The Ice Diamond Cuff (Custodian Novel #4)

The Ice Diamond Cuff

(Custodian Novel #4)

 

Smashwords Edition

 

Copyright 2013 by Alison Pensy

 

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual
persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely
coincidental.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may
be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without
written permission from the author.

 

Published by Laxsaro Publishing, Publishing
on Smashwords / April 2013

 

ISBN: 978-0-9825438-7-0

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Faedra was standing in the forecourt of
Todmus and Allora's new home. Her arms were up in front of her and
her hands were moving with determined dexterity.

"Just a little more to the left, if you
please, Faedra," Allora said.

Faedra kept her focus on the heavy onyx
statue of a winged horse rearing behind a shield of a coat of arms,
which was hovering just above the front door of her friend's newly
completed mansion. She moved her hands ever so slightly in that
direction, motioning with her fingers, as if she were pushing
something tangible. Stone scraped on stone as Faedra eased the coat
of arms into position with as much care as she would place the star
on top of a Christmas tree.

"Right there," Allora said, clasping her
hands together. "That's perfect."

Faedra smiled and brought her hands down to
rest on her hips. She looked at the heavily pregnant Allora who was
standing to one side of her, the Lady's eyes glistening with
happiness. Then she looked to her other side where Allora's
husband, and ruler of this realm, stood staring in muted awe.
Faedra returned her gaze to their finished house and breathed a
sigh of proud achievement. Though, to call it a house was a little
bit of an understatement. At least they were able to finish it in
time for the new addition to her friend's family.

After destroying their home just a year ago
while trying, and succeeding, to kill the evil tyrant sorcerer who
had overthrown Todmus and held his wife and daughter prisoner for
years while he ruled the realm with malevolence, Faedra had
promised the little man that she would help rebuild it. And she had
kept her promise. Her powers had helped maneuver most of the heavy
blocks into position for the stone masons to do their jobs. It was
the best thing she could have done to learn how to control her
powers. She had only crushed one set of workman's toes over the
entire building process. In the grand scheme of things, she thought
that was pretty successful, and besides, Lady Allora was able to
heal the poor man's digits with a couple of carefully applied
poultices, so no long term damage done.

Yes, today was a very good day.

Faedra stared at the elegant facade of the
manor’s front. The stately mansion's entryway was accented by two
stone pillars, holding up the platform that was now home to an
equally elegant statue and coat of arms. The brick walls had been
painted a warm cream, and rows of windows let in lots of light.
Wisteria had been planted along the front of the house, and with
the help of the fae realm to speed up their growth, the beautiful,
sweet smelling blooms were weaving their way up the trellises in
between the windows. Faedra could only imagine how beautiful it
would look when the plants grew to maturity and framed the windows
and entrance way, welcoming all who entered with their fragrant
perfume.

Yes, this house was everything the foreboding
castle that once stood in its place was not. Although, in happier
times, the castle probably was a cheery dwelling, but when laughter
was replaced by fear, Faedra suspected that any warmth was probably
gone forever. Allora had confided in Faedra that she wanted a house
instead of another castle. After spending several years in the
previous castle's dungeon, the Lady had no desire to be reminded of
that fact on a daily basis.

"Thank you, Faedra," Todmus said, taking hold
of Faedra's hand. "You have done a wonderful job on our home."

"No worries, Todmus. It was the least I could
do after destroying the other one." Faedra shot him a sheepish
grin.

Todmus patted the back of her hand. "It was a
means to an end, my child."

Faedra opened her mouth to speak but was cut
off by a girlish squeal that ripped through the air. All three
turned their attention to the gardens from whence it came. Faedra
raised her eyes and shook her head at the sight she saw.

"Higher!" a little voice squealed. "Faen,
take me higher!"

Faedra crossed her arms over her chest and
cast a sideways glance at Allora. So far, she hadn't sensed any
anxiety from the little girl's mother at the sight of her daughter
being flown above their ornamental garden by an adult fae who
should know better.

The little girl squealed again as her 'pilot'
climbed higher than the fruit trees, spiraling ever upwards.

"Dive bomb, Faen!" she squealed again. "Do
another dive bomb!"

Quite apart from the fact that Faedra
wondered where on earth little Skylar had learned that phrase, her
heart almost leapt to her throat as she watched her Guardian come
to almost a complete stop, suspended just below the clouds, before
obliging the little girl. He swooped downwards and nose-dived
towards the ground, tucking his wings close to his body to increase
the speed. Skylar squealed again.

Faedra sucked in a gasp and put her hand over
her eyes, watching through parted fingers as Faen pulled up inches
from hitting the ground. Faen flew Skylar just above the soft lawn
allowing the little girl to skim her fingertips over the blades of
grass before pulling up and spiraling towards the clouds in a
display that would make the Red Arrows envious. Flying Skylar high
above the trees, his deep resonating laughter penetrated right to
Faedra's soul.

Allora cast the Custodian a sidelong glance.
"He will make an excellent father, no?"

Faedra returned Allora's cheery grin with a
nervous one of her own. She had no doubt Faen would make an
excellent father, but an icy chill ran up her spine at the thought
of what kind of mother she herself would make. As far as Faedra
knew, she could have a 50/50 chance of giving birth to a beautiful
fae girl or a fire breathing dragon, and, as yet, no one had been
able to reassure her one way or the other. She was the first person
in all of fae history to find herself in this predicament. Not even
Draconis had been able to shed any light on whether absorbing
Savu's life energy would have done anything to change her genetics.
She inwardly shuddered.

"One day that will be your child squealing
with joy in her father's arms," Allora continued, snapping the
young Custodian from her musings. Faedra could only hope so.

Faedra watched as Faen flew towards them and
landed gracefully a few feet away. He lowered Skylar to the ground
as if she were a precious vase he was setting down on a display
pedestal. As soon as the little girl's feet hit the gravel, she ran
towards Todmus, arms outstretched, her curly blonde tresses
bouncing down her back with every step.

"Papa, Papa! Did you see me flying?"

Todmus scooped his daughter up and swung her
around, his face awash with pure joy. "And all this time, I thought
you were a young ovate." He looked over to Allora. "Mama, I was
wrong. I believe we have a fairy in the family."

Skylar grinned and poked her daddy in the
arm. "Oh, Papa."

Allora stepped across and wrapped her arm
around her husband's waist and planted a kiss to his cheek. Todmus
balanced Skylar on his hip and leaned into his wife's caress.

"Thank you for entertaining our little
monster, Faen," Allora said.

"It is good practice for the tournament,"
Faen replied. "I have won the event in every tournament I have
competed. I do not intend for that to change this year."

"I am sure you will make your king proud,"
Allora said. "Please, won't you both come and join us. I have
prepared a celebratory lunch, now that the house is completed."

The druid family wandered towards the
house.

Faen looked up at the coat of arms Faedra had
placed above the door. "Nice job."

"Thanks."

He held out a hand. "Shall we?"

Faedra smiled and twined her fingers with
his. They stepped forward to follow their friends into their new
home.

"It is a big year for Azran this year. What
with the Seven Realms Tournament and a royal wedding. I imagine
your father is pulling his hair out," Todmus said to Faedra as they
entered the kitchen.

"He seems to be taking it all in stride,"
Faedra answered.

"So, how are the wedding preparations going?"
Allora asked, handing Faedra a cup of herbal tea and placing a
plate of home baked cookies on the kitchen table they were all now
seated around.

"Great," Faedra replied, her eyes lighting up
at the question.

In actuality, she was preparing for two
weddings. One would be the mother of all royal weddings, held at
Azran castle. Royalty and ambassadors from all realms would be in
attendance. All realms that was, except the World of Men. As much
as Faedra had begged the king to let her two best friends, her
uncle and his wife attend the wedding in Azran, her father had not
conceded to her request. As upset as she was about it, she
understood his motives. She found herself in an odd predicament. On
the one hand, she was going to be queen of Azran one day. They
would be her people and she had to do whatever it took to protect
them. On the other hand, she had grown up amongst humans and wanted
her friends to be a part of her new life. But the fae had long
since evaporated from the memories of men and now only existed in
fictional stories. Humankind no longer knew of, or believed in, the
fae, and, unfortunately, Mankind had a tendency to shoot first and
ask questions later. The havoc they wreaked on their own kind was
proof enough that the rest of the seven realms should remain a
tightly held secret.

The king had allowed one exception, though.
Her dad. He had seen, and been a part of that world now, ever since
Vivianna had kidnapped him. It was obvious his lips would remain
sealed for time immemorial.

Even though she comprehended her wedding
would be a spectacle beyond her wildest dreams, it saddened her a
little because, apart from a handful of guests, there would not be
many people she knew at her own wedding. She was secretly looking
forward more to the intimate wedding she had planned to take place
in her village church, surrounded by family and friends, with no
hint of pomp or circumstance.

Faedra had a thought, which brought her
attention back to Allora. "Actually, I'm glad you asked. I need to
borrow Skylar next week for her final fitting."

Skylar bounced about on her chair with
excitement. She was overjoyed by the fact that she was going to be
Faedra's flower girl.

"Finish your mouthful before you start
talking, young lady," Allora warned, sensing her daughter was eager
to say something but still had her mouth full of cookie.

Faedra's lips quirked as she watched Skylar
gulp a large chunk of cookie without chewing, eager to be able to
get her words out. Hadn't her own mother said the exact same things
to her when she was that age? And no doubt, she would be saying the
exact same things to her child, too.

Faen caught the look on Faedra's face and
covered her hand with his. He gave it a little squeeze.

"Oh, Mama. You will love my dress, it's so
pretty. I almost do look like a fairy in it, don't I, Faedra?"
Faedra nodded. "I can't wait until I can wear it all day long,"
Skylar said, her big blue eyes sparkling with excitement.

"Well, you won't have to wait much longer
now," Allora said, smiling at her daughter's exuberance before
turning to the Custodian. "Thank you for inviting our daughter to
be a part of your wedding. You can see how much it means to
her."

Faedra smiled. "Actually, I'm the one that is
thankful. I don't have any sisters so I'm grateful that Skylar and
Jocelyn are willing to take on the flower girl and bridesmaid's
duties for me, they look so cute together.

"How is Jocelyn?" Allora asked.

"She is well, thank you for asking," Faen
replied.

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