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Snippet from Darden's Stolen Hearts Trick

“Paris Marigold! There she is! Our last New Lady,” Darden McCray said from atop one of the low tables. “Go ahead and show us your heart.”

I looked at Ari first, then Darden. “My what?”

Genevieve’s head popped up in front of me. “Darden did a card trick where all of his hearts vanished. And it turns out all the New Ladies have a heart! Check your pocket!”

I shook my head. “I don’t have—” But when I reached my hands into my pockets, the fingers on my right hand grazed the edge of a card. I pulled out a two of hearts and held it above my head. The crowd in front of Darden burst into cheers.

“See, I told you all the New Ladies stole my heart,” he said, placing a hand over his chest.

“Do one more!” shouted a voice from the crowd.

Darden’s proud face nodded as he waved his hands in front of his face, then produced a notebook and a marker from the air. “Alright. But first I need a volunteer.”

Hands shot up all around us.

“Paris Marigold,” he said, meeting my eyes. “Since you were the last New Lady to steal my heart, how about you come up here?”

I tried to protest, but Genevieve tugged my arm, pushing me up to Darden’s makeshift stage. Darden placed the notebook in my hands. “Paris will serve as my lovely assistant for this trick which I call Capalon McCray.”

The crowd hissed, draining the blood from my face.

“Death to Capalon!” shouted a voice from the crowd.

“Stinking stiffs!” shouted another.

I clutched Darden’s notebook with stiff fingers.

Did he know who I was? And was this an elaborate Mondarian-magician way to have me killed?

---

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