too sorry for myself, I turned toward the front of the cabin and found the bookcases carved right into the wall. Hundreds of leather-bound volumes rested in dim alcoves. I had no idea what stories or information they held. It didn't matter. I wanted to absorb anything they had to say.
Sam hauled open the library door. "There you are!" Whit pushed up from the desk he'd been hunched over. "We thought you two had given up on us." "Unlike some people I know, " I said, removing my mittens and scarf, "we don't live here." "She says that now." Sam followed me toward Whit's and Orrin's desks, where they worked over flat electronic screens. "But the first thing she said when I showed her the library was that we should move in." Orrin lifted an eyebrow, oddly delicate for someone so large. "The acoustics would be terrible.
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No matter what happens, I want that piece of music to live. When people hear it, I want them to think about what we tried to do, regardless of whether we succeed. And I want them to know that without you, Ana Incarnate, whatever Janna had planned would have just happened without opposition. You opened our eyes. I want that legacy to continue.
I turned back to the shrike, but the beak of his mask grazed up my neck and warm lips brushed my ear. Thrills coursed through me, but I didn't move until he started away. I caught his hand. "Wait." He'd felt right. I knew who I needed him to be, even if the way we'd danced was not how- That kind of passion he reserved for music. Not me. A cold breeze made me shiver as I tightened my grip on his. Stepped closer. Searched his eyes. His lips tilted up at one corner, like amusement. I'd known, but still, the familiar expression stunned me so much I almost didn't act. I kissed him. Rather, I pressed my mouth against his and hoped he wouldn't run. It would probably kill me. Three long seconds and he only gasped and tightened his hands on my back. Then, with a soft moan, he opened his mouth and kissed me. It wasn't an easy, sweet kiss like I'd imagined my first would be, but frustraeted and hungry. That was good, better than easy and sweet, because after everything, I was frustrated and hungry for him, too. His beak scraped my cheek, but I ignored it while the tip of his tongue danced over my lips.
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We danced forever, and not nearly long enough. Now that I faced him, I could touch him, too, rather than self-consciously drip through his fingers. I explored his back, fingertips discovering ridges of his spine, muscles, a place below his left shoulder blade that made him writhe, as if struggling not to laugh. I tickled him again, devouring the sensation of his chest against my cheek.
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