“Should I drive?” Amber asked, watching me walk to the car.
“I’m fine,” I said, walking to the driver’s seat. The ground wavered under my feet, but not too much. I collapsed into the seat heavily, taking a deep breath. I needed to sit. I took the opportunity to familiarize myself with Mark’s car. Amber appeared outside my door.
“I really think you should let me drive,” she said again.
I sighed, peeking behind her at the window. I couldn’t see Mark at this angle, hopefully that meant he hadn’t spotted what we were doing. Of course, that meant no one would notice if Karen did come stumbling out. Or something scarier.
“Fine, you can drive,” I said, getting out to move to the passenger seat. As I switched seats, I noticed Jeff looking out the window. He was unlikely to rat out that I was letting Amber drive. I still scared him around the library. But hopefully he didn’t notice me stumbling like a drunk with fresh blood on my bandages.
“Where to first?” Amber asked when I’d buckled myself in.
“The library,” I said. “I’d feel much better after visiting there.”
Amber nodded, pulling the car out of the driveway. I stared at the forest the whole way down the driveway. Was it any brighter than it’d been before? Were those red buds new? Or had I just missed them when I came this way earlier?
“I’m sorry,” Amber said suddenly, startling me out of my contemplation.
“Sorry for what?” I asked, surprised.
“Sorry for your face,” she muttered, “And for being useless in the fight. And for getting us into this mess.”
I sighed. “Well to start, you didn’t get us into anything. The fae managed to glamour half the staff into lending out the books. You’re well off the hook for that.”
“They didn’t glamour you,” Amber countered.
“The fae and I came to an agreement ages ago,” I said grinning, “They don’t mess with me, I don’t mess with them.”
“You can do that?” Amber asked. “The way Kelcie described them, I thought they would consider that a challenge.”
“Normally yes,” I said. “You can’t trust the fae, Amber. That’s rule number one when dealing with supernatural. The fae can lie.”
“I’m confused,” she said. “So, why wouldn’t they glamour you too?”
“Well, the fae might not be trustworthy,” I said, “But demons always tell the truth. I may have had a particularly nasty one on hand when I made that deal.”
“So they’re all terrified of what happens if they break the agreement,” I said, my grin so wide it forced the scabs at the corner of my lip to split open.
Amber shuddered. “So they’ll never never mess with you?”
“I wouldn’t say never,” I corrected. “What did I just say about fae?”
“They’re not trustworthy.”
“Precisely.” I leaned back in seat, trying to get the sun out of my eyes. “One day, the reward will be too high for the risks. Fae have bad impulse control and a short memory.”
“And then what happens?” Amber asked.
“Well… Then we’ll dance,” I said. Sometimes the idea that I’d committed to war with the entire fairy domain kept me awake. But I was pretty sure it was mutually assured destruction.
“How big is your nuke?” Amber asked. I gave her a curious look and she added, “How dangerous is the demon?”
“Dangerous enough that the threat of going to war with him scared the fae for the last 10 years,” I clarified.
“And he just let you keep him on call?”
“Well, we made a deal,” I said. “That’s how it works when you summon demons, you make an offer, and state the terms clearly before the summoning. Then if they agree to the deal and your sacrifice, they’ll show up.”
“What did you sacrifice?” Amber asked.
“I locked myself out from casting fae magic,” I said. “It wasn’t my smartest move.”
“Do you miss fae magic?”
“Not at all. It was worth it to not deal with their petty tricks.”
“Then why regret it?” Amber asked.
I smiled. “I’ve since learned that demon would have gone to war with the fae for a song. I got robbed.”
“I was younger back then,” I said. “I made bigger deals. Some not-so-smart ones. You’ll get better at fights too.”
“All I did last night was cut up your face and puke on my shoes,” Amber said bitterly.
“What this little thing?” I said, tracing the line down my cheek. “I hardly felt it.”
“Still, I hit a teammate…” she said, turning into the parking lot of the library.
“It happens,” I said. “Don’t worry, I’m fine. It was even useful.”
“It was?” Amber asked, parking the car.
I nodded, getting out of the car. “Just don’t make it a habit, please.”
Amber’s cheeks went a lovely shade of red as I walked into the library, grinning.