Tell me your deepest secret,” she said softly.
Sam’s eyes narrowed, but he pushed off the threshold and took a seat on the edge of the bed. He ran a hand through his hair, setting the ends sticking up at odd angles.
After a long moment, he spoke. “The only secret I’ve borne my entire life is that I love you.” He gave her a slight smile. “It was the one thing I believed I’d go to the grave without voicing.” His eyes were so full of light that it almost stopped her heart.
She found herself walking toward him, then placing one hand along his cheek and threading the other through his hair. He turned his head to kiss her palm, as if the phantom blood that coated her hands didn’t bother him. His eyes found hers again. “What’s yours, then?”
The room felt too small, the air too thick. She closed her eyes. It took her a minute, and more nerve than she realized, but the answer finally came. It had always been there—whispering to her in her sleep, behind every breath, a dark weight that she couldn’t ever escape.
“Deep down,” she said, “I’m a coward.”
His brows rose.
“I’m a coward,” she repeated. “And I’m scared. I’m scared all the time. Always.”
He removed her hand from his cheek to kiss the tips of her fingers. “I get scared, too,” he murmured onto her skin. “You want to hear something ridiculous? Whenever I’m scared out of my wits, I tell myself: My name is Sam Cortland … and I will not be afraid. I’ve been doing it for years.”
It was her turn to raise her brows. “And that actually works?”
He laughed onto her fingers. “Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. But it usually makes me feel better to some degree. Or it just makes me laugh at myself a bit.”
It wasn’t the sort of fear she’d been talking about, but …
“I like that,” she said.
He laced his fingers with hers and pulled her onto his lap. “I like you,” he murmured, and Celaena let him kiss her until she’d again forgotten the dark burden that would always haunt her