His room was a masculine version of mine, which made sense since he had decorated my room. A huge overstuffed couch sat in front of his TV, the one big difference between our rooms. We ended up watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy because Rhys insisted it was much funnier once I’d spent time with actual trolls.
Rhys sat between us on the couch. When the first movie started, he was directly in the middle, but somewhere around three or four hours into the marathon I noticed he’d moved closer to me, not that I minded.
He talked and joked a lot with Rhiannon, and they had a way of making me feel comfortable. After spending the weekend failing to be the perfect little Princess Elora wanted me to be, it felt good to just relax and laugh.
Rhiannon left right after the third movie started, saying she had to get up early in the morning. Even after she’d gone, Rhys didn’t move away from me. He sat so close to me on the couch that his leg pressed against mine.
I thought about moving away, but I didn’t really have any reason to. The movie was fun, he was foxy, and I enjoyed being with him. It wasn’t too long before his arm “casually” went around my shoulders, and I almost laughed.
He didn’t make my heart race, not the way Finn did, but his arm felt nice. Rhys made me feel normal in a way that I never had before, and I couldn’t help but like him for it. Eventually I leaned in to him and rested my head on his shoulder.
What I didn’t realize was that watching all three extended-edition versions of Lord of the Rings in one sitting ends up being over eleven hours of movie viewing. At one in the afternoon on a boring Sunday, that sounded genius. But by the time midnight rolled around, it became a war on sleep, and I eventually lost.
In the morning, while I slept soundly on the couch in Rhys’s room, I had no idea that a commotion was going on in the house. I would’ve been happy to sleep through it too, but Finn threw open the door in a panic, jolting me awake.
“Oh, my gosh!” I shouted, jumping up off the couch. Finn had scared the hell out of me, and my heart pounded in my chest. “What’s going on? Is everything okay?”
Instead of answering, Finn just stood there glaring at me. Behind me, Rhys was waking up much more slowly. Apparently, Finn hadn’t terrified him the way he had me.
I glanced back at Rhys, who was dressed in a T-shirt and sweats that somehow managed to look good on him, and it dawned on me how this must have looked to Finn when he first burst in.
I still wore my lazy-day comfy clothes, but Rhys and I had been curled up together. And even if Finn hadn’t noticed that detail, there was no denying that I’d spent the night in here. My mind scrambled to think of an excuse, but at that moment even the innocent truth escaped me.
“She’s in here!” Finn called out flatly.
Rhys groaned, so I knew things weren’t good. He looked completely alert now, and he stood sheepishly next to me. I wanted to ask what was going on and why Finn looked so pissed off, but Elora didn’t give me a chance.
She appeared in the doorway, her emerald robe flaring out behind her in a dramatic billow, and her hair hung down her back in a thick braid. She stood behind Finn, but she somehow managed to eclipse everything else.
Several times before I had thought she looked unhappy, but that was nothing compared to the severe expression she had on now. She scowled so deep it looked painful, and her eyes were filled with fury.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Elora’s voice echoed painfully inside my head, and she had added some of her psychic voice to make it more intense.
“Sorry,” I said. “We were just watching movies and fell asleep.”
“It was my fault,” Rhys added. “I put the—”
“I don’t care what you were doing! Do you have any idea how inappropriate this behavior is?” Her eyes narrowed on Rhys, and he shrank back even more. “Rhys, you know this was completely unacceptable.” She rubbed her temples as if this were giving her another headache, and Finn looked at her with concern. “I don’t even want to deal with you. Get ready for school, and stay out of my sight!”
“Yes, ma’am.” Rhys nodded. “Sorry.”
“As for you—” Elora pointed a finger at me but couldn’t find the words to finish. She just looked so disappointed and disgusted with me. “I don’t care how you were raised before you came here. You still know what kind of behavior is ladylike and what isn’t.”
“I wasn’t—” I began, but she held up her hand to silence me.
“But to be honest, Finn, you disappoint me the most.” She had stopped yelling, and when she looked at Finn, she just sounded tired. He lowered his eyes in shame, and she shook her head. “I can’t believe you allowed this to happen. You know you need to keep your eyes on her at all times.”
“I know. I won’t let it happen again.” Finn bowed apologetically to her.
“You most certainly won’t. Now fix this mess by educating her in the ways of the Trylle. In the meantime, I do not want to see any of you for the rest of the day.” She held her hands up, like she was done with the lot of us, and then shook her head and left the room.
“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.