They were all careful to continue calling the Fae power Story. Trying to explain Jared’s death as he became one with Teague again could be saved for a later date. A few times, her mom became visibly shaken with the retelling of certain events—especially when something didn’t gel with her own memories. She toyed anxiously with the charm bracelet on her wrist until her face relaxed and she calmed down enough to continue on with the story. Then, her breathing slowed, and she would perk up.

Mina knew it was the charms that were helping her mother. Each renewed memory must send her mother into a nervous fit, but then the charm would push the memory farther back into her subconscious.

It was after midnight when they explained it enough for him to understand. Nix even came clean about his own past and the horrors of possibly turning into a Sea Witch.

Mina told him about the Fates and how it was their deal with the Grimm Brothers to break the curse and close the gates. She left out how the royal Fae were able to shape shift, and that she believed it was Teague himself that attacked Brody. She wasn’t positive, after all. The dark prince could have sent any one of his followers to do the dirty work.

They did warned Brody to watch out, because there were bad Fae intent on harming Mina and all who were associated with her. But there was something different about the wolf. She’d seen the wolf. It was intent on killing Brody.

Brody grew quiet again, and she thought for sure he would drive off right then—out of her life forever. But he surprised everyone, even her mother, when he asked, “What can I do to help?”

Nix shrugged his shoulders and pointed to Mina. “You’d have to ask the Grimm.” He looked at her with such confidence, such devotion and admiration. What had she done to earn this kind of loyalty? She only hoped she was worthy of it in the end.

After the hours-long conversation wrapped up, Mina was still concerned with one thing. “Can you keep my secret, Brody?” He looked like he was about to argue with her, so she added, “For now. And I swear I will try and find a way to secure your memories from being manipulated again.”

Brody hesitated but nodded his head. “Okay. Since you’re coming with me Friday.”

“Why? What’s Friday?”

“The masquerade ball at my parents’ country club, of course.”


“A ball?” That one word made her skin crawl and her mouth go dry. Balls were full of fairy-tale possibility. It would be a sure opportunity for the Story.

“It’s that thing that you promised to attend.”

“I really need to ask more questions in the future.” Mina said, inwardly panicking but doing her best to appear excited.

“That would probably be a good thing.”

Scarves can be a great fashion accessory if utilized right. Incorrectly used, they’re a torture device for fashion-challenged teens. In Mina’s case, they were more the second. After her shower the next morning, she looked at three items Nan lent her the last time she’d been over—wedged heels, scarf, and lipstick—and decided to pick one. She chose the scarf, thinking it was the least dangerous of her choices. Mina felt like the simple silk scarf was choking her, but Nan always swore by them as “the perfect accessory to any outfit.”

She should have chosen the heels.

“Blech!” She glared at the chevron-patterned offensive material. This is as good as it’s going to get.

This morning Mina wouldn’t even give the ball a second thought. Her heart was soaring. Because someone knew. Brody knew.

Whether he would continue to believe her remained to be seen. He might change his mind and end up calling the psycho ward on her. But for the moment, she wasn’t alone. Which gave her a whole new outlook.

For the first night in months, she’d had a dreamless sleep.

She headed toward the kitchen to make a sandwich for lunch and made a face at her reflection every time she passed a mirror. Her bedroom mirror received a pig face; the bathroom she shot a bucktoothed expression. She’d just passed the hallway mirror with her jaw jutted out, when she caught something strange.

Had her skin seemed a bit translucent? She leaned closer to the hall mirror, within inches of the glass, and touched her face.

A polite cough spun her around. Brody stood by her front door. “Don’t worry. You look lovely.” He chuckled.

Her cheeks burned red with embarrassment. He stood there in his jeans and white V-neck shirt looking relaxed and confident.

Mina’s hair was wet from her shower, and she didn’t have a touch of makeup on. “Don’t you knock?” Mina frowned.

“Yes, and I even wait to be let in,” he nodded over to Charlie. Her brother was once again hauling a chair to the hallway, appearing ready for Operation Open Suitcase again. “He opened the door.”

“Well,” she said. “I guess that means you can come in.”

“I assumed as much.”

“So why are you here?” Mina asked, feeling dumb for having to ask why his tall handsome self graced her foyer in the middle of the afternoon.

Brody looked uncomfortable and glanced at Charlie. He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “To protect you from any stray… um… Fae.”

“Oh!” Mina said, surprised. She wouldn’t have thought it possible, but her cheeks burned even hotter.

“That is, unless your problems have all gone away?”

“Uh, no.” Mina thwarted Charlie’s curiosity by pushing the door closed as soon as he opened it. She locked the door and tucked the iron skeleton key into her pocket.

He grabbed the doorknob and shook it angrily.

Brody continued, “But also to see if you’d like to come over and keep me company during a planning committee for the ball. My mom’s in charge of planning the event, and I know girls really get into this kind of thing.”

“Um, that would be most girls. Not me.”

His face fell. “Oh, if you don’t think you’d like it, you don’t have to come.”

“No,” she replied hastily. “I’d love to come. Let me just grab a jacket.” Mina stepped over Charlie’s mess, grabbed a light sweater, and turned to face Brody. Maybe she should tell him that party planning terrified her.

But the way Brody looked at her helped her make up her mind and had her smiling politely and going to the passenger door of his car. Underneath his worried expression, she thought she saw a bit of hope. He wanted her to come.

She slid into the seat, snapped the seatbelt, and looked over at him. He cranked the engine and pulled out of the driveway. Pop music and the hum of the vehicle soothed her frayed nerves. Were the nerves from butterflies or terror?

The car slowed and they passed through the gates, heading up the Carmichaels’ driveway. Mina noted the large statues of horses and neatly trimmed hedges.

“My mom has invited a few of her friends’ daughters over to help with the last minute details,” Brody said softly.

“Ah,” she exclaimed as they passed the garage. “That explains…nothing.”

“The Ziesters and Steppes happen to be longtime friends, and our families go way back,” Brody chuckled, reaching over to give her hand a reassuring squeeze. “Especially their daughters. There are two of them here tonight who can be a bit zealous in their pursuit. They can’t take a hint, but I thought—”

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