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“I have to make sure you’re safe and sound. It’s part of my job.”

“You sound like a broken record sometimes,” I muttered wearily. “You’re always just doing your job.”

“What else do you want me to say?” Finn countered, looking at me evenly.

I just shook my head and looked away. My pants suddenly became very fascinating, and I picked lint off them. Finn kept looking at me, and I expected him to finish getting ready. When he didn’t, I decided that I had to fill the silence.

“What is a mänsklig?” I looked at Finn again, and he exhaled.

“The literal translation for mänsklig is ‘human.’” He tilted his head, resting it against the doorframe, and watched me. “Rhys is human.”

I shook my head. “I don’t understand. Why is he around?”

“Because of you,” Finn said, and that only confused me more. “You’re a changeling, Wendy. You were switched at birth. Meaning that when you took the place of another baby, that baby had to go somewhere else.”

“You mean . . .” I trailed off, but it was incredibly obvious once Finn said it. “Rhys is Michael!”

Suddenly my crush on him felt very weird. He wasn’t my blood brother, but he was my brother’s brother, even though Matt wasn’t really my brother either. It still felt . . . not right, somehow.

And really, I should’ve noticed sooner. I couldn’t believe I didn’t. Rhys and Matt looked so much alike—their sandy hair, blue eyes, even the way their faces were shaped. But Matt’s worry had hardened him, while Rhys was quick to smile and laugh.

Maybe that’s why I hadn’t noticed it. The complete contrast between their personalities had thrown me off.

“Michael?” Finn looked perplexed.

“Yeah, that’s what my mother—Kim, my fake mom—named him. She knew she had a son, and that’s Rhys.” My mind swirled. “But how . . . how did they do it? How did they switch us?”

“It’s relatively simple,” Finn explained, almost tiredly. “After Rhys was born, Elora induced labor with you, and using persuasion on the family and hospital staff, she switched you out for him.”

“It can’t be that simple. The persuasion didn’t really work on Kim,” I pointed out.

“We normally do same-sex exchanges, a girl for a girl, a boy for a boy, but Elora had her mind set on the Everlys. It doesn’t work as well when you do a boy-to-girl switch like that. Mothers are more likely to pick up on something being wrong, as was the case with your host mother.”

“Wait, wait!” I held up my hands and looked at him. “She knew it was more dangerous, that Kim would be more likely to snap? But she did it anyway?”

“Elora believed that the Everlys would be the best for you,” Finn maintained. “And she wasn’t completely wrong. Even you freely admit that the aunt and the brother were good to you.”

I had always kind of hated Kim. I thought she had been terrible and cruel like so many of my classmates, but she had known that I wasn’t her child. Kim had actually been an insanely good mother. She had remembered her son, even when she shouldn’t have been able to, and she refused to give up on him. The whole thing was tragic, when I thought about it.

“So that’s why they don’t want me with the mänsklig? ’Cause he’s like a stepbrother?” I wrinkled my nose at the thought.

“He’s not your brother,” Finn emphasized. “Trylle and mänsklig have absolutely no relation. The problem is that they’re human.”

“Are we, like . . . physically incompatible?” I asked carefully.

“No. Many Trylle have left the compound to live with humans and have normal offspring,” Finn said. “That’s part of the reason our populations are going down.”

“What happens to Rhys now that I’m back?” I asked, ignoring the clinical way Finn addressed everything. He was nothing if not professional.

“Nothing. He can live here for as long as he wants. Leave if he decides to. Whatever he chooses.” Finn shrugged. “Mänsklig aren’t treated badly here. For example, Rhiannon is Willa’s mänsklig.”

“That makes sense.” I nodded. Rhiannon seemed so skittish and nervous, but also rather normal, unlike everyone else. “So . . . what do they do with mänsklig?”

“They aren’t exactly raised as real children, but they are given everything to keep them happy and content,” Finn said. “We have schools set up for the mänsklig, and while they aren’t as nice as the schools you’ve gone to, the mänks do get an education. They even have a small trust fund set up for them. When they’re eighteen, they’re free to do as they please.”

“But they’re not equals,” I realized. Elora tended to talk down to everyone, but she was worse with Rhys and Rhiannon. I couldn’t imagine that Willa was much nicer either.

“This is a monarchy. There are no equals.” For an instant Finn looked almost sad, then he walked over and sat on the bed next to me. “As your tracker, I am expected to educate you, and as Elora pointed out, I should’ve started sooner. You need to understand the distinct hierarchy here.

“There is royalty, of which you are at the top.” Finn gestured to me. “After Elora, of course. Below you there are the Markis and Marksinna, but they can become Kings and Queens through marriage. Then there are your average Trylle, the common folk, if you will. Below that there are trackers. And at the very bottom, there are mänsklig.”