“Don’t be ridiculous.” Matt rubbed his forehead. “I want to know what’s happening. I feel like I’m in a bad dream.”
“It gets easier,” I said and turned to Rhys. “What the hell was that hobgoblin thing that came in? Was that an actual troll?”
“I don’t know.” Rhys shook his head, looking just as bewildered as I felt. “I’ve never seen one before, but everyone goes out of their way to make sure mänks don’t know anything.”
“I didn’t think there were real trolls.” I furrowed my brow, trying to remember what Finn had told me about trolls before. “I thought they were just myths.”
“Really?” Matt asked. “After everything that’s happened? So you pick and choose what mythology you believe in?”
“I’m not picking and choosing anything.” I got to my feet. I still felt sore all over, but it was light-years better than I’d felt when I woke up. “I believe what I can see. I hadn’t seen this before. That’s all.”
“Are you okay?” Matt watched me as I hobbled around the room. “Maybe you should take it easy.”
“No, I’m fine.” I brushed him off. I wanted to get my bearings in the space, maybe see if there was a way that we could get out. “How did we get here anyway?”
“They broke into the house and attacked us.” Matt gestured to the door, referring to Loki and the Vittra. “That guy knocked us out somehow, and we woke up here. We hadn’t been awake very long before you woke up.”
“Lovely.” I pressed my palms against the door, pushing on it as if I thought it would open. It didn’t, but I had to try.
“Hey, where’s Finn?” Rhys asked, echoing thoughts I was starting to have. “Why didn’t he stop this?”
“What does Finn have to do with this?” Matt asked with an edge to his voice.
“Nothing. He used to be my tracker. It’s sorta like a bodyguard.” I took a step back, staring at the door and willing it to open. “He tried to protect me from all of this.”
“That’s why you ran away with him?” Matt asked. “He was protecting you?”
I sighed. “Something like that.”
“Where is he?” Rhys repeated. “I thought he was with you when the Vittra came.”
Matt started yelling about Finn being in my room, but I ignored him. I didn’t have the energy to fight with Matt about propriety or his feelings for Finn.
“Finn left before they broke in,” I said, once Matt had finished his tirade. “I don’t know where he’s at.”
I wouldn’t admit it, but I was surprised that Finn hadn’t protected me. Maybe he had really left. I thought it had all been a bluff, but if it was, Finn would’ve been there when we were attacked.
Unless something bad had happened to him. The Vittra could have gotten to him before they came after me. He cared too much for duty, even if he didn’t care enough for me. The only way he wouldn’t keep me safe was if he couldn’t.
“Wendy?” Rhys asked.
I think he’d been talking before that, but I hadn’t heard anything he’d said. I’d been too busy thinking of Finn and staring at the door.
“We have to get out of here,” I said and turned to Rhys and Matt.
Matt sighed. “Obviously.”
“I have an idea.” I bit my lip. “But it’s not a great one. When they come back, I can use my persuasion. I can convince them to let us go.”
“Do you really think it’s strong enough?” Rhys voiced the concern I’d had myself.
So far, I’d only used persuasion on unsuspecting humans, like Matt and Rhys, and Finn had told me that without training, my abilities weren’t as strong as they could be. I hadn’t begun my training yet in Förening, so I had no clue how powerful or weak I might be.
“I really don’t know,” I admitted.
“Persuasion?” Matt raised an eyebrow and looked at Rhys. “Is that the thing you were telling me about? That mind thing she can supposedly do?” Rhys nodded, and Matt rolled his eyes.
“It’s not supposedly.” I bristled at his skepticism. “I can do it. I’ve done it to you before.”
“When?” Matt asked dubiously.
“How do you think I got you to take me to see Kim?” I asked, referring to when he’d taken me to see his mother, my “host” mother, in the institution.
He hated her and didn’t want me to have anything to do with her. I’d used persuasion on him, even though I’d felt guilty about it, but it was the only way I could talk to her.
“You did that?” The shock and hurt in his eyes was instantly replaced by anger. He looked like he’d been slapped in the face. I lowered my eyes and turned away. “You tricked me? How could you do that, Wendy? You always say you never lie to me, then you go and do something like that!”
“It wasn’t a lie,” I said sheepishly.
“No, it’s worse!” Matt shook his head and stepped away from me, as if he couldn’t stand to be near me. “I can’t believe you did that. How often did you do that?”
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “For a long time, I didn’t know I was doing it. But once I figured it out, I tried not to do it at all. I don’t like doing it, especially to you. It’s not fair, and I know it.”
“Damn right it’s not fair!” Matt snapped. “It’s cruel and manipulative!”
“I’m really sorry.” I met his eyes, and the hurt in them stung painfully. “I promise I won’t ever do it again, not to you.”
“I hate to break up this moment, but we need to figure a way out of here,” Rhys interrupted. “So what is the plan?”
“We call someone,” I said, happy for the reprieve from thinking about how much Matt must hate me.
“What do you mean, ‘call someone’? Do you have your cell phone?” Rhys asked excitedly.
“No, I mean, summon someone. The way Matt did before.” I pointed to the door behind me. “Knock on the door, say we’re hungry or cold or dead or whatever. When they come, I can use my persuasion on them to get them to let us out.”
“You think that will really work?” Matt asked, but the disbelief had dropped from his voice. He was only asking my opinion now.
“Maybe.” I looked at Rhys. “But I have a favor to ask. Can I practice on you?”