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“That’s true,” I said, pushing a dark curl off my forehead. “But at my house, when you came to get me. I thought you knew.”

When I’d first met him, he’d said something. I couldn’t remember exactly what it was, but he’d implied he knew what had happened between Finn and me. Or at the very least, he’d known why Finn had been dismissed, which was because of the way Finn felt about me.

Although I wasn’t so sure about Finn’s feelings anymore. I doubted they were real now, if they had ever been. We had lain in this very bed, kissing and holding each other. I’d wanted to do more, but Finn had stopped things, saying he didn’t want to disturb me. But maybe he’d never really wanted me at all.

If he had, he wouldn’t have just left that way. He couldn’t have.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Duncan shook his head. “I don’t think I ever understood why you left.”

“I must’ve imagined it, then.” I rolled onto my back so I could stare up at the ceiling. Before he could ask me more about it, I changed the subject. “What happened to you guys anyway?”

“When?” He’d moved on from the CDs to perusing the small book collection I had.

They weren’t terrible, but they’d all been Rhys’s and Rhiannon’s choices, so they weren’t really my tastes. Other than a book by Jerry Spinelli, there was nothing I would have picked out for myself.

“Back at my house. You guys left, and the Vittra kidnapped me. What’d you do? Where’d you go?”

“We didn’t get very far. Finn planned on sticking around. He thought you’d come around eventually.” Duncan picked up a book and absently flipped through it. “But we only made it a block away, and they jumped us. This guy with scraggly blondish hair, he just looked at us, and we were out.”

“Loki,” I said with a sigh.

“Who?” Duncan asked, and I shook my head.

The Vittra must have been watching, waiting for the opportunity to surprise Finn and Duncan. They snuck up on them, and Loki took care of them. Finn was lucky that they’d only knocked him out. Kyra seemed way too keen on destroying me.

She must’ve been sent ahead to get me, leaving Loki behind to neutralize Finn and Duncan. Loki hadn’t seemed that big into violence. In fact, if he hadn’t intervened, Kyra might’ve actually killed me.

“Wait.” Duncan narrowed his eyes at me, as if figuring something out. “Did you think we left you there?”

“I didn’t know what to think,” I said. “You just left, and I hadn’t expected you to. I didn’t want to go with you, but you left without much of a fight. I thought maybe—”

“Is that why you’ve been so mopey?”

“I have not been mopey!” I had been a little depressed since I’d gotten back. Well, since before then, really, but I didn’t think I’d been mopey.

“No, you have,” he assured me with a smile. “There’s no way we’d leave you that way. You were an easy target. Finn would never let anything happen to you.” He’d turned to my stuff and picked up my iPod. “I mean, he can’t even leave you now, and you’re completely safe here.”

“What?” My heart raced in my chest. “What are you talking about?”

“What?” Duncan belatedly realized he’d said too much, and his skin paled. “Nothing.”

“No, Duncan, what do you mean?” I sat up, knowing I should at least pretend not to care so much, but I couldn’t help it. “Finn’s here? You mean like here here?”

“I shouldn’t say anything.” He shifted uneasily.

“You have to tell me,” I insisted, scooting to the edge of the bed.

“No, Finn would kill me if he knew I said anything.” Duncan stared down at his feet and fiddled with a broken belt loop. “I’m sorry.”

“He told you not to tell me he’s here?” I asked, once again feeling a painful stab in my heart.

“He’s not here, like in the palace.” He groaned and looked sheepishly at me. “If I get mixed up in whatever sordid thing it is you have with him, I’ll never get a job again. Please, Princess. Don’t make me tell you.”

It wasn’t until the words were out of his mouth that I realized I could make him tell me. While my persuasion might not be strong enough for the likes of Tove and Loki, I’d been practicing on Duncan. He was easily susceptible to my charms.

“Where is he, Duncan?” I demanded, looking directly at him.

I didn’t even have to chant it in my head. As soon as I’d said it, his jaw sagged and his eyes glassed over. His mind was awfully pliable, and I felt bad. Later on, I’d have to make this up to him somehow.

“He’s in Förening, at his parents’ house,” Duncan said, blinking hard at me.

“His parents?”

“Yeah, they live down the road.” He pointed south. “Follow the main road towards the gate, then take the third left on a gravel road. Go down the side of the bluff a little ways, and they live in a cottage. It’s the one with goats.”

“Goats?” I asked, wondering if Duncan was pulling my leg.

“His mother raises a few angora goats. She makes sweaters and scarves from the mohair and sells them.” He shook his head. “I’ve said way too much. I’m gonna be in so much trouble.”