A Caress of Twilight – Chapter 30: Random self-imposed apartment restrictions = total drama


Chapter 30 begins “on the first day of my being restricted to the apartment, hiding behind our wards”. When was this ever discussed? Anyway, Dame Rosmerta, Taranis’s main social secretary, calls upon Merry and Co to invite them to Taranis’s pre-Yule ball.
She’d been the soul of polite and proper decorum, more than making up for Hedwick’s rudeness. She also made it clear that the ball in question was the Yule ball. I had to decline. If I attended any Yule ball, it had to be the Unseelie ball. Rosmerta had made noises that she, of course, understood that.
So what the hell is this? The whole conversation before, about the party being a pre-Yule ball, and it’s just explained away that “Oh silly us, it’s actually the Yule ball you’re invited to”. The entire first few paragraphs of chapter 30 are just “here’s what has happened in the plot since yesterday”.
Apparently Lieutenant Peterson had forbidden anyone from Grey’s from assisting with the murder case, which was fine because Jeremy Grey just told them all that they’re no longer helping the police anymore anyway. But, I guess the fey need to throw a fit, because even though they’d already decided they weren’t going to help the police, once Peterson told them that they were forbidden from helping, Jeremy decided that Teresa, their resident psychic, wasn’t going to share the information she learned at the scene. Because throwing a pissy fit is what responsible people do.
Anyway, Teresa decides to tell the police because she’s a much better person than anyone else in this book.
Teresa had felt the people suffocate, felt them die, and she’d seen the ghosts – white shapes, she said, sucking the life from them. The police had informed her that everyone knew ghosts didn’t do shit like this. Peterson had come in about then and thrown the report in the trash in front of Teresa. Usually the police wait until someone’s left the room before doing that.
Teresa had managed to drag her husband out before he got himself arrested for assaulting a police officer. Teresa’s husband used to play for the Rams back when they were the football team in L.A. Ray’s like a nicely maintained mountain, with a winning smile and a very firm handshake.
We ended up with a lot of time on our hands. No, we did not just have sex all day. We pestered Sage. I had paid the price that Queen Niceven asked, but we had no cure. Why hadn’t Sage given us the cure last night? Why did Kitto becoming sidhe change everything for Sage? Did he really mean to imply that he needed to have sex with me to effect the cure? Sage didn’t want to answer any questions.
He had flown around the apartment trying to escape our questions, but it was a small apartment, even if you were the size of a Barbie doll. Late in the day he launched himself from the windowsill and got a little too near Galen, who batted at him like you’d swat a mosquito.
Sage fell heavily on the floor. He lay very still, a tiny butter-colored thing with his bright wings like a fragile shield. He raised slowly onto one arm before I could finish kneeling by him. “Are you all right?” I asked.
He looked at me with such hatred in those tiny doll eyes that I flinched. He stumbled a little in rising to his feet, but he fanned his wings and caught his balance. He refused the hand I offered him. He stood there, hands on hips, and stared up at us as we towered over him.
“If I die, green knight, the cure dies with me. Best remember that, when you’re being careless.”
Galen tells Sage that he didn’t mean to hurt him, and Sage responds with a mature “TOO LATE” and tries to fly away. Galen quickly responds that he did not intend to strike Sage hard, and Sage turns, and they begin staring each other down. Merry tries to get them to calm down by asking Sage what he meant by “if he dies, the cure dies with him”.
“I mean, Princess, that Queen Niceven left a present in my body. The healing for your man here is trapped in this tiny package.” He spread his arms wide as he said it, almost bowing as he hung, fluttering.
“What does that mean, Sage?” Doyle said. “Exactly what it means, no prevaricating, just the truth, all of it.”
He gave another turn in midair so he could look directly at Doyle. Sage could have simply glanced over his shoulder, but I think he wanted Doyle to know he was being looked at. “You want the  truth, Darkness, all of it?”
“Yes,” Doyle said, his thick voice lower, deeper, not angry, but a tone that had made many a sidhe pale.
Sage laughed, a joyous tinkling sound that nearly drew a smile from me. He was very good at glamour, better than I thought any demi-fey could be. “Oh, you’ll be angrier than that when you hear what my dear queen has done.”
“Just tell us, Sage,” I said. “Quit drawing out the story.”
He turned to me, hovered close enough for the breath of his wings to caress my face. “Say please.” His tone made it an insult.
Galen tensed, and Rhys laid a hand on his shoulder. I think I wasn’t the only one who didn’t quite trust Galen around the demi-fey.
“Please,” I said. I had a lot of faults, but false pride wasn’t one of them. It cost me nothing to say please to the tiny man.
He smiled, obviously happy. “Since you asked nicely.” He grabbed his tiny crotch through the filmy skirt he wore. “The cure is trapped here, where Queen Niceven laid it.”
Oh jesus.
“How does Meredith retrieve the cure?” Doyle asked. His voice held emptiness, no tone at all.
Sage smiled, and even on a face not much bigger than my thumb, I recognized a leer when I saw it. “The same way the queen gave it to me.”
“Niceven is not allowed intercourse with anyone but her husband,” Doyle said.
“Ah, but there are exceptions to every rule. You should know that, Darkness, better than most.”
Doyle seemed to blush, though through the pure night of his skin, it was hard to be sure. “If Queen Andais knows she has broken her marriage vows, it will go badly for your queen.”
Wait a minute – wasn’t there just a big discussion a few chapters ago about how Sage was upset that he could no longer have sex with Niceven because she was married to another, and when Doyle or whoever commented that the demi-fey are more lax about those such rules, Sage took offense at that. So now this conversation takes place, like we’re not supposed to remember a conversation from three chapters ago? Or did LKH forget what she wrote earlier in this story? Either scenario are equally likely, I’d say. LKH thinks her readers are stupid and her readers think LKH is stupid.
Or at least I do.
Anyway, Sage tells them that the demi-fey never had such rules before Andais became jealous of Queen Niceven’s children, so Andais enforced her own stupid rules on them. Sage tells them that the only way Merry can obtain the cure from him is to take it through intercourse, as that is how Niceven put it inside Sage. Merry tells him that she absolutely will not have sex with him, and he says that that’s the only way, no sex = no cure. Merry gets pissed off.
I shook my head again. “We’ll see about that.” I felt the first stirrings of anger. I didn’t let myself get angry often. In the courts it was an indulgence that only the most powerful could afford. I had never been that powerful. Maybe I still wasn’t, but we’ll see.
“Doyle, call Queen Niceven. We need to talk.” The anger had leaked out into my voice.
Sage came hovering close enough that the wind from his wings fanned my face. “There is no other way, Princess. The cure has been given for this curse, and cannot be given twice.”
I glared at him. “I am not every man’s meat to feast upon, little man. I am Princess of Flesh, and heir to the Unseelie throne. I do not whore for Niceven.”
“Only for Andais,” Sage said.
Merry still flips out and forces Doyle to call Niceven. When she walks into her bedroom, Niceven is up on the mirror, dressed in a robe with her robed handmaidens standing behind her, all disheveled like they were just roused from bed. Niceven asks what Merry wants.
“Queen Niceven, you promised me the cure for Galen if I fed your servant. I have lived up to my bargain, but you  have not lived up to yours.”
She sat up a little straighter, hands folded in her lap, ankles crossed. “Sage has not given you the cure?” She sounded truly puzzled.
“No,” I said.
Her gaze left my face and found the tiny man who had alit upon the edge of the dresser so he could be easily seen from the mirror. “Sage, what is this all about?”
“She refused the cure,” he said, spreading his hands out as if to say not my fault.
Niceven looked back at me. “Is this true?”
“Did you truly think I would accept him in my bed?”
“He is a wonderful lover, Princess.”
“To one of your height perhaps, but to one of mine, it grows a little ridiculous.”
“Or rather doesn’t grow enough,” Rhys said, from the back of the bedroom.
I shot him a hard look. He shrugged, almost an apology, then turned back to the mirror.
“If size is the only problem, that can be remedied,” Niceven said.
Sage interrupts then, warning Niceven that only Merry had sworn an oath to “protect their secret”. Niceven brushes this off, telling them all to swear an oath, but Merry refuses. Merry tells them that if they refuse to give her the cure for Galen immediately, she will call them an oath breaker. Because believing something you think 100% makes it true, remember? This world is so stupid. Having sex outside marriage is illegal, except when it isn’t! The sidhe don’t treat everything as sex, except when they do! The sidhe cannot lie, except they totally can if they don’t call it a lie!
Niceven tells Merry that the cure is right there for her taking, and the demi-fey are doing nothing to keep it from her. Merry doesn’t agree with this – she feels having sex with a demi-fey is a greater boon than the simple act of sharing blood. Niceven grows tired of this conversation and forces Sage to “reveal himself”.
So Sage throws himself off the ledge he sat upon and as he falls to the ground his body transforms. Suddenly, he had grown several feet to be just slightly under 5’ tall. Niceven asks Merry if she finds Sage more to her liking at this size, and Merry again tells her that sex with Sage is not happening, as if she were to get pregnant by Sage, he would be the new King of the Unseelie court, and they obviously cannot have that.
Have… have these people never heard of protection?
Niceven tells them that Queen Andais had ordered her to cure Galen “at any cost”.
Doyle shook his head. “She could not have dreamt this cost. There have always been rumors that some of the demi-fey could grow larger, but rumors, fables, no truth until now. The Queen would think ill of a demi-fey king, especially one who is your puppet in all things.”
She hissed at him, and in that one moment she seemed very alien, as if I’d figure out what she truly was if I thought hard enough, and it wouldn’t be human. The white mouse had crouched away from her as if it feared her temper.
“You have a choice here, Queen Niceven,” I said. “You can either give me the cure for Galen as you swore you would, or I can tell Queen Andais about your plotting.”
Niceven looked at me, eyes narrow. “If I give you the cure, you will not tell Andais about all this?”
“We are allies, Queen Niceven. Allies protect each other.”
“I have not fully agreed to an alliance merely for an offering of blood once a week. Have sex with Sage and I will be your ally.”
“Give me the cure for Galen, take your blood offering once a week, be my ally, or I will tell Aunt Andais what you tried to do here.”
Niceven didn’t look angry anymore, she looked frightened. “If I had not had Sage show you his secret, then you would not have had anything to blackmail me with.”
Merry tells Niceven that she had originally asked for an alliance between her and the demi-fey so that they could spy for her at court, however now seeing Sage in his larger size, she thinks there could be other contributions to the alliance that the demi-fey can offer.
“To what? Sage is but one man. You have other and larger swords at your back.”
I touched Sage’s shoulder. He jumped as if it had hurt, but I knew that it hadn’t. I leaned in against the back of his body. He tensed. “Is what the queen says true, Sage? Is your sword so small?” I looked at Niceven as I said it.
She gave me angry eyes. “That is not what I meant and well you know it.”
“Do I?” I asked, running my fingertips down Sage’s arm He shivered under my touch. I watched jealousy flare across her face before she could catch it back. “Niceven, Niceven, do not give up to others what you hold most precious.”
I don’t even understand why this is happening. They go from talking about alliances to Merry teasing Niceven about how she now has the chance to fuck Sage? What? It happens so suddenly and without any sort of build-up, so it really comes out of nowhere. Shit like this happens constantly in these stories. And it immediately goes back to them talking about forming an alliance again. Just Merry randomly being a huge bitch for no goddamn reason. Ugh.
Merry again offers Niceven a choice – either Niceven accept the alliance as stands, with a blood offering once per week, else Merry will go to Andais with the knowledge that the demi-fey can size shift. Niceven realizes she has no other options, so she agrees to an alliance, although she points out that she believes they both will come to regret it. Merry asks how she is able to get the cure without having to have sex with Sage, and Niceven tells them that a long kiss will do.
A fucking kiss.
This whole chapter could have been done PAGES ago, without all this stupid bickering and whatever, if Merry had simply fucking kissed Sage. Guh.

Merry goes to Sage and tells him that they will kiss, and Sage is not allowed to take either blood or flesh, no bleeding or biting. Niceven orders Sage to follow Merry’s command. They have one chaste kiss, and Merry tells Niceven that this is not working, there was no magic to that kiss. Niceven tells Sage to kiss her again, this time using tongue, so that he ‘enters’ her body.    
So Merry puts her arms around Sage, and they spend several fucking paragraphs describing how hard it is to put your arms around a dude with large wings. Seriously. They finally kiss, and Sage shoves his tongue inside Merry’s mouth. The spell spills through Merry’s body. When they pull away, Merry immediately goes over to Galen and kisses him, and she feels the spell flow all through Galen’s body. When they’re done, Galen turns to Niceven and tells her that he felt the spell flow through him, but he doesn’t feel healed. Niceven tells him that in 2 to 3 days he will be 100% healed. Merry is too overcome with the power of the spell, so Doyle asks Niceven for her word that Galen will be healed. She gives it.
Yet again, our “ruler” Merry is too whatever to actually act as a ruler, so one of her men has to step in. Remember all that character building we did earlier in the book, with Merry demanding to be the ruler? Yep, all for nothing. A simple kiss can make Merry too woozy to think straight in political situations. Some ruler!
So after Niceven gives her word that Galen will be healed, Doyle thanks her, which, remember, is a GRAVE INSULT TO THE OLDER, MORE POWERFUL FEY.

The chapter finally ends with Galen and Merry fawning over the fact they get to finally fuck in two days, and Merry turns to see jealous Frost cry-babying over in a corner. BECAUSE OF COURSE. 

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