Wicked Lovely Page 26

She was still smiling when she fell asleep.


The Sidhe are shape-changers; they can grow small or grow large, they can take what shape they choose;…they are as many as the blades of grass. They are everywhere.

— Visions and Beliefs m the West of Ireland by Lady Augusta Gregory (1920)

When Aislinn walked up the steps to Bishop O.C. the next morning, she saw them: fey things lingering outside the door, watching everyone, and seeming strangely serious.

Inside more faeries clustered at the doorway to the principal's office. WTF? They usually avoided the school— whether from the rows of steel lockers or the abundance of religious artifacts, she didn't know. Both, maybe.

By the time she reached her locker, the presence of faeries overwhelmed her. They weren't to come here. There were rules: this was supposed to be a safe space.

"Miss Foy?"

She turned. Standing beside Father Myers was the one faery she was supremely unprepared to face.

"Keenan," she whispered.

"You know one another?" Father Myers nodded, beaming now. "Good. Good."

He turned to the two other—equally visible—faeries standing beside him. If she glanced at them quickly, they looked like they weren't much older than her, but the taller of the two had a strange solemnity that made Aislinn suspect that he was old. He had unusually long hair for such a serious demeanor; under his glamour it glittered like thick silver cords. A smallish black sun tattoo was visible on the side of his throat, exposed by his tightly plaited hair. The second faery had almost shorn wood-brown hair, and a face that would be somehow forgettable but for the long scar that ran from his temple to the corner of his mouth.

Father Myers assured the faeries, "Aislinn's an honor student, and her schedule is the same as your nephews. She'll help him get caught up."

She stood there, trying not to bolt, refusing to look at Keenan—even though he watched her expectantly—while several more faeries walked up behind Father Myers.

One of the ones whose skin looked like bark—crackled and grayish—caught Keenan's gaze. He gestured at the others who were fanned out at the entrance and said, "All clear."

"Miss Foy? Aislinn?" Father Myers cleared his throat.

She looked away from the retinue of faeries that had invaded Bishop O'Connell. "I'm sorry, Father. What?"

"Can you show Keenan to Calculus?"

Keenan waited, a battered leather bag over his shoulder, looking at her attentively. His «uncles» and Father Myers watched her.

She had no choice. She forced her fear away and said, "Sure."

Wait them out? Not likely. Every rule she'd lived with, that'd kept her safe, they were all failing her.

By midday, Aislinn's control of her temper was steadily being worn away by Keenan's false humanity. He followed her, talking, acting like he was safe, like he was real.

He isn't.

She shoved her books into her locker, scraping her knuckles in the process. Keenan stayed beside her, an unwanted shadow she couldn't shake.

They watched each other, and she wondered again if it would hurt to touch his metallic hair. The copper strands glistened under his glamour, compelling her attention despite her best efforts.

Rianne stopped and leaned hard against the row of closed lockers. The clang made people pause to stare.

"I heard he was edible, but" — Rianne put a hand on her chest as if she was having trouble breathing and looked at Keenan—slowly and appraisingly—"damn. Definite finesse."

"I wouldn't know." Aislinn blushed. And I'm not going to, either. Whatever the weird compulsion to touch him was, she was stronger than any instinct. Just focus.

Leslie and Carla joined them as Rianne pushed off the wall of lockers. She stepped closer to Keenan and examined him as if he were a slab of meat on a plate. "Bet you could."

Carla patted his arm. "She's harmless."

Aislinn grabbed her books for the afternoon classes. Her friends shouldn't be talking to him; he shouldn't be in her space. And he definitely shouldn't radiate that inviting heat, making her think of lazy days, of closing her eyes, of relaxing… Control. Focus. She could do this. She had to.

She sorted her things, so what she'd need to take home was on top of the stack in the locker. When the day ended, she'd be ready to make a quick getaway.

With a forced smile, she shooed her friends away. "I'll catch up. Save me a seat."

"We'll save two. You can't let that" — Rianne waved her hand at Keenan—"morsel wander around unsupervised."

"One seat, Ri, just one."

None of them turned around. Rianne waved her hand over her shoulder, dismissively.

After a steadying breath, Aislinn turned to Keenan. "I'm sure you can figure out lunch without help. So, umm, go make friends or whatever."

And she walked away.

He sped up to stay beside her as they entered the cafeteria. "May I join you?"


He stepped in front of her. "Please?"

"No." She dropped her bag into a chair next to Rianne's things. Ignoring him—and the stares they were attracting—she opened her bag.

He hadn't moved.

With a shaky gesture, she pointed. "The line's over there."

He looked at the throng slowly progressing to the vats of food. "Can I get you something?"

"A little space?"

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