Warren shoveled dirt over the body until the soil came up a few inches below the rest of the flowerbed, then filled the rest with topsoil. Later, his sister would plant flowers. He couldn’t, as the blood still on his hands would be bad for the tiny plants. When the last topsoil was in place, Warren hurried inside to shower. He never felt really cleansed of a kill until he’d soaked himself in scalding water. It wasn’t in the least a moralistic thing, but the scent of the homeless crazies they picked up (after assuring that they had no friends who could be coherent to the garda) tended to be rank, and cling. But they were so good for the flowers, who never minded the smell.
Cait dragged another box up the narrow, steep stairs behind the new shop. It was her job to take things up to the ‘house’ part of the row house while her parents set up the butcher shop. She’d no idea why her brother got out of helping, as he had vacation coming up from the Garda, and ought to use at least some of it to help with the move. Returning to the van, she grabbed another box, then turned and bumped into someone. “Oh!”
Warren took the box and smiled. “Sorry to give you a fright. I’m your neighbor just across the passageway, Warren Blithe.”
Cait smiled at the charming man. “Cait Hurley. So you’re the florist?”
“My sister, actually. I mostly just do the heavy lifting. Speaking of which, give you a hand with the boxes?”
Cait glanced down at the box he held and considered the stupidity of letting a stranger into her new home, the looked up and smiled. “Sure. Just follow me up the stairs.”
Warren and Cait carried up the rest of the boxes and wrestled up the chesterfield together by the time the other Hurleys had finished setting up the butcher shop for the day. Warren stretched a hand out to Mr. Hurley as he came in the door. “Hello, Mr. Hurley. Warren Blithe from next door, just thought I’d come over to help you move in.”
“Well, Blithe, happy for the help. Cait, why don’t you run down to the chippie we passed and pick up some for everyone.”
Warren smiled and offered. “I can show you to one just down the street.”
Cait returned his smile, a little shyly. “That’d be great.”
When the butcher shop opened, Warren and his sister Shannon were the first customers. When they closed the shop up for the day, the five of them went to the Indian restaurant a few blocks over for curry.
Warren spent the weeks insinuating himself further into Hurleys and Cait’s life. She was an amazing girl, and Warren found himself interested in her mind as well as her other charms. So he took her out for coffee, for a night at the pub, to the local football match. And felt himself slipping, getting too involved.
Involvement with humans was discouraged on any deep level, as it became tempting to tell them things that threatened everyone. But Warren told himself he wasn’t that involved, even as he fell.
He found himself thinking of her all the time, though tried to contain it when contemplation of her during fertilizer acquisition ended with a disturbing mental image of himself slitting her throat.
He really shouldn’t. But that didn’t stop Warren from leaning in, tasting her. Then it had to be more than just a taste, because she was so damn sweet. Then he had her back pressed the wall of the passageway, and she was clutching his neck, and she made a little noise in her throat, and he felt himself tumble. A golden glow spread between them, and Cait broke the kiss. “What’s the glow?”
Warren looked down, then squarely met her eyes, searching them. A pure soul, pale as ice, but so much warmer, Cait didn’t have any part in his world, where a social misstep could lead to bloodshed and a political mistake to eternal exile. Maybe that was why he loved her. “It’s my heart.”
Still pressed close to him, Cait looked at him, and in a small voice, said, “Most people’s hearts’ don’t glow.”
Telling a human that he was fey, with it’s attached sentence, should be the toughest decision of his life. But with Cait, somehow it wasn’t a decision at all, and so the words spilled out, “I’m not human. I’m Fey. And I love you.”
She looked him straight in the eyes, looking for truth, and he dropped his glamour. His gray eyes shone brightly silver, the dark hair reflected blue, and horns shimmered on the top of his head.
Cait took all of this in, and fainted.
Warren carried her inside his house, to be greeted by Shannon leaning in the doorway of the kitchen. “You know I can’t protect you from Fob on this one, right?”
As she referenced the local Fey lord, Warren felt a chill go down his spine. If Fob found out, it would get really ugly. Though he couldn’t harm Cait; no Fey could legally harm a love match, even if they were only human. Warren didn’t look at Blithe as he responded, “I know.”
Cait regained consciousness quickly, and Shannon made herself scarce. Cait looked at Warren, then around the room, then back at Warren. She didn’t say anything. The silence stretched out, until Warren, who should have been well used to tense silences, broke.
“I love you, too.” The words spilled from Cait’s lips softly.
He read her face, her words, and the constriction on his chest eased. “What about . . . the other stuff?”
“It was . . . a shock. Um. Really. But it doesn’t matter.”
Warren cocked a brow at her. “Most people tend to balk at interspecies relationships.”
“Ew. So totally don’t condone bestiality.” Cait smiled at him.
Warren let out a soft laugh, and kissed her again.
Fob sat on a bench at the corner of the park reading the Globe and Mail. Warren crossed to the other side of the street and hunched his shoulders to try to avoid notice.
Warren flinched as the words reached him, then turned and crossed the street to Fob, not bothering to look at the traffic he barely avoided being run over by.
As Warren sat, Fob turned a page, but didn’t look up from his paper. “So, you told her.”
“Yes.” Warren didn’t question how Fob knew. You never questioned Fob, and he always knew.
“Well, since you’re so fond of spilling secrets, you’ll continue spilling them until the day you die, but no one will believe you, because you’ll be drunk and crazy and say ‘ma ma ma millennium hand and shrimp’ every second sentence.”
That didn’t seem such a terrible curse. Warren could control that. Actually it was a bit of a funny curse. Seeing the words ‘millennium hand and shrimp’ hanging in the air was actually quite hilarious, and Warren slouched over trying to contain his laughter. “Ma ma ma millennium hand and shrimp? That’s fabulous.”
His words didn’t come out as expected, the words crooked and the letters hanging drunkenly off each other. In dawning horror, he watched them bounce off each other and recombine incoherently.