Wicked Lovely Page 21

Calm down. It didn't help much.

He leaned back in his chair, rocking it so it teetered on the back legs. "You sure that's a good idea? Especially after those guys—"

She interrupted, "Faeries, court faeries, are following me. What they could do is a whole lot worse. They want something, and I don't like being the only one who doesn't know what it is." She stopped, thinking about what the faeries at the library had said. "The faeries—when they weren't lusting on you—called Keenan the 'Summer King."

His chair thunked down, back on all four legs. "He's a king?"


He looked worried then—a flash of something like panic crossed his face—but he nodded. "I'll see what I can find out about that title tomorrow. I'd planned to check online while I wait on the other books."

"Sounds good." She smiled, trying to keep her own panic in check, not wanting to think about the possibility that not just court fey but a faery king was following her.

Seth watched her the way you watch a person standing on a ledge, not sure if they're going to go over or not. He didn't ask her to think further on that dangerous possibility, didn't ask her to talk about it. Instead he asked, "Are you staying to eat?"

"No." She got up, rinsed her cup, and took another deep breath. Tucking her hands into her pockets so he wouldn't see them shaking, she turned and—before she could back down—told him, "I think I'm going to see what's out there walking tonight. Maybe one of them will say something like the ones at the library. Come with me?"

"Just a sec." Seth opened an old steamer trunk labeled textbooks and pulled out several cigar boxes of jewelry. Inside were leather bracelets with big metal rings, delicate cameos, and velvety jewelers' boxes. As he rummaged through the cigar boxes, he sat several pieces to the side, including one of the leather wristbands.

He dug around a little longer and pulled out a can of pepper spray. "For humans, but maybe it works on faeries, too. I don't know."

"Seth, I…"

"Just stuff it in your pocket with the salt." He grinned. Then he held up a necklace and bracelet of thick chain links, very much his style. "Steel. It's supposed to burn them, or maybe just weaken them."

"I know, but…"

"Look, it makes sense to use whatever you can, right?"

When she nodded, he came over and motioned for her to turn around. He brushed her hair to the side, piling it over her shoulder. "Hold that."

Silently she did. It felt weird, too close after the earlier tension, but she stood there while Seth draped a necklace around her throat.

Maybe he's right. She could use whatever help she could get. The idea of looking for faeries went against every rule she'd ever learned, but she was going to do it, to try it. It was better than waiting. I need to try something. Do something.

Even now she could see more faeries outside the window: one was perched on top of a hedge that couldn't possibly hold him up, but did.

Seth hooked the heavy chain around her throat, let it fall against her skin. Then he kissed the back of her neck and walked past her to the door. "Let's go."


The "fair folk" were most skilled in music, and…of the great enchantments and allurements to stay with them was their music.

— Notes on the Folk-Lore of the North-East of Scotland by WalterGregor(1881)

As she tried to make sense of the earlier events— Why would mortals attack Ash? Was it mere chance? — Donia walked. She passed the vagrants leaning against the faded redbrick buildings, the group of young men with their too-loud comments on her "assets," the unconcealed exchange of cash for crack between two skinny guys.

In all Donia's decades, Beira had never broken the rules. No one knew why, but there was plenty of speculation. Centuries past, Beira had meted out especially cruel punishments when a group of winter fey had tampered with the game. No one interferes. But the odds of the park being clear of all fey…it couldn't be random. Either Beira willed it or allowed it.

As Donia walked, she let the glamour fade away, becoming once more invisible to the mortals. Unfortunately she couldn't hide from the fey as easily.

She fought to keep her voice even, but it never seemed to work with Keenan, today even less so than usual. "What do you want?"

"Happiness. Beira to grow a conscience. Forgiveness." He leaned in to kiss her cheek.

She moved out of reach, stepping into a puddle. "Can't help you."

"Not even on the forgiveness?" Absently he blew a gentle breeze toward a couple of shivering crackheads, not changing his stride as he did so.

She kept her silence, debating how much she could omit without lying.

He was as impatient as always, though, questioning her before she could get her thoughts sorted. "Did you see her?"


"Talk to her?" He held out a hand to carry her bag, always solicitous, even now with his eyes glimmering over thoughts of her, of Aislinn.

Donia clutched the strap of her bag, then felt foolish for being petty, and held it out.

Sasha ran toward her at full speed, bounding over the debris. His tail was held high when he came to a stop beside her.

"Good boy." She bent to ruffle his fur—and check for any blood on his muzzle—before continuing down the street.

Across the street several of Keenan's guardsmen kept a discreet distance, winding their way around the people, leaning into the crumbling facades of the buildings in this part of the city, and somehow still managing to keep the edges of their long coats from dragging through any of the filth on the ground.

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