Kit stood in the corridor facing a small private garden with a hedge maze. She wore voluminous folds of golden brown taffeta, and as when she was in the Realm before, her clothes took up most of her concentration. She heard a cough, and turned to see Tali approaching. Tali wore a modest blue and white beaded jacket over white jeans.
“You look very proper,” Tali said, gesturing to Kit’s robes. “Your own design?”
“I copied one off a mannequin. The designers are all vying for the right to clothe me. I’m hoping my celebrity status will wear off in time. It makes me nervous to have everyone looking at me.”
“I’m glad you’re here.” Tali bowed deeply, which also made Kit uncomfortable, but she was getting used to it. Tali was bowing to the robe, to the senndil of Yseulta, not to Kit herself. “And it’s kind of you to honor our clan’s designers by wearing their gowns.”
“How are you feeling?” Kit asked, gently. She stepped closer, less than a hand’s span away from Tali. If they had been on earth, she would have offered a hug, but here in the Realm, she was trying to get used to the Clan Faerie concepts of personal space.
“I feel wrung out, more than anything. Does anyone else here know?” Tali asked.
“Elder Elsos knows Faco is dead, but not who did it.”
“Good. They hated me for not giving Faco what he wanted. They blamed me for his exile. They will surely not love me for knowing that I caused his death.”
“You were the only one who ever decapitated him. Shouldn’t there be an award for that?”
“Morales has claimed the victory. Let him have it.” Tali’s jeans became blue, and her shoes came off. “I’m waking. Will you come home soon?”
“Yes. We’re packing up tonight. I won’t miss the opening.”
“Good. I promised Morales I’d bring friends.”
Tali looked down at her fading clothes, and vanished. Kit turned away and walked slowly down the corridor, letting herself be seen. That was the condition Elder Elsos had asked of her. She had to dream herself here. Clan Cypress had Yseulta’s senndil as its guest, and she got to live in the dying lands. She kept her face blank and walked slowly, counting faces. When she reached fifty, she let go, and fell out of the dream.
When she woke up, she was lying in a sleeping bag. The sunlight streaming through the tent fabric above her gave a greenish glow to Fenwick’s fur. He lay on his belly, snoring gently, each breath causing the bulk of his pelt to rise and fall.
She reached for her phone and turned it on to check what time it was. She had emails from Jackie, and photos too.
“Third day. Think you’re gonna be human again today?”
Fenwick opened one eye and made a rumbling sound in his throat.
“I figured you were faking it. Hungry?”
Fenwick shook his head, which confirmed her suspicion that he was ready to change back into a human. She was glad they hadn’t gone on the cruise after all. If he had turned into a bear in their tiny stateroom, and they had to manufacture reasons for the crew to not come in…it wouldn’t have been much of a honeymoon. Besides, judging by the drunken text messages Kit had received, Jackie and Vax were having an excellent time at sea.
They packed up later that afternoon, once Fenwick had returned to human form, and made it back just in time to shower and change for the event that Tali assured them they couldn’t miss.
That night, Kit wore a summer dress that showed off sunburned and bug-bitten shoulders, and Fenwick wore khaki shorts that revealed his Nordic pallor (bear fur is an excellent sun screen.)
“What’s the place called again?” Fenwick asked. They had a navigator, but Fenwick refused to use it because it would violate some hidden guy code about getting directions. They had started in the University district, but they were already a mile south of campus and still the numbers didn’t match.
“Barcelona. Jackie says it’s a Cuban/Spanish fusion place.”
“Never heard of it.”
“This is its opening night. She says there’s dancing, too,” Kit said, with an optimistic lilt in her voice. Fenwick could occasionally be coaxed into dancing with her. The new restaurant was in a hidden strip mall behind an empty warehouse. The parking lot was cracked and worn, but the glass of the front windows sparkled with red and gold light from a dozen hanging glass votive holders.
Inside, the restaurant contained many small tables which had been pushed against the wall to create a dance floor in the middle. Garlic and wine and seafood odors mingled with the smell of perfume and rum. The music was so loud that she didn’t realize it was live until there was a pause and a drumroll on bongas as they introduced the singer. The crowd clapped and cheered.
As Fenwick stood in line to get their name down for a table, Jackie came running up, trailing Vax behind her. They were both suntanned, and Jackie was wearing a new skirt. She looked like she’d got a head start on the drinking, and held a half-full glass in her hand.
“Kit! You’re here! You have to try the—” she turned back to Vax.” What was this called? The one with the rum.”
“Go to the bar. Tell him to make you the one with the rum. It’s awesome! Try it. I wanna dance.” She handed Kit her glass and dragged Vax back out to the dance floor. The singer had begun another number. Jackie and Vax held each other with the ease of lovers, and danced beautifully. Kit smiled. Maybe Vax wasn’t such a douchebag after all, if he could make Jackie happy.
Kit wound her way to the bar. The bartender looked familiar, but it wasn’t until he turned towards he that she recognized Morales. He looked different. He was smiling. His face had lost a lot of its tension and worry, and he looked a little taller, since his shoulders weren’t hunched up by his ears. He’d been laughing and flirting with a couple of women at one end of the bar, but after they tipped him, he turned back towards Kit.
Morales did a doubletake when he saw her at the bar, and his smile went from genuine to guarded. “Melbourne.”
“Jackie told me to ask for ‘the drink with the rum’.”
Morales pulled a glass down from the shelf and filled it with ice. “Glad to hear you’re back from your honeymoon. Rumors are still flying that you were murdered.” He poured the contents of several bottles into a shaker.
“My presence at the Guild House tomorrow should mitigate that.”
Morales strained the drink into the glass of ice.
“Tali and I talk. Councilman Albers has been asking me for details, but if you want to keep your cover story, I’ll lie for you.” She laid cash on the counter.
“You don’t need to lie for me. I’m not a killer, and I don’t care who knows it.” Morales dropped a sprig of mint in her glass and gave her change, which she ignored. “I’m a bartender now. It’s a good gig for a vampire.”
Kit was saved from having to say something to that when a suntanned woman leaned across the bar and kissed Morales on the mouth. Kit turned away and sipped the rum cocktail as she scanned the room for Fenwick. The music was picking up, and she was in the mood for a dance.
Thank you for reading FAERIE KILLER, book four of the Kit Melbourne novels. To purchase this book in paperback, click here. To purchase this book as an ebook, click here for kindle or here for smashwords. If you would like links to the first three novels, or to my chicken comic (now available in paperback) click here.
Thanks for reading!