I jerked away from her, no longer able to stomach the excuses or the hollow reassurances. “Fine,” I said. “Drink as much as you want. Pickle your liver and pass out on the floor in a puddle of your own puke. See if I care!”

“Dana!” Her cheeks went white with shock, although this wasn’t the first time since we’d been in Avalon that I’d given in to the temptation to let her know what I really thought of her. I was being a mean-spirited, ungrateful little bitch, and I didn’t give a damn. I was tired of pretending all was well when it wasn’t, tired of humoring her, tired of forcing my feelings into a little mental box so I could be the polite, dutiful daughter.

“Go home, Mom,” I said, pulling away from her when she tried to reach for me. “I’m sure Dad will give you your passport back before we leave for Faerie. Go back to the States and stay there. There was a reason I ran away in the first place, and obviously nothing has changed.”

I slammed out of the room before she could respond. I half expected her to chase after me, but she didn’t. Maybe my words had cut too deep, maybe she needed time to recover. Or maybe she knew I’d say something even uglier if she came after me. Whatever the reason, the fact that she stayed up in her room and made no attempt to get me to come back just made me that much angrier.

*   *   *

Both my dad and Finn looked at me in dismay as I slammed the door to the stairway and stomped into the living room where they were waiting for me. There was no way either of them could miss how upset I was. I might have wiped the tears away, but I’m sure my eyes and nose were all red. I suspected this was not what my dad had in mind when he asked me to come over.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I declared before either of them could say a word.

If either one of them had been human, they might have tried to talk to me anyway. However, the typical Fae reserve worked to my advantage. Finn was never big on talking, and my dad looked lost and uncomfortable.

“I want to go home now,” I said, staring at the floor so I wouldn’t have to see their faces.

There was a moment of silence.

“Call me if you decide later that you want to talk after all,” my dad said. “Anytime.”

His gentle tone almost made me start crying again. A few weeks ago, he hadn’t even known I existed. Now he was the only parent who acted like he loved me.

As it was, I managed to croak out a thanks, then made a beeline for the door so fast Finn had to run to catch up.

*   *   *

The rest of my afternoon sucked—I brooded about my mom and what she would do when Dad let her go. I racked my brain for something I could do or say that would make her decide to stay off the booze, but I’d already proven that nothing I said or did mattered.

There were probably a million things I should have been doing to prepare myself for the trip to Faerie, but the drama with my mom had robbed me of my will. Instead of being productive, I spent hours playing stupid Internet games on my laptop, lulling myself into a zombielike trance.

I was playing a really convoluted game involving dice, cards, and—ha-ha—zombies, when I was startled out of my stupor by a knock on the door to my suite. I blinked and glanced at the clock on my screen, seeing it was already eight o’clock at night. Finn is really good at being unobtrusive, and he usually confines himself strictly to the guard room, giving me some semblance of privacy in my suite. I don’t get too many knocks on my door, especially not at night.

My pulse jumped, and I feared more bad news was on its way.

“Come in,” I called, crossing my fingers.

The door opened to reveal not Finn, but my father. I was surprised to see him, because he usually called before coming.

“Is something wrong?” I asked before he had a chance to say a word.

“No, no,” he said as he came in and took a seat on the sofa in the homey little sitting area. “I just wanted to see if you were okay.”

“I still don’t want to talk about it,” I warned, gearing up for an argument.

Instead, Dad nodded. “Understood. I don’t know what happened between you and your mother, but I know it’s my fault for asking you to come over when she was so overwrought. I’m afraid I was a little out of my element, and I leaned on you when I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry.”

My throat tightened with gratitude. There was no denying that sometimes, my dad could be a pretty cool guy. “’S okay,” I said, not completely sure how to respond to a sincere parental apology.

There was a long silence as both my dad and I tried to think of what to say next. This whole father/daughter relationship thing was equally new to both of us.

Eventually, my dad cleared his throat and said, “I thought you might have some questions to ask me about Faerie and the logistics of our trip to the Sunne Palace.”

Wow. My dad, volunteering information! I wanted to accuse him of being a pod person, but I didn’t think he’d get the joke. Humor is not his thing, though considering what little I knew about his life, that wasn’t a surprise. My father was something like a thousand years old, and you can pack a hell of a lot of trauma and heartache into a thousand years.

“If I start asking questions, you’re going to be here all night,” I warned.

He smiled at me. “A fact of which I’m fully aware. Make me a spot of fortifying tea and I’ll be fully prepared to face the Inquisition.”

All right, maybe he had a sense of humor after all. It was just on the subdued side. “One tea with thumbscrews, coming up.”