Summer knew it was Barker keeping Hannah from running off. At first she couldn’t figure out how it worked, and supposed it was some kind of Binding Cant, the sort the First Kings had used to ensure the loyalty of the sidhe Court. Summer was suitably impressed, because she’d never believed any of her mama’s people were still strong enough to exert that sort of power. Not after centuries of exile on mortal soil.
So maybe she caught herself making eyes at Barker again, even though she knew he wasn’t likely to ever notice. He was brave and fine to look at, and a little scary, and the closest thing to a piece of the Fairy Court she had left.
Besides, pretending to fall in love with Barker was much more fun than thinking about Winter locked away in the sluagh world, maybe forever, probably forever. And she’d been the one who’d made it happen.
So she spent the entire drive from D.C. to Yorktown staring out the window of the embarrassing mini-van Brother Dan had insisted on renting, and she wasn’t watching the boring scenery ghost past. Because Barker didn’t travel in cars. Barker rode a motorcycle, one of those sleek black machines with ton of chrome and a purr that rose to a growl when he really had somewhere to be.
Her papa had given Malachi the motorcycle before Summer was born; she didn’t remember a time without it. In her head Barker and his ride intertwined.
Once, right before her eighth birthday, she’d decided the motorcycle was some sort of mechanical pony, and she’d wanted a ride. Mama had protested vehemently, so loudly even Papa hadn’t dared challenge her.
Barker had taken her on a ride anyway, waiting until her parents were out or simply unaware. He’d even found Summer a child-sized helmet, black with pink flower decals, and he’d made her dress in her best leather boots.
“It’s like flying,” he whispered in her ear as he set her on the seat between the handlebars and his lap. “Only better.”
The only flying eight-year-old Summer had ever done was on an airplane, and she was quickly convinced that Barker’s bike was much more fun. It wasn’t like riding a pony at all, it was like dreaming in fast-forward.
Mama found out, of course. Barker limped for a whole two weeks after, and Summer tried not to hug him too tightly so he wouldn’t bleed through his shirt.
She still thought that midnight ride through Manhattan, wind screaming over the crest of her helmet, Barker laughing into her shoulder, was the best almost-birthday present she’d ever had.
Lolo interrupted her daydream, spoiling it because he ruined everything, always.
“Man, I’d like to ride that rocket,” he said, and he made the words sound dirty. He leaned over Summer’s shoulder to stare out the window at Barker. “Think he’d let me try?”
Summer pushed Lolo away.
“That’s a Ducati,” she said, smirking. “Barker doesn’t let anyone touch it.”
Lolo sighed. He shifted restlessly on the bench they shared. Then he glanced ahead at the front of the minivan, and lowered his voice.
“Did you notice?”
“What?” Summer wished Lolo would shut up. She wanted to stare out the window some more and pretend they weren’t already more than halfway to Yorktown.
“What Hannah’s wearing.”
Hannah was wearing vintage Versace pulled from Summer’s closet because the fancy gown the changeling had been wearing when Winter kidnapped her was pretty much ruined in the by the time they’d made Manhattan, covered with burns and sweat-stains and ripped in several places. Winter didn’t appreciate fashion.
“Vintage,” Summer said. “1990s. Christy Turlington wore that shirt and trousers. Pink’s not really Hannah’s color, but – “
“No, stupid,” Lolo hissed. “On her wrist. Look familiar? Don’t stare!”
Summer wasn’t sure how she could pretend not to stare from three feet away. Luckily Hannah didn’t look like she was paying attention to around her. She’d curled up in a ball on the front passenger sheet, feet tucked up under her thighs, head tilted against the car window, long black hair flipped forward, concealing her face.
She’d scooted about as far away from Brother Dan as she could get, and she was either asleep, or pretending really well.
Summer couldn’t help feeling a tiny bit sorry for her. Summer knew what it was like to be the daughter of a sidhe Queen. Hannah would never have a chance to find out.
“Win says she’s a right bitch – ” Lolo whispered, rolling his eyes, because he knew Summer well enough to read her mind.
“Lorenzo,” Brother Dan cautioned quietly from behind the wheel. “Language.”
Lolo groaned, then actually leaned forward, plucking at Hannah’s closet sleeve, pulling it gingerly up her arm, baring a thin wrist.
“See,” he said, low-voiced. “Fairy handcuffs. Your mother doesn’t miss a trick, does she?”
Hannah twitched but didn’t stir. Summer blinked. Not real handcuffs like the NYPD carried, but a single thick bangle of seamless fairy amber, gleaming yellow against Hannah’s pale flesh.
“Oh,” Summer said.
She looked away from the yellow bangle, and stared out the window, swallowing hard, because Lolo ruined everything, always.
It wasn’t a Binding Cant after all, nothing so romantic as old magic and Barker’s hidden talent. It was Siobahn and her vicious, clever parlor tricks, and when Summer squinted through the tinted window, she thought she could see the matching glow of amber on Barker’s wrist beneath the edge of his sleeve.