Wicked Enchantment(6)

By: Anya Bast

There was good reason.

The Phaendir, with the full support of the humans, had created and controlled the borders of Piefferburg with powerful warding. They called it a “resettlement area.”

Piefferburg’s inhabitants called it prison.

If one wanted to be philosophical about it, the fate of the fae was poetic punishment for the horrible fae race wars of the early 1600s that had decimated their population and left them easy prey to their common enemy, the Phaendir. The wars had forced the fae from the underground, and the humans had panicked in the face of the truth—the fae were real.

On top of the wars, a mysterious sickness called Watt syndrome had also befallen them. Some thought the illness had been created by the Phaendir. However it had come about, the result was the same—it had further weakened them.

The two events had been a perfect storm of misfortune, leading to their downfall. When the fae had been at their most vulnerable, the Phaendir had allied with the humans to imprison them in an area of what had then been the New World, founded by a human named Jules Piefferburg.

These days the sects of fae who’d warred in the 1600s had reached an uneasy peace. They were united against the Phaendir because the old human saying was true—the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Aislinn cleared her throat against a sudden rush of emotion. Bella had been the only one in the court who’d carried the weight of Aislinn’s secret. Really, Bella had been more of a sister than a friend. “Come with me. I’ll give you a tour before dinner.”

“Sounds good.”

They walked the length and breadth of the Rose Tower, which was enormous and completely self-sufficient. She showed him all the floors and how they were graduated in terms of court ranking. The higher floors, the floors closest to the queen’s penthouse apartment, were where the purest-blood Seelie Tuatha Dé resided. She showed him the court-yard in the solarium where the families with children lived so they could have yards to play in. The school. The restaurants on premise where the nobles dined. The ballroom, the numerous gathering areas, and the banquet halls.

Most of the residents never really left the building for much beyond shopping or to have a night of dining out. Some of the more adventurous slummed it at a few of Piefferburg’s nightclubs, but the Summer Queen discouraged the Seelie Tuatha Dé from mixing with the trooping fae—those fae who didn’t belong to either court and weren’t wildings or water dwelling.

While social contact with the troop was discouraged, un-chaperoned and unapproved contact with the Unseelie Tuatha Dé was strictly forbidden. Aislinn suspected more of the illicit sort went on than was widely known. After all, she suspected her own mother of it. There was no other way to explain away certain . . . oddities . . . in Aislinn’s magickal abilities.

She and Gabriel ended up at her front door. A good thing, since she wanted her slippers, a cup of hot cocoa, and her own company for the rest of the evening.

Gabriel grabbed her hand before she could snatch it away. “Thank you for spending time with me today,” he murmured in Old Maejian, the words rolling soft and smooth like good whiskey from his tongue. He bent to kiss her hand in the old custom, his gaze fastened on hers. At the last moment, he flipped her hand palm up and laid his lips to her wrist. All the while his thumb stroked her palm back and forth.

That callused rasp in conjunction with his warm, silky lips sent shivers through her. Made her think about his hands and lips on other parts of her body, which made her think of his long, muscled length naked against her between the sheets of her bed.

In a sweaty tangle.

Limbs entwined . . .

Bad incubus. She snatched her hand back.

He stood for a moment, bent over, hand and lips still in kissing position. Then he grinned in a half-mocking, half-mischievous way, straightened, and walked down the corridor, all sex wrapped in black and adorned with a swagger.

She supposed the Summer Queen thought spending time with Gabriel would be good for her after her breakup with Kendal. A little meaningless fling to get her back on the dating horse? But she did not do meaningless flings.

And she was definitely unappreciative of being saddled with a man like Gabriel Mac Braire.