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    “SO THAT’S OUR plan?” It sounded too straightforward and easy to me, but what did I know? I’d never broken into a secure room of the Councilhouse before.
    “Do you have a better plan? Get some rest before tonight. You’ll need it.” Stef gestured toward her sofa, which was shoved next to a small piano against one wall. Her parlor was cluttered, holding dozens of bookcases and only a few places to sit. Where Sam’s parlor had taken up most of his first floor, Stef had devoted only a small space for company. The rest was filled up with machines in various stages of completion. Stef didn’t get a lot of visitors, but that was by choice. She preferred going out.
    When she climbed the narrow stairs and vanished, I glanced at Sam, who leaned in the doorway with his arms crossed and a worn expression on his face. “Well.” I nodded toward our bags piled up in a corner. “At least the most boring part is already done.”
    A smile tipped the edges of his mouth upward. “Stef has really taken charge, hasn’t she?”
    It was a relief. From the library, she’d dragged us to Sam’s house and forced us to pack as quickly as possible. Then, as we set up motion sensors and alarms outside Stef’s house, she’d explained her plan and everything we needed to do. Whit and Orrin were coordinating with the rest of the group, ensuring that everyone was protected as they moved through the city.
    News of the Councilors’ deaths had spread quickly.
    Deborl’s friends—those who hadn’t been imprisoned for the last week—were creating rumors about newsouls being responsible for the murders, as well as the earthquake and eruptions last night. If everyone would just band together to rid Heart of newsouls, everything would go back to how it had been. . . .
    Sam turned and gazed at the piano, flexing his hand in his bandage. “This is possibly my last time with a piano, and I can’t even play it.”
    “I’ll play the left hand.” We squeezed onto the bench together, his leg resting against mine. I leaned into him and inhaled the scent of soap and clean clothes. “What do you want to play?”
    He twisted and met my eyes, something warm and seductive in his. “Just play.”
    I stretched my hand over the keys and played a major chord. The music resonated through the house and burrowed inside me like hope. This piano had a smaller sound and a thinner bass than Sam’s, but it was still beautiful in its way. And it was a piano. I’d missed playing the piano.
    Sam brushed a kiss across my forehead, finding a middle note to match mine. His left hand tightened a little over my hip, as though it hurt worse to not use it. He played four notes: three moving lower, and one higher. “I sent ‘Ana Incarnate’ with Orrin.”
    I looked up. We were so close now, his breath rustled my hair across my cheek.
    “While you were looking at the painting, Orrin asked if there was any music I wanted him to take when he goes with the others.”
    “An archivist until the end, hmm?”
    Sam nodded. “He understands how I feel about my music collection. It’s the same way he feels about his library. He and Whit have spent so many lifetimes building it.”
    Like Sam had spent so many lifetimes writing music. Would any of it survive Soul Night?
    “Most of the library archives have been digitalized, so he can easily take all that. But he was letting himself take one physical piece, too. One physical piece of our history, just in case they do survive. He wanted the newsouls to have something to pass on to future generations.”
    My throat tightened. “Isn’t most of your music scanned into the digital archives?”
    “Yes, and Stef sent it to all our SEDs.” Sam played the next few notes of “Ana Incarnate.” “But he understands what the physical thing means to me.”
    “And out of all the music, you gave him mine?” There were so many others he could have asked Orrin to save. Phoenix Symphony. “Blue Rose

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