Wicked Enchantment(7)

By: Anya Bast

Sweet Danu, what had the queen thrown her into?


AISLINN shifted uneasily, watching Gabriel come toward her in the ballroom. A hundred other men in the room were dressed in the same style of black wool tuxedo, but none of them wore it like the incubus. His hair was pulled back at his nape, revealing the almost brutally perfect bones of his face and accentuating the deep blue of his eyes.

“Sweet Danu,” Aislinn murmured, taking a sip of her champagne. She jumped, startled, as Carina came up on her side.

“Oh, my goddess,” Carina said, gazing hungrily over the rim of her glass. “Look, he’s coming over here.” She made a low growling sound. “There’s something about a man from the dark side, isn’t there?”

“No, there’s not.”

“I’m so jealous you get to be his guide.”

“You’re not the only one. Think of Drem.”

“Drem doesn’t care how much I drool over other men as long as I come home to him.”

As he cut through the crowd, people seemed to move out of his way by pure instinct. It was odd the way the men seemed to sidestep him. Even the women did, though they might take an appreciative look at him while they moved aside. Was it because he was Unseelie? Was it because he was incubus? Neither explanation seemed right to her, but she couldn’t put her finger on the threat he seemed to unconsciously exude.

Somewhere deep within, Aislinn also had the subtle impulse to get out of his way, despite his attractiveness, and it had nothing to do with the fact that she wanted nothing to do with men at the moment. She pointedly looked away from him as he approached.

“Aislinn,” Gabriel greeted as he came to stand near them. “Carina. You both look beautiful tonight.”

“Thank you,” answered Carina with a simpering smile. Aislinn rolled her eyes.

He motioned with his hands at the thronged room. “So, is this a special occasion?”

“You know well that this is a common event,” Aislinn answered. “We discussed it this afternoon.”

“Yes, that’s right. Weekly, right?”

“Periodically.” Gabriel was ever so lightly mocking again.

“Would you like to dance, Aislinn?”

She hesitated, jaw locking.

“Sure she would,” Carina answered, slipping Aislinn’s champagne glass from her fingers and giving her a “helpful” push forward.

Gabriel slipped his hand around her waist and led her toward the dance floor of the glittering ballroom, where couples already swirled to the traditional music of the Seelie Tuatha Dé Sídhe. They had all danced to the same melodies a millennium ago. These days they were just more refined.

His hand was large, imposingly so, and possessive on her waist as he led her into the crush. He took her hand in his and pulled her much closer than she wanted, though the proximity was proper for the dance. Her breasts swelled above the bodice of her dove gray gown, making her feel naked all of a sudden.

She cleared her throat and tried to get comfortable in his arms. The problem was that she actually was comfortable in his arms. He made her feel safe in a way she didn’t want to examine too closely.

“How are you enjoying the Rose Tower so far?” That was a nice, distant question and she’d even sounded polite. Score point one for her.

“It’s nice and the women are friendly. Not the men, though.”

She gave a short laugh. “That can’t be anything odd for you, an incubus. The men feel threatened.”

“Not in the Black Tower.”

She made a scoffing sound. “I find that hard to believe.”

“I missed you today,” Gabriel said, his voice low and soft near her ear.

She’d been gone all afternoon. “I was volunteering in the ceantar láir. There’s a center there for—”

“Homeless fae. Yes, I know of it.” He smiled a little. “Close your mouth.”

She realized she’d been gaping and snapped her mouth shut. It was hard to believe he knew of the shelter. Aislinn couldn’t think of one Seelie who did. “Sorry. I volunteer there once a week preparing and serving meals.”

“The queen can’t like that much.”