Fire and Ice
Faerie Song Saga Book 1
by Michele Barrow-Belisle
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
USA Today Best Seller Michele Barrow-Belisle comes a mesmerizing tale
of forbidden romance as deadly as fire and ice.
Lorelei knows nothing of Faeries or their dangerous bargains. But when she’s gifted two talents--music and healing--by the dark Faerie Zanthiel, she’s irrevocably convinced the Fey are real. Preferring invisibility over attention and fame, she shies away from her other-worldly abilities.
Until Adrius storms into her life.
The stranger with a dangerous mystique, and eyes that seem to see into her soul, turns up everywhere and knows more about her than any newcomer should. Including the condition of her mother, who is suffering from a mysterious illness neither modern medicine nor Lorelei’s gifts can cure.
Accepting his help to save her leads Lorelei into a thrilling world of Witches, Elves and Fey where nothing is as it appears. Even Adrius, whose feelings for her balance precariously between desire and danger, seems to be hiding behind half-truths. Yet, despite her better judgment, Lorelei can’t stay away.
And that proves to be her fatal mistake.
Ancient prophecy speaks of one who will prevent war between witches and faeries. Now, trapped in the Faery realm, Lorelei must find a way to fulfill the fated prophecy, or forfeit her mother’s life.
Time is running out, and the invisible tether binding her to Adrius and Zanthiel draws her deeper into their world. When crossing over might mean never coming back, can Lorelei find a way to save her mother? Or will one pivotal mistake put the fate of their world, and her soul in jeopardy?
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“You look exhausted, Mrs. Johnston.”
I stared into her sunken eyes, rimmed with dark circles. My joints ached for a split second and then subsided. I saw the redness and swelling… the stiffness… They flashed like snapshots in my mind. Instantly I knew her fingers ached when she played the piano, and I knew her stomach ulcer kept her up at night. One touch could take it all away. But Gran had enforced the keep-your-hands-to-yourself rule at an early age.
“Oh, Lorelei, you know… story of my life, hon.” She glanced up at the oversized, walnut-framed blackboard with the specials scrawled in chalk, and handed me her menu. “Bring me the usual, will you? And a slice of that famous lemon pie?”
“You got it.”
The café was swamped tonight, the sudden cold snap meant lots of aches and flu bugs. People flocked to the Lemon Balm Café and Tea House for the ambiance as much as they did for the herbal tea.
I poured steaming water into the clear glass teapot. This wasn’t your typical English breakfast blend. Well, it was… but with a few extras added in. Then again, this wasn’t your typical tea house, and I wasn’t your typical teen. Not even close.
The freak label got smacked on my forehead long before I understood what it meant to be a clairsentient empathic healer. Basically, I can see when people are in pain, and well… heal them. Being gifted might sound great; but it’s meant a lifetime of trying to hide what I can do, and why, just to blend. In a town the size of Drearyton Cove, population sixty-three hundred, blending, was nearly impossible. After the quote-unquote incident, it was safer to leave the healing to Gran’s secret blend of teas. “Witnessing a child who could heal with the touch of a hand would be too much for people around here," she’d said. And so I listened — mostly — keeping my hands to myself, and staying far away from sports, parties, and people, which were no more than accidents waiting to happen. Not only for the obvious reasons: accidents meant injuries, injuries meant blood. Nothing made me hit the floor faster than that bitter, metallic stench of blood.
“Where’s the hawthorn and chamomile blend, Neil? Never mind, found it.”
“Mrs. J’s arthritis flaring up again?” he asked, leaning across the chrome counter.
“She didn’t mention it, but I can tell.”
Neil’s face folded into a grin, and we exchanged a secretive look. At sixty-something, Neil was our town’s resident hippy. He was as laid back as they come and wore his long grey hair pulled back into a perfect ponytail. Gran opened Lemon Balm twenty years ago, and Neil’s been here since day one, running things after Gran died and mom refused to help out. Pretty much since then, the whole town switched from coffee to tea. He’s one of the privileged few who knew why.
“Here you go. Enjoy.” I set the tea and pie in front of her, feeling somehow better about myself knowing in an hour or so she’d be back to normal and pain-free. It was Gran’s little secret. My little secrets were far more bizarre.
“So Monday’s the big solo?” Mrs. Johnston poured the amber liquid into her mug.
I forced a stiff smile, fiddling with the pencil tucked behind my ear.
“And on your birthday no less. Well, good luck, honey.” Her blue-veined hand patted mine. “Julliard will be lucky to have you. Although why you'd settle for composing with an amazing voice like yours…” She shook her head. “But you’ll do well. I’m sure if it.”
Funny… I wasn’t. It really wasn’t up to me. How I performed was up to the Faerie who gave me my singing voice; the one who had appeared in my room one night and promised to keep my dad alive if I sang for him and only him. People insisted it was dream, but the ice shard he used to pierce my throat was agonizingly real. Turned out to be a bogus deal, since my dad has been dead for over a decade. Yet somehow that Faerie still controls my ability to sing. It’s made every performance, and my hopes of getting into Julliard, infinitely more complicated. If my Faerie muse was in a good mood, and if Jupiter aligned with Mars, I had a shot. If not… well…
The door swung open, sending in a gust of cold damp air. Brianne and her steroid-pumped entourage strode in, filling the far corner booth. Jocks and cheerleaders. In my section… Great… I sighed.
“Enjoy your pie, Mrs. Johnston.”
Grabbing some menus, I approached their table and smiled. It was for Gran’s sake. She always insisted once someone walked through the door, they were customers who deserved courtesy and respect. It was hard to see the morons, already busy chugging sugar packets and playing table hockey with the salt shaker, as worthy of my respect. I’m not one for stereotypes, but they worked so hard at living up to them, it seemed a shame not to label.
“Welcome to Lemon Balm. Our dessert specials are rhubarb tart, chai green tea ice cream, and lemon pie.” I placed the stack of menus in the middle of center ice.
“What can I get for you?” I said and folded my arms, trying not to notice the picture of Brianne’s sore ankle that flashed in my mind.
Brianne looked up at me from bored, overly-mascaraed eyes. “Lorelei? Seriously, you’re working? Tonight of all nights?”
I didn’t reply to what seemed a pretty rhetorical question… Duh.
“Don’t you know what night it is?”
I nodded, confused at where she was going.
“It’s Saturday night,” she said, as if I was the brain dead one.
Then she put her hand on my arm.
Oh man, I expected bad, but this was going to be worse. Is she attempting to embarrass me about my lack of dates? It’s an easy number to keep track of. Counting tonight, it made zero. I wasn’t exactly what you’d call social. Most of the time, I didn’t really consider that a bad thing. I had little in common with the people here. And not only because I was different, though it didn’t help. I didn’t see the world like most people did. And I was fine with that. It was just that, sometimes, I wished someone other than an invisible Faerie and my dead grandmother knew how different I was.
“The weekend before the competition… Shouldn’t you, oh, I don’t know, be face first in a toilet barfing your brains out by now? Or did you actually get a clue and drop out?”
Snickers erupted from the rest of Brianne’s groupies and a surge of heat rose in my face.
She leaned toward me, her head cocked to one side. “I mean, between you and me, you have zero chance of winning. But hey, if you puke on Professor Higgins’s toupee again, it might make you more memorable.”
Amazingly enough, as much as I hated performing in public, I’d take it right now over listening to another word from her. Brianne was not only head cheerleader, but also lead vocalist in music class. I had the superior singing voice, but she was given all the leads, because her voice was at least consistent. It helped she could make it through a performance without puking on the judges. Apparently they frown on that kind of thing. She was also blonde, pretty — in a miniature Shih Tzu sort of way — wildly popular, and dating my temporarily insane best friend Davin Blake. He wants us to get along. I don’t see it happening, but for his sake and Gran’s I ignored her comment.
“So do you need more time to decide?”
“We know what we want.” Jake, the one who looked most likely to wind up behind bars, draped his sausage arm around Brianne’s shoulder. “Bring us eight slices of Chocolate Cherry Decadence, four coffees, and some cobblers.” He winked at me and I had to tighten my grip on the pencil I held to keep from whipping it at his forehead like a dart.
“No pie for me,” Brianne added. “Some of us actually care what we look like. And Davin loves my flat stomach.”
I rolled my eyes but unconsciously sucked in my stomach.
She smiled. “It’s sad really. You’re like, always here. Don’t you miss having fun? You know… parties, dates, guys… any of it sound familiar? Or don’t you like having a life?”
“I’m good, thanks,” I said flatly, fingers clenched around my pencil so tightly my nails dug into my palms.
“Can’t miss what you’ve never had,” jeered Josh, the spiky haired guy still wearing his football uniform.
My brows tightened. “So where is Davin tonight?” I pointedly glared at the quarterback whose fingers were teasing Brianne’s hair.
Brianne’s gray eyes flashed. “He’s got a basketball game tonight, didn’t he tell you?” She smirked. “We’re hooking up later.”
“Hope he’s not too tired.”
“He’s never too tired,” she said tossing her hair, and the redhead across from her giggled.
I didn’t want to heal her sore ankle; I wanted to break the other one. It was common knowledge Brianne was an easy score, but the thought of her with my best friend was one mental picture I didn’t need.
“Anything else?” I bristled.
“If I see something else I want, I’ll let you know,” Jake, her arm candy, replied, raking his beefy eyes over me.
“Perfect.” Deep breaths. Remember, courtesy and respect. I gave a smile I hoped looked as fake as it was. Spinning on my heels, I stormed into the kitchen.
“Hey, Neil, I need some cobblers heated.” I could feel my blood pressure rising. Maybe Brianne needed to be too tired tonight.
I reached for the chamomile sleep blend we saved for the worst insomniacs. One cup and she’d be passed out in an hour.
“Now that’s an interesting choice… Sleepy-Thyme Blend?” Neil quipped. “Care to explain why the sixteen-year-old cheerleader needs a sleep-inducer on a Saturday night?”
“She wants to get to bed early,” I muttered under my breath.
Neil frowned. “Lorelei?”
I pulled my hand away from the canister and stared at the ground. What am I thinking? This isn’t me. I never abused the medicinal herbs or my gifts. It was part of what made me special. I wasn’t about to let them take that away from me.
“I wasn’t really going to,” I mumbled, my face growing hot. This was childish. I would go back out there and show her I was the bigger person. Maybe, if I helped her with the strained ankle she was dealing with, we could finally strike a truce. Perhaps become friends. Davin would love that. “Where’s the Vervain?” It was useful in healing all sorts of things.
“We’re all out.” Neil looked at me with his usual grandfatherly concern, wiping his hands on the pristine apron he wore mostly for show. “What’s going on with you tonight? You don’t usually let those kids get to you.”
“I know.” I sighed. “Must be nerves, I guess.” Why did I agree to perform in the competition in the first place? I hated performing live as much as I hated competing, even if it did bring me closer to getting into Julliard and away from here. Plus, a taste of actually beating Brianne would be delicious, but no one knew as well as I did how much of a long shot that was. I had no idea how I’d got myself into this, and it was too late to get out of it. The programs were printed and if I made it on stage without slipping in a puddle of my own puke, hitting my head, and knocking myself unconscious, I’d be singing. Maybe. Always maybe.
Neil placed a tray in front of me laden with sticky cherry cobbler, smothered with chocolate ganache and whipped cream. Just looking at it gave me indigestion. I wasn’t much for desserts, except for lemon pie. After pouring four herb-free coffees, I returned to the back booth.
The door swung open as I arrived at their table. I felt the warm, thyme-scented breeze on my skin. I froze. That aroma… again. Vivid memories of my childhood flooded in. Slowly I looked up. A boy walked in, and for a split second, a silent pause descended on the café, like a scene right out of a movie. This was no ordinary guy. He was beautiful… strikingly beautiful. It might have been his shoulder-length coffee hair, or his perfectly sculpted features, or the casual way his jeans and white shirt hung on his taught lean frame. Whatever it was, it gave him a haunting, unearthly quality. I realized I was staring when his eyes met mine.
I’m not sure why, but the entire tray slipped out of my hands and clamored to the floor, covering Brianne with dessert and hot coffee on the way down.
She screamed and then swore, jumping out of the booth. I covered my face with my hands, wishing there was a giant rock I could crawl under.
“Oh no, I’m so sorry…” I tried to wipe the glob of whipped cream sliding down her forehead. She smacked my hand away.
“Liar! You little witch, you did this on purpose.”
“It was an accident. I was… distracted.” I looked up to see the entire café staring at us, including the gorgeous stranger who looked slightly amused.
“I know you’re jealous of me. Do you think this little stunt is going to ruin my night? Even covered in whipped cream I’ll never be as pathetic as you are. Davin will always want me as his girlfriend and you for a friend, and you can’t stand it!”
“Really Brianne, I didn’t mean to…”
“I’ve been nice to you for his sake…”
Wow. If that was nice…
“But we’re done. You picked the wrong person to make your enemy, Lorelei.”
Her face was as red as the cherry sauce working its way down her white tank top.
“Think you can make a fool of me? Well, just wait! Monday night, it’s your turn!” she hollered.
She stormed out the door, brushing past the hot mystery guy, who was about to be seated in Megan’s section.
I slunk onto a stool at the counter, dropping my head on my arms. This was not what I had planned. Pissing off Brianne was one thing, but right before the competition was something I didn’t need. No way was I going to let her humiliate me in front of an audience. I was perfectly capable of doing that by myself. There was no other choice. I’d have to back out of the festival, and just hope my classically trained, world-renowned concert pianist-mother would someday forgive me.
“Hey. You okay?”
The beautiful boy from the front table appeared beside me. I lifted my head and pushed the hair away from my face, wishing I’d bothered to pull it into a ponytail before coming into work. Perhaps I wouldn’t be sitting here now with chocolate sauce and whipped cream coating the tips of it in front of the most gorgeous guy I’d ever laid eyes on.
“I think you might have dropped this.” He held out his hand.
I stared up at him for a moment confused, before glancing at his opened hand. Nestled in his palm was a tiny gold lemon, from the charm bracelet Gran had given me on my sixth birthday. How had I lost it? My eyes flickered back to his. “Where did you find this?”
“Next to the pile of whipped cream.” He inclined his head in the direction of the corner booth, his eyes never leaving mine. “I thought it might be yours.”
“It is,” I muttered, completely distracted by his amazing eyes — olive and hazel with golden flecks — very unusual and incredibly sexy.
I stood up, still mesmerized. “Thanks.”
“Not a problem. So, you’re a singer.”
Slowly, I sat back down, gazing at him with a puzzled expression.
“How did you know that?”
He had to be new here. There were only two high schools in town, and no way someone as good looking as he was could have gone unnoticed. Wonder what his name is.
“Lucky guess.” The mystery guy held out his hand. “I’m Adrius,” he said, answering my unasked question.
I placed my hand in his. It was warm but electric, like a low voltage current.
“Hi,” I said, pulling my hand away. “I’m actually more of a composer. The singing is temporary. Like this job. I mean, it’s my grandmother’s café… or it was…” What is wrong with me? A time machine would be so good right about now.
“I know,” he said, a flicker of amusement crossing his face.
Something prickled inside me, a thrill of fear or excitement. I hadn’t decided which.
In his other hand, he held a brochure for the festival. I bit my lip. “Are you going?” I asked, pointing to the leaflet. I couldn’t figure out what answer would be better. He did have a great voice, velvety and foreign yet with no trace of an accent. Maybe he was performing too.
He smiled, and all the strength drained out of my muscles. No wonder I dropped the tray.
“Possibly… Are you?”
I squinted. “Actually, I don’t think so…”
“That’s too bad. I bet you have a beautiful voice.”
“Really… Based on what?”
He shrugged. “Beautiful girl, beautiful voice… It’s a sure bet.”
I gave an ironic laugh. “Well, your odds are 50/50.” Me … Beautiful… He can’t be serious.
He leaned toward me and a strand of dark hair fell across his forehead. “But I’m right, aren’t I? You do have a beautiful voice, at least fifty per cent of the time.”
The air caught in my throat. “You could say that, I guess.” My mouth felt all dried out.
He smiled victoriously. “I knew it.”
“You know, it’s really rude to gloat.” I swallowed, but it didn’t help. My tongue still felt like sandpaper. More than anything, I wanted to stay here all evening pinned under his gaze.
Neil came to the counter and stopped in front of us. I looked up at him expectantly, but he didn’t say a word, he just stared hard at Adrius.
“Something I can help you with?” he finally grunted.
“No. I’m pretty much finished,” Adrius replied mildly.
“Good. I'm sure you've got somewhere else you need to be. There's the door.” He had a trace of an Irish brogue I’d never noticed before, underlining his harsh tone.
Adrius nodded, taking his cue.
I gave Neil a puzzled frown. It was weird to see him speak to anyone like that. He effortlessly kept his cool with even the most obnoxious customers.
Adrius looked back at me. “Good luck at the competition.”
With a weak smile and a strange knot of regret, I watched him saunter out the door and then turned to Neil.
“Do you know him?”
“I know his type,” he grumbled.
“His type?” I repeated with an arched brow. I was about to ask what he meant when something started buzzing.
“Believe me, Lorelei,” he muttered, reaching under the counter for my phone, “Your life can only get worse with boys like that around.”
Um, let’s recap… I dump a tray of food on the most vengeful girl in school, I have to somehow get out of performing on stage and making a complete fool of myself in public, and the only gorgeous guy to talk to me ever gets chased away. Could things get any worse?
Neil handed me my cell. “It’s your mother.”
I gave an exasperated sigh. Apparently, they could.
“Sweetheart, I have great news! My agent was at a party with someone who knows someone who works with Jonathon Triad, the talent scout for Juilliard. Anyway, I’ve convinced him he must come and see you perform at the competition Monday night.”
“If you do well, they might offer you a full music scholarship to Juilliard! Can you believe it?”
“But, Mom — I don’t know if that’s such a good idea. I might not…”
“Shhh, just relax,” she interrupted. “It will all be fine if you don’t freak out.”
Way too late for that. The contents of my stomach were projectile ready at a moment’s notice.
“Juilliard has an amazing vocal program. You’ve wanted to go there since you were little.”
“You mean you’ve wanted me to go there since I was little.”
“That’s what I said. I’ve booked an extra session with your therapist in the morning so you’ll be in top shape. Can’t risk having you fall flat on your face and embarrassing me again.”
That was so like her, to take even my humiliations and make them her own.
“Of course not. Who wants a repeat of that?” I muttered, chewing my thumbnail.
“Exactly. Especially since I won’t be there to run damage control. I leave for Ireland at noon.”
“Oh, right, your tour. How long will you be gone this time?”
“Just a few months. You’ll be staying with Great Aunt Camilla again.”
I made a face, the way little kids do when you feed them something they don’t like. “She hates me.”
“She doesn’t hate you. She’s just… hard to warm up to.”
“Well, I hate her.”
“Lorelei Kaylen, I don’t have time for your tantrums. I’ve always done everything I can to support your singing. Is it too much to ask that my only daughter unselfishly supports me for a change?”
I sighed. You could almost hear the soap opera score in the background.
“Now don’t waste too much time at that café. You need to practice again tonight. I pulled a lot of strings, and I want things to be perfect. See you soon.” There was an audible click and then silence.
Unbelievable. I clicked off my phone and poured myself a cup of lemon balm tea. Not that I was crazy about it, but it settles the stomach and mine was now heaving uncontrollably. As a composer, I could stick to singing in private. And up until now, the competition had just been another thing to add to my college application… an extracurricular that showed I took an interest in all aspects of music. Now it could potentially become a huge strike against me being accepted.
I glanced around. The beautiful new boy was gone, and so was the familiar scent of thyme. For the first time since I could remember, the café felt strangely cold. The ocher stuccoed walls with their warm sunny disposition were in direct contrast with mine.
Neil reached over and patted me on the shoulder. “Cheer up,” he said sounding more like himself. “Look at it this way. What else could possibly go wrong?”
What else could possibly go wrong? What else couldn’t? In the course of a few hours my life had suddenly gone from bad to epic.
Author, artist, teacher, lover of chocolate…Michele Barrow-Belisle has always lived with one foot in the real world and one foot in the imaginary. So, it follows that she would grow up to write about characters from those enchanting worlds she knows and loves so well.
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