creepy hollow 02 - faerie princeRachel Morgan
The Faerie Prince
Copyright © 2013 Rachel Morgan
Cover Design by Morgan Media
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or, if real, used fictitiously.
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Kindle Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9921863-4-0
Smashwords Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9921863-5-7
Print ISBN: 978-0-9921863-3-3
TABLE OF CONTENTS
About the Author
You are my sunshine.
Every night I watch the same window on Draven Avenue. I keep my distance, and I never watch from the same place or at exactly the same time. Creepy, I know, but I have my reasons. I watch that window because I want to be the first one to know if he comes home. I want to see what kind of person he’s become since he broke my heart. I want to sense for myself the power he has, and I want to see him use it. And, yes, I want to see him.
Mr. Draven Avenue.
It’s not as though I want him back. I mean, the guy handed me over to a prince of the Unseelie Court—I’m not exactly hoping for a happily ever after here. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what I’m hoping for. Maybe I want to look into his eyes and ask him why he did it. Or maybe I just want to kick his ass.
I lean back on the porch swing, relaxing into the swaying motion. The people who live in this house have gone to bed, so there’s no one awake to wonder why a swing might move on its own. Across the road and to the right I can see Nate’s window. Always in darkness.
A twig snaps somewhere to my left, and I bring the swing to a quick standstill, my heart thumping a little faster than normal. It’s nothing more sinister than a cat, though, inching carefully across the grass in its attempt to stalk something. I want to laugh at myself for being so paranoid, but I know I have a good reason for being on edge: Zell might still be after me.
I raise my hand and cover a yawn. I had an assignment earlier this evening, and tomorrow’s a normal day of training at the Guild, so I should probably put my obsessiveness aside for the night and get home to bed. I reach for my stylus—and freeze.
I see a light. In Nate’s room. Hovering, dancing, fading in and out. In a second I’m on my feet—but the light is gone. I bite my lip. What should I do? I haven’t been inside his room since the night he betrayed me. It would be a stupid move given the strong possibility that Zell is magically monitoring Nate’s home in case I show up there. On the other hand, Flint did put protective spells around the house, so shouldn’t I be safe inside it? But I don’t know what kind of spells he used, and who or what they were meant to keep out.
The light flickers again before vanishing once more. I slide my stylus out of my boot and open a doorway to the faerie paths. Home, or Nate’s bedroom? I roll my eyes as I step into the darkness. Right, like there was ever a chance I’d just ignore that light.
My stomach does strange things when I step out of the doorway on Nate’s wall and into his moonlit bedroom. I remember being here with him so clearly. The large bed, the couches around the television, schoolwork piled on his desk—everything looks the same. That ache in my chest that I thought had disappeared is back again. As much as I want to kick Nate’s ass, a part of me just wants to feel his embrace and hear his easy laughter.
Pathetic, I know.
As I pad across Nate’s carpeted floor, my eyes peeled for the dancing light, I get a crazy sense of déjà vu. This is kind of like the night I met him. I was waiting here in the semi-darkness for the reptiscilla while a boy I didn’t know slept at his desk, oblivious to the fact that his whole world was about to change.
I pull one of his cupboards open, but there’s no light hiding in there. A backpack slides forward and I push it back inside, pausing to look at the initials sewn into the fabric. N. A. C. Nathaniel . . . something, something. It strikes me then just how little I know about Nate. I don’t even know his last name.
My head swings toward the sound at the window, my hands up and in position to use my bow and arrow. It’s the hazy ball of light again, hovering just outside the window, bumping the glass before flitting away.
I stride over and pull the window up. The light bounces amongst the roses in the garden below. I step up onto the windowsill and jump down, bending my knees to absorb the impact as my feet hit the grass. I straighten—and hear movement behind me. Without hesitation I draw my leg up and kick backward. My foot connects with something soft.
I spin around to see who it is, but something hits my ankle and trips me up. I roll as I hit the ground, trying to get away from whoever ambushed me. I jump to my feet, then duck as a swarm of bees zoom toward my face. I divert them with a gust of wind and send flames licking across the grass toward my attacker. He’s a faerie: shorter than average; green and blonde hair; smart clothes. He jumps over the flames and crashes into me. I stagger back against a bush as he wraps his hands around my neck. I jerk my knee up and hit him where I know it’ll hurt most. As he doubles over in pain, clutching his groin, I spin him around and hold one of my glittering guardian knives against his neck.
“Who are you and what do you want?” I demand.
“You’re practically a fully trained guardian and you fell for the will-o’-the-wisp trick?” Despite the pain he’s clearly in, he manages to laugh. “Disappointing.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, you’re the one with a knife to your neck,” I say. “That’s the only thing you should be disappointed about right now.”
He grabs my arms at his neck, but a flame forms along the blade of my knife, searing his skin. He gasps in pain.
“Tell me,” I say through gritted teeth. “Are you working for Zell? Did he send you here to get me?”
“He wants you,” the faerie says. “I’ve b
een waiting here every night for you, Violet.”
“Well, you’re not very observant,” I tell him, “because I’ve been here every night too. Tell Zell to send someone with actual skills next time if he really wants me.” And with that I kick the faerie away from me, adding enough magical force to send him sprawling into the bushes at the other end of the garden. I hurriedly scribble a doorway into the grass at my feet. Green sparks flash toward me, but I drop down into the black hole of the faerie paths just in time to avoid them.
The darkness is complete. It’s as if I’m standing on nothing, seeing nothing, hearing nothing. I relax and imagine my home. After a moment, the darkness peels away and a doorway of light forms in front of me. I step into my kitchen to find Filigree—in his new favorite form, the miniature pig—standing on the table pushing nixles around with his snout. He appears to be organizing the tiny roasted bugs into piles according to color. I guess he didn’t like it when I bought the ‘assorted’ bag last time I went shopping.
After patting Filigree’s pink head, I walk upstairs. I change out of my assignment clothes, but keep my trainee pendant around my neck. After my narrow escape from Zell’s dungeon, I did some research into the protective charms embedded in these pendants. Turns out one of the charms protects against the magical summoning of whoever wears the pendant. I never take it off anymore.
I sit on the edge of my bed and absently comb my hand through the black and purple tangles of my hair. Before I can go to sleep there’s one last thing I have to do. I close my eyes and extend my mind. My thoughts spread out like fingers, brushing past thousands of other minds in my search for just one. I should be able to find him easily, even without holding an object that belonged to him.
But there’s nothing. Just like I couldn’t sense Calla when she was trapped in Zell’s magically secured dungeon, I can’t sense Nate anymore. He doesn’t want to be found.
I wake the next morning with a feeling of unease curling in my stomach. I roll onto my back and stare at the enchanted skylight, watching yellow sunbeams filter through the topmost branches of the tree that conceals my home. It’s Friday. Just a regular Friday. Nothing important scheduled. So why do I feel like I’m forgetting something? Why do I feel like . . .
I sit up in a sudden panic as it hits me.
Somewhere in between breaking the Guild’s most important rule and having my heart crushed by my first and only boyfriend, I became just like every other guardian trainee: I forgot to do my homework. First. Time. Ever. I’ve always been that annoying person who finishes a written assignment at least two days before the due date. Until this morning, when my brain decided to remind me that we were given a project during my one week suspension. The due date?
Two and a half hours from now, to be exact.
I hurry back to my table in the Guild’s library with another pile of books in my arms. Catching my foot on the chair leg, I send the books sliding across the table. “Oh, come on!” I kick the chair back, plop myself down, and grab the nearest book.
“Stop freaking out, Vi,” Honey says from across the table. “This is completely normal for just about everyone else in our class. Did you see Aria and Jasmine over there?” I nod without removing my eyes from the page in front of me. “And do they look stressed out?”
I glance up. Aria is reading a message on her amber, her chair tilted so far back she must be using magic to keep from crashing to the floor, and Jasmine is staring into space. I return my gaze to the textbook. “Somehow, I don’t exactly find that comforting, Honey.”
“Okay, bad example,” she says, pulling her own amber out of her pocket. She giggles at whatever message is waiting for her—probably from her boyfriend—and reaches for her stylus to reply.
I scan the page in front of me, seeing nothing. What am I looking for again? Oh, right, using kelpie hair as an ingredient in—
“Attention, fifth years.” I look up and see Amon, the head librarian, poking his head out of his office. “I’ve just received a message from one of your mentors.” He takes a scrap of paper from the sprite sitting on his shoulder and looks at it. “You are to assemble in lesson room four after you’ve handed in your written projects. Someone will be talking to you about your final assignments.”
Honey wiggles her eyebrows at me and grins. “Ooh, our final assignments. Exciting! Everyone’s been talking about who they’re going to be paired with and where they’ll be sent.”
“Yeah, I’m sure they have.” And I’ve been trying not to think about how a disastrous pairing could ruin my already slim chance of graduating at the top of my class.
“Oh, Tina wants to talk to me,” Honey says, examining her amber once more. “I’ll see you downstairs.” She grabs her bag from under the table and heads out to wherever her mentor is.
I raise my eyes to the enchanted sundial on the wall over the library door. Two hours left.
I skim through pages and scribble down important facts in what I hope are coherent sentences. Hushed voices and the occasional ripple of laughter fade into the background of my thoughts. Right now it’s just me and the mundane facts of kelpies and their hair. Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t do this project when I was calm—I probably would have fallen asleep. I reach the required length of the report, sit back, and read through the whole thing, making use of the vanish and replace spell far more than I usually have to.
Half an hour left.
With a glance toward Amon’s office—he doesn’t approve of magic in the library—I sweep my hand across the table and watch the scattered books pile themselves neatly on top of one another. I push my chair back and head for the row where I found them.
It takes several minutes, but eventually I’m kneeling on the floor pushing the last book back into its place on the lowest shelf. I’m about to stand when a snort of laughter disturbs the quiet. I tilt A Collection of Magical Water Creatures forward and peek through a gap between two books on the other side of the shelf. Dale and Rush, two fellow fifth years, are sitting on the floor reading a piece of paper that, for some reason, has the ability to send them into hysterics. Or it could be a blank page coupled with the effects of some kind of giggling potion. Dale is enough of an idiot to sample just about anything in a bottle, and Rush isn’t far behind him.
A book slides into the gap and blocks my view. “What’s going on? You guys been sampling Aria’s happy cookies again?”
And that would be Ryn. My ex-friend, ex-enemy, current ‘sort of friend’. Although, that last part hasn’t exactly been working out so well. A few days after we narrowly escaped Zell’s dungeon, Ryn brought his little sister Calla over so she could give me a thank-you-for-saving-me-from-the-bad-faerie letter she’d written herself. That was followed by some awkward conversation—probably due to the fact that Ryn was trying to be nice, a skill he has yet to master—after which they left. Two weeks later and, other than the glare I received when I tried to speak to him during training, we’ve had no further contact.
I’m still trying to figure out whether I should be disappointed or relieved.
“The third years have been copying us,” Rush says. There’s a rustle of paper. “See? Guys have started writing hot lists and passing them around. And look who’s at the top of this one.”
“Does that say Tora?” Ryn asks.
“Yes!” Dale says with a hoot.
Tora? My mentor? I swallow, feeling more than a little grossed out.
“So what?” Ryn says. “She’s kind of hot.”
“But she’s a mentor,” Dale says. “She’s probably, like, four hundred years old. It’s creepy.”
Creepy, yes. Four hundred years old? Not even close.
I’m about to head back to my desk when Rush says, “Well, my hot list is in definite need of an update. Did you see Violet last time she was in the Fish Bowl? Man, she has definitely moved into slot number one on my list.”
ww! Okay, I am now officially grossed out.
“Of course I saw her,” Dale says, all trace of laughter now gone from his voice. He was the one inside the Fish Bowl with me—and I greatly enjoyed kicking his butt.
Rush laughs. “Oh, yeah, I remember. I guess you can’t see past your bruised ego to her super hotness, can you?”
As much as their conversation disgusts me, I have to admit there’s a teeny, tiny part of me that’s flattered to be included on someone’s hot list. If only it wasn’t Rush. I lean back against the shelf, wondering if Nate thinks I’m super hot—or if he thinks of me at all.
“What about you, Ryn?” Rush asks.
I feel the shelf move slightly against my back as Ryn says, “You know I don’t give a goblin’s fuzzy ass about your hot lists.”
“Yeah, didn’t you know, Rush?” Dale says. “No one here is good enough for Ryn.”
“Exactly,” Ryn says. “Why settle for a giggling girl when you can have a real woman?”
“Ha! A real woman?” Rush says. “Is that what you call the crazy Underground beings you hang out with at Poisyn?”
Okay, now I definitely don’t need to hear any more. I push myself up.
“I thought I should remind you two that you haven’t handed your assignments in yet,” Ryn says to his friends.
Crap, I haven’t handed mine in either. I give Dale and Rush a few seconds to get up and out of their row before I hurry forward—and come face-to-face with Ryn.
“Eavesdropping again, Pixie Sticks?” he asks.
I fold my arms over my chest. “I believe I have a right to eavesdrop on conversations that include me.”
A sly smile creeps across his face. “And did you like what you heard?”
I hesitate a moment before saying, “No comment.”
He laughs, shakes his head, and turns to leave.
“Wait,” I say before I can stop myself.
He glances over his shoulder before saying, “Yeah?” It infuriates me how unconcerned he looks.