Faery Godlover(4)

By: Lizzie Lynn Lee

“Your little affairs have complicated tenuous diplomatic relations I’ve been cultivating for centuries, Nephew,” she said. “The duchess isn’t the first instance of this kind of behavior. Don’t fool yourself into believing that I don’t know about your visit to the Diamond Enclave, from which I still receive missives requesting your return. And that debacle with the Contessa and her sisters who still won’t speak to each other because of your unbridled tomfoolery.”

Duada was ruffled now, his arms crossed. Such a show of insolence would be harshly punished coming from anyone but a Prince of the court, and even at his status, Duada’s roll of his eyes was putting him on thin ice, based on the daggers the Queen was now shooting him.

“As such,” she continued, folding her hands in front of her with a suddenly smug look that Duada liked even less than his public humiliation, “I cannot ignore your misbehavior any longer. I must take action. But let no one in the Summerland Court say that their Queen is unjust,” she added rather loudly, casting an icy glare over the entire court.

Duada made eye contact with a few of the courtiers, silently seething and wondering which one was the straw that broke the camel’s back. This was, no doubt, some kind of ploy to force the Queen’s hand against him. He sighed. Not even his looks could grant him immunity to the politics of the court, it seemed.

“Shall I receive forty lashes for my terrible crimes of... what are my crimes, precisely?” he asked, tilting his head and arching a triumphant brow.

“You have broken no sanctioned law,” she admitted with a cool smile that chilled Duada to the bone, “which is why you shall receive no sanctioned punishment for what you have done. However, I am sending you away from the court,” she declared, and Duada’s heart dropped, along with his jaw.

“Are... are you banishing me?”

“Don’t look at it as banishment, dear Nephew,” she said with a smile, meaning that yes, she damn well did mean ‘banishment.’ “On the contrary, you are perfectly able to return to the court, rather soon. You only need to complete a small task I have arranged, a task quite perfectly suited to someone of your... particular talents.”

Duada watched her circle him like a shark, and he ran his fingers through his dark, thick hair, his amethyst eyes locking with hers. “Is that so? It sounds like you’re sending me on a mission to do precisely what you’re kicking me out for doing.”

“That’s the delightful part, dear Nephew,” she said, turning to face him fully and folding her hands in front of him. “Prince Duada, you are to go out into the world of humans. There is a woman in the city of Newark, New Jersey, in the United States. Her name is Jasmine Duval. I hereby assign you to her as her guardian.”

There was a general gasp from the courtiers in attendance, and Duada’s face burned as he clenched his fists. As ethereal and alien as the beauty of the fae was, their fury came just as quickly as their passion.

“You cannot be serious!” the prince nearly shouted. “You’re putting me on human duty? In Jersey, of all places?! What in the name of Stars could possibly be so important to some human woman that a prince is necessary to play her babysitter?”

“Oh you needn’t worry about that,” the Queen chided, “you won’t be playing the babysitter. I keep an eye on some humans from time to time, for one reason or another, and dear Jasmine is quite the interesting case. She’s a young woman, full of bright potential and lovely looks, yet she’s squandering her talents at some coffee shop in the city. Worse yet, and more importantly to you, her love life is... abysmal, to say the least.”

Duada blinked slowly. “You... are sending me to fuck some human girl?”

“No, she’s already had the pleasure of a fae in college—and he treated her rather poorly, along with a string of humans he laid with during his stint among them, but that’s none of your concern. What you are to do is to be her matchmaker.”

“Matchmaker,” Duada repeated, his face blank. “As in, set her up with romantic partners? Are you turning me into a human dating service, Your Majesty?”

“Just for one woman,” she said, obviously trying to contain her giddiness at Duada’s discomfort. “You are to arrange Miss Jasmine Duval on human dates. You will go to her, introduce yourself and what you will do for her, and comply with her wishes as to the kind of man or woman she desires. As we speak, I’m arranging for a transfer of American funds to your accounts, so you will provide for anything she might need to make this a success. Once she is in a stable relationship that she declares herself satisfied with, then and only then will you be free from your bondage as her guardian. You will find a more detailed dossier on her in your quarters. The Queen has spoken.”

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