Wicked Lovely Page 63

"If she comes for it, lifts the staff" — Beira held out her hand and the staff moved toward her like a living thing going to its master—"you can stop her. I cannot. Those were the terms Irial dictated when we bound the whelp: if I actively interfere, the mantle that makes that mortal the Summer Queen is unavoidably manifest. I lose my throne; she gains hers and frees Keenan."

Beira caressed the staff as she spoke. "I cannot act. Balance, damnable balance, those were trial's terms when we placed the limits on Keenan."

Donia could not speak much above a whisper, but she tried, "What are you saying?"

"I'm saying that those pretty blue lips of yours could solve my problem." Beira tapped a finger twice against her own far-too-red lips. "Is that clear enough?"

"It is." Donia forced herself to smile. "And if I do that, you'll free me?"

"Yes." Beira bared her teeth in a cruel snarl. "If it's not done in the next couple days, I'll send the hags to her, and then I'll be back for you."

"I understand." Donia licked her lips and tried to match the cruelty in Beira's face.

"Good girl." Beira kissed Donia's forehead and pressed the staff into her hands. "I knew I could count on you to do the right thing. It'll be fitting for you to be the one to bring Keenan to his knees after all he's done to you."

"I haven't forgotten anything Keenan's done." Donia did smile then, and she knew by Beira's approving look that she looked as cruel as Beira did.

Holding the staff so tightly it hurt her hands, Donia added, "I'm going to do exactly what I should."

Keenan dismissed the guards, the girls, everyone but Niall and Tavish. The guards who'd followed Aislinn confirmed his suspicion of where she went. She knows now. How can she still turn away? Go to him?

Niall counseled patience as Keenan paced through the loft. It was what he had offered Aislinn earlier, but now, now that he knew, how could he wait?

"I've been patient for centuries." Keenan felt frantic. As he paced, his queen—the one he'd waited for his whole life, for centuries —was in the arms of another, a mortal no less. "I need to talk to her."

Niall stepped in his path. "Think about this."

Keenan pushed Niall aside. "Do you see her coming here? I'm here. I didn't follow her to his house, but she didn't come to me."

"A few hours?" Niall spoke calmly, as he'd done countless times before when Keenan's temper made him act foolishly. "Just until you're calmer."

"Every moment I wait, Beira has a chance of learning what happened, where she is." He went to the door. "She already knows of what the Eolas said. That's why she came out tonight. If she learns what Aislinn can do already, what we can do together…"

"Listen to yourself." Niall put a hand on the door, keeping it closed. "You aren't going to convince her when you're like this."

"Let him go, Niall," Tavish said, not raising his voice, but sounding even more assertive than usual. His gaze was terrifying as he told Keenan, "Remember what we spoke of. Nothing is too far to go in pursuit of this one. We all know it's her."

A horrified look came over Niall's face. "No."

Keenan shoved Niall aside, wrenched open the door, and promptly collided with Donia. A hiss of steam rose from their bodies as he stood pressed against her frigid body for that too-brief moment.

As undisturbed as the winter's first snow, she came into his loft—of her own volition, no less—and said placidly, "Close the door. We need to talk."

Donia stepped past Keenan, exposing her worried expression to his advisors rather than to him. He didn't need to see that, not as upset as he already was.

Once she heard the door close, she said, "She wants Ash dead. She wants me to kill her." She stood inside the doorway, further in the room than she'd like, with him standing between her and the exit. "You need to do something."

He didn't answer, just stared at her with a panicked look.

"Keenan? Did you hear me?" she asked.

He made a dismissive gesture to Niall and Tavish. "Leave me alone with Don."

They both left, but only after Niall caught her eye and told her, "Be gentle."

Keenan knelt on the sofa. "She ran away from me."

"She did what?" She came closer to Keenan, ducking as one of his damnable birds swooped down at her.

"Ran." He sighed, and the room filled with the rustle of leaves. "It's her. She unmade Beira's frost, healed me with a kiss."

"You can convince her," Donia said in a low voice. She didn't need Tavish and Niall and whatever Summer Girls lurked in the loft to overhear her sounding so gentle to Keenan. "Let her have tonight to think, but tomorrow…"

"She ran to him, Don. The rowan-men went there, to see." He looked stricken, his beautiful eyes haunted. "It's her. She knows it, but she left to go to the mortal. I'm going to lose if…"

Donia took his hand, ignoring the pain at his touch, the steam that rose like a cloud from their hands. "Keenan, give the girl a moment to think. You've known forever. This is all so new to her…"

"She doesn't love me, doesn't even want me." His voice held such sadness that a small rain shower began in the room.

"Make her." Donia let her gaze rake over him, challenging him, trying to spark that arrogance that seemed so lost lately. "What? You've suddenly run out of ideas? Come on, Keenan. Go talk to her tomorrow. If that doesn't work, drop your glamour. Kiss her. Seduce her. Just do it quickly, or she'll be dead."

Source: www_Novel22_Net

Prev Next