Wicked Lovely Page 65

Aislinn couldn't move. How could Keenan have killed my mother? She died in childbirth…

"No. I didn't," he replied in a low voice, sounding as assured as he had the first night Aislinn had met him, sounding the way he had at Bishop O.C. He laid a hand on Grams' shoulder. "She ran from me, lay down with all those mortals. I tried to stop her, to—"


"Grams!" Aislinn grabbed Grams' hand and tugged, pulling her away from Keenan, steering her to her chair.

Keenan didn't even flinch. "Once the mortal girl is chosen, there's no way to un-choose her, Elena. I'd have taken care of her, even after the baby was born. I waited, stopped seeking her when she was with child."

Grams was weeping now. Her tears rolled over her cheeks, but she made no move to wipe them away. "I know."

"Then you know I didn't kill her." He turned to Aislinn, his eyes pleading with her. "She chose death by her own hand rather than joining the Summer Girls."

Grams stared at the wall where the few existing pictures of Moira and Aislinn were. "If you hadn't hunted her down in the first place, she'd be alive."

Aislinn turned to Keenan; her voice came out half strangled when she said, "Go."

Instead he crossed the room, coming toward her, walking past the portraits of her mother without even a glance. He put a hand under Aislinn's chin and forced her to look up at him. "You're my queen, Aislinn. We both know that. We can talk now or later, but I cannot let you turn away from me."

"Not now." She hated how her voice shook, but she didn't back away from him.

"Tonight then. We need to speak to Donia, arrange for your guards, and" — he looked around the apartment— "decide what you'll want to move, where you want to live. There are other, lovelier places we can live."

This was the faery who'd stalked her—confident and compelling. As quickly as lightning across the sky, he'd gone from pleading to demanding.

She stepped behind Grams' chair, out of his reach. "I live with Grams."

Smiling beatifically, Keenan dropped to his knees in front of Grams. "If you want to join her in our home, I'll have your things brought over. It'd be our honor."

Grams said nothing.

"I am sorry that Moira was so afraid. I've waited so long, I'd almost given up. If I'd known that Moira would be the mother of our queen" — he shook his head—"but all I knew was that she was special, that she drew me to her."

The whole time he'd been speaking, Grams had not moved: she'd clenched her hands in her lap and glared at him.

Aislinn reached over and gripped Keenan's arm. "You need to leave. Now."

He let her pull him to his feet, but the look on his face was awful. Gone were all traces of kindness, of pleading, of anything but raw determination. "You will come to me tonight, or I will find you—find your Seth. That isn't how I want to do this, but I'm running out of choices."

Aislinn stared at him as his words registered. She'd begun the day prepared to reason with him, to accept the inevitable, and he was threatening her. He was threatening Seth. She made her voice as cold as she could, "Don't go there, Keenan."

He ducked his head. "It's not what I want, but I—"

"Leave," she interrupted him.

She grabbed his arm and led him to the door.

"We can talk later, but if you think for a minute that threats are going to help" — she broke off as her temper flared—"you really don't want to threaten me."

"I don't," he said softly, "but if I have to, I will."

She opened the door and shoved him out. She took several deep breaths, leaning on the now-closed door, and started, "Grams, I—"

"Run before he comes back. I can't protect you. Get your Seth, leave, go somewhere far away." Grams went to the bookshelf, brought down a dusty book, and opened it. It was hollowed out in the middle. Inside was a thick stack of bills. "It's running-away money. I've been saving it since Moira died. Take it."

"Grams, I—"

"No! You need to go while you can. She didn't have money when she ran; maybe if you do…" She went into Aislinn's room and pulled out a duffle bag, resolutely shoving clothes into it, ignoring everything else—including Aislinn's repeated attempts to talk to her.


They are said to have aristocratical Rulers and Laws, but no discernible Religion.

— The Secret Commonwealth by Robert Kirk and Andrew Lang (1893)

Keenan heard Elena's statements as clearly as if she were beside him, but he didn't stop. What good would it do? He couldn't go back inside.

He stepped onto the almost-barren walk outside their building and waited for Niall, who was sprawled on a bench across the street, to cross to him.

"I said not to follow me."

"I didn't follow you. I followed her" — Niall inclined his head toward Aislinn's building—"the queen. I thought it prudent after the Winter Girl's visit."

"Right." Keenan sighed. "I should've sent extra guards over there."

"You were distracted. Anyhow, it's what we do—look after you. Might as well start looking after the queen." His words were nonchalant, as if their queen had already said yes.

She hadn't. And as much as Keenan hoped she wouldn't run, he wasn't certain.

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