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“Why did you come in the window?” I asked.

“I couldn’t very well come to the door. That guy would never let me in here to see you.” Finn was probably right. Matt had hated him ever since the dance.

“That guy is my brother, and his name is Matt.” I felt incredibly defensive and protective of him, especially after the way he supported me after we saw Kim.

“He’s not your brother. You need to stop thinking of him like that.” Finn cast a disparaging look around my room. “Is that what this is all about? This is why you won’t leave?”

“You couldn’t possibly understand my reasons.” I went over and sat on my bed, making a point of laying physical claim to this space.

“What happened tonight?” Finn asked, ignoring my attempts at defiance.

“How are you so certain something happened?”

“You were gone,” he said, without any fear that I might find it disturbing that he knew about my comings and goings.

“I saw my mother. Er, well . . . the woman who is supposed to be my mother.” I shook my head, hating the way this all sounded. I considered lying to him, but he already knew more about all of this than anyone. “What do you call her? Is there a name for her?”

“Usually her name will suffice,” Finn replied, and I felt like an idiot.

“Yeah. Of course.” I took a deep breath. “Anyway, I went and saw Kim.” I looked up at him. “Do you know about her? I mean . . . how much do you really know about me?”

“Honestly, not that much.” Finn seemed to disapprove of his own lack of knowledge. “You were incredibly elusive. It was rather disconcerting.”

“So you don’t . . .” I realized with dismay that I was on the verge of tears. “She knew I wasn’t her daughter. When I was six, she tried to kill me. She had always told me that I was a monster, that I was evil. And I guess I had always believed her.”

“You’re not evil,” Finn insisted earnestly, and I smiled thinly at him, swallowing back my sadness. “You can’t possibly stay here, Wendy.”

“It’s not like that anymore.” I shook my head, looking away from him. “She doesn’t live here, and my brother and my aunt would do anything for me. I can’t just leave them. I won’t.”

Finn eyed me carefully, trying to decide if I was serious. I hated how attractive he was and whatever power it was he held over me. Even now, with my life in complete shambles, the way he looked at me made it hard to focus on anything besides my racing heart.

“Do you realize what you’re giving up?” Finn asked softly. “There is so much that life has to offer you. More than anything they can give you here. If Matt understood what was in store for you, he would send you with me himself.”

“You’re right. He would, if he thought it was what’s best for me,” I admitted. “Which is why I have to stay.”

“Well, I want what’s best for you too. That’s why I found you, and why I’ve been trying to bring you home.” The underlying affection in his voice shivered through me. “Do you really believe I would encourage you to return home if it would adversely affect you?”

“I don’t think you know what’s best for me,” I replied as evenly as I could.

He had thrown me off guard by hinting at caring about me, and I had to remind myself that that was part of his job. All of this was. He needed to make sure I was safe and convince me to return home. That wasn’t the same as actually caring about me.

“You’re sure this is what you want?” Finn asked gently.

“Absolutely.” But I sounded more confident than I really was.

“I’d like to say that I understand, but I don’t.” Finn sighed resignedly. “I can say that I’m disappointed.”

“I’m sorry,” I said meekly.

“You shouldn’t be sorry.” He ran a hand through his black hair and looked at me again. “I won’t be going to school anymore. It seems unnecessary, and I don’t want to disturb your studies. You should at least get an education.”

“What? Don’t you need one?” My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach as I realized that this might be the last time I saw Finn.

“Wendy.” Finn gave a small humorless laugh. “I thought you knew. I’m twenty years old. I’m done with my education.”

“Why were you . . .” I said, already figuring out the answer to my question.

“I was only there to keep track of you, and I have.” Finn dropped his eyes and sighed. “When you change your mind . . .” He hesitated for a moment. “I’ll find you.”

“You’re leaving?” I asked, trying to keep the disappointment from my voice.

“You’re still here, so I am too. At least for a while,” Finn explained.

“How long?”

“It depends on . . . things.” Finn shook his head. “Everything about your situation is so different. It’s hard to say anything with certainty.”

“You keep saying that I’m different. What does that mean? What are you talking about?”

“We usually wait until changelings are a few years older, and by then you’ve already figured out that you’re not human,” Finn explained. “When the tracker comes to find you, you’re relieved and eager to go.”

“So why did you come for me now?” I asked.