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Silver Hollow 2018 Edition Teaser
Tonight’s ball celebrated the preservation of their once-great peoples. Gryphons, including Feather, danced with Centaurs on the other side of the glass walls within an interior hidden garden. People with hooves and fur, stunted wings, fangs and claws congregated with the wilder guests beyond the glass. No humans had accepted Henry’s invitation, on account the beasts still remembered the taste of human flesh.
Gold gilded mirrors reflected tall candelabrum at the floor. Three silver phosphorus chandeliers cast a hazy glow above. The hall rose through the first and second floors of the castle uninhibited, offering ideal acoustics for the band she could hear but not see. Flowers hung in garlands in twirling ropes, guarded by punch-drunk faeries.
Speaking of annoying pixies…
Puck had come to sit on her shoulder the moment she stole onto the balcony and was placing pictures in her mind with a touch of its hand against her ear.
Digging her fingers into the carved balcony railing, Amie took in the sea of gowns, robes and tuxes with trepidation. Henry had yet to appear, leaving her to observe their guests trickle into the ballroom below.
Amie muffled a laugh with her white satin-gloved hand as Puck sent a mockery of one buxom Seelie waddling through the crowd with her double eyeglass captured in one eye. Puck flitted from her shoulder and onto the banister between her hands, perfectly mimicking the poor lady’s tread.
“It’s a wonder they let any of you hooligans in here.” Amie leaned forward with her elbows, and rested her chin in her hands. Puck fell onto its backside, peppered with laughter, and flashed razor-sharp rows of teeth at her. Choosing to ignore her little friend she watched the Seelie greet one another with enthusiasm. Underhill had explained during her bath how rare it was for them to gather like this. Representatives from every head family in Silver Hollow and many from the Vale had arrived to meet her.
A decadently dressed pair of strangers caught her eye, their dresses luminous as they split ways at the entrance to mingle with the crowd. The one dressed in turquoise quickly disappeared within the glass garden, while her companion lingered, her daring blood-red gown covered in shifting rose patterns. Fresh roses threaded through a ruby and garnet hair net over decidedly purple braids. The woman pranced with a very familiar sashay.
Amie leaned forward as a sinking feeling twisted her gut. Amie cursed as Faye lifted her face to look up. In a second Amie was back at Rado’s camp, shocked to find her childhood best friend in the midst of this strange world. Of her skin glowing with violet light and the precise cut of her daggers.
“Put this in your pocket and don’t open it until you know for sure you’re alone.”
Amie’s breath caught in her throat as Faye winked and accepted a glass of elderberry wine from a portly gentleman with pointed ears, long whiskers and a half-dozen medals hanging from his bronze coat.
“The letter…how did I forget?”
Puck stood, hands on its hips as the faerie peered up at her solemnly, sensing her mood.
Amie tightened her grip on the worn-out banister, her palms crackling with untapped moonlight. “Get it together,” she hissed. It was imperative she keep her focus tonight. She needed to be in absolute control.
“That is not the dress Morcant commissioned for you,” came Henry’s observation from behind.
She closed her eyes briefly, willing a calm she did not feel. “The green felt a little too obvious.”
“I agree. Your eyes are green enough.” Henry, to her surprise, leaned his elbows forward to rest against the banister between her and Puck.
“Too true.” Amie glanced at him from the corner of her eye. “You look good in gold, like a Seelie king.”
Slate-gray eyes cut to her, catching her staring with a sad smile. Tonight he had removed the human mask he often wore for her comfort. Now his skin glowed with the light of the dawn, the new sun reflected in the gold threading its way through his raven-black hair. “I thought your favorite color yellow. You have seemed so fond of wearing it.”
Amie shook her head. “It was my mother’s…my human mother, I mean.” She reached up to tug her hair and found her necklace instead, the emerald warm against her skin. “Yellow was her favorite.”
Henry nodded, and inclined his head. “And yours is cerulean.”
She didn’t reply, caught between the moment he condemned her to unspeakable pain and his present sorrow. How had she missed that expression for so long, regret doomed to hope. He winced, as though seeing something familiar in her face.
“Did you know in ancient times the rulers of the Hollow were like night and day, bonded forever?” he said. “For generations they ruled together and raised their children to carry on their legacy. But they only had sons and no daughters could be found with enough night in them to carry on the legacy. Until you returned, I thought that legacy lost forever.”
“I already know this, Henry,” she began, exasperated by another history lesson. Why couldn’t the man talk plain to her?
He straightened, gripping the railing, echoing her coping mechanism. “You will have remembered by now… much that was lost. So you know I am not without failings or ghosts.”
Amie bit her lip and focused on the sting. “I remember,” she whispered.
to be continued…