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Chapter 49

“I’m not going to get my revenge on you now,” Marlee said, grinning, “but I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’m going to do when I get around to getting you back.”

“How nice,” I said dryly. “Why don’t you continue telling me the story about Mitch so that I don’t accidentally die before you get around to performing your idea on me.”

Marlee sighed. “Fine. Where did I leave off?”

“Uh…” I tried to remember, then shrugged. I had too much information in my brain. “Just start wherever.”

Marlee rolled her eyes. “Okay, then.” She thought for a moment. “He has a younger sister named Liliana, but everyone calls her Lillia. He’s really protective of his sister, but his attitude when it comes to everyone else can be iffy. He can like you one moment and hate you the next. No one is sure why he’s such a psycho, but it started right around the time that Emma and Ellie went missing with their parents.”

I nodded slowly. “So, basically, he’s messed up in the head and you can either get out of a tough spot by mentioning his sister or end up getting yourself killed by mentioning his sister.”

Marlee snickered. “That’s how it is trying to talk to him about any subject.”

I nodded. “What I don’t understand is why he’s still in the group of royals. Just because he’s a royal doesn’t mean they need him.”

Marlee shrugged. “I mean, he also needs them, so it makes some sense. What does confuse me is why they seem to be treating him like an equal when he’s clearly insane.”

I shook my head. “I suppose we’ll have to figure it out when we go up there.” I looked her in the eye. “We’ll head up early tomorrow?”

Marlee nodded, smiling. “Sounds perfect.”

I grinned. “I’d suggest going to sleep early, since we’re both injured and exhausted.”

Marlee seemed to remember that we were injured. “Oh, yeah,” her eyes widened, “I was going to bring you to the girls. I forget who was good at first aid, but one of them was.”

I scrunched my face up in confusion. “But I’m fine.”

Marlee raised an eyebrow. “You have a few bruises that are starting to darken pretty good.”

I blinked in surprise. “Oh.” Come to think of it, a few parts of my body throbbed, but I would’ve been fine ignoring them. I frowned at Marlee. “If they have to look at my injuries, they have to look at yours, too.” I had gotten a few good scratches on her arms and I knew she would probably have a few good bruises, too.

“I’m fine,” she said.

I smirked at her. “If you’re making them check me, they’re checking you. Either we’re both fine or neither of us are.”

Marlee narrowed her eyes at me. “I’ll get them to come over here and leave,” she decided.

I grinned back at her. “I’ll sic them on you when they’re done with me.”

Marlee’s eyes narrowed. “Can you stop being difficult?”

“Nope,” I grinned broader, “I think that would be like trying to change my DNA.”

Marlee let out a long sigh. “Let’s go get them, then,” she said, conceding.

I smiled triumphantly, then realized what that meant. “Oh. Um… I’ve never… what are they going to… do?” I was realizing that the only first aid that I’d ever had done on me I’d done myself. My brothers weren’t comfortable with helping me patch up the smallest scrapes, so I’d either bandaged myself up or let it bleed. Most of the time, I knew what needed fixed and what didn’t. No current injury of mine fit into the old ‘bandage up’ category.

Marlee chuckled. “They’ll just check your arms and legs. Unless you feel something serious around your rib cage?” She raised an inquisitive eyebrow at me.

“Ah, no,” I said, “I’m just sore from having a whole man fall on me.”

Marlee winced. “Again, sorry about that.”

I nudged her with my shoulder. “It’s fine,” I said. “I’ve had worse, trust me.” I smirked at her. “But come on. A whole man fell on me.”

Marlee laughed. “What the heck is that supposed to mean?”

I gave her a look, shaking my head chidingly. “I mean that a whole man fell on me. It wasn’t just his arms and it wasn’t just his legs. It was a whole man!”

Marlee laughed harder. “Only you,” she gasped, “would be able to joke about a dead body falling on them.”

I was pleased to see that the regretful darkness hadn’t passed across her face this time. “Only I would be able to do a lot of things,” I replied. “And among them are leading a country to it’s future.”

Marlee looked at me in pleasant surprise.

“After you,” I gestured ahead of me dramatically. “We have to get a move on if we’re to get decent sleep tonight.”

Marlee laughed. “We have to eat, still.”

I waved my hand around. “We can do that after, but we must hurry.”

“If you want to hurry please drag me behind you,” Marlee muttered.

I raised an eyebrow at her.

“What?” she protested. “I’m tired!”

“So we should get to bed,” I told her.

She shot me a look. “Wow, I didn’t know that,” she sassed. “Seriously, though. I hurt and I’m hungry and I’m tired, but I don’t want to hurry up.”

I laughed. “Well, then, I’ll yell for the girls and say, ‘help, help, Marlee is injured.’”

Marlee growled, her eyes narrowing into slits. “Don’t you dare.”

I raised an eyebrow at her. “You think I won’t?”

Marlee groaned. “That’s the problem. I think you will.” She glared at me. “Fine. I’m moving.”

“Good.” I grinned in satisfaction. “After you,” I said again, gesturing forward.

Marlee shook her head but brushed past me. “Thanks,” she muttered sarcastically.

“You’re welcome,” I replied in the exact opposite manner.

Marlee glanced back with an annoyed look. “You’re the worst.”

I smirked at her. “If I’m the worst, your life can’t possibly have been that bad.”

“Oh, it was.” Marlee grinned. “You’re still the absolute worst.”

I pointed my finger at her, moving it back and forth disapprovingly. “That’s a matter of opinion,” I scolded. “You can’t just say that I’m the absolute worst without asking other people.”

“I’m sure I could get a few people to agree with me,” Marlee snickered.

“Who?” I challenged.

“Devin,” Marlee said.

I growled. “He doesn’t exist to me anymore, but yes, he would agree, wouldn’t he?”

Marlee’s eyes opened wide. “Whoah,” she breathed, “that’s harsh.”

I shook my head. “He’s the one who made it that way,” I told her. “He’s the one who broke his promise.”

Marlee looked at me. “You break promises, too,” she reminded me.

I looked away. “He was good. He wasn’t supposed to. He’s not like me.”

“But maybe he is,” Marlee said, “maybe you just haven’t seen that part of him yet.”

I shook my head. “I’m not doing this right now. Either we go see the girls and get fixed up or I’m going to bed. This conversation is done.”

Marlee was silent for a moment. “We’ll go see the girls, but just so you know, you go from fine to not fine amazingly fast. It’s like you’ve got a split personality.”

“I do not have a split personality,” I snapped.

Marlee held up her hands in surrender. “I said it’s like you have a split personality, not that you do.”

I shook my head at her. “Can we just go?” I grumbled.

“Yep,” Marlee nodded, shooting me an odd look, “and let’s actually get there this time, shall we?”

Despite myself, I smiled slightly. “I might not be able to do that,” I told her.

Marlee rolled her eyes. “Figures,” she muttered.

I snickered at the look on her face. I wasn’t going to lie and say that I couldn’t do it, but the whole thing was whether or not I was capable of doing that at the exact moment.

I could probably make a few loopholes in the definition of the word “able,” too. It was pretty nice to be me sometimes.

“Cecelia! Amaya!” Marlee called to the first two girls I saw.

“Hey, Marlee,” they both smiled. When they saw me, their smiles dimmed warily.

“Hey, Calypso,” Cecelia said.

Amaya didn’t seem inclined to greet me.

“Hello,” I said carefully, not daring to show how much that wariness hurt sometimes.

Sometimes, it wasn’t nice to be me.

My life was just a matter of figuring out whether that exact moment was nice or not; it never could be easy.

Life never was.

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