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by Susan M. Sailors
Category: Erotica/Paranormal Erotica
Description: Raven, daughter of the king of the fairies, knows pursuing a relationship with Michael, a mortal, might get complicated, but she takes the chance because he has fairie blood and she can't deny the connection she feels. She doesn't count on accidentally 'turning' him just as they are falling in love. Her actions cause him to question their relationship while he deals with his sudden conversion to a full-blooded fairie, along with all its implications. Raven must now convince him their love is worth fighting for before the fairie council calls her to decide her fate for breaking one of her people's most sacred laws. Even if she cannot prove her innocence to the council, she is determined to show Michael how powerful their love is, because she knows she could face even the harshest punishment as long as he is by her side. This is the sequel to the Erotic Paranormal thriller NIGHT GARDENING by Susan M. Sailors!
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: August 2009
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [207 KB]
Reading time: 135-189 min.
"This is a nice story that even though it has fantasy elements is very romance based. The main issues have to do with how do the characters really feel about each other and is the love they share worth any changes or sacrifices that might be asked of them. I do feel that I am missing some pieces because this is the second in a series. I guess Night Gardening, book 1, is going to be added to the To Be Read List. Enjoy."_EcataRomance, http://sensual.ecataromance.com/?p=2617
Raven put her purse down on the table, never taking her eyes off the dark-haired man sitting at the bar. She knew he was mortal, but she could feel that he had fairie blood. His translucent skin and shoulder-length jet-black hair matched hers exactly, and he had blue eyes so clear she couldn't help but stare. Most goth guys did tend to look just as ethereal, but it would take more than eyeliner and a dye job to fool the daughter of the king of the fairies.
Someone slid into the seat beside her. "What are you doing?"
She turned to her aunt Elwyn and smiled. "Checking out a guy. I'm sure he has fairie blood."
Elwyn laughed. "You're right." She looked back at the guy and laughed again.
"What?" Raven asked. Elwyn knew something. Raven looked back at the guy. She was right--he was definitely still mortal, but the magic around him was undeniable. She glanced over at her aunt again. "Come on. What?"
"That's Lucy's younger brother."
Raven looked at the man again, then scanned the room and found Lucy. Lucy was her stepmother's best friend and the current guardian of a rose garden protecting a vein of fairie magic. Jennifer, Raven's stepmother, had been chosen to watch over the garden after her grandmother Lily died, but no one had counted on Raven's father Asyan falling in love with her. Jennifer, Lucy and Lucy's husband Ewan all had fairie blood and had been let in on the "secret." Jennifer, once mortal, had been Turned and was now a full fairie and basically immortal. Ewan and Lucy were considered very good candidates for Turning as well. All of this raced through Raven's mind as she looked at the man again. If his sister could be Turned, surely he could be as well.
"What's his name and why didn't I see him at Dad and Jennifer's wedding?"
"His name is Michael, and he was in the hospital."
Raven turned back to Elwyn. "What? Why?"
"Depression, actually," she said significantly.
Raven looked down, and then nodded. Some mortals with fairie blood felt the pull of magic more than others did, and sometimes this led to intense and often unexplainable depression. She looked back at the bar. Most everyone else was milling happily and congratulating her father and Jennifer. Their wedding the previous month had been very small, but this reception was anything and everything but small. Amidst all the joyous commotion, Michael sat at the bar and stared down into a glass of ginger ale.
Just as Raven was wondering if she dared go talk to him, he looked up at her and their gazes locked. Her heart thudded for a second, and then she somehow remembered to smile. After what seemed like thirty seconds, he smiled at her too. His eyes lit up, and something about his smile made her feel amazingly happy.
This time, Raven's heart actually stopped for a second. She shook her head, but she knew she wasn't wrong. He'd actually spoken to her mentally.
That's a neat trick, she replied.
He shifted his eyes down for a second, and then looked back up at her. First time it's worked.
Elwyn poked Raven. "Am I missing something?"
"He has psychic abilities. He just said hi to me."
Elwyn grabbed Raven's arm and pulled her up. "Get over there then. Don't just sit there staring. Make him feel welcome." She gave her niece a push then walked off to talk to someone else.
Raven stood for a moment, then grabbed her purse and headed for the bar. She tried to take deep breaths, but that only made her heart race faster. Michael didn't take his eyes off her as she walked toward him, and no matter what she did she couldn't break away from his gaze. He was sitting at the very end of the bar, and as she approached the couple beside him got up and walked away. Michael smiled faintly, and she knew he'd given them some kind of mental nudge. If he hadn't, she probably would have.
"So this seat definitely isn't taken?" she asked.
He shook his head. Before she could reach for the stool, he stood up and pulled it out for her. She sat down carefully, hoping she wouldn't get tangled in her long skirt and fall off.
He took his seat again, but didn't say anything. He seemed perfectly content not to say anything. It didn't really make Raven nervous because she didn't mind doing all the talking at all, but she was used to winning people over by joking with them. She was a talker, no doubt--just her luck the only guy to interest her in over fifty years seemed to be the shy, quiet type. Then again, it might be a fun challenge. She'd have to make the first move, but he had said hello first. That had to be good.
"My name's Raven. Did you already know that?"
He nodded. "But just because Lucy told me."
"How long have you known about your powers?"
"Since I was a kid. Lucy never really believed me before because she wasn't receptive, so I could never prove it to her. But she believes me now after everything that's happened."
She wasn't sure he really meant what she thought he meant. "What do you mean?"
He smiled again. "Since you guys happened. If my sister can believe in magic, she can certainly believe in my powers."
"So you know about all of it? I wasn't one hundred percent sure you would, even though you took the chance of trying to communicate with me. I suspected Lucy wouldn't be able to resist sharing this with you though."
He nodded. "She told me because she thought maybe it would help me." He didn't explain.
Does he know what Elwyn told me? Should I ask? She'd always had very strong psychic powers, more so than even her father, and knew Michael probably couldn't get into her mind unless he was invited, but she still squirmed in her seat a bit.
He made a dismissive gesture. "It's okay if you know. I heard what your aunt told you. Strangely receptive hearing is another family perk only I seem to have inherited. I'll go ahead and tell you I can't read your mind though. You're far too powerful. My powers are more like flukes."
Raven almost laughed. "You're one step ahead of everyone, aren't you?"
"When I want to be."
She paused, then went ahead and took the chance. "I never go into someone else's mind without their permission, so you're going to have to tell me if you're going to ask me out or not." He already knew her biggest secret, so why not?
"That's not something I've ever been good at."
Raven crossed her arms on the bar and leaned closer to him. Still shy, but definitely interested. And he really was gorgeous. His shoulder-length black hair fell perfectly around his face, just touching his collar, his smile lit up his whole countenance, and his crystal-clear blue eyes were still hypnotizing her. On top of that, he was sweet and charming, if in an eccentric way, and he had very strong magic in his blood. He could have any girl he wanted, and yet she knew he'd never believe it in a million years.
"Then allow me. You're going on a picnic with me."
"I'm sure I can clear an afternoon. Where would you like to go?"
"A lake near my house."
Michael's face froze. "You mean in..."
"Arundel. Yes. I'm going to ask my father if it's okay. I'm sure he'll say yes though."
Michael nodded slowly. She couldn't tell how he felt about her invitation. He obviously wanted to spend time with her, but how did he feel about going to Arundel? If Lucy had told him about them because of his depression, what would he expect from a visit to her world?
He finally asked, "Are you sure you know what you're getting into?"
She shook her head. "No." She smiled then to reassure him.
He raised his eyebrows, and she thought she detected a hint of a smile. "And that's okay?"
"Somehow I feel it will be worth it."
He smiled then and looked into her violet eyes. I'm glad I said hello.
So am I.
* * * *
Michael hadn't talked to anyone so much since his last therapy session. He'd actually been able to carry on a conversation with Raven for over an hour. Not only was he thoroughly enjoying it, but she still didn't seem bored with him. It helped she was doing most of the talking, but he could also feel himself opening up in a way that almost scared him. Except for those closest to him, he could only take other people in very small doses without getting restless or moody. He'd learned to cope over the years, but it was still hard at times, especially on social occasions such as this. Raven, however, put him at ease. She made him feel safe and comfortable.
His parents had been dead for two years, so except for a few cousins, it was just him and Lucy. He certainly didn't mind that, and his brother-in-law Ewan was his very best friend, but even at twenty-eight he felt his parents' absence very strongly. He never opened up to anyone, and though he felt comfortable with people knowing about it, he didn't like to talk about his lifelong battle with depression. Most people assumed spending a few days in the hospital because of depression was basically the same thing as being in a mental institution. He felt so sure people wouldn't understand that he rarely ever tried to explain.
Walking next to Raven though, he wasn't thinking about his depression and he wasn't worried about what would happen if she brought it up. They'd left the reception hall when he'd asked about Arundel. They couldn't chance anyone overhearing them talking too much about anything connected to Raven's family's true identity. To most of the mortals in the hall, Asyan was the eccentric millionaire behind the Rose Haven Trust. And Jennifer's parents thought Raven and her brothers were Asyan's siblings, not his children. Except for Lucy and Ewan, Jennifer's family and friends had no idea she was now queen of the fairies. Based on what Lucy had told him, it needed to stay that way. Keeping Arundel and its inhabitants secret was priority one for any fairie while in the mortal world. Only guardians such as Lucy and Ewan were let in on the secret.
Hearing about Arundel was strangely comforting, and it wasn't just because he was so attracted to Raven. Lucy had told Michael about their fairie blood because when Asyan heard about his problems, he'd suggested it could have something to do with magic. Michael would have loved to think that all he needed was a little help from a fairie to make his world a brighter place, but he also didn't want to get his hopes up. At the moment, he was learning some very fascinating things about the world from a girl he liked more with each passing moment. He refused to let his mind start planning happily-ever-after quite yet though.
"We actually tried to find out about your parents in Arundel, but no one knew them. It seems likely your family has carried fairie blood for several generations, so it might be hard to find out who you're descended from. Some fairies keep their secrets very well," Raven said.
"Maybe it's good the secret was so well kept. It's probably best for both our worlds. I doubt it's ever a good idea to go around saying you talk to fairies."
She nodded and pushed her hair behind her ears. It fell in her face again, and he fought the urge to stop beside her and run his fingers through it. "You might be right. We found Ewan's grandfather though. He's a mortal who was later Turned, and he's actually about twenty years younger than me. Ewan's grandmother was completely mortal, and their marriage only lasted about ten years before he returned to Arundel and she remarried, but Ewan's mother carried the fairie blood and passed it to him."
He laughed. "Really?"
"Yeah. We're used to it, but Ewan thought it was hilarious. He expected his grandfather to be old, but he didn't expect him to be from the sixteenth century." She looked over at him and raised her eyebrows.
He'd figured out by now this meant she was expecting him to say something. He thought for a moment, and then took a guess. "You're wondering if I'm going to ask how old you are?"
She nodded. "I'm the middle child, and my brothers are fifty years apart."
"Wow. Okay, you said sixteenth century, and he's younger than you. Hmmm. So how old are you?"
"Just the right age for you."
They both laughed. He'd never been around anyone so bubbly without being annoyed out of his mind. He usually couldn't stand happy people, except for his sister, but Raven made him want to smile, made him want to laugh. To be happy.
"That's good to know," he added.
She smiled. "If you really want to know, I'm four hundred and seventy."
"And your dad's a thousand, yet he looks only a few years older than you."
"My grandmother is one thousand five hundred, or somewhere in there, and she looks forty-five."
"How old is the oldest fairie?"
She laughed. "He doesn't know."
"He doesn't know. We only began really counting age in human years about the time my grandmother's mother was born, but don't ask me when that was. My dad's the scholar."
"I won't worry about it too much then, but I mean, when your lives are so long, how do you feel around people who've lived only a few decades?"
"We know humans and interact with them from the time we're born. It just works somehow. I can't really explain it." She poked him in the arm. "So don't worry about that either."
Even that slight touch sent a thrill through him. He had never been the kind of guy girls touched and flirted with. Lucy had once told him that if a girl touched his arm when she talked to him or pulled lint off his shirt, it meant she liked him. But the girls he'd liked had never even gotten that close.
Until now. He'd noticed Raven immediately. Her dark hair reached past her waist, her skin was like creamy porcelain, and her violet eyes addled his brain a little bit. She wore a lavender dress that fit like a dream, showing off her slim yet curvy body. He'd never felt such a strong desire to be close to any girl. He'd glanced at her about twenty times, and then suddenly he'd heard her talking about a guy. His heart sank, but then he'd heard her aunt mention him. When he finally worked up his courage and looked up, Raven was looking right at him, and he realized he was the guy she'd said she was checking out. He'd taken the chance in saying hello, and it had certainly paid off. Even if now part of him was still petrified.
"I won't. I am a bit of a worrier though," he said finally.
"Want to talk about it?"
He met her gaze, which was open and accepting. He did, but he didn't want to bore her. "Maybe. It could turn into a very long conversation though."
"We'll have plenty of time to finish it."
He thought for a moment, and then began, "I think the thing I really need to say is that I want to believe your father is right. He told Lucy I might suffer from such severe depression because I feel the pull of your world, but I don't want to just assume meeting all of you or visiting Arundel will solve anything. I don't just feel bad for no reason. I worry about the real things in life."
"I understand why you feel this way. You won't suddenly feel better just by going to Arundel, and I wouldn't expect you to suddenly change. Maybe it's best to just be open to it and see what happens."
"And be prepared for nothing to happen," he added honestly.
She hesitated, but then she nodded. He thought he saw a hint of disappointment in her eyes, but he wasn't going to call her on it.
"You're right," she said. "There isn't a spell for happiness."
He smiled, despite the somber feelings creeping up on him. "Talking to you has made me happier than I've been in a long time. Lucy'll be thrilled I had a good time tonight."
"I certainly am! Oh my god! I was wondering where you were. I might have guessed."
They both turned to see Lucy beaming at them.
"So, am I interrupting anything?" she asked, looking between the two of them with a mischievous smile on her face.
Michael usually didn't mind Lucy's teasing, but he felt his face flush. She could be a bit too forward at times. He'd been excited to tell her about meeting Raven, but his excitement melted away the moment she interrupted them.
Raven poked him in the arm. "I'm just annoying your brother. He seems to like it though."
He took a breath and held it. Why did he suddenly feel like a total dork just because his sister had come along? Nothing had changed. His brain told him to say something sarcastic and walk away, but he fought to keep that down. Instead he glared at his sister, though he couldn't say why he felt that was a superior alternative.
"Sorry. Guess I really was interrupting something," Lucy said. She smiled briefly at Raven and walked off.
Raven stared after her for a minute, and then looked back at him. "Did I miss something?"
He'd hurt his sister's feelings and acted like a jerk in front of the only girl who'd ever reached out to him. What harm would Lucy really have done? She knew his limits, and Raven liked him, genuinely liked him. Why had he done that? He tried to soften his expression, but it just didn't work. He'd been fooling himself all night. He wasn't meant to be happy.
"You got to see the real me. It's probably a good thing. Have a nice life in fairieland."
He walked away, shaking off her hand when she reached for him, even though her touch made him want to turn and take her in his arms.
* * * *
When Raven finally reentered the reception hall, no one was around but Lucy, Asyan and Jennifer. Her brothers, Erik and Lucian, and Ewan were carrying gifts and flowers outside. Everyone was looking at her as if they felt sorry for her.
"Okay," she began, "once again, I'm asking, did I miss something? Michael chose not to answer me, so someone here needs to."
"You missed my brother acting like a five-year-old. I'm kind of glad you weren't here to see it," Lucy said.
"Because he got upset, you think he acted like a little kid?" Raven couldn't believe that. They weren't being fair to him.
Lucy looked at Asyan and Jennifer. "I tried to stop him as he stormed out. He turned and screamed at me, then flipped a table over."
Raven followed Lucy's gaze. One of the small marble tables was actually broken in half, and broken glass from a vase still sparkled on the floor.
"I can't believe he did that." She knew she was being a bit childish herself in saying that, since no one had any reason to lie about such a thing, but she felt like defending him. She couldn't fight it because it seemed everyone was judging him too harshly.
"Raven," Jennifer said. "You only spent an hour with him. He doesn't do stuff like this all the time, but it does happen occasionally."
"Maybe because it's all anyone expects from him."
Asyan cleared his throat, trying to be diplomatic. "Sweetheart, why don't we talk about this later? I'm sure you think you've made some kind of connection with Michael, but you really don't know him at all. You can't defend or condemn his behavior because you weren't here."
She took a breath and thought about her father's words, even though they made her want to turn a table or two over herself.
"I get that, Dad, I'm just saying that, until someone else came along, he was fine. I think he got freaked out. He was talking and opening up, then he was reminded of his problems. It's not a big deal. If he overreacted, I can deal with that, even if everyone else can't."
"We're not saying that at all. He doesn't open up to people, so it's great he was finally talking to you, but it always ends this way. I'd hoped maybe it wouldn't this time," Lucy said.
"Then why bring him around at all? Why not just lock him up? If he's always like this around people, maybe he shouldn't be around them. If it 'always' ends this way, why bother? He got angry because your teasing embarrassed him. If you already knew he's as sensitive as you say he is, maybe you shouldn't have done that."
"Raven, I'm sorry. I didn't think teasing him would get this kind of reaction. He's usually fine with it. I guess I was jumping to conclusions. He looked so happy standing there. I thought he was having a good day."
"He was having a good day. I'm the first other psychic he's ever met."
Lucy's eyes widened. "He could communicate with you?"
"Yes, he could. He said 'hi.' You can ask Elwyn. She had no problem with me talking to him. We didn't know he was off-limits."
"That's not what we're saying, Raven. We just don't want you to get hurt," Jennifer said. "We only mean that you're going to have to be prepared for this kind of behavior sometimes."
Raven didn't look at Jennifer. A small part of her wanted to be a bitch and say, You aren't my mother. But she knew better than to cross that line. Jennifer was only trying to help her.
"Then what are you all saying?" Raven looked at each of them. "I almost never do as I'm told, but give it a shot. Just be honest with me. What are you saying?"
Lucy spoke first. "I'd love to believe my brother could be happy, be cured, whatever you want to call it, but I'm scared. I don't want him to have even more to hurt about. It just surprised us. That's all. We didn't want to hide it from you or sugarcoat it."
Raven sighed. "It's nothing to do with me at all, is it? That's what you really mean. It's all up to him. He can like me all he wants, but his problems tend to tell him what to do more than his heart or his head." Raven didn't want to be right, but given the way he'd run from her and blown up at his sister, there didn't seem to be any other options. How else could he have been fine one minute, then freaked out and angry the next?
Lucy sighed. "That's a pretty good assessment. If you try to see him again, he might run away. He might yell at you. He might start crying or be embarrassed as hell. Or he could smile and apologize, then ask you to go out to dinner so he can make it up to you. He's unpredictable, and that's about the only thing you can always count on. He comes to his senses, in the end, every time, but the road there could get very bumpy."
"We're not ganging up on you, or warning you to steer clear of him. We all know we couldn't tell you what to do anyway," Jennifer explained. "We just want you to know how hard it could be just being his friend. He's known me for years, but still gets a little antsy around me at times."
"He really liked you," Lucy said. "I could tell. It probably made his reaction worse. He just wanted me to leave him alone, and he probably got embarrassed because of the way he acted in front of you."
"I can't believe someone with such a beautiful smile could be so unhappy inside."
Jennifer stopped what she was doing. "You got him to smile?"
Raven shrugged. "Sure. He smiled like twenty times."
Jennifer and Lucy looked at each other. "Was he smiling when you went out there?"
Lucy shook her head. "He looked decently content though."
Raven laughed in disbelief. "You're kidding me? You don't believe he smiled? No wonder he gets mad every time one of you comes around." She hadn't flipped anyone off in about thirty years, but she suddenly felt the need burning inside her. Instead she turned on her heels and stormed out of the room.
As she pushed past Ewan and Lucian, she heard Lucy dryly say, "Maybe they're perfect for each other in their own freaky way."
No one laughed, and Raven kept walking when Erik asked her what was wrong. She could feel her father's concern breaking through his normally calm façade as she left the building. She ignored his mental nudge and pushed him away.
* * * *
Michael threw his keys on the table as he walked into the kitchen. He turned when he heard a crash.
His keys and a vase holding a lavender rose had landed on the floor. He picked up the rose and his keys, and then grabbed a paper towel. Broken glass was the last thing he needed in his house. He felt his arm burning. He had a scar from the one time he'd actually tried to kill himself when he was a teenager, and it usually burned when he thought about it. His therapist thought it was completely psychological, but of course his therapist didn't believe in magic and fairies. Jennifer had once commented about noticing magic surges when she felt strong emotions after her Turning. Michael believed it, and in a tiny way it made some parts of his life make a little more sense.
A note sat on the table. It read:
You've got yourself a stalker now. Can't get that smile out of my head.
He looked around. He didn't really expect her to appear, but he also couldn't believe she'd want to see him again at all. He'd been really rude to her, and he was sure that by now she knew what a jackass he'd been in front of everyone. He couldn't understand her wanting to have anything to do with him. He'd felt sure those last thirty seconds would make her forget the wonderful hour they'd spent together.
His cell phone rang. It was Lucy.
He sighed and answered it. "Hey, Lucy."
"Didn't expect you to answer."
"Tonight has been full of surprises."
"Can I ask you a totally freaky question first?"
"Sure." He didn't feel defensive because he was sure he couldn't say or do anything to make things worse.
"Good. What I have to say will be based on your answer."
"Spit it out then." What the hell could she have to ask him? If she asked him if he was in love with Raven or something equally melodramatic, he was going to throw the phone out the window without opening it first.
"Did you smile tonight?"
Michael stopped on his way to the refrigerator. He thought of Raven's note. "So what if I did? Why is it such a big deal?" Had Raven said something to his sister? Had they talked about him? That made him defensive. Lucy had a very bad tendency to ramble, and she wasn't very diplomatic when it came to telling stories about his past.
"Michael, please be serious and talk to me. I'm sorry I teased you. I'm sorry for whatever it was I did."
"You didn't do anything. It just got on my nerves. I can't explain it."
"What did you say to Raven after I left?"
"I told her to have a nice life in fairieland."
"Well, I didn't scare her off."
"What do you mean?"
"She left me a rose, a lavender one at that. She left a very flirty note saying she's stalking me now."
"Yeah. She must like her guys gothic and brooding."
"Well, your snippy little comment obviously didn't offend her, even though she didn't deserve it at all. She sure defended you to the death. Then stormed out. She didn't knock over a table, but I think she'd have thrown anyone who tried to stop her through a wall."
"She could probably do it too. She's a very powerful psychic." She'd defended him. Someone had obviously commented on his behavior or tried to tell her to forget about him. And she'd defended him, even though she didn't know him at all, even though his last words to her should have made her want nothing to do with him.
"She told me you were able to talk to her just fine, and she told me about you being able to talk to her psychically. I was speechless."
"I doubt that."
Lucy laughed. "Well, I'm sorry for never believing you. I guess there are lots of things in the world I need to be more open-minded about."
"Don't turn this around and make it your fault. I was too wound up. Something just snapped. I got embarrassed. I don't know. Being around so many fairies could have been bad, not good like you thought."
"Don't start thinking things like that. I don't think magic could or would do that to anyone." She paused. "Maybe you can talk to Mary about this. You know, just a little."
"It would be a stilted conversation. I have to get everything out or it doesn't work." He had an appointment with Mary the next day. Lucy trusted Mary and always encouraged him to talk to her when she herself didn't know how to handle a situation. He felt the same way about her and wanted to tell her all about Raven, but he didn't think it would help because he wouldn't be able to explain everything. He couldn't explain who she really was or what meeting her could have meant to him, emotionally and mentally. All he could say was he'd made a fool of himself in front of a girl he really liked.
A girl who seemed to still like him despite everything he'd done.
"But maybe you can try."
"We'll see. No promises." He paused, and when Lucy didn't speak, he asked, "How mad are you?"
"I'm more sad."
"Even though I didn't see it, I know you did smile."
"Why is that so important to you?" He knew why. He wasn't much for smiling, and he never had been. He'd surprised himself tonight, convincing himself that somehow he was making the effort to help Raven feel at ease. He normally felt very self-conscious when he forced himself to smile, but he hadn't really had to exert too much effort to feel like smiling around her.
"Maybe it isn't that big of a deal, but when Raven described your smile, I knew you two had made a connection."
His heart began to beat faster. He tried to make his voice sound level, not too excited or anxious. "What did she say?"
"She said she couldn't believe someone with such a beautiful smile could be so unhappy inside."
He stared at the rose lying on the table. "When I was talking to her, I was happy." He took a deep breath, knowing he had to keep going before his sister got too many ideas in her head. "I'm not saying I'm falling for her. I'm just saying how I felt around her. She's a fairie, and she's a psychic. And yes, she's the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. But even without her looks, talking to her was amazing. I can't describe it, Lucy, but please don't jump to any conclusions, and I mean any conclusions." He didn't want her getting her hopes up about his mental state anymore than he wanted her getting excited about the possibility of him and Raven getting together.
"I promise. But I'm going to be pretty hard on you."
Oh no. "What do you mean?"
"I want to see you standing in a room full of people, smiling the way I know you smiled at her tonight."
He almost laughed. "Are you going to be saying stuff like that all the time now?"
"It's quite possible."
"Then I'm calling Ewan instead of you tomorrow when I get home."
"Fine. Be that way."
"I always am, no matter how hard you guys try." He finally opened the refrigerator and pulled out a beer. "I'm hanging up now. I've talked about this longer than I wanted to. I need to wrap my head around it all before tomorrow."
He was very glad she knew when not to push him. "Okay," she said. "I love you."
"Love you too." He hung up and put his phone on the table. He stared down at his beer, and after a few seconds the cap popped off and landed on the floor. He picked it up and threw it away. His powers might be a fluke, like he'd told Raven, but he'd been working on them. His abilities were actually the one thing in his life he had complete control over. He couldn't keep himself from getting upset or angry at the drop of a hat, but he could move things with his mind and read people's emotions and sometimes their minds when he tried hard enough.
And he'd finally met someone who could understand. Someone he could talk to. Communicating with her had been so easy. He took a long sip, then picked up the rose and went into his bedroom. Despite the bad way the evening had ended, he felt better than he had when he'd dragged himself out of bed that morning. Somehow he knew he wouldn't have any nightmares tonight.
* * * *