Wicked Lovely Page 74

Donia didn't speak, didn't move. Instead she rolled her eyes.

For a heartbeat, Beira just stared at her. Then she smiled, as cold and cruel as the worst of the dark fey.

"Well. It would be more fun if you play. That's what you want, right? As if you can trick me, so you can run" — Beira slapped her, knocking Donia's head into the floor so hard that she felt nauseous—"but you won't get to run."

The manacles melted then, leaving frostbitten skin as the only proof they'd been there.

Donia scrambled over to Seth, ignoring the shards that drove into her feet, and helped him up. She couldn't actually beat Beira, but she was still a faery—strong enough to lift a mortal, strong enough to withstand more pain than him.

"The door's that way," he muttered as she half carried him forward.

"How darling!" Beira gushed. "The tragic lovers of the damnable Summer Court working together. It's just so sweet."

For several minutes she watched them as they tried to cross the growing barrier of ice, cheering at each bit of progress and adding more obstacles as she cheered.

Donia didn't speak, saving her energy to try—unsuccessfully—to reach the door with Seth.

Finally Beira motioned the hags closer. "Did the rowan-man finally manage to crawl to my foolish son?"

When the hags nodded, Beira clapped. "Lovely. So they'll be here soon. What fun!"

Then she tilted her head inquiringly and asked Donia, "Do you think they'll be more upset if you're dead or still suffering?

"Decision, decisions," Beira murmured as she walked over the blades of ice, slowly and gracefully, as if she were entering the theater.

"Just to be sure, let's go for one of each, hmm?" Beira said as she pulled Donia up by her hair and kissed both cheeks. "I believe I already told you what would happen to you, dearie."

Seth slipped to the ground, reaching for Donia as he fell, but a wall of ice formed between them.

Then Beira sealed her lips to Donia's.

Donia struggled as the ice slid down her throat, choking her, filling her lungs. Then she saw Seth throw himself toward Beira. In his hand was a rusty iron cross. With surprising strength for a mortal—especially an injured one— he jammed it into Beira's neck.

Beira let go of Donia with a shriek and lashed out at Seth, slamming him into a wall.

"Do you think that little trinket will kill me?" Beira asked as she followed him in that too-fast-to-follow way. She dug her fingers into the skin of his stomach and—using his ribs as a handle—tugged him to his feet.

He screamed over and over, awful sounds that made Donia tremble. But she couldn't help him; she couldn't even lift her head from the floor.

Aislinn heard Seth's screams as she came through the door. When she saw Beira holding him by his stomach, she had to grab Keenan's arm for support.

Midway across the room, Donia was sprawled motionless on the floor, her lips glistening with shards of ice just like those the rowan-man had choked up. There wasn't time to stop to check on her, not with Beira driving her hand through Seth’s skin like that.

Keenan was still moving, pulling Aislinn past everyone and everything, toward Beira and Seth.

Once they were beside her, Keenan grabbed the piece of metal that jutted out of Beira's neck and slashed it forward like a knife.

"I wondered if you'd ever get here." Beira dropped Seth onto the ground.

Seth's eyes rolled back as he blacked out. He was still breathing, though, his chest rising and falling unsteadily.

Even with blood dripping down her neck, Beira seemed undaunted. She reached up and tugged the metal free. After a cursory glance at it, she dropped it on the floor in disgust. Blood rolled away in the puddles from the melting ice.

"It doesn't have to be like this." Keenan's voice was low, pained. "We can work it out—like it should've been before. If you'll agree…"

Beira laughed, eddies of frigid air swirling from her lips. "Do you know that's exactly the sort of thing your father said before I killed him?"

She lifted her hand and gestured. A thick wall of ice formed between Aislinn and Keenan—leaving Seth with Aislinn, and Keenan alone on the other side of the wall with Beira.

"Aislinn," Keenan called as he put his hand on the ice.

She followed his lead and put hers on the other side of the wall, mimicking his position. Between them the ice hissed and popped as their touch slowly melted it.

Beira just watched for a moment. Her face was a distorted mask, more horrible through the thick ice. Her voice, however, was perfectly clear as she asked Keenan, "How long do you think it will be until there's another Summer King?"

"There won't be another Summer King," Keenan snarled at her, reaching out to grip her arm.

"Ah, ah, ah, sweetling." She put her hand on his chest and pushed him away from the ice wall separating him from Aislinn.

The ice on Keenan's chest melted as soon as it formed, leaving him soaking wet and steaming. He was stumbling, though, unable to stand steadily on the sheet of ice that crept over the floor.

Seth moaned and briefly opened his eyes.

Several of the hags walked into the room, and without even glancing at them, Beira said, "Kill the Winter Girl, and the mortal."

They moved toward Donia.

Keenan turned toward them.

While he was distracted, Beira grabbed his face and blew ice over his eyes. The thick white flakes clumped his eyelashes together. It was melting almost as quickly as it formed, but in the interim Keenan couldn't see.

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