Bonus Keefe story #6


“I’ve got it!” Keefe shouted, raising his arm and pumping his fist—which didn’t hurt anymore. Even when he waved both arms around.

“You figured out what to buy for your little girlfriend?” Ro asked, peeking her head into his room.

“No. Well . . . kinda. But I was talking about this!” He held up a small gold-and-silver square. “I got the last piece to fit! I can even take it apart and put it back together. I know the trick now.”

“Okay, but . . . what is it?”

“I have no idea,” Keefe admitted.

Ro smirked. “Good thing you’re not trying to swoop in and save the day anymore, ’cause that’s definitely not going to do it.”

“Hey, this is still important,” Keefe argued. “My mom hid it for a reason.”

“I’m sure she did,” Ro agreed, twisting her nose ring. “But let’s hope your gift idea is more exciting.”

“It is. It’s going to take me a little while to make it—but it’ll seriously top every gift she’s been given before.”

His fingers were already itching to get started on it.

But first he needed to get out of that bed, so he was more than a little relieved when Elwin finally gave him the all clear during his evening checkup.

“I still want you to take tonight to rest, though,” Elwin warned. “You’re not off bed rest until the morning.”

“Be glad,” Ro told him after Elwin left. “Now you have some time to figure out how to make your girl forgive you.”

Keefe shrugged. “I already know.”

“Groveling?” Ro guessed.

“Oh, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of that.”

But afterward, he had a plan.

From that point on, he only had one goal: to be whatever Sophie needed.

Not the hero.

Not the one taking charge of everything.

Just a guy ready to listen and help and be there for her.

A friend.

Until she was ready for more

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Bonus Keefe story #5


“You are never going to figure that out!” Ro screamed as Keefe continued the plink-plink-plinking.

“You’re just mad because you couldn’t figure it out either,” Keefe shouted back.

She’d been so smug when she’d wrenched the pieces from his hands to give it a try that Keefe had laughed himself hoarse when she’d failed. And since then, he’d managed to fit three of the four pieces together. But the last piece was ridiculously stubborn.

Ro stalked into his doorway with a bottle of blue nail polish  in one hand and half-painted claws on the other. “No, I’m mad because you’re only doing this to try to fix things with your little girlfriend and it’s not going to work.”

Keefe jingled the pieces extra loud.

But after several seconds he had to ask, “Why isn’t it going to work?”

Ro snorted. “Wow, you really have it bad, don’t you? Nope, no need to deny it. It’s so obvious it’s actually adorable. Especially since she’s totally clueless about it. You know that, right?”

Keefe rolled his eyes.

And he was all set to argue—but for some reason “Yeah, I’m an Empath,” slipped out.

“Ohhhhh, that’s true. Wow, I didn’t even think about that.” Ro giggled as she crossed the room and sat beside him on the bed. “That must drive you crazy.”

“Pretty much,” Keefe mumbled.

It wasn’t even the worst part—but he managed to stop himself from bringing up that.

“You get why, though, right?” Ro asked, slicking blue paint across another claw. “Why your girl doesn’t get how much you liiiiiiiiiiike her?”

He sighed. “Because she grew up hearing every less-thanawesome thought anyone ever had about her—even from her parents and sister and stuff. So now some part of her always assumes that everyone has those kinds of thoughts about her, even though she can’t hear them anymore.”

Ro blinked. “Okay, I was not expecting you to get all deep on me.”

Keefe shrugged. “It’s true.”

“Not saying it isn’t. Huh, I never thought about how brutal your elf-y abilities could be. Add it to the list of reasons I’m glad I’m not one of you. But that’s not what I was talking about.”

He had a feeling she was never going to let him live it down if he asked, but . . . “Okay, Miss Smarty Pants, what’s your theory for the Great Foster Oblivion?”

She held up her hand, blowing on her blue claws. “That’s your problem right there. You make everything a joke. It sends way too many mixed signals—especially for a girl with all that complicated stuff messing with her head.”

“Maybe. But Foster’s not ready for more than that—trust me.”

Once again, he stopped himself from cluing Ro into the whole square-that-was-now-a-triangle mess. But with how observant she seemed to be, she’d probably figure it out on her own soon enough.

“Well, all I’m saying is: If you’re looking to earn her forgiveness, ‘Here, Sophie, have this creepy thing from my mom’ isn’t going to do it. Especially if you parade in there like you just saved the day. She doesn’t need a hero. She needs a friend. So if you want to say you’re sorry, get her a real present.”

He really hated that she had a point.

And somehow he managed to stop himself from saying  presents are Fitz’s thing. Instead, he admitted, “I don’t know what to give her.”

“Then maybe you should figure that out.”

Yeah, maybe he should.

“And don’t look at me,” she added as she sauntered for the door. “Unless you want weapon advice, I have no idea what makes you elves swoon. But please, for the love of all that’s breathing, don’t let it have sparkles!”

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Bonus Keefe Story #4


Plink! Plink! Plink!

Ro stomped into his room. “If you make that noise one  more time I’m going to shove those pieces somewhere you’re really not going to like.”

“What, this noise?” Keefe asked, jingling the four weird bits of twisted silver and gold that Ro had brought him back from Candleshade.

He’d been trying to fit them together for hours.

In fact, he’d been ready to throw them across the room. But now that he knew the noise annoyed Ro . . .

“Sorry,” he told her. “I need to find out what these are, and since someone isn’t letting me get out of bed, it’s not like I have anything else to do.”

Plink! Plink! Plink! Plink! Plink!

Ro’s groan rattled the walls.

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Bonus Keefe Story#3


“If this is a trick . . . ,” Ro said, not bothering to finish the threat. The hand by her sword said the rest.

“No trick,” Keefe promised. “I seriously need your help. You found my prank stashes so easily that I’m hoping you can do the same with whatever my mom hid at Candleshade.”

“But why the sudden hurry?” Ro asked.

“Because Elwin’s here now, and you’ll need him to leap you there, since I’m still not allowed out of this stupid bed.”

“You’re not,” Elwin agreed. “And by the way, neither of us are leaving until you take a sedative—and I want to see you down the whole dose.”

Keefe clutched his heart. “Elwin, Elwin, Elwin. After all we’ve been through, do you really not trust me?”

Elwin held out a round, clear vial. “Nope.”

Ro snickered.

“Fine.” Keefe reached for the elixir. If that’s what it took to get Ro to Candleshade, he’d deal with it.

“You really think your mom hid something important there?” Elwin asked as Keefe gulped down the sticky, sweet sedative.

“I hope so.”

Along with the lovely news that his recovery was still taking forever, Elwin had also let Keefe know that Sophie had apparently already gone to Nightfall, and that her family hadn’t been there.

Elwin didn’t have any other details—except that everyone was safe. But Keefe knew Sophie had to be panicking.

He needed to get her another lead to help track down the Neverseen.

“I’d have a way better chance of finding what you’re looking for,” Ro said, “if you let me smash the place.”

“Fine by me. Make as big of a mess as you want. And bonus points if you destroy my dad’s statue.”

“WOO HOO! Things just got interesting in elf land!”

Ro said something else, but Keefe didn’t catch it. His ears had started ringing, and his head had gotten way too spinny.

He sank into his pillow, feeling a hand gently squeeze his shoulder.

Then he was lost to his floaty dreams, most of which focused on the gold-flecked brown eyes he could never get out of his head.

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Bonus Keefe Story#2


“You have ten seconds to float back to bed,” Ro warned, without even glancing over her shoulder, “or I’m tying you down and covering you with flesh-eating bacteria.”

Keefe ignored the jolt of pain in his side as he pumped his arms, swimming through the air. “You expect me to believe you have flesh-eating bac—”

Ro leaped across the room, blocking the window he’d been levitating toward, and pulled a small black bottle from her breastplate. She poured a single drop onto her finger, and the  dark blob immediately dissolved her skin into a bloody hole.

Keefe went back to bed.

Ro grinned. “Good boy.”

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