Assassin's Heart

Free Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers

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Authors: Sarah Ahiers
known where to find him, or that he knew how to find the Da Vias.
    Marcello had to help me. We were blood, after all, family, even if I’d never met him, even if he was disgraced. And he’d once been Family, too.
    Yvain, a tiny city, sat on the border of the country of Rennes, Lovero’s nearest neighbor. It would take a day to reach it, but if I traded off between Butters and Dorian, I would make better time. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea. I’d reach the city of Yvain, find Marcello Saldana, enlist his help in destroying the Da Vias, then return to Lovero together and burn them out like the rat’s nest they were.
    I closed my eyes and pictured them dying, their leatherssoaked with blood, their eyes sightless, their breaths stilled. My vision drifted toward Val, and I snapped my eyes open.
    I’d have to be quick about this. Sooner or later the Da Vias would learn I’d survived, and then they’d be after me. And if they chased me to Yvain, it could lead them right to Marcello. If the Da Vias could find him, they would kill him, too.
    I’d collect the horses, find somewhere to hide for the rest of the night, and head out at first light when it was safest. If I had to stop, there were monasteries scattered on the dead plains.
    I returned to the garden and found the horses waiting patiently. I freed Butters from the pergola and tied him to Dorian again.
    I paused, the back of my neck shivering beneath my hood. Someone was watching me.
    I scratched Dorian’s chin, my actions casual and unconcerned. Three of them, at least. Two on the roof of a nearby house and the other on the ground, hiding, poorly, behind a bush near the entrance. Terrible skills. Even Val could get closer to me, and he barely tried.
    I bent over, lifting Dorian’s hoof, to give the appearance of freeing a wedged stone. I slipped my hand under my cloak and secured a pair of daggers. I didn’t have room in the cramped garden to unsheathe my sword.
    I waited, certain one would make a move while I was “distracted.” It was what I’d do. Nothing happened.
    Time to take the lead, then.
    I stood and faced the entrance and the clipper hiding there. “Well come on, then!” I yelled. “You’re here for me, aren’t you?”
    The two on the roof looked at each other. The third revealed himself at the entrance to the garden. They watched me silently. I’d taken them by surprise, and they seemed unsure how to proceed. Rank amateurs.
    The clipper before me stepped closer. The light from the moon showed brown splotches, reminiscent of ink blots, decorating his mask. Family Addamo, then. Alexi, to be specific. The other two I didn’t recognize. Mother always tried to get me to memorize every mask, to be able to recall every clipper in every Family by their masks alone, but I could only remember a select few from each. Unlike Rafeo, who knew every single one.
    I loosened my spine. I could take Alexi, even with two others backing him.
    Alexi lifted a knife and tapped it against his mask.
    â€œYou’ve taken us a bit by surprise,” he said. “We expected Rafeo.” He pointed his dagger at my mask.
    I shrugged. “Sorry to disappoint.”
    â€œOh, I wouldn’t say we’re disappointed. The Da Vias will want to hear that a Saldana survived, and whether that’s Rafeo or you, doesn’t really matter to us. Either way, the Da Vias will be the first Family, and we’ll have earned their favor. And you’ll be dead.”
    Above me, one of the Addamo clippers slid closer—a move he probably thought I wouldn’t notice. No wonderthey were only the seventh Family. I tightened my grip on my knife. “You can give it your best attempt.”
    I whipped the knife at the two on the roof. The first clipper dodged, but the one behind was midstep. My knife struck the tile roof at his feet. I grimaced behind my mask. Knife

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