You want to believe in black and white, good and evil, heroes that are truly heroic, and villains that are just plain bad, but I’ve learned in the past year that things are rarely so simple. The good guys can do some truly awful things, and the bad guys can sometimes surprise the heck out of you.
This bad guy had seen and captured the very best in my sister. Not just her beauty, but that unique inner light that defined her.
Right before he’d extinguished it.
I found it impossible to understand that no one had been able to describe him to me. He and my sister must have turned heads all over the city, yet no one had even been able to tell me what color his hair was.
It was shimmering copper, streaked with gold, and it fell to his waist. Now, how could people not remember that? He was taller than Barrons and beneath his expensive clothing was the kind of body a man only got from weight lifting and intense self-discipline. He looked to be somewhere around thirty, but could easily have been younger or older; there was a timelessness about him. His skin was tanned gold and smooth. Though he was smiling, his strange copper eyes held the arrogance and entitlement of aristocracy. Now I understood why he’d furnished his home with the extravagant opulence of the Sun King who’d built the palace at Versailles—it fit him like a glove. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to learn he was the king of one of those small foreign countries few people ever heard of. The only thing that marred his perfection was a long scar running down his left cheek, from cheekbone to the corner of his mouth, and it didn’t really mar him at all. It only made him more intriguing.
There were many pictures of them together that had obviously been taken by someone else—yet not one person had been able to describe him to the police, or tell them his name.
Here, they were holding hands and smiling at each other. There they were shopping. Here, they were dancing on top of a table down in the Temple Bar District.
There they were kissing.
The more I looked at the pictures, the harder it was to see this man as a villain. She looked so happy with him and he looked just as happy with her.
I shook my head sharply. She’d thought so, too. She’d believed in him right up to the day she’d called and left me her frantic message: I thought he was helping me, she’d said, but—God, I can’t believe I was so stupid! I thought I was in love with him and he’s one of them, Mac! He’s one of them!
One of who? An Unseelie that could somehow pass for human, duping even a sidhe-seer? I wondered again if such a thing was possible. If he wasn’t Unseelie, what was he, and why would he ally himself with monsters? The man was clearly a consummate actor to have fooled Alina. But she’d found him out in the end. Had she grown suspicious and followed him here? To his home in the Dark Zone, smack in the middle of where my Spidey-sense was getting all kinds of warnings about supernatural danger?
Speaking of supernatural danger, I’d been so intent on investigating the address Alina had sent me to, then gotten so sidetracked by the photos, I’d not realized whatever had push-pulled me in this direction wasn’t even in the house. It was out back, beyond it.
And it was getting stronger.
Way stronger. Like it just had woken up.
I slipped the photos back in their envelopes, stuffed them into an inner pocket of my jacket, and got up. As I hurried through the first floor of the house again, looking for a rear exit, I noticed that there was something really wrong with the mirrors on the walls. So wrong, in fact, that after glancing into the first few, I stopped looking and stepped up my pace sharply. Those surreal-looking glasses were my first taste of the true “otherness” of the Fae. Although some Seelie and Unseelie walk and talk just like we do, we are so not the same species.
I found a back door, let myself out, and headed straight for the half-raised corrugated steel dock door of a warehouse that sat back off the alley about fifty feet behind 1247 LaRuhe. Whatever was pulling me was in there.
I must have been crazy that day is all I can figure. Though I moved with stealth and kept to the side of the entrance, I walked straight in. The temperature plummeted the moment I crossed the threshold and entered the shadowy interior. The building could easily have housed several football fields. It was an old distribution center, with racking systems a good thirty feet high to my left and right, and a central aisle between them, wide enough to drive two delivery trucks down, side by side. The long aisle was littered with plastic-wrapped pallets stacked ten to fifteen feet high that had not yet been unloaded and transferred to the racking. The chipped and scarred concrete was strewn with haphazard piles of wooden crates and forklifts that looked as though they’d been abandoned midlift. Far down the long aisle, I could see a stark, heavy light, and hear voices.