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Desert Tales A Wicked Lovely Companion Novel 

 by

Melissa Marr

DEDICATION

To the readers who asked me to write this one

AUTHOR’S NOTE

Please note that this is a companion story to the original five Wicked Lovely novels. The overarching plot of the series stands on its own without Desert Tales. Much like the Wicked Lovely series short stories, Desert Tales is intended to be “extra content.”

This story began while I was writing Fragile Eternity. I started pondering the Winter Girls and Keenan’s past relationships with them. I also knew that Keenan was going to be absent in Radiant Shadows, and I started thinking about where he went. When I ponder, I write. In this case, to figure out what was happening elsewhere outside the courts, I wrote the three-volume Wicked Lovely: Desert Tales manga.

However, I also try to listen to reader requests when possible. When readers said they wanted the Wicked Lovely stories all in one place together, we released Faery Tales & Nightmares, a collection that included five Wicked Lovely short stories and a handful of other folklore-rooted stories. Likewise, when readers asked to read the story of Desert Tales without reading it as manga, I decided that not only was that a great idea but that if I were going to do it, I’d go further and expand on the story. It’s been fun for me to revisit the Wicked Lovely world; I hope you enjoy it too.

With thanks for your support,

Melissa

PROLOGUE

As she took—and failed—the test to become the missing Summer Queen, Rika’s mortality ended. She stared at him from snow-filled eyes, icicles tipping her fingernails, frost clouds rising from her lips. She’d thought she loved him; worse, she’d believed he loved her. As the cold filled her, Keenan didn’t touch her. He simply turned away.

The next time they spoke, he told her that he’d found the girl who might be queen, another mortal who had no idea what he was, the one who could be what she wasn’t. It wasn’t difficult at all to tell girls that Keenan wasn’t to be trusted, and it wasn’t as hard as she’d expected to convince that girl not to take the test.

Again and again, she met the girls who were not the one. Again and again, she tried to convince them not to trust him—and she succeeded.

Years passed, and all Rika had for comfort was the wolf who first came to her when she was filled with ice. No faery offered her friendship, not even those she’d spared from the fate she endured. The loneliness weighed her down almost as much as the ice that crackled across her skin, yet time and again, she stood in front of another mortal girl who refused to lift the staff. Each time, Rika was torn between the sharp satisfaction of seeing Keenan falter and desperate sorrow that her own tenure carrying the ice would continue.

Until Donia . . .

Despite all of Rika’s warnings, Donia decided that Keenan was worth the risk. The color drained from her as her mortality was replaced, as she failed the test. For the first time in years, the tears that slid down Rika’s face were not frozen. Water slipped over her skin instead of ice while Donia’s pale blond hair became white, her body bowed under the pain, and her lips turned blue from the cold.

Rika’s freedom was gained only by another’s loss.

Donia fell heavily to the ground, and Rika couldn’t even touch her to help her to stand. Sasha, the wolf, went to the new Winter Girl. He was hers now, like the pain and the ice. Rika felt a burst of guilt as she wished she could keep the wolf, that someone would choose to stay with her.

Rika glared at Keenan as he stood there glowing and then turned away from Donia as he had once turned from her. He had destroyed both of their lives, yet he offered comfort to neither girl. One of the faeries who advised him came to Rika, explaining her new future, treating her with all the barely hidden disdain she’d come to expect of them after she’d convinced girl after girl not to trust the Summer King.

She was no longer ice-filled, but she couldn’t go back to the life she’d left behind. Everyone she’d known was dead. Rika was a faery with no family, no friends, no court; she was untethered, just as alone as she had been for the past decades. Now, however, she no longer even had a purpose.

So she’d fled to somewhere hot, hoping to burn away the memories of the ice that had lived inside her skin. When she arrived, faeries so different than any she knew in the Summer Court or Winter Court watched her, but she’d turned away from them, pretended that they were no different than the landscape around them, and they’d let her—at least, she’d thought they did.

They never acknowledged her until one night when she watched the Alpha, Sionnach, dance in the wide-open desert under a full moon. It wasn’t the first or even the fifth time she’d watched him, but this time, he looked at her and grinned. Late that night, he came to her cave and was the first to talk to her. For years, he was the only one who visited her, who teased her. He didn’t force her to join the faeries here, but he was her friend—her only friend.

Until Jayce . . . 

CHAPTER 1

Trusting Keenan had been the mistake that informed Rika’s entire life, a mistake that had cost her both her humanity and her happiness. She’d given everything—her mortality, her family, her health—but it wasn’t enough. She wasn’t enough.

So when she’d escaped to the desert and hidden herself away from both humanity and faeries, she’d kept to herself. It was a quiet life, but she was happy—until she met Jayce. Admittedly, met might not be the right way to describe her encounters with the mortal boy, but it was as close of a word as she knew, and as close as she’d come to a relationship in a very long time. She spent countless hours at his side talking to him or simply enjoying their shared silence. Jayce, of course, hadn’t known how much time they’d spent together because Rika remained invisible during all of it. She might not have been born a faery, but she followed the rules: faeries weren’t to carelessly reveal themselves to mortals.

Today, as she had so many other times since she’d first discovered Jayce staring into the sky with a bemused smile on his face, Rika was enjoying one of their art dates. She cherished her days with Jayce. Unlike the faery king she’d thought lovely when she was a mortal, the human boy she’d fallen for was the kind of beautiful that faeries couldn’t be. Jayce had thick dreadlocks that were such a dark brown that they were only a shade shy of black—except for the few that were dyed purple. Today, the dreads were pulled back in a ponytail, but a few had escaped and fallen over his shoulder as he sketched.

Oblivious to her as always, he perched on a rock, sketchbook on his knee, bottle of water at his feet. Pencils, charcoal, and other art paraphernalia jutted out of his satchel and spilled onto the ground next to him, but he was lost in the moment. His attention drifted between the desert and his paper.

Rika shaded her portrait of him while he captured the desert landscape with his colored pencils. “Another perfect date,” she said.

Jayce looked up, but not at her words. Like most mortals, he couldn’t see or hear the fey. Fortunately, her invisibility also meant that he’d never reject her, never tell her that she wasn’t the girl for him. Unfortunately, it also meant that he would never reach out and draw her closer. Still, she’d decided almost a year ago that their relationship was better if he didn’t know she existed.

     

 

2011 - 2018