A Kiss of Shadows – Chapter 23: Merry gets her royal attire at Dress Barn

Chapter 23 begins with Merry arriving at the hotel she booked in order to stay away from court at night. Seated in the lobby waiting for her was Jenkins. Merry tries her best to ignore him, and she checks in. While she’s checking in, she realizes that the desk clerk is incredibly attracted to Barinthus. Merry can apparently feel people’s levels of lust – long ago, they would use this ability to choose human priests and priestesses for lust rituals. Since the faeries are no longer allowed to have worshipers, this ability is pretty useless, and Merry finds herself mostly annoyed at this desk clerk’s lust after Barinthus.
So she leans in close to the clerk and tells her “The picture you have in your mind of him nude… you’re not doing him justice.” Just to get the clerk’s reaction. Stupid. This is so dumb. Every chapter up to now has Merry pegged as good and kind and not at all manipulative, she hated having to hide herself from everyone, for example, and then Merry just up and does this to some rando desk clerk. It’s so out of character for her to randomly be this mean to someone.
So she eventually leaves the poor desk clerk alone, then marches over to Jenkins, telling him he’s too close and asks Galen to go ask the clerk to call the police. The assistant manager comes out to escort Jenkins out of the hotel lobby, and Jenkins does the bad guy “This isn’t over!” as he’s getting dragged out.
Which is hilarious, because, again, every chapter up to now has been built up for us to be all fearful of Merry’s life at court. That every step she takes when she gets to court will be full of danger what with everyone out to kill her. And we get this callout scene with Jenkins, some mortal human reporter, cackles and goes “Ill get you yet!” as he’s being kicked out of a hotel.
Galen and Barinthus escort Merry up to her room, checking around corners and hallways before Merry walks through, like they’re suddenly some secret service guards. Galen soon realizes how silly they’re acting and starts teasing Merry, but she focuses more on how solemn Barinthus is acting. Barinthus kisses  her hand and brushes his lips against the magic ring, which flares to life and shocks Barinthus. He tells Merry that it had been a very, very long time since that ring had reacted to him, or anyone at court.
Barinthus explains that the ring had once been used to choose a consort for the queen. It reacted to the power of the men, and would flare to life when it came across a man it deemed worthy of being the queen’s consort. The ring had been dead for many years while the queen wore it, and now it is reacting again while Merry wears it.
They finally get to the hotel room. Apparently Merry had just booked a boring basic room at some Ramada. The room is just a single-bed small room. You’d think that Merry, being a returning royal princess, would at least get like business class or something? But no, a small room with a single bed and small bathroom.
Merry goes into the bathroom to get dressed for her return to court. Appropriate dress for court was fancy, as it had to meet her aunt’s approval. She puts on a long burgundy dress with a matching jacket, apparently dressing like a mother of the bride. She points out that she picked a dress with wide enough straps to hide her bra, but if she’s wearing a fucking matching satin jacket, why? You dress so stupid, Merry. You’re supposed to be in your early 30s and very gorgeous, and you dress in something off the sale rack at Dress Barn.
I’m just going to imagine Merry wearing Melissa McCarthy’s dress from Bridesmaids now. That is almost exactly what Merry is described as wearing.
She also covers herself in weapons, knives mostly, and puts on a pair of kitten heeled shoes. She’s sure that the queen will force her to remove her weapons, but she wants to be prepared just in case. Most sidhe would challenge her to a formal duel and not just outright hurt her, but there are other things inside Faerie, things like the Host and other such monsters, who wouldn’t go through the formalities of a duel if they wanted to injure or kill Merry.
The chapter ends with Merry trying to decide if she wants to put an extra knife or her lipstick in her small clutch purse. She decides on the knife, because “just the fact that you’re debating between the two choices proves that you’re going to need the weapon more.”
Characters Introduced:
No one important enough to note
Themes Introduced:
Magical ring was once used to help the queen choose a consort. It reacts to men it deems worthy of being the queen’s, or in this case Merry’s, mate.

Sex: just Merry being a rude bitch to a desk clerk for no reason whatsoever.

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