Home > Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4)(8)

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4)(8)
Marissa Meyer

Er, a planet and a moon.

Or whatever.

The point was, there would be 384,000 kilometers of space between her and Kai, which was a lot of space, and—

Kai smiled, breaking the kiss. “What’s wrong?” he murmured against her mouth.

Cinder leaned back to look at him. His hair was getting longer, bordering on unkempt. As a prince, he’d always been groomed to near perfection. But then he became an emperor. The weeks since his coronation had been spent trying to stop a war, hunt down a wanted fugitive, avoid getting married, and endure his own kidnapping. As a result, haircuts became a dispensable luxury.

She hesitated before asking, “Do you ever think about the future?”

His expression turned wary. “Of course I do.”

“And … does it include me?”

His gaze softened. Releasing the overhead pipe, he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “That depends on whether I’m thinking about the good future or the bad one.”

Cinder tucked her head under his chin. “As long as one of them does.”

“This is going to work,” Kai said, speaking into her hair. “We’re going to win.”

She nodded, glad he couldn’t see her face.

Defeating Levana and becoming Luna’s queen was only the beginning of an entire galaxy’s worth of worries. She so badly wanted to stay like this, cocooned in this spaceship, together and safe and alone … but that was the opposite of what was going to happen. Once they overthrew Levana, Kai would go back to being the emperor of the Eastern Commonwealth and, someday, he was going to need an empress.

She might have a blood claim to Luna and the hope that the Lunar people would choose anyone over Levana, even a politically inept teenager who was made up of 36.28 percent cybernetic and manufactured materials. But she had seen the prejudices of the people in the Commonwealth. Something told her they wouldn’t be as accepting of her as a ruler.

She wasn’t even sure she wanted to be empress. She was still getting used to the idea of being a princess.

“One thing at a time,” she whispered, trying to still her swirling thoughts.

Kai kissed her temple (which her brain did not count as #18), then pulled away. “How’s your training going?”

“Fine.” She disentangled herself from his arms and glanced around the engine. “Oh, hey, while you’re here, can you help me with this?” Cinder scooted around him and opened a panel on the wall, revealing a bundle of knotted wires.

“That was a subtle change of subject.”

“I am not changing the subject,” she said, although a forced clearing of her throat negated her denial. “I’m rewiring the orbital defaults so the ship’s systems will run more efficiently while we’re coasting. These cargo ships are made for frequent landings and takeoffs, not the constant—”

“Cinder.”

She pursed her lips and unplugged a few wire connectors. “Training is going fine,” she repeated. “Could you hand me the wire cutters on the floor?”

Kai scanned the ground, then grabbed two tools and held them up.

“Left hand,” she said. He handed them to her. “Sparring with Wolf has gotten a lot easier. Although it’s hard to tell if that’s because I’m getting stronger, or because he’s … you know.”

She didn’t have a word for it. Wolf had been a shadow of his former self since Scarlet had been captured. The only thing holding him together was his determination to get to Luna and rescue her as soon as possible.

“Either way,” she added, “I think he’s taught me as much about using my Lunar gift as he’s going to be able to. From here on, I’ll have to wing it.” She examined the mess of wires, aligning it with a diagram over her retina display. “Not like that hasn’t been my primary tactic this whole time.” She furrowed her brow and made a few snips. “Here, hold these wires and don’t let them touch.”

Edging against her, Kai took hold of the wires she indicated. “What happens if they touch?”

“Oh, probably nothing, but there’s a small chance the ship would self-destruct.” Pulling out two of the fresh-cut wires, she began to twist them together into a new sequence.

Kai hardly breathed until she’d taken one of the threatening wires out of his grip. “Why don’t you practice on me?” he said.

“Practice what?”

“You know. Your mind-manipulation thing.”

She paused with the cutters hovering over a blue wire. “Absolutely not.”

“Why?”

“I said I’d never manipulate you, and I’m sticking with that.”

“It isn’t manipulation if I know you’re doing it.” He hesitated. “At least, I don’t think so. We could use a code word, so I’ll know when you’re controlling me. Like … what were those called again?”

“Wire cutters?”

“Like wire cutters.”

“No.”

“Or something else.”

“I’m not practicing on you.” Slipping the cutters into her pocket, she finished splicing the rest of the wires and relieved Kai of his duty. “There, we’ll see how that goes.”

“Cinder, I have nothing better to do. Literally, nothing better to do. My time on this ship has taught me that I have zero practical skills. I can’t cook. I can’t fix anything. I can’t help Cress with surveillance. I know nothing about guns or fighting or … Mostly, I’m just a good talker, and that’s only useful in politics.”

“Let’s not overlook your ability to make every girl swoon with just a smile.”

It took Kai a moment to hear her over his frustration, but then his expression cleared and he grinned.

“Yep,” she said, shutting the panel. “That’s the one.”

“I mean it, Cinder. I want to be useful. I want to help.”

She turned back to face him. Frowned. Considered.

“Wire cutters,” she said.

He tensed, a trace of doubt clouding his expression. But then he lifted his chin. Trusting.

With the slightest nudge at Kai’s will, she urged his arm to reach around her and pull the wrench from her back pocket. It was no more difficult than controlling her own cyborg limbs. A mere thought, and she could have him do anything.

Kai blinked at the tool. “That’s wasn’t so bad.”

“Oh, Kai.”

He glanced at her, then back to the wrench as his hand lifted the tool up to eye level and his fingers, no longer under his control, began to twirl the wrench—over one finger, under the other. Slow at first, then faster, until the gleaming of the metal looked like a magic trick.

Kai gaped, awestruck, but there was an edge of discomfort to it. “I always wondered how you did that.”

“Kai.”

He looked back at her, the wrench still dancing over his knuckles.

She shrugged. “It’s too easy. I could do this while scaling a mountain, or … solving complex mathematical equations.”

His eyes narrowed. “You have a calculator in your head.”

Laughing, she released her hold on Kai’s hand. Kai jumped back as the wrench clattered to the ground. Realizing he had control of his own limb again, he stooped to pick it up.

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