Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky, #3)(6)

“And if we’re not?”


“Skies,” Bear said, propping his heavy arms on the table. He let out a loud breath, setting the candle flame trembling in front of him. “Only days?”

Perry tried to digest that information. He had brought the Tides there as a temporary shelter. Promised them it wouldn’t be forever—and it couldn’t be. The cave wasn’t a Pod like Reverie, with the capability to sustain itself. He needed to get them out of there.

He looked at Reef, for once craving his advice.

But then Aria stepped into the chamber.

Perry lurched to his feet so fast that his chair fell backward. He took the ten paces to her in a flash, bumping his head on the low ceiling, knocking his leg into the table, moving with less coordination than he had in his entire life.

He pulled her close, holding her as tight as he could while being careful about her arm.

She smelled incredible. Like violets and open fields under the sun. Her scent set his pulse racing. It was freedom. It was everything the cave wasn’t.

“You’re awake,” he said, and almost laughed at himself. He’d been waiting to talk to her for days; he could have done better.

“Talon said you’d be here,” she said, smiling at him.

He ran his hand over the bandage on her arm. “How do you feel?”

She shrugged. “Better.”

He wished it were really true, but the dark circles under her eyes and the pallor of her skin told him otherwise. Still, she was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. Easily.

The room had fallen quiet. They had an audience, but Perry didn’t care. They’d spent a winter apart while she’d been at Marron’s, and then another month when she’d gone to Rim with Roar. The week they’d spent together at the Tides had been made up of stolen moments. He’d learned his lesson. He wouldn’t waste another second with her.

He took her face in his hands and kissed her. Aria made a small sound of surprise, and then he felt her relax. Her arms came around his neck, and what had started as a brush of their lips became deeper. He gathered her close and forgot everything, everyone except her, until he heard Reef’s gruff voice behind him.

“Sometimes I forget he’s nineteen.”

“Oh, yes. Easy to do.” The gentle reply could only be from Marron.

“Not now.”

“No . . . certainly not now.”


HarperCollins Publishers




Aria blinked at Perry, a little overwhelmed.

Their relationship had just made a definitive shift to public, and she was unprepared for the wave of pride that swept through her. He was hers, and he was incredible, and they didn’t have to hide, or explain, or be apart anymore.

“We probably should get started with the meeting,” he said, smiling down at her.

She mumbled her agreement and forced herself away from him, trying not to look as staggered as she felt. She spotted Roar standing on the other side of the table, relief snapping her back to the present.

“Roar!” Aria rushed to his side, wrapping him in a half hug.

“Easy, there,” he said, frowning at her arm. “What happened?”

“Oh, this? I got myself shot.”

“What did you go and do that for?”

“I wanted some sympathy, I guess.”

It was their usual way with each other, teasing and light, but Aria studied him as they spoke, and what she saw brought a twist to her heart.

Though he sounded like himself, Roar’s eyes had lost all their humor. They were heavy with sadness now—a sadness he carried everywhere. In his smile. In the drape of his shoulders. Even in the way he stood, weight to one side, like his entire life was out of balance. He looked as he had a week ago, when they’d floated down the Snake River together: heartbroken.

Her attention moved past him to Marron, who made his way toward them and smiled expectantly, his blue eyes alert and lively, his cheeks ruddy and round—the very opposite of Roar’s hardened planes.

“It’s so good to see you,” Marron said, pulling her close. “We’ve all been worried.”

“It’s good to see you too.” He was soft, and he smelled so good, like rosewater and woodsmoke. She held on to him a moment longer, remembering the months she’d spent in his home over the winter after learning that her mother had died. She’d have been lost without his help.

“Aren’t we in the middle of a crisis, Aria?” Soren walked in with his shoulders back and his chin tipped up. “I swear that’s what you said five minutes ago.”

The expression on his face—arrogant, annoyed, disgusted—had been hers six months ago when she’d first met Perry.

“I’ll get rid of him,” Reef said, rising from his chair.

“No,” Aria said. Soren was Hess’s son. Whether he deserved it or not, the Dwellers would look to him as a leader, along with her. “He’s with me. I asked him to be here.”

“Then he stays,” Perry said smoothly. “Let’s get started.”

That surprised her. She’d worried about Perry’s reaction to Soren—the two had despised each other at first sight.

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