Thanks for subscribing to my newsletter! I live in San Diego and in July our city becomes alive with magic as Comic-Con International comes to town. I wrote this story years ago, when you could still go to the convention center and buy badges… You’ll also notice Mapquest instead of Google maps! 🙂
Anyway, I hope it’ll give you a little taste of Comic-Con wherever you live!
The Wild Side – By Lisa Kessler
Her ankles wobbled in her new Jimmy Choo Shoes. It was all she could do to keep her giggles from escaping.
Who knew it would be so difficult to walk in these crazy shoes? Being barefoot was much more practical, but she did have to admit, these strappy black heels were fun. They dressed up her tiny feet and added three inches of height to her petite frame.
She made her way down the crowded sidewalk without bumping into too many people. At least she thought they were people. It was really tough to tell sometimes.
Aliens, samurai warriors, robots and something that looked dead surrounded her on all sides. The dead thing didn’t stink, but his eyes were cloudy and his skin was gray. He dragged his right leg when he walked too.
When she stepped out from the shadows of the skyscrapers, the bay sparkled on her right, and a smile of pure joy lit up her face. The sunlight danced on the water, calling to her. But she wasn’t ready to answer. Not yet.
With a sigh she forced her eyes forward again and did her best to manage a wobble-free gait. Only a couple more blocks until she reached the convention center. She was almost there.
Her heels clicked the pavement faster, until the mob was too thick for her to weave her way through. She jutted her chin out, and puffed air up at her blond bangs. Waiting made her crazy.
When she finally reached the front of the line, a woman who looked like she lost a battle with some sort of piercing demon, rolled her eyes up at her. “Name?”
“My name?” Oh no! She hadn’t thought up a name yet…
Her pierced eyebrow furrowed. “No, the name of the President. Of course your name!”
Her bright green eyes darted around until they fell on a woman frozen in a fighting pose for a photo. She was dressed in a hot pink body suit complete with a full face mask and hood.
“Fushia? Fushia what?”
Another eye roll. “What’s your last name?”
“Oh,” she said, wondering what a last name might be. “Um, it’s Fae. Fushia Fae. That’s me!”
So clever. A fit of giggles was building, but she did her best to contain them. She wasn’t really a Faerie, but surely people would see her last name and assume. After an exchange of American dollars, she had a name badge and headed toward the doors. She wasn’t sure how paper money worked, but for some reason when she gave the large pierced woman one piece of money, she ended up giving her four pieces back. Weird.
Folding up the green paper, she tucked it carefully inside the neckline of her tunic and headed for a door with a picture of a person wearing a skirt. She needed to change soon before she started to itch. Once she was inside, she found a row of tiny rooms with bowls of water in the center. She wasn’t sure of the purpose, but she wasn’t in a hurry to investigate. What she was in a hurry to do was take off her little jacket.
She folded the jacket and tucked it inside her convention bag, then stretched her arms over head and let out a soft moan as her gossamer wings unfolded behind her. Gently, she fanned them, stretching the tight muscles. Keeping her wings confined made her back hurt. Like forcing her feet into shoes that were too small. This was much better.
Stepping out of the tiny room, she moved in front of the full length mirror.
“Wow! Beautiful wings!”
“Thank you!” She smiled at a woman in a skin tight black outfit with a black cape and long white hair, then retracted her wings a bit to let her get past.
“Those are amazing. They look real. Are you entered in the Masquerade tonight?”
She shook her head. “No, I’m only here until the sun sets.”
The white-haired woman with a small X on her chest raised a brow. “Too bad. You’d be tough to beat.”
The woman disappeared into a tiny booth, and she stretched her wings back out and shifted her short black skirt a little. Her skin shimmered, but in this crowd she still fit in nicely. She swept up her blond tresses into a messy ponytail, exposing the pointed tips at the top of her petite ears.
Glancing around the room and seeing no one watching, she brought her finger up to her mouth, and with a tiny spark, her lips were bathed in a deep purple. Perfect!
She stepped out of the room for ladies, and into the throngs of humans, vampires, elves, pirates, aliens, more of those dead things, trolls, dwarves, and the Technicolor ninjas. (Although their clothes said “Power Rangers” so maybe they weren’t ninjas at all?)
Countless compliments came in about her wings as people passed her by, causing her cheeks to flush with color. Her wings were by far her best feature, but she’d never gotten so much attention for them in her world.
She was definitely walking on the wild side of the veil here in the realm of humans. And she loved it.
Too bad she couldn’t stay long, but all good things had to come to an end, right?
She wanted to try everything while she was here. Up and down each aisle, she drank in screens with moving pictures, toys, games, books, and a constant flow of people.
And they all smiled at her…
This was the one place in the crazy human world that she could visit in her true form. This yearly event drew hundreds of thousands of humans costumed and celebrating her kind among others.
None of them had any idea that her wings were real.
She gasped as a hand touched her elbow. She turned to see a royal guard. “Let me go!”
“Princess you must return with us. This world is no place for you.”
She tugged her arm free. “I said, let me go!”
“Hey is this guy bugging you?” A warrior asked, sizing up her royal guard.
“Bugging?” She looked from one male to the other and slowly started to nod. “Yes, I think he is.”
Her guard started to speak, but the warrior raised a gloved hand to poke his chest. “Just back off, buddy. Leave her alone.”
She smiled up at her guard and slid her arm through the warrior’s. He placed a hand over hers with a tilt of his head. “After you M’lady…”
With a sparkle in her eye, she looked back at her befuddled guard and grumbled, “Go away.” To her rescuer she added, “We better run.”
She took off as fast as her tall shoes would allow, tugging her new warrior behind her. He held fast to her hand and by the time they had escaped, her laughter bubbled out. He smiled, checking behind them before turning toward her again.
“So who was that lame-wad?”
“Jerk, idiot, imbecile, simpleton…”
“Oh,” she grinned. Simpleton was a word she recognized. “He was a Royal Guard. I did not think they would find me so quickly.”
“Royal Guard? From what series?”
“You know, which anime, manga, comic, gaming world… I’ve never heard of a Royal Guard. He looked like an elf.”
She shook her head, “No we’re sprites.”
“Yes, silly. We’re shorter than Elves.” She leaned in close with a conspiratorial whisper, “But we’re much better swimmers.”
“Do elves swim?”
“Not if they can help it. They like boats.”
He shook his head looking confused. She shifted a little giving him a closer look over.
“I can see you are a warrior, but what are you?”
His eyes widened, “You can’t tell?”
“Not really.” She shrugged her shoulders.
He straightened up, pushing his chest out slightly. “I’m Aragorn.”
“Aragorn?” she asked.
Now he looked shocked.
“Aragorn… You know from Middle Earth. Human warrior destined to claim the throne of Gondor…”
She squenched her nose. “Gondor? There aren’t any humans in Middle Earth, and I have never heard of a city named Gondor.”
“Jesus woman, where have you been hiding? You’ve never heard of the Lord of the Rings trilogy?”
People gasped and walked in a wider circle around her like she had a disease they didn’t want to catch. She blushed and shook her head. “I am not from this world. I have never met this Lord of rings.”
He wiped his brow and shook his head slowly. “We better not talk about this here. We’re liable to be attacked by orcs… Or worse.”
He took her hand again and led her through the building and out the back doors to a balcony overlooking the bay below. She took a deep breath of the salt air and smiled up at him.
“I am pleased to meet you Aragorn, future King of Gondor. I am sorry if I offended you in some way, but I am certain you are not from Middle Earth. Humans cannot cross the veil.”
“Ok enough of being in character. Drop the act for a sec.”
“Yeah, enough of being a sprite. Who are you really?” His eyes glanced down to her name badge and back up to meet her eyes. “And please don’t tell me you’re Fushia Fae. That’s such an obvious fake name; I can’t believe they let you in with it.”
Her brow furrowed. “I cannot tell you.”
“Can’t or won’t? Look, I’ll start. My real name is Scott Jones. I work at a Jiffy Lube in La Mesa and I waste my free time gaming and watching DVDs.” He offered her a crooked smile that made her heart flip a little. “Ok, now your turn.”
She looked over her shoulder first, checking for any sign of the guards before she turned back to face him. “I am Princess Kathryn. I am next in line to become the Queen of my people. We are water sprites. I live on the other side of the veil.”
She watched his face, waiting for any sign that he believed her, when suddenly he burst out laughing. “You really expect me to believe you’re a sprite. And not only that, but a ‘Princess’? You’ve got problems girl.”
“I never should have told you.” She looked out over the water of the bay. “You may go now.”
She wanted to look at him, but she wouldn’t. Not now. She had no business telling him the truth. Not that he believed her anyway, but she knew the rules.
The magic behind the veil that separated her world depended on humans only seeing with their eyes. If they started to believe in magic, the veil would thin until their worlds once again shared the same plane.
Judging by Scott’s reaction, there was nothing to worry about. She was sitting right in front of him and he still didn’t believe she was a sprite. Fine.
She was so lost in her royal pout, she failed to notice that Scott hadn’t left. In fact, he had stopped laughing and was staring at her. She peered over at him and saw what had his full attention.
Apparently during her bout of fuming, she had forgotten to control her silvery wings. She’d been pumping them in time with her fury. Uh oh… She ceased the movement and turned toward him.
“I thought you were leaving.”
He looked from her wings to her eyes. His voice was much softer. “Your wings. They’re real aren’t they?”
She shrugged. “What do you care? Sprites don’t really exist anyway, right?”
“I didn’t think so,” he said. “But what do I know?”
“Not much!” she huffed. He smiled again and her passive aggressive rage melted a little around the edges. “But you think you know everything.”
“I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings I just,” he shook his head slowly. “I had no idea. Can I touch your wings?”
She blushed and shook her head. “As long as no one sees.”
He reached out with a tentative finger and ran it slowly down the edge of her right wing. She struggled to keep from giggling as he drew back.
“They’re so soft, like velvet but light like air. Why are you blushing?”
“No one has ever touched my wings before.”
His cheeks flushed with color. “Did I just do something…intimate?”
She laughed and shrugged, “Not to you, but in my world if my father had seen you touch my wings, we would be betrothed.”
Before he could reply, a guard burst through the door. “Princess!”
The Royal Guard drew a quiver and had his bow drawn in a heartbeat. She leapt in front of Scott, lifting her chin in an effort to look regal. Even with the heels, she was barely up to the guard’s shoulder height.
He didn’t lower his bow, but he also didn’t shoot. She considered that a victory. Tiny, but still a victory.
“Princess Kathryn, you should not be here.”
“I am not a prisoner. I can go where I please.”
His bow was still drawn back at the ready. “No one is to cross the veil.”
Behind her back, she reached for Scott’s hand. Clenching it tightly she chanted, “Ben jee varrey sguir àm!”
She waited for a moment, watching the guard for any sign of movement, and then she listened. The only sound was the water splashing against the rocks lining the bay. She let out a sigh of relief and turned around to face Scott.
“Are you all right?”
He nodded. “You were speaking Gaelic, weren’t you?”
“You know my language?” She started to smile.
“Not really. I don’t know what you said, but I’ve read enough to know that mythical beings from the British Isles usually speak some form of Gaelic.” He looked past her at the guard. “What did you do to him?”
“To everyone,” she said softly.
She watched him walk toward the guard. Scott waved his hand in front of the guard’s face and turned back to her.
“I called upon the Goddess to stop time for me.”
He blinked, glancing at the guard once more before meeting her eyes. “So how come I can move?”
“I was touching you when I called upon the magic. It cannot touch the one who casts it.”
“Wow… So no one can move?”
She shrugged, “For them time has stopped so they are not trying to move.”
“Wow…” He walked to the edge of the balcony, looking down at the people below. A woman was paralyzed with a french fry perched at her lips. A man, just about to sit, was frozen hovering over the bench.
“I have to go, Scott.”
He turned to face her. “Where?”
“Back home. Time passes differently on my side of the veil. If the Royal Guard is already here then my mother also knows I am here. I had hoped to cross the veil again before anyone realized I was gone.”
He walked toward her and took her hand, sending a little jolt through her bloodstream. He looked regal in his warrior costume as the sea breeze brushed through his hair. He led her to a couple of chairs and sat with her. She liked holding his hand.
“This is all real…” he said.
She nodded, placing her hand over his. “I am very pleased to have met you Scott. If you ever make it to Middle Earth, I hope you will visit me.”
He smiled, raising her hand to his lips for a soft kiss. “Of course Princess.”
Her cheeks flushed as a smile warmed her features. “I want you to keep something for me.”
She slid her fingers up the side of her skirt and withdrew a tiny etched dagger. The handle was studded with blue sapphires that sparkled like the ocean. On the flat edge of the dagger, her name was etched into the silver.
Scott stared at the dagger. Its razor-sharp blade was just slightly longer than his hand.
He lifted his eyes to meet hers. “I can’t accept this.”
“Yes you can. Please. I want you to have it.” She closed his fingers around the jeweled handle. “This is my dagger. One day when you cross the veil, my dagger will lead you back to me.”
“I cannot tell you that. When my magic is gone, so will your memory of me.” Her eyes sparkled. “No more time for questions. When the time is right you will find me.”
He carefully slid the dagger in his belt and took her hand. “May I have a kiss before you go?”
She froze as he stepped in closer to her. Scott brought his hand up to cup her cheek, tilting her chin up to him as his lips tenderly brushed against hers. Her heart fluttered in her chest when he finally pulled away.
She smiled up at him and whispered, “Tromhad múirn laoch…”
She stepped back, slipped off her shoes, and snapped her fingers. Suddenly all sound broke through the silence, and the guard marched forward.
“Kathryn, wait!” Scott called, but it was too late.
She sprung forward and slapped the guard before, racing to the railing and leaping off. Scott rushed to look over the side, but she hadn’t fallen, she was flying out over the bay. She blew him a kiss before diving into the water. When she broke through the glass of the ocean’s surface a shockwave of magic knocked him back onto the bench.
He blinked, clearing his vision and looked around. His head hurt and it felt… Fuzzy. Wasn’t he with someone? How did he get out here? Were they in some kind of trouble? He couldn’t remember for sure. Scott sighed and headed for the door.
He rubbed his temple, still confused and not at all sure how he ended up out on the balcony. Shaking his head, he reached out for the door when his hand brushed over something on his belt. He frowned and withdrew a tiny dagger.
The stones shimmered with his touch and Scott smiled.
He remembered now. Magic.
Tucking the dagger back into his belt, he looked over at the bay.
“I’ll find a way through the veil, Kathryn. I will…”
And with that, he disappeared back into the throngs of people.
Ben jee varrey sguir àm! – Goddess stop time!
Tromhad múirn laoch… – Come back to me my warrior…
Worlds Apart – By Lisa Kessler
Would he ever be able to get her out of his head?
Scott sighed and stared at his bank balance, trying to find it inside himself to care that he’d already saved up enough money to make the trip to San Francisco to Wonder Con. Usually right after Comic-Con was over, he was already working on improving his costume and saving up money for the trip to San Francisco.
But this summer everything had changed.
He jammed the deposit receipt into his pocket, got back in his old Ford Ranger pick-up, and headed to the beach. Being near the ocean, staring out at the endless horizon of water, was the only place that brought him peace anymore.
And it was as close as he could get to Kathryn.
He hadn’t mentioned her to any of his friends. Who would believe he met a real water sprite at Comic-Con this summer? No one. And when he tossed out that she was also a princess and they’d shared a single kiss; they’d be dragging him off to a rubber room.
Nope, Princess Kathryn was his own secret torment.
Talk about a long distance relationship! He groaned as he parked the truck.
The sun sparkled on the ocean’s swells as it journeyed toward dusk. The pink and orange sky was starting to crescendo into a gorgeous sunset. A lonely sunset.
Scott climbed out of his truck and slid his hand around under the driver’s seat until his fingertips found the edge of a bound up pillowcase. He tugged out the small bundle, grabbed his beach chair out of the back of the pick-up, and headed for the water.
The sea breeze pushed his shoulder-length hair back from his face as he unrolled the pillow case. Carefully he withdrew the tiny jeweled dagger and watched the sunset colors dance in the sapphires that decorated the grip. Her name was etched into the flat edge of the dagger, and he ran his index finger along each letter. The metal reflected his eyes and he could feel the magic tingle through his skin, but sadly, Kathryn never told him how to use it.
One day when you cross the veil, my dagger will lead you back to me.
He scoffed and looked out over the water again. Riddles weren’t going to help him now, and magical daggers were useless when you didn’t understand how to use the power inside of them. It’d be best if he just threw the dagger into the waves and walked away. Maybe then he could put her behind him and move on with his life. Hell, he’d only been with her for an hour or two at the most, why couldn’t he just let her go?
But every time he closed his eyes he saw the tiny points of her ears peeking through her silky blond hair. Her laughter sparkled in his mind, and he could still hear her voice echoing. He was haunted by her smile, and the way her wings fluttered when she was angry. And her lips. He could almost feel them again. That tender kiss goodbye.
He hummed softly to himself and opened his eyes to find her standing before him.
Scott bolted out of his chair so fast that it fell over onto the sand. “Kathryn?”
He was afraid to touch her, afraid to find out if she was real, or if he had finally gone crazy. She smiled, and rushed into his arms. Scott held her so tight he worried he might snap her in two. Her hair smelled like roses and rain all at once, and her skin was like silk. Finally he drew back just enough to see her face, but before he could utter a word, she rose up on her toes and kissed him. A slow, tender, delicious kiss that turned his heart inside out.
“Ouch!” she gasped against his lips. Scott loosened his hold on her and Kathryn glanced back over her shoulder. “You poked me.”
“I’m sorry, I forgot I still had the dagger.” He released her and started to toss the jeweled dagger back onto his chair, when she grabbed his wrist.
“Keep it close.”
She smiled, “The magic, silly. Remember?”
“Oh I remember all right. You failed to mention how to make the magic dagger work. Instead I got some riddle about crossing the veil and finding you.”
“A riddle?” Her nose crinkled slightly as her brows knitted together. “No, I gave you instructions.”
Her wings were starting to flutter. It was all Scott could do to hold back a grin.
“You told me when I crossed the veil the dagger would lead me to you, but you didn’t tell me where to find the veil or how to cross it, let alone what to do with the dagger once I got there.”
“But you are here.”
“Across the veil.”
If Scott had wings, he figured they’d be flapping so fast by now he’d whip up a sandstorm. Instead he looked up and down the beach, to the North was a group of couples around a bonfire, and to the South was the Belmont Park roller coaster. Not what he pictured “across the veil” to look like.
Staring down at Kathryn, he shook his head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. We’re still here in San Diego. This is Mission Beach. I haven’t ‘crossed’ anything.”
“The veil isn’t a curtain you lift up, silly.” She reached up and tucked his hair behind his ear as she smiled up at him. “The veil is the magic that keeps our worlds apart. When you can allow yourself to believe in what you cannot see, and wish for something you cannot have, you make your own magic and my world can touch yours, like a crossroads where two paths meet.”
He pondered that for a moment and brought his hand up to caress her cheek. “So you’re saying I sat here and accidentally cut an opening in the veil between Avalon and San Diego.”
She nuzzled into his touch with a shrug. “You opened the veil enough for my dagger to call to me. I heard it’s song and found you.”
He smiled and bent to kiss her again, scooping her up into his arms. Kathryn giggled, and the sound of her laughter made his heart swell.
“I have so much to show you,” he said.
The laughter stopped and her smile faltered.
Scott frowned. “What’s wrong?”
“I can’t stay. The guards will search for me.”
“Then take me back with you.”
“But you’re human.”
“So?” Scott almost felt insulted. “What’s being human got to do with it?”
She shook her head slowly. “You don’t understand. Both our worlds exist right here. But you only see your world. Your world, and me.”
“So we’re on the shore at Mission Beach in both our worlds?”
“Sort of,” she gnawed at her lower lip. “But in my world this is the shore of Endava. And if you could fully see Avalon, you wouldn’t see the large mountain of wood over there–“
”Roller coaster,” he corrected.
“Okay, roller coaster. You’d see the Endava forest. I was riding when I saw the blue light of my dagger piercing through the veil. You could probably hear me squeal all the way over here!”
Scott grinned and lowered her feet back onto the sand. “So you’ve missed me too?”
Kathryn nodded. “Of course I have! It took you long enough to find me.”
He laughed, “You could’ve left me more specific directions. Not like I can look up Avalon on Mapquest.” Her quizzical look made him clarify his statement. “It’s a place that gives directions to find other cities.”
He ran his thumb, with traces of oil outlining his nail, down her soft cheek. He tried to memorize every color, every curve, everything about her. His chest tightened when he realized he wasn’t sure he’d ever see her again.
“So how long can you stay?”
She shrugged, “Until the royal guards drag me back home and seal the veil again.”
Scott wanted to scream that wasn’t long enough. He wanted to ask her a million questions about Avalon and a world he never knew existed, although he’d always hoped. At the same time, he wanted to throw her in his truck and run away. Maybe the guards would never find them.
But maybe Kathryn would miss her home and her family. She was a princess. He was an oil lube technician at Jiffy Lube. Who was he to decide what was best for her?
She took his hand, snapping him out of his inner-monologue, and a tender smile lit up her face. “We shouldn’t waste the time we have worrying about the time we don’t have, right?”
He raised her hand to his lips and brushed a kiss over her knuckles with a smile. “Were you reading me mind?”
“No, I was trying to come up with ways to stay here too.”
He chuckled and drew her into his arms. She fit perfectly. When they met at Comic-Con, he had been dressed as Aragorn future king of Gondor, and even though he wasn’t wearing his costume now, when she was in his arms he felt like a king.
“Wait just a sec,” he said and jogged back to his truck. He returned with a 7-Eleven bag and dropped it on his beach chair. “Sorry I don’t have something better for us to eat, but I wasn’t expecting any company.”
He pulled out a bottle of Dr. Pepper, a bag of Frito’s, and for dessert a large Wonka Bar. Kathryn smiled and plopped down in the sand, grabbing the bottle of Dr. Pepper. She twisted the lid off the bottle and screamed with laughter when it fizzed out all over her.
Scott sat beside her and shook his head. “Sorry, I must’ve shook it on my way back over here.”
She took a sip and smiled. “Oh this is amazing! I’ve never had–,”she hiccuped and gasped at the sensation, “I’ve never had drinks from your world before. It’s so good!”
Scott grabbed the Wonka Bar with a grin. “So you’ve never had chocolate by the genius that is Willy Wonka?”
He tore open the Wonka Bar and offered the corner to her. “Have a bite.”
She took a tentative nibble and her eyes widened. “Oh wow! Wow! I love chocolate!”
He smiled and handed her the candy bar. “It’s yours.”
She grinned and munched on the bar as she looked out over the water. Scott watched her, bringing one hand up to tuck her hair behind her pointed ear. Kathryn turned, and when their eyes met she leaned in and kissed him.
“Thank you for finding me again,” she whispered.
The sun vanished beyond the horizon, and the moonlight sparkled in her eyes, or maybe it was magic, he wasn’t sure he cared. Kathryn was beautiful, and she looked at him like he was someone special, not just a guy struggling to make ends meet under cars all day. Further down the beach, he could hear Elvis blaring out of a boom box, and the waves were crashing on the sand, but all that existed was Kathryn.
He took her hand and pulled her to her feet. Taking on his kingly stance even without his Aragorn get-up, Scott offered her a slight bow and a crooked smile. “A dance, Milady?”
Even in the glow of the moon, her cheeks flushed with color as she smiled and curtsied. “I would love to, My Lord.”
Slowly they waltzed in the sand while Elvis crooned.
Wise men say, only fools rush in, But I can’t help falling in love with you.
Kathryn danced as if she were floating on the sand, and Scott did his best to keep from plodding, even venturing to dip her once, relishing the sound of her giggles. As the song drew to a close, Scott realized that they were no longer dancing, just standing, lost in each other’s eyes.
“I wish I could stay,” she whispered.
“I’m not ready to let you go.”
Suddenly she was yanked from his arms.
“Princess Kathryn you must come with us.”
Scott looked up at the guard and took a step toward her. “Get your hands off of her!”
The guards withdrew their swords in perfect unison, while their leader kept his gloved hand on Kathryn’s shoulder. “Leave us, human. This is not your fight.”
Scott lifted his chin, channeling his Aragorn character, “If it involves Princess Kathryn, then it is most definitely my fight.”
“Let me go, Kybalt! Now!” Kathryn fumed, wrenching herself free of his grasp. She glared up at each guard as she spoke. “We have done nothing wrong. We have broken no laws. We have hurt no one.”
The leader, Kybalt, looked down at her. “Please Princess. We are only following your father’s orders. You can take your debate to him.”
“My father has never left the land of Fae. He hides behind the veil. He will never understand this world or the magic in it.”
“I am sorry Princess Kathryn,” Kybalt sighed. “We must bring you back.”
“At least give us a moment alone,” she stepped to Scott’s side and slid her hand into his. “To say goodbye.”
Kybalt’s silver eyes bore into Scott, but he kept his head held high, never wavering from the Royal Guard’s stare. Finally Kybalt nodded.
“Very well. But we will be watching. You cannot stay long.”
With that he and the guards walked toward the waves and vanished. Scott blinked and wiped his eyes. “They’re gone.”
“No, they’re right there watching us.” Kathryn pointed. “They stepped through the veil to give us a moment alone.”
“So they can see us, but I can’t see them?”
“You could if you truly believed.”
Scott sighed, “I still don’t understand. But I want to, Kathryn. I want to know. I want to get to know you better and meet your family. Hell, I even want to introduce you to mine, wings and all!”
Kathryn blushed and smiled. “They wouldn’t be able to see my wings. My glamour hides them. You only see them because I wasn’t using glamour at Comic-Con when we met. I thought I would stick out in the crowd more without my wings, so I didn’t try to hide them.”
Scott shook his head. “Don’t make me lose track of what I was saying, Kathryn. I’m serious about this. I want to know all about you and your world. I want to show you mine. I’ve never met anyone like you before.”
“Course you haven’t, silly!” She smiled, and his heart pounded. “There isn’t anyone like me in your world. I’m a water sprite, remember?”
“How could I ever forget?” He grinned in spite of himself. “What I’m saying Kathryn, is I want you to be a part of my life. I realize it won’t be the life I always expected, but I don’t care.”
“We come from two different worlds, Scott.”
“I know. But I’ve always wanted to be a part of a magical world like Middle Earth, remember?”
“And I always wanted to cross the veil to see how humans lived.”
“Yes, so why stop?”
Kathryn bit her lower lip for a moment and peeked over her shoulder toward the water before she met his eyes and whispered, “Go get my dagger and tuck it inside your belt. Then when I cross the veil with the guard, close your eyes and think of me and the guards and the Endava forest. You have to believe it, Scott. Faith makes the magic real and the veil thin.”
He bent to kiss her, and the Royal Guard was back on the beach in a heartbeat. Kathryn rose up on her tip-toes and hugged him. She whispered against his ear. “See you soon, Scott Follow me…”
He nodded with a wink as she stepped over to the guards. Scott waited for them to turn their backs to him and head toward the water, then he dashed back to the beach chair to snag the dagger. Jamming it between his belt and his jeans, he scrambled through the sand to the water’s edge. Princess Kathryn and the guards were gone. The waves had already erased their footprints, as if they’d never existed.
But they did exist.
He closed his eyes and brought his hand up to clasp the jeweled handle of her dagger. Instantly a vision of Kathryn smiled up at him, laughing, her wings slowly paddling the air. Then he noticed the guards walking in front and behind Princess Kathryn, guiding her through a thick forest. He could see it. All of it. The forest, the guards, Kathryn.
It was all real. He was ready.
Scott took a deep breath and stepped across the veil.