The Time Weaver
The Drákon Series, Book 5
Palace of the King of Spain, 1788
The night of Festes de la Mercé
She took him to an inner courtyard paved with limestone but dotted with living trees, each one shaped precisely, emerald oval leaves, a lingering hint of nectar still discernable from the sap beneath the bark.
Orange trees, thriving out here in this arid, perfect heat. He felt the fruit he still held in his palm, the pulpy weight of it, and let his nails dig in a little to release a spray of scent. It was better than the human perfume that clouded around him. It was second best, however, to the scent of Honor, standing still and calm less than a foot away. She was close enough that her skirts brushed his legs, and still he wanted closer.
She smelled like...he didn’t know. Like herself, like his dreams, like sweet breezes but more sultry. Like jasmine and honey.
She wore no human cologne. The powder on her hair was scented, and the satin of her gown was scented, but he’d learned to dismiss chemical notes like those a long while ago. Her lips were rouged, and might have tasted of raspberries had he nerve enough to find out...perhaps he was imagining that. Perhaps it was only a wish. He enjoyed raspberries. And he enjoyed gazing at her lips, their sweet reddened pucker.
She felt his attention. With a howling-loud firework discharging into white above them, her eyes cut back to his.
Brilliance; a hot clear light that lifted her irises nearly to turquoise, that reflected off her skin in a way it never would for a human female. She looked back at him soberly, framed in curls and a dark fall of netting. Above them a shower of luminous sparks began their slow dying float back to the earth.
Alexandru felt strange. He felt almost intoxicated, actually. It was disconcerting enough that he pressed his nails harder into the orange, let the juice run over his fingers. He looked away from her to break it apart into segments, and then ate one without tasting it.
Honor watched the heavens. When he offered her a wet piece of pulp from his palm, she accepted it without glancing back at him again, without even removing her gloves. She brought the piece to her lips and sucked at it thoughtfully, and the strangeness enveloping him rose to dizzying new heights.
The people around them were gasping and clapping at the show, applauding every boom that shuddered the air. Several of the youngest children had abandoned their baskets of petals to simply squeal in delight.
The winds from the sea were sending ash-colored smoke into streaks, blowing the white sparkling flowers in the sky into pinwheels, into comets.
”Will you come home with me?”
Her invitation was low and even. When he turned to her she was still in profile, blinking at a dazzling new blossom of fire.
He didn’t know why he hesitated. There was no reason to. He’d come for this, he knew that.
Sandu frowned down at the broken fruit in his hands. He’d come just for her.
“I’ve a supper prepared,” she said, replacing her veil. With her features completely covered once more, she faced him. He was graced with that enigmatic smile. “Only that. If you like.”
He made himself nod. He dropped the remains of the orange to the limestone and presented his arm, and together they began to wind their way out of the palace of the Others.
Excerpted from The Time Weaver by Shana Abé. Copyright © 2010 by Shana Abé. Excerpted by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.