Wicked Lovely Page 6

"It's nothing. Really." She stood there, one hand in his, the other hanging uselessly at her side. "I just need to be somewhere safe with good company."

"Did someone hurt you?" He sounded weirder then, tense.

"No." She bit her lip; she hadn't thought he would ask so many questions, counted on it, in fact.

"Someone want to?" He pulled her down into his lap, tucking her head under his chin, holding her securely.

She didn't resist. He'd held her every year when she came back from visiting her mom's grave, had held her when Grams had gotten sick last year. His holding her wasn't strange; the questions were.

"I don't know." She felt stupid for it, but she started crying, big dumb tears she couldn't stop. "I don't know what they want."

Seth stroked her hair, running his hand down the length of it and on to her back. "But you do know who they are?"

"Sort of." She nodded, sniffling. Bet that's attractive. She tried to pull away.

"So, that's a good place to start." He wrapped one arm tighter around her and leaned over to pick a notebook and pen up off the floor. Propping the notebook on her knee, he held the pen poised over it. With a reassuring smile, he prompted, "Tell me. We'll figure it out. Talk to some people. Check out the police blotter."

"Police blotter?"

"Sure. Find out more about them." He gave her a reassuring look. "Ask Rabbit down at the tat shop. He hears everything. We find out who they are. Then we take care of it."

"There's not going to be anything in the blotter. Not on these two." Aislinn smiled at the idea of faeries' crimes being reported in the blotter. They'd need a whole section of the daily paper just for faery crimes, especially in the safe neighborhoods: the upscale homes were in greener areas, outside the safety of steel frames and bridges.

"So we use other routes." He pushed her hair away from her face, wiping a tear off her cheek in the process. "Seriously, I'm a research god. Give me a clue, and I'll find something we can use. Blackmail, deal, whatever. Maybe they're wanted for something. If not, maybe they're breaking a law. Harassment or something. That's a crime, right? If not, there's people Rabbit knows."

Aislinn disentangled herself from his arms and went over to the sofa. Boomer barely stirred when she sat down next to him. Too cold. She shivered. It's always too cold. She stroked his skin while she thought. Seth hasn't ever told anyone about Mom or anything. He can be careful.

Seth sat back and crossed his ankles, waiting.

She stared at the worn vintage T he had on—damp from her tears now; the peeling white letters proclaimed: pixies. Maybe it's a sign. She'd thought about it so often, imagined telling him.

He looked expectantly at her.

She wiped her cheeks again. "Okay."

When she didn't say anything else, he crooked one glittering eyebrow and prompted her again, "Ash?"

"Right." She swallowed and said, as calmly as she could, "Faeries. Faeries are stalking me."


"Faeries." She pulled her legs up to sit cross-legged on the sofa. Boomer lifted his head to look at her, his tongue flicking out, and slid farther onto her lap.

Seth picked up his tea and took a drink.

She'd never told anyone before. It was one of Grams' unbreakable rules: Never know who's listening. Never know when They are hiding nearby.

Aislinn's heart thudded. She could feel herself getting nauseous. What did I do? But she wanted him to know, wanted someone to talk to.

Aislinn took several calming breaths and added, "Two of them. They've been following me for a couple of weeks."

Carefully, as if he were moving in slow motion, Seth leaned forward, sitting on the edge of his chair, almost close enough to touch. "You messing with me?"

"No." She bit her lip and waited.

Boomer slithered closer, dragging the front of his body up over her chest. Absently she stroked his head.

Seth poked at the ring in his lip, a stalling gesture, the way some people lick their lips in tense conversations. "Like little winged people?"

"No. Like our size and terrifying." She tried to smile, but it didn't work. Her chest hurt, like someone had kicked her. She was breaking the rules she'd lived by, her mother had lived by, her Grams, everyone in her family for so long.

"How do you know they're faeries?"

"Never mind." She looked away. "Just forget—"

"Don't do that." His voice had a bite of frustration in it. "Talk to me."

"And say what?"

He stared at her as he answered, "Say you'll trust me. Say you'll let me in for real, finally."

She didn't answer, didn't know what to say. Sure, she'd kept things from him, but she kept things from everyone. That was just the way it was.

He sighed. Then he put on his glasses and held the pen poised over the notebook. "Right. Tell me what you know. What do they look like?"

"You won't be able to see them."

He paused again. "Why?"

She didn't look away this time. "They're invisible."

Seth didn't answer.

For a moment they just sat there, quietly staring at each other. Her hand stilled on Boomer as she waited, but the boa didn't move away.

Finally Seth started writing. Then he looked up. "What else?"

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