PERARRE LAY AWAKE in the dark bedroom. Roric was sound asleep, his body warm and still against hers. She shifted away from him a bit; he didn’t move.
Where his words hadn’t convinced her to open the book, his lovemaking almost had, though she was sure he hadn’t meant it that way. She was sure he had only meant to mend the rift between them, to comfort her after upsetting her so badly, to assure her of his love even though he couldn’t agree with her. But when she was with him she couldn’t think straight. She couldn’t think at all; she found it impossible to refuse him anything he wanted.
He wasn’t going to listen to her. And maybe he was right. Maybe opening that book was the only way to find answers. She didn’t know. What she did know was that there was something terrible inside that book, whether it was whatever had frightened the Triumvirate so much or what it said about what really happened between them and the Benefactor, and that opening it would lead to disaster one way or another. If Roric wouldn’t listen to her, there was only one thing left for her to do.
Carefully, hardly even daring to breathe, she slid out of bed and dressed as quickly as she could. She looked at Roric for just a moment. The memory of the night he had opened up to her, exposing all of his pain and shame to her, tugged at her heart. He had trusted her with the secrets he had hid from everyone else, trusted her not to turn away from him and his terrible past. She felt like she was betraying him in the worst possible way, but she was afraid that if she stayed, he would wear her down and persuade her to open the book against her better judgment and all her instincts.
She didn’t dare kiss him, lest she wake him up or change her mind about what she had to do. Without looking back again, she opened the door and slipped out of the room, feeling as though she had ripped out her heart and left it behind in that bed.
In her room in the Assistants’ Hall, she packed her clothes, her letters from Laydra and Samale, and as many books as would fit into the single valise she had brought to the University nine years ago. She should have known the affair with Professor Rossony was a mistake. She should have known it would end badly. What in the world had made her think that sleeping with her employer was a good idea? That was the problem; she hadn’t been thinking at all. She bit her lips to stop herself from crying as she jammed her belongings into the bag, but tears still ran down her face. Angrily, she pushed them away. When would she ever learn to stop and think things through before jumping into trouble?
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