We did it! We’re done! Whoohoo! This stretch is going to a bit longer than the others since it’s the last. Thanks so much for spending Camp NaNoWriMo with me. It really means a lot. It’ll stay up for a while if you want to share it with anyone, but once I get the manuscript to my editor, it’ll be coming down. I’ll make sure to make a post when that happens.
Fret not, though! Come July 10th, you can read the Faerie Court Chronicles from the beginning in the “Portraits of a Faerie Chronicles.” Gia and Oliver won’t be making any appearances, but plenty of the faerie characters will, including Kole and Kellen. If that’s too long for you to wait, subscribe to my newsletter for a few short stores before the book comes out. 🙂
Another silence settles in the room and makes me squirm. “You really scared me back there,” I mutter, studying a scenery painting to keep my mind busy. “If that fomorian had won…” I can’t bring myself to think about it much more than that. “And I know I was a rambling mess, but I meant every word I said. If you still want to wait until I figure things out, that’s fine. Just know that I know you’re a guy, but that doesn’t matter to me. You are who you are and you’re…” I choke on the words that seemed to flow so easily only hours ago. “You’re someone I love…very much.”
Just when I think Oliver’s silence is going to crush me, he takes me by the hand, turns me around, and kisses me, slow and gentle with his fingers tangling with mine.
“What makes you think I want to wait any more?” he whispers against my mouth. “I’ve been waiting for seven years.” He cringes at his own words. “Okay, that sounded a lot more romantic in my head. Let me try that again—”
“Wait, hold up.” I do the math in my head and it nearly knocks me over. “Are you saying you’ve had a crush on me since the fourth grade?”
“Ever since I watched you stand up to that bully for picking on Zoe.”
“We’ve had classes together for years. Why didn’t you ever say anything?”
Oliver’s face takes on a slight hint of crimson. “I might have been as intimidated by you as I was enamored when we were younger. And then, when you established that you like girls, I thought I’d lost my chance forever and tried to get over you, but…” He runs a hand through his hair. “Every time we were assigned to the same class, it all just came rushing back.” He smirks up at me. “That swimsuit you wore to that beach party most certainly didn’t help.”
I feel my own face get hot.
“Besides, even if I did tell you and you were into guys, would you have believed me?”
He has a point there. I wouldn’t have. Even a few weeks ago I wouldn’t have, but now…
I’m brave enough to fight monsters, I never leave my friends behind, I’m smart, and I’m talented. Safe to say I’m actually pretty likable.
Oliver draws me away from my thoughts. “And, if I’m being perfectly honest, I think I fit with you pretty well too.”
My heart skips a few beats. The only way to make it stop seems to be kissing Oliver again.
Not that he minds. Not until I try to pull him closer at least.
He wiggles away, but still holds tight to my hand. “We should head out before the others start worrying about us. Besides, it’s getting late.” As we walk down the hall, I notice the way he slouches with his shoulders forward, as if trying to make his chest smaller.
Right. No binder. But standing like that can’t be good for his injuries.
“You know, I’d say infiltrating a fomorian camp and almost dying to defend a group of humans makes you one hell of a faerie prince. Anyone who wants to argue against that can keep their opinions to themselves, if you catch my drift.”
Oliver stands a little taller and smirks at me. “You might be onto something there. When did you get so insightful?”
“I’ve had a lot of chances to practice lately.”
He opens his mouth to speak again, but shuts it again when his gaze lands on a corridor to our left. It’s darker than the others and a downhill slope. A chilly breeze waifs up from it, making me shiver. Without another word Oliver changes courses and leads me down the path.
The farther we go, the colder and damper the surrounding walls become. Warm soft wood gives way to damp dirt and stone, illuminated by torches. In the midst of their crackling comes a familiar voice. Oliver stops before rounding the next corner and leans back against the wall. I follow his lead, as morbidly curious about why we’re here as I am about why we’re here.
“I do try my best to be a merciful person,” Titania says, her voice cool and calculating. “Therefore, I’ll give you one more chance to answer my questions. Where are the rest of you? Why come for us and not the aos si? Why now?”
“You’ll get nothing from me, wench,” snarls a deep growly voice. It’s Gabar. “You’ll just loose everything the way we did when your ancestors darkened our island.”
“But you don’t have the numbers to do that alone, do you? You need the gateway to the Other World. You need to bring Balor back, don’t you? Why now? What’s changed?”
Gabar spits in response. It was the wrong answer.
“Go ahead and start,” Titania orders. It doesn’t sound like she’s talking to Gabar anymore.
Judging by the way Gabar shrieks in pain, she was talking to his torturer.
Oliver takes off back up the hall with me and tow. He doesn’t stop until we’re back in the warm light of the regular part of the keep, swearing and holding his abdomen. “Shit. Bad idea. Very bad idea. I’m sorry, Gia. You didn’t need to hear that.”
“Why’d we go down there, then?” I pant.
“Those are just the prisoner holding cells, so I thought for sure they’d only be questioning him. Proud of me or not, I can guarantee you my mother won’t give us as much information as we need to know what’s going on.”
“Why not just try and get along with Shaylee?” I suggest. “She doesn’t strike me as someone who has a lot of regard for the rules, including Titania’s.”
Oliver thinks it over as we continue on our way to meet the others. “That just might work, provided you doesn’t try to hit on you again.”
“Given that we’re actually a thing now, I don’t think she will.”
Oliver kisses me on the cheek, but doesn’t say any more on the subject. He doesn’t say much of anything until we meet Shaylee and the others outside the keep. The silence is tense and peaceful in equal parts. Like Shaylee said, this isn’t over. Not by a long shot, but for now, we can rest. For a while, life can go back to normal. Maybe a warped, strange new definition of normal, but at least none of us have to figure those parts of it out on our own.
That makes me excited for it.