by Valerie Harmon
available on Amazon
During my short twenty-three years of life, I had seen a lot of luxury, but now I just wanted to stop and stare with my mouth open. Everything was so perfect. From the topiary bushes to the cobblestone paths leading to the main entrance stairs. I was told to go through the wide glass doors on the first floor. I entered the hall in which eleven girls were already impatiently waiting — the owners of the aerocars parked at the gates.
They greeted me with fake half-smiles, which looked like they were glued to their stone faces. Even with blockers, I could sense their feelings — irritation and hostility washed over me. But these emotions weren’t displayed on their faces in any way. I politely nodded, and they nodded back. After that, the guard asked me to take an empty seat on the sofa next to a blonde who was immersed in something on her phone.
Having taken my seat, I briefly smiled at the blonde and cast a cautious glance at the stairs, the marble steps of which led to the second floor. Once again, I tensed up. The Dark Ones could sense people like me — our smell, our essence. It was a pity we couldn’t sense them back, otherwise, I’d know for sure if the brothers were here now.
This uncertainty was scary and a little bit exciting.
I was, of course, a law-abiding fairy, and I preferred to avoid even the slightest attention from the Dark Ones. Nowadays we lived in peace with them. But three centuries ago, the fairies (as the Light Ones were once called) were ruthlessly hunted down and killed. The Dark Ones enjoyed hunting us, breaking our wings, and making us their bedroom entertainment. Until they got bored and got rid of us without a second thought.
And although a lot had passed since those times, this fear, fear of the mighty Dark Ones, was still present. We were born with it, and it poisoned us since childhood.
“Sonorina Lei, please, come here.”
Distracted by thoughts of the distant past, I didn’t immediately realize that it was my turn to meet with the future first lady of Grassor. For some reason, Felicia decided to talk to me first.
Followed by the displeased gazes of the other applicants, I followed the bride’s assistant into the cozy living room. Felicia was sitting on the sofa and flipping through a real rarity — a glossy magazine with wedding dresses. It looked like it was from the previous century.
Hearing footsteps, she looked up, and I was immediately charmed by the warmth of her eyes. They were the color of hazelnuts or milk chocolate, which I adored. Her cinnamon-colored hair was falling down her shoulder in one neat wave. In her turquoise dress, she looked like a model from the very magazine she had just been reading.
“Sonorina Lei, nice to meet you.” She rose and, smiling warmly, held out her hand to me.
Her smile was sincere and bright. I thought it’d be a pleasure to work with her. She didn’t seem like a problematic client.
If only the groom wasn’t a Dark One…
Telling myself to focus on the here and now, I shook her hand.
“Thank you for your time, Sonorina Solt.” I politely smiled back and nodded gratefully when she invited me to sit on the sofa.
“I rarely get to meet the Light Ones, let alone fairies… Are you a fairy?” Felicia couldn’t keep her curiosity at bay.
“There are so few of you left.” She sighed.
That’s because three centuries ago we were slaughtered by beings like your fiancé, I thought, but aloud I just replied: “Yes, there aren’t many fairies left in Kadris.”
Personally, I didn’t know any other fairies.
Although I didn’t really know a lot of people since I hardly ever went out. My life was devoted to Lita and work.
“I’ve always wondered how you manage to hide your wings under your clothes,” Felicia muttered, lost in thought. “And most importantly, why?” She looked up at me.
“Among the Light Ones, it’s still considered indecent to show them off,” I answered, choosing my words carefully.
“Is it like being naked in public?”
“In the past, only their beloved could see a fairy’s wings. Even the man with whom she’d spend her life was presented with this honor for the first time on their wedding night. I know that for some of the Light Ones our traditions are a relic of the past, but I still respect them.”
“How interesting… And you work for a wedding agency?” For some reason, it felt strange that she asked this.
“I don’t work, rather, I devote myself to what I love.” I perked up and continued enthusiastically. “For me, preparing a wedding is a kind of a sacred ritual. Each wedding is a unique event. Each couple has its own story. The main thing for me, for Felicidad, is to fill the months before the ceremony with cherished memories, and to make the wedding so unforgettable that people remember it with a smile on their lips and warmth in their hearts for many years to come.”
Felicia listened to me attentively, with interest, and I, encouraged by her reaction, began to share my ideas with her. I was actually excited because I really loved my job. I loved to make people happy, even the Dark Ones, although they rarely turned to us. Fortunately.
I saw that Felicia liked my suggestions, that she was really interested, and in my mind, I was already looking for an apartment behind the third circle when she unexpectedly interrupted me and stunned me with her words.
“Thank you, Sonorina Lei. I’m interested in some of your ideas, and I’ll definitely consider your candidacy for the role of my wedding planner. But I must say that other agencies have very interesting proposals, too. My assistant will contact you in the coming days and inform you of my decision.”
Felicia got up, held out her hand to me, hinting that my time was up and that it was time for us to say goodbye. I could hardly force myself to look away from the sofa, realizing that her words were actually a refusal. I didn’t know who or what had managed to get to her before me, but I couldn’t return to the office with a “my assistant will contact you”. Aurora would smear me across the wall or really fire me if she got too temperamental. Unfortunately, she was one of those people who didn’t throw words around without meaning them and didn’t go back on their decisions.
And I was one of those who didn’t want to end up on the street instead of in the third circle!
I had a kid and a bunch of hospital bills, which meant… Putting aside my pride, I smiled and gripped the outstretched, gentle hand. I felt a splitting headache. The kind that made you want to scream. But I clenched my teeth and continued to smile, influencing Felicia’s emotions, reshaping them as I wished.
I looked her straight in the eyes. Focusing only on her, I didn’t immediately notice that the room had turned gloomy and that the spots of darkness, that had appeared out of nowhere, had formed a human figure. And in the next instant, a strong man was gripping my wrist.
“At two, you have lunch with Sonor Sebastian. The press conference in the Grand Hall is scheduled for four, dinner with Sonorina Solt and her parents in the evening…”
Camila was dutifully going over the schedule for the rest of the day, while I, also dutifully pretending to listen to her, was actually thinking about where the hell Xanor had gone to again. Yesterday, he missed a meeting with the investors (apparently, he thought that the hotel in Maycore would build itself), and today, he didn’t show up for the board of directors meeting.
I wished I knew where he had snuck off to this time, and when he’d grace us with his presence again.
“Tomorrow at ten you’re expected in the Chamber of Sonors, and then…” Camila stumbled, noticing that I wasn’t paying attention to her. “Sonor Horos, should I continue?” she asked timidly, rolling the pen in her fingers.
Getting up, I went to the window. In the distance, behind a wrought-iron fence, I saw parked aerocars.
“We have guests?”
“Potential wedding planners, as far as I know,” she answered.
I grinned. They were quick.
Well, good luck, Felicia.
I turned back. Catching my gaze, Camila immediately lowered her head, focusing on the tablet again. I tried to focus on her voice, but I had no more patience for this. There was suddenly a smell… something sweet. Very sweet. I sniffed the air sharply.
A Light One. Here. Within these walls.
And it was a woman. She smelled too sweet. Like vanilla-caramel, or a huge Cinnabon. Each fairy had her own scent, and this one was just too strong. Too… challenging.
Yes, that’s it, that’s the right word.
Did Xanor come home with a fairy escort? No, his return would’ve been immediately reported to me. So, she must be with Felicia. Was she one of the wedding planners? I couldn’t help but grin again. Just what I needed — a fairy involved with my wedding.
“Sonor Horos, maybe I should come back later?” Camila asked, reminding me of her existence, and I snapped back to reality, still unable to ignore the smell.
I wanted to see its source. However, I drove this thought away and ordered Camila to continue.
A weekend in Alicantar? Why not?
Spending time with Felicia’s relatives? Well, a man has to endure.
Cropper game with Beltran? Easy.
Of course, presuming I don’t end up in jail for the murder of my brother before all this.
Thoughts about my brother were quickly replaced by thoughts about this fairy. Gods, she smelled so sweet. It wasn’t a surprise our ancestors were addicted to them. I had met fairies before, but I didn’t remember any of them having such a strong impact on me.
Maybe it wasn’t a fairy, but a perfume, a simulator, used by one of the girls who came to see Felicia? The smell kept distracting me, annoying me, taking me out of my work mood.
When will she get out of here?!
I sent Camila away and reached for a cigar. There was still an hour left before lunch with Sebastian, so I had time to relax. I hoped the cigar smoke would be able to overpower this smell before it got into the walls of my house and permanently moved into my lungs.
I didn’t even have the time to light the cigar. The sensation of magic literally overwhelmed me. A couple of seconds later, I was already downstairs, just in time to see the trash with wings trying to influence my fiancée. Not even blockers could stop her.
I grabbed the girl by the wrist and jerked her toward me, breaking the bond between her and Felicia.
At first, neither one understood what had happened. And then the fairy’s brain turned on, her big blue eyes widened, and color disappeared from her face. She tried to break free, push me away, she even hit me in the chest. Not because she was brave, but because she was terrified. I let her go, and she stumbled backward to the other end of the room. Frightened, she shrunk, reminding me of a frightened pet that knew it did something naughty.
And very irritating.