“Sorry.” Duncan scrambled to pick it up as I approached. “I just wanted to give you alone time with your mother.”
“Thanks.” I continued down the hall, and he followed along. “Why were you waiting for me? Did you need something?”
“No. I’m your tracker now. Remember?” He looked embarrassed. “And the Vittra are really after you, so I’m on guard all the time.”
“Right.” I nodded. I’d been hoping that since Finn had saved my life—again—he’d be reinstated as my tracker. “Where’s Finn? I need to talk to him.”
“Finn?” Duncan’s steps faltered. “Um, he’s not your tracker anymore.”
“No, I know that. And it’s not a condemnation of your ability.” I forced a smile. “I wanted to talk to Finn for a minute.”
“No, yeah.” He shook his head. “It’s just that…” Unsure why he was so flustered, I stopped walking. “I mean, he’s not your tracker. So … he left.”
“He left?” I felt that familiar pang shoot through my heart.
I shouldn’t be surprised, and I shouldn’t let it hurt me anymore. But the wound sprang open fresh, just like when he’d left before.
“Yeah.” Duncan stared at his feet and fiddled with the zipper on his jacket. “You’re safe and everything. His job’s done, right?”
“Right,” I said numbly.
I could’ve asked where Finn had gone, and maybe I should’ve. He couldn’t have gotten too far that fast. I was sure Finn would say he left to protect me, or protect my honor, or something like that. But I didn’t care.
Right then, it didn’t matter what his reasons were. All I knew was that I was sick of him breaking my heart.
Tove couldn’t fix Rhys because that wasn’t how his abilities worked. When I went upstairs after my talk with Elora, I had to send Rhys down for her to fix him. I could’ve gone with him, but I figured Elora had had her fill of me for the day.
Tove went to his house to get some rest, and I thanked him for everything he’d done. Without him, I’m not entirely sure we could’ve gotten out. Even though Oren’s security was lax, it was Tove who had gotten in and kept the trolls at bay.
Rhys had started getting Matt settled in one of the spare rooms down the hall from mine. I went to see how he was doing, and Duncan seemed far too content to follow at my heels. It took a lot of convincing, but I managed to get him to wait outside. Duncan didn’t trust Matt because he was human, but if he was going to be my tracker, he had to learn to deal with it.
Matt stood in the middle of the room looking lost, and he’d never been the kind of guy who got lost. He’d changed into a pair of sweatpants that fit okay, but his T-shirt was snug, so I assumed he’d borrowed them from Rhys.
“How are you doing with all of this?” I asked, closing the bedroom door quietly as I came in. I knew Duncan was keeping his post outside, and I didn’t want him listening. Not that I planned on saying anything secret. I just wanted a moment alone with my brother.
“Um … great?” He gave me a sad smile and shook his head. “I don’t know. How am I supposed to be doing?”
“About like this.”
“None of this seems real, you know?” Matt sat down on the bed and sighed. “I keep thinking I’ll wake up and this will all be a very strange dream.”
“I know the feeling exactly.” I remembered how confusing and scary everything had seemed when I first got here. It still seemed that way most of the time.
“How long am I staying here?” Matt asked.
“I don’t know. I hadn’t really thought about it.” I came over and sat on the bed next to him. Honestly, I wanted him to stay here forever, but that’d be selfish. “I guess until this all blows over. When the Vittra stop being a threat.”
“Why are they coming after you?”
“It’s a very long story, and I’ll tell you later.” I wanted to tell him, but I didn’t have the strength for a lengthy explanation. At least not right now.
“But they will stop, won’t they?” Matt asked, and I nodded as if I actually believed it.
“Until then, I want you to stay here. I need to know you’re safe,” I said. I wasn’t sure how Elora would feel about that, but I didn’t care.
“Yeah, I know the feeling,” he said with an edge to his voice, and guilt tightened my heart.
“I’m really sorry, Matt.”
“You could’ve told me about all of this.”
“You wouldn’t have believed any of it.”
“Wendy. This is me, okay?” He turned to face me, and I finally looked at him. “Yeah, this is really hard to believe, and I know that if I hadn’t seen it for myself, I’d find it even harder. But I’ve always been on your side. You should’ve trusted me.”
“I know. I’m sorry.” I lowered my eyes. “But I’m glad you’re here and that I’m telling you stuff now. It was hard for me, keeping things from you. I don’t wanna do it again.”
“But you should call Maggie,” I said. “She needs to know where we are, and she can’t go home. Not now. I don’t know if they would take her to get at me.”
“Are you safe here?” Matt asked. “Like, really safe?”
“Yeah, of course I am.” I said it with more conviction than I really had. “Duncan’s outside standing guard right now.”
“That kid’s an idiot,” Matt said seriously, and I laughed.
“No, we’re safe. Don’t worry,” I assured him as I stood up. “But you should call Maggie, and I should shower and put on my own clothes.”
“What should I tell her?”
“I don’t know.” I shook my head. “Just make sure she doesn’t go home.”
I promised Matt I’d see him later and explain more to him then, but now I needed a moment to decompress. Duncan tried to follow me down the hall into my room, but I wouldn’t let him in.
It wasn’t until I was in the shower, with the sound of the water drowning me out, that I let myself cry. I don’t even really know why I was crying. Part of it had to do with Finn, leaving me that way again, but mostly it was because it was all just too much.
After I got dressed, I felt better. Everything had turned out all right, as in we all survived with only minor injuries. On top of that, I got to have Matt around again. I didn’t know for how long, but at least he knew the truth now.