The music pounded, sounding more like a nightclub than a field of faeries. I smoothed down my skirt, the short layered lace a complete parody of what I expected faeries to wear. But for all of their old fashioned tendencies, they still loved modern trends. Kale had mentioned something about human inspiration and its importance, but had lost me when his language shifted, like it tended to whenever he was excited. I smiled at the memory. I’d have to learn their language to keep up with him.
I pushed the tent flap aside and was immediately bombarded with applause. The fey cheered my arrival with wild abandon and surged around me. My body caught the current and moved with them, a kind of undulating dance that reminded me of Ellie. My heart panged for a moment, then the glamour began to build in earnest. I tried not to get too swept up in it.
A blue nymph pressed something into my hand. It looked at first like a lotus, but as I blinked in the whirling lights I realized it was a short crystalline cup shaped like the flower. The liquid inside smelled like peaches. I took a sip, and then gulped the whole thing down. It tasted like pure sunshine. I licked my lips. The nymph took my drained glass and skipped off, pleased with herself. I danced.
Hands brushed my arms to feel my skin, the red corset top I’d worn left them bare. My skirt swirled out like a cloud. Faeries danced with me, pulling me close and spinning me away. I followed them without effort. The summer punch was pushed into my hands by different fey, and I gulped them down without question. It felt like life injecting directly into my bloodstream. Whenever the cup was empty, I always wanted more.
The lights swayed around me and the silvery elf that had ridden beside Gage caught my eye. He had given me at least three cups of punch that I could remember. His gaze was predatory, and there was something in it I didn’t like. I turned my back to him, but never stopped dancing. Lexi hauled a cup of punch three times bigger than herself over to me, taking a dew-drop sized amount for her troubles. I grinned as she flitted away, tossing glitter down onto the crowd like missiles. I drained the cup and felt a welcome presence at my back.
Kale’s voice manifested at my ear. “It’s faerie wine. I hope you haven’t had too much.” He took the cup from me and handed it to a passing elf. I stifled a giggle as I tried to count how many glasses I’d had. “Don’t let it control you. Hold on to yourself.” His warm breath on my skin sent shivers down my spine. I spun into him; giddy with glamour and apparently, wine. His arms opened in surprise.
“I’d rather hold on to you,” I murmured, surprising myself. His eyes widened in comical alarm. I wrapped my arms around his neck and danced against him, though he stayed rigidly still.
When he started to slowly sway with me, I pulled his hands to my hips. His hesitation made me smile. I remembered quiet Kale, with his quick smiles and easy friendship, the way he held back around everyone.
Except, I realized, me.
The struggle in his leaf-green eyes was plain. And for the first time, I could read it clearly. She doesn’t belong to you warred against She belongs to no one. My blood ached for him.
I felt the kiss a split-second before it happened. He leaned in to say something and I caught myself up on my toes, bridging the short distance between us and catching his lips with mine. I realized that maybe I was a little drunk, and maybe this wasn’t a good idea, but some warm spot inside of me whispered finally. He braced me up and kissed me back.
His hand cupped the back of my neck, all that was rooting me to the ground. I felt something inside me give in to him, like doors being thrown open. I thought about our almost-kiss in the field, and how I hadn’t been ready, not then. As it was now I wasn’t sure how much of him I could handle. I would be ruined when he let me go.
A piskie whistled near our ears and I used the moment to break for air. Kale’s lips didn’t leave me but instead traced a careful line down my throat. Where he touched me, I burned.
I glanced around. Fey were coming and going from the dance floor in groups ranging in size from two to ten, and I wondered where they were going. As I saw the silver elf disappear with a familiar looking nymph behind a tree, I got it. They were hunting each other. Each conquest added more magic to the field. I looked back at Kale, wondering if he and I were a part of it. I giggled. He grinned down at me.
I drug his lips back to mine with so much force I tasted blood. Mine, I thought. Magnolia trees lined the field, their branches coming down like curtains. It was farther than anyone else went, but I wasn’t that brash. I pulled Kale towards the shadowy trees, stumbling like I was intoxicated. Maybe I was. I sank to the ground, pulling him with me.
My senses filled with Kale, the unique scent of living forest and falling rain. His hands brushed carefully along my face even as mine twisted desperately into his hair. I felt the beat of music and magic within me, urging me. I pulled his body down closer to mine.
“Faye?” Kale halted his kisses as my hands sought the end of his tunic. I yanked, but it was stuck fast. Stupid belt. “Faye.” His voice was firm and I could sense that his eyes sought mine, but I was too engrossed in my task. I kept tugging, silently planning the destruction of all belts from his wardrobe. “Bright Eyes!” He clasped my fumbling hands and brought them up to frame his face, and I finally focused. I felt his magic washing the drug of glamour and summer wine from my mind. I blanched.
“Oh God, Kale I’m so sorry.” My confidence evaporated into mush. I yanked my skirt down and covered my face with my hands. And then, I remembered Gage.
He laughed. “Don’t be sorry.” His hands removed mine easily and he kissed me swiftly. “I got caught up in it too.”
I smiled, but my thoughts rankled, tossing Kale and Gage together. Guilt lumped in my throat. Was it cheating? Were Gage and I anything more than a flimsy excuse for a relationship? He showed me favors and kissed me when it suited him. He didn’t confide in me, or share himself with me. He was fun and exciting but was that as far as it went for us? With a measure of regret I knew that no matter how I felt, he considered me his.
And Kale, I realized, knew that. He watched me, open but cautious. He knew me, probably better than I’d like to admit. And as I met his gaze, I realized he understood that I didn’t know how to choose between them.
I opened my mouth to explain, but he stopped me with a hand on my knee and a quick, sad smile. “Let’s just go dance, Bright Eyes.” I nodded, and he helped me stand. I felt wobbly and exhausted.
The music still beat erratically, but Kale and I just swayed against each other slowly. My mind swam in miserable circles and I clung to Kale, like a lifeline. At one point I tilted my head up towards him, ready to say something, anything. The look on his face, a quiet regal grace his brother never managed, stopped me. He brushed the curls back from my face and pressed a kiss to my forehead. I feel asleep, dancing against him.