Wicked Lovely Page 51

"Now that he knows of your Sight, he can be himself in front of you. You'll forget your own name."

"No." Aislinn shook her head. "I've seen him as he is, and I'm still saying no."

"Really?" Donia stared at her, hating that she had to say it, but knowing that Aislinn needed to hear the truth. "Were you saying it last night?"

"That was different," Seth ground out. He stood up and stepped forward.

Donia didn't even move. She blew gently, thinking: ice. A wall of ice formed around Seth, like a glass cage. "All I know is that he believes Aislinn is the one destined to be his. Once he believed I was, and this is the result of his love."

She reached out and touched the ice, shivering as it retracted back into her skin. "That's all I can tell you tonight. Go make your salve. Think about what I said."


A woman of the Sidhe (the faeries) came in, and said that the [girl] was chosen to be the bride of the prince of the dim kingdom, but that as it would never do for his wife to grow old and die while he was still in the first ardour of his love, she would be gifted with a faery life.

— The Celtic Twilight by William Butler Yeats (1893, 1902)

When Sunday morning came, Aislinn wasn't surprised to find Grams up and alert. At least she waited until after breakfast to pounce.

Aislinn sat down on the floor beside Grams' feet. She'd sat there so often over the years, letting Grams comb out her hair, listening to stories, simply being near the woman who'd raised and loved her. She didn't want to fight, but she didn't want to live in fear, either.

She kept her voice level as she said, "I'm almost grown, Grams. I don't want to run and hide."

"You don't understand…"

"I do, actually." Aislinn took Grams' hand in hers. "I really, really do. They're awful. I get that, but I can't spend my life hiding from the world because of them."

"Your mother was the same way, foolish, hardheaded."

"She was?" Aislinn paused at that revelation. She'd never had any real answers when she asked about her mother's last years.

"If she hadn't been, she'd still be here. She was foolish. Now she's dead." Grams sounded feeble, more than tired— exhausted, drained. "I can't bear to lose you too."

"I'm not going to die, Grams. She didn't die because of the faeries. She…"

"Shh." Grams looked toward the door.

Aislinn sighed. "They can't hear me in here even if they're right outside."

"You can't know that." Grams straightened her shoulders, no longer looking like the worn-out woman she had become, but like the stern disciplinarian of Aislinn's childhood. "I'm not letting you be foolish."

"I'll be eighteen next year…"

"Fine. Until then, you're still in my house. With my rules."

"Grams, I—"

"No. From now on, it's to and from school. You can take a taxi. You will let me know where you are. You will not walk around town at all hours." Grams' scowl lightened a little, but her determination did not. "Just until they stop following you. Please don't fight me, Aislinn. I can't go through that again."

And there wasn't much else to say after that.

"What about Seth?"

Grams' expression softened. "He means that much to you?"

"He does." Aislinn bit her lip, waiting. "He lives in a train. Steel walls."

Grams looked at Aislinn. Finally she relented and said, "Taxi there and back. Stay inside."

Aislinn hugged her. "I will."

"We'll give it a little longer. They can't reach you in school or in here. They can't reach you in this Seth's train." Grams nodded as she listed the safety measures, restricting but not yet impossible. "If it doesn't work, though, you'll need to stop going out. You understand?"

Although Aislinn felt guilty for not correcting Grams' mistaken beliefs about school and about Seth's, she kept her emotions as securely hidden as she did when the fey were near, saying only, "I do."

The next day, Monday, Aislinn went through school like a sleepwalker. Keenan wasn't there. No faeries walked the halls. She'd seen them outside, on the steps, on the street as the taxi drove by them, but not within the building.

Has he already had what he wanted? Was that all this was?

The way Donia had talked there was far more to it, but Aislinn couldn't focus on anything other than the blank spot in her memories. She wanted to know, needed to know what had happened. It was all she could think about as she went through the motions of classes.

At midday, she gave up and walked out the front door, not caring who saw.

She was still on the steps when she saw him: Keenan stood waiting across the street, watching her. He was smiling, gently, like he was happy to see her.

He'll tell me. I'll ask, and he'll tell what happened. He has to. She was so relieved that she went toward him, dodging cars, almost running.

She didn't even realize he was invisible until he said, "So you truly can see me?"

"I…" She stammered, stumbled over the words she'd been about to say, the questions she needed to have answered.

"Mortals can't see me unless I will it." He acted as calm as if they'd been talking about homework, as if they weren't discussing something that could get her killed.

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