Wicked Lovely Page 25

"Yes, Grams."

"And keep me updated on your schedule in case—" Her voice broke. She wrote, We'll try your way for a few days. Wait them out. No mistakes. Then she starting tearing the paper into tiny pieces. "Go on. Get something to eat. You need to keep your wits about you."

"Sure," Aislinn murmured as she gave Grams a quick squeeze.

Wait them out? Aislinn wasn't sure that was possible. If Grams knew they were court fey, Aislinn would be on lockdown. She'd bought herself a little time, but it wouldn't last. I need answers now. Hiding wasn't the answer. Neither was running.

She wanted a normal life—college, a relationship, simple things. She didn't want all of her decisions to be based on the whims of faeries. Grams had lived that way, and she wasn't happy. Aislinn's mother hadn't even had a chance to find out if she could have a normal life. Aislinn didn't want to take either of their paths. But she didn't know how to make it any different, either.

Faeries— court faeries —didn't stalk a person for no reason. Unless she found out what they wanted, found out how to undo whatever had caught their attention, she doubted they'd be going away anytime soon. And if they didn't go away, Aislinn's freedom would. That wasn't an option she liked. At all.

After grabbing a quick bite, Aislinn retreated to her room and closed the door. It wasn't a sanctuary. It didn't reflect her personality like Seth's house or Rianne's too-girly bedroom. It was just a room, a place to sleep.

Seth's feels more like home. Seth feels like home.

There were some things that mattered to her in her room, things that made her feel connected—a poetry book that was her mother's, black-and-white prints of photos from an exhibit in Pittsburgh. Grams had surprised her that day—authorized ditching school and taken her to the Carnegie Museum. It was great.

Beside those prints were some of hers that Grams had blown up for her birthday one year. One shot of the railroad yard still made her smile. She'd started taking photos to see if faeries would show up on film: since she saw them when she looked through the lens, would they show on film? They didn't, but she enjoyed the process of taking photos enough that she was glad she'd tried the experiment.

It wasn't much, though, the proof of her personality in the room. It's only glimpses. Life felt like that sometimes— like everything she revealed or did had to be preplanned. Focus. Control.

She turned out the lights, crawled into bed, and pulled out her cell.

Seth answered on the first ring. "Miss me already?"

"Maybe." She closed her eyes and stretched.

"Everything okay?" He sounded tense, but she didn't ask why. She didn't want to talk about anything bad, any worries.

"Tell me a story," she whispered. He always made the bad things seem less awful.

"What kind of story?"

"One that'll make me have good dreams."

He laughed then, low and sexy. "Better give me a rating for that dream."

"Surprise me." She bit her lip. I know better. She really needed to stop flirting with him before she crossed a line she couldn't back away from.

He didn't say anything for a minute, but she could hear him breathing.


"I'm here." His voice was soft, hesitant. "Once upon a time, there was a girl…"

"Not a princess."

"No. Definitely not. She was too smart to be a princess. Tough, too."


"Oh yeah. Stronger than anyone realized."

"Does she live happily ever after?"

"Shouldn't there be something in the middle?"

"I like to read the ending first." She waited, curled up in her bed, to hear his assurances, to believe—for a minute at least—that everything could be okay. "So did she?"

He didn't hesitate. "Yes."

Neither of them said anything for a few minutes. She heard the sounds of traffic, of his breathing. She'd fallen asleep like that before—just holding the phone while he walked home, feeling that connection to him.

Finally he said, "Did I mention how sexy she was?"

She laughed.

"She was so unbelievably beautiful that—" He paused and she heard the unmistakable screech as he opened his door. "And this is the part where the rating changes."

"You're at home?" She could hear him moving around, door closing, keys clanking on the counter, his jacket dropping—probably on the table. "I'll let you go then."

"What if I don't want you to?" he asked.

She heard the music as he walked toward his room, some sort of jazz. Her heart sped up, thinking of him getting stretched out on his bed too, but her voice only sounded a little off when she said, "Good night, Seth."

"So you're running again, then?" One of his boots thudded on the floor.

"I'm not running."

The other boot hit the floor. "Really?"

"Really. It's just—" She stopped; she didn't have anything that would finish that sentence and be honest.

"Maybe you should slow down, so I can catch you." He paused, waiting. He seemed to do that more and more lately, make statements that invited her to admit something dangerous to their friendship. When she didn't answer he added, "Sweet dreams, Ash."

After they hung up, Aislinn held the phone in her hand, still thinking about Seth. It would be a bad idea. A really, really bad idea… She smiled. He thinks I'm smart and sexy.

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