(Oh but from such a young age you told me I couldn't trust anyone.)
You think they're not just like me, Bridget? You think they don't think the same way? We're wolves. We eat our young. We take you out into the night and devour you alive. The same ones you run to when you're scared want to hurt you the same way I do. Just enough.
I am breathless, hitching gasps for air mixed with sobs. Sweat sticks my hair to my face and fear keeps me paralyzed in place.
I lie underneath them and I understand what he means. My currency is myself. My debts are never paid. My safety a tightrope I can't seem to balance on because terror makes it twang against the pulleys. Fear is quicksand, gravity, a weighted anchor in a churning sea and I'm drowning but I'm still alive.
Liar. But my accusation bounces off him like a errant bee. Lochlan isn't like the rest of you.
You'll understand it better when you're older. He's already turning. It's only a matter of time.
Turning into what?
No he isn't!
Watch him and see. Watch him when no one's watching him.
And I did and he never turned. He marched right up to the dark and put on yet another show, a pretense at being all the things he thought he had to be and then he shed that skin like a snake and went back to being himself. And I was never so relieved.
Crow came for everyone for supper, delivered in the form of a gift for August, from Caleb mostly with the others chipping in. A Breville. Daniel and Sam taught him how to use it, while Caleb swore to me he won't engage in petty fights any longer, that he'll save his hills for bigger stakes, that he'll make sure it's worth it instead of kicking the dirt out from underneath where they stand in hopes that they'll fall.
No one here is beneath you, I told him as I sipped what had to be the ninth espresso made tonight, as August gets the hang of it and takes over from Sam's directions.
(All these espressos are the equivalent of a Mountain Dew, which is the second thing you'll discover upon meeting me. No one is permitted to give me Mountain Dew. I react badly and begin to paint the house. I stayed up for three days once. I learned to do cartwheels starting with my left hand. I was holding a drink in my right. I still have the scar. And they don't give me Mountain Dew anymore.)
Put it down, Peanut. Ah. Here's someone who remembers Bridget doing the Dew.
Want some? August is enjoying this.
It's nine o'clock at night, Aug.
Oh shit. Sorry man. She seemed to like it.
How many, Bridge?
Oh Jesus. Lochlan gives me a withering gaze. August says goodbyes and reminds us to come back for breakfast or if we can't sleep. Caleb shoots him the most terrible look while I nod at lightning speed, a hummingbird-girl.