GIDEON x A SPINDLE SPLINTERED
Illyrian, a grumpy genderqueer pianist, doesn’t believe the fantasy world seen through their right eye is real. But when the cinnamon-roll non-binary knight from that realm appears in Manhattan, refusing to go back without her, Illyrian must decide whether to redeem their musical career or leave as a disgraced prodigy—before the magic tethering the swoony knight to Manhattan fades, separating them forever.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s bar-top gleams sharp and unforgiving as a blade. Pretentious donors and desperate musicians swarm the atrium; couture in duet with marble deities, champagne-blitzed oxygen suffocating. No one speaks to me. My long-suffering fingers curl around a crystal tumbler of vodka, cling to the promise of relief.
Mistake, Illyrian. Mistake, mistake—
“Who are we avoiding?” a low voice purrs from my left.
I battle panic; its quicksilver crescendo through veins. Grit: “No-one. Just hate crowds.”
“Since when?” She laughs, her poisonous timbre achingly familiar.
Swallowing dread, I look from my drink, praying it’s not—
The woman responsible for derailing my entire life smiles, all malice. “Almost didn’t recognize you, Lyr.”
Fuck my fucking life.
Satin red dress hugging delicate shoulders, Udele Igarashi’s gaze lingers on the golden eyepatch obscuring my right iris. I strangle the urge to trace its edges. Remind myself it’s secure. I’m safe, which means everyone else is, too. There’s no need to worry.
Uda arches an elegant brow. A strand of dark hair brushes her pale curve of jaw. “You’ve changed.”
Dammit. She’s still stunning.
Feigning nonchalance, I sip the vodka, ice slicing my tongue. Rainbows scatter like bruises over her collarbones and neck from the glittering tumbler in my hands; finger-thin and accusatory. My lungs squeeze with horror. I grimace. “Funny what four years of house arrest will do to a person.”
The bartender hands Uda a flute of champagne. She inclines it toward me, expression cold. “Welcome back, Illyrian Vor.”