Mercy Thompson


Mercy Thompson Book 7 - Page 54

"No," Asil said. "The cuffs are in the trunk with the dead woman - who it is probably safe to assume is Spice." He grimaced. "Did she pick the name from the singing group?"

Tad smiled. "Not unless they were around a couple of centuries ago."

"Sliver is alone?" Zee sounded for a moment like a hunting wolf. "Interesting." Then he looked at Mercy again, and some of the inhumanity slid away from him.

"Stealing someone's willpower was always a rare and difficult fae gift," Zee said. "It's a spell easier to work on someone who is asleep or happy."

Mercy shivered, as if she were suddenly cold, again. "I don't like being obedient." Adam hugged her and wished he could go back and kill the man who'd done this to her last time before he'd hurt her. Wished, at the very least, he could protect her from her memories because if this was making him remember, it had to be doing the same to her. Rage choked him - and Mercy patted his arm in reassurance.

Zee caught his eye and nodded grimly, and Adam knew he wasn't the only one unhappy that such a spell had caught Mercy again. "Peace and Quiet was made as a gift for a fairy queen who collected the wrong fae's son into her court."

They'd run into a fairy queen before. They weren't fae royalty precisely but had a gift that allowed them to enslave humans and fae alike. Almost like a honeybee queen, they set up courts designed to both feed their power and entertain them. Not Adam's favorite kind of fae.

"She didn't last long," Zee continued, "because the cuffs only work for a short period of time on the fae, though it can be more permanent on humans."

Zee put his hand under Mercy's chin and looked into her eyes. "The woman who gave the fairy queen the gift wanted her son back. Once the queen died, all the humans and fae went back to their old lives."

Without the glamour, his slate gray eyes were brighter and odder-colored.

"Beware of fairy gifts," Mercy said.

"And Greeks bearing gifts," agreed Zee without a pause.

"How do we break the spell?" Adam asked. "Killing the woman didn't seem to work."

"Love's true kiss," Mercy said, though Adam had been asking Zee. "But I can't kiss Adam because it hurts him. Too much silver."

A kiss?

Adam looked at Zee who shrugged. "Actually, a kiss from someone who loves you is an effective remedy for a number of the effects of fae magic."

All right then. Adam lifted Mercy's chin and kissed her. He'd kissed her at Sylvia's apartment, too. But this time he didn't let the burn of the silver distract him.

He pictured his Mercy in his mind. Mercy holding a plate of cookies in the hope that they would make her neighbor feel better after his wife left him. Mercy baring her teeth at him because he'd annoyed her by trying to make her stay safe. Mercy pulling the damned tires off the wreck in her backyard because she was mad at him. Mercy shooting Henry before the cowardly wolf could challenge Adam while he was hurt.

And his lips first bled, then blistered against hers.

He accepted the pain and put it behind him, letting his body feel only the softness and warmth of hers. He took in a breath through his nose and let her scent surround him. This, this was his Mercy, and he wanted her - mind, body, and soul, she was his. And he was hers. The kiss warmed up, and he pulled her tighter into his body and let the heat of their kiss spread through his body in hopes it would catch flame in her.

She returned his kiss, her body softening - his partner in this as in so many things. She fit against him well - all muscle with just a hint of softness, smelling of burnt oil, harsh orange-scented soap, and Mercy.

Then every muscle in her body tensed, and she started to struggle. He held her just a little longer, to relish her fight, which told him the spell had been broken. But Mercy knew how to break the grip of someone who was larger and stronger than she was. That he didn't want to hurt her was of more use to her than his strength was to him. She twisted her wrists to break his hold and ducked out and away.

"Damn it, damn it, Adam," she raged at him, while Adam caught his breath. "You don't let me hurt you like that. You haven't eaten since God knows when because I can see your ribs. You've lost twenty pounds in two days. Too much shapeshifting, not enough food - and having to heal yourself every time you touch me just makes it worse. And then you let me hurt you, you stupid, stupid ..." She was so mad, the words wouldn't come out of her mouth.

"Or you could try to force her to do something absolutely against her will," said Zee casually. "That works more often on this kind of magic than love's true kiss."

Chapter Nine

Adam's lips were blistered, and his face looked like he had a bad sunburn. I'd done that to him.

"You don't ever do that." My voice, my whole body shook from the shock of the magic breaking, from my momentary inability to stop hurting Adam. "I just got you back." The coyote inside me wanted to take a bite out of something, anything in a frenzy of ... in a frenzy. "I can't touch you without hurting you. Don't let me hurt you." The last sentence came out as a whine, and I realized I was babbling. I shut up.

Instinctively, I backed away, so I was in no danger of touching anyone. I didn't want to contaminate anyone with the remnants of that magic - filthy magic - on me. Didn't want to hurt Adam again. Didn't want to touch him with my filthy skin, I was dirty, dirty. That was wrong.

I knew that was wrong. An echo of trauma that never quite left me, though its hold was not as vicious as it had been. I tried to collect myself and center on the real issue here. On Adam.

A trace of blood trickled down Adam's chin, but the red flush on his skin was disappearing as I watched. Silver burns. I touched my lips. It was from the silver and not some weird taint of the magic that had robbed me of my will, or a taint that lingered from that long-ago rape. I knew that, but it still felt like the two were entwined - the fae magic and the marks on my mate's face.

"That silver," said Zee, "is something I can help you with, Mercy."

I looked at him, my heart still pounding - with anger at Adam, with the release of a magical spell I hadn't really believed in until it left, and with a shadow of memory. I remembered listening to Tad tell us that I'd had my will stolen away, and I had been ... uninterested. I'd felt that way before.

"The silver," Zee told me, his eyes sad as if he knew where my thoughts were dwelling. "Just the silver. The rest is over and done."

"Okay." My throat was tight, and I didn't want him to touch me. Didn't want anyone to touch me ever again, but I knew that made no sense.