Disclaimer; I do not own Wicked Lovely or Ink Exchange
Noalee sat in a dark corner of the Rath, watching the other faes dance merrily around her. Usually she would be out amongst them, her body moving fluidly in time with the ghostly music and endless crowds, but tonight she wasn't in the mood. Instead she slowly sipped her wine, keeping an eye out for any faces she recognized. The hunt didn't take long. Already Niall was weaving his way towards her from the depths of thrashing bodies. He smiled brightly as he approached, and she offered a small wave in response.
"Why aren't you dancing?" he asked as he sat down close to her, taking a drink from the glass she offered. Noalee's eyes traced over the wild crowd in absolute boredom. She shrugged, bringing the glass back to her own lips.
"Just don't feel up to it tonight," she replied, allowing her gaze to rest on Niall once again. She knew he sensed the other reason for her unwillingness to join in the fun, and she looked away before she could see his eyes well up with sympathy.
The night Keenan had told her to go with him and his Summer Girls she had refused and ran. She ran as far north as Moosonee, Ontario before they caught up to her. Once again Keenan tried to convince her to go with him, and at one point even tried to force her. She ran again, this time towards the West, but she didn't get very far. Eventually it was Niall that convinced her to stay with them.
She heard him utter a soft sigh as he stroked her arm, more in a comforting gesture than a seductive one, but she ignored it. She didn't want his sympathy or anyone else's. Her lot had been cast the day she and Keenan had met. Before he had a chance to talk she quickly hurried on to a different subject.
"Shouldn't you be with your king? Where is Keenan anyway?" This time Niall sighed for a different reason, shooting her a look of disdain. He shook his head.
"He's your king, too, Noalee, even if he isn't a king quite yet," was his reply. He snatched the drink from her hands, once again taking a long gulp. Droplets of wine stuck to his upper lip, and Noalee was struck with the unhealthy urge of wanting to lick it off. She dug her nails into her palms to cancel out the effect he had on her, focusing on the cracks in the stone table they sat at. Being a Summer Girl, it was only natural for her to be… attracted to the higher-ups in the Summer Court, most of all Keenan himself.
It was why she chose to avoid him at all costs.
"Noa?" Noalee snapped away from her thoughts, the stress in her shoulders relaxing some when she noticed Niall had wiped away the wine droplets from his upper lip. He must have sensed her discomfort, because now he stared at her with a worrisome expression. He gently placed a hand over hers, pursing his lips slightly.
"Noa," he repeated, "are you feeling alright? You look pale, ashen even," at this he released her hand to brush her face gingerly, eyebrows knitting together in concern. Noa pulled away from his touch, cursing herself for not realizing her appearance sooner. Of course Niall would have seen it right away.
"What are you talking about? I feel fine," she assured him, not meeting his eyes directly. She could feel the scowl she knew he must be wearing. He leaned in close to her, murmuring low,
"Noa, when was the last time to bedded with Keenan?" Just as the thought always effected her, Noalee felt heat rise to her face, accompanied by the familiar fiery rage she always felt when such a thing came up.
Being a Summer Girl she couldn't be away from Keenan for too long without withering away and becoming a Shade. This also accounted for being with him physically, something Noalee had fought with constantly in the beginning. When the facts of it first reached her ears she had resisted, thinking it was only a trick until, eventually, she did begin to wither away. Her very essence drained of both color and energy until Keenan finally begged for her- with sunlight streaming down his face- to join him so she wouldn't perish.
The worst part of it all was, Noalee couldn't even hate him for it.
Niall ran a hand through his hair, uttering a heavy sigh. He shook his head, seeing the stubborn flare of anger rising in her.
"Noa, please stop doing this," he begged. "You always push yourself to the limit until you're at your very last stretch of energy. Why should you fight it when you know being with him is healthy for you?" Noalee crossed her arms, her bottom lip jutting out in a pout similar to that of a spoiled child.
"Because I don't want to," she replied with the same brat-like quality in her voice, though that fact wasn't necessarily true. She was a Summer Girl, of course she wanted to. It was the human part of her- the very part she clung to desperately by her fingernails- that didn't.
"Will you go to him tonight?" Niall pleaded, taking her hand under his again. "He's supposed to be gone for a long while afterwards. Take this chance now and be safe, please? Don't have me watch you fade again," Noalee cringed under his smoldering gaze, knowing he was right in asking her this for her own safety, but hating him for it at the same time. Finally, she gave in with a sigh.
"Alright, I'll go to Keenan tonight," she relented, her mind both glad and resentful of it. Niall brightened, standing as a few other faes waved for him to join them on the dance floor. He cast her one last, stern look before disappearing into the crowd. Groaning, Noalee downed the rest of their shared drink and stood, weaving back through the throng of fellow Summer Faes towards the exit.
When Noalee knocked, Keenan answered, looking a bit taken aback to see her standing there. His surprise quickly gave was to utter joy and he smiled brightly enough to want to bring tears to Noalee's eyes.
"Noa, hello," he greeted, moving aside so she could enter the room. He shut the door quietly behind her as she shed her glamour. She turned back around to face him, stoic of any expression as he lead her to the couch. "I haven't seen you around much lately. I know that it's mostly my fault, and I apologize," Keenan admitted, offering her the same drink she'd polished off at the Rath. He flashed her another heart-wrenching smile as he sat down next to her, his own drink in hand. Noalee brought her drink to her lips, thinking grimly how nice it would be if it could hold the same numbing effect alcohol did for humans.
"Keenan," she started, not really sure how to state her reason for being there. Keenan waited patiently for her to continue, placing a hand atop of hers. A familiar, shocking sensation ran through her hand and she quickly pulled away. She cringed at the sudden, hurt look on Keenan's face, but it was quickly gone and replaced by another smile. He leaned back and away from her, giving her the space he believed she wanted. Despite everything he'd done to her, Keenan was really good at giving her such needed space.
Noalee bit her lip, setting down her glass. "Keenan," she tried again, still failing at forming the words she needed. She opened her mouth to try a third time when Keenan cut her off, a scowl similar to Niall's shadowing his beautiful face.
"Noa, you look unwell," he stated bluntly, leaning in again and taking her face in his hands. The same electric jolt ran through her and she suppressed a shiver. "Perhaps you should stay with me tonight…to be safe," he added in a low tone. Noalee tried and failed to look away from his eyes.
"That's actually the reason why I'm here," she answered back difficultly in a strained voice. "Niall said you would be leaving for awhile and practically forced me into seeing you before you go," Keenan smiled, releasing her face with a slight chuckle.
"I'll have to thank him later," he replied cutting himself short when he noticed the look on her face. He smiled to her again, but she could see the stress behind it.
"We don't have to, if you're really against it Noa," he told her. Noalee swallowed hard, wringing her hands together.
"Me being against it has nothing to do with it, Keenan, we both know that," she mumbled in reply, regretting her words instantly when another fleeting look of pain crossed his lovely face. She hated when she hurt him this way, though reason told her she shouldn't. He was the one who'd stolen her life away, after all, and now because of that they were both forced into this situation. But still, Noalee couldn't hate Keenan. It went against her whole nature as a Summer Girl.
Keenan stood, offering her his hand. She took it, standing with him, and he lead her into the bedroom. There he took her into his arms.
Noalee sat with her legs dangling over the edge of the bed, staring at the subtle glow of her arms in the moonlight. The glow wasn't as strong as it would have been in the day, but it was definitely brighter than it had been three days ago. Clenching and unclenching her hands she stood, throwing on her shirt and quietly heading towards the door. She opened it a crack, turning back to see Keenan sitting up in the bed. She couldn't read the expression on his face, but she knew exactly what he was thinking.
"It will get easier," he told her,. "The more time that passes and you forget your human life, it'll get easier," Noalee stared at her king in silence for several human heartbeats before slowly shaking her head.
"I will never forget," she replied and slipped out the door, quietly closing it behind herself and leaving Keenan in the dark alone.
Not as good as I hoped for it to be, but bear with me until I get a few more chapters out, won't you? Promise it will get better.
Also, quick appology if you think any of the characters were a bit too out of character, if they were at all. I haven't read the book in awhile. (I'll be brushing up on it for the sake of this, though, don't worry about it)