an Expatriate Sidhe story
She is a seasoned traveler, a successful stage actress – and a Sidhe who has left the realms of Faerie to dwell among humankind.
But little does Juliet McKenna expect that when she accepts a fellow performer’s invitation to a family Thanksgiving dinner, she will encounter a mortal with the ability to recognize her for what she is, and the arcane knowledge to bind her to his unwilling service.
Thus enspelled, she faces a choice with potentially deadly consequences: to return to Faerie and face the wrath of the High Court she once defied, or to satisfy Richmond Becket’s desire for power at any cost, no matter how high.
Read an Excerpt…
The word ‘library’ can mean many things when applied to a room in someone’s home, a surprising number of which have little to do with books. Richmond Becket’s library, however, did justice to the term’s traditional meaning. Bookcases tall enough to warrant ladders lined its walls, and a ring of tables, chairs, and more abbreviated shelving surrounded the conversation pit at the chamber’s center. A low, round hearth occupied the heart of this central area, and tendrils of smoke from the crackling fire swirled up into the chimney above it. Amy headed straight for the conversation pit, where she promptly stretched herself out on its well-cushioned circular couch, kicked off her shoes, and pointed her toes toward the fire. I, meanwhile, had paused a few steps into the room, where I stood and turned completely around, taking in the veritable army of books crowded onto the shelves.
“A fellow bibliophile, I see.” Richmond Becket had risen when Amy and I entered the room, and he eyed me with an amused air.
“But not, unfortunately, a collector,” I replied. “The great disadvantage of theater as a profession is that one dare not accumulate so many things that one cannot move them across the country on a week’s notice.” Or at least, I wryly observed to myself, one could not be seen to accumulate them. My own store of books, kept in a nondescript rented storage loft outside Chicago, was far less impressive, not least because my tastes ran largely to garish mystery yarns. Becket’s collection, by contrast, was an antiquarian’s dream, at least a third of it kept safely behind locked glass panels. The nearest bookcase contained a variety of historical and philosophical volumes, among them a weighty edition of Toynbee and what I suspected to be a first printing of de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.
“Most impressive,” I said, taking a few steps in order to examine the next shelf along the wall.
“Thank you.” Becket’s voice was closer than I had expected, and it took a moment’s concentration to stop myself from turning sharply towards him. I had been sufficiently absorbed in the books that I had failed to hear him cross the room to stand beside me–a rare occurrence, given senses twice as sharp as a mortal’s.
“You should really take a look at these,” he went on, gesturing toward a smaller bookcase standing by itself between a table and a tall-backed chair. “I picked up the bookcase this past spring, and it seemed only fitting to put the esoterica in it. I like to think I have nearly as good a selection as the original owner, although of course he wouldn’t have had the Blatavsky or the Crowley.
“Dear me,” he said, interrupting himself, “are you all right?”
With the mental equivalent of a deep, calming breath, I managed to steady my abruptly startled nerves, which had taken several jolts in the space of a few moments. ‘Esoterica’, of course, was the polite literary term for works dealing in the supernatural. Madame Blatavsky and Aleister Crowley had been two of the nineteenth century’s most famous dabblers in such matters. If Richmond Becket was a would-be mystic himself, I would need to keep close guard on my powers and on the bits of glamourie that allowed me to pass unremarked in human society. What puzzled me was the reference to the bookcase’s provenance.