Avery fanned herself and attempted to slow her breathing down. Go for it. I nod, trusting Indah’s caution. Did you tell Ashwin?

Gareth shook his head. Trust Isabella to turn this into a fancy hunt.

Wait here, Gareth said, barring her from moving forward with his arm. Hyacinth remained in the shadows as he stepped onto Dover Street, edging as close to the corner as she dared while he made sure there was no one about. After a few seconds she saw Gareth’s hand, reaching back and making a scooping, come along gesture.She stepped out onto Dover Street, but she was there barely a second before she heard Gareth’s sharply in-drawn breath and felt herself being shoved back into the shadows.

Flattening herself against the back wall of the corner building, she clutched Miss Davenport—and within it, Isabella’s clue—to her chest as she waited for Gareth to appear by her side.And then she heard it.Just one word. In his father’s voice.

Gareth had barely a second to react. He didn’t know how it had happened, didn’t know where the baron had suddenly appeared from, but somehow he managed to push Hyacinth back into the alley in the very second before he was caught.Greetings, he said, in his jauntiest voice, stepping forward so as to put as much distance between him and the alley as possible.

His father was already striding over, his face visibly angry, even in the dim light of the night. What are you doing here? he demanded.

Gareth shrugged, the same expression that had infuriated his father so many times before. Except this time he wasn’t trying to provoke, he was just trying to keep the baron’s attention firmly fixed. Just making my way home, he said, with deliberate nonchalance.She drew in a breath. Okay… How do I do that?

I’m not sure. You have to figure it out. Do anything. But don’t fail. Fixing the wedding is all you have to do; I will take care of the rest.All right, she said. I will try. I swear, I will try.

No, I said, more forcefully than I had intended, even as I found myself speaking the same words the oracle had spoken to me in my time of despair. Not try. Trying is for cowards.Nuriya pursed her lips, stiffening. Determination flickered in her golden eyes. You’re right. Not try. I will.