Wicked Lovely Page 35

With another soft rustling sound, he stepped onto the porch. "Let us take her away."

Still watching him, Donia nodded.

He motioned to the others, and in barely a moment they'd taken the body away, leaving only a giant wet spot where Agatha had lain.

Closing her eyes as if that would shut out the images, Donia drew several deep breaths.

"Shall I stay closer?" the rowan-man whispered. "Just one guard nearer to you. If she returns…"

Eyes still closed, she asked, "What do they call you?"


"Evan," she murmured. "She's going to kill me, Evan, but not tonight. Later. If I let the new girl take up the staff, she'll kill me. I'll join Agatha." She opened her eyes and held his gaze. "I'm afraid."

"Donia, please…"

"No." She turned away. "She won't be back tonight."

"Only one extra guard?" He held an arm as if he'd pull her into an embrace. "If you were harmed…"

"Keenan would get over it. He has a new girl. She'll give in. We all do." She folded her arms over her chest and turned to go back inside. Back still turned, she added softly, "Let me think. Tomorrow I'll figure the rest out."

Then she went inside and closed the door, calling to Sasha, burying her face in his soft fur and trying to breathe.

Keenan was in great spirits when he got home. The guards had already filled in Niall and Tavish, so he wasn't surprised to see them smiling when he walked in the door.

"Almost record time," Tavish nodded approvingly, holding out a glass of summer wine. "I told you: nothing to worry over. Mortals are like that, especially these days. Get her in line, get back to business."

"Get her in line?" Niall laughed and poured himself a glass too. "I'd love to see you say that to a mortal girl."

Tavish scowled and carried the decanter into the living room. Several cockatiels perched on a long tree branch that spanned the left side of the room. "I've spent centuries with the Summer Girls. They were mortals, and they're not that complex."

Niall turned to Tavish and said, slowly, as if the older faery were a very, very young child, "Once they're Summer Girls, their inhibitions are gone. Remember Eliza when she was a mortal? Not the least bit affectionate." He took a long drink and sighed. "Now she's much more receptive."

"Aislinn's different," Keenan interrupted, feeling immeasurably angry over the idea that his Aislinn could be like Eliza, could join the Summer Girls, could warm other faeries' beds. "I can feel it. She could be the one."

Tavish and Niall exchanged a look. They'd heard the selfsame words before, and he knew it.

She could be, though. She could be the one.

He dropped onto the sofa and closed his eyes. I hate this, how damnably important these games are. "I'm going to go grab a shower. Clear my head."

"Relax." With a solemn expression, Tavish topped off his glass and handed it to him. "She might be the one. One of them has to be. Sooner or later."

"Right." Keenan took the glass of wine. If not, I'll spend eternity doing this. "Send a couple of the girls. I could use some help relaxing." A couple hours later Keenan looked at the clock for the third time in the past half hour. Two more hours. This was the first time his people would see them together, the first chance they had to see him speak with the girl who might be the Summer Queen, the girl who might change everything. No matter that there'd been others. It was always the same: that precious bubble of hope that this one would be his queen.

Niall leaned against the wall in the doorway to the bedroom. "Keenan?"

Keenan held up a pair of gray trousers. Too formal. He rummaged in his closet. Jeans. Black ones. She'd like that. It was quicker if he simply became what they wanted, made a few changes to act like what they found appealing. "I need black jeans, not new looking, but not too faded."

"Right." Niall passed the message on to one of the Summer Girls. When she left, he came farther into the room. "Keenan?"

"What?" Keenan found a T-shirt he didn't remember owning. He pulled out a dark blue shirt, silk from the desert spiders, much nicer. He could only change so much.

"The mortal boy that Aislinn…"

"He'll be gone soon." Keenan slipped off his shirt and put on the new one. Then he looked through the jewelry the girls had brought over earlier. It was nice to have a gift handy if things went well. Mortal or fey, they liked that sort of thing.

"I'm sure he will, but in the meantime…"

The tiny heart seemed nice. Too personal, too soon? The sunburst was a nice choice. He set it aside while he looked through the others. "After tonight he'll be busy elsewhere."


"I asked the girls to find someone to distract him. He's in the way." He picked up the gold sunburst. Later, it'll mean more to her if she's the one. He slipped it into his pocket. The sunburst it is.


They transgress and commit Acts of Injustice, and Sin…

For the Inconvenience of their Succubi, who tryst with Men, it is abominable.

— The Secret Commonwealth by Robert Kirk and Andrew Lang (1893)

Seth stirred the pasta absently. He glanced at her. "You want to tell me what you're thinking?"

He didn't say anything else, just waited, quietly and patiently. Since their kiss—and the conversation afterward— he'd been as good as his word, waiting for her to make the next move.

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