Wicked Lovely Page 17

Deadgirl winced at the words.

"I don't know what happened." Aislinn stared in the direction they'd run. Huntsdale wasn't a bad city, maybe a bit rough in the late hours; maybe the lack of jobs and excess of bars made it wise to skip too many shortcuts through dark alleys late at night. Still, any sort of attack in the park…it was beyond odd. She caught the faery's gaze and whispered, "Why?"

At first Deadgirl didn't answer, then—avoiding the question—she reached her hand out slowly. "I'm sorry I wasn't here sooner."

"Why were…" Aislinn stopped, bit her lip, and stood.

"I'm Donia."

"Ash." She offered a shaky smile.

"Come then, Ash." Donia started toward the library, staying beside her, not touching, but too close for comfort.

Aislinn stopped in front of one of the columns that stood on either side of the door. "Shouldn't you go find your, umm, dog?"

"No. Sasha will come back." Donia offered what would be a comforting smile were she a human. Then she motioned toward the door. "Come."

Aislinn opened the ornate wooden door, starting to calm down. The door to the library, like the columns, was at odds with the nondescript architecture that dominated Huntsdale. It was as if some city father had decided that they needed one beacon of beauty among the otherwise dingy structures.

She felt like laughing, not in amusement, but at the growing sense that the rules she'd lived by were suddenly off. It wasn't faeries that attacked her, but humans. Rule #1: Don't ever attract faeries' attention. She had, though, and if she hadn't, what would've happened outside?

Aislinn's feet felt heavy; her stomach lurched.

"Do you need to sit?" Donia was gentle, steering Aislinn toward the hallway where the restrooms were. "It's frightening, what they did."

"I feel foolish," Aislinn whispered. "Nothing happened, not really."

"Sometimes the threat of a thing is awful enough…" Donia shrugged. "Go wash your face. You'll feel better."

Alone inside the tiny bathroom, Aislinn washed the blood from her face and felt her side. She'd have a bruise where his fingers had dug into her skin. Her already-dry lip had split. All things considered, it wasn't bad. It could have been, though.

Aislinn washed her face again and straightened her hair. She tugged off her uniform, balling it up and shoving it into her bag, and slipped into a well-worn pair of jeans and a long tunic-cut blouse she'd found at the thrift store. Then she stepped back into the seemingly empty hallway, letting the bathroom door close softly behind her.

Donia stood, invisible now, talking to one of the bone-girls. Like the rest of the bone-girls, this one was ghastly white and so thin that each of her bones could be seen under her almost-translucent skin. The fact that she was mobile seemed to break some basic law. Surely things that looked so frail should have trouble moving? But the bone-girls glided over the ground without any visible effort. Despite their cadaverous mien, they were eerily beautiful to watch.

It was Donia who was terrible to behold: her white hair whipped around as if a storm surrounded her, and only her. Tiny icicles clattered to the ground beside her. "Find them. Find out why they attacked the girl. If anyone compelled them to do so, I want to know. Aislinn is not to be harmed."

The bone-girl's voice was a dry whisper, as if the words had to rush over something rough before they found form. "Should I tell Keenan?"

Donia didn't answer, but her eyes darkened to the same oil-black sheen they had in Comix.

The bone-girl stepped back, hands held up in supplication. And Donia stepped around the corner, away from the bone-girl, and out of sight.

Momentarily, though, she came back around that same corner—plainly visible to humans now—and smiled at Aislinn. "All better?"

Aislinn's voice wasn't much louder than the bone-girl's had been when she answered, "Sure. I'm fine."

She wasn't fine, though; she was confused about so many things. They—Keenan and Donia—had some reason for following her, but she couldn't ask. Are they just bored, toying with me to pass the time? There were lots of old stories like that, but Donia seemed livid about the guys outside, seemed to believe someone could have sent those guys to hurt her. Why? What's going on?

"I was just reading while I waited. I wanted to see if you have someone to walk you home before I leave." Donia tilted her head, smiling. Her whole posture seemed friendly, safe. She walked back toward the rows of tables. "Ash? Are you…well?"

"Yeah." Aislinn followed Donia around the corner to a table with an open book and a ragged bag.

"Is there someone you can call?"

"Yeah. I'm good."

Donia nodded. She stuffed her book into her leather bag.

The door opened, and a mother with a couple kids came in.

Behind them was a group of faeries, invisible to the other patrons. All six were beautiful—moving like models, wearing clothes that looked like they'd been tailored for their willowy bodies. If it weren't for the flowering vines slithering across their skin, they'd look human. The vines, though, were like living tattoos, moving of their own volition, crawling on the girls' bodies.

One of the girls spun across the floor, in some old-fashioned dance. The others giggled and bowed to one another before following her.

Then the first one saw Donia. She murmured something to the others, and they stopped. Even the undulating vines stilled.

Source: www_Novel22_Net

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