Page 18

“You moved so much.” Finn gestured to the house. “We were afraid that something might be the matter. So I was here monitoring you until you were ready, and I thought you might be.” He exhaled deeply. “I guess I was wrong.”

“Can’t you just ‘persuade’ me to go along?” I asked, and some part of me that wanted to go with him hoped he could.

“I can’t.” Finn shook his head. “I can’t force you to come with me. If this is your decision, then I’ll have to respect it.”

I nodded, knowing full well that I was turning down any chance of getting to know my real parents, my family history, and spending more time with Finn. Not to mention my abilities, like persuasion, which Finn had promised there would be more of as I got older. On my own, I’m sure I’d never be able to master or understand them.

We looked at each other, and I wished he wasn’t so far away from me. I was wondering if it would be appropriate if we hugged when the door to my bedroom opened.

Matt had come in to check on me. As soon as he saw Finn, his eyes burned. Quickly I jumped up, moving in front of Finn to block any attempts by Matt to kill him.

“Matt! It’s okay!” I held up my hands.

“It is not okay!” Matt growled. “Who the hell is this?”

“Matt, please!” I put my hands on his chest, trying to push him away from Finn, but it was like trying to push a brick wall. I glanced back at Finn, and he just stared blankly at my brother.

“You have some nerve!” Matt reached over my shoulder, pointing at Finn as he yelled. “She is seventeen years old! I don’t know what the hell you think you’re doing in her room, but you’re never doing anything with her again!”

“Matt, please, stop,” I begged. “He was just saying good-bye! Please!”

“Perhaps you should listen to her,” Finn offered calmly.

I knew his composure must be pissing off Matt even more. Matt’s day had been horrible too, and the last thing he needed was some kid in here defiling me. Finn’s only reaction was to stand there, cool and collected, and Matt would want him too scared to ever come near me again.

Matt actually knocked me out of the way, and I fell backward onto the floor. Finn’s eyes flashed darkly at that, and when Matt pushed him, Finn didn’t move an inch. He just glared down at my brother, and I knew that if they fought, Matt would be the one with a serious injury.

“Matt!” I jumped to my feet.

Already I had started chanting, Leave my room. Leave my room. You need to calm down and get out of my room. Please. I wasn’t sure how effective it was without eye contact, so I grabbed his arm and forced him to turn to me.

He tried to look away instantly, but I caught him. I kept my eyes focused and just kept repeating it over and over in my head. Finally, his expression softened and his eyes glazed.

“I’m going to leave your room now,” Matt said robotically.

Much to my relief, he actually turned and walked out into the hall, closing the door behind him. I’m not sure if he walked any farther than that, or how much time I had, so I turned to Finn.

“You have to leave,” I insisted breathlessly, but his expression had changed to one of concern.

“Does he do that often?” Finn asked.

“Do what?”

“He pushed you. He clearly has an anger problem.” Finn glared at the door Matt had left through. “He’s unstable. You shouldn’t stay here with him.”

“Yeah, well, you guys should be more careful who you leave babies with,” I muttered and went to the window. “I don’t know how much time we have, so you need to go.”

“He probably shouldn’t ever be able to come into your room again,” Finn said absently. “I’m serious, Wendy. I don’t want to leave you with him.”

“You don’t have much of a choice!” I said, exasperated. “Matt’s not usually like that, and he would never hurt me. He’s just had a really hard day, and he blames you for upsetting me, and he’s not wrong.” The panic was wearing away, and I realized that I had just used persuasion on Matt again. I felt nauseous. “I hate doing that to him. It’s not fair and it’s not right.”

“I am sorry.” Finn looked at me sincerely. “I know you did that to protect him, and it’s my fault. I should’ve just backed down, but when he pushed you . . .” He shook his head. “My instincts kicked in.”

“He’s not going to hurt me,” I promised.

“I’m sorry for the trouble I’ve caused you.”

Finn glanced back at the door, and I could tell he really didn’t want to leave. When he looked back at me, he sighed heavily. He was probably fighting the urge to throw me over his shoulder and take me with him. Instead, he climbed out the window and swung back down to the ground.

With that, he turned past the neighbors’ hedges and I couldn’t see him anymore. I kept looking after him, wishing that this didn’t mean we had to say good-bye.

The awful truth was that I was more than a little sad to see Finn go. Eventually, I shut the window and closed my curtains.

After Finn left, I found Matt sitting on the steps, looking bewildered and pissed off. He wanted to yell at me about Finn, but he couldn’t seem to understand exactly what had happened. The best I could get out of it was that he vowed to kill Finn if he ever came near me, and I pretended like I thought that was a reasonable thing to do.