Wicked Lovely Page 52

"You see me, and they" — he pointed to a couple walking their dog down the street—"don't."

"I do," she whispered. "I've always seen faeries."

It was harder to say this time, to tell him. Faeries had terrified her as long as she could remember, but none so much as Keenan. He was the king of the awful things that she'd fled from her whole life.

"Walk with me?" he asked, although they already were.

He faded into what she now thought of as his normal glamour—dulling the shimmer of his copper hair, the rustling sound of wind through trees—and she fell in step with him, silent now, trying to think of how to ask him.

They had just passed the park when she turned to him and blurted, "Did you? Did we? Sex, I mean?"

He lowered his voice, like he were sharing secrets with her. "No. I took you home, saw you to your door. That's all. When the revelry ended, when they all left, and it was just us…

"Your word." She trembled, hoping he wasn't so cruel as to lie. "I need to know. Please."

As he smiled at her reassuringly, she could smell wild roses, fresh-cut hay, bonfires—things she didn't think she'd ever been around, but knew nonetheless in that moment.

Solemnly he nodded. "My word, Aislinn. I swore to you that your wishes would be as my own as often as I am able. I keep my vows."

"I was so afraid. I mean, not that you would" — she broke off and grimaced, realizing what she'd implied—"it's just that…"

"What can you expect of a faery, right?" He gave her a wry grin, looking surprisingly normal for a faery king. "I've read the mortals' stories of us, too. They aren't untrue."

She took a deep breath, tasting those strange summer scents on her tongue.

"But the fey I…hold sway over don't. Will not do that—violate another." He acknowledged the bows of several invisible faeries with a nod and a quicksilver smile. "It is not the way of my fey. We do not take the unwilling."

"Thank…I mean, I'm glad." She almost hugged him, her relief was so great. "You don't like those words, right?"

"Right." He laughed, and she felt like the world itself rejoiced.

She rejoiced. I'm a virgin. She knew there were other thoughts she should ponder, but that one precious sentence was all she could think. Her first time would be one she would remember, one she would choose.

As they walked on, Keenan took Aislinn's hand in his. "In time I hope you'll come to understand how much you mean to me, to my fey."

The scent of roses— wild roses —mingled with a strange briny scent: waves crashing on rocky shores, dolphins diving. She swayed, feeling the pull of those faraway waves, as if the rhythm of something beyond her was creeping inside her skin.

"It is a strange thing, this chance for openness. I've never courted anyone who could truly know me." His voice blended with the tug of foreign waters, sounding more musical with each syllable.

Aislinn stopped walking; he still held her hand, like an anchor to keep her from leaving. They were standing outside The Comix Connexion.

"We met here." He caressed her cheek with his free hand. "I chose you here. In this spot."

She smiled languidly, and suddenly she became aware that she was happier than she should be.

Focus. Something was wrong. Focus. She bit her cheek, hard. Then she said, "I gave you your dance, and you gave me your word. I know what I want from you…"

He ran his fingers through her hair. "What can I give you, Aislinn? Shall I weave flowers in your hair?"

He opened his hand, letting go of her hair. An iris blossom sat in the palm of his hand. "Shall I bring you necklaces of gold? Delicacies mortals can only dream of? I'll do all those things anyway. Don't waste your wish."

"No. I don't want any of that, Keenan." She stepped back, putting more distance between them, trying to ignore the cry of gulls that she heard under the rhythm of waves. "I just want you to leave me alone. That's all."

He sighed, and she wanted to weep at how sad she suddenly felt. Faery tricks, it's all faery tricks.

She scowled. "Don't do that."

"Do you know how many mortals I've wooed in the past nine centuries?" He stared through the window at a display for the release of yet another vampire movie.

A wistful expression on his face, he said, "I don't. I could ask Niall, probably even ask Donia."

"I don't care. I'm not interested in being one of them."

The ocean faded under the acrid taste of desert winds, searing her skin, as anger flared on his face. "How very fitting."

He laughed, softly then, like a cool breeze on her burning skin. "To finally have found you, and you don't want me. You see me, so I can be as I truly am—not a mortal, but a faery. I am still bound by other rules: I cannot tell you why you matter to me, who I am—"

"The Summer King," she interrupted, moving away from him, ready to run. She tried to keep her temper in check. He'd done the right thing by her, but that changed nothing. He was still a faery. She shouldn't have let herself forget that.

"Aaah, so you know that as well." In an inhumanly quick move, he stepped closer until they were chest to chest. In less time than it took to blink, he stood there as he truly looked—not wearing his glamour. Warmth rained over them, as if sunbeams fell from his hair like warm honey pouring slowly over her.

Source: www_Novel22_Net

Prev Next