I should've never gotten close to him.
This whole entire time I'd been petrified that he'd die on me like everyone else had. Never once had it crossed my mind that I'd lose him because I would have to walk away. Or run away, fast.
But what could I do? There was no way I could let the prince carry out his plans. A child created from a union of the prince and a halfling would literally throw open all the doors to the Otherworld. They would stay permanently open, and all the fae would come through. Mankind would turn into an all-you-can-eat fae buffet.
"You're thinking it now," Tink announced.
I was thinking a lot of things right now.
He landed on my bent knee, and the only reason why I didn't throw him off me was because I was sure I'd end up hurting myself more in the process. "You think the only thing you can do is leave, but that won't help you. You're forgetting something very important. Actually, you're forgetting two very important things." He paused. "Come to think of it, you're probably forgetting a lot, because you got your head knocked-"
"Tink," I warned.
He stomped up my leg, which felt like a cat was walking on me. "You have to consent."
I pried my eyes open. The left one was still pretty swollen, so Tink was a blurry form where he stood by my hip.
He cupped his hands around his mouth. "Sex. Consent to sex with the prince. That's the only way a child can be conceived. No glamour. No magic or compulsion. No tricks. You know, you have to actually want-"
"I know what consent to sex means," I snapped.
"Apparently, you don't." Tink jumped off my hip and landed on the bed next to me. "Because he can't make you do it. Well, he could make you, and that's just gross and wrong and not completely out of character for the prince, but a child won't be conceived."
"Oh, great to know. He could force himself on me, but hey, at least there's no apocalypse baby. No harm, no foul."
Tink's little nose scrunched. "You know that's not what I meant." He lifted himself up in the air and flew so he was directly above my head. "But there's a bigger problem, Ivy."
I laughed, and it sounded a little crazed. Not even drunken crazed. More like hitting the asylum crazed. "What could be worse than me being a halfling?" Panic lit up my chest. Just saying that out loud made me want to vomit.
"You said the prince tasted your blood, right?" Tink asked. "After you two fought?"
My nose wrinkled. "Yeah. I mean, I'm pretty sure he did after he . . . smelled me."
"Then there is nowhere you can go that he cannot find you."
I opened my mouth, closed it, and then tried again. "Come again?"
Tink zipped down to the bedspread. "He will be able to sense you anywhere. It doesn't matter if you went to Zimbabwe, and I'm not even sure where Zimbabwe is, but I just like saying Zimbabwe, but he'd find you eventually, because you're now a part of him."
I couldn't even think for a moment, couldn't even form a coherent thought that did not involve what in the actual fuck. "Are you for real?"
Tink nodded and plopped down cross-legged beside my arm. He lowered his voice as if he'd be overheard. "When an ancient, like the prince, takes a part of someone into them, he is forever connected to that person. You're bonded, in a way."
"Oh my God." Unable to deal, I placed my hands over my face. A new horror surfaced. "Then he knows where I am right now?"
"And he'll know everywhere I go." Holy crap, I couldn't even process the implications. My mere presence would be putting everyone in danger. But what I didn't understand was, if the prince could sniff me out like some kind of halfling bloodhound, then why hadn't he showed yet? It had been a week since we fought. What was he waiting for?
"It's really creepy, isn't it?" Tink said.
Creepy wasn't even the word for it. I couldn't think of an appropriate word for all of that. "Do you know how to kill him?"
"You kill him like you would kill any ancient. You cut off his head, but that's not going to be easy."
No shit. Taking out normal fae wasn't particularly easy. Stabbing them with an iron stake only sent them back to the Otherworld. Chopping off their heads killed them.
"But that's not the most important thing." Tink grabbed my right hand. My wrist had stopped throbbing, another sure sign that the prince had truly patched up some of the damage he'd inflicted upon me. I eyed the brownie. "You cannot let anyone know what you are."
"Gee. Really? I was thinking about updating my Facebook to halfling status."
He cocked his blondish-white head to the side. "You don't have a Facebook, Ivy."
Tink continued, because of course. "I looked for you. Wanted to add you as my friend so I could poke you, and I know people don't poke anymore, but I think poking is a great way to express how one-"
"I know I can't tell anyone, but what's stopping the fae from outing me?" I asked.
"The fae will know if you're outed, because the Order would kill you." He said this like we were talking about Harry Potter, and not about me, you know, being put down like a rabid dog. "The prince won't want to risk that, even if there are other female halflings out there. He won't want to risk the time it would take to find another one."