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Authors: Shannon Mayer

Dark Fae

BOOK: Dark Fae
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Dark Fae

 

“Who so loves believes the impossible.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

 

1

 

“I’m sorry. Quinn, please believe me that I thought I was doing what was best for Ashling.
What you asked of me!

I kept my back to Bres, unwilling to look him in the eye.
How could he think
he could
possibly know what was best for Ashling?
She was my sister first.
I’d been the one to chase away her nightmares, to sit at the table after school
,
and help her with her homework
,
and to comfort her on Darcy’s bad days.
He’d only just found out
she was his half sister
;
there was no way
he could possibly care for her as much as I did.

We were waiting on the edge of the Banshee Queen’s bower while
Fianna
attended to Luke. My hands clenched
,
along with my stomach.
It seemed that everyone around me was doomed to some horrible death or suffering, and the guilt
sat heavy on me making me feel as though I was a plague on those I loved.
The worst part was that I couldn’t save either Ashling or Luke,
and
there was nothing I could do to heal the wounds I was causing by being the “Chosen” one. I didn’t have the ability that Ashling did. Glancing at the entry way to the bower,
I was grabbed by
another twist of fear.
The last view I’d had of
Luke
was one that left little doubt as to the deadliness of the poison coursing through his system. His blue eyes were dull, barely grey now
,
che
eks sunken, and
he had
skin the shade of bread dough.

I wished that Lir was with us.
But he had gone, left me alone with Bres, and all those feelings swirling between us. I understood that Lir had a job to do,
responsibilities
that required his attention. Making an attempt to wake the old gods to face Chaos was no small task;
it was
one that had to be done. That didn’t mean I wasn’t still wishing Lir was at my side instead of Bres.
At the very least
,
his presence would take the strain off me
in
trying to ignore Bres while secretly wanting to throttle him. Not to mention that I felt safe with Lir
;
for the first time in my life
,
I had a parent who cared for me.
I snapped off a branch of huckleberries, the tiny red fruit vibrant against the all
-
green bush. Plucking them
off
one at a time
,
I popped them in my mouth, as if I had nothing better in the world to do

“I’m busy, leave me alone
,

I said between bites
of the tart, red fruit
.

“Quinn, look at me.” His Irish brogue was more than a little tempting
, my body swaying towards his voice
,
and I hated that it drew me in.
I glanced over my shoulder.

“You made yourself very clear before.” I couldn’t stop the flush that lit up my face
.
N
o
doubt I was bright red. Without knowing what I’d been doing
,
I
had
Called Bres in a dream, and all but thrown myself at him. To be fair, I thought he had feelings for me, but after what he’d said
,
I knew that I’d only been fooling myself.

His words reverberated through my head.

I can’t save you both
.

It’s Ashling or you
.

You’ll kill her.

Bres’ lips tightened and he looked straight up into the treetops, the muscles in his neck flexing. As he spoke
,
he looked away from the trees and back to me. “I said those things because of what
I saw, what Chaos
showed me. I saw ta battle between you and Ashling. I saw you take her head. I know it was in ta future, but I didn’t want to believe. That’s why I said what I said. How could I protect her from you if I . . .” He shook his head.

Anger, hurt
,
and more anger flared up. “If you what?” I stalked towards him, feeling my power rise up under my skin. “You thought you’d treat me like crap and that would make it easier for you? You thought that if you beat me down with your words I wouldn’t be able to
stand against you
?” He started to speak
,
but I went on, not giving him a chance. “You thought that I would be able to kill her? Yeah, awesome. Goes to show how well you know me
,
and her. Ashling knows I won’t hurt her. It’s the rest of the world that’s trying to kill us
, not each other
.”

Bres didn’t back up as I’d advanced on him
,
and I was toe to toe with him. “You know, you had a lot to say before.” I said, “
W
hat’s the matter now?”

“I was wrong
.
Chaos has fooled us all, and me
.
I’ve lost my chance with ta one person I wanted ta most.
” His voice lowered
,
and with it
,
his head
a
s if he was going to kiss me.

The slap seemed to surprise us both. His head snapped to the side, a trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth spraying out. My hand stung, tingling all over.

You have to remember that you are stronger now, Quinn.
Cora
whispered to me from the back of my mind
. M
y grandmother
ha
d
been a
five
-
foot
-
long snake
when we’d met,
because of a curse
. S
he’d
died
protecting me
;
then I’d almost died
,
and
when
I’d come back from the other side
it was
with her as
my
guide.
The whole relationship
was weird, but it worked.

He probably is sorry.

“He probably should be
,

I said under my breath. The whisper of bushes parted and the low hum of voices pulled my attention around.

Fianna
, the Banshee Queen
,
stood across from me
, her l
ong white hair
floating on some unseen breeze,
as
her
deep soulful brown eyes
,
as wide as any dee
r’s
,
look
ed
us up
and down
. I pulled myself together
and
walked away from Bres.

“How is he?” I asked.

She shook her head. “He has a very short time. The poison is different than the Banshee poison you were infected with. Aednat w
as very old, very
powerful
. T
he toxin from her bite is beyond fierce
.”

“Can’t we Call someone? Someone who can Heal? Ashling
H
ealed me through the mirror, we could do the same for Luke
,

I said, already wondering wher
e the closest mirror might be.

“It is not so simple, Quinn.” She spread her hands out in front of her, the
spider web
woven skirt she wore billowing with the slight movement. “This poison that he carries with
in
him, you cannot heal. We can only make him comfortable
until the end
.”

Her words didn’t really register. Not right away.
Because it wasn’t possible that Luke wouldn’t get better.
He was my friend and
maybe even something more,
something I was only just beginning to appreciate. He loved me more than I loved him
,
but I
had been
trying to catch up
, had thought I would have time to
,
n
ot to mention that I needed his help. Without him, how would we convince Nuadha and the Tuatha to help me? There was no way they’d trust Bres, and I was an interloper. Luke was the key to making that happen.

Bres’ hands rested on my shoulders from behind
.
I wanted to fling them off
,
but
I suddenly had no strength in me.


Fianna
, I don’t understand.
What do you mean we just make him comfortable
until the end
?
” My mind refused to see what she was saying,
balked at the truth they were trying to show me.

You know what she is saying, Luke is –
I blocked Cora out
,
shut her down before those words slipped through my mind.

Fianna
stepped forward. “You should go see him, before it is too late.”

Like
in
a dream
,
I stepped forward, the words settling on me like weights
,
wrapp
ing
around my neck, squeezing the air out of me. Everything around me slowed down
:
my movements,
even
the air
.

M
y eyes focused on Luke, laying prone, his eyes closed.
I waited for him to breath
e
,
and
counted the seconds
.
I
started to panic when I got to thirty, then forty. I dropped to my knees
,
and it was
as
if the impact of my body hitting the ground reminded him to draw breath
,
a
deep rattling, wet breath that smelled sour, like
poorly fermented wine
,
and vomit
.

I took his hands in mine, shocked at how cold they were. “Blankets, don’t you have any blankets for him?” I asked, looking up to see
Fianna
and Bres staring down at me.

She shook her head. “Feel his face.”

Laying his hands on his stomach, I slipped my hands up to his face
,
and quickly snatched them back. He was literally burning up, though he showed no signs of it
anywhere else
. His face was paler than before, without a hint of colour.
 

BOOK: Dark Fae
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