Across the Veil
By Lisa Kessler
Across the Veil
Copyright Lisa Kessler 2011
Published by Lisa’s Lair
This story is dedicated to Ken for always believing in me, even when I didn’t. I’m lucky to have you in my corner.
Across the Veil – By Lisa Kessler
Her stilettos clicked down the dark alley as she did her best to run. Freaking shoes. At least her fall would look real. Hitting her mark, her ankle turned and gravity did the rest. She hit the pavement hard, knocking the wind from her lungs. The only thing between her face and a bad case of road rash was a large scuffed black leather boot.
“Cut! Print!” The director bellowed. “Nice job Natalie. I could see the fear and uncertainty on your face. Really great work today.”
Dillon removed his boot from under her face and offered her a hand. “Are you all right?
The fall looked like it hurt.”
Natalie dusted off her jeans and smiled up at him from under her lashes. “It’s supposed to look that way, remember? It’s called acting.”
“Well you did an amazing job.” He chuckled. “You always do. So you want to grab a beer?”
“Nah, I need some quiet me time in my trailer.”
“Suit yourself,” he said as he walked away. She watched him go. Dillon looked amazing in his not-too-loose-yet-not-too-tight jeans.
Natalie turned around and made her way upstream through the production team toward her trailer. They’d been in Arizona for nearly three weeks shooting the special two-hour season premiere movie, and tomorrow she’d be heading back to her home in Malibu. She was ready to get out of the desert heat and back to a more temperate California coast. But the climate changed immediately when she opened her trailer door. A tall man with silver eyes and long blond hair got up from her couch. She gasped and shook her head in disbelief. “Faldo? What are you doing here?”
He raised a brow and glanced around her cramped living space. “I would ask you the same question, Princess Talia.”
She shushed him and pulled the door closed behind her. “I’m Natalie Thurmont now. How did you get across the veil?”
The corner of his mouth twitched, as close to a smile as Faldo usually got. “Again, I might ask you the same question.”
Talia rolled her eyes. “Why are you here, Faldo?”
“I need you to locate someone for me.”
Her jaw dropped. “You’re kidding. Why would you think I would help you? You’re the reason I crossed the veil in the first place.”
His silver eyes narrowed, and he raised his chin. “You will help me, Princess, or your life in this world will end.”
“You’re in my house, threatening me?” She crossed her arms shaking her head. “Not in this world. No way.” She pointed to the door. “Get out, Faldo. Now.”
His lips curled into a smirk that made her feel like throwing up. “Your mother worries about you. I will be a hero for finding you and sending the Sentinel to bring you back home.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
He started to reach for the door. “I most certainly would.”
“Okay wait.” Talia raked her fingers back through her hair. “Why do you think I can find whoever you’re looking for? I’m an actress now, not a private detective.”
His jaw clenched. “Because the Fae I am looking for is Keth.”
Her arm dropped to her side, and the glamour that usually glowed around her face faded, graying her flawless complexion. “Keth is here?”
Faldo cleared his throat, his posture stiff. “Yes. He crossed the veil shortly after you vanished.”
Her foolish heart leapt in her chest. Maybe Keth had come searching for her. But the false hope dimmed quickly. She’d been on a hit television show for nearly five years now. Her face was plastered on billboards and buses. If he was looking for her, she wouldn’t have been hard to find.
“Why are you trying to find him?”
“When he left Summerland, he took something that didn’t belong to him. I need it back.”
“That’s vague,” she said with a snort. “How am I supposed to help you if I don’t know what I’m looking for?”
“It’s best that you don’t.” He slid his fingers into the pocket of his button-down shirt and withdrew a tiny orange gem. It caught the light as he placed it in the center of her outstretched hand. “Slip this into his pocket or his bag. I will be able to find him. Anywhere.”
She rolled it across her palm. The surface was smooth and the gem itself was nearly weight-less. Her eyes turned up to meet his. “It’s enchanted?”
“Just be sure the stone is placed in his keeping. I will handle the rest.”
“And my mother?”
“Will never know we have laid eyes on each other.”
She closed her fingers around the tiny stone. “I don’t want to do this.”
He reached over to lift her chin. “If you want to stay here with the humans, then you have no choice.” His smug expression was back in place. He bowed his head. “Farewell Princess Talia.”
Color stained her cheeks. She slammed the door behind him. He was such a stodgy, aloof, cold-hearted lech. She couldn’t believe her parents betrothed her to such a bastard. She was an infant at the time, but that was no excuse.
Talia checked all the blinds to be sure there were closed, and then plopped down on her sofa. With the tiny gem on the end table, she closed her eyes. Using faerie magic in the human world was a risky business. The magic was unstable. There were many obstacles this side of the veil that didn’t exist back home. Radio, television, and cell phone waves altered the energy in the air around her, sometimes magnifying her intent, until a simple spell of silence could suddenly render the person mute for days.
She’d learned quickly not to rely on magic on this side of the veil, but welcoming her power back into her body still felt natural, like a warm blanket on a cold night. In her mind, Keth stared at her with his intense, icy green eyes and his long black hair. Where Faldo was light, Keth was dark --polar opposites. Faldo reveled in his family’s station in Summerland, while Keth rebelled from his station and sought to make his own way in the world. Faldo’s silver eyes were cold and unfeeling, while Keth’s had a tint of jade that burned with emotion. Rage, love, passion, joy --it all stormed in his eyes.
While her heart’s magic churned, her skin started to glow. The shadow of a vine darkened around her wrist. It was childhood magic, but those spells were often the hardest to break. A pure unwounded heart carried more magic than the most experienced Fae conjurer. The vine darkened, sprouting leaves and braiding itself around her wrist. When the tingle left her skin, she opened her eyes and stared down at the markings, tracing it with her finger. Keth would now bear the same mark.
And he would know who put it there.