Page 42

“I am so sorry,” Rhys apologized emphatically. His cheeks were red with shame, and somehow that only made him cuter.

Not that I was really paying attention to how he looked just then. My stomach was twisted in knots, and I was thankful that I hadn’t started to cry. I didn’t even fully understand what I’d done. I knew sleeping in a boy’s room wasn’t ideal, but they were acting like it was a capital offense.

“You need to get ready for school,” Finn snapped, glaring at Rhys. Then he pointed to the hall and turned to me. “You. Out. Now.”

I gave him a wide berth on my way out the door. Normally I loved being close to him, but not today. My heart pounded erratically, but not for any pleasurable reason. Finn tried to keep his face expressionless, but tension and anger radiated from his body. I slunk across the hall to my room, and Finn barked something at Rhys about behaving himself.

“Where are you going?” Finn demanded when I opened my bedroom door. He had just emerged from Rhys’s room and slammed the door behind him, making me jump.

“To my room?” I pointed at my room and looked confused.

“No. You need to come to my room with me,” Finn said.

“What? Why?” I asked.

A very small part of me felt excited about the prospect of going to his room with him. That sounded like the start of a fantasy I might have. But the way he was looking at me now, I was afraid he might kill me once we were in private.

“I need to get ready for the day, and I can’t very well let you out of my sight.” He wore pajama pants and a T-shirt, and his dark hair wasn’t as sleek as it normally was.

I nodded and hurried after him. He walked fast and pissed off, and I fell about a step or two behind.

“I really am sorry, you know,” I said. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep there. We were just watching movies, and it got late. If I had known it would be like this, I would’ve made sure I was in my room.”

“You should’ve known, Wendy!” Finn exclaimed, exasperated. “You should know that your actions have consequences and the things you do matter!”

“I am sorry!” I repeated. “Yesterday was so boring and I just wanted to do something.”

Finn whirled on me suddenly, startling me so I took a step backward. My back hit the wall, but he stepped closer to me. He rested an arm against the wall on the side of me, his face only a few inches from mine. His dark eyes were blazing, but somehow his voice remained calm and even.

“You know how it looks when a girl spends the night alone with a boy. I know you understand that. But it is so much worse when a Princess spends the night alone with a mänsklig. It could put everything in jeopardy.”

“I-I don’t know what that means,” I fumbled. “None of you will tell me.”

Finn continued to glare at me for another painful minute, then sighed and took a step back. As he stood there, rubbing his eyes, I swallowed back tears and caught my breath.

When he looked back at me, his eyes had softened a bit, but he didn’t say anything. He just walked to his room and, uncertainly, I followed him.

His room was smaller than mine, but a much more comfortable size. Even though the blinds were shut, I could tell one of his walls was made entirely of glass. Dark blankets covered his bed, and books overflowed from several bookshelves. In one corner he had a small desk with a laptop on it.

Like me, he had an adjoining bathroom. When he went in it, he left the door open, and I heard the sound of him brushing his teeth. Tentatively, I sat on the edge of his bed and looked around.

“You must stay here a lot,” I commented. I knew that he stayed here on and off, but to have a room full of stuff implied a more permanent living situation.

“I live here when I’m not tracking,” Finn said.

“My mother is quite fond of you,” I said dimly.

“Not right now she’s not.” Finn turned off the water and came out, leaning on the doorframe to his bathroom. Sighing, he lowered his eyes. “I’m sorry for yelling at you.”

“It’s okay.” I shrugged. I still didn’t understand why he’d been that mad, but he had a point. I was a Princess now, and I had to start behaving like one.

“No, you didn’t deserve it.” He scratched his temple and shook his head. “My anger was misdirected. When you weren’t in your room this morning, I panicked. With everything going on with the Vittra . . .” He shook his head again.

“What’s going on with the Vittra?” I asked, my heart speeding up.

“It’s nothing to concern yourself with,” Finn said. “My point is that my emotions were high when I couldn’t find you, and I snapped at you. I apologize.”

“No, it’s my fault. You guys were right,” I said. Finn just stood there looking away from me, and then I realized something. “How did you even know I wasn’t in my room?”

“I checked on you.” Finn gave me a look like I was an idiot. “I check on you every morning.”

“You check on me when I’m sleeping?” I gaped at him. “Every morning?”

He nodded.

“I didn’t know that.”

“Why would you know that? You’re sleeping,” Finn pointed out.

“Well . . . it just feels weird.” I shook my head. Matt and Maggie used to check on me, but it felt strange knowing that Finn would come in and watch me sleep, even if it was only for a second.