“You can’t follow me around all day, Tiernan,” I huffed. “And this makes no damn sense! A bunch of fairies are not trying to kill me. Why would they want to?”
“Why would someone want to murder your mother?” He asked simply.
“You know about that?” I gaped at him.
“I looked into you before I came to San Francisco,” he admitted.
“Because—” he blinked and then cleared his throat. “Because I need to know who I’m working with.”
“You had no idea you’d be working with me,” I pointed out.
“Stop dodging the question,” he shot back. “Someone sent those pukas after your mother and now I think they’re coming for you.”
“But this isn’t about me; this is about Aideen and what she knows.” I shook my head.
“Perhaps,” he conceded, “but you play a part; I’m sure of it. I can feel it; like an itch just below my skin.”
“Oh, I hate those itches,” I groaned. “You scratch and scratch and nothing helps.” I glanced over and saw him giving me an exasperated look. “I know you’re not being literal. I was just trying for some levity.”
“Next time you should try harder.” He grimaced. “Or not at all.”
“Wonderful.” I rolled my eyes. “Thanks for the tip, Legolas.”
“Do not make Lord of the Rings jokes with me,” he said seriously. “We Fey, hate that.”
“You shouldn’t have told me that.” I grinned. “Bad move, Harry Potter.”
“I don’t understand that reference.” He frowned.
“The scar.” I waved a hand at his face. “Did someone try to cast a killing curse on you but it didn’t work because your mother loved you soooo much?”
“That’s rather—” Tiernan blinked and looked away. “Do not call me that again.”
“Fine.” I gave a great sigh, “Legolas it is. It’s more fun to say than Harry Potter anyway.”
“There will come a day when I discover what irritates you, and I will not be gentle in my vengeance,” he warned me.
“You irritate me,” I said. “Go ahead, what more could you possibly do besides exist?”
“Now, you sound like my father,” he mumbled.
“What?” I whispered; suddenly contrite.
Had I actually said something that hurt his feelings? Had my careless words struck a nerve? I’d thought I’d been playing by the rules, but I guess I didn’t know him well enough to play with him. It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.
“Nothing.” Tiernan’s jaw clenched as he stared straight ahead.
“You know, my father is not going to allow a fairy to be my constant companion,” I tried to get back on subject. “Not to mention the fact that I’m an extinguisher and can take care of myself.”
“I’m not doubting your abilities, Seren,” he said calmly. “I’ve heard your mother was quite competent as well and yet, she was killed.”
“Could you please stop bringing up my mother’s death?”
“No, I think she’s an important piece of the puzzle.” He glanced at me. “Although, I’m sorry if talking about her causes you pain.”
“It’s fine.” I sighed. “Talking to you causes me pain, but here I am.”
“That is the second time you’ve insinuated that you find me unpalatable.” Tiernan pulled the car over into one of the rarest things in San Francisco; a legal parking spot. He turned to me and took my jaw in his hand so I couldn’t look away. “I am not a fairy to be trifled with, nor am I one to consort with humans. I find most of them to be crude, stupid, and, frankly, repulsive but there is something about you that I’m drawn to, and I know you feel it too. You can’t deny that you desired me tonight.”
Tiernan’s hold loosened; the pupils in his eyes dilating as his palm went flat along my jaw, his thumb lightly stroking my lips. My breath caught and then I exhaled softly against his skin. He pressed the pad of his thumb against me—separating my lips to rest his flesh against my teeth—and his gaze dropped to my mouth. Then that hand slid back along my cheek; his fingers firm and determined against my skin. They sank into my hair and clutched at the strands as his eyes lifted to mine once more.
Tiernan started that slow lean which always leads to a kiss, and I watched in fascination as his eyelids drifted shut. His breath mingled with mine; the air between us heating deliciously. I started to close my eyes as the tender flesh of his lips just barely brushed mine. A jolt of sensation rocketed through me from that gossamer graze and shocked me back into reason. I jerked away, and he looked at me as if I’d slapped him.
“Whether there is an attraction between us or not.” I was annoyed to find my breath coming swift and eager. “Whether or not you find me repulsive, there can’t be anything between us.”
“Because I’m not an extinguisher?” He whispered; his striking eyes shining in the dark like a cat’s.
“Even worse,” I said dryly, “you’re a fairy, and even worse than that; you’re a member of the Wild Hunt. This would be fraternization of the worst kind. There is literally no one who would be a more horrible match for me.”
“That’s your father talking.” Tiernan angled his head as he studied me. “I don’t think you believe that.”
I swallowed hard before I answered. Tiernan was right; I didn’t believe it, and in that moment, I wanted nothing more than to close the distance between us and find out what he tasted like. I bet it was something rich and complex, like expensive red wine… and just as intoxicating.
“I have to marry an extinguisher,” I murmured; my gaze dropping briefly to his lips.
“I’m not proposing.” Tiernan had caught my look and had started to lean in again.
“I hardly have the lifestyle for a fling with a fairy,” I protested but didn’t move away as he continued to close the distance between us.
“I wasn’t offering a fling either,” he was speaking against my lips; his breath fluttering across my skin.
“Then what?” I slid a hand between us and pushed him away from me; giving him a dark look.
“Something else.” His eyes were focused on my lips. “Something unique to us.”
“So, right here, then?” I looked around the car. “You want me to just jump over the gear shift and straddle you? Is that how you saw this playing out? Because let me tell you; I’ve made out in a sports car before and it’s not comfortable.”
“No, not here.” His gaze lifted to my own; searing me with its intensity. “But I have an idea.”
“What exactly about this conversation makes you think that I’ll be sleeping with you tonight?” I gaped at him.
“It’s not your words.” Tiernan’s breath was coming faster, and I was shocked to find my own quickening to pace his. His hand drifted over to where mine rested on my thigh and his fingers grazed the top of mine. A shivering sensation spread up from his touch; making my hand twitch. I swallowed roughly as his fingers snaked around mine to rub at the sensitive skin of my palm.
“What then?” My voice was just a breath of sound.
“It’s your eyes.” His deep timbre vibrated through me; tightening my thighs and shifting our joined hands. He inhaled sharply before he continued. “It’s the way they stray over my body. And your lips; how they shiver just a little when I speak. It’s the way your breasts are rising with your rapid breaths and the way your hands are shaking with the need to touch me. You want me, and I want you. Very badly. It’s simple.”
“No, it isn’t.” I held a hand out between us. “I don’t know why you make me lose my damn mind, but I can’t have that. I can’t have you. So, I’m not going to do this. I refuse to torment myself with a relationship that can’t go anywhere.”
“Fuck!” Tiernan shocked me by swearing and slamming his fist into the steering wheel. “I apologize,” he said immediately and calmed himself with a deep exhalation as he ran a hand through his long hair. Such a strange ombré effect. That platinum so bright in the shadows of the car; like a halo around his face. Then the color slowly deepened all the way to black at the ends; giving the illusion that his hair was turning into the darkness itself.
“It’s all right.” I sighed. “I feel the same way.” And I did. My body was tense, as angry with me as he was; thrumming with need for a man we could never have. So stupid.
“Then why are you denying us this?” Tiernan looked over at me; his eyes wide with confusion. “A fairy would never ignore an attraction so strong. Pleasure should be taken wherever it can be found; especially for those of us who rarely find it.”
“Oh, please.” I rolled my eyes. “Don’t you dare try to imply that you don’t get laid all the time.”
“Ah.” He gave a grim laugh. “There’s that crudeness I was referring to.”
“As if fairies aren’t crude.” I lifted a brow at him.
“Not the sidhe”—he shook his head—“and I wouldn’t couple with a lesser fey.”
“Well, there you go. I’m obviously not the girl for you.” I glanced away; unsure why his criticism of my behavior should hit me so hard.
“Stop doing that!” Tiernan grabbed my upper arm and gave it a little shake. “This is not going away; no matter what you say. And no, by the way, I don’t get laid all the time.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” I looked him over. “Not only are you gorgeous, you’re a freaking Lord of the Wild Hunt; as you keep reminding me. That alone should drop some panties.”
He just sat there and gaped at me. Did he really not know how hot he was? I’d seen enough fairies to know that even among their stunning throng, this guy was something noteworthy. His humble, shocked expression had to be pretense… and it probably worked on a lot of women. God damned fairies; they were good at getting what they wanted.
“Stop looking at me like that,” I finally growled. “I’m not going to fall for your Eeyoreroutine.”
“My what?” He went from shocked to baffled.
“You know,” I said. “Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh; Thanks for noticing me.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, but this person sounds pathetic, and I assure you; I am not that,” he said stiffly.
“No,” I said and laughed, “you’re definitely not pathetic. Which leads me back to my point. You’ll have no trouble finding another lover. So, why don’t you go and do that, as will I, and we can both forget this ever happened?”
“There will be no forgetting.” Tiernan started up the car angrily. “This is far from over, Seren, but I refuse to sit here arguing with you about it on a public street where we could both potentially become targets.”
“I am not a target,” I groaned as he pulled out into traffic. “No one is trying to kill me.”
That was when the first wave of magic hit.