Wicked Lovely Page 30

Tavish returned with one of the green concoctions he was forever insisting Keenan drink. He nodded approvingly. "That sounds more fitting."

"Well, there you have it: sure wisdom on which to try" — Niall paused and shot a grin at Tavish—"casual."

"Indeed." Keenan laughed.

"How is this amusing?" Tavish sat the green protein drink on the table. His lengthy silver braid fell over his shoulder as he moved; he flicked it back with an impatient gesture, a telltale sign that he was agitated. He didn't let his temper slip, though. He never did anymore.

"When's the last time you dated?" Niall asked, still not looking away from the screen.

"The girls are more than adequate company—"

Niall interrupted, "You see? He's rusty."

"I am the Summer King's oldest advisor, and" — Tavish stopped himself, sighing as he realized that he was only underlining Niall's point—"try the boy's advice first, my liege."

And with the impeccable dignity he wore like a comfortable cloak, Tavish retired to the study.

Keenan watched him go with more than a little sadness. "One of these years, he's going to strike you for your belligerence. He is still summer fey, Niall."

"Good. He needs to find some passion in his old bones." Mall's humor fled, replaced with the cunning that made him every bit as important as Tavish in advising Keenan these past centuries. "Summer fey are made for strong passions. If he doesn't loosen up, we'll lose him to Sorcha's High Court."

"The search is hard on him. He longs for what the court was like under my father." Feeling every bit as somber as Tavish, Keenan let his gaze drop to the park across the street.

One of his rowan-men saluted.

Glancing back at Niall, Keenan added, "What it still should be."

"Then woo the girl. Fix it."

Keenan nodded. "A casual approach, you say?"

Niall came to stand beside him at the window, staring down at the already frost-laden branches, more proof that if they didn't stop Beira's ever-growing power, it wouldn't be many more centuries until the summer fey perished. "And show her a exciting night, something different, something unexpected."

"If I don't find her soon…"

"You will," Niall assured him, repeating the same words he'd been repeating for almost a millennia.

"I need to. I don't know if" — Keenan drew a steadying breath—"I will find her. Maybe this one."

Niall merely smiled.

But Keenan wasn't sure either of them believed it anymore. He wanted to, but it became more difficult each time the game was played out.

When the Winter Queen bound his powers—making him unable to access much of summer's strength, freezing the earth steadily—she'd also begun crushing the hope of many of his fey. He might be stronger than most faeries, but he was far from the king they needed, far from the king his father had been. Please let Aislinn be the one.


Everything is capricious about them…Their chief occupations are feasting, fighting, and making love.

— Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry by William Butler Yeats (1888)

After the taxi dropped her at the railroad yard, Aislinn paced outside Seth's door. A few faeries stood nearby, watching her, talking among themselves. They never stayed long so close to the old train cars and lengthy tracks, but others would come and replace them. Since Keenan had first spoken to her at Comix, faeries seemed to gather wherever she went.

"She pays too much attention to the mortal boy," a lanky faery with birdlike limbs grumbled. "The Summer King oughtn't put up with it."

"Times are different," said one of the female faeries. Like the others, she had flowering vines creeping over her skin, but unlike them, she wore a slate-colored suit instead of the sort of girly outfit the others seemed to prefer. Her vines started around her neck and snaked through her ankle-length hair, making her seem somehow both wild and sophisticated.

"She goes into his home every day." The bird-thin faery circled the female faery like a predator. "What's she doing in there?"

"I know what I'd be doing," she said. With a sly smile, she reached up and grabbed his face with both hands. "Might as well in case she ends up with Keenan for eternity."


Aislinn turned her back so they didn't see her face. She paced back across the dead grass, close enough to hear the faeries, but not so close that they would find it odd. With Keenan for eternity?

The female faery pulled the birdlike one down toward her until they were nose to nose and added, "Doesn't matter what she's been doing, though. She's changing already," — she licked from the tip of his nose to his eye—"becoming one of our court. Let the girl have her fun with her mortal while she's still able. Soon it won't matter."

Where the hell is Seth? For the fourth time Aislinn pulled out her cell and hit 2 to speed-dial Seth's number.

It rang right behind her.

Stabbing the End button, she turned.

"Relax, Ash." He was walking toward her—holding out the now-silenced cell, strolling obliviously past the faeries.

"Where were you? I was worried that something…"

He lifted an eyebrow.

"…that you forgot," she finished weakly. I know better.

"Forget you?" He looped an arm around her middle and steered her forward. Opening the door, he motioned for her to go inside. "I'd never forget you."

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