Not Your Ordinary Faerie Tale
After her two best friends marry a blood-sucking vampire and a furry-faced werewolf, Corinne D’Alessandro is making a vow of her own: NO interspecies dating. But when her editor asks her to investigate “leprechaun” sightings, the sassy New York reporter finds herself on the trail of the hottest story of her career—and the sexiest man alive…
His name is Luc, and he’s as gorgeous as any Prince Charming in any bedtime story. There’s just one problem: He’s not human, he’s Fae. A captain of the Fae Queen’s Guard, Luc is on a dangerous mission—and he could use the help of a certain leprechaun-hunting reporter. But when their two worlds collide, the sparks begin to fly. If Corinne and Luc can’t control their lust—and focus on the villains in this story—their faerie-tale romance won’t end happily ever after…
+ “Warren has made a name for herself in the world of paranormal romance. She expertly mixes werewolves, vampires and faeries to create another winning novel in The Others series. Not Your Ordinary Faerie Tale showcases Warren's talents for creating consistent characters with strong voices and placing them in a fantastical world.”
— Annette Elton, RT BOOKReviews awarding Not Your Ordinary Faerie Tale 4 Stars!
Read the whole review.
On Faerie and Faeries
If you were to ask the Fae about their origins, they would be happy to point you to the stories that say they began their existence as gods, the Tuatha de Danann—the people of Danu, Mother Goddess of the Celts. According to those stories, they ruled the earth and all of its inhabitants until the rise of humans forced them to move underground to their own lands, ceding the earth to the primitive newcomers.
Of course, they’ll also tell you that they’re still gods, and you should feel free to start worshipping any time now.
That’s probably where some of the stories about what humans call “faeries” came from—that attitude of arrogance and the petulance engendered when no one falls in line with their commands. It’s easy to see how humans began to view such creatures as mischievous, troublemaking, and occasionally malicious. The Fae aren’t those things, at least no more than all humans are those things; just like us, they have some heroes and some villains and some spoiled brats walking among them. My theory is that the spoiled brats just make the best fodder for stories and traditions.
I’ve decided to share a few of those stories with you, most of which drive the Fae crazy to hear—some because they’re insulting, some because they’re ridiculous. And some because they might just come a wee bit too close to the truth…
- The faeries are fascinated by beautiful things, including humans they find attractive. The Faerie Queen has been known to kidnap mortals she falls in love with and keep them with her in her palace in Faerie (sometimes called Elfhame, which isn’t surprising, since the Fae are often confused with or called Elves themselves). Ossian, Tam Lin, and Thomas the Rhymer all stayed with her for periods of time. Unfortunately, she’s a fickle sort, so her “guests” always seem to either escape or be cast aside when she tires of them. Often, their return to earth is a shocking one, since time passes differently in Faerie from on earth—an afternoon in Elfhame can turn out to have lasted years or decades in the human world. Because of this attraction, be careful not to praise a baby’s beauty too enthusiastically, or the faeries will notice and steal the child away to raise for themselves.
- There are ways to keep the Fae from bothering you, if that’s what you’d prefer. The first and most important is to not speak of them, for hearing themselves mentioned catches their attention. You should also make sure any house you build isn’t located on a faerie path, because if it is, the faeries will simply walk through it as if it were their right to do so. To be sure, stake out the four corners of the proposed foundation and leave them overnight. If they’re still standing the next day, go ahead and build, but if one is knocked over or missing, you know you’ll have trouble. Either move, or be very certain there are no doors in the sides of the house facing the path so that the faeries will be forced to walk around.
- Faeries are allergic to iron, which forms the bones of the gods, so you can keep them away by hanging things made of iron above your thresholds. Horseshoes are a popular choice, because they also carry good luck. Just be sure the points of the shoe face up so the luck won’t run out.
- Not all faeries are dangerous, though. Some can be downright helpful. Having faeries in your garden keeps the plants healthy and the harvests plentiful. You can encourage them to live on your land by building faerie rings out of stone or mushrooms planted in a circle, and by including lots of pretty flowering plants. Also, planting strawberries in or around the faerie circles will make the good folk very happy. They’re fond of sweets. Keeping honeybees will practically make them drool, to have a constant supply of their favorite food on hand.
- Brownies are house faeries that keep your home clean, organized, and lucky. You can make certain they stay with you by never insulting their efforts, offering them a portion of anything you bake, and never, ever trying to see them or photograph them at their work. If they’re annoyed with you, they’ll make sure you know it, usually by hiding things you really need, like your keys, or your can opener, or those papers you can’t leave the house without. The only way to get the items back is to apologize, and make sure you mean it. You should also consider leaving a saucer of milk—preferably spiked with brandy—on the doorstep as a peace offering and to make certain they understand how much you appreciate them. Otherwise, you’ll never know a minute’s peace.
- To keep the unfriendly faeries out of your house—as well as witches, evil spirits, and other unpleasant creatures—use red string to tie keys that don’t open your locks to the knobs of all your exterior doors. The keys confuse intruders and keep them from entering.
Every one of these pieces of advice would make a certain member of the Queen’s Guard roll his eyes and grumble something unpleasant about human superstitions and old fashioned nonsense, and he may be right. Maybe we humans just don’t know the truth about the Fae.
Then again, I like the jingle of keys when I open and close my doors. And maybe it wasn’t coincidence that my missing church key turned up last week only after I set out the brandied milk…
Luc felt his eyes widen. “Graham bit it too? With another mortal?” He shook his head and downed a gulp of his brandy. “What is this human world coming to?”
“Mating season, apparently.”
“Does that mean you’re feeling the call of the wild yourself?”
Rafe shrugged. “We cats are more solitary than the Lupines, and the jaguar is more solitary than most cats. The wild only calls us for short stays, not permanent ones.”
Luc stifled a chuckle. “Yeah, so I’ve noticed. But I admit that’s a relief for me. I know you want Seoc returned to Faerie with all possible haste. Which means I can use all the help I can get finding the bastard. The last thing I need is for you to go off after some cute little furry thing and leave me to do this on my own. Or worse yet, some cute little mortal thing.”
“Be careful, my friend. Your arrogance and Fae-centrism are showing.”
Luc shifted in his seat. It wasn’t that he disliked humans, precisely, but he couldn’t understand how an Other like Dmitri or Graham could possibly have a lasting relationship with such a…such a mundane creature as a human. What could they possibly have in common?
“But you needn’t worry,” Rafe continued, twirling his snifter. “The Council will, of course, completely support your mission. We want nothing to happen to Queen’s nephew, especially not while he is on our turf, as they say. Now that Mab has sent you after him, I’m certain he will be easily found.”
“You obviously don’t know the Queen’s nephew.”
“I have not had that pleasure, no. But if he is moving among the humans now, as you say, I have a feeling an introduction will be inevitable.” His eyes firmed, even as his mouth remained in its customary subtle curve. “Rest assured that if you have trouble with your mission, I will step in on behalf of the Council and see to his removal myself. The situation appears to be reaching a flash point. Since we had not yet heard of Seoc moving among the humans, we can still hope his presence has gone unnoted. If they begin to take note of him, out secret will be in jeopardy. No matter how many among the Council being to talk of the necessity to Unveil ourselves to the humans, Luc, I shouldn’t need to tell you the Council would look very unfavorably on having such a monumental decision forced upon it prematurely.”
Luc could hardly miss the underlying message there. “So if you were all so anxious to have him back in our hands, why didn’t you do something about it?”
Rafe’s shoulders lifted in a lazy, boneless shrug. “We discussed the problem at length, but we believed we still had time to deliberate. Plus, we agreed that things would go much more smoothly if we didn’t try to handle this ourselves. The last thing we want is to have an inter-dimensional incident on our hands.”
“Like the kind that would happen if reports reached Mab that her nephew was being returned in a bucket,” Rafe explained with a pointed look. “Some of our people have difficulty remembering their manners during a good game of chase, Luc. Even a Fae prince can look like prey if he’s running fast enough.”
“Great.” Luc drained his brandy and set the glass aside. “So because you can’t manage to keep your fangs to yourselves, I’m on my own until I fail miserably?”
“Of course not. As I said, we will assist gladly in whatever way we can. The Council simply feels we should not be handling such a potentially delicate matter on our own. Dmitri, damn his pale, chilly hide, has also volunteered his assistance. Which is the least he could do, considering he left his position as head of the Council to me when he married.” Rafe rose, crossed to a heavy, mahogany desk, and rifled through a drawer. “Of course, his idea of ‘assistance’ and mine do not exactly match. Now that he has the distraction of a new bride, he often takes a kind of hands-off approach to helping.”
“That doesn’t sound very helpful.”
Rafe’s teeth flashed, white and sharp as he handed over a small, white card. “Feel free to point that out to him. His number is on the back.”
“Thanks. I’m overwhelmed.”
Luc was spared a response to his sarcasm by a throat being carefully cleared in the doorway of the large office. Rafe turned to acknowledge the intrusion.
“Forgive me, Mr. De Santos,” one of the uniformed club staff said quietly. “I was unaware you had company, but I’m afraid there is someone else here asking to see you.”
The Felix frowned. “I had no appointments this evening. In fact, I told no one I would be spending any time here at all. Did this person give you a name?”
“She did not, sir, but she seemed insistent. She did inform me that it was Council business.”
Luc sipped his brandy and watched his host’s face. The other man’s expression remained impassive, but Luc could see impatience turn to curiosity in his catlike yellow eyes.
“Forgive me,” Rafe said, nodding to Luc. “The head of the Council’s time is rarely his own. Please enjoy your drink while I step out and deal with my unexpected visitor. I’m certain I won’t be long.”
Luc grinned. “And I’m certain how long will depend entirely on how attractive this ‘she’ turns out to be.”
“Actually, it won’t,” a decidedly female voice retorted from over the footman’s shoulder. “Because she isn’t here for a game of touchy-feely. She is doing her good deed for the century, and then she is going to go the hell home before she catches anything in this…ridiculous place.”
Luc stood even as Rafe turned to face the newcomer. The footman spent a split second looking mortified before he spun and made a grab for the intruder. The woman stepped sideways and knocked his hands away with a clenched fist.
“Hey, watch it, grabby,” she growled. “I don’t know where you’ve been lately.”
“At the front door, I expect. You may return to your post, Jameson,” Rafe said smoothly, nodding at the still mortified and now disgruntled servant. He stepped forward with an outstretched hand and smiled at the latest visitor. “Corinne, what a pleasant surprise. I hardly expected to see you here at Vircolac tonight. What could have brought you to our little club?”
“Nothing short of a loaded handgun or a conscience full of misplaced loyalty,” the woman said. Or, more accurately, grumbled. She shot Rafe a suspicious look, then spared a glare for Luc. “I didn’t know you’d be in some kind of meeting, like a normal person.”
Luc raised a brow an indulged himself with a quick study of the bad-tempered female. That she was human was obvious, almost as obvious as the crushing weight of discomfort that radiated from her. She looked less than pleased by her surrounding, and equally un-enamored of her present company. Behind the scowls, though, Luc saw something that caught him off guard.
He knew Rafe had said that Regina’s friends all seemed to be remarkably attractive for humans, but for Lady’s sake, Luc was Fae. He lived among the most beautiful females in creation, served as elite Guardsman to one who probably reigned as the most beautiful, so he certainly shouldn’t be feeling this surge of lust for a human. Besides which, humans were just so…human. They had nothing special, not compared to an Other or a Fae or any of the other legions of creatures living in the worlds. No powers, no gifts, not even any real talent to speak of. Like a lot of others in Faerie, Luc had always thought of them as being a bit primitive and undeveloped. So why the hell did the sight of Corinne D’Alessandro to go directly to his groin?
She didn’t so much surpass the normal notions of human female beauty as expand them. She had warm, slightly olive skin and thick, dark hair the color of the onyx Mab wove into her crown every Samhain. She was taller than the average human woman, too, though still a good foot shorter than he, and she had the sort of solid, human figure many Fae thought of as coarse and common. Luc found it tempting. Her curves made his hands itch to trace them, and her very substantiality seemed to call to him, made him ache to feel her press against him, heavy and warm and real. He wanted to hold her, to taste the curves and angles of her clear, classical features, to learn the earthy truth of her scent and the richness of her flavor.
What in the Lady’s name was wrong with him?
Luc tore his eyes from temptation and struggled to regain the distant amusement he’d felt when he’d first heard her voice, before her appearance had distracted him. He glanced at his host. “So, Rafe, is this a friend of yours?”
The woman stiffened, but Rafe merely smiled and drew her carefully into the office. “Come,” he told her, in a soothing, faintly cajoling tone Luc guessed was lost on her. “You must allow me to introduce you, and then you will sit comfortably and tell me what troubles you.”
Luc watched her step forward, her reluctance obvious. He half-expected to see her look over her shoulder to be sure nothing intended to jump out at her and begin tearing her to pieces. Briefly, he considered being insulted on his host’s behalf. It appeared their guest clung to some unflattering suspicions about the Others. But, he concluded, he was neither Other nor her host, so he decided not to muster up the energy. Especially since he could barely stand to look at her without his palms itching.
“Luc, this is Corinne D’Alessandro. She is a very dear friend of Graham and Dmitri’s wives, which, of course, makes her a very dear friend of mine,” Rafe continued, ignoring the look of surprise his guest gave him at hearing his introductory words. “Corinne, please meet Lucifer. Luc, as we call him, is here…on business, but we’ve known each other for a number of years. He’s perfectly harmless.”
Luc tried to decide if that assessment amused or insulted him. No man liked to be thought of as harmless, especially not when he made his living with a sword in his hard. He didn’t think this woman was buying it anyway. Her gaze sized him up suspiciously and she made no move to shake his hand. Maybe her attitude would do something to cool his ardor.
“Lucifer?” she repeated, still looking quite uncomfortable.
“Luc,” he corrected brusquely, barely softening the syllable with a small nod. “Luc Macanaw. It’s a—” he broke off, “it is interesting to meet you.”
Her brows flew up and a wry sort of amusement joined the unease in her expression. “Yeah, the, uh, interest is all mine,” she said. She turned back to Rafe, giving Luc her shoulder and a vague sense of annoyance at being so easily dismissed.
“Look, I’m sorry to just barge in like this, in the middle of your meeting or whatever, but I thought you might want a heads-up about this, so you could…” she guestured vaguely, then let her hand fall back to her side. “Anyway, I just thought you should know, since it’s got to be one of you guys, right?”
“Think nothing of it,” Rafe dismissed, easing her smoothly toward a large armchair. “What has to be, er, one of us?”
“The elf everyone is talking about.”
Luc, who had just begun contemplating how best to remove both himself and his unfinished brandy from the room for the duration of this conversation, tuned right back in. “Elf?” he repeated, glancing at the Felix.
Rafe seated himself across from the woman and leaned forward. “I’m afraid you’ve caught us off guard, Corinne. I’m not sure I follow. Who, exactly, has been talking? And about what?”
“The elf,” Corinne repeated impatiently. She searched their faces for a moment, then seemed to read in their carefully controlled expressions that we should need to give them more. Luc watched her take a deep breath, then start again. “Look, I definitely don’t want to get involved in any kind of…issue you people have among yourselves, but Reggie and Missy made it pretty clear when they spilled the truth about this whole Others business to me that you guys consider it pretty damned important that no one knows about you. So, when my boss handed me this assignment today, I thought it was weird. And I thought someone should let you guys know.”
She paused and made a face. “Unfortunately, I was the only someone I could think of.”
Luc struggled to follow the woman’s garbled explanation and discovered she might have well been speaking in an esoteric foreign language for all the sense he could make of it. Hell, she might as well have been waving semaphore flags; and normally, he wouldn’t have cared, but her mention of an “elf” when he was here in Ithir looking for a missing Fae had definitely piqued his interest. So he could admit later that he may have been a bit brusque when he snapped, “For the stars’ sakes, woman, you’re making no sense. At all. Do you need smelling salts or something, or can you maybe pull yourself together and let us know what the hell you’re babbling about?”
Rafe shot him a speaking glance, but the woman seemed to have no need for anyone else to defend her. She swept him an utterly dismissive look, then turned fully away from him to face Rafe alone.
“I know from meeting you guys that the Others don’t want the humans to know you really exist,” she continued, speaking directly to the Felix. It didn’t take a genius, though, to realize the frigid tone of her voice was aimed at someone else entirely. “Aside from people like Reggie and Missy. And the rest of our little circle now, I guess. But I know it’s not supposed to be common knowledge. Reggie made us all swear an oath when we first found out. And I know that an occasional article in the tabloids about Dracula attacking a hiker in Romania or a werewolf impregnating a housewife in Arkansas don’t concern you. Which they shouldn’t, because people can make fun of those, and when they make fun of them, that means they don’t suspect anything. But this isn’t like that. This is bigger.”
She paused for another deep breath, blew it out slowly. “Today, my boss asked me to look into half a dozen reported elf sightings here in Manhattan. None of the witnesses were obvious crackpots, all of them are willing to swear on a Bible about what they saw, and all of them apparently have pretty big mouths. Now if it were just my boss looking into it, I wouldn’t have freaked about it, and I probably wouldn’t be talking to you. Well, I definitely wouldn’t be talking to you, but the word is that we’re not the only ones on the story, and that’s…unusual.”
“Your boss asked you to look into it?” Luc demanded. “Are you with the police?”
Rafe looked up. “Corinne is a reporter.”
Luc felt himself blanch. “A reporter. Wait, does that mean these sightings will be announced on your television sets? That the entire human world will hear of it?”
Corinne deigned to reply frostily over her shoulder. “Not yet. Maybe. I’m a print reporter. I work for a small local newspaper. But like I said, I’ve heard I’m not the only one on the story. There are other papers snooping around, and my boss thinks the TV stations might be getting curious.”
The curses Luc let fly stretched the bounds of legality and creativity, but fortunately he retained enough presence of mind to utter them in his native tongue. This wasn’t good news.
“While I may not understand the sentiment, I’m afraid I likely agree with it,” Rafe said grimly, standing to trust his hands in the pockets of his tailored trousers. “This is…distressing.”
“I’m going to guess from your reactions that you hadn’t heard about this from someone else yet. Which means that I was probably right to come here and warn you. Yay for me.” Corinne stood as well and shouldered the battered leather backpack she had carried with her. “Anyway, I’m sorry if this is trouble for you guys, but now at least you know. So, you know, good luck and everything. I hope you…do whatever you need to do with the…whatever it is.”
She turned toward the door but didn’t manage a single step. Instinctively, Luc reached out to stop her. She’d just given him his first lead in discovering Seoc’s whereabouts. Right now, he needed her, and he didn’t intend to let her go until she gave him everything she had to give.