Iced - Page 72/120

I beam at him. I had no idea he thought so highly of me.

Then he’s gone. So is Velvet.

I stand there a little uncertain because Ryodan didn’t telegraph a single intention before he and the Fae disappeared. I’m not even sure who took who. Or if one took off and the other chased. All I know is both of them are gone.

I shift from foot to foot, looking at R’jan and his remaining three cohorts, and he looks at me and I try to think of something to say. Best I come up with is: “So, why are you guys here, anyway?”

“Kill the runt,” R’jan says.

I yank out two candy bars and cram them in my mouth, wrapper and all, and give them a superstrength chew that makes the wrapper explode so I can swallow some chocolate and get a rush fast, because I’ve got no sword and who the feck knows where Ryodan went. I crunch, swallow, spit out the wrappers, and lock down my grid to freeze-frame when all the sudden Ryodan’s back.

He’s standing right in front of R’jan.

“In these streets,” he says so cool-like I almost expire from the sheer coolness of it, “I’m King, Liege, Lord, and Master. You are the ‘it.’ ”

Then he dumps Velvet’s dead body at his feet.


“It’s the hard-knock life”

“You did me a favor. Velvet was an annoyance,” R’jan says. “He spoke too often and too much, saying little of consequence.”

Ryodan looks at the King’s remaining courtiers and says, “I’ll do you three more ‘favors.’ Just say the word. Wrong one or right one. Doesn’t matter to me.”

The courtiers sneer at him. Uneasily. We might have postured for hours and never gotten to the position of strength Ryodan established with a single action. I’m learning from him. I’d never tell him that, though.

R’jan opens his mouth then closes it, not entirely sure Ryodan didn’t just say that he was going to kill the other three courtiers if he said even one more word. Smart dude. I’m not sure Ryodan didn’t mean that, too. How the feck did he kill Velvet? I study the Fae corpse but see no obvious wounds. No cuts or … wait a minute, is that a few drops of blood on his shirt? I sidle left for a better view but Ryodan moves like there’s a tether between us, conveniently blocking it. I got no doubts he left so I wouldn’t know. He’s so fecking secretive!

Does he have my sword somewhere? Did Mac loan him the spear? Never! Obviously he’s got some other weapon that kills Fae, and I want it. The prick. He’s been holding out on me big-time. When I lost my sword he could have given me whatever he just used. I’m so pissed I could spit. He knows how to kill Fae. No wonder he’s so fearless. He’s faster than me, stronger, and has a Fae-killing weapon. I pine for the days I was the biggest, baddest superhero in town!

Abruptly, I got graphic sex images in my brain! I’m hot and uncomfortable in my jeans. Bugger it all! R’jan is a prince, a death-by-sex Fae. He’s the one I sensed muting himself so as not to draw attention to his little entourage, but now that the crap’s hitting the fan, he’s going to use any weapon at his disposal. I guess he figures to mess me up to get to Ryodan.

But R’jan is staring at Ryodan like he expects it to be working on him. Huh? I thought they were hetero and their killer eroticism only worked on the opposite sex. I realize that was a stupid assumption. It’s just that I never saw the Unseelie princes around men and V’lane always kept it muted around humans. There’s no reason, whatever the mechanism, that it wouldn’t work on both genders.

“On your knees, human.” R’jan tosses his golden mane imperiously. “You will crawl before your king.”

Ryodan laughs. “Is that all you’ve got.”

I hang back, listening, not about to get closer. It’s all I can do to not start stripping. Aw, bugger, I am! My coat’s on the ground and I’m pulling up my shirt! I make a sound of protest but it doesn’t come out like that at all.

“Turn it off,” Ryodan says without even looking at me. “You’re distressing Dani. No one distresses Dani but me.”

“I said ‘kneel,’ ” R’jan says, like he can’t believe Ryodan is still standing there.

“And I said ‘fuck you.’ Turn it off or die.”

R’jan cuts it off so suddenly I’m shivering, cold and miserable, like I was just sunning by a pool then got an iceberg dropped on me.

“Why are you here,” Ryodan says.

R’jan says tightly, “What the fuck are you?”

Darn good question. I wonder it myself.

“If you answer me wrong one more time, your death.” He kicks Velvet’s lifeless body.

R’jan grimaces. Unlike Unseelie, Seelie expressions make sense to me. They’re similar to ours, I guess because they’ve spent so much time preying on us. “Something is killing our people.”

“I didn’t know you counted the Unseelie as yours.”

“It has visited … places other than Dublin. It has killed Seelie, too.”

“It’s been in Faery.”

“Twice. How dare an abomination enter our realm? Never has an Unseelie been suffered in Faery!”

The temperature drops and I tense, searching for a shimmer in the air. It was already colder near the church than in the rest of Dublin, but now the pages of the hymnals scattered around the street glisten with a thin sheen of ice. I see Ryodan looking around, too. Snow starts to fall. I realize R’jan’s temper is doing it at the same time Ryodan does. I brush snow off my bare shoulders, then I jerk, embarrassed. I was so riveted by stuff happening that I didn’t realize I’m only wearing my bra. I scoop up my clothes and yank my shirt over my head. I hate Fae.

To R’jan, I say, “Cruce lived in Faery for hundreds of thousands of years and you guys never figured it out. There’s an Unseelie in Faery for you, sitting right next to your queen. Wait!” I snicker. “I forgot. She wasn’t your queen either. She was human. Dudes, stupid much?”

“I will speak with you,” R’jan says to Ryodan, “when you make the runt be silent.”

I puff myself up, waiting for Ryodan’s defense.

“Be quiet, kid.”

I deflate.

“You’re certain it’s Unseelie,” Ryodan says to R’jan.