Wicked Lovely Page 40

"Umm, what about your family?" Aislinn stumbled, feet as unsteady as her breaking.

"I live with my uncles." he said as he led her forward, past a group of faeries that—until a moment ago—looked like they could go to Bishop O.C.

Several gestured toward her, but no one approached. In fact, the others moved out of Keenan's path as he led her toward a row of booths where the now-revealed faeries ran carnival games.

"Your uncles?" she repeated, feeling increasingly doubtful that coming was a wise idea. She pulled her hand free. "Right, the guys who were at school."

Faeries. Just like almost everyone here. She felt dizzy.

She tried again. "What about your parents?"

"My father died before I was born" — he paused, looking not sad, but angry—"but everything I am is his gift."

Did faeries die? She wasn't at all sure how to respond to his odd comment, so she simply said, "My mom is gone too. Childbirth."

"I'm sorry." He took her hand again, squeezed it affectionately, and intertwined his fingers with hers. "I'm sure she was a good woman. And she must've been lovely to be your mother."

"I'm not much like her." Aislinn swallowed hard. All she had was pictures. In the pictures Grams had around the house, her mother always looked haunted, like she couldn't quite handle the things she could see. Grams never spoke of her mother's last year, as if it hadn't existed.

"What about your father? Is he a good man?" He stopped, holding her hand while they stood there, surrounded by faeries, talking about their families.

If she hadn't been able to see the oddly shaped eyes and strange smiles on the faeries who listened, it might seem so very normal. It wasn't.

She started to walk away, going toward one of the concession stands where they were selling those sweet-smelling drinks.


She shrugged, more comfortable talking about a father she knew nothing of than the mother who'd given her the Sight. "Who knows? Grams doesn't know who he is, and Mom's not here to tell us."

"At least you have your grandmother." He reached up with his free hand and stroked her cheek. "I'm glad you have had that, a loving caretaker."

She started to answer, but headed toward them were Pointy-Face and about six of the other faeries who liked to linger at Shooters, harassing the regulars, chasing her away from the pool hall with their very presence. She froze, unable to move, years of instinct overriding logic.

"Aislinn? What's wrong?" He moved in front of her, blocking her view of everyone and everything but him. "Have I offended you?"

"No. I'm just" — she offered him what she hoped was a convincing smile and lied—"chilly."

He shrugged off his jacket and draped it over her shoulders, gently. "How's that?"

"Better." And it was. If he were what he pretended to be—kind and considerate—she might've felt bad that she was here on false pretenses.

But he wasn't. He wasn't real at all.

"Come on. Let's walk. There's always some interesting games here." He took her hand again, bringing her Sight back in full force.

Beside them, a woman stood in a child's wading pool calling, "Three darts for a prize."

A thick braid dangled like a rope past her knees. Her face was like one of those angels in old paintings, innocent with a spark of danger in her eyes. Aside from the goats' legs that peeked out of her long skirt, she was gorgeous, but no one approached her.

At the next tent a steady line of faeries and humans waited. Faces Aislinn had glimpsed around the city mingled with faeries she could never have imagined—wings and thorn-crusted skin and all manners of dress. It was too much to process.

Aislinn paused, overwhelmed by the sheer number and variety of faeries around her.

"The fortune-tellers here always put on a good show." Keenan pulled the flap of the tent back farther so she could look inside. There were three women with rheumy white eyes. Behind them stood a row of statues—like gargoyles without wings. They were freakishly muscular. And alive. Their gazes flitted around the tent, as if they were trying to find someone to answer unspoken questions.

The faeries all stepped aside, and Keenan led her to the front of the tent.

She stepped closer to one of the statues. It looked wide-eyed, almost afraid as she reached out her hand.

One of the women reached out and snatched Aislinn's still uplifted hand. "No."

The women spoke all at once, not to her or to Keenan, but softly—as if to themselves—in a sibilant whisper. "He's ours. Fair exchange. Not yours to interfere."

The one gripping her hand winked at Aislinn. "Well, then, sisters? What say we?"

Aislinn tugged backward; the woman held tight.

"So you're the young one's" — the fortune-teller looked at Keenan with her seemingly blind eyes—"new ladylove."

Behind them, faeries pushed closer, scuffling and chattering.

The old woman gave Keenan a searing look—her white eyes shining—and said, "She's different than the others, dear. Special."

"I already knew that, mothers." Keenan wrapped an arm around Aislinn's waist, half hugging her, like he had a right to pull her closer.

He doesn't.

Aislinn stepped away as far as she could with the woman holding her hand.

All three women sighed, simultaneously. "Fierce, isn't she?"

Source: www_Novel22_Net

Prev Next