CITY OF FAE
Autora: Pippa DaCosta
Fecha de publicación: 7 de mayo de 2015
Desde el momento en Alina toca a la más caliente superestrella fae de Londres, rompiendo una de las leyes fundadas que protegen a los de su especie, su destino - y los duendes - queda sellado.
Debajo de la tierra, la fae High Queen conspira para reclamar la ciudad como suya y coloca a sus peones, listos para la batalla que se avecinaba. Una batalla que no puede perder, pero hay un pequeño problema - Alina. Existen cuatro guardianes antiguos lo suficientemente poderosos como para mantener a la reina en su prisión. Tres de ellos están muertos. Y uno permanece... lista para defendese, Alina tendrá que sacrificar todo lo que ha llegado a amar.
Esta nueva fantasía urbana para adultos está llena de acción y suspenso y te tendrá anhelando el prohibido romance fae.
Look, but don’t touch.
Touch, but don’t feel.
Feel, but never ever love.
I should have let him die. Had I known what saving him would mean for me, perhaps I would have.
I hugged my bag close and pulled my coat tighter as the train I’d stepped from clattered out of the subway station, blasting me with hot, dry air in its wake. After the day I’d had, I didn’t want to go home; that much I knew. Lingering on the platform, alone but for a few late-night stragglers and a homeless guy slumped on the floor against a billboard, I checked my cell phone: searching for a signal: No notifications. What did I expect? For my boss to e-mail and say he’d made a mistake? That I actually hadn’t just been fired, and that it was an office prank? Ha-ha. Seeing as nobody had gotten in touch with the punch line, I figured I was out of luck, and out of work.
I checked the digital display above the platform: 22:15. Next train in three minutes. While tucking away my cell my gaze lingered on the homeless guy. Something about him gnawed at the part of my thoughts reserved for forgotten things. Steel-buckled boots climbed lean ripped-jeans-clad legs. A long tattered coat covered the rest of him. Expensive, I assumed, from the tailored cut. Clothes designed to be disheveled. His scruffy, unkempt dark hair could have been styled that way. Maybe not homeless, I thought; probably wasted. Recognition darted through my thoughts. Could it be I’d seen him before? Many times in fact. Like any reporter in London, I knew him by reputation. I ambled closer, feigning interest in the billboard. If I could get a good look at his face, I’d know for sure.
A wave of warm air signaled an arriving train, ruffling my coat and rifling through his hair. His eyes popped open. His gaze flicked to me, locking on with ruthless intensity. For the briefest of moments, three distinct coronas ringed his dark pupils, flecked with sharp filings of light. He blinked and his eyes softened to a less dazzling hue. Thousands of fans regularly swooned at the sight of those tricolored eyes. Sovereign, the infamous rock star fae, with a penchant for provoking the press. But this wasn’t right. He shouldn’t be here, slumped alone on a platform. Where was his entourage? Where were the groupies, and hangers-on? I glanced on either side of us. Nobody paid us any attention. My gaze landed on the exit sign, and I considered leaving. I really didn’t have the energy to humor a wasted celebrity, much less one of the toxic fae. Unless . . . unless I could use this, use him. I inched closer still. His eyes tracked me, flitting from head to toe, analyzing, brow pinched with suspicion.
The next train to Leytonstone thundered in and screeched to a jarring halt behind me. My thoughts whirred. His being here could be the break I needed. Clearly something had happened, and given his reputation, whatever it was would be newsworthy. Sovereign’s fans would fall over themselves to read about his latest escapade. Instead of another reporter getting the scoop, it could be—no, it would be—my name on the byline.
“Are you okay?” I crouched down, fumbling with my bag as it tried to slip off my shoulder. “Do you need help?”
His earthy eyes narrowed. His face had the sort of fine angles that would have made him beautiful if not for the hard slash of a smile. Up close, there was no mistaking him. Curiosity fluttered my heart. The notorious London fae had landed in my lap.
His hand shot out from beneath his coat and clamped on mine. A yelp lodged in my throat as a sharp pins-and-needles sensation rushed up my arm. “Hey!” I tugged, but he jerked me closer, almost yanking me off balance and into his lap. The sweet smell of autumn berries—and a darker scent, something lusciously male and intoxicating—filled the air as he whispered against my cheek.
“Help me.” His voice grated, the sound strangled.
“Let me go.” Turning my head, I locked my glare on his. The multifaceted colors were back; green to blue to violet, but beyond that, deeper, something hungry and wild peered back at me.
His grip tightened and he blinked, erasing all traces of what I thought I’d seen. “Not yet.”
“Let. Go.” The fae are quicker, stronger than we are, but it was his touch I feared. Look, but don’t touch . . . The numbness spread to my shoulder, and with it came a gut-churning wave of nausea. I tugged again, but his cool fingers clamped tighter still.
“Just a few seconds more,” he growled.
“Let me go right now or I’ll scream,” I hissed. “And I don’t think you want that kind of attention, do you?”
A muscle twitched in his jaw. “Just help me onto the next train.”
“I don’t care where. They’re too close. I have to . . .” He flinched, and a swathe of numbness wrapped around my arm.
“Sovereign, damn it, let go.” Seconds passed. He searched my face, looking for what I have no idea, but he seemed to find it. His fingers released, and a tingling warmth spilled into the void left by the numbness. I stood, rubbing feeling back into my hand. I could have walked by him the first time I’d seen him. I should have walked away then, for the second time. Or maybe the choice was never mine to make. “Asshole.”
His hard smile twitched. “Nice to meet you.” He held out a fine-fingered hand that hadn’t seen a day’s hard labor in its life. “Help me up.”
“I’m not helping you up. You just assaulted me.” He moved slowly, languidly rolled on his side and onto a knee, as though it pained him. Was he faking it? The fae weren’t like this. They were all catwalk grace and acute control. He looked like he’d been run over by a bus. With a frustrated growl, I clasped his sleeve and pulled. He stumbled to his feet, leaning into me. The Trinity Law was very clear when dealing with the fae. Look, but don’t touch was the first level of protection. I shoved him back and shot him a scowl.
He straightened to his impressive six-foot-plus height, rolled his shoulders to work out the kinks, and checked the platform around us, eyes darting. He fixed his gaze on the exits. Looking for crazed fangirls, perhaps? Commuters filed onto the subway cars, oblivious to my altercation with a fae. Was it fear that had him on high alert? What on earth could spook a fae like him? I found myself checking the exits too; his anxiety contagious.
“You got a problem with the fae?” he asked.
Who didn’t? “No. It’s just . . . I’ve never seen one up close before.” I’d interviewed plenty of their victims, though.
“Congratulations. Now you have.” His sneer was back, masquerading as a smile. He dipped his chin, and those gorgeous eyes widened, three colors blooming. “I’m sorry I forced the touch. Will you accept my apology?”
I snorted. “Save the sweet talk. I know who you are, and I’m not falling for it.”
“Fine.” The magic pooling in his eyes dissipated. “Could you at least help me onto the train?”
This was my chance to wash my hands of him. I could have looked back on the encounter and thanked lady luck I’d walked away. He’d already broken the first law. A woman smarter than I would have told him exactly where to go. But I needed my scoop if I was going to fight for my job and in terms of newsworthiness, he was hot. “Sure.” I tried out my most genial smile and swept my hair back, hoping he didn’t notice my hand tremble. He seemed to buy it. With seconds to spare, the door-closing alarms beeping a warning, we stumbled into the empty train car. He collapsed onto one of the seats, managing to sprawl lean limbs and commandeer as much space as possible. Movement outside the train caught my eye. Three men spilled onto the platform. All tall, slim, quick as whips, with the same fine bone structure and impossibly perfect conformation. But beneath their long coats I caught a glimpse of polished weaponry. Fae daggers and short swords; blades as lethal as their wielders. Only the elite Fae Authority were permitted to carry blades in public. Well, wasn’t this a night full of surprises. They spotted Sovereign and surged toward our car.
“Friends of yours?” I asked.
Sovereign turned and spat a vivid curse. The faces of the FA darkened with intent. One Authority warrior pointed and barked an order, but our train jerked into motion and pulled out, plunging into the tunnel and away from Reign’s pursuers. It didn’t take a genius to figure out he was in trouble. Standing by the closed doors, I ran my gaze over him once more. Usually preened and styled to rugged perfection on TV, his polished persona had tarnished. Dirt, and what looked suspiciously like splashes of blood, stained his clothes. Look, but don’t touch. Not to be trusted, self-centered, manipulative, only after one thing; the touch. That was the fae.
“What’s your name?” he asked, opening his eyes and fixing them once more on me.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Alina. I’m Sovereign.” He said it as though expecting applause.
I arched an eyebrow. “I know.”
A broad self-important smile cruised across his lips. “Reign to my friends.” And he made it sound like an honor to speak his name.
“You have friends?”
“Ooh.” He clenched a hand over his chest and exaggerated a wince. “Sticks and stones.”
A wild little smile curled my lips before I could shoo it away.
“You’re American?” he asked.
“Yeah . . .” I hesitated. I’d lived in London almost a year, and at first I worried my accent might mark me as foreign, but London, with her web of ancient streets and forgotten avenues, embraces lost souls. I was just another anonymous face among thousands.
“American, huh . . .” Reign remarked, holding my gaze as if he could stare me into telling him more. I certainly had no intention of telling him anything I didn’t have to, especially considering he’d touched me and broken the law. He’d obviously been weak, and a weak fae is a dangerous thing.
“Relax,” he drawled, noting my scowl. “I just took a little of your draíocht. It won’t have any lasting effects.” When my scowl pinched into a glare, he frowned. “I didn’t have a choice.” He paused, giving his next words gravitas. “I am in your debt.”
My draíocht; the aura of energy all living things exuded. He pronounced it as dree-ocht, and curled something of an accent into the word, lending it an exotic flavor. The fae needed it to live. It just so happened we had enough for them to tap into, and could replenish our reserves. I shifted from foot to foot. One single touch wouldn’t be enough to cause any lasting damage, if the leaflets and public service announcements were anything to go by, but I still felt peculiar; exposed. A tingling numbness skittered beneath the palm of my hand. Perhaps I could treat this experience like research. I’d written my fair share of fae-victim stories. Well, now I had a little firsthand knowledge. I’d been in the midst of a fae bespellment story when I’d been let go from my internship, and while I had no desire to be this fae’s victim, I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to get closer to him.
“Someone else might not have been so forgiving . . .” I trailed off as he planted both boots on the floor and leaned forward.
His gaze dug deep, seeing through me, into me, sending a flight of tremors beneath my skin. Rocking with the motion of the train he tilted his head and studied me. I glared right back at him. If he thought I was going to wilt underneath that gaze, he was in for a surprise.
“Do you believe in fate?” he asked.
Fate? I could have laughed. I wanted to, if only to ease the unexpected tension. “No.”
“Wait, what? Then why ask?”
“Because there are worse things than fate.”
Okay, was he high? I shook my head and crossed my arms. “Is this something to do with the FA following you?”
Wincing, he snatched his gaze away. “Yeah.” When he eventually faced me again, the intensity had vanished. “If you hadn’t have helped, they’d have found me, and in the condition I was in . . .” He bowed his head, thoughts obviously wandering. This sorry fae specimen, beaten up and soul weary, had the kind of weight on his shoulders that would crush him over time. This wasn’t the Sovereign who exuded sex appeal and played to the cameras. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of him.
“What did you do to upset them?”
“There’s a list.” Lifting his head, he blinked. “A very long list somewhere with my name on it, and the crimes I’ve supposedly committed.”
“Ah, so really you’re innocent.”
His grin was a sly thing, it didn’t reach his eyes. I suspected those wicked smiles, designed to seduce an audience, had no real substance behind them.
“Until proven guilty.”
I could see why some fell over their own feet to know him. He certainly had the looks, and a sharp wit to complete the desirable package. But Sovereign, like all fae, was too dangerous to touch. Too easy to fall for. And before you knew it, you’d broken the Trinity Law and had no hope of escaping him, and no desire to.
As if reading my mind, he asked, “You ever broken the rules, Alina? Maybe done something you shouldn’t have?” He didn’t wait for my reply, but instead gave his head a dismissive shake, “Of course you haven’t. I’ll tell you this for free, American Girl, fate’s a bitch that’ll bite you whether your choices are right or wrong.”
The car groaned and complained as it hurtled down the tracks while I stood, clutching the upright pole, letting his words and their gravity settle around us. He didn’t look much older than me, and yet his words dragged a lifetime of experience behind them.
“Well? What mistakes have you made?” he asked.
I wondered if I should tell the arrogant fae to mind his own business or lead him on, lure him in. It went against my better judgment to lie, even just a little, and yet I had a twitching sense of panic when I considered I’d have to leave him at the next stop. Just how far was I willing to go to discover more about him? Why was he here? What had he done? He watched me, waiting for my reply. At least his eyes were honest. There was something else though. Some niggling sensation, like an itch I couldn’t scratch, or the unsettling sensation of knowing I’d forgotten something important, that I was missing the obvious, as though his being here was significant and I should know why.
His question sidelined, I asked, “Have we met before?”
He leaned back and cast his gaze about the empty car. “Don’t think so. I have a good memory for faces, and yours is new.”
The train slowed with a shudder and the screech of brakes. If I got off at the next station I’d probably never see him again. A tiny jolt of panic skipped my heart a beat. As though sensing it, Reign drew his gaze back to me. That was how the city worked. So many people, so many opportunities. At that very moment, as much as I hated to admit it, I needed him. Maybe there was such a thing as fate. Maybe that was the disjointed sensation crawling beneath my skin. Maybe if I walked away, my career, my life in London, would be over. What if he was the one opportunity to get things back on track? Perhaps more important, could I walk away?
“Are you going to be okay?” I asked, raising my voice over the sound of the grinding train cars.
He flashed what could have been a genuine smile but it didn’t linger long. “Thanks to you.” The train halted. He rocked in his seat, settled back and flicked me a parting salute. “Have a good life, Alina.”
The doors hissed open. This was my stop. And this was good-bye. I smiled a reluctant farewell, wracked my thoughts for an excuse to stay that didn’t make me sound like a desperate reporter, and turned toward the door. A figure blocked my way, so close I could smell the warm leather scent of his coat. Jerking my head up, I recognized telltale tricolored eyes of the fae, but that was where the similarity to Reign ended. These eyes were gray, like thunderclouds, and just as angry. Thin, bloodless lips stretched over sharp fae canines.
“Hey, you wanna move?” I grumbled.
He grabbed my wrists—hands like steel—whirled me around, and shoved me away. “Stay back, girl,” he snarled, fixing his glare on Reign.
“Hey!” Who the hell did he think he was? I considered offloading a verbal assault when he produced a dagger from inside his coat. Curved like a grin, light glanced off the notched blade and sparked in the trail of tiny gems inset into the guard. The train lights flickered, licking off half a dozen daggers and knives strapped flush against his leather-clad body. FA, and clearly not to be screwed with.
The doors shut and the train shuddered into motion.
Reign sprang to his feet and backed down the aisle. Head down, glare up, he smiled and beckoned the fae with a curl of his fingers. “Nice knife, General, but size isn’t everything. Care to impress me?”
The general’s thin lips rippled in a snarl. “Sovereign. By decree of the Fae Authority, I hereby revoke your roaming rights. You will submit, and obey, or deadly force will be employed.”
Reign flipped him off, baiting the general into action. He shot forward, tackled Reign, driving a shoulder into his chest, and rammed him through the closed doors as if they were made of paper. Reign clamped his arms around the general, narrowly avoiding being chewed up between the train cars and spat out onto the tracks. The car shuddered, thundering through the tunnel. Reign brought his knee up somewhere sensitive. The general oomphed over, leaving himself exposed for the elbow Reign thrust into the back of his neck. They fought dirty, up close and personal, snarling and grunting, more like animals than men. This was personal. As the general sprawled forward, Reign pinned him down and drove a fist into his side, but it didn’t seem to have much effect. The general bucked, twisted, and brought the knife around. Reign caught his wrist, blocking the slash before it could cut across his cheek. The fae thrust his head back, cracking his skull against Reign’s chin, whipping the rock star’s head back. I had a hard time tracking their brawl, torn between wincing and watching. The general grappled with Reign and the dagger, shoving the rock star into a window. Glass smashed and tunnel-air ripe with city smells of dust and ozone blasted into the car.
I had to do something. This wasn’t some insignificant brawl. They were out for blood. Someone was going to get killed. “Hey . . .” I couldn’t stand by and watch. “Stop.” Neither paid me any attention. I scanned the car and found the Break This If Serious Shit Happens alarm. Punching through the plastic, I snatched the handle and yanked. Brakes wailed, the car locked, and I went flying down the aisle. Pain blasted through my skull. The sharp coppery taste of blood on my tongue only worsened with the imminent threat of either throwing up or passing out. Through a murky haze, Reign’s outline blurred. Sparks of light flared off sharp edges, growls resounded, but I had no desire to watch. I could maybe take a nap, right there, on the sticky floor of the car. Maybe I wouldn’t even see tomorrow.
A hand scooped my languid body upright onto jellified legs. Without an explanation or warning, we were outside, on the bitter London streets. A bus thundered by, splashing through a puddle, drenching me. I wanted to ask how it was possible we were aboveground, but couldn’t muster the strength to speak.
“Where do you live?” Reign’s colorful eyes were all I could see. So beautiful, like butterfly wings. He gave me a shake and muttered a curse. “Alina . . . Just tell me where; say the words. I can get you home.”
“Mile End.” I mumbled something like an address, possibly mine, and stumbled forward, pitching into him.
In a blink and with the smell of sweet forbidden things briefly raising questions in my head, we were moving again, or were we? The street tilted. Colors bled into one another, yellow streetlight danced with the red taillights of passing cars. Reign’s arms closed around me, drawing me against him. “It’ll be okay . . . You’re safe with me, for a little while,” he said, and I almost believed him. In the next stomach-flipping moment we were standing in the dark, in my tiny apartment, dripping dirty street water onto my floor. An “Oh,” whooshed from my lips before the darkness rushed in.