For now, accept that if this creature is a chameleon, it's extremely dangerous and may be drawn to those with a strong Gift."
They jogged together quietly after that. Kai was comfortable with the lack of speech; the companionship of silence reminded her of her grandfather, who could go days without using more than a handful of words, but was so present he made conversation with a glance or a gesture.
Nathan was present in much the same way. Last night and today, though, he'd dipped often into words, telling her more about himself than he'd ever revealed in one gulp. Yet much of him remained hints and questions, with a few facts swirling around in the mist.
Fact: He lived longer than humans. A lot longer. She'd learned that a few months ago when they were watching the History Channel and he commented on something that happened in the First World War—something he'd experienced. Fact: He healed fast, faster than she'd have believed possible if she hadn't seen it herself last night. Fact: He came from another realm… and oh, but she'd done a good job of pretending her mind wasn't blown by that news. There were stories of other realms, sure, but whatever reality lay behind those tales had been lost or obscured in their telling and retelling over the years.
The Turning had proved that reality was far stranger and broader than they'd known. Other realms were real. So were adepts and unicorns and the creatures he called chameleons.
So was Nathan. Whatever he was.
They reached the parking area of their complex and turned in. "I have to go," he said. "I'm on duty."
"Okay." Which made it all the more strange that he'd hunted her up.
His official car was parked two slots down from her little Toyota. They stopped there. He wasn't breathing hard, but neither was she this time. The easy jog had cooled her down.
Nathan didn't get in his car right away, though. He did something shocking. He put his hands on her face, fingers spread, and ran his thumbs over her jaw. His eyes searched hers, their wintry color alive with something she'd never seen there before. "Why did you not need to ask before now?"
"You didn't want anyone to know, and I respected that."
You would have gone away
"But you need to know now?"
He was confusing her badly. "I… yes."
You're leaving anyway
"You felt it, too." He sounded deeply satisfied. "Things changed for us last night."
Okay, time to roll
. She swallowed her fear and plunged ahead. "Are you from Faerie?"
"From one of the Faerie realms, yes. There are many."
That sent a jolt of surprise through her, but as distractions went it couldn't compete with the ripples created by his stroking thumbs. "You're a… an elf?"
"I am sidhe."
He said that the way Elizabeth the First might have said, "I am queen"—fact and power so entwined that one made no sense without the other. "Uh… doesn't 'sidhe' mean elves?"
"Sidhe means… there are many kinds, but we usually speak of three. The High Sidhe are true immortals. A few of them, not many, have an interest in ruling, so they do. The middle sidhe, those you call elfin or faerie lords, have more of a taste for power and caste. Low sidhe is a more fluid term, but is generally understood to mean the less powerful elfin folk, as well as fairies and others you wouldn't recognize. But some sidhe are nothing like humans or elves and live outside those hierarchies. I… eh, I'm not sure what I am now."
His hands dropped and he looked at one, turning it over as if veins, muscles, and knuckles scribed some obscure message in his flesh. "It has been so long… but whatever else I am or am not, I am of the wild sidhe."
Wild sidhe? She shook her head, not understanding.
This smile was old and sad. A parting smile. "A hellhound, Kai. I was born a hellhound."
THEY called Midland the Tall City because of the downtown, where brick-and-steel stalagmites poked at the sky. The office buildings Nathan was headed toward weren't skyscrapers by any