By Laura Schiller

Based on the Wings Quartet

Copyright: Aprilynne Pike

The interrogation had been going on for what felt like hours.

Under the influence of a faerie truth serum (verified by Laurel and administered by Chelsea), Yuki had told her captors the truth: that Klea was an exiled Fall faerie working with the trolls to lead a revolution in Avalon, become queen and name Yuki as her heir. Klea believed that Queen Marion's rule was corrupt, especially her treatment of the so-called Unseelie. She had told them the locations of all the troll bases she could think of, information which Shar had immediately relayed to his comrades via cell phone. She had told them that while she knew she was a Winter faerie, she had only the vaguest idea of how to use her powers, which was why she had been mostly unsuccessful in reading Laurel's mind (the headaches and fainting spells were not intentional). She had even told them – reluctantly – that Klea was her biological mother, and since the death of her human foster-parents, the only family she had left.

She was exhausted, sunlight-deprived, her wrists ached from struggling against the ropes, and her entire body ached from being tied in the same position. Only one question remained, a question of her own.

"May I speak to Tam … Tamani … alone?"

Tam exchanged looks with Laurel and Shar, his tall blond commander, then nodded. Shar, Laurel, Chelsea and David left the kitchen in silent single file.

Yuki looked up at Tam from her helpless position, noticing, even now, just how beautiful he was with his jade-green eyes and cinnamon skin. He still wore his tuxedo; his arms were folded in a defensive, don't-come-near-me position as he glared down at her with a face like stone. Was it really possible that, only an hour ago, he had danced with her under shimmering disco lights and told her she was amazing?

"So was it all a lie?" she asked bitterly.

"I could ask you the same question."

"I love you, Tamani, and that's the truth. Or at least I thought I did."

His eyes widened and he took a step back, as if she disgusted him. This was not how she had imagined saying this.

"All I wanted was a normal human life," she continued, fighting back tears. "I never wanted to be Queen. I begged Klea to let me stay here, with Chelsea and Laurel and you, and leave me out of her political games. If you asked me to, I would have left her behind completely. And all that time … you were using me?"

"For all we knew, you could have been after Laurel's life," he snapped. "I had to find out what your intentions were."

"You didn't need to pretend to fall in love with me."

"It worked, didn't it?"

That hurt her the most. Even as she sensed that Tam and Laurel were her own kind and keeping it secret from her out of commendable caution, she had believed that Tam's smiles, jokes, soft touches and concern for her loneliness were sincere. At least now, she felt a little less guilty for lying to him – but it was still heartbreaking to realize that there had never been a single honest word between the two of them.

To his credit, a hint of remorse flickered in Tamani's eyes before he looked away.

"I want to make one thing clear," he said, raising his voice, perhaps for the benefit of the listeners outside. "I have never loved anyone but Laurel Sewell, and never will. I did what I had to do to protect her, and I'm not sorry."

"Well, I am." Yuki leaned back into the chair, a terrible sense of futility bearing down on her. She had failed everyone – Klea, her foster parents, herself.

"I'm sorry I listened to Klea so long, even if she is my mother … I'm sorry I couldn't stop her from poisoning Mr. Sewell, or Barnes from kidnapping Chelsea … I'm sorry I came to America at all and caused you so much trouble." She glared at him with concentrated venom. "And I'm especially sorry I kissed you, if it was so unwelcome."

The happiest moments of her life – standing on the swing with him, kissing him on the front porch, putting on her silver dress for him, dancing cheek to cheek – all false, all hollow. Oh yes, she was sorry for being so easily fooled.

Tamani threw up his hands and left the room, swinging around one last time in the doorway.

"I'll make sure you and Klea freeze in Hokkaido," he snarled.

Yuki smiled coldly, proud - no matter if they didn't agree - of her mother's cunning.

"You'll have to catch her first."