“You’ve been asking about me?” Fiona couldn’t help herself; an ember of warmth flared inside her, as well as a sense of wonder. Erik always seemed to be genuinely interested in her, in what she was doing.
It made no sense.
Then again, Erik was one of the most genuinely decent people that she knew. He came from an upper class family, like she did, but he always treated all members of society, from the beggar and the lunatic to the Council Wardens, as his equal.
He was kind to her out of pity, she suspected.
They arrived back at her shop to find Renoir standing outside, with the shop door locked, key in one hand, Fiona’s purse in the other. His delicate features were wrinkled with worry, but he smiled when he saw her.
“Well, you’re a hot mess,” Renoir said, handing her the purse. “What were you thinking, running into that neighborhood without protection? When tall, blond and handsome came by the shop looking for you just now, I told him he had to go get you right away.”
“Oh,” Fiona said, surprised. “Renoir, your little fairy butt saved my life tonight!”
Erik had been looking for her? She had been so shaken up by the attack that she hadn’t even stopped to question how Erik happened to be in exactly the right place at the right time.
“I can never tell if she means fairy or faerie. You know what I mean?” Renoir said to Erik, who looked baffled.
Fiona managed a shaky laugh. “Renoir, let’s be real here – you’re the fairiest faerie I know.”
“Speaking of which, I have a date at Sticks & Stones with the most delightfully butch elf you could possibly imagine, so I must dash. If I’m late he’ll whip my heinie – which is why I’m going to fly there veeery slowly,” he added with a wink. His glimmering wings, which he kept folded tight against his back inside the shop, popped open and spread wide, and suddenly he was hovering several inches from the ground. “Toodles!” And he flew off north, with a cheery wave.
“That must be so great. I’d love fairy wings,” Fiona sighed enviously. Then she turned back to Erik. “Thank you again, Erik. How long have you been back in town?”
“Two weeks. It took me a while to find you. I stopped by your house, but your mother pretended that she had no idea where you were. Seemed to think that I was there to arrest you. Is there anything that you want to tell me?” his blue eyes twinkled.
She tipped her head back to look up at him, a smile quirking her lips. “Well, you do realize that my mother always expects the worst where I’m concerned.”
“Is she wrong? I used to think that Maizie always dragged you into trouble, but then I realized that you hung out with Maizie because you like trouble.”
Fiona hid a smile behind her hand, but didn’t bother to deny it. Erik knew her too well.
“I’ve mostly been staying out of trouble. Or I haven’t been caught. Take your pick.”
“I do carry restraints with me, you know.” His smile broadened, and she felt her breath quicken. “If I needed to arrest you…I know how you could serve your time.”
She felt a wave of warmth roll over her, and moisture rushed to the cleft between her legs. Her cheeks flushed, and she imagined herself naked, wrists tied, while Erik had his wicked way with her…
Of course he’d see everything. Her fleshy thighs, her rounded belly, her plump arms…
“So, why were you looking for me tonight? And at my mother’s house?” she asked hastily, to change the subject.
He glanced up at the stairs to the left of the shop. “You live above the shop, right? Let me walk you up to your house and we’ll talk there.”