Home > Fragile Eternity (Wicked Lovely #3)

Fragile Eternity (Wicked Lovely #3)
Author: Melissa Marr



Wicked Lovely series
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PROLOGUE

 


Seth knew the moment Aislinn slipped into the house; the slight rise in temperature would’ve told him even if he hadn’t seen the glimmer of sunlight in the middle of the night. Better than a lantern. He smiled at the thought of his girlfriend’s likely reaction to being called a lantern, but his smile fled a heartbeat later when she came into his doorway.

Her shoes were already gone. Her hair was loosened from whatever arrangement it had been forced into for the Summer revels she’d been at earlier that night. With Keenan. The thought of her in Keenan’s arms made Seth tense. She had these all-night dances with the Summer King every month, and try as he might, Seth was still jealous.

But she’s not with him now. She’s here.

She unfastened the bodice of an old-fashioned dress as she stared at him. “Hey.”

He might’ve spoken; he wasn’t really sure. It didn’t matter. Not much did in these moments, just her, just them, just what they meant to each other.

The rest of the dress fell away, and she was in his arms. He knew he didn’t speak then, not with sunlight like warm honey against his skin. The Summer Court revel had ended, and she was here.

Not with him. With me.

The monthly revels weren’t mortal-friendly. Afterward, she came to him, though, too filled with sunlight and celebration to simply sleep, too afraid of herself to stay with the rest of the Summer Court all night. So she came to his arms, sun-drunk and forgetting to be as careful with him as she was on other nights.

She kissed him, and he tried to ignore the tropical heat. Orchids, a small ylang-ylang tree, and golden goddess branches clustered in the room. The perfumed scents were heavy in the humid air, but it was better than the waterfall a few months ago.

When she was here, in his arms, the consequences didn’t matter. All that mattered was them.

Mortals weren’t made to love faeries; he knew it each month when she forgot just how breakable he was. If he could be strong enough, he’d be at the revels. Instead, he admitted that mortals weren’t safe in throngs of unrestrained faeries. Instead, he hoped that after the revels she wouldn’t injure him too badly. Instead, he waited in the dark, hoping that this month wasn’t the month that she stayed with Keenan.

 

Later, when speech returned, he plucked orchid petals from her hair. “Love you.”

“You too.” She blushed and ducked her head. “Are you okay?”

“When you’re here, I am.” He dropped the flower petals to the floor. “If I had my way, you’d be here every night.”

“I’d like that.” She snuggled in and closed her eyes. There was no light in her skin now—not when she was calm and relaxed—and Seth was grateful for it. In a couple hours day would break; she would see the burns on his sides and back where her hands had touched him too much and she’d forgotten herself. Then, she’d look away. She’d suggest things he hated to hear.

The Winter Queen, Donia, had given him a recipe for a salve that healed sunlight burns. It didn’t work as well on mortals as it did on faeries, but if he put it on soon enough, it would heal the burns within the day. He glanced at the clock. “Almost breakfast time.”

“No,” Aislinn murmured, “’s time to sleep.”

“Okay.” He kissed her and held her as long as he safely could. He watched the clock, listened to her even breaths as she fell deeper into sleep. Then, when he could wait no longer, he started to slide out of the bed.

She opened her eyes. “Stay.”

“Bathroom. Be right back.” He gave her a sheepish grin in hopes that she wouldn’t ask any questions. Since she couldn’t lie, he did his best to avoid lying to her in return, but they’d been down this road a few times.

She started to look at his arms, and he knew neither of them wanted to have the conversation that would follow—the one where she told him she shouldn’t come when she was like this and he panicked at the thought of her being at the loft with the Summer King instead.

She winced. “I’m sorry I thought you meant you weren’t hurt—”

He could argue, or he could distract her.

It wasn’t a difficult choice to make.

 

When Aislinn woke, she propped herself up on one arm and watched Seth sleep. She wasn’t sure what she’d do if she ever lost him. Sometimes she felt like he was all that held her together; he was her version of the vine that wrapped around the Summer Girls—the thread that kept her from unraveling.

And I hurt him. Again.

She could see the shadowed bruises and bright burns on his skin from her hands. He’d never complain about it, but she worried. He was so breakable in comparison to even the weakest faeries. She traced her fingertips over his shoulder, and he moved closer. In all the weirdness of the past few months since she’d become Summer Queen, he’d been there. He didn’t ask her to be all mortal or all faery; instead, he let her be herself. It was a gift she couldn’t ever repay him for. He was a gift. He’d been essential to her when she was a mortal, and he had only grown more important as she’d tried to keep steady in her new life as a faery queen.

He opened his eyes to stare up at her. “You look like you’re far away.”

“Just thinking.”

“About?” He quirked his pierced brow.

And her heart fluttered exactly as it had when she’d tried to be just friends with him. “The usual…”

“Everything will be fine.” He rolled her under him. “We’ll figure it out.”

She wrapped her arms around him so she could tangle her fingers in his hair. She told herself to be careful, to moderate her strength, to not remind him that she was so much stronger than a mortal. That I’m not what he is.

“I want it to be fine,” she whispered, trying to force away thoughts of his mortality, of his transience now that she was eternal, of how very finite he was—and she wasn’t. “Tell me again?”

He lowered his lips to hers and told her things that didn’t require words. When he pulled back, he whispered, “Something this good can last forever.”

She ran her hand down his spine, wondering if he’d think she was weird for wanting to let sunlight into her fingertips as she did so, wondering if it would only remind him of how not-mortal she was now. “I wish it could always be like this. Just us.”

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