28: An Illusion of Paradise
Emily paced the soulless lounge. Kaori, after a flustered argument with Joel over his inability to pack contraceptives, had stormed out of their apartment to “survey the local fashions”, as she put it. Emily spied her out the window, striding across the plaza. Doyle was there too, heading in the direction of the beach, no doubt hoping one of the local girls would fall for his blue-eyed charms. Vincent and Blake, Joel, Byron, they would all follow suit, sooner or later—they were young, after all, still victims to the hormones racing through their bodies, the primal need for pleasure, the touch of another. Upstairs, Ceres Mendoza and Korrie Wedekind were probably already indulging themselves in one another. Emily only hoped the apartment walls were soundproof.
Watching one of the local men try to help Katrina with her luggage, she let loose a long, exasperated sigh and shook her head. She’d not been here an hour and already she wanted to burn everything down. Maybe, were she a normal person, it wouldn’t irritate her so much—or maybe it was the irritation reminding her she wasn’t a normal person, that she was special, blessed. Maidens had no need for lust. They found no joy in the touch of another. For what pleasure they gave—and they gave much, so that their victims would never want for another—they received in turn knowledge, information, secrets, for a mind lost to the pleasures of the flesh was a mind open to the scrying of the soul. And here, in Avalon, in this illusionary visage of unscarred skies and gentle seas, where pleasure was a drug to numb the nerves to reality, no one would question her if she suddenly developed a taste for flirtation. If anything, they would simply assume her as lost to the fantasy as everyone else.
As Prince Freyr said, this trip wasn’t his doing, but he would take full advantage of the opportunities it presented—and he expected Emily to do the same.
She clutched her pendant. “But I’m not my mother,” she said. “You hear me, Freyr? I won’t be your tool.” She spoke to the vista of blue seas and golden streets, but she knew he was listening. He always was. This was his game and Aliza Adel his star player.
Emily froze: that was Ceres Mendoza’s voice. The Donaran girl was standing at the bottom of the stairs, head cocked in contemplation. “You mean Prince Freyr? Of the Court of Queen Áine?”
Emily fled into a moment, severing herself from the outside world. It was important not to panic, she told herself as the cool waters lapped at her ankles. The Donara had worshipped the Sidhe as deities, so it was natural for Ceres to have heard of Prince Freyr. And it wasn’t as if Emily had kept their relationship secret all this while—just yesterday, she had tried to introduce him to Shelley, Dante and Alonie. Ceres would have found out the truth eventually. The truth always came to light. All ‘Emily’ had to do was act natural, pretend like it was no big deal: a forest-dweller like Ceres most certainly had Sidhe friends of her own, anyway. She’d understand.
Back in the real world, she let the blood rush to her bronzed cheeks and put on one of those awkward, try-not-to smiles, the sort people made when somebody confronted them over a secret crush. “We have a passing acquaintance,” she said. “Nothing serious.”
Are Ceres and Korrie really nymphomaniacs, or just the victim of horny teenage boys exaggerating everything?