Wicked Enchantment(5)

By: Anya Bast

Danu. Bella and Ronan? So they were at the Unseelie Court, after all. Aislinn had assumed they’d gone there, but wasn’t sure whether or not the Shadow King had allowed them residence in the Black Tower.

The Seelie Court was called the Rose Tower because it was constructed of rose quartz. The Unseelie Court was referred to as the Black Tower because—never to be outdone—it was made from black quartz. The delivery of large quantities of each had been allowed by human society and the Phaendir, and magick had been employed to make it usable as a construction material.

Gabriel walked ahead of her, intending to leave her in the dust. Damn the man! He’d tossed that last bit out, and then left, to punish her. He knew she’d chase him. Clearly her first impulse to dislike the man had been dead-on.

“Hey.” She took a couple of running steps to catch up with him. “I’m sorry. I’ve been unfair to you. You’re all alone and could clearly use a friend”—although she was sure he’d end up with plenty of “friends” here soon enough—“and someone to show you around. Let’s start over.”

He stopped, turned toward her, and lifted a dark brow. “Ah, so you do want to know about Bella and Ronan.”

“No.” She shook her head. “I mean, yes, but I didn’t say that just to have news of them. This is about me being fair and giving you the benefit of the doubt.”

“Benefit of the doubt? What movie about me have you made in your head, sweet Aislinn? And without even knowing me.”

“That you’re a dangerous, arrogant, superficial man with piles of discarded, heartbroken female bodies on each side of the path you tread.”

They’d stopped in a large open area where a huge fountain, in the shape of a swan, flowed into a pool. There were fewer people here. For a moment all was silent except for the sound of running water and the clicking heels of the few passersby.

He studied her with hard, glittering, dark blue eyes. “Your honesty is very refreshing. I’m sorry that’s your first impression of me. Perhaps I can change it.”

“Maybe you can.”

“A little too honest, that’s my first impression of you.” He narrowed his eyes. “And perhaps a bit jaded about men at the moment.” He loosely shrugged one shoulder. “Just a guess.”

Good guess. Time to change the subject. “Why do you wish to change courts anyway?”

“I’m surprised a pure-blood Seelie Tuatha Dé would ask such a question. I thought everyone here believed the Rose Tower superior in all ways. There should be no question why I wish to defect from the Black.”

Aislinn didn’t understand the twist to his words. It was almost—but not quite—mockery. An odd attitude to have when he seemed to want to join those he mocked for the rest of his very long life.

“Apparently Bella and Ronan have gone to the Unseelie Court. It can’t be that bad.”

Gabriel smiled. “Well, there’s no Faemous film crew there.” No. Apparently the film crew the Shadow King had allowed in years ago had been eaten. “And the nobles aren’t as . . . prissy.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Prissy?”

He nodded. “The Unseelie Court is darker and you have to watch your step.”

“So I’ve heard. Magick cast, blood spilled.”

“Sometimes. The magick is stronger, more violent, and held in higher regard. You know that. The laws are different there and you have to be careful. You don’t want to make enemies of some of them.”

Fear niggled. “How are Bella and Ronan?”

“Good. They’ve adjusted to life in the Black. They said to tell you they’re fine, but Bella misses you. They say to tell you they’re happy.”

She studied him for lies. It was what she wanted to hear, of course, and Gabriel seemed the type to tell you what you wanted to hear. But she so wanted to believe what he’d said. She’d lost more than one night’s sleep worrying about her friends. The memory of watching them walk away into Piefferburg Square on Yule Eve, forever banished from Seelie by the Summer Queen, still made her heart ache.

Though the crime that Ronan had committed—taking work from the Phaendir—normally would have held the punishment of death. He’d been lucky. They both had. The Phaendir, a guild of powerful immortal druids, were the sworn enemy of the Sídhe—Seelie and Unseelie alike. Enemy of all the fae races.