Wicked Lovely Page 60

Aislinn looked over at Keenan. "What a bitch. Are you okay?"

But he was looking at her with awe in his eyes. He put a hand to his cheek; the bruises were fading as she watched— leaving a red imprint where her lips had touched his skin.

His two «uncles» came up on either side of him. His guards moved out around them. Too little, too late. Several of the faeries were speaking at once.

"Beira's gone?"

"Are you…?"

But Keenan ignored them. He lifted Aislinn's hand to his cheek, holding it there. "You did that."

One of the faeries stepped closer. "What did she do? Are you injured?"

"She didn't see, did she? Beira?" Keenan asked.

His eyes widened, and Aislinn saw tiny purple flowers blossoming inside them.

She pulled her hand away, shaking her head. "This doesn't mean anything, doesn't change a thing. I was just…I don't know why I even did that."

"You did, though," he whispered, taking both of her hands in his. "You see how different it is now."

She trembled.

He was looking at her as if she were the grail he'd spoken of, and her only thought was to run, far and fast, run until she could run no farther.

"We were going to talk. You said…" Her words vanished as the weight of it hit her. It's true. I'm the… She couldn't even think it, but she knew it was true, and he knew it too. She shook her head.

"Is someone going to fill us in here?" The quieter faery uncle stepped up.

Still holding fast to her hands, Keenan tilted his head to motion them forward. His voice a low whisper, like the rumble of thunderstorms, he announced, "Aislinn healed the Winter Queen's touch."

"I didn't mean to," she protested, trying to tug free of his grasp. Any flash of friendship, of protective instinct, had vanished as he gripped her hands too tightly in his.

"She kissed Beira's frost, and it's gone. She unmade Beira's touch. She offered me her hand—by choice—and I was stronger." He let go of one of her hands to touch his cheek again.

"She did what?"

"She healed me with a kiss, shared her strength with me." Still holding one of her hands, Keenan dropped to his knees, staring up at her, golden tears running down his face like rivulets of liquid sunshine.

The other faeries dropped to their knees beside him in the dirty alley.

"My Queen." Keenan let go of her other hand to reach up toward her face.

And she ran. She ran like she'd never run in her life, crushing the still-shimmering ice under her feet, fleeing the sunlight gleaming in Keenan's skin.

Keenan knelt on the ground for several moments after Aislinn ran away. No one else rose.

"She left." He knew he sounded weak, but he couldn't find the strength to care. "It's her, and she left. She knows, and she left."

He stared down the alley where she'd vanished. She hadn't moved as quickly as the fey, but she'd been moving far quicker than a mortal could. He wondered if she'd even noticed.

"Shall we retrieve her?" one of the rowan-men asked.

Keenan turned to Tavish and Niall. "She left."

"She did," Tavish said as he motioned the guards back.

They faded into the shadows, close enough to hear should they be summoned, but not so close that they'd overhear a softly spoken conversation.

Niall took Keenan's arm. "Give her tonight to let it settle on her."

Tavish moved to Keenan's other side.

"She was going to think about it. She said that inside." Keenan looked from Tavish to Niall and back. "She still will. She has to."

Neither faery answered as they led him forward, his guards following behind them silently.


The fairies, as we know, are greatly attracted by the beauty of mortal women, and…the king employs his numerous sprites to find out and carry [them] off when possible.

— Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland by Lady Francesca Speranza Wilde (1887)

Aislinn didn't stop running until she was at Seth's door. She pushed it open, calling his name, and stumbled to a stop when she saw the small crowd gathered there.

"Ash?" He was across the room and had her in his arms before she could think of what to say.

"I need…" She was still panting, her hair stuck to her face and neck. The noise of clinking bottles and moving bodies barely registered as she tried to catch her breath.

No one commented, or if they did, she didn't hear it as Seth led her through the doorway to the second train car, where the tiny bathroom and his bedroom were. They stood in the hallway, outside the closed door of his room.

"Are you hurt?" He was running his hands over her arms, looking at her face and arms, checking for rips in the ridiculous clothes Donia had given her.

She shook her head. "Cold. Scared."

"Take a shower. Warm up while I get rid of everyone." He opened the door and turned on the little heater in the room. The soft whir filled the room as the heater started to glow.

She hesitated, and then nodded.

He kissed her briefly and left her there.

When Aislinn came out of the tiny bathroom, the house was silent; everyone was gone. She stood in the doorway— feeling safer now that she was here with Seth. Grams had done her best, but her fear of the faeries had made them too central—as if even the mundane things were somehow dependent on the faeries' reactions.

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