Zhian, is that you? I focus the words on the clay jar above Darian.
The reply comes like a clap of thunder
GET ME OUT OF HERE!
I stumble at the force of his words, and Darian steps forward to catch me.
“Wine catching up to you?” he asks, grinning.
I just nod distractedly, stiffening a little when his hands slide up my arms.
Zhian, I’m here to help you.
GET ME OUT NOW!
Darian’s hands are far too familiar, one on my back now, the other cupping my jaw. His touch is repulsive, his heartbeat erratic and too fast. I feel assaulted on all sides: by Zhian’s shouting, by the jinn clamoring, by Darian’s desire.
“You really are quite pretty,” he says, his eyes dropping to my lips. “I’ve shown you something secret. Now what are you going to show me?”
Steeling myself, I grasp his coat and step forward, backing him into the shelves, and around him bottles shake dangerously.
“Easy,” he cautions, but his eyes brighten greedily. Our faces are just inches apart, his eyes locked on mine. “You’re a feisty one. I knew it the moment I saw you. No wonder Rahzad likes to keep you close.”
“What about the princess?” I murmur, working a hand behind him as if to thread my fingers in his oiled hair.
“Caspida hardly appreciates the finer pleasures in life. I, on the other hand, have a king’s appetite.”
He kisses me forcefully, stepping away from the wall, and I’m barely able to grab Zhian’s jar before it’s out of reach. No bigger than my hand, it’s simple to let it slip down my sleeve. The jinn prince rages inside, but I ignore him and focus on the human trying to force his tongue down my throat. I can feel myself hovering on the very edge of the lamp’s boundary. Ripples of smoke race under my skin as I strain to keep from shifting, the effort bringing tears to my eyes.
I shove Darian hard, and he shouts as he slams into the wall of bottled jinn. A few topple from their shelves, and panic springs into his eyes as he struggles to catch them all.
“Bleeding gods, you whore!” he growls. “Are you mad?”
“My master is probably looking for me,” I gasp. “I should go.”
I turn and flee the room, letting out a soft, relieved cry as the lamp’s pull on me slackens. Darian pursues too quickly for me to shift into a more speedy form. Zhian’s jar rattling in my sleeve, I hurry through the dark crypt and up the stairs, the prince close on my heels.
“Stop!” he shouts. “Or I’ll have you whipped!”
Sister! Zhian cries. Set me free and I will devour the wretch!