As far as rock star Gareth Kendrick, the last true bard in Faerie, is concerned, the only good Unseelie is . . . well . . . there’s no such thing. Two centuries ago, an Unseelie lord abducted Gareth’s human lover, Niall, and Gareth has neither forgotten nor forgiven.
Niall O’Tierney, half-human son of the Unseelie King, had never lost a wager until the day he swore to rid the Seelie court of its bard. That bet cost him everything: his freedom, his family—and his heart. When he’s suddenly face-to-face with Gareth at the ceremony to join the Seelie and Unseelie realms, Niall does the only thing inhumanly possible: he fakes amnesia. Not his finest hour, perhaps, but he never revealed his Unseelie heritage, and to tell the truth now would be to risk Gareth’s revulsion—far harder to bear than two hundred years of imprisonment.
Then a new threat to Gareth’s life arises, and he and Niall stage a mad escape into the Outer World, only to discover the fate of all fae resting on their shoulders. But before they can save the realm, they have to tackle something really tough: mending their own broken relationship.
“Niall. Do you know how long I’ve been searching for you?”
At the sound of his brother’s impossibly deep voice, Niall O’Tierney jumped to his feet, knocking over his stool.
Eamon advanced into Niall’s quarters, his broad shoulders barely clearing the door. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“You didn’t.” But jumping to attention when he was addressed was a hard habit to break. “What brings you to my little corner? Shouldn’t you be getting ready for your wedding?”
“That’s why I’m here.” Eamon eyed the fire roaring in the hearth. “How you can suffer through this heat is more than I can fathom.”
Niall righted the stool. “Heat? My dear brother, compared to what I’m used to, your Keep is positively arctic.”
Eamon’s forehead wrinkled in concern. “I’m sorry. I should have—”
“It’s all right. You needn’t treat me like an invalid.” Even if I am one. “Don’t forget, I’ve survived a night drinking with the duergar. And that involved shots of fermented dragon bile infused with crushed holly berries.”
Eamon smiled, shaking his head. “How you could stomach that—”
“Oi. It was a wager, all right? Besides, it netted me a boon. I’ll call it in one day.”
Eamon’s smile widened. “No wonder they’re so nervous around you. I’d never thought duergar capable of anxiety.”
Niall shrugged. “Just takes the right leverage.” Niall had always known how to apply it.
“Yes. Well.” Eamon cleared his throat. “There are several issues that we must discuss before the Convergence ceremonies. Some things that might . . .” He grimaced. “Disturb you. I wish you to be prepared.”
Niall bowed his head. “You needn’t ask, Your Highness. I appreciate the consideration.”
“Ah, give over, Niall. You don’t need to address me that way. We’re brothers.”
“Yes, and you’re the King by Faerie’s acclamation, even though you’re putting off official coronation until after the Convergence. We wouldn’t want to scandalize the court by an unseemly display of informality.”
“You mean we wouldn’t want to give anyone else the chance for insolence.”
“That too. I’m surprised the whole court didn’t forget that Tiarnach had any sons at all, let alone two of them.”
“All the more reason for us to present a united front. Tonight is a critical juncture. If we—”
A startled cheep from the doorway made them both turn. Peadar, a brownie who’d been one of Niall’s staunchest allies for most of his life, cringed at the threshold, his arms full of velvet and fur. “Your pardon, Majesty, Highness. For the interruption. I bring Prince Niall’s clothing for the feast and the ceremony.”
Despite the reforms Eamon had already put in place after deposing their father, the lesser fae on the Keep staff who’d toiled under the old King couldn’t make the transition to the more lenient regime overnight. They still instinctively expected a blow at every transgression, no matter how small.
Niall could relate. Thanks to his own punishment at Tiarnach’s hands, he had the same reaction himself.
He strode across the room and took the bundle of clothing from Peadar’s arms. “Please don’t call me Highness. I’m not a prince.” Not anymore.
Peadar looked down his long nose. “Those as act like a true prince are treated as one. Highness.” He bobbed his head at Eamon and scurried out.
Niall returned to the hearth where his brother was waiting. “I’m sorry. What did you want to discuss?”
“Do you recall the Seelie traitor we left in the underworld along with Father when we rescued you?”
“You mean the Daoine Sidhe—the one-handed one, who spewed such invective when you removed his mute curse?”
“The very same.” Eamon scowled. “He was Caitrìona’s—that is, the Queen’s—former Consort until he tried to usurp her throne.”
Niall chuckled, his laugh still sounding like an unoiled hinge, since he’d had so little opportunity for amusement in the last two centuries. “Jealousy doesn’t become you, Your Majesty.”
“I told you not to call me that.”
“Is that an order?”
Eamon sighed. “Of course not. But I want to be your friend again, Niall, not your sovereign. I’ve missed you.”
And here I’ve been acting like a typical self-absorbed Unseelie arsehole. “Forgive me, Eamon. I missed you too, and I’ve never even asked. What were you doing during my unfortunate incarceration? Finding new and creative ways to make Tiarnach’s life miserable?”
“No. I . . . I spent it in exile. I returned the same night you did.”
Niall goggled at him. “What? Why have you never told me this?”
“When have I had the opportunity?” Eamon’s voice took on an exasperated edge. “You’ve spoken barely a word to me in the entire two weeks since your release. You dodge me, hiding here in your quarters, or down in the kitchen, huddled by the fire, surrounded by lesser fae who regard me like I might suddenly turn into Father and dash their brains out against the hearth.”
“So you’re telling me Tiarnach got rid of us both? Was it . . . was it my fault?”
“In a way . . .”
“Shite,” Niall muttered. “I brought nothing but misery to everyone I cared about. If I had known—”
To celebrate the release of all three books in the Fae Out of Water series, one lucky winner across all three tours will receive a GRAND PRIZE of a $50 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 23, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the Bad Boy’s Bard tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
About the Author & Links:
E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.
E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.
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