A heart is a dangerous thine to steal,
Aew York Ti DIEN B palse fin E Au the F
[EXI R (AHE -
THESE HOLLOW VOWS
BY LEAI RYAN
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT BOSTON NEW YORK
Title Page Contents
Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five
Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven Chapter Twelve Chapter Thirteen Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen Chapter Sixteen Chapter Seventeen Chapter Eighteen Chapter Nineteen Chapter Twenty Chapter Twenty-One Chapter Twenty-Two Chapter Twenty-Three Chapter Twenty-Four
Copyright © 2021 by Lexi Ryan Map copyright © 2021 by Aaron Stratten
All rights reserved. For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 3 Park Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, New York 10016.
Cover illustration © 2021 by Luisa J. Preifler Cover design by Andrea Miller
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available. ISBN 978-0-358-38657-5 eISBN 978-0-358-38687-2 v1.0621
FOR BRIAN— THEY’RE ALL FOR YOU.
COOL SHADOWS WASH over my sweaty skin, welcoming me, disguising me. I could revel in the darkness—happily lie under the stars and let the night air unravel my knotted, overworked muscles—but I won’t waste tonight on rest or fleeting pleasure. These are the hours of spies and thieves. They’re my hours.
I slide two hairpins into the lock, my chapped fingers dancing over them like the strings of a viola. This is a song I’ve rehearsed a thousand times, a hymn I’ve played in my most desperate moments. Better to pray to deft fingers, to shadows and camouflage, than to the old gods. Better to steal than to starve.
Frogs sing in the distance, and their chorus nearly covers the satisfying click of the lock releasing. The servant door into Creighton Gorst’s manor house swings open.
Gorst has business elsewhere tonight. I made sure of it. Nevertheless, I scan my surroundings for any sign of him or his staff. Most of the wealthy keep guards on duty, but a few—like Gorst—are so paranoid that they don’t even trust those in their inner circle to be unaccompanied near their vaults. I’ve been waiting for a night like this for months.