When Rhys and I showed up at my “brother” Matt’s house at eight in the morning, he was happy … in the sense that he was glad I was alive and hadn’t disappeared forever. Despite being angry, he listened while I put together a vague explanation, glaring at me the whole time with mystified rage.
At least I only had to face to Matt. My aunt Maggie is my legal guardian, but she wasn’t there when we arrived. Matt explained that she had gone off looking for me in Oregon. I have no idea why, but for some reason, she thought I’d run off there.
As Rhys and I sat on the shabby-chic couch in Matt’s living room, surrounded by the boxes that he had yet to unpack from when we moved in to the house two months ago, Matt paced back and forth in front of us.
“I still don’t understand,” Matt said. He stopped in front of us, arms folded over his chest.
“There’s nothing to understand,” I insisted, gesturing at Rhys. “He’s your brother! It’s pretty obvious when you look at him.”
I have dark, wild curly hair and mahogany eyes. Matt and Rhys both have sandy hair and sapphire eyes. They had something much more open in their faces too, and they had the same easy smile. Rhys stared up at Matt with bemused wonderment, his eyes wide with awe.
“How could you possibly know that?” Matt asked.
“I don’t know why you can’t just trust me.” I sighed and laid my head back on the couch. “I never lie to you!”
“You just ran away from home! I had no idea where you were. That’s a major trust violation!”
Matt’s anger couldn’t cover up how hurt he still was, and his body showed signs of the strain he had been under. His face was gaunt and haggard, his eyes red and tired, and he had probably lost ten pounds. When I disappeared, he completely collapsed, I’m sure. I felt guilty, but I hadn’t had a choice.
Matt had always been too preoccupied with my safety, a side effect from his mother having tried to kill me and all that. His life revolved around me to the point of being unhealthy. He had no friends, no job, no life of his own.
“I had to run away! Okay?” I ran a hand through my tangled curls and shook my head. “I can’t explain it to you. I left for my safety and for yours. I don’t know if I should even be here now.”
“Safety? What were you running from? Where were you?!” Matt asked desperately, not for the first time.
“Matt, I can’t tell you! I wish I could but I can’t.”
I wasn’t sure if it was legal for me to tell him anything about Trylle or not. I assumed everything about them was secret, but nobody had expressly forbidden me from telling outsiders, either. Matt would never believe me, though, so I didn’t see the point in trying.
“You’re really my brother,” Rhys said in a hushed tone. He leaned forward to get a better look at Matt. “This is so weird.”
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