Wicked Lovely Page 48

She nodded.

He stepped in front of her and leaned forward until the longer strands of his hair fell like a web over her face. "The rest we'll deal with too."

Then he kissed her—softly, tenderly, lovingly—and said, "We'll get this figured out. Together. I'm here with you, Ash, even after you tell me what else happened."

"What do you mean?" Aislinn felt the world swim again.

"You drank something that messed you up, danced until dawn, and woke up in your bed sick." He cradled her face in his hands. "What else happened?"

"I don't know." She shivered.

"Okay, how did you get home?"

"I don't know." She remembered the taste of sunshine, the feel of sunbeams falling onto her as she stared up at Keenan's face, as he leaned toward her. What happened?

"Did you go anywhere else?"

She whispered, "I don't know."

"Sleep with him?" He looked straight at her as he asked it, the question she'd been trying—and failing—to answer.

"I don't know." She looked away, feeling sicker with the words hanging there like something awful. I'd know, right? That's something I'd remember. Right?"

He pulled her into his arms, tucking her under his chin, as if he could keep her safe from all the bad things by keeping her close enough. "I don't know. Are there any flashes of memories? Anything?"

"I remember dancing, drinking, sitting on some strange chair, and then the carnival was gone. He kissed me." She shivered again. "I'm so sorry."

"It's not your fault." He stroked his hand over her hair.

She tried to pull away.

He didn't force her to stay, but he kept his hands on her arms. He looked so serious, so adamant. "Listen to me. If something happened, it wasn't your fault. He gave you some drug, some faery booze. You were drunk, high, whatever, and what happened afterward isn't your fault."

"I remember laughing, having fun." She looked down at her hands, clenched tightly so they didn't shake. "I was having fun, Seth. What if I did do something? What if I said yes?"

"Doesn't matter. If you're f**ked up, you can't consent. It's that simple. He shouldn't have done anything, Ash. If he did, he's the one who's wrong. Not you." He sounded angry, but he didn't tell her that he had been right, that she shouldn't have gone. He didn't say anything awful to her. Instead he tucked her hair behind her ear and let his hand rest on her face, gently tilting her head so she looked at him. "And we don't know that anything did happen."

"I just wanted the first time to be with someone special, and if I, if we, it's just wrong." She felt half foolish for worrying about it—exposed to the wrath of a faery king and she worried about her virginity. He could take her life; he could take her eyes. Her virginity shouldn't matter so much.

But it does.

She walked away, going over to curl up in the comfort of Seth's sofa. "I'm sorry. You were right, and I—"

He interrupted, "There's nothing for you to be sorry for. You're not wrong. I'm not upset with you. It's him—" He stopped. He didn't move, just stood there in the middle of the room, watching her. "You're what matters."

"Hold me? If you still want to, I mean." She looked away.

"Every day" — then he was there, lifting her into his arms, holding her like she was fragile and precious—"I want to hold you every day. Nothing will ever change that."


The Fairy then dropped three drops of a precious liquid on her companion's left eyelid, and she beheld a most delicious country…From this time she possessed the faculty of discerning the Fairy people as they went about invisibly.

— The Fairy Mythology by Thomas Keightley (1870)

Donia walked past the faeries outside Seth's home—a few familiar guards, the demi-succubus Cerise, and several Summer Girls. Without Keenan beside her, none of them smiled. They still bowed their heads, but there was no affection in their respect. To them she was the enemy—never mind that she'd risked everything for him, everything the girls hadn't been willing to risk. They conveniently forgot that.

At the door she braced herself for the inevitable weakness that such awful walls would bring about. She knocked. Pain seared her knuckles.

She didn't react when Aislinn opened the door, but it took effort. From the hollow look on her face, Donia was sure that her memories of the faire were far less clear than Keenan's. All he'd admitted was that he'd let her drink far too much summer wine, caught up in the moment, the revelry, the dancing. It was his way: too easy to rejoice, to believe. For him, it worked.

Aislinn looked awful.

Clutching her hand, looking both angry and wary, was her mortal, Seth. "What do you want?"

Aislinn's eyes widened. "Seth."

"No. It's fine, Ash." Donia smiled; for all her wishes of success to Keenan, she saw the look on Seth's face and couldn't help but respect him. A mortal stood against the considerable temptation of the Summer King, and it was the mortal holding Aislinn's hand.

Donia added, "I just want to talk."

Behind her Cerise came closer, announcing her approach by flapping her wings—as if she could frighten Donia.

"Maybe take a walk." She glanced back at Cerise and blew a breath of cold air at her, not enough to wound, but frigid enough to remind her to watch her step.

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