I continued to watch Iston until he disappeared around the side of the palace. “It still hurts my heart,” I confessed.
Merrick draped an arm over my shoulder and squeezed. “Iston will move on one day. At least, now the tension between your court and the elves has lightened.”
“Yes,” I agreed.
Merrick pointed up at the palace. “Are we walking up that way?”
It was getting late, and I had a dream date to get ready for. “Actually, no. I think I want to head back home.”
He slid his arm off my shoulders, and we went back through the gardens toward my cottage.
“What have you been up to while I’ve been busy?” I asked him. When he didn’t answer, I glanced over at him to see a sly smile on his face. “What’s that look for? Are you keeping something from me?”
“Maybe,” he replied, giving me a wink.
“Do you remember Aubri? You helped her cross over after Kai’s brother killed her?”
I did remember her. She was a beautiful Summer fae. “Yes. And?”
Merrick shrugged. “We’ve grown close since she’s been in the Hereafter.” There was a look on his face I recognized all too well. He was in love.
“I see,” I said, feeling my heart swell. “This makes me happy. I hoped this day would come.”
Merrick smiled at me. “Me too. I never thought I’d have these feelings for someone other than Calista.”
We made it to my cottage, and I opened the door. “Sometimes love finds us when we’re not expecting it.”
Merrick shut the door behind us and followed me into the kitchen. “Are you going to see Kai tonight?”
Grinning, I grabbed the bottle of faerie wine on the counter and fetched a glass out of the cupboard. “I am. I have some good news to tell him.”
Merrick cocked his head to the side. “And you can’t tell me?”
I poured my wine and took a sip. “Nope. It’s a surprise. You’ll find out tomorrow.”
Everything was going to change.
* * *
The past weekwith Kai had been some of the best moments I’d ever spent with him. Not only was he spending time with his mother, but he also got to meet his grandparents. I’d learned so much about him and his family during these few days.
His mother had been a seamstress for my grandparents on my father’s side, King Madoc and Queen Mab of the Winter Court, before she left to live in the mortal realm. And his grandfather had been a Winter warrior. I hoped to see his mother again one day and meet his grandparents when I was allowed back in the Hereafter.
Before bed, I drank another glass of wine and changed into one of my silky nightgowns. When I slipped underneath the sheets, I closed my eyes and pictured the setting where I wanted my dream to take place. I envisioned a glass igloo in the middle of a snowy escape with a king-sized bed and nothing but the northern lights dancing in the sky above us. Once I had that in my head, it didn’t take long for sleep to pull me in; I welcomed it with open arms.
There was no romantic igloo or winter wonderland waiting for me when I stepped into the dream world. Instead, all around me was a blank white canvas with swirling fog.
“Kai?” I called out.
A few seconds later, his sorrow-filled voice echoed behind me. “I’m here.”
Jerking around, I faced him, only for my heart to plummet. There was no smile, no emotion. Keeping his eyes on mine, Kai reached for me, the feeling of agony growing worse in my gut the longer he looked at me.
“What the hell is going on?”
He cupped my cheek. “We need to talk.”