Part 4

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Humans like to put shine on everything. They shine metal, bits of rocks, even wood – they apply a sheen to whatever they use, a little bit of sparkle. Most of us Fae have a thing for sparkle, but generally we reserve it for magick, wings, and makeup. We didn’t make our everyday items shiny. If I’d been sitting at a human conference table it would no doubt have that glossy look to it, but of course I wasn’t at a human meeting. This meeting was for Fae only.

I set my glass of water down on the decidedly matte block of wood, sanded down and preserved with the softest touch of life magick so that the wood maintained a mold-free healthy color. I resisted the urge to trace my fingers along the patterns in the table, stories of the tree’s life. There was something to be said of our predilection for keeping things in their natural form.

Around me there was chatter. Five people including myself showed up for this conference – Brenna, the IFA coordinator; Cally, the executive of the IFA Western North America Chapter (abbreviated IFA-WNA); Peter, representing the southwest; myself, with the Pacifica territory; and Alexander, with the near-west. Collette would be skyping in, as usual, and Caleb… was late.

Making an entrance, probably. I heard that Caleb was well-liked and nice enough for a muse, but I would imagine that like every other muse from an influential circle, he liked to make an impression.

I took another sip of my water, holding it out like a glassy shield . I wasn’t really thirsty, but it was a good way to keep my mouth busy while I stared out of the many windows in the conference room. There was a beautiful view of Portland, skyscrapers against a backdrop of hills, rivers snaking through the mundane art. Lovely. I wished that I could go outside, anything to escape the awkward pre-business sitting around ritual. After the initial overly cordial introductions the muses went back to talking amongst themselves, a veritable biological clique. The IFA was all about relationships, and I had yet to forge any within this particular group.

When the door crept open a hush rolled through the room. I held my water with both hands, peering over the rim with thinly veiled curiosity. He had finally arrived.  I recognized him almost immediately. Every Fae in the northwest – even those who were glade-obligated – had seen pictures of Caleb and his family. His black hair was fashionably unkempt, windswept in a devil-may-care style. Black eyes glittered under a terse brow, his skin strikingly pale. He had a thin, hawkish face, always searching, and wore a most peculiar getup – some kind of black leather analog jacket, boots and heavy gloves. I lingered on his odd choice of clothing only a moment before I was distracted by his wings.

The photos did not do his wings justice. They were like his hair and eyes – black, deep and dark, almost velvety. I’d never seen another Fae with black wings, but then he was a muse, and they were known for shocking wing colors. Impressive as they were, he treated them as if they were nothing special – they lay across his back, casual, like an afterthought.

I was certain he saw me gawking at them when he flashed a boyish grin and briefly stretched his wings, the Fae equivalent of a wink. I managed a dismissive snort in return.

It was no wonder that Caleb’s family was known for inspiring some of the most brilliant minds in Hollywood and industry for centuries. With his celestial (and highly heritable) appearance he put even the most intriguing-looking muses to shame. My father, who was a traditionalist among Fae, would have guessed that he was a direct descendent of Lugh I’m sure. I didn’t agree with Fae line about us being “the walking gods and goddesses,” but Caleb’s appearance by itself was a fair argument against atheism.

I sighed. I wouldn’t be fooled by all of that. He was a muse – a privileged muse. Nice or not, he would always be one of them.

“Caleb!” Peter, the eldest Fae in the room, rose to greet him. Peter had tan skin like a tree Fae, clashing with his once-blonde-now-graying hair and neon green wings. He reached out to clasp Caleb’s hand. “I was getting worried about you.”

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