Marjani's skin prickled. She sipped her ale and glanced
A tall, rangy man with shoulder-length blond hair slouched
at a nearby table, drinking a beer. He met her eyes, not bothering to hide that
he was checking her out.
Her breath snagged.
Holy singing crystals, he was beautiful, with slanted
cheekbones and sky-blue eyes framed by dark eyelashes. His straight nose had a
small bump on the bridge, a tiny imperfection that only heightened his appeal,
and his black ribbed sweater stretched across a hard chest.
His cheek creased in a smile—and fear wrapped icy fingers
around her lungs.
She jerked her gaze back to her sandwich, her stomach tight,
heart thudding in her ears.
Damn, she hated this. A couple of years ago, she might have
smiled back, seen where this led. But not anymore. No one touched her. She
didn’t even let members of the clan get too close.
A shadow fell across the table.
She snarled, her cougar rising to meet the threat. She
forced it down. Shifting in the middle of a human pub could be fatal. The fada
and humans had treaties about those things. A fada shifting in a pub for no
reason would be automatically targeted by the authorities as feral.
She could be shot on sight—or slapped in a cage.
And she’d have to admit Adric was right after all—she was
too broken, too close to going feral, to be out on her own.
The tall blond smiled down at her. Spoke.
Still fighting the cougar, she had to concentrate to make
sense of his words.
“I said, mind if I join you?” A surprisingly deep voice,
gravel wrapped in silk.
She shook her head. “Yes.”
He lifted a single dark brow. “No, you don’t mind, or yes,
“Yeah, I mind. I don’t want company.”
His gaze went to the slight lump her quartz made beneath her
sweater. “Your accent is American, which means you’re from one of two clans.”
Fine hairs rose all over her body. He was correct; the only
earth fada clans in North America were her own clan in Baltimore and the Navajo
clan in Arizona.
But how had he made her as an earth fada so fast?
Her nostrils flared, subtly testing the air. Human—he smelled
of salt and iron—but with a trace of silver. The man had fae blood, although it
might be so faint he didn’t know it himself. Overlaying it was a pleasant
grassy scent, as if he spent a lot of time outdoors.
Her cat liked his smell, but the human part of her didn’t
like that hint of fae. Not on top of the fact that he knew a little too much
about earth fada.
She eased the switchblade from her pocket and released the
catch with a quiet snick.
“You don’t want to use that.” He set his plate and glass on
her table and took the chair across from her.
Leaning back in his chair, he rested an arm on the back as
if she were an old friend instead of a pissed-off shifter with a sharp blade
aimed at his privates.
“Too messy. I’m
guessing you don’t want to draw attention.”
“How did you know I’m an earth fada?” she asked, soft and
dangerous. “Did Corban send you?”
“Who?” His surprise seemed genuine—and besides, her cousin
would never ally himself with a human.
She shook her head. “Never mind.”
“Don’t worry.” His voice dropped as well. “No one else in
here noticed—or if they did, they didn’t care. Icelanders are used to magical
She narrowed her eyes. “That’s not an answer.”
“What was the question?”
Her breath hissed between her teeth. The man was maddening.
“How,” she repeated,
“did you know what I am?”
He grinned, a flash of white against tanned skin. “It’s your
“You didn’t walk in here, you flowed—like a dancer…or a cat.
Every earth fada I’ve ever met walks like that.”
She made a mental note to clomp out of the pub like a
freaking Clydesdale horse. “And that interests you—why?”
Another shrug. “It doesn’t. I just liked the look of you. If
you want me to leave, I will.”
She relaxed fractionally. He was right, she didn’t want to
draw attention. And his scent had the pureness of truth. He didn’t mean her
In fact, all she scented was…interest, of the sexual kind.
Was he *flirting* with her?