blood of the exiled (witch fairy book 10)

Copyright

 

This book is a work of fiction.
 
Names, characters, places, dialogue and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Copyright ©2013 by Bonnie Humbarger Lamer

 

All rights reserved.

 

No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, scanned or distributed in any printed or electronic form without the express written permission of the copyright holder.

 

Other Titles by Bonnie Lamer

 

The Witch Fairy Series:

 

True of Blood

 

Blood Prophecy

 

Blood Lines

 

Shadow Blood

 

Blood of Half Gods

 

Blood of Destiny

 

Blood of Dragons

 

Blood of Egypt

 

Blood of Retribution

 

True of Blood: Kallen’s Tale

 

Blood Prophecy: Kallen’s Tale

 

Blood Lines: Kallen’s Tale

 

Shadow Blood: Kallen’s Tale

 

Blood of Half Gods: Kallen’s Tale

 

Blood of Destiny: Kallen’s Tale

 

The Eliana Brennan Series:

 

Essence of Re

 

Exposed

 

The Secrets of the Djinn Series:

 

Marked

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For my daughter Jadyn and my son Conor who wanted to know why I hadn’t used their names in a book yet.
 

 

 

 

 

 

I love to hear from fans!
 
Contact me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bonnie-Lamer-Author/129829463748061

 

Chapter 1
.
6

 

Chapter 2
.
15

 

Chapter 3
.
32

 

Chapter 4
.
42

 

Chapter 5
.
51

 

Chapter 6
.
59

 

Chapter 7
.
70

 

Chapter 8
.
72

 

Chapter 9
.
81

 

Chapter 10
.
92

 

Chapter 11
.
100

 

Chapter 12
.
105

 

Chapter 13
.
119

 

Chapter 14
.
129

 

Chapter 15
.
137

 

Chapter 16
.
147

 

Chapter 17
.
151

 

Chapter 18
.
165

 

Chapter 19
.
172

 

Chapter 20
.
175

 

Chapter 21
.
193

 

Chapter 22
.
203

 

Chapter 23
.
206

 

Chapter 24
.
211

 

Chapter 25
.
226

 

Chapter 26
.
232

 

Chapter 27
.
243

 

Chapter 28
.
258

 

Chapter 29
.
263

 

Chapter 30
.
271

 

Chapter 31
.
276

 
 

Tis with heavy heart we shed our skin,

 

Living a lie in a world that is not ours.

 

Tis with heavy heart we don the sheepskin,

 

Living a lie in a world that is not ours.

 

When we are called to judgment for our sins

 

We shall have no other tale to spin.

 

We lived a lie in a world that was not ours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

“I have a proposition for you.”
 
I plop down in the chair in front of Dagda’s desk.
 
His wariness is immediate and with good reason.
 
Usually when I barge in like this, it means I’m bringing news that a disaster of momentous proportions is about to hit the Fairy realm.
 
Again.
 
And it’s usually my fault it’s happening.
 
But that’s not the case today.
 
It does bother me a little I need the disclaimer ‘today’ on that sentence.

 

“Do tell,” he says dryly, sitting back in his desk chair and trying not to look worried, or intrigued.
 

 

“Since I am a Princess in two realms and everyone wants me to act like it, I thought of a way for the passages between this realm and the Human realm to be reopened.”

 

Dagda’s eyes narrow.
 
“The passages between the two realms that you closed forever?” he drawls.
   

 

I’m going to ignore the insinuation that I lied to him.
 
Mostly because I did.
 
Changing the direction of the conversation away from that little time bomb, I continue, “In the Human realm, there are almost two hundred different countries.”

 

Interrupting me, he asks, “Is this to be a Cowan geography lesson?”

 

I give him a sour look before continuing.
 
“Anyway, Humans need to apply for a visa to go to a different country and not everyone who applies gets one.
 
There might be suspicion that they don’t plan to leave once in the country, they’re drug dealers, they have certain felonies on their record, etc.”

 

Dagda blinks at me as if he’s waiting for me to say something earthshattering.
 
When I don’t, he says, “Xandra, other than searching for you, I have not spent time in the Cowan realm for about three hundred of its years.
 
Therefore, I have no idea what a drug dealer or a felony or a record is.
 
Nor do I understand why a person may not freely move from one country to another if all are supposed to be considered equal.”
 
There’s a touch of sarcasm in his voice now.
 
He loves to point out uncomfortable, and often hypocritical, details about my home realm.

 

I think about his question.
 
I could go on forever about why people can and can’t move around freely, good reasons and bad ones.
 
First, my curiosity makes me ask, “You don’t have drug dealers here?”

 

“Are you speaking of apothecaries?”

 

Wow, that’s an ancient term.
 
“We call them pharmacists now but no, that’s not what I mean.
 
You don’t have people who make illegal drugs and try to sell them without getting caught?”

 

“Why would medications be illegal?” he asks, stupefied.
 
“Are there now laws prohibiting the curing of disease and injury in that realm?
 
The last I knew, the Cowans were entering a period of rebirth and the practicing of medicine was becoming an honored profession.”

 

Three hundred years ago, I think people in some areas may have still practiced bloodletting, but I won’t bring that up.
 
Wanting to defend my home realm and my doctor dad, I say, “Modern medicine is phenomenal.
 
Doctors can transplant hearts and other organs from one patient to another, and there are medications for curing most things.
 
Not the biggies like cancer and diabetes, but they’re working on it.”

 

Nonplussed, Dagda asks, “Why would I want someone else’s heart in my body?”

 

We are getting so far away from the reason I came here, I can’t even see it on the horizon.
 
“Because your heart is, for lack of a better word, broken somehow.”

 

“Then why would I not have it healed by a skilled practitioner of medical sciences?”

 

Would it be wrong to reach across the desk and try to slap him out of being so annoying?
 
“Can we get back to why I came here?”

 

Dagda crosses his arms over his chest.
 
“Yes, that would be nice.”

 

Maybe I could make a magical hand to slap him.
 
Twice.
 
I sigh.
 
No, I can’t.
 
Slapping him would not be beneficial to either this conversation or our relationship in general, so I need to stop considering it before I start drawing magic in preparation.
   
“I want Fairies to be able to apply for visas to go to the Human realm if they want.”

 

If his eyebrows go any higher, he’ll be able to dust the ceiling with them.
 
His words are measured and even, though.
 
“You want Fairies to go to the Cowan realm.”

 

I nod.
 
“Yes,” then add, “Well, not all of them.”
  

 

Arms still crossed tightly over his chest, he says, “I suppose it is you who will mete out these ‘visas’?”

 

I shake my head.
 
There is no way I want that responsibility.
 
I don’t know most of the Fairies and might just as easily send a psychopath through as a good Fairy.
 
“No.”

 

It seems like his muscles would get tired keeping his eyebrows aloft for so long.
 
Mine ache in sympathy.
 
“No?
 
Do you have someone else in mind?”
 
‘I know it’s not me’ is clearly implied in his words.
 

 

I shrug in attempted nonchalance.
 
“I thought you’d be too busy to deal with those kinds of details.
 
It seems more like something a… a High Chancellor would be in charge of.”
 
Meaning Isla.

 

He harrumphs.
  
I’ve never heard someone harrumph before.
 
I try not to laugh at the sound.
 
“How considerate of you to be so worried about my time.”

 

I roll my eyes.
 
“Fine, the truth is I don’t exactly trust you to be objective.”

 

He narrows his eyes at me again but he decides not to respond.
 
He knows I have good reason not to trust him when it comes to Humans.
 
“Why have you changed your mind on this subject?”

 

I came prepared for this question.
 
“Because I don’t believe all Fairies hate Humans.
 
Considering how many Fairies have Cowan blood, that must be true.
 
It would be a nice vacation spot for whoever wants to experience the Cowan realm as it is now.”
 
That sounded so much better when I practiced it in my head.
 
It wasn’t as lame.
 
Okay, that’s a lie, it sounded lame in my head, too.
 
I just prefer not to tell him the exact truth.
 

 

Dagda’s brows plummet from the ceiling and so far down his face they could pass as a mustache now.
 
“You know, you’re going to get wrinkle lines if you keep your eyebrows like that,” I tell him.

 

He smiles wryly.
 
“You are full of concern for my wellbeing today.”

 

Exasperated, I say, “Can you blame me for suggesting Isla instead of you?
 
She never had a ‘kill all the Cowans you can’ vendetta.”

 

Dagda clears his throat and sits forward with his hands clasped on the desk.
 
“Tell me why you really want this.”
 

 

Am I that transparent?
 
Yes.
 
I purse my lips, debating what to say.
 
Finally, I just go with the truth.
 
“I have to go back and make sure my grandfather isn’t being controlled by evil Witches again and I want to bring some Fairies with me.”

 

His eyebrows drop farther.
 
They’re low enough to be a beard now.
 
“You mean Alita.”
 
It’s an accusation, not a question.

 

I feel my cheeks redden a little.
 
“Not just Alita.”

 

Dagda is far from pleased.
 
“You want to take from me the one Fairy who can warn me if dark magic is being used against me?
 
After everything that has happened lately?”

 

When he puts it like that, I feel a tiny bit guilty.
 
Not guilty enough to change my mind, though.
 
“The only one to use dark magic against you recently was Tana and she’s not evil anymore.”
 
At least, it seems she’s not.
 
There’s always the possibility for relapse, but Isla could stop her if she did.

 

Tana has been struggling the last few weeks.
 
I’ve been told the desire to do dark magic is like an addiction once you get as involved in it as she was, so she’s basically in rehab right now.
 
I have done a couple of dark spells, but I don’t feel a hunger to do more.
 
Maybe it’s my Angel blood that saves me from getting addicted.
 

 

Even though she’s doing better, Tana hasn’t wanted to see Dagda yet. She can barely stand to be in the same room with me, let alone see the husband who betrayed her to create me.
 
But she’s trying.
 
That’s all we can ask of her.
 
At least, that’s what I keep telling myself when I enter a room and she leaves a minute later with tears in her eyes.

 

Dagda winces at the sound of Tana’s name.
 
“How is she doing?” he asks.

 

I shrug.
 
I have no desire to get involved in their complicated relationship so I deliberately misunderstand his question.
 
“Her hair is growing back.
 
No more oozing sores on her head and she looks younger now.”

 

Exasperated, he says, “I mean her emotional health.
 
I am not concerned with her physical appearance.”
 
Yet there is relief in his voice hearing that she is starting to look less like an old crone and more like her old self.
 

 

Getting up from his desk, Dagda walks to the corner of the room and pours a glass of scotch.
 
He brings it back to the desk and sits down again.
 
Huh.
 
Usually when I’m driving him crazy like this he downs it in one gulp.
 
I admire his self-control today.

 

Once he’s settled again, Dagda steers the conversation back to Fairies and the Cowan realm.
 
“Who else do you expect to bring?”

 

“Just Kegan.”

 

His eyes narrow.
 
“Are you serious about opening the passages or are you only saying that so you may bring your friends with you?”

 

Truth be told, I am terrified at the thought of opening the passages between this realm and my home realm.
 
There are a lot of Fairies who hate Humans.
 
And Witches.
 
But I want to believe they are the minority, that most of the Fairies mean them no harm.
 
If I’m going to live among the Fairies the rest of my life, I need to believe they are good at heart.
 
“I’m willing to put my faith in the Fairies.”
 
I spoil the noble statement by adding, “Maybe they’ll like me better then.”

 

A small, satisfied smile touches Dagda’s lips.
 
“You are taking your status as Princess to heart.”
 
Not exactly what I meant, but sure, let’s go with that.
 

 

Steepling his fingers, he considers me long and hard.
 
Finally, he says, “I do not believe the general population is ready for the realms to be opened at this time.
 
Too many ill feelings have been fostered over the years.”
 
How self-aware of him.
 
He puts a hand up before I can say anything.
 
“I know the fault of that lies heavily on me.
 
I do, however, believe having Alita with you is wise, despite my desire to keep her close.
 
Kegan will also serve as a good backup in case things go awry.”

 

Awry?
 
Maybe I’ll bring back a current thesaurus from my realm.
 
“So, yes to them and no to the visa idea?”
 
I’m not sure how I feel about that.
  
Am I relieved or irritated that he’s shooting down my idea?
 
My emotions are always a mess when I’m around my biological father.

 

“For the time being, yes,” Dagda says.
 
“However, I would like to pursue the idea with Isla and several high ranking members of Fairy society.
 
Perhaps a suitable system could be put in place over time.
 
I would also like you to discuss this with the Witches.
 
The matter should be considered by both sides.”

 

I’m not so sure about that.
 
Modern Witches have been taught to hate Fairies even though they’ve never met any.
 
I was planning to keep the Witches in the dark about the whole idea.
 
Let the Fairies slide in under their radar and what the Witches don’t know won’t hurt them.
 
But Dagda’s right.
 
It would be better to open a line of communication.
 
If the Witches found out about the Fairies and declared war, a lot of Humans could get hurt.

 

Standing up, I say, “I need to get home.
 
There’s still a lot to do for Alita and Kegan’s hand-fasting.”

 

Turning to walk to the door, Dagda stops me by saying my name.
 
I turn back to him.
 
“Thank you for coming to me with this idea.
 
It shows a great deal of maturity on your part that you did not simply do as you pleased and consequences
be
damned.”

 

Did I just get insulted or praised?
 
“You know, backhanded compliments are not really compliments.”

 

Dagda chuckles.
 
“I will see you at the hand-fasting.”

 

Giving him a sour look, I open the door and leave.
 
His continued chuckling is not very mature at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

I immediately regret coming in the kitchen door instead of walking around the house to the terrace.
 
The kitchen is complete chaos.
 
Tabitha is in the middle of it all, barking orders to the Fairies she hired to help cater the hand-fasting tomorrow.
 
I think she’s putting them through a dry run.
 
If so, it’s not going well.

 

I know for a fact Isla had intended to hire a catering company so Tabitha could enjoy the festivities, but the older Fairy took offense.
 
She claimed the food from the caterer’s is ‘nothing but Taz droppings covered in sauce’.
 
Taz was insulted.
 
It’s a good thing I’m the only one who understands him.

 

A Fairy carrying a large pot from the sink to the stove bumps into me and half the water spills on me and the rest splashes to the floor.
 
Being as graceful as I am, I immediately join the water as my foot slides forward and my butt hits the floor hard.
 
Wow, that hurts.
 
I guess I didn’t really need my tail bone but there were probably less painful ways to get rid of it.
 

 

The entire kitchen quiets.
 
The Fairy holding the pot is horrified, and apparently struck dumb because her lips are moving but no sound is coming out of them.
 
I’d feel badly for her if my butt didn’t hurt.
 
Good thing I can heal myself, which I do.

 

“Oh, for pity’s sake,” Tabitha says drawing magic and drying the floor around me.
 
“It’s not the first time her bottom has hit the floor, and it won’t be the last.
 
Get back to work, the lot of you.”
 
Her compassion overwhelms me.
 
It seems Tabitha’s patience has worn as thin as the wing of a gnat.
 
I need to make a hasty escape before things get worse.

 

“B-but,” the Fairy who spilled the water stutters.
 
“She is the
Princess
.”

 

I roll my eyes as I stand up, wishing for the millionth time that I could do simple magic.
 
I am in serious need of dry pants.
 

It’s
fine,” I assure her.

 

“Are you sure your brain didn’t get scrambled?” an annoying voice says from the doorway.

 

I glare at him.
 
“Shut it, Taz.”
 
Of course, the uncomfortable ‘look away from the crazy Princess’ feeling spreads around the room.
 
The Fairy population is having trouble believing Taz is my familiar.
 
The ones who do tend to focus on the fact that he was created with dark magic.
 
Not my dark magic, but that doesn’t seem to matter.
 
Either way, it doesn’t look good for my mental health.

 

Tabitha points a wooden spoon at him.
 
“Unless you want to be on the menu, you had better get out of my kitchen while I’m cooking.”

 

“Geez, someone has a bee in her bum,” Taz mumbles, but he turns and walks out of the kitchen.
 
Tabitha is the one Fairy he seems to respect.
 
Probably because she sneaks him treats when no one else is looking.

 

“You scoot, too,” Tabitha tells me.
 
“We do not need you getting in the way.”

 

Geez, she does have a bee in her bum.
 
“Fine,” I grumble and make my way to the door, weaving between the Fairies who have gone back to work but are careful to steer clear of me.

 

The rest of the house is quiet as I move down the hall.
 
I wonder where everyone is.
 
I walk through the large living room and out to the terrace.
 
This is where I find everyone.

 

Kegan, Kallen, Alita and Isla are on the beach getting ready for the hand-fasting tomorrow.
 
Decorations are being put up, some with magic, some without.
 
A makeshift aisle has been laid out on the sand and chairs are appearing on either side of it.
 
The magic is coming from a small group of workers who Isla hired.
 
They will have to hold that magic inside of them until after the ceremony.
 
That takes a lot of concentration.
 
Fortunately, there are Fairies who rent themselves, or technically their magic, out for special occasions like this.
 

 

Not wanting to get in the way again, I lean against the door jamb and watch.
 
Feeling my eyes on him, Kallen looks up at me.
 
A grin spreads across his lips and he stops talking, much to the chagrin of Isla.
 
Taking the terrace steps two at a time, he grabs me around the waist and swings me up so our lips can meet.
 
God, I love him.

 

Hacking sounds bring our kiss to an end.
 
“Must you do that in front of me?” Taz asks.
 
“Now I may not be able to eat again today.”
 
Kallen’s foot snakes out and Taz has to move out of the way to avoid getting kicked.
 
Kallen may not understand him when he speaks, but he can usually figure out the gist of what Taz says by my reaction to it.

 

Setting me down on the terrace, Kallen asks, “How did it go with Dagda?”

 

I shrug.
 
“Okay, I guess.
 
He’s going to think about the visa thing, but he’s okay with Alita and Kegan coming with us.
 
If they still want to, anyway.”
 
I turn to look at the two of them.
 
Kegan has his arm loosely around Alita’s shoulder and his eyes are dopey with love and anticipation.
 
I’ve never seen Alita look so alive and happy.
 
Is it fair of me to ask them to spend their honeymoon with us in the Human realm?
 
They say they want to go, but that may change after the ceremony.
 
Privacy will be high on their priority list and I’m not sure how much privacy they will get if they come with Kallen and me.
 
I don’t know how much Kallen and I will get, either.
 
I can’t wait for this trip to be over.

 

The biggest problem is that I haven’t met a Witch who I liked besides my mother.
 
My grandma doesn’t count because she’s actually an Angel.
 
My only knowledge of the Witches is that they wanted me dead and they tried really hard to achieve that goal.
 
Granted, I took magic away from the most dangerous members of my grandfather’s Witan, but my guess is, he has replaced them with Witches who are equally as bad.
 
He’s such a weenie.
 
I still have no idea what made my grandmother
Fall
for him.
 
Literally.
 
Her last seventeen years as a Fallen Angel were hell for her as his mind was taken over by the evil Witches he surrounded himself with.
 
They basically lived separate lives after my mother ran away when they tried to force her to abort me.
 
Yeah, I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy about seeing good ole Grandpa again.

 

“Are you two
planning
to help or just stand there gawking at each other?” Kegan asks dryly.

 

“Hey,” I exclaim, “We’ve been helping.”
 
I spent the early part of the morning working on ribbons and flowers with Alita.
 
She wanted to use the flowers from her mother’s garden so we had to arrange them ourselves.
 
She showed me how to gather the plants and make bouquets.
 
My thumb is more brown than green when it comes to gardening and flowers, so I’m glad she didn’t ask me to do it alone, and that the bouquets were simple in design.
 
“Besides, you seem to spend an awful lot of your time gawking at your intended.”
 
Alita’s cheeks burn bright red.
 

 

“Yes, but we are supposed to be enamored of each other.
 
You two were hand-fasted ages ago; you should be tiring of each other by now.”
 

 

Before Kallen or I can come back with a witty retort, Alita elbows him in the ribs and narrows her eyes.
 
“Is that how you see happiness within hand-fasting?
 
It has a shelf life?”

 

With an overly pained look on his face, Kegan rubs at his side.
 
“I did not say
we
would tire of each other,” he backpedals.

 

“You’re lucky you found someone as tolerant as Alita.
 
No one else would put up with your crap,” I tease.

 

“He is lucky indeed,” a deep voice says from behind us.
 
I turn to find Alita’s dad coming out on the terrace.
 
He is all smiles.
 

 

Alita’s dad is rather short for a Fairy.
 
He’s not much taller than me.
 
Alita got her tall, lithe figure from her mother who towers over her father by a good five inches.
 
Neither of them seems to care about the height difference, though.
 
Their love for each other is legendary.
 
Alita’s father is the only Fairy who brought his Human love into the Fairy realm with him when the passages were closed the first time.
 

 

Their love may be legendary, but it’s not widely accepted.
 
The whole family has taken a lot of grief due to Fairy society prejudices against Humans.
 
Her parents don’t seem to care about that, either.
 
It’s been harder on Alita than them.

 

Kegan smiles self-consciously at his soon to be father-in-law.
 
“Yes, sir, I am very lucky.”
 
His face is redder than I’ve ever seen it.
 
If any more blood goes to his face, he’ll need a towel to wipe off the excess seeping out his pores.

 

Taking pity on him, Alita’s father moves the conversation in a different direction.
 
“I see everything is coming together nicely.
 
What can I help with?”

 

Still at a loss, Kegan looks to Isla for an answer.
 
She takes her cue, even though I know for a fact she has everything taken care of already, and says, “There are several things that still need to be done.
 
It would be a pleasure to have your help completing them.”
 
Wow, who is this woman with the pleasant smile on her face and warm personality?
 
I may need to postpone the trip to search for the real Isla.

 

Having just joined us on the terrace, Garren gives Alita’s father a friendly slap on the back.
  
“Flynn, good to see you!
 
It has been ages.”

 

I feel Kallen stiffen a little as Garren speaks.
 
He still hasn’t warmed up to the Fairy.
 
I, on the other hand, believe he has everything to do with Isla’s more pleasant demeanor of late so I’m a fan.
 
Kegan and I think he’s making midnight visits to Isla’s room.
 
Kallen shudders at the thought so we bring it up
often
, ignoring the fact that if it’s true, it makes her a major hypocrite about the whole ‘wait until you’re married’ thing.
 
Maybe the same rules don’t apply for widows with old boyfriends?
 
Whatever.
 
I like her happy.

 

“Garren, have you left the Dragon realm for good?” Flynn asks.

 

With a glance in Isla’s direction, Garren says, “I have.
 
I do miss it, though.
 
The Dragons are going through a metamorphosis in regards to Goblins and that would be something worth studying.”

 

Isla’s face becomes impassive as she says, “Perhaps you should return.
 
I am certain the Dragons would welcome you back regardless of the circumstances under which you left.”
 
Is she insane?
 
They’d cook him with their fire and eat him as a snack.
 

 

Garren smiles wide and the corners of his green eyes show the slightest hint of crow’s feet.
 
“I prefer studying in depth the fiercest Dragon in this realm.”
 
Isla’s face hardens as her cheeks flush.
 
I think she may be too embarrassed, and angry, to speak, but Garren just laughs.
 
I never said he was a smart Fairy.

 

Okay, this awkward conversation is making my molars hurt.
 
“Um, can we get back to talking about wedding stuff?
 
Your Dragon innuendoes are making us all uncomfortable.”

 

Kallen and Kegan both try to cover their chuckles with coughs.
 
Even Flynn has to cover up his laugh with a loud cough.
 
It sounds like there’s a breakout of tuberculosis on the terrace.

 

This is one of those times that I wish I had a filter between my brain and my tongue.
 
Isla glowers at me for a moment before turning on her heels.
 
Garren, already in the dog house for his own comments, shakes his head and follows after her.
 
He’s
will need to do some major sucking up for the both of us.

 

Taking her father’s arm and leading him into the house, Alita says, “Father, as Isla said there are things inside needing to be done.
 
Come, I will show you.”
 
Still chuckling, Kegan follows after them.

 

Kallen puts his arm around my shoulders and pulls me close.
 
His teasing voice low and sexy, he says, “You, my love, have an amazing talent for getting rid of people.
 
You know, if you wanted some time alone with me, you could have just said so.
 
I will always oblige you in that request.”
 

 

I look up at my beautiful husband.
 
His green eyes are sparkling with humor and his black hair is windblown, begging me tame it with my fingers.
 
Or mess it up even more.
 
“What can I say, I have skills.”

 

He glances to where Garren is trying to cajole Isla out of her bad mood.
 
It doesn’t seem to be going well.
 
He winces and says, “I think the two of them can handle things out here.”

 

“Coward,” I tease.

 

“I prefer to think of it as self-preservation.”

 

I shake my head.
 
“Semantics.”

 

“Care for a walk on the beach before things get too crazy around here?” he asks.

 

A quick glance in Isla’s direction tells me that Garren is still far from appeasing her.
 
Tabitha tells me it’s been a long time since anyone dared tease her like Garren does.
 
Maybe with time and a strong appetite for punishment, he’ll eventually get her to take things less seriously.

 

Slipping out from under his arm and placing my hand in his, I say, “Sure.”
  

 

We stay out of firing range as we ease past the arguing couple.
 
We don’t want to end up being scapegoats.
 
When we are well away from the house, I say, “Do you think Alita and Kegan really want to come with us, or did they say yes because they felt obligated?”

 

Kallen shrugs.
 
“From what I can tell, they both seem excited about going.”

 

“Maybe we should postpone the trip until after they’ve had a proper honeymoon.”

 

As usual, Kallen sees right through me.
 
“You mean use them as an excuse to put off this trip that you do not want to take?”

 

I sigh.
 
“Why didn’t I marry a stupid Fairy?”

 

Kallen chuckles.
 
“Because you would have become bored with him before you even made it to the hand-fasting.”

 

True, but I’m not going to admit it.
 
“I don’t know, sometimes good looks can be enough.”

 

“Was that your way of saying you would like me to throw you in the ocean with the jelly fish?”

 

I laugh.
 
“Absolutely not.
 
My jelly fish sting last week was excruciating.”

 

He chuckles again.
 
“I am sure it was for the entire twenty seconds it took you to heal yourself.”

 

“Twenty
long
seconds,” I clarify.
 

 

He nods.
 
“I am sure they were.”

 

“Seriously, are we asking too much of Kegan and Alita?
 
I want them to go, but they deserve a honeymoon.”

 

“Kegan would not hesitate to tell us if that was the case.
 
You have offered them an opportunity to visit a realm that has not been open to them before.
 
I believe you are underestimating their curiosity and excitement.”

 

“Dagda wasn’t thrilled about losing Alita.”

 

Kallen shrugs.
 
“Whether it is because she is in the Cowan realm or taking what you call a ‘proper honeymoon’, she will still be absent from the palace.”

 

I hadn’t thought about it that way.
 
“True.”

 

We walk in a comfortable silence for a while.
 
The day is beautiful and the air is cool, but not cold.
 
It’s just right.

 

Feigning innocence, Kallen says, “Have I shown you my favorite spot in the forest?”

 

I narrow my eyes at him.
 
“You seem to have a lot of ‘favorite’ spots.
 
I think you’re just trying to get me to follow you into the woods so you can take advantage of me.”

 

He shrugs.
 
“I suppose you could take advantage of me.”

 

I laugh but it is so tempting.
 
“The last time we tried making out in the woods some kids found us.”
 
Though, it wasn’t random.
 
They were actually following us.

 

“I cannot sense anyone close to us,” he says, already leading me away from the shore to the forest that lines it.
 
“I will be extra vigilant.”

 

“If you can still think about other people then I’m not taking advantage of you properly,” I purr.
 
He growls low in his throat and pulls me into a mind-blowing kiss.
 
We haven’t even made it past the first line of trees.
 

 

When he growls again, it’s not due to passion.
 
Dragging his lips from mine, he looks over my head at something.
 
Or someone, I suppose, since the back of my mind is vibrating as it picks up on the power and magic the person holds.
 
I turn to look for myself and am startled to find Adriel walking towards us.
 
Recovering quickly, I rush to her and give her a hug, almost knocking her down.
 
“What are you doing here?” I ask when I finally let her go.
 
“When did you get back?”
 
She and Raziel had gone on an ‘exploring our feelings for each other’ trip, though that’s not what they called it.
 
Maybe they didn’t like what they found?

 

My heart plummets and a frown tugs at my lips.
 
“Nothing is wrong, right?
 
You and Raziel are still together?”

 

Her expression is nothing less than haughty when she says, “Of course we are still together, and very much in love.”

 

I feel badly now for jumping to conclusions.
 
“I just didn’t expect you back so soon,” I say lamely.

 

Pushing through the awkwardness I’ve created, she says, “I have come to accompany you on your journey to the Cowan realm.
 
Raziel insists upon it.”

 

Now I frown in confusion.
 
“Is he going?”

 

She shakes her head.
 
“He says he cannot.
 
Only I may go with you.”
 
I can see she’s not thrilled about going without him.
 

 

“It’s the whole omniscient thing, isn’t it?
 
He’s afraid he’ll say or do something that changes things?”

 

“Yes,” she says with a frustrated sigh. She has an eternity ahead of her dealing with such things.

 

I hook my arm in hers and give Kallen a ‘come on’ gesture with my head.
 
If he looked any more disappointed, he’d make a kid who dropped his ice cream cone in the dirt look ecstatic.
 
I’m disappointed as well, but hopefully I’m hiding it better.
 
I was really looking forward to taking advantage of him in the forest.

 

In an effort to make her feel better, I say to Adriel, “You can be as bitchy to the Witches as you want while we’re there.
 
I’m sure at least one of them is planning to kill me, if not all of them.”

 

“Well, there is that,” Adriel says, sounding a little happier.
 
I’m not sure if it’s because she can be bitchy or because someone may try to kill me.
 
I’m going to assume it was the former.

 

“Has Raziel accompanied you here?” Kallen asks, trying not to sound as if he’d rather eat a dung beetle than see the Fallen Archangel again.
 
He’s going to need more practice before it actually works.

 

“Yes, of course,” Adriel says as if Kallen’s an idiot.
 
The reason I like Adriel so much?
 
She makes my snark seem almost non-existent.
 
Okay, maybe that’s not the main reason.
 
She has also been a good friend and has had my back on several occasions that could’ve gone terribly wrong without her help.
 

 

“Fantastic,” Kallen grumps, his mood sour now.
 
I scowl at him.

 

“Yes, he feels quite the same way about you,” Adriel says.
 
“You were not quite friendly to him during the whole body swapping debacle.”

 

Whoa, this conversation is going to spiral out of control in another second or two.
 
“Kallen, stop being such a grump.
 
Raziel is a nice guy and there’s no reason for you two not to like each other.”
 
I get that it’s hard for him to be around the person I was originally meant to spend eternity with, and I would probably feel the same way in his shoes.
 
I’ll keep that to myself and hope he’s a better person than I am.
 

 

A hundred yards from the house, I can see someone napping on the hammock that Isla recently had installed on the terrace.
 
I immediately sense it is Raziel even though I cannot see any of his features from here.
 
Some part of me is still tuned to him and I guess it always will be.
 
By the way he rouses and turns his eyes in our
direction,
I guess the same is true for him.
 
Or he just knew exactly when we’d be coming since he’s omniscient.