“Something feels different about this place,” she said, voice soft but spreading across the grounds like an earthquake.
“It’s protected. That’s what you feel.”
A short, frail-looking male swung open his front door and appeared on the square wooden porch. His skin marbled like the bark of an old oak with tints of green. Long and wide eyes assessed Severins and Kaia before his gaze slashed to Kaia’s vampire friend, Kalib. The performance was rather dramatic.
“You said one—a single, human female. Human. That is not human.” The dryad’s twig-finger pointed to Severins with further flair.
“We were lacking in our information. The wolf is no harm to you.”
“No harm. No harm!” His hair sprouted green and miniature ivy fell around his ears. “At best, he’ll piss on my plants. At worst.” The small man’s voice squabbled high and fluttered through the leaves above. “At worst!”
Kalib rolled his eyes, and Severins shook his head. Kaia, however, seem entranced with the dryad’s tirade.
“Eilon. Fucking wood nymphs. Eilon.”
“Oh no, sir. You can stay in your pretty little metal box for that.” Eilon slammed his door again in a giant huff.
Kaia jerked and came back to the small clearing. Her eyes took on a darker green in these woods. “He did not like either of you very much.”
“Tree-folk aren’t group friendly unless there’s a ceremony or an orgy, although they’re practically the same thing to them.” Kalib pulled two long swords from behind his seat—long enough they shouldn’t have fit back there. He strapped them into holsters hidden beneath his loose cotton shirt. “I’ll take first watch.”
“Dryad’s don’t like wolves too much—territorial and all that. Piss in the wrong part of the woods once, and it’s like you killed their elder.”
“Did you tinkle on one of his plants?”
Severins snorted in delight at hearing the word tinkle come out of her mouth. “No, I’m house-trained, beautiful.”
“You repeat after me. I pledge not to piss on any of Eilon Broaddock’s indoor plants.” The little man paused and gestured sharply at him. “Repeat it.”
“I pledge not to piss on any of Eilon Broaddock’s indoor plants.”
“I pledge not to scratch, bite, or chew on any of Elion Broaddock’s precious house items.”
“I promise not to destroy your home. I may be a wolf, but I am also a gentleman.”
“Repeat as I said.” Eilon’s sharp fingers extended further.
Severins sighed. Threatening a wolf with wood wasn’t the fae’s smartest move, but he repeated the pledge instead of provoking his host further. The restraint took enormous effort because the little drama queen was asking for it.
Eilon stepped back and nodded, handing him a towel and turning back to his kitchen. “And wolf will not sully Miss Red.”
“You’re venturing a bit outside your jurisdiction, there, Oak Broad Oak.”
The vines of his hair tangled and retreated to a brilliant golden brown. “My stuffed radish. You have your own red, and you’re not to touch Miss Red if yours turns you down. She’s my bed guest, and I will not have her sullied.”
Eilon disappeared into the kitchen as Severins’ spine whipped straight. Kaia’s face reddened, and she covered her mouth with her hand. “I like him.”