To Kill a Fae – C. S. Wilde

In Mera’s experience, three things motivated a murder: secrets, convenience, or passion. Yet, as she observed the dead fae king sprawled on the living room floor, eyes and mouth agape as if he were about to scream for his life—no pun intended—she couldn’t help but wonder if there might be a fourth. She didn’t know which of the fae kings this one might be. Many lived in fancy penthouses or villas in the fae borough, Tir Na Nog, each with their own nasty courts. And yet, this particular king had died in human territory, which made the case puzzling to say the least. Fae didn’t get along with… well, basically the entire country, but at least they showed some degree of respect for witches, vamps, and shifters. Humans, though? Nothing more than weak, pitiful beings. The regent of the fae state had said it point blank during a speech on live TV a year ago. Sure, the assface had been impeached from the council immediately after that, but the faeries’ cold indifference remained. It was ironic that this dead king had died with a human woman by his side. Oh, the horror. The shame. No wonder the Cap had rushed all detectives available to the scene. Hollowcliff was the Capital of Tagrad, and it was split into five non-bordering boroughs, each the capital of their respective state—witches, vamps, shifters, humans, and fae. But Tir Na Nog made the rest of Hollowcliff their bitches, which didn’t seem fair, considering they were corrupt as fuck and didn’t exactly abide by Tagradian law.

Still, the spoiled assholes were rarely punished because they had so much power. This meant that Mera and her peers had to gather as much evidence as possible on the murder scene before those fae dickwarts claimed it. Never mind that a human had died here today. Once the pixies took over, no one would care about bringing her murderer to justice. So yeah, Mera and her partner, Julian—plus the four detectives currently on scene— had to hurry. Stepping beside her, Julian ran a hand over his smooth hair, which had the color of ripe lemons. “What do you think, Mer? Lovers’ quarrel?” Her throat suddenly dried at the sight of him. Julian might be human, but he looked nearly ethereal. Like those marbled statues of the old gods, he was made of perfectly straight lines and sharp cuts. His strong, defined muscles were easy to spot, even covered by a white T-shirt and brown leather jacket.

Clearing her throat, she focused on the bodies—the king lying belly up and the woman resting on her stomach, reaching for him. Almost poetic. Too poetic. “It seems that way,” she muttered. The victim wore a fancy silken shirt and golden pants. With his trimmed beard and pointy ears crowded with golden hooped earrings—talk about bad taste in fashion—he resembled a pirate with a glitter obsession. Certainly not a king. Maybe he belonged to the Unseelie Courts. Then again, few people outside of Tir Na Nog knew what the Unseelie looked like, and Mera wasn’t one of them. A whistle escaped Julian’s puckered lips.

“A fae and a human. That’s kind of forbidden. Unofficially, that is.” His curious gaze traveled around the apartment. “Weird. Those snobby assholes should be here by now.” Even though Tagrad was governed by a council of one representative from each state, all five with equal weight in decision making—yeah, sure—it was clear who the richest and strongest player was: the jackasses from Tir Na Nog. Julian was right. It was odd that they weren’t here. Pulling out a small notepad from the pocket in his vest, he began to read it.

“Rigor mortis sets the time of death to six hours ago for him, and ten for her. A neighbor heard a man scream last night, but didn’t think much of it.” The woman had been dead already, which meant she hadn’t reached out to the king as she died. She’d been positioned that way. “The female is Sara Hyland, twenty-two.” Julian nodded toward the woman’s body. “Attended UCH, but lived here on the weekends, and during school break. The apartment belongs to the parents. She had a history of bringing in stray… gentlemen.” “Maybe one of them got jealous,” Mera guessed, but deep down she knew the chances were slim.

More of a gut feeling than fact, yet over the years, she’d learned to trust her instincts. “The door was half open when the neighbor came down this morning to check on her,” Julian added. “She found them this way.” “Convenient.” He arched one thick, brown eyebrow at her. “You think the neighbor did it?” Mera had seen the neighbor, a ninety-year-old human without a bone of magic in her body. Not a shifter, not a bloodsucker or a witch, and definitely not a fae. Those Mera could tell from a distance, even when they disguised themselves. Glancing at Julian, she admired the freckles that spread atop the bridge of his nose. “No, she definitely didn’t do it.

” Mera forced herself to look away from him, because the man was like the sun: beautiful, majestic, and if one stared for too long, they might go blind. She’d been working at the precinct for three years, but she’d never told Julian about her feelings for him. It sucked, because he was not only her partner but also her best friend. She wanted to kiss him senseless and do things with him, things she normally did with her profusion of one-night stands—the only type of relationship Mera could afford. The Cap’s voice rang in her mind. “Hide who you are, and you might survive, cookie.” Yeah, Mera could never be with Julian. He deserved better than what she could give. ‘We should have sex with him,’ the lustful, ravenous force inside her whispered. ‘Just to check if he lives up to the expectations.

’ And then what? Her rational self argued. ‘Just once.’ The siren side of her grinned, the cheeky feeling spreading through Mera’s chest. After all, her siren essence was always there, with her, even when her magic was dormant. That horny bastard… Down, girl, Mera thought, fighting her siren urges. “You won’t believe her cause of death, though,” Julian offered, snatching her attention. The fae king’s demise was obvious—a silver stake to the heart. A death fueled by hate and convenience. Which raised the question, why did Sara Hyland have such a fine weapon in her apartment? Sara’s death, on the other hand, wasn’t so simple. Mera should feign ignorance.

She had to hide anything that might give away her secret, otherwise, she would be hunted to death by every creature in Tagrad. After all, having a common enemy had been the sole reason for the unification. And that’s what Mera was. Their enemy. “The woman drowned,” she blurted, because she really, really craved Julian’s attention. Crap. Mera had seen enough humans drowning to know what a body looked like after the deed. The woman’s closed eyes were slightly swollen, so were her lips. The tip of her purplish tongue peeked out of her mouth, and thin veins peppered her milky white skin, which meant she hadn’t stayed underwater for long after her death, just long enough. A small grin hooked up Julian’s left cheek as he blinked at her.

“Damn, partner. Right as always. I honestly couldn’t believe when forensics said it. She doesn’t look like she drowned.” She did, actually. “It’s strange, isn’t it?” he asked, facing the bodies. “Why would someone bother to drown her, dry her up, and lay her here?” “Bait,” Mera said simply, more out of instinct than anything else. “Think like a predator,” her mother’s bitter voice echoed in her ears. “Become the predator.” Well, fuck that bitch and the six feet above her.

“You can’t come in here!” Officer Pearlmann yelled from the corridor, near the apartment’s entrance. “I can do whatever I want,” a strong, and somewhat regal voice countered. By the way the thin hairs on Mera’s arm stood, whoever he was, he had magic in him. A crapload of it. Fae. Definitely fae. Sirens, much like sharks, had an acute sense of smell, and everyone’s magic smelled differently. His power flowed from him with steady might, but it smelled crisp and fresh, like a dewy night or a foggy morning. A gentle scent for a ruthless power. ‘He has the kind of voice you want to fuck,’ the siren inside her remarked.

Mera rolled her eyes and sighed. Slut. ‘Why, thank you.’ The sound of a hard shove reached her, and then steps thumped closer on the wooden floor, but suddenly stopped. “You can’t take this case from us.” Pearlman must have stood in the fae’s way. “A human was murdered in here.” More pushing and shoving echoed, followed by someone hitting the floor with a harsh thud. Poor Pearlman, but considering what a fae could do, he’d been lucky. Mera exchanged one glance with Julian as she felt—and heard—the fae stomping from behind.

Her partner winked at her but remained quiet; a silent message that said, “We got this.” “Danu in the fucking prairies,” the fae grumbled as he stepped between them. “Are all humans as stupid as your colleague?” “I don’t know. Are all pixies assholes like you?” She turned to him and regretted it immediately. The fae was at least two heads taller than her, and even Julian, who was tall for a human, stood a head shorter than him. It wasn’t just his height, though. Fae were generally beautiful, but this male was simply otherworldly. Pointy ears poked out of a mane of moonlight-silver hair, which was tied back in a loose and messy bun atop his head, allowing thin strings to frame his face. His deep caramel skin contrasted immensely with blue eyes that were clearer than the sky. His body was different from Julian’s.

Strong yet lean. His muscles weren’t as evident as her partner’s, but still intimidating. She could see it by the rolled-up sleeves that showcased corded, and way-too-appealing forearms. Like he was a panther about to prowl. She could picture the rest of him from underneath the white shirt, gray checkered vest, and suit pants he wore—well, her siren did, that lustful jackass. Mera’s breathing became shallow. The siren cheered. The fae’s brow creased with a frown as he studied Mera from head to toe, something shining in those feral blue eyes. His focus roamed over her russet hair, going past her green irises, down to her shirt and leather jacket, navy jeans, until it finally settled on her boots. He couldn’t discover the truth simply by looking at her… could he? A cold sweat broke on her skin, but she had to get her shit together.

No magical creature had ever been able to tell that Mera was a siren, including a handful of fae. He grinned, seeming satisfied with his appraisal of her. “Mera Maurea?” She nodded, mostly because words failed her—either from his magnetic presence, or the sheer horror of what he might’ve found within her. Without another word, he turned back to Julian. “Julian Smith, I assume?” Her partner saluted him with a middle finger. “Yeah. And you are?” “Sebastian Dhay.” Ignoring Julian’s offense, he shoved both hands in the pockets of his tailored pants. “But you can call me Bast.” With his suit and impeccable brown leather shoes, he only needed a golden pocket watch to complete the old-school, rich-boy vibe.

Remarkable, really, that this was the standard uniform for Tir Na Nog detectives. He resembled either a dandy or a douche. Yeah, definitely a douche. “I’m here to investigate the murder of Zev Ferris, king of the Summer Court,” Bast informed them. Mera’s jaw dropped. “You’re telling me that this guy,” she pointed at the victim, “who is dressed like a leprechaun merchant, is a light court king? Are you serious?” Bast gave her a dashing grin, his teeth whiter than his hair. “Not everyone can dress well, sugar tits.” He ogled her jeans, white shirt, and leather jacket as if trying to prove his point. She glared at him as a furious blush rose to her cheeks. “Sorry if I don’t dress to your dandy standards, pixie.

” Mera felt the siren’s eyes rolling, even if she was the siren and the siren was her. ‘Wow. Good one. He called us sugar tits, and that’s what we hit him with? Pixie?’ The bastard had a point. A loud laugh burst from Bast’s lips before he turned to Julian. “Your partner is most intriguing, isn’t she?” Julian’s arms remained crossed, not an inch of amusement on his face. “You disrespect the lady again, and you and I will have a problem, asshole.” Bast’s grin was wild and savage. The image of a panther came to mind again. “You will have a problem, human.

I’ll simply call it entertainment.” On the upside, though, Bast’s condescending attitude meant he must think she was human. Mera let out a relieved breath, then surveyed the room, noticing the lack of a team of fae invading their crime scene. “The king of the Summer Court is dead, and you’re here alone?” she asked. “Where’s the cavalry?” Bast shook his index finger at her. “Not bad, sugar tits.” Before she could scream at him, he raised his hands in surrender. “I meant no disrespect.” He pointed at her breasts. “They’re nice, perky, and about the right size.

It’s a compliment,” he assured, giving her a thumbs up. A fucking thumbs up. She would kill this bastard today. “Call me sugar tits again, and I swear I will bite off your fingers one by one, dickwart.” ‘Ah, much better!’ Her siren clapped. His silver eyebrows arched, and his eyes glinted with mischief. For a fleeting moment, Mera saw something inside him, something ancient and dark, but then it was gone. “Is that a promise, kitten?” What an unnerving fartface! But at least he’d stopped calling her sugar tits. “I’ll be honest with you two,” Bast went on, barely addressing Julian, his focus solely on Mera. “We want discretion on this one.

Your captain traded that for minimum interference from our side. So, here I am.” Oh, the Cap. Ruth. The fiercest woman Mera knew. That she’d managed to strike a deal with the fae district was nothing short of a miracle. Humans had few bargaining chips when it came to those fuckers, but Ruth had plenty of tricks up her sleeve. “Great,” Mera conceded. “Try not to stand in our way, and—” “You don’t understand. I’m not here to assist you both.

I’m here,” he pointed at Mera, “because I’m your new partner.”

.

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