“Ha-ha. Very funny.”

“Well, someone got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning!”

I snorted. “No, someone hasn’t gotten out of bed at all yet. And some other people should know better than to call at oh-dark-thirty in the morning.”

Kimber laughed. “I don’t think ten o’clock counts as oh-dark-thirty. Besides, you have to get your butt in gear. You’ve got a lot to do before you leave. Now get out of bed and go see if your dad’s set up an appointment for you.”

“Let me guess, you want to come with me.”

“Well, you need someone with at least some fashion sense to help you out.”

“I think I’ve just been insulted,” I said, though her teasing had put a reluctant smile on my face. “I need some coffee in my system first.”

“Call me back when you know the when and where. This is going to be so much fun!”

I suspected that in this instance, Kimber’s idea of fun and mine weren’t going to be quite the same.

* * *

It wasn’t until I met Kimber outside the dressmaker’s shop—with Finn trailing in my wake, because I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere without a bodyguard hanging over my shoulder—that I realized the potential problem. You see, there was this mark on the back of my shoulder … A stylized blue stag that looked like a tattoo, but wasn’t. It was the Erlking’s mark, and he tricked me into triggering a spell that put it on me. The mark allowed the Erlking to find me wherever I was—kind of like one of those microchips you put in your pet dog.

I hadn’t told anyone—not even Ethan—about the mark, and the last thing I wanted was for Kimber to see the mark while I was trying on clothes. I gnawed my lip with worry as Kimber and I stepped into the shop together with Finn bringing up the rear. There were a lot of things about my encounters with the Erlking that I’d failed to tell Kimber. In fact, I’d out-and-out lied about some of them. I was the worst best friend ever. But guilty as I felt about the deception, I just wasn’t ready to tell her the truth yet.

The dressmaker’s shop was unlike anything I’d ever seen. The front of the shop was a cozy-looking sitting room with overstuffed blue velvet chairs and a side table with cups, an electric kettle, and about twelve million different varieties of tea. There were a handful of magazines on another side table, but otherwise the room was empty and not like a shop at all.

“In the old days,” Kimber told me, “this is where the gentlemen would sit while waiting for their ladies.” She gave Finn a saucy look. “Are you a gentleman?”

Finn is actually a really nice guy, even if he isn’t a big talker. But he’s a completely different person when he’s in bodyguard mode. He wears suits that would look just right on James Bond and wears Men in Black sunglasses even when it’s raining. And he rarely, if ever, cracks a smile.

“I’ll wait here while you girls meet with the dressmaker,” he said, dead serious though he had to know Kimber was teasing him, “but I’m going to check out the back before I let you out of my sight.”

Just then, the dressmaker herself emerged from the curtained doorway at the back of the shop. She was a drop-dead gorgeous Fae woman wearing a powder blue silk suit and killer heels. Both the suit and the shoes screamed haute couture, even to someone like me who generally wouldn’t know haute couture if it bit me on the nose.

“Good afternoon,” she said, in what sounded suspiciously like a fake French accent. “I am Madame Françoise.”

I blinked at her stupidly for a moment. There was no such thing as a French Fae. Not to mention that I could probably do a better fake French accent than “Madame Françoise” was doing.

“Bonjour, Madame,” Kimber answered for me, then rattled off something quick and much more genuinely French-sounding. My foreign language was Spanish, so I had no idea what she was saying.

Madame Françoise laughed lightly and said something in response, her accent still sounding phony as hell.

“Show off,” I muttered to Kimber, who winked at me.

“If you don’t mind,” Finn broke in before we were subjected to any more French, “I need to take a look around back before I allow the young ladies to proceed.”

“Why, of course,” Madame Françoise said cheerfully, holding the curtain open and inviting him back with a sweep of her arm. “I will show you.”

As soon as the curtain closed behind them, I turned to Kimber. “If her name is really Madame Françoise, then my name is Jack the Ripper. What gives?”

“This shop has been here for at least three hundred years. There was a time when high society thought having a French dressmaker was a status symbol. Madame Françoise is hardly the only person to have faked being French to lure in clientele.”

Sometimes, the Fae are just freaking weird. “Yeah, but no one would actually believe she’s French. And hello, it’s the twenty-first century. Who even goes to dressmakers anymore, much less cares if the dressmaker is French?”

Kimber shrugged. “From what I’ve heard, some of the English women who took on French names were just as blatantly fake. And I suppose once she’d been talking like that for a century or so, it became habit.”

Finn and Madame Françoise emerged from the back before I could come up with a witty response. Finn declared the shop safe, and then I was swept into the back with Kimber and Madame, and if it weren’t for Madame’s modern outfit and the electric lights, I might have thought I’d been swept back in time.

It turned out Madame Françoise specialized in making clothes for Avalon Fae who were traveling to Faerie. Apparently, Prince Henry’s ridiculous outfit at the dinner was the height of “modern” fashion in Faerie, and there was nowhere else in the city you could buy appropriate attire.

Madame sat me down at a table with Kimber and plonked a couple of heavy books down in front of us.

“Zeez are pattern books,” Madame said, opening the first one to a line drawing of a woman wearing something that looked vaguely Victorian, with a long train running behind it and a hat that was about half again as tall as she was. Madame turned the page, displaying two more drawings, both of similarly ornate dresses. “Look through. Tell Madame what you like.”

Kimber drew the book to her and began flipping through, not at all fazed at the idea of me wearing one of those ridiculous dresses. Madame smiled approvingly, then moved away, giving us time to look without hovering over our shoulders.

“You have got to be kidding me,” I said, keeping my voice down so Madame wouldn’t hear. “I’m not wearing a freaking bridal gown!”

“I like this one,” Kimber said, pointing at a frilly monstrosity, “and it won’t be white like a bridal gown. One does not wear all white to Court unless one is royalty.”

“I don’t care about the color,” I said through gritted teeth.

Kimber shrugged. “This is what a court dress looks like.” She flipped a couple more pages. “What about this one?” she asked, pointing at a dress that was mercifully free of feathers or ruffles, but just as ornate, with short puffed sleeves, tons of lace, and yet another incredibly long train.

“I’ll look like I’m trying out for a part in The Tudors,” I grumped. “And do not tell me I have to wear a corset, because all those dresses sure look like the kind that have corsets under them.”

Kimber let out a huff of irritation. “You’d never get a part in The Tudors wearing one of these—they’re more Regency and Victorian style. That’s later than the Tudors, in case you don’t know.”

I glared at her. Kimber’s an intellectual prodigy—she’s only seventeen, but she was going to be a sophomore in college in the fall. Her specialty is math and science, but I guess she actually paid attention in history class, too.

“I think this would be perfect for you, as long as we choose the right colors,” she continued, ignoring my death glare.

I looked more closely at the drawing. “It has a freaking bow at the back.” I could see Kimber wearing something like that and being totally stunning. Me, I’d just look silly.

Вы читаете Sirensong
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату