Our cousins couldn’t do anything, but if it made him feel better, then it was good he had the distraction. “I love you.”
“Love you, too,” he said in a normal voice. “Don’t let them push you around.”
I nodded as he let me go.
I didn’t wait for Axel to leave or for Mr. Dawson to escort me back to my room. I was a big girl, and it was past time for me to put on my big girl panties. I’d make the best of a bad situation or die trying. Maybe for real. Which was terrifying, but life had never exactly been easy for me. This was more old hat than anything else.
If only I could actually convince myself that it was old hat, then I’d be in a much better place.
And damned Dastien. He was driving me crazy. Why wouldn’t he even look at me?
The sun peeked through the curtains. I threw the covers over my head. If I stayed in bed, then there could be hope that yesterday had been a crazy fever-induced dream. Or maybe someone had slipped something into my drink and I’d hallucinated the whole thing.
It was easy to pretend underneath the familiar feel of my old white cotton sheets. I touched the hole on the corner that had ripped when I trusted Axel to do my laundry once. Any second, he’d come in here and annoy me.
An inhumanly loud beeping chafed my ears.
A groan and a few bangs came from Meredith’s room before the alarm clicked off.
No such luck. Guess I’d better deal with the day.
I threw the sheets off. I appreciated what they’d done, trying to make me feel at home, but it didn’t matter. This wasn’t my home.
Running away didn’t work. I was left with only one option.
Time to face reality.
I pulled myself from the safety of my bed, and quickly showered. Meredith walked into the bathroom as I was wrapping a towel around myself. She mumbled something unintelligible and flipped the shower back on.
Someone definitely wasn’t a morning person.
I went back to my room to get changed, trying to ignore the fact that I was touching a million and one things and had exactly zero visions was getting increasingly harder. But I had bigger things to worry about. I started opening drawers as I considered my outfit options.
The kids I had seen last night were made of hotness. There was no way my short, curvy, Latina frame could compete. I dug through my clothes, trying and failing miserably to ignore the scent that covered everything. I decided to keep it simple with jeans, a black KMFDM T-shirt that fell off one shoulder, and a pair of yellow neon and gray kicks. No flip-flops for me. There was no risk of me shifting. The question was—gloves or no gloves?
I fingered a pair of cobalt ones. I felt naked without them, but did I really need them?
My visions could come back, any second. They had to. I grabbed the gloves and shoved them in my back pocket.
I made my bed as I waited for Meredith. Mom always said I was a little too much of a neat freak, but I felt more at ease about the parts of my life that I couldn’t control when the ones I could control were in order. Lord knew my life was out of my hands right now.
As I smoothed out the comforter, the conversation in the room next door came through the brick like it was paper. They were gossiping. About me.
“What does Dastien see in that girl?”
“I know right? She’s short. And weird. What is with those T-shirts she wears?”
My shirt today was cool. I was sure of it. Maybe everyone didn’t know who KMFDM was, but they were a totally awesome electro-industrial band from the 1980s. Okay. So maybe it was weird, but I wasn’t changing it because some random girls didn’t get it.
“He had Imogene. And if he was tired of her, he could have his pick of the Weres. Why would he throw that away to bite some stupid norm?”
This was so not helping my confidence.
I pounded on the brick a few times. “I can hear you!” I said.
They giggled, and I wanted to plow through the brick and pummel them.
The water shut off, and Meredith went into her room. I rushed into the bathroom, trying to get control of myself. I was flipping out. Since when did I ever care about what someone said about me?
If I was being honest, I usually cared, but I never let it show.
I took a deep breath and held it in until my lungs burned. When I let it out, I felt marginally better.
What now, Tessa?
I picked up my perfume, and took the cap off. The smell of rubbing alcohol filled the room. I put my nose up to the top of the bottle and sniffed. It stank. The florals and fruits that I loved were barely there, and the alcohol was strong enough to give me a headache.
Did perfume go bad?