I dropped Hector and followed close on Peta's heels. Callan tried to block her way, but she elbowed him aside, saying, "Out of my way, boy." She continued on into the living room, sniffing like a wolf after a scent.
"You can't hide her from me, I don't even know why you would try." She opened the hall closet and stuck her nose into the winter coats. She shut the door and turned the corner into the bathroom, her dark gaze sliding over every crevice large enough for a faerie to hide in.
"Peta," I said, drawing on all my courage. "It's time for you to go. I...I mean it. Go. Now."
Peta paused and slowly pivoted. She took a step toward me, and in spite of my resolve, I stepped back. Her look pinned me to the spot where she held me, squirming. "Poor Maeva," she said, finally. She looked me over like I was a specimen. "You still don't remember, do you?" She turned back to her search and said, almost to herself, "Dara. Cait. And that stupid Torin." She glanced back over her shoulder to gauge my reaction. "They made it so easy."
Members of the court. Some of Princess Orlagh's inner circle. A shooting pain blinded me and I pressed my fingertips into my forehead. I sagged against the wall until it subsided. When I looked up, Peta was rifling through my bedroom.
Callan caught my eye and slid his gaze toward the dresser. It took a moment to find her. Princess Orlagh was crouched by a bottle of Youth Dew with her wings folded as best she could. The strong scent was potent enough to disguise her faerie musk. Peta had her back to me and I motioned toward a blanket on the edge of the bed. Callan licked his lips and nodded.
I stepped to the dresser and scooped up the Princess, carefully slipping her into my pocket. Peta turned to see what I was doing and rage filled her. She reached for me, but Callan threw the blanket over her head and tackled her to the floor. I raced for the back door, throwing it open with one hand and protecting the Princess with the other. Hector ran ahead of me to the tree with the exposed roots by the wall. I looked over my shoulder, but saw no sign of Peta. I could only pray she wouldn't hurt my grandson.
I carefully removed the Princess from my pocket and set her on the ground. Her luster was dimming and I feared that she would be too weak to cross over. Muffled scuffling could be heard inside the house, and the Princess lifted her eyes to the sound.
"Yes, she is. I remember now. Go," I urged her.
She reached for my hand, and at her touch, I felt the queer sensation of shrinking. The tree roots climbed twisted and dark above my head, the sword blades of grass past my ears. Hector's feet and legs stood like silent columns just outside the portal. From the corner of my eye, I saw iridescent shimmer from my shoulder blades. I felt light and airy as a sunbeam. A wondrous feeling after years of pain and loneliness.
The screen door slammed and Callan ran up to us at the portal. His speed and the sight of his enormous shoes and pumping legs overwhelmed me, but he stooped down when he approached us.
He looked at me. Words failed us both. I touched his hand, feeling the loss of him already. And gently from his shoulder blades, iridescent wings unfurled like a newly hatched butterfly.
Feeling the growth coursing through him, he turned his head this way and that trying to see the wings, reaching his hands around himself like a cat chasing its tail.
An angry curse went up from the kitchen, and he said, "Go. Go on. We'll stall her."
"You and Hector. There's more to him than meets the eye. Take care of your mom and Bree." I blew him a kiss. "Slan agat, my sweet Callan."
"Slan leat, Grandma," he answered, clearly surprising himself.
Callan piled rocks in front of the portal as the Princess and I moved deeper into the base of the roots toward an unexpected pinpoint of light. I glanced back one last time when the screen door slammed. Through a chink in the rocks, I saw Peta huffing and disheveled from her struggle with the blanket. Her wrists were bound with the cords to the earbuds of Callan's IPod.