Page 51

“And we’re taking a huge risk by receiving them.”

I scanned the Order members, seeing the exact moment they realized my skin had a silvery tint to it. I ignored it.

Ren turned, motioning for the rest to join us. “This is Kalen and Faye, of the Summer Court. They helped us—have been helping us.”

A muscle thrummed along Daniel’s jaw as the two fae slowly approached us. He didn’t speak. They got a curt nod from him, which was returned by the two fae.

“Hol-lee shit,” another Order member whispered, and that was when I knew that Fabian was now visible.

Fabian strolled toward them like he was out for an early morning walk. The breeze lifted his blond hair as he stepped around the iron railing.

“This is Fabian,” I said. “Prince Fabian of the Summer Court.”

The audible gasp wasn’t lost on me. Neither was the stiffening of the Order members. Or the way some reached for their hidden daggers. Ren stepped closer to Fabian, but the Summer Prince simply smiled.

“You were not expecting royalty, were you?” Fabian tilted his head.

Daniel slid me a long look. “No, we were not.”

I lifted a shoulder in a shrug.

“You should understand one thing, and one thing only.” Fabian stepped closer, and I swore you couldn’t even hear the traffic in that moment. “If you threaten any of us, I can kill every single one of you before you even know what hit you. I do not want that to happen. I want us to work together, like we did before, but test me and you will not survive the consequences.”

Tink banged his fist off my back in what I guessed was agreement.

Well, that probably wasn’t what Daniel wanted to hear, but he clipped out, “Duly noted.” Daniel stepped forward, going toe to toe with the Summer Prince. “And if any of you harm any of our members, we will spend our dying breaths killing every single one of you.”

Fabian’s smile spread. “Duly noted.”

“All right then.” Ren clapped his hands together. “Now that we have that settled, can we get on with this?”

Daniel smirked. “Follow me.”

The Summer Prince arched a brow at the men and then trailed after Daniel, following him through the patio doors. Ren went next, and then Faye and Kalen. I took up the back.

“Nice backpack,” one of the Order members snorted as I walked by.

I turned. “It is, isn’t it?”

I got another kick in the back, and I swore when this was over, I was going to flush Tink down a toilet.

Stepping through the patio, I immediately realized this was no normal apartment building. It only looked that way from the outside.

A narrow hall led to a wide-open space that I assumed was a large meeting room, one that reminded me of the headquarters in the Quarter. A large map of what I was guessing was San Diego and the surrounding cities was on the wall. There were several cafeteria style tables with benches, and at least three dozen Order members.

All of them were standing, staring at the five of us.

Most of their stares showed open hostility. Only a few appeared curious. I saw Miles standing beside a tall, dark-skinned woman, whose expression was almost as unreadable as his.

“These people look friendly,” Ren said under his breath.

“Right?” I whispered back.

Daniel made a quick round of introductions, and when he got to the woman, I learned that her name was Liz, and she ran the San Diego branch of the Order.

“We’ve been told that we are all fighting on the same side,” she said, crossing her arms. “As you can imagine, it is hard for us to accept that.”

“Just as it’s hard for us to accept the same from the Order,” Faye replied, standing beside Kalen. “But we’re all here.”

“We are.” Liz lifted a hand. The Order members sat as her gaze found me. “So, you’re the Halfling?”

I lifted my chin. “I am. Most call me Ivy, though.”

She ignored that. “And you’re the one the Prince held captive but escaped?”

I nodded.

She inclined her head, and I guessed that was some kind of ‘good job’ nod. “What is in your backpack?”

Tink stopped shimmying around, and Fabian turned to me. “My . . . my friend is in this bag.”

Daniel lifted his brows. “Your friend?”


“You have a friend in a backpack?” he persisted.

Ren pressed his lips together.

“Yeah.” Carefully, I let the bag slide off my arm. I knelt and placed it on the floor. I reached for the space between the zippers, and felt a nip of pain. I jerked my hand back.

Tink bit my finger!

That little bastard!

“Behave,” I warned, shaking the sting out of my hand.

A soft laugh came from inside the bag.

“What in the hell?” Daniel stepped forward. “What’s in your bag, Ivy?”

“A pain in my ass,” I muttered as I unzipped it. “Come on out.”

Several Order members stood while others tried to see over those standing. Sighing, I straightened as one tiny hand came out of the bag, curling around the material and then another.

Liz’s eyes narrowed. “What is . . . ?”

Spiky, icy blond hair appeared, and then a forehead, followed by two big round eyes. Then, because Tink knew everyone was watching, he slowly lifted his wings so they became visible.

Someone cursed.

Liz’s mouth dropped open, but she didn’t speak.

“Is that . . .” Daniel trailed off as Tink lifted a hand and wiggled his fingers.

“Such a showboat.” Ren sighed, folding his arms.

I fought a grin. “This is Tink. He is a . . . well, he’s a brownie.”

“A brownie?” Liz shook her head. “They’re in our world?”

“No. Just Tink.”

Tink took that moment to fly out of the bag and zip up to my shoulder. He landed there, picking up my hair and . . . hiding behind it.

I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. “Anyway, he was in my bag. He’s a . . . shy little guy.”

Ren made a choking sound.

“You have a brownie?” Miles blinked rapidly. “I thought they were—”

“All killed off by the Winter Court?” Fabian answered for him. “Nearly all of them were. Tink is the only one of his kind in this world.”

Tink peeked around my head as he balled his fists into my hair and whispered, “I look adorable, don’t I?”

“Something like that.” I cleared my throat. “I’d like to tell you one day about how I met Tink.”

A glimpse of wonder snuck into Liz’s expression. “I would very much like to hear that story.”

I smiled at that. “But we need to talk about the Prince and the Halfling.”

“That we do.” Liz watched Tink move to my other shoulder, the look of incredulity still filling her expression. She gave a little shake of her head. “We have not been able to discover who the Halfling is, but we know where the Prince is. As far as we know, he has not made contact with the Halfling.”

I was too realistic to let hope take flight. Just because they didn’t think the Prince had gotten with the Halfling yet didn’t mean it hadn’t happened. “And where is the Prince?”

“He’s been holed up in one of the resorts,” Miles answered. “The Valencia.”

Never heard of it, but I was betting it was nice. Sounded like it was.

“And how many fae does he have with him?” Kalen asked.

“About a dozen that came with him,” Liz answered. “But he has more. The fae here have been gathering at the resort.”

“The Order has not gone after him?” Fabian frowned.

“There are humans at the resort. Too many who would get caught in the crossfire. It would draw a lot of attention. And the twelve fae he brought with him are Knights.” Liz’s jaw hardened. “The Order is brave and we are willing to die for our cause, but not foolishly.”

“And why do you believe he hasn’t met with the Halfling?” Ren asked.

“We lucked out when he left New Orleans. He was seen and we were able to follow,” Miles explained.