Wicked Lovely Page 39

Freaking faeries. Aislinn opened her mouth to say something else.

"Not interested," Seth called from behind her.

"Bitch," said one of the girls to Aislinn as she left. She stomped out like she had a right to be offended. "You didn't need to grab her like that. She was just flirting."

The other said, "Guys don't like pushy girls. They like ladies."

At the door Jimmy paused and deadpanned, "Yeah. It's really not a total turn-on." Then he cracked up. "You get tired of Seth…"

Mitchell shoved him. "Shut up."

Invisible to everyone but her and the faeries, several of the ever-changing group of fey things outside scurried off.

Aislinn shut the door and leaned against it.

Seth was already back at the nasty-smelling concoction, stirring it. "Since you don't seem the jealous sort, I'm guessing she was a faery."

"Wings and all." She went over, pulled him down to her, and kissed him. "But I might be a bit more the jealous sort than I realized."

He grinned. "Works for me."

He put down the spoon and followed her over to the counter. "Thought they didn't like steel."

"They don't. That's why she was trying to get you to go out. She was strong enough to come in, but not strong enough to stay long. She couldn't even hold her glamour very well." She picked up another handful of herbs to crush. "Do me a favor?"


"Stay home tonight." She picked out a few thicker stems. She glanced back at the door, a suddenly thin barrier against the growing number of faeries outside.

"I could ask you the same," he murmured. He held her tightly.

She closed her eyes and leaned her cheek on his chest. "If I don't get answers soon, Grams is going to pull me out of school. I can't stall her much longer, and I don't want to lie to her and say they've gone away."

"I could come with you…"

"He's not going to talk to me if I bring you along. I need him to think I'm believing him." She stretched up so she could kiss him, and then added, "If this doesn't work, we'll try something else."

He looked worried, afraid—things she didn't want to see, didn't want him to feel—but finally he nodded. "Be safe, okay?"

"I'll do my best…"

Because if she didn't, everything would be taken away— school, friends, Seth, everything. Keenan needed to let something slip. The faeries needed to say something that could help her figure out how to get rid of him. They simply had to.


Once they take you and you taste the food…you cannot come back. You are changed…and live with them for ever.

— The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries by W. Y. Evans-Wentz (1911)

A half hour later Aislinn walked down Sixth Street, feeling more apprehensive with each step. Thinking about the faery coming into Seth's home didn't make matters any better. What if I hadn't been there? Would they hurt him? She hadn't wanted to leave Seth, or meet Keenan, or deal with the whole debacle, but she needed answers. Keenan had them.

He stood outside the entrance to the carnival, looking so normal that it was hard to remember that he was one of them, and not just court fey but a king. He reached out as if he'd embrace her. "Aislinn."

She stepped backward, easily dodging him.

"I'm so glad you came." Keenan looked terribly serious.

At a loss for what to say, she shrugged.

"Shall we?" He held out his arm, like they were at a formal dance or something.

"Sure." She ignored his arm—and his brief frown—as she followed him toward the maze of booths that had seemingly sprung up overnight.

People milled around, an impossibly large crowd. Families and couples played games on every side. Many of them had sweet-smelling drinks—some sort of golden slushy thing.

"You're just so" — he stared at her, smiling that inhuman smile—"I'm just so honored that you joined me."

Aislinn nodded, like he made sense. He didn't. This is ridiculous. His too-eager comments made her feel increasingly uncomfortable.

Beside her, a group of girls tried to throw tiny plastic balls onto glass platters. Overhead the lights of the Ferris wheel sparkled. People laughed and cuddled close to one another as they walked by.

Then Keenan took her hand, and suddenly her Sight was so clear that she gasped. Everywhere she looked, glamours faded. The workers running the booths, the concessions, the rides… They're all fey. All the carnies and quite a few of the guests were faeries. Oh my God. She'd never seen such a large crowd of faeries before.

Everywhere she looked, disguised faeries smiled back at her, friendly and happy.

Why are so many faeries wearing human faces?

Some real humans milled about, playing rigged games and riding rickety rides, but the faeries didn't stare at them. She was the one they all watched.

Keenan waved to a group of faeries who had called out to him. "Old friends. Do you want to meet them?"

"No." She bit down on her lip and looked around again, feeling her chest tighten.

He frowned.

"Not right now." She forced a smile, hoping he'd think her nervousness was just shyness.

Control. She took a deep breath and tried to sound friendly. "I thought we were going to get to know each other."

"Right." He smiled like she'd given him some rare and precious gift. "What can I tell you?"

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