Page 27

“No,” Duncan admitted, and if my question shamed him, he didn’t show it. He just played with his bottle cap. “But I’m pretty close. My appearance is deceiving, but that’s part of why I’m good. People underestimate me.”

Something about the way he said that made me flash on to Scream. Maybe Duncan had a bit of that clumsy, unassuming boyish charm.

“Did anybody ever tell you that you remind them of Deputy Dewey from the Scream movies?” I asked.

“You mean David Arquette?” Duncan asked. “But I’m better-looking, right?”

I nodded. “Oh, yeah, definitely.” I could never see myself being attracted to him, but he was kinda foxy. In his own way.

Rhys swore as a flapjack landed on the floor with a splat. Matt patiently tried to explain what he’d done wrong and how to correct it, using the same tone of voice he’d used to teach me how to tie my shoes, ride a bike, and drive a car. It was so strange seeing him be the older brother to somebody else.

“Wendy!” Willa shouted from behind me, and I’d barely turned around when she came running over. She threw her arms around me, shocking me with a fierce hug. “I’m so glad you’re all right!”

“Um, thanks,” I said, untangling myself from her hug.

Willa Strom was a few years older than me, and the only Trylle other than Finn who actually called me “Wendy” instead of “Princess,” so I guess that made us friends. Her father, Garrett, was Elora’s only friend, and Willa had been insanely helpful and kind after Finn left the first time. Without her, the christening ceremony would’ve been a disaster even before the Vittra broke in.

“My dad was telling me that the Vittra had kidnapped you, and nobody knew for sure what was going on.” Willa could be snobby, but the concern on her face was sincere. “I rushed over here as soon as I heard you were back. I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Yeah, me too,” I said, but I wasn’t sure if that was true or not.

“Duncan?” Willa looked at him, as if noticing he was here for the first time. “You’ve got to be kidding me. There is no way Elora would let you be her tracker.”

“See? Underrated.” Duncan smiled. He seemed to take some pride in it, so I let him have it.

“Oh, my god. I’m gonna talk to my dad.” Willa shook her head, tucking her perfectly tamed light-brown waves of hair behind her ears. “There’s no way he can do this.”

“It’s fine. I’m fine.” I shrugged. “I’m in the palace. What can happen here?”

Willa gave me a knowing look, but thankfully, before she could say something, Matt announced breakfast was done. When I had been regaling him with the tales of being Trylle, I had conveniently left out the part about the Vittra busting in here and Oren being my father. I thought it would freak him out too much.

“Are you gonna eat some too?” Matt asked Willa. He dished up the flapjacks, and, polite as ever, he included her. “We’ve got plenty to go around.”

“Are those blueberry?” Willa wrinkled her nose, looking totally disgusted by the prospect of eating them. “Eww. No way.”

“They’re really good.” Matt slid a plate toward her.

For reasons I didn’t completely understand, there were few foods we actually enjoyed. We mostly ate fresh fruits and vegetables. I didn’t like juice of any kind, although I did like some wine. Pancakes were made with processed flour and sugar, so they were never that appealing, although I had been eating them for years to appease Matt.

“You’re not gonna eat those, are you?” Willa was completely aghast as I picked up my fork and prepared to dig in.

Matt had given Duncan a plate too. I’m sure the pancakes sounded as appealing to him as they did to Willa and me, but Duncan followed suit and picked up his fork.

“They’re pretty good,” I said.

I had been assured by many people over the years that they were really good, although I’m not sure how anyone could taste them after they drowned them in syrup the way Matt and Rhys were doing. Duncan and I declined syrup. There was no way we could ever force them down like that.

“I’ve cooked for Wendy for years,” Matt said, unfazed by Willa’s reaction. “I know how to make food that she likes.”

In general, he had gotten pretty good at it, but there were a lot of times when I ate things just to make him happy. And also, I’d starve if I didn’t.

“Oh, yeah, right,” Willa scoffed. “Like I’m gonna trust a mänks in sweats and a baby tee to make me pancakes.”

“Willa,” I said. “He’s my brother, okay? So lay off.”

“What?” She tilted her head, not fathoming what I meant. “Oh. You mean he’s your host brother?”

“Yeah.” I took a big forkful of the pancake and shoved it in my mouth.

“You know he’s not your real—”

“Willa!” I snapped with a mouthful of food, and I choked it down. “I understand the semantics. Now drop it.”

“I can understand how that dweeb Duncan can eat that.” Willa smoothed out her designer outfit, trying not to look offended that I’d snapped at her. “But you’re a Princess. He’s too stupid to—”

“Hey!” Matt said. He had been sitting next to Duncan, eating, but he stopped and glared at her. “I get it. You’re fancy and pretty and rich. Good for you. But unless you wanna go over there and make us all breakfast, then I suggest you quit your bitching and sit down.”