“Something is happening in Chicago.” The disembodied voice floated into the room like a whisper in the wind. Another sign from her uncanny prescience.
Faye Delven tilted her head to one side. Her luminous, chestnut brown curls bounced against her shoulder. Only silence greeted her in the vacant Throne Room of The Royal Court of Fairies. But an empty room didn’t necessarily mean she was alone. “Who is there?”
She heard the loud, persistent clicking of high-heeled shoes approaching along with two very familiar voices.
“…need a presence…”
Jakob Delven strolled into the Throne Room, accompanied by his assistant, Lorna. “There you are, Faye.” His smooth voice rolled through the air, reminding her of a hot knife slicing through an unsuspecting pat of butter.
“What can I do for you, brother?”
Jakob’s silver eyes opened wide, feigning hurt. “Must a brother require a favor to seek out his sister?”
“Perhaps not a regular brother. You, on the other hand?” Faye took her brother’s measure with a critical eye. Jakob looked every inch the politician, from his coiffured brown hair to his designer suit. “Are you asking as my brother or as Le Souverain?” She raised her eyebrow in response to her rhetorical question.
“I would be hurt, but I fear there is no time.”
Lorna observed the exchange with rabid interest. Her head bobbed back and forth between the siblings.
“Then, spit it out, Jakob.”
He wrinkled his nose with disdain at her blunt phrasing. “Something is happening in Chicago.”
“Why am I not surprised that you are not surprised?”
“Jakob…” A note of impatience sounded in her tone. Her irritation vanished as she recognized the brief look of something akin to distress flashing in his eyes. “What can I do, Jakob?”
“I need you to go to Chicago.”
Faye swallowed back the barrage of questions on the tip of her tongue. Trouble in Chicago great enough to concern Jakob—especially after so many quiet decades—was, well, troublesome. It had to be one hell of a magnitudinous problem.
Jakob sank onto a plush chair. “I need a drink.”
Lorna made a quick exit, returning a few minutes later with a steaming mug of apple cider. Her cheeks flushed. “Did you want anything, ma’am?”
Faye directed a hard stare at Lorna until she dropped her gaze and backed out of the room.
“You did not need to scare off Lorna.”
“No?” She arched one eyebrow. “She is a mouse, always sneaking around.”
“She is just shy.”
“And we were talking about Chicago.”
“Right. Chicago.” He stirred the cinnamon stick resting in his cider. “Helene Bauer is on the warpath. We need eyes and ears there. There is no one I trust more.”
“What is that batty woman up to now?”
He opened his mouth to respond, but she cut him off before he could speak.
“I know. I know. You do not know. That is why you need me.”
“Yes. You will be able to keep things quiet. Anonymity has kept us safe all these years. If the situation is not controlled, Helene could expose us.”
Spelling out the risk was unnecessary. She heard the words he didn’t say, saw the genuine concern in his eyes. “I will be the dictionary definition of incognito.”
“I have arranged a job and an apartment for you.” He handed her a thin portfolio. “I will leave the cover story to you.”
“You knew I would say yes?”
“I had a feeling.”
“How long shall I expect to be there?”
“As long as it takes, Faye. We need to be on top of whatever… situation… arises.” He darted his gaze toward the open doorway where Lorna stood waiting. “Prevention of any crisis or mishap is the best solution, of course.”
Faye remained seated, hands clasped in her lap, as her brother left the room. I do not envy his responsibilities. At least, I will not be stuck here twiddling my thumbs. She cracked open the portfolio. It contained exactly what Jakob had said. Information on a job at a bakery and an apartment for Faye Delmore. I guess it makes sense I would use an assumed surname. Identity documents in the same name were tucked into the inner pocket, along with a first-class airline ticket from Paris to Chicago.