Switched / Page 24

Page 24


“So . . . did you do this?” I gestured to my high-tech room.

“No. Rhys decorated it.” Finn didn’t look that interested in any of the expensive gear I had lying about, so that made sense. “The clothes were all Willa, I believe. You’ll meet her later on.”

“Rhys isn’t my brother?” I asked again. I couldn’t figure out how he fit into all of this. We had only met briefly, but he seemed nice and normal.

“No. He’s mänsklig,” Finn answered, as if I would understand.

“What does that mean?” I furrowed my brow at him.

“It means he’s not your brother,” Finn replied glibly and made a step toward the door. “Is there anything you need before I go?”

His abrupt decision to leave disappointed me, especially when I felt so isolated and confused, but I had no reason to keep him. Still hugging myself tightly, I shook my head and sat on the bed. Instead of leaving, Finn paused and looked back at me.

“Are you going to be all right with all of this?” Finn asked, eyeing me intently.

“I don’t know,” I admitted. “This wasn’t at all what I had expected.” It was far grander and far worse than anything I had envisioned. “I just . . . I feel like I’m in The Princess Diaries, if Julie Andrews had been a thief.”

“Mmm,” Finn murmured knowingly and walked back over to me. He sat on the bed and crossed his arms over his chest. “I know this way of life is a hard concept for some.”

“They’re grifters, Finn.” I swallowed hard. “That’s all they are. I’m just a means of swindling money out of rich people. Joke’s on her, though. My family’s not that rich.”

“I can assure you that you are much more than that to her, much more. Elora is a complicated woman, and showing emotion doesn’t come easy for her. But she is a good woman. Regardless of whether you have money or not, you will have a place here.”

“Do you know how much money they have? The Everlys?” I asked.

“Yes,” Finn said almost hesitantly. “Elora had me checking your finances while I tracked you.”

“How much?” I asked.

“Do you want to know your trust and what you stand to inherit, or your guardian and brother’s total wealth?” Finn’s face had gone expressionless. “Do you want net worth? Liquid assets? Are you including real estate, like the house they still own in the Hamptons? Dollar amount?”

“I don’t really care.” I shook my head. “I was just . . . Elora was convinced that we really did have a lot of money, and I was just curious. I didn’t even know I had a trust fund until today.”

“Yes. You really do have a lot of money,” Finn said. “More than even Elora had originally thought.” I nodded and looked at my feet. “You lived well below your means.”

“I think Maggie thought it would be better for me and Matt, and I never really cared that much about money.” I kept staring at my feet, and then finally I looked up at Finn. “They would give me anything. They would give me all of it if I asked. But I’m never taking any money from them, not for myself and certainly not for Elora. Make sure you tell her that when you go back to her.”

I had expected him to protest in some way, but Finn surprised me. His lips curled into the hint of a smile, and if anything, he looked almost proud of me.

“I will,” he promised, amusement tinging his voice. “But right now you should shower. You’ll feel better after.”

Finn helped me settle into my room. My closet was massive and overstocked, but he knew exactly where my new pajamas were. He taught me how to close the blinds for my windows, which were run by remote control, and how to turn on my overly complicated shower.

Once he left, I sat on the edge of the tub and tried not to let this all get to me. I was starting to think that Matt and Maggie might have been the only people who loved me for me, and now I was supposed to steal from them. Even if it wasn’t really stealing. I knew they would freely give me anything I asked for, and that only made it hurt worse.

NINE


homesick

When I came out of my shower, wrapped in a fluffy bathrobe, I was surprised to find Rhys sitting on my bed. He had my iPod, the one that had come with the room, and he was scrolling through it. I cleared my throat loudly, since he apparently hadn’t heard me exit the bathroom.

“Oh, hey!” Rhys set aside the iPod and got to his feet, grinning at me in a way that made his eyes sparkle. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt you. I just wanted to see how you were doing, how you liked it here.”

“I don’t know.” My hair had to be terrible mess, and I pulled a hand through the wet tangles. “It’s too soon to tell yet.”

“You like the stuff?” Rhys asked, gesturing around the room. “I picked out everything that I liked, which I know sounds kind of vain. I asked for some input from Rhiannon, because she’s a girl, but it’s still so hard to pick out stuff for someone you’ve never met.”

“No, it all looks really good. You did a great job.” I rubbed my eyes and yawned.

“Oh, sorry. You’re probably exhausted.” Rhys stood up. “I just got done with school, and I didn’t have a chance to talk to you earlier. But . . . yeah. I’ll leave you be.”

“Wait. You just got done with school?” I furrowed my brow, trying to understand. “Does that mean you’re a tracker?”

“No.” It was his turn to look confused. “I’m mänks.” When he saw the perplexed look on my face, he corrected himself. “Sorry. It’s just short for mänsklig.”

“What the hell does that mean?” I demanded. My low energy made it hard to conceal my exasperation.

“They’ll explain it to you later.” Rhys shrugged. “Anyway, I should let you freshen up. If I’m not in my room, I’ll be downstairs, getting some food.”

“Are you happy here?” I blurted out before I could think about how rude that sounded. His eyes met mine just for a second, revealing something intense I couldn’t quite decipher, but then he quickly dropped them.

“Why wouldn’t I be happy?” Rhys asked wryly. He ran his fingers along my silk sheets, staring at the bedspread intently. “I have everything a kid could want. Video games, cars, toys, money, clothes, servants . . .” He trailed off, but then a slow smile returned to his face and he looked up at me. “And now I have a Princess living across the hall from me. I’m ecstatic.”


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