Wicked Lovely Page 7

"Why? Why are you doing this?"

Seth shrugged, but his voice wasn't nonchalant when he answered, "Because I want you to trust me? Because I want you to stop looking so haunted? Because I care about you?"

"Say you do go research. What if they…I don't know, hurt you? Attack you?" She knew how awful they could be even if he didn't— couldn't —get it.

"For going to the library?" He crooked his eyebrow again.

She was still trying to get her head together, to find a line between begging him to really believe her and telling him she wasn't serious. She pushed Boomer off her onto the sofa cushion and stood up.

"You see them hurt anyone?"

"Yes," she started, but she stopped herself. She paced over to the window. Three faeries lingered outside, not doing anything, but undeniably there. Two of them were almost human-looking, but the third was as far from human as they got—too big and covered in dark tufts of fur, like a bear that walked upright. She looked away and shuddered. "Not these two but…I don't know. Faeries grope people, trip them, pinch them. Stupid stuff usually. Sometimes it's worse, though. A lot worse. You don't want to get involved."

"I do want to. Trust me, Ash. Please?" Half smiling then, he added, "And I don't mind being groped. Perks for helping."

"You should. Faeries are…" She shook her head again. He was joking about it. "You can't see what they look like."

Without meaning to, she pictured Keenan. Blushing, she stammered, "Most of them are pretty horrible."

"Not all of them, though?" Seth asked quietly, not smiling anymore.

"Most of them" — she looked back at the three faeries outside, unwilling to look at Seth when she admitted it— "but no, not all of them."


Faeries could make themselves seen or not seen at will. And when they took people they took the body and soul together.

— The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries by W Y. Evans-Wentz (1911)

Aislinn closed her eyes as she finished describing the faeries who'd been stalking her. "They're court fey; I know that much. They move in the circle of a king or queen, have enough influence to act without consequences. They're too strong, too arrogant to be anything else." She thought about their disdain, their disregard for the fey watching them. These were the most dangerous sort of faeries: ones with power.

She shivered and added, "I just don't know what they want. There's this whole other world no one else sees. But I do…I watch them, but they've never noticed me—not any more than they do anyone else."

"So you see others that aren't following you?"

It was such a simple question, such an obvious one. She looked at him and laughed, not because it was funny, but because it was so awful. Tears ran down her face.

He just waited, calm, unflappable, until she stopped laughing. "I guess that was a yes?"

"Yes." She wiped her cheeks. "They're real, Seth. It's not that I see things. There are faeries, creatures, almost everywhere. Awful things. Beautiful ones. Some that are both at once. Sometimes they're horrible to each other, doing really" — she shuddered at the images she didn't want to share with him— "bad things, sick things."

He waited.

"This one, this Keenan, he approached me, made himself look like a human and tried to get me to go with him." She looked away, trying to summon the calm she relied on when the things she saw got too weird. It wasn't working.

"So what about this court thing? Could you talk to their king or whatever?" Seth turned the page.

Aislinn listened to the soft whisper of paper falling, loud in the room despite the music, despite the impossibility of hearing such a soft sound. Since when can I hear a sheet of paper falling?

She thought about Keenan, thought about how to explain that sense of strength he exuded. He'd seemed immune to the iron downtown—a terrifying possibility; at the very least, he'd been strong enough to hold a glamour around it. Deadgirl had seemed weakened by it, but it hadn't repelled her either. "No. Grams says court fey are the crudest ones. I don't think I could face anything stronger even if I could reveal myself, and I can't. They can't find out that I can see them. Grams says they'll kill or blind us if they find out we see them."

"Suppose they're something else, Ash?" Seth was moving now, standing in front of her. "What if there's another explanation for what you saw?"

She folded her hand into a loose fist as she stared at him, feeling her fingernails dig ever so slightly into the palm of her hand. "I'd love to believe there's another answer. I've seen them since I was born. Grams sees them. It's real. They're real."

She couldn't look at him; instead she stared down at Boomer, who had twisted his entire length into a tight coil in her lap. She trailed her finger down the side of his head gently.

Seth cupped her chin and tilted her head back so she was looking at him. "There's got to be something we can do."

"Can we talk about it tomorrow? I need…" She shook her head. "I just can't deal with any more tonight."

Seth reached down and lifted Boomer. The boa didn't uncoil as Seth carried him to his terrarium and gently lowered him to the heat rock.

She didn't say anything else as Seth latched the lid to keep Boomer from wandering off. Given half a chance, Boomer found a way to slither outside if he was left home alone, and in most months the temperature out there could be fatal for him.

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