There were other bursts of arguments throughout the remainder of the day as the trio struggled to get along.
Elaine made Colt and Lorcan find somewhere in town to stay the night because Lorcan refused to let them all sleep under the same roof with Colt around. Of course, his initial suggestion was for Colt only to find somewhere else to stay the night, but Elaine wouldn’t have it.
Her parents were disgruntled about the deliverer, but it was morning now and they were glad Lorcan had made it back so they could discuss their concerns. They were not glad though that he avoided confronting them. Her father was baking pancakes near the stove and Elaine’s mother filled up her drink with fresh juice. After she finished eating, her parents sat down and joined her at the table.
Her mother spoke with cheer, “Happy birthday! Our sweet Elaine is turning eighteen!”
She placed a flower crown made of light pinks and purples on Elaine’s head. Elaine mustered a smile while scraping the edge of her empty white porcelain plate with her fork.
The walls of the kitchen were painted a light yellow and although the house was rather small it was cozy to Elaine. She felt more at ease with Colt and Lorcan out of the house, but she felt just as worried for them both and hoped they hadn’t gotten into any trouble.
“I still have a lot of questions,” Elaine said with a smile.
Her mother got up suddenly and scrambled around the kitchen moving large trays of pastries around. “Oh, there is so much to tell you! Today though, let’s just celebrate you. The whole town already knows you’re here. We fae do take parties seriously!”
Her father stood up too whistling as he helped his wife get the food ready for the birthday party.
“She’s right,” he hummed while filling large pitchers of water.
The food smelled so good and although she had just eaten her breakfast Elaine was hungry again.
“So...when does the official party start then? You know, I’m happy right here, there’s no need for the town to throw me a party,” Elaine explained.
Joy sparkled in her mother’s dark brown eyes. “Honey, this is your eighteenth birthday and the first time we’re celebrating with you home!”
Elaine’s eyes matched her father’s dark blue ones and she helped him fill the remaining pitchers. She easily got carried away helping them make and prepare the rest of the food for her party. Before she knew it, the evening was setting in and Colt and Lorcan yet show back up at her house.
When her family finished with the birthday party preparations Elaine’s mother took her up to her new room. Her mother had bought her a dress for the occasion. It was sleeveless with a layered trend. The long strands dragged on the ground.
The bottom of the dress had hand sewn light blue flowers on it and they trailed up to the top of the dress blending in with the pale pink and yellow shades of fabric. Elaine thought it was an impressive soft dress and she knew it must have cost her family a fortune to buy it just for her.
Elaine laughed nervously, “Do I really have to wear a dress? I feel like I’m going to a wedding, not my birthday party.”
Her mother clasped her hands together circling her daughter with admiration. “Of course! We’re going to be late if we don’t hurry now. I’m sure you’re friends will meet up with you there.”
“How will they find their way?”
“The whole town will be there. They’ll see the giant crowd.”
At that, her mother took her hand and practically flew her out of her room to meet her father downstairs. He had set the food all on a long wooden rolling cart and he strode out of the house ahead of them with it.
They followed the crowd just outside their home. Fae of all ages swamped the streets ahead of them and shrouded the streets in dozens of shades of ribbon and pastels. Most alluring to Elaine was the multiple sets of glowing wings she saw ahead of her. She knew they must be other mates. Eventually, they came up to a huge white canopy tent.
The sound of laughter and chatter forced everyone to shout to be heard. Some kind of string instruments were being played. It reminded Elaine of Irish music. Its upbeat and merry tune already had her wanting to dance. A lot of girls young and old were wearing dresses similar to hers and she sighed in relief that she would blend in after all.
There was a set of picnic tables clustered in each corner of the tent where the faeries made their own flower crowns of ribbon and flower. Elaine’s mother had already given her own at the house. The flowers in it matched the exact same shade of pink as her wings.
Her parents had long since departed from her since arriving at the party and now were sitting at one of the many round tables talking with another family. They spotted her staring at them and waved. She forced a smile back.
Suddenly she spotted a familiar face over by the buffet of food. her stomach growled in agreement as she neared the table picking up a frosted cupcake.
“Where’s Colt?” Elaine asked Lorcan.
He made a choking sound on his food seeing her appear next to him. He didn’t think she would wear the traditional attire of his people. His eyes looked glassy to Elaine and she wondered if he was really choking on his food. When really, he was just baffled by her appearance. He managed to regain his composure and straightened up.
“You look beautiful,” he said with a red face while grinning ear to ear.
“Thanks,” Elaine replied, but her attention had already left him.
Her wings were glowing behind her and Lorcan was swimming in pride knowing she was truly his. His own wings were glowing too, but Elaine hadn’t noticed yet. Colt was walking up behind her.
Colt greeted her with a polite smile and then gave Lorcan a curt nod. Lorcan could tell Colt wasn’t a big fan of crowds and he was hoping the demon would depart soon. He looked extremely uncomfortable and so did the fae around them.
The other faeries had no idea what he was, but Lorcan guessed they could feel something off about him. He was taller than most of the faeries and his brooding gaze was constantly searching the crowd as if looking for his next victim.
Lorcan was fairly certain he’d get kicked out of the party soon. He was counting on it.
“So have you ever been to a party like this?” Elaine asked the two of them.
“No,” Colt answered shortly. Elaine wondered if he was agitated at having to come. “Your mother and father are watching us,” he added in a grumble.
Lorcan and Elaine followed his gaze seeing her parents were indeed watching them with disapproval.
“It can’t be helped. They are right to be worried,” Lorcan told Elaine gently while patting her shoulder fondly.
He was happy when she didn’t flinch away from his touch, but he saw the demon’s glare and removed his hand.
They eventually moved away from the crowd discussing their concerns about the missing demon and everything else Lorcan learned from Silvia about the dead witches. They walked out fo the tent and out over by a few gardens until they were far enough to not have to worry about other faeries hearing their discussion. They stopped by a bird bath and looked into a small pond below it.
“So, Colt has taken good care of you I assume?” Lorcan questioned Elaine.
He guided her with his hand on her back to his side with ease. Colt remained still. He towered over Lorcan watching him with a bored expression. Lorcan cocked his head to the side as he saw one of Colt’s shadows pass under his feet.
Lorcan made a pained gasp as he felt the shadows turn into spikes below his feet and puncture the bottom of his feet. He knew immediately the attack was intentional and proceeded to punch Colt square in the face. Colt laughed darkly after Lorcan’s fist left his face.
“You want to fight me? You do realize it’s Elaine’s birthday -- who you just shoved to the side so you could try to hurt me. You’re not her mate anymore,” Colt said in a strangely calm voice.
“Are you stupid? Who do you think you are? Somehow she got us unmated, but I will make us mates again,” Lorcan hissed.
Elaine widened her eyes at his proclamation.
He never acted like he cared so much about her being his mate before. Why now? Elaine didn’t know what was going through his head. She didn’t know if she ever would be able to now that they had sort of teamed up to help her.
“Believe me, she didn’t want to be your mate. She was done with you,” Colt argued.
“How would you know?” Lorcan spit back.
Lorcan raised his fist again. Elaine was about to step out and intervene, but Colt grabbed his fist before it landed on his face again. Suddenly, the soft glow emitting from Lorcan’s wings went out. Murky shadows spread out from Colt and crawled over the ground and up around Lorcan like a blanket of black.
Colt was losing his temper.
The red-haired faery forced a laugh. “So now I suppose you want to fight me too? I thought you didn’t want to fight, but of course you do. You’re a demon.”
He almost sounded like he was in pain and when saw the look of concentration on Colt’s face she knew he was attacking him his own shadows as they tightened around Lorcan’s body.
Elaine noticed Lorcan was standing still now as if glued in place by the shadows she now saw twisting up his legs like vines. A shadow passed over Elaine’s feet heading toward Lorcan.
“So now I have to ask, demon. I know a little about your kind. Their shadows are said to burn the skin of animals, humans and faeries that they touch. So why may I ask is Elaine immune to your shadows on the floor...and why are they only burning me?” Lorcan gritted through his teeth.
Elaine stared dumbfounded at Lorcan’s legs as blood began to drip down them and onto the grass.
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” Colt replied flatly.
“As her mate, I would.”
Colt smirked jabbing Lorcan's shoulder to irritate him even more. “That’s where you’re wrong."
“No!” Lorcan retorted with a roar as if the very idea of Elaine being with anyone else but him was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard.
“I helped her unmate you,” Colt reminded him.
“Well, she still is my mate. She will be as soon as I end your little creepy shadow stunt and leave here with her.”
“I can’t let you do that,” Colt replied slowly.
“Why not?” Lorcan says bluntly.
“She’s my mate,” Colt declared.
Elaine felt like ripping her hair out at their childish argument.
“I’m no one’s mate!” she screeched like a peeved bird.
Then she grabbed Colt’s hand that was guiding his shadows around Lorcan. The shadows withdrew from the faery man as Colt’s hand fell to his side.
Lorcan slumped over to his knees with a pained grunt and Elaine rushed over to him to check his injuries. Lorcan wrapped his arms around her the moment she was an arm’s length away and smiled victoriously over her head at the demon.