He hadn’t been peeping intentionally; he’d been trying to get my attention so I could let him into my room. So that was slightly less creepy, I supposed.
For some reason, I got up and went over to the window. I caught sight of myself in my mirror, and I did not look good. My pajamas were of the sad, comfy variety. My hair was a total mess, and my eyes were red and puffy.
I knew I shouldn’t let Finn in my room. He was probably a sociopath and he didn’t make me feel good about myself. Besides, Matt would kill us both if he caught him in here.
So I stood in front of the window, my arms crossed, and glared at him. I was pissed off and hurt, and I wanted him to know it. Normally I prided myself on not getting hurt, let alone telling people they had hurt me. But this time I thought it would be better if he knew that he was a dick.
“I’m sorry!” Finn said loud enough so his voice would carry through the glass, and his eyes echoed the sentiment. He looked genuinely remorseful, but I wasn’t ready to accept his apology yet. Maybe I never would.
“What do you want?” I demanded as loudly as I could without Matt hearing me.
“To apologize. And to talk to you.” Finn looked earnestly at me. “It’s important.”
I chewed my lip, torn between what I knew I should do and what I really wanted to do.
“Please,” he said.
Against my better judgment, I opened the window. I left the screen in place and took a step back so I was sitting on the end of my bed. Finn pulled the screen out easily, and I wondered how much experience he had sneaking in girls’ windows.
Carefully, he climbed into my room, shutting the window behind him. He glanced over my room, making me feel self-conscious. It was rather messy, with clothes and books strewn about, but most of my stuff sat in two large cardboard boxes and a trunk on one side of my room.
“So what do you want?” I said, trying to drag his attention back to me and away from my things.
“I’m sorry,” Finn repeated, with that same sincerity he had demonstrated outside. “Tonight I was cruel.” He looked away thoughtfully before continuing. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“So why did you?” I asked sharply.
Licking his lips, he shifted his feet and exhaled deeply. He had intentionally been mean to me. It wasn’t some accident because he was cocky or unaware of how he treated people. Everything he did was meticulous and purposeful.
“I don’t want to lie to you, and I promise you that I haven’t,” Finn answered carefully. “And I’ll leave it at that.”
“I think I have a right to know what’s going on,” I snapped and then remembered that Matt and Maggie were sleeping down the hall and hastily lowered my voice. “And what you’re doing at my window in the middle of the night.”
“I came here to tell you,” Finn assured me. “To explain everything. This isn’t the way we normally do things, so I had to make a phone call before I came to see you. I was trying to figure things out. That’s why it’s so late. I’m sorry.”
“Call who? Figure out what?” I took a step back.
“It’s about what you did tonight, with Patrick,” Finn said gently, and the pit in my stomach grew.
“I didn’t do anything with Patrick.” I shook my head. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You really don’t?” Finn eyed me suspiciously, unable to decide if he believed me or not.
“I—I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I stammered. A chill ran over me and I started feeling vaguely nauseous.
“Yeah, you do.” Finn nodded solemnly. “You just don’t know what it is.”
“I’m just very . . . convincing,” I said without any real confidence. I didn’t want to keep denying it, but talking about it, giving credibility to my own private insanity, scared me even more.
“Yeah, you are,” Finn admitted. “But you can’t do that again. Not like you did tonight.”
“I didn’t do anything! And even if I did, who are you to try and stop me?” Something else flashed in my mind, and I looked at him. “Can you even stop me?”
“You can’t use it on me now.” Finn shook his head absently. “It’s really not that major, especially the way you’re using it.”
“What is it?” I asked quietly, finding it hard to make my mouth work. I let go of any pretense I had that I didn’t know what was going on, and my shoulders sagged.
“It’s called persuasion,” Finn said emphatically, as if that were somehow much different from what I had been saying. “Technically, it would be called psychokinesis. It’s a form of mind control.”
I found it disturbing how matter-of-factly he talked about all of this, as if we were talking about biology homework instead of the possibility that I possessed some kind of paranormal ability.
“How do you know?” I asked. “How do you know what I have? How did you even know I was doing it?”
He shrugged. “Experience.”
“What does that mean?”
“It’s complicated.” He rubbed the back of his head and stared at the floor. “You’re not going to believe me. But I haven’t lied to you, and I never will. Do you believe that, at least?”
“I think so,” I replied tentatively. Considering we’d only spoken a handful of times, he hadn’t had much of an opportunity to lie to me.
“That’s a start.” Finn took a deep breath, and I nervously pulled at a strand of my hair as I watched him. Almost sheepishly, he said, “You’re a changeling.” He looked expectantly at me, waiting for some kind of dramatic reaction.
“I don’t even know what that is. Isn’t it like a movie with Angelina Jolie or something?” I shook my head. “I don’t know what it means.”
“You don’t know what it is?” Finn smirked. “Of course you don’t know what it is. That would make it all too easy if you had even the slightest inkling about what is going on.”
“It would, wouldn’t it?” I agreed.
“A changeling is a child that has been secretly exchanged for another.”
The room got this weird, foggy quality to it. My mind flashed to my mother, and the things she had screamed at me. I had always felt I didn’t belong, but at the same time I’d never consciously believed it was true.
But now, suddenly, Finn confirmed all the suspicions I had been harboring. All the horrible things my mother had told me were true.