“I’m sorry to disappoint you.”
“I just … just want to know what you look like.” I wondered when I’d grown so shallow.
“What do you think I look like?”
I tilted my head to the side. “A strong, straight nose,” I said, drawing from what I’d once tried to paint. “High cheekbones that bring out your eyes. Slightly … slightly arched brows,” I finished, blushing. He was grinning so broadly that I could almost see all of his teeth—those fangs nowhere in sight. I tried to think up an excuse for my forwardness, but a yawn crept from me as a sudden weight pressed on my eyes.
“What about your part of the bargain?”
He leaned closer, his smile turning wicked. “What about my kiss?”
I grabbed his fingers. “Here,” I said, and slammed my mouth against the back of his hand. “There’s your kiss.”
Tamlin roared with laughter, but the world blurred, lulling me to sleep. The willow beckoned me to lie down, and I obliged. From far off, I heard Tamlin curse. “Feyre?”
Sleep. I wanted sleep. And there was no better place to sleep than right here, listening to the willow and the birds and the brook. I curled on my side, using my arm for a pillow.
“I should bring you home,” he murmured, but he didn’t move to drag me to my feet. Instead, I felt a slight thud in the earth, and the spring rain and new grass scent of him cloyed in my nose as he lay beside me. I tingled with pleasure as he stroked my hair.
This was such a lovely dream. I’d never slept so wonderfully before. So warm, nestled beside him. Calm. Faintly, echoing into my world of slumber, he spoke again, his breath caressing my ear. “You’re exactly as I dreamed you’d be, too.” Darkness swallowed everything.
It wasn’t the dawn that awoke me, but rather a buzzing noise. I groaned as I sat up in bed and squinted at the squat woman with skin made from tree bark who fussed with my breakfast dishes.
“Where’s Alis?” I asked, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. Tamlin must have carried me up here—must have carried me the whole way home.
“What?” She turned toward me. Her bird mask was familiar. But I would have remembered a faerie with skin like that. Would have painted it already.
“Is Alis unwell?” I said, sliding from the bed. This was my room, wasn’t it? A quick glance told me yes.
“Are you out of your right mind?” the faerie said. I bit my lip. “I am Alis,” she clucked, and with a shake of her head, she strode into the bathing room to start my bath.
It was impossible. The Alis I knew was fair and plump and looked like a High Fae.
I rubbed my eyes with my thumb and forefinger. A glamour—that’s what Tamlin had said he wore. His faerie sight had stripped away the glamours I’d been seeing. But why bother to glamour everything?
Because I’d been a cowering human, that’s why. Because Tamlin knew I would have locked myself in this room and never come out if I’d seen them all for their true selves.
Things only got worse when I made my way downstairs to find the High Lord. The hallways were bustling with masked faeries I’d never seen before. Some were tall and humanoid—High Fae like Tamlin—others were … not. Faeries. I tried to avoid looking at those ones, as they seemed the most surprised to notice my attention.
I was almost shaking by the time I reached the dining room. Lucien, mercifully, appeared like Lucien. I didn’t ask whether that was because Tamlin had informed him to put up a better glamour or because he didn’t bother trying to be something he wasn’t.
Tamlin lounged in his usual chair but straightened as I lingered in the doorway. “What’s wrong?”
“There are … a lot of people—faeries—around. When did they arrive?”
I’d almost yelped when I looked out my bedroom window and spotted all the faeries in the garden. Many of them—all with insect masks—pruned the hedges and tended the flowers. Those faeries had been the strangest of all, with their iridescent, buzzing wings sprouting from their backs. And, of course, then there was the green-and-brown skin, and their unnaturally long limbs, and—
Tamlin bit his lip as if to keep from smiling. “They’ve been here all along.”
“But … but I didn’t hear anything.”
“Of course you didn’t,” Lucien drawled, and twirled one of his daggers between his hands. “We made sure you couldn’t see or hear anyone but those who were necessary.”
I adjusted the lapels of my tunic. “So you mean that … that when I ran after the puca that night—”
“You had an audience,” Lucien finished for me. I thought I’d been so stealthy. Meanwhile, I’d been tiptoeing past faeries who had probably laughed their heads off at the blind human following an illusion.
Fighting against my rising mortification, I turned to Tamlin. His lips twitched and he clamped them tightly together, but the amusement still danced in his eyes as he nodded. “It was a valiant effort.”
“But I could see the naga—and the puca, and the Suriel. And—and that faerie whose wings were … ripped off,” I said, wincing inwardly. “Why didn’t the glamour apply to them?”
His eyes darkened. “They’re not members of my court,” Tamlin said, “so my glamour didn’t keep a hold on them. The puca belongs to the wind and weather and everything that changes. And the naga … they belong to someone else.”
“I see,” I lied, not quite seeing at all. Lucien chuckled, sensing it, and I glared sidelong at him. “You’ve been noticeably absent again.”
He used the dagger to clean his nails. “I’ve been busy. So have you, I take it.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I demanded.
“If I offer you the moon on a string, will you give me a kiss, too?”
“Don’t be an ass,” Tamlin said to him with a soft snarl, but Lucien continued laughing, and was still laughing when he left the room.
Alone with Tamlin, I shifted on my feet. “So if I were to encounter the Attor again,” I said, mostly to avoid the heavy silence, “would I actually see it?”
“Yes, and it wouldn’t be pleasant.”
“You said it didn’t see me that time, and it certainly doesn’t seem like a member of your court,” I ventured. “Why?”
“Because I threw a glamour over you when we entered the garden,” he said simply. “The Attor couldn’t see, hear, or smell you.” His gaze went to the window beyond me, and he ran a hand through his hair. “I’ve done all I can to keep you invisible to creatures like the Attor—and worse. The blight is acting up again—and more of these creatures are being freed from their tethers.”