I collected my paper-bag purse, stuck the awful glasses back on my nose, pulled my ball cap down as low as it would go, turned out the lights, and locked up.
The air was warm, the sky streaked with the orange and crimson of a magnificent sunset when I stepped from the building. It was going to be a beautiful midsummer’s eve in Dublin. Alina’s place and Barrons’ were on opposite ends of the busy Temple Bar District, but I didn’t mind that I had to push through crowds of festive pub-goers to get back to the bookstore. I might not be happy myself, but it was kind of nice to see others who were. It made me feel more optimistic about my own chances.
As I hurried down the cobbled streets, not a single person spared me a glance. I was pleased with my invisibility, and determinedly tuning out my increasingly alien and depressing world by tuning in to my iPod. I was listening to one of my favorite one-hit wonders, “Laid,” by James—this bed is on fire with passionate love, the neighbors complain about the noises above, but she only comes when she’s on top—when I saw it.
I wanted to fuck the moment I laid eyes on it.
I told you before, cusswords don’t come easily to me, especially not that particular one, so you can see the measure of the Fae’s impact that the word marched into my mind and assumed immediate control of the front. Ego and superego were dispatched with a single swift, killing blow and in swaggered my new ruler—that primitive little hedonistic bastard, the id.
I was instantly wet, hot, and slippery in my panties, every cell ripe and swollen with need. My breasts and loins plumped just from looking at it; grew soft, fuller, heavier. The friction of my nipples against my bra was suddenly an unthinkable sexual torture device, my panties more binding than ropes and chains, and I needed desperately to have something between my legs, pounding into me, cramming me full inside. I needed friction. I needed thick, hot, long, rough friction pushing in and pulling out. Pushing in and pulling out, over and over, oh God, please, I needed something! Nothing else would stop my pain, nothing else would satisfy my sole purpose in life—to fuck.
My clothes were an offense to my skin. I needed them off. I grabbed the bottom of my T-shirt and began to pull it over my head.
The breeze on my naked skin startled me. I froze, my shirt half over my face.
What in the world was I doing?
My sister was dead. Buried and rotting in a grave outside the church we’d gone to since we were children. The church we’d both dreamed of one day getting married in. She never would.
Because of a Fae, I had no doubt. After the events of the past few days I was certain one or several of them had been responsible for her brutal murder. For ripping and tearing into her with their teeth and claws, and for God only knew what else they’d done to her. No, the coroner hadn’t found semen inside her, but what he had found inside her, he’d not been able to explain. Most of the time I tried not to think about it too much.
“I don’t think so,” I hissed, yanking my shirt back down. I took advantage of that moment to pluck the ear buds from my ears as well. Listening to James sing about obsessive-compulsive sex was proving the equivalent of tossing gas on an open flame. “Whatever it is you’re doing to me, you can just turn it off. It’s a waste of your time.”
“It is nothing I do, sidhe-seer,” it said. “It is what I am. I am every erotic dream you’ve ever had and a thousand more you’ve never thought of. I am sex that will turn you inside out and burn you down to ashes.” It smiled. “And if I choose, I can make you whole again.”
Its voice was deep, rich, and melodic and had all the impact of a soft, sensual suckling at my swollen nipples. The erotic inferno began to rage inside me again. I backed away, straight into the window of the pub behind me. I pressed against it, shivering.
Alina is dead because of one of these things. I clung to that thought like a lifeboat.
The Fae stood in the middle of the cobbled street, fifteen to twenty feet away from me, making no move to approach farther. Cars were prohibited in this part of the district and those pedestrians crossing the street were detouring placidly around it without giving it a second glance.
Nor was anyone looking at me, which I wouldn’t have found particularly interesting except that I had my T-shirt up again and was flashing the world my favorite pink lace push-up bra as well as most of my breasts. Inhaling sharply, I yanked my shirt back down.
Even today, after all that I’ve seen, I couldn’t begin to describe V’lane, prince of the Tuatha Dé Danaan. There are some things that are simply too immense, too rich to be contained in words. This is the best I can offer: imagine a tall, powerful, mighty archangel, frighteningly male, terrifyingly beautiful. Then paint him the most exquisite shades of chestnut, bronze, and gold you can possibly imagine. Give him a mane shimmering with strands of cinnamon gilded by sunlight, skin of tawny velvet, and eyes of liquid amber, kissed by molten gold.