Chapter 5

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Dannon looked down at the weir as the water gushed under the ancient stone bridge, rushing on between the arches, heedless of destination as the path laid out for it was simple and easy to follow. He felt a stab of envy and wished his own path was so clearly marked.

Opposite him, across the river, waiters were laying up tables ready for the evening's diners at Le Moulin de L'Abbaye. The gardens around the building were crammed with scarlet geraniums, and ivy climbed the walls of the old mill itself, curling around the bright blue shutters.

He had considered going back to see Anaïs - had been on his way - before changing his mind and turning around again. She had troubled him in the same way he knew he had cut up her peace and he didn't know what to do about it. He had long since grown tired with the cloak and dagger aspect of his life. The work of a spy had once appealed to him. He had a unique skill, why not put it to good use? After all when it was a question of treachery, or the security of the Fae Lands, he had no compunction in using whatever means necessary to get the information he needed. He could be ruthless, uncompromising, if he felt that was what was required. This girl, however, had a life. She knew nothing of the world he was proposing to take her to if he became convinced that she had the gift. That thought did not sit easily with him.

He wondered if he should just tell her the truth, and then imagined her reaction if he told her he was a Duke of Alfheim, a realm which existed in another dimension.

She was a no-nonsense kind of girl. She would probably just beat him around the head with one of her father's baguettes.

His thoughts drifted back to the little herb room and the feel of her soft hands on his. She was just so ... wholesome, as fresh as newly baked bread. She even smelled edible. The knowledge that she wanted him and had made no secret of her interest was like an insect bite; the harder he tried not to scratch at it the more he wanted to. There was something about her, about that goodness in her ... it made him long to do very bad things indeed.

The women he pursued at home were rather different. He had no time for going around breaking hearts and stayed clear of anyone who wanted anything more than a quick tumble. A night or two of mutual gratification was all he was capable of giving. That was not what she was looking for and he knew it.

He groaned inwardly and leant his elbows on the bridge, putting his head in his hands. No, she was off limits. The last thing he needed was a romantic entanglement on top of everything else. He would have to find a way to do his job - from a distance.

"Don't do it!" said a voice behind him, and he turned around to find Anaïs regarding him with an amused expression.

He stared for a moment, as though he had conjured her up just by thinking of her. "What?" he asked in confusion.

"Don't jump!" she cried with a theatrical expression. "It can't be that bad," she added, putting her hand to her heart and then grinning at him, her blue eyes alight with mischief. "Besides, it's only about two feet deep, you'd probably just break your ankles."

He scowled at her, torn between amusement and the feeling of irritation that she seemed to awaken in him. "I wasn't considering ending it all just yet," he said, his tone dry.

She swung a bright yellow, straw shopping bag back and forth and pouted at him. "Oh, what a pity."

He crossed his arms and stared at her. "What do you mean?" he demanded, irritation growing by the minute.

She shrugged, that lurking humour glinting in the blue of her eyes and intent on annoying the hell out of him. "Well, I'm bored and it would have been entertaining to see you try."

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