Switched / Page 60

Page 60


Finn was wrenched from my fingertips, and I screamed his name. They both went flying through the glass out onto the balcony, sending shards flying everywhere. I was barefoot, but I ran forward without regard.

Jen managed to land a few good blows, but Finn was much quicker and seemed to be stronger. When Finn hit him, Jen staggered back several feet.

“You’ve been working out.” Jen wiped fresh blood from his chin.

“You could give up now, and I wouldn’t think any less of you,” Finn said.

“Nice try.” Jen lunged forward, kicking Finn in the stomach, but Finn held his own.

I grabbed a giant shard of glass from off the balcony and moved around them, trying to find an opening to attack. I managed to slice open a finger, but I barely noticed. Jen knocked Finn to the balcony floor. He pounced on top of him and started hitting him in the face. Using all my might, I stabbed the glass into his back.

“Ow!” Jen shouted, but he sounded more irritated than wounded.

I stood behind him, panting. That was not the reaction I had expected and I didn’t know what to do.

Jen whirled around, smacking me so hard across the face that I went flying to the edge of the balcony. I only had a moment to notice the dizzying drop below as my head hung over the edge, and then I was scrambling to my feet and gripping the railing.

Finn had already regained his feet and knocked Jen back down. Kicking him as hard as he could, Finn growled through gritted teeth, “Don’t. Ever. Touch. Her. Again.”

When Finn tried to kick him again, Jen grabbed his foot and yanked him back to the floor. I heard the sound of Finn’s head cracking against the heavy concrete of the balcony. He withstood the blow, but it stunned him long enough for Jen to bend over and wrap his hands around Finn’s throat. He lifted Finn off the floor by his neck.

I jumped on Jen’s back, which wasn’t as smart as I’d thought it would be, because Jen had the giant shard of glass sticking out of him. The glass cut through my dress and my side without actually impaling me. It was enough to make me bleed and hurt, but not enough to kill.

“Get off!” Jen growled, then jerked his arm back, elbowing me hard in the stomach and knocking me off him.

I landed on my feet but Jen already had Finn pressed back over the railing. The top half of Finn’s body dangled over the edge, and if Jen let go, Finn would plummet to his death hundreds of feet below.

For a moment I couldn’t breathe or move. All I could see was the painting of me. The broken shards of glass glinting in the moonlight. My beautiful dress, which appeared stark white by the light of the moon, with the slit of blood in the side. The vast darkness that went on beyond the balcony, and the horrified look on my face as I reached for it.

“Stop!” I pleaded, tears streaming down my face. “I’ll go with you! Please! Just let go of him! Please!”

Jen laughed. “I hate to break it to you, Princess, but you’re going with me either way!”

“Not if I can help . . .” Finn barely managed to speak through Jen’s hand clamped on his throat.

Finn kicked his leg up, planting it squarely between Jen’s legs, and Jen groaned but didn’t loosen his grip on Finn. Keeping his leg there, Finn started tilting backward. Jen realized what he was doing, but Finn had reached forward and grabbed Jen’s jacket.

He had changed the weight ratio, and in a moment that felt oddly slow-motion, Finn went backward over the railing, pulling Jen with him.

“No!” I screamed and lunged toward them. I landed on my belly, sliding across the balcony with my hand outstretched, grabbing at empty air.

TWENTY-THREE


aftermath

As soon as I reached the railing, Finn floated up, coughing hoarsely. I gaped at him, too shocked to believe he was real. He drifted over the top of the railing, then dropped heavily onto the balcony.

Lying on his back, he coughed again, and I rushed to his side, kneeling next to him. I touched his face, checking to make sure he was real, and his skin felt soft and warm under my hands.

“That was quite the gamble,” Tove remarked from behind me, and I turned to look at him.

Tove had lost his blazer, and his white shirt looked slightly burned and bloody. Other than that, he didn’t look that bad as he took a step toward us.

“Nah, you always come through,” Finn said. And I realized that when Finn had gone over the balcony, Tove had used his power to catch him and lift him back up, setting him down safely.

I went back to staring down at Finn, unable to believe that he was alive and here with me again. My hand was on his chest, above his heart, so I could feel it pounding. He placed his hand over mine, holding it gently, but he looked past me at Tove.

“What’s going on in there?” Finn asked Tove and nodded to the house.

“They’re retreating.” Tove stood over us. “A lot of people were hurt, but Aurora is working on them. My father broke a few ribs, but he’ll live. Unfortunately, that’s more than I can say for some of the Trylle.”

“Did we lose a lot of people?” Finn asked, his expression grim.

“I can’t say yet for sure, but we lost a few.” Tove grimaced. “But we could’ve avoided that completely if the Markis and Marksinna would learn to fight. They leave all of their protection in the hands of the trackers, but if the royalty would just get their hands dirty, they could’ve . . .” He shook his head. “Nobody needed to die today.”

Finn pressed his lips together grimly, then looked at me. “What happened? Are you hurt?” His hand went to my side, where I bled all over my dress. I winced under his touch but shook my head.

“It’s nothing. I’m fine.”

“Have my mother look at it. She’ll patch you both up,” Tove said. When I gave him a confused look, he went on, “Aurora’s a healer. She can touch you and fix you. That’s her ability.”

“Come on.” Finn gave me a shaky smile and slowly sat up.

He tried to act like he was perfectly fine, but he had taken quite a beating and there was hesitation in his movements. Tove helped him to his feet, then took my hand and pulled me up.

I wrapped my arm around Finn’s waist, and Finn put his arm around my shoulders, reluctantly putting some of his weight on me. We walked carefully through the broken glass back into the house, and Tove gave more details about the attack.

Other than the trackers who had been guarding, most of the Trylle had played defenseless, myself included. The Vittra might not have as many abilities, but they had mastered physical combat much better than the Trylle.


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