Wicked Lovely Page 58

"If you accept me, you would rule them—be the Summer Queen. They would obey you as they do me." His eyes implored her, not faery wiles now, just a look of desperation.

She lifted her chin. "Well, if the way they act is any indication, they don't obey very well. Unless you don't object to their actions."

"I've been too powerless to do much other than count on their better natures to make them listen. If you rule them, you could change that. We could change so much. Save them." He made a sweeping gesture to the crowds of dancing faeries. "Unless I become king in truth, these faeries will die. The mortals out there in your city will die. They're dying already. You'll be around to watch it happen."

She felt the tears in her eyes, knew he saw them, and didn't care. "There has to be another way. I don't want this, and I won't become one of the Summer Girls."

"You will. You are unless you choose to be with me. It's a simple thing. Really, it's laughable how quick the process is."

"And if I'm not this grail of yours? I spend eternity like Donia?" She pushed him away. "How is that a good plan? She's miserable, in pain. I've seen it."

He winced and looked away when she mentioned Donia, seeming so much more real for it. It made her pause. He might have a lot to gain, but from the look of pain that raced over his face, he'd lost a few things that mattered.

"Just tell me you'll think about it. Please?" He leaned in and whispered, "I'll wait. Just tell me you're considering it. I need you."

"Can't you find another way?" she asked, although she knew the answer, knew that there wasn't another answer. "I don't want to be your queen. I don't want you. There's someone else I—"

"I know." Keenan accepted a drink from a cub who'd scurried under the legs of one of the innumerable guards that followed Keenan. With another sad smile, he added, "I am sorry for that as well. I do understand, far better than I'm able to say."

The inevitability of it all was starting to set in. She thought about it: the things that would change, the things she wanted to keep unchanged. She had so many questions. "Is there another way? I don't want to be a faery at all, and I certainly don't want to rule them."

He laughed, mirthlessly. "Some days I don't either, but neither of us can change what we are. I'll not lie and say I wish I could undo it for you, Aislinn. I believe you're the one. The Winter Queen fears you. Even Donia believes you are the one." He held out his hand. "I wish it didn't trouble you. But I'm begging you to accept me. Simply tell me what you want, and I'll try."

In a moment uncannily like the faire, he waited with his hand outstretched, asking her to accept him. At the faire she thought it was almost over; now she had the sinking feeling it was only beginning.

How do I tell Seth? Grams? What do I tell them? Simply willing it all away had never worked with the Sight, and she was beginning to believe that this was much the same. She knew she was changing, despite how much she'd been trying to deny it.

I'm one of them.

If she were to survive, she needed to start thinking about figuring out the faery world.

Then she realized that both the guard and Keenan had mentioned another ruler, another player in this game of theirs. She looked at him and asked, "Who's the Winter Queen? Could she help me?"

Keenan choked on his drink. In that blurringly quick way he moved, he clutched her arms. "No. You cannot let her know that you see us, that you know any of what is transpiring." He shook her slightly. "If she were to know…"

"If she can help me…"

"No. You must believe me. She's more vicious than I can begin to explain. I might not strike out at you for seeing us, but there are others who would, including the Winter Queen. She's why I am powerless. Why the earth freezes. You must not seek her out." His fingers dug into her arms until she began to glow too. He seemed terrified, a thought she didn't want to consider too closely.

He considers himself powerless?

Mutely she nodded, and Keenan let go of her arms, smoothing out her wrinkled sleeves.

Aislinn leaned in closer, her lips almost on his skin since the music and noise were growing louder by the moment. "I need to know more than this. You're asking too much for me to…" She couldn't continue for a moment, thinking of what he was asking her to give up, to become. What I'm already becoming. "I need more answers if you want me to think about any of this."

"I can't tell you everything. There are rules, Aislinn. Rules that have been in place for centuries…" He was almost yelling to be heard over the noise. "We can't talk here amid their excitement."

All around them the faeries were cavorting, moving in ways clearly not mortal, even with their glamours in place.

He held out his hand again. "Let's go to the park, coffee shop, wherever you want."

She let him take her hand, hating how inevitable her choice was beginning to seem.

Keenan felt her tiny hand in his, as soothing as the touch of the sun. She hadn't said yes, but she was considering it, accepting the loss of her mortality. Sure, she would mourn, but it was often like that for the newly fey girls.

He led her toward the door, well aware that the summer fey were watching with approving looks. They danced nearer, brushing close and smiling at Aislinn.

And she held her head high, as bold as she'd been when she walked through the crowd to see him. He suspected that she saw them as they were: not their glamours, but their true faces. She did not dance, but she did not flinch away when they came near. For a sighted mortal, it was a truly courageous thing.

Source: www_Novel22_Net

Prev Next