If you haven't read Nightfall yet, SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! Even the rest of this paragraph isn't safe, so if you snuck back here because you're channeling your inner Silveny (KEEFE! KEEFE! KEEFE!), you might want to wait. Don't worry, the bonus Keefe hilarity will still be here when you're ready! And now that I've sufficiently warned you—*pauses to give you one last chance to flee*— the pages you're about to read cover what Keefe was up to during his recovery. So imagine these scenes happening at the same time as all the crazy stuff Sophie & Crew are doing during chapters 36–60 of this book. Hope you enjoy! — Shannon Messenger
+ DAY ONE +
"Look! I'm all better!" Keefe promised, waving his arms and almost knocking over the ugly lamp on the table next to the bed. Not that he cared—he had big plans to trash all of Alvar's stuff as soon as he was done hiding out there.
"I might be willing to believe you," Elwin told him, "if you weren't gritting your teeth every time you move."
"What? This is how I smile now!" Keefe tightened his jaw and raised one eyebrow. "See? It's my brooding, mysterious look."
"Is that what you're calling it?" Ro asked, plopping next to him and bouncing the mattress so hard that Keefe almost let out a yelp. "All I'm getting is wannabe bad boy."
Elwin snorted a laugh.
Keefe glared at both of them, wishing he still had some of his favorite elixirs handy. He'd managed to slip some Hush Slush into Ro's dinner the night before and wiped out her voice for eight glorious hours. But somehow she'd managed to find all of his stashes—even the extra well-hidden ones.
The princess was good.
He was pretty sure she'd also put Gurgle Gut in his breakfast for payback—though if he was right, at least she'd suffer as much as he would when the gurgles broke free.
"I'm fine, okay?" he told Elwin. "I can live with a little pain."
"It'll be a lifetime of pain if you don't listen to me," Elwin corrected. He flashed a red orb around Keefe's torso and squinted through his glasses. "Just like I thought. You're worse today."
Keefe tossed back his covers. "Fine. Then the bed rest isn't helping, so I don't need to—"
He managed to get one foot on the floor before Ro bodyslammed him back to the bed, triggering a throbbing spasm that felt like a gremlin was chomping on his lungs.
"Both of you need to take it easy," Elwin warned, "or I'm bringing Keefe to my house and putting Bullhorn on guard duty."
"Um—he's, like, two pounds of fur," Keefe told him. "I think I can handle him."
"I'd love to see you try." Elwin dug through his satchel and pulled out a deep purple elixir. "But I'd rather you just take another dose of tissue regenerator and get some rest."
"I can always pry those pouty lips open and pour it down your throat," Ro added with a smile that showed every single one of her pointed teeth.
Keefe reached for the vial. Years of dealing with his dad had taught him it was easier to pretend to cooperate. So he chugged the medicine, even though it stunk worse than Alvar's stuffy apartment.
Side note on that: He was pretty sure he didn't want to know why the whole place reeked like rotting toenails. Or why Alvar had felt the need to cover every surface with mirrors.
"Try not to look so miserable," Elwin said, taking the empty vial. "It's only for a week."
"Uh, do you realize how many times Foster can almost die in a week? Especially when my mom's the one calling the shots?" Keefe countered.
Elwin sighed. "I know. But you need to get your strength back."
"Plus, she doesn't want to see you," Ro reminded him. "Hey, don't look at me like that—you know it's true."
It was true.
And it made Keefe queasier than the Gurgle Gut.
He couldn't stop thinking about the burst of emotions Sophie had hit him with as she left the healing center. There hadn't just been anger. There'd been hurt. And a deep, overwhelming disappointment that had made it hard to breathe.
Elwin patted him on the shoulder. "Give her a chance to cool off—"
"I don't have time," Keefe interrupted. "She could be heading to Nightfall right now."
"If she is, I'm sure she can handle it," Elwin told him. "I know we love to tease Sophie about all of her emergencies, but the truth is: She's a survivor. And she has lots of powerful family and friends to back her up."
"I'm supposed to be one of them," Keefe argued.
"Then take care of yourself. The more you rest, the faster you'll recover. And if it'll make you feel better, I'll check on her every day and give you updates—but only if you promise to stay in bed."
"Fine," Keefe mumbled, slumping down under the covers.
"Oh good!" Ro said. "We're moving from denial mode to sulky boy. This'll be fun!"
Keefe shot her a glare.
He wasn't sulking.
Okay, fine, maybe he was a little—but he was also scheming.
First chance he got, he was sneaking out of Alvar's apartment and heading straight to Havenfield.
He didn't care what anyone said. Sophie needed his help.
+ DAY TWO +
"You have ten seconds to float back to bed," Ro warned, without even glancing over her shoulder, "or I'm tying you down and covering you with flesh-eating bacteria."
Keefe ignored the jolt of pain in his side as he pumped his arms, swimming through the air. "You expect me to believe you have flesh-eating bac—"
Ro leaped across the room, blocking the window he'd been levitating toward, and pulled a small black bottle from her breastplate. She poured a single drop onto her finger, and the dark blob immediately dissolved her skin into a bloody hole.
Keefe went back to bed.
Ro grinned. "Good boy."
+ DAY THREE +
"If this is a trick . . . ," Ro said, not bothering to finish the threat. The hand by her sword said the rest.
"No trick," Keefe promised. "I seriously need your help. You found my prank stashes so easily that I'm hoping you can do the same with whatever my mom hid at Candleshade."
"But why the sudden hurry?" Ro asked.
"Because Elwin's here now, and you'll need him to leap you there, since I'm still not allowed out of this stupid bed."
"You're not," Elwin agreed. "And by the way, neither of us are leaving until you take a sedative—and I want to see you down the whole dose."
Keefe clutched his heart. "Elwin, Elwin, Elwin. After all we've been through, do you really not trust me?"
Elwin held out a round, clear vial. "Nope."
"Fine." Keefe reached for the elixir. If that's what it took to get Ro to Candleshade, he'd deal with it.
"You really think your mom hid something important there?" Elwin asked as Keefe gulped down the sticky, sweet sedative.
"I hope so."
Along with the lovely news that his recovery was still taking forever, Elwin had also let Keefe know that Sophie had apparently already gone to Nightfall, and that her family hadn't been there.
Elwin didn't have any other details—except that everyone was safe. But Keefe knew Sophie had to be panicking.
He needed to get her another lead to help track down the Neverseen.
"I'd have a way better chance of finding what you're looking for," Ro said, "if you let me smash the place."
"Fine by me. Make as big of a mess as you want. And bonus points if you destroy my dad's statue."
"WOO HOO! Things just got interesting in elf land!"
Ro said something else, but Keefe didn't catch it. His ears had started ringing, and his head had gotten way too spinny.
He sank into his pillow, feeling a hand gently squeeze his shoulder.
Then he was lost to his floaty dreams, most of which focused on the gold-flecked brown eyes he could never get out of his head.
+ DAY FOUR +
Plink! Plink! Plink!
Ro stomped into his room. "If you make that noise one more time I'm going to shove those pieces somewhere you're really not going to like."
"What, this noise?" Keefe asked, jingling the four weird bits of twisted silver and gold that Ro had brought him back from Candleshade.
He'd been trying to fit them together for hours.
In fact, he'd been ready to throw them across the room. But now that he knew the noise annoyed Ro . . .
"Sorry," he told her. "I need to find out what these are, and since someone isn't letting me get out of bed, it's not like I have anything else to do."
Plink! Plink! Plink! Plink! Plink!
Ro's groan rattled the walls.
+ DAY FIVE +
"You are never going to figure that out!" Ro screamed as Keefe continued the plink-plink-plinking.
"You're just mad because you couldn't figure it out either," Keefe shouted back.
She'd been so smug when she'd wrenched the pieces from his hands to give it a try that Keefe had laughed himself hoarse when she'd failed. And since then, he'd managed to fit three of the four pieces together. But the last piece was ridiculously stubborn.
Ro stalked into his doorway with a bottle of blue nail polish in one hand and half-painted claws on the other. "No, I'm mad because you're only doing this to try to fix things with yourlittle girlfriend and it's not going to work."
Keefe jingled the pieces extra loud.
But after several seconds he had to ask, "Why isn't it going to work?"
Ro snorted. "Wow, you really have it bad, don't you? Nope, no need to deny it. It's so obvious it's actually adorable. Especially since she's totally clueless about it. You know that, right?"
Keefe rolled his eyes.
And he was all set to argue—but for some reason "Yeah, I'm an Empath," slipped out.
"Ohhhhh, that's true. Wow, I didn't even think about that." Ro giggled as she crossed the room and sat beside him on the bed. "That must drive you crazy."
"Pretty much," Keefe mumbled.
It wasn't even the worst part—but he managed to stop himself from bringing up that.
"You get why, though, right?" Ro asked, slicking blue paint across another claw. "Why your girl doesn't get how much you liiiiiiiiiiike her?"
He sighed. "Because she grew up hearing every less-thanawesome thought anyone ever had about her—even from her parents and sister and stuff. So now some part of her always assumes that everyone has those kinds of thoughts about her, even though she can't hear them anymore."
Ro blinked. "Okay, I was not expecting you to get all deep on me."
Keefe shrugged. "It's true."
"Not saying it isn't. Huh, I never thought about how brutal your elf-y abilities could be. Add it to the list of reasons I'm glad I'm not one of you. But that's not what I was talking about."
He had a feeling she was never going to let him live it down if he asked, but . . . "Okay, Miss Smarty Pants, what's your theory for the Great Foster Oblivion?"
She held up her hand, blowing on her blue claws. "That's your problem right there. You make everything a joke. It sends way too many mixed signals—especially for a girl with all that complicated stuff messing with her head."
"Maybe. But Foster's not ready for more than that—trust me."
Once again, he stopped himself from cluing Ro into the whole square-that-was-now-a-triangle mess. But with how observant she seemed to be, she'd probably figure it out on her own soon enough.
"Well, all I'm saying is: If you're looking to earn her forgiveness, 'Here, Sophie, have this creepy thing from my mom' isn't going to do it. Especially if you parade in there like you just saved the day. She doesn't need a hero. She needs a friend. So if you want to say you're sorry, get her a real present."
He really hated that she had a point.
And somehow he managed to stop himself from saying presents are Fitz's thing. Instead, he admitted, "I don't know what to give her."
"Then maybe you should figure that out."
Yeah, maybe he should.
"And don't look at me," she added as she sauntered for the door. "Unless you want weapon advice, I have no idea what makes you elves swoon. But please, for the love of all that's breathing, don't let it have sparkles!"
+ DAY SIX +
"I've got it!" Keefe shouted, raising his arm and pumping his fist—which didn't hurt anymore. Even when he waved both arms around.
"You figured out what to buy for your little girlfriend?" Ro asked, peeking her head into his room.
"No. Well . . . kinda. But I was talking about this!" He held up a small gold-and-silver square. "I got the last piece to fit! I can even take it apart and put it back together. I know the trick now."
"Okay, but . . . what is it?"
"I have no idea," Keefe admitted.
Ro smirked. "Good thing you're not trying to swoop in and save the day anymore, 'cause that's definitely not going to do it."
"Hey, this is still important," Keefe argued. "My mom hid it for a reason."
"I'm sure she did," Ro agreed, twisting her nose ring. "But let's hope your gift idea is more exciting."
"It is. It's going to take me a little while to make it—but it'll seriously top every gift she's been given before."
His fingers were already itching to get started on it.
But first he needed to get out of that bed, so he was more than a little relieved when Elwin finally gave him the all clear during his evening checkup.
"I still want you to take tonight to rest, though," Elwin warned. "You're not off bed rest until the morning."
"Be glad," Ro told him after Elwin left. "Now you have some time to figure out how to make your girl forgive you."
Keefe shrugged. "I already know."
"Groveling?" Ro guessed.
"Oh, I'm sure there'll be plenty of that."
But afterward, he had a plan.
From that point on, he only had one goal: to be whatever Sophie needed.
Not the hero.
Not the one taking charge of everything.
Just a guy ready to listen and help and be there for her.
Until she was ready for more