Iced - Page 71/120

All the sudden Ryodan’s standing one inch away from me, hand under my chin, holding my face up to his. “You’ll never be just anything. A tsunami can never be ‘just’ a wave.”

“Get off my chin.”

“I like that about you. Waves are banal. Tsunamis reshape the Earth. Under the right circumstances, even entire civilizations.”

I blink.

“You’re going to be one hell of a woman one day, Dani.”

I never knew my jaw was flexible enough to hit the pavement. My arms aren’t even long enough to pick it back up. Catch flies in it, my butt, you could drive a truck in my mouth right now. Did Ryodan just, like, compliment me? Has hell frozen over? Are birds flying backward? It makes me so uncomfortable in my own skin, I feel like skinning myself. A three-quarter moon is behind his head, and his face is all shadows. “Fecking-A, dude, I know that. Everybody knows that. I’m the Mega. As in, short for ‘Alpha and O.’ ” I shrug him off me and push past him.

He laughs. “You might have to fight somebody else for that title.”

“Get a move on,” I say crossly. I’m so behind on work I can’t stand it. “You only got me for a limited time tonight. I need to get a Daily out. Folks need to know about the Iceman.” I lock down my grid and slip into freeze-frame.

“You’re going to get the boy killed one day, Dani,” Ryodan says behind me.

“Rot in purgatory, dude. Batman never dies. Dancer won’t either.”

When we arrive at the church, I roll my eyes.

Five Seelie are standing in front of the demolished cathedral, amid rubble, shredded hymn books with pages everywhere like they rained down from heaven, chunks of organ, and miscellaneous debris. “Think my sword’s unfrozen yet?” I say, making a fist around the empty space where my sword hilt should be. I see sifting Fae, and all I can think of is how I don’t have my sword. ’Course, I have that thought pretty much every other second anyway.

“Kid, you’re a broken record.”

“Well, it might be.”

The Seelie are talking, and although they know we’re here, they completely ignore us. I ignore them, too. Despite them being so beautiful I have to pry my eyeballs off their faces. I’m not making the same mistake I made with V’lane. Getting sucked in by how gorgeous they are. Thinking they’re any different than the Unseelie. Just because they’re gold and velvet and iridescent-eyed and hunky. Christian’s hunky too. He keeps dead women by his bed.

I’m feeling major juice coming from at least one of them but they’re muting it. That worries me. Fae don’t mute themselves unless they’re up to no good, trying to pretend to be something they’re not to make us less worried when we should be really, really worried. “Fecking Fae. I wish they’d all just go away.”

“Then what would we do for excitement.”

I snicker. He’s got a point. I pull out my phone and snap a picture of the scene, planning to get my ziplock out next, skirt the fairies and go to work.

All the sudden there’s a disturbance in the air in front of me. It takes a sec for the dust to settle in my brain. One of the Fae just tried to sift over to me to do who-knows-what. Ryodan beat it to its destination and they collided. The Fae looks like a pissed cat, eyes narrowed, spine twitching, iridescent eyes flashing fire. I’ve seen this one in Chester’s. He has a taste for human women and the stupid sheep are nuts about him, with his tight leather pants and open shirts and sleek golden hair and skin.

Ryodan’s standing between it and me, legs spread, arms folded. He’s a mountain. Nothing’s getting past him that he doesn’t want past him. It pisses me off I need him there. With my sword, no Fae would dare bum-rush me! I’m used to more respect than this. This bites.

The Fae says all stiff-like, “His highness does not permit his likeness to be captured in small human boxes. The runt will give me the box.”

Runt? Moi? I’m at least five-foot-three with my tennis shoes on! “I’m not a runt. I’m young and still growing. And we call them cameras, dickhead.”

“Whose highness,” Ryodan says.

“Ours. Yours. All he suffers to live. Give me the box or the runt dies.”

“You just try,” I say. “Better fairies than you have. Worse ones, too. They all tasted delicious. With catsup. And mustard. And a side of onion rings.”

“Should have left it at catsup,” Ryodan says. “Less is more sometimes, kid.” To the Fae, he says, “Queen Aoibheal.”

“Was never our true queen. She is gone. We have a new leader. Our sacred light, King R’jan.”

“The Fae are matriarchal,” Ryodan says.

“Were. We have decided it is time for a new rule. If not for the flaws of a woman, so many of our race would not have died, and still be dying. If not for her idiocy, the abominations would not have been freed. She was not even Fae,” he sneers. “She began her life as one of you! The indignity of it, to have been ruled by a mortal masquerading—”

“Enough, Velvet,” R’jan says. “We do not explain ourselves to humans. Kill the runt and bring me the box.”

“I’m not a runt.” My hand closes where my sword hilt used to be.

“Missing something, runt?” one of the courtiers standing with the new “king” says and they all laugh. Guess everybody has seen the fecking Wanted posters. I take a mental snapshot of its face and mark it for death. Someday, somewhere, fairy.

Velvet was just getting started airing his grievances. “She forced us to grant humans rights to which they were never entitled. No more. It is a new rule. A new age. We are no longer weakened by a weak queen.”

“I said ‘enough,’ ” R’jan says. “If I must tell you again it will be the last thing you hear for ten thousand years. You will not enjoy where you pass them.”

I give R’jan a conspiratorial wink. “You going to give him a ‘time out,’ dude?”

Velvet looks horrified. “If you are fool enough to address King R’jan, you will do it thus and in no other manner! ‘My King, Liege, Lord, and Master, your servant begs you grant it leave to speak.’ ”

“Wow. Totally delusionary there.”

“Good luck with that,” Ryodan says. “She doesn’t beg to speak, or do anything else. You can lock her up, down, and sideways and it’s never going to happen.”