Bride of Fae (Tethers) (5 page)

BOOK: Bride of Fae (Tethers)
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She was beside a stand of leafless wild lilac covered with woody buds. Nothing felt familiar. She leaned against an ash tree and picked straw-like grass out of her miniskirt and her ruined pantyhose.

This was a nature preserve-ish area, and the stand of lilac bordered a walking path. Wherever she was, it was a lovely day, the sky cloudless and warm. If only her head wasn’t killing her.

man’s voice sounded too far distant to make out the words but the tone was pleasant. Sane. Happy. Not likely an axe murderer. Even better, he was answered by a woman’s easy flirtatious laugh.

path toward the voices led to a marvelous expansive park. Four people dressed in Victorian costume were having a picnic beside a small lake. One of the guys wore a straw hat with a blue band and a blue and mustard scarf draped loosely over his shoulders. His short black hair was cut to the nape of his neck, and he had a thin dark mustache. He was familiar, but Beverly couldn’t place him.

The other guy’s head was bare, his loose brown hair parted in the center. Of the two men, he appeared less uptight, but his outfit was rather formal for a picnic. A black top hat lay on the ground beside him.

The girls’ hair, piled on their heads, cascaded down their backs in complicated designs. Peacock feathers were worked into the blonde’s tresses. The thought of all that hair piled on her head made Beverly’s headache worse. Peacock girl drew a bottle of wine from a wicker basket and handed it to straw hat guy.

They must be actors rehearsing a scene. Beverly
kept herself hidden in the foliage.

“Fae magic and wyrding magic are not the same,” the blonde said. She was pretty, with large
round eyes and pink cheeks. There was something odd about her. “Wyrders
magic. Fairies

“How droll.” The straw hatter poured wine into the brunette girl’s glass. She was
drug-addict thin, but she had a healthy complexion. Her dark hair was a mass of braids.

“Ignore Sarumen,”
the sitting top hat guy said to peacock girl. “You’re a veritable Encyclopedia Britannica of fairies, Miss Pengrith. Do go on.”

Beverly examined the standing straw hat guy more closely. That was it. He looked like George. He had the same self-satisfaction, at all events. An actor! A cousin who couldn’t pass muster at law school.

“Thank you, Lord Tintagos,” Miss Pengrith said to the top hat guy. “Fairies cast spells in a thoughtless and natural way. They want something to happen, and it happens. Ask a fairy
but how did you do it?
Even if she wanted to tell you, she couldn’t.”

Lord Tintagos
. One of Lord Dumnos’s titles. The earl’s son would be called Lord Tintagos, if he had one, but he’d never married. They must be making a historical film. Beverly looked around for any cameras and crew.

The Lord Tintagos actor said, “Please, Miss Pengrith. I do wish you’d call me Donall.”

“Bausiney is right, Lydia,” Sarumen said. “The usual formalities are entirely out of place here in this
idyll.” He pointed his glass at each in turn. “Lydia. Gwen. Donall. And your humble servant, Charles.” He bowed.

“But what about the wyrders?” Gwen, the thin girl, said. “How could the fae wipe them out? Can’t anyone learn to be a wyrder?”

Beverly noticed something odd about the girls. For all their elaborate costumes, they wore no makeup.

“The fae didn’t end the wyrding folk,” Lydia said. “The monks did. The church went after the wyrders when they refused to give up their pagan practices.”

“The competition.” Charles nodded. “Priests with their bread and wine versus the wyrding women with their hawthorn and glamour dust.”

“You must know, Lydia,” Donall said. “What’s the difference between fairy dust and glamour dust?

The Donall actor was pouring it on a bit thick. Were men ever that slavish, even in Victorian times?

“Glamour dust is made from the ash of a yew tree,” she said. “It takes a powerful wyrder to spell the dust and turn it into something magical. Fairy dust isn’t made by a spell. It’s magical in its own right. Fairies carry it in their small pouches.”

“Small pouches?” Charles said. “Do they have large pouches too?”

“Fairies wear two pouches on their belts for carrying things. The small pouch is for everyday things like jewels and fairy dust. Hidey pouches are for big things, heavy things. A fairy could tuck a longbow and quiver into his hidey pouch along with the portrait of the first Lord Dumnos. It would be as if they’d turned to air until he pulled them out again.”

“I could have used a hidey pouch for the picnic basket,” Donall said.

“But the fairy dust,” Gwen said. “Where does it come from?”

“The fae burn branches of the moonstick tree until they turn to ash, and that’s your fairy dust. Fairies use it for all sorts of spells.”

“Moonstick tree?”

“A magical tree that grows in the faewood. Only the goblins know how to find it.”

“Goblins now!” Charles said.

“Do go on, Lydia,” said Donall. “I think it’s a marvelous story.”

He was a very good actor or he was truly in love with the actress playing Lydia Pengrith. It wasn’t so clear how she felt about him.

“The goblins are master craftsmen,” Lydia said. “They prefer to work with metals—gold, silver, bronze, copper—but they will build with wood of high quality. They use moonstick wood for decoration. The trees capture light from the moon and stars, and the wood reflects that light for a thousand years before it fades. The queen of the fairies wears a crown made of moonstick. Her throne is embedded with moonstick and dazzles all who gaze upon it.”

“How do you know all this?” Gwen asked.

“Gwen, don’t you know?” Charles said. “Lydia is a secret wyrding woman.”

Gwen and the men laughed.

“I wish it were true.” Gwen sighed. “I wish fairies were real.”

“They are!” Lydia and Donall said at the same time.

“You sound quite convinced, my lord.” Lydia smiled indulgently at Donall. “So you believe in fairies? Were you enchanted on Mischief Night?”

“I don’t believe, Lydia. I know.” Donall stared into his glass, quiet for a few moments, as if debating whether to go on. “I’ve seen them.”

Charles and Gwen laughed at the joke, but not Lydia. She eagerly reached for Donall’s hand, then caught herself and pulled back. She was a good actress too. She had the Victorian manner just right. The propriety. The taboo against touching a member of the opposite sex.

“Everyone says they’ve seen fairies.” Charles groaned. “But no one can ever prove it.”

“I can,” Donall said. “Last week on Mischief Night I encountered a party of fairies dancing on the roof at Faeview.”

“How romantic,” Gwen said.

“And your proof?”

“One left something behind,” Donall said. “It would amaze you. A cup made of hand-blown glass, embedded with jewels. I have it still.”

That’s it!
Beverly thought. She was right—these were actors, but not for a film. They must be rehearsing a play for the hundred year anniversary of the cup. With so much dialogue about fairies, she should have guessed it straight away.

She knew about the cup
, though she’d never seen it. It was so famous it had a name,
Bausiney’s Abundance
. In a hundred years, it had never left Bausiney’s End.

The ancient cup’s true provenance was a mystery, but by the official story it was left on Faeview’s rooftop by drunken fairies one Mischief Night. It had been named
Bausiney’s Abundance
well before Faeview was nicknamed
Bausiney’s End

“Clever man.” Lydia touched
Lord Tintagos’s hand. “I’d love to see it…Donall.”

There was a glint of movement behind the actors, and Beverly almost gasped aloud. A man hidden in the vegetation was watching them. Perhaps the director, but Beverly thought not. He was focused on Donall, and his eyes burned with hatred.

“When we go to Faeview I’ll show you,” Donall said. “I have it locked in a glass case with a steel frame of non-Dumnos iron and salt lining the border.”

“Impressive method,” Lydia said.

“Prescribed by my little sisters’ nanny,” Donall said. “I wanted to add a perimeter of holy cake crumbs, but she said that would be overkill. And would draw mice.”

The more the picnickers went on about fairies and wyrders, the less
their chit-chat sounded like dialogue from a script. If the man in the brush was the director, he should call cut. But he wasn’t paying attention to the actors any longer. He was staring at Beverly.

He was gorgeous. Dark chestnut hair covered his shoulders, and his muscular arms were bare. Beautiful. But intense and a little terrifying. She had to get out of here. Now.

She backed away from the tree and turned—and ran into the director’s broad chest. “Oh!” escaped her mouth just as he
clapped his hand over it. This was all too fantastical. She had to be dreaming—or she’d fallen into Wonderland.

“What are you doing here?” he demanded in a quiet hiss. He had dazzling—glittering—green eyes. Excitement ripped through her gut. She’d seen eyes like that before.

“Are you spying on me?” His voice’s low rumble calmed her despite the intensity and obvious fury on his face. He was vibrant and masculine. His skin was perfect. He looked young, but he felt eternal.

An angel
The word flitted through Beverly’s mind. He was like her guardian angel from the wreck, only this one was undeniably sexually hot. Great gods. Her heart pounded, and she had to fight to breathe. She was dead. She’d fallen from the cliff and hit the rocks. Did hearts pound and lungs breathe in death?

“Did Idris send you?”
The dark angel pulled her close.

What kind of heaven—or hell—was this? She scrunched her eyebrows. He couldn’t expect her to answer with his hand
on her mouth.

“Did you hear that?” Lydia Pengrith’s earthly, human voice broke in from the clearing. “Someone’s there in the trees.”

Beverly strained against the angel’s grip and grunted, making what noise she could. The actors would save her!

In the air
over the angel’s shoulders, glittering ginger-brown curtains appeared and spread out. They enveloped Beverly and the angel.

No. Not curtains. Wings? The same sick feeling
crept over her as when she’d fallen through Igdrasil. The angel removed his hand from her mouth and held her to his chest. “I have you,” he said.

Not a whisper or a threat. A promise.
A vow. A pledge that in his arms she was utterly safe. She’d cry with relief if she weren’t dead.

And then she was somewhere else. Again.

They were indoors. In a room. Or in a cave? A mud hut—there were windows. The floor was dirt ground, albeit swept clean and with throw rugs covering most of it. A cheerful fire crackled in the fireplace. A wooden rocking chair by the fire glimmered with more radiance than the firelight could produce.

What had Lydia said?
Their thrones are embedded with moonstick and dazzle all who gaze upon them.

“You can
return to Idris at once,” her captor said. “Tell him I’m no threat. I’ve turned solitary.” He ran a finger over her cheek and looked into her eyes. He raised one eyebrow and squinted. “Hmm.” He blew a puff of air in her face.

She started to feel insulted
but then realized her headache was gone.

Who are you?”
What was he?
She could fall into his gaze and never come out again. All of a sudden, free love didn’t seem such a bad idea. She wanted to do all sorts of things to this guy, angel or not, and she wanted him to do all sorts of things to her.

“Wait a minute,” he said. He stepped away and examined her from head to toe then squatted down and grabbed her knees.

“Hey, what are you doing?”

“Has Cissa seen this?” He picked at her pantyhose,
pulled the nylon away from her thigh and let it snap back against the skin. “This isn’t glimmermist.”

He sniffed at her legs—or the stockings; she wasn’t sure which. Her body responded with instant heat. This was quickly becoming a very sexy death—or dream, but it felt so real.

She twisted out of his grip. “I don’t know any Cissa.”

He let her go and stood up. He towered over her by at least a foot, and he was truly gorgeous.
. The word kept popping into her mind. His manners, on the other hand, were appalling.

He touched the hollow in her throat. Her skin tingled under the pressure, and warmth spread through her body. He said, “Where is your tether?”

“What are you talking about?” Without thinking, she touched his bare arm. She wanted to kiss him. She couldn’t be dead. A dream then, but so real. Surreal. He’d eaten some funny brownies. Or she had.

took in the room’s rounded walls, the rugs on the dirt floor, the perfect fire and the two round windows. Both had window boxes
on the inside
jammed with flowers in full bloom. Primroses, snowdrops, Dutch iris. All out of season. The door was made of wood, also rounded. Something smelled wonderful, like spiced cookies baking. His biceps was rock hard with muscle.

BOOK: Bride of Fae (Tethers)
2.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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