I found it easiest to bond with Nikial, who is a fairy like me. He’s a darling in distress what with stumbling everywhere when he’s not flying. And he also liked to stare off into space when I was talking to or holding him. Tickling him was the only way I could get his attention.
Selena and Richelle I love too, but they…well, they unsettled me to be around. This was especially true when I saw them chewing on their fingers or heard them growling. I even witnessed them laughing while Nikial was crying once. I told myself I was seeing what I was expecting to see – Polar’s personality shining through them. I also told myself that they weren’t their father, but I still couldn’t help seeing him in them all.
Ricky spent a lot of time over at the Wolffs’ house, impressing his new friend with his magic and, I think, avoiding the triplets.
“Hey, Mom, you’ve seemed really upset lately,” said Rory.
“Well, of course I have, what with Polar and all…” I said.
“Yeah, I know. It’s really sad. But it seems like you’re like that mostly around the littles. Why don’t you go to the Arboretum? Bonehilda and I can watch the babies. I think you’d really like it there. I’ve been once on a field trip. It was really calming.”
“Really?” I said. “You’d do that for me?”
“You’re a sweetheart, Rory,” I said as I hugged her.
My children were often so good at cheering me up. Every time one of these moments happened, they reminded me why I wanted so many babies.
At the Arboretum, I was finally able to relax for the first time in a while. Each time I threw a rock into the pond, I felt a little more normal. I should come here more often. After all, I do love the outdoors.
Mid-throw, I saw a man that looked vaguely familiar. But I couldn’t think where I had seen him before.
He turned and looked at me, almost as though he heard me thinking about him.
I stared back, still clutching a rock in my fist, a smile frozen on my face. Something about him…seemed dangerous.
I was probably overreacting, after Polar. I flew over to him. “Hello, who are you? I feel like I’ve seen you before,” I said.
He didn’t answer at first, still staring at me…at my wings. Just as I decided I’d better go grab another rock just in case he tried to do something, he finally spoke. “”How interesting that someone should see fit to give you a gift to set you above humanity. I’m almost curious enough to find out why and how though somehow I doubt any of my kind would concern themselves with something so pedestrian.”
“Your kind, huh?” I said. “What exactly is your kind?”
“That is none of your business,” he said, and I thought he might have smirked. “Sufficient to say that my power is far above any of your new tricks.”
“Oh, ya think?” I said, formulating plans to put this Mr. High and Mighty in his place.
“I do not think, I know, little fish.”
And that was when I remembered him. He was the man I had seen while staying with Liam Gelman. He had been talking to Liam’s maid Betsy late one night when I’d encountered them. I remembered how I had felt seeing them together, thinking that he was a loan shark bothering Betsy. After he had left, Betsy had seemed confrontational towards me, but I thought she was secretly afraid of him.
In that moment I took all my bottled rage and frustration and confusion and channeled it into my aura.
I thrust my aura at him and into him. For a moment he seemed engulfed by it. Then my aura sank into his skin, as though he were absorbing it, and it vanished.
“Who’s a little fish now?” I grinned. “That’s for Betsy.”
“Betsy?” he said, and he seemed amused. “Betsy is doing very well for herself, no thanks to your interference.” He was as unruffled as though I had merely called his mother a llama and not thrown my magic into him. He moved towards me and I found myself unable to back away. Something about him drew me in and at the same time repelled me.
“You don’t know who you’re dealing with. I have the power to destroy everything you hold dear or give you everything you’ve ever desired.”
I shivered, and yet something stirred deep in my belly.
As though to demonstrate his point, he pressed his hands to either side of my head and for a moment I felt dizzy and my vision narrowed. Then the pressure became gentle and he pulled his fingers through my hair without hurting me.
“Wait, what’s your name?” I said, pulling back from him as I saw where this was going.
“As you are not my kin, you do not need to know my name. You may call me Master.”
“Master,” I giggled. “I’m – ”
“I know who you are, Elena Queen.”
His kiss was powerful and within it I sensed something of what he was. And I knew I wanted that something for myself.
So I took him home with me.
A/N: Thanks to jbfairybird for the loan of Seth Tombs, one of her antagonists in Quest for Immortality, and thanks for the assistance with this update. There are some references in this update that relate to Quest.