Waking up the second time wasn’t nearly as irritating as the first, now that Gerard and I had made up. It was more along the lines of shocking.
“Jeez!” I yelled as soon as I opened my eyes.
“Hiay, Frankie!” Gee chirped, unfazed by my shriek.
“Gee,” I groaned, sitting up. “Don’t. Do that!”
“Sorry,” he laughed, climbing into bed with me. “You’re just so funny.”
He leaned in to kiss me, and I kissed back instinctively, despite my earlier annoyance with him.
“Morning,” he whispered, giving me his cliché half-grin.
“Morning,” I replied, letting him kiss my neck.
He pulled back and a full grin came across his face.
“What?” I asked suspiciously.
“I have an idea,” he said.
“Come on, get dressed,” he giggled, leaping off the bed.
“Oh...it requires clothes,” I muttered, almost disappointed.
“Yes, Frankie,” he chided, rummaging through my dresser.
“Is it gonna be fun anyway?”
He tossed me a pair of skinny jeans and a t-shirt. “You’ll see.”
I got dressed as quickly as I could then followed Gee downstairs in hopes of coffee before he put this exciting idea into motion. Just as hit second to last step, though, he stopped and put his hands against the walls on either side of him, as if to steady himself.
“Go back,” he interrupted.
“Get back to your room,” he snapped.
I ignored him and, determined to see what had him so worried, I ducked underneath his arms and ran past him.
“Frank,” Gerard growled, running after me.
He grabbed me by the waist, just as I froze.
The creature- thing I’d...met...outside.
“Why is he here?” I whispered, more to myself than Gerard.
It must have heard us, because it turned...and it’s bright red eyes zoomed in on me.
I stared at him...and he just stared back, a smirk forming on his deathly pale face.
“He won’t hurt you,” an irritatingly familiar voice assured me from behind.
Morgan. That’s what she was doing last night.
“Not while he’s here,”
Gerard’s arms wrapped fully around my waist in what felt like a protective stance, and he gently turned me around to face the stairway.
“Just ignore-” he started to say.
She winced and started messing with her hair, like she was more afraid of me causing a scene than attacking her.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” I exploded, breaking away from Gee’s grip. “As if bringing him here in the middle of the night wasn’t enough, you decide it would be a good idea to let him stay?”
“You blame me for going out there and getting near him and then you decide to bring him here, like it’s any better-”
“You could’ve made that a lot shorter and just called me hypocrite-”
“You know I wouldn’t do this without a reason-”
“Oh do I?” I laughed. “Well thanks for telling me what I know, because-”
Let me explain, she broke into my thoughts.
“Get out of my head!” I growled, so close to physically attacking her.
“Frankie,” Gee whispered in my ear. “Just let her explain. There’s more here than it appears.”
“Fine,” I gritted out after a while.
Gee took my hand and led me up the stairs with Morgan. After sneaking one more quick look back at the monster, I followed without hesitation.
Just standing around on the main level felt strange, like I should start making small talk with some of the people there, act like this was mundane and that I wasn’t as widely hated as I was.
Especially by the one standing across from me, staring at me with huge eyes filled with fear.
Daniel, Morgan called him. Don’t know what I did to him. Other than...ha, maybe that was it.
Everything from my skin and eyes to my laugh terrified people. And damn, did I scare the shit out of him.
“Frank!” an unfamiliar voice rose from behind me, jolting me from my thoughts.
I paused, wondering if I should bother looking. Curiosity got the better of me, and I turned around to find the obnoxious source.
Ah...so the stupid little boy was still alive. And he had a...boyfriend? From the looks of it -the way the guy was touching him and the way he glared at me- I guessed that was exactly what he was. Interesting.
The one I’d attacked yesterday stared at me, petrified. He stayed like that for a moment before his boyfriend turned him around to go back the way they came from.
But they stopped.
“Bitch!” my victim exploded.
So he was smarter than he had appeared in the field. At least, smart enough to figure out what she’d done. I’d have to wait and see how smart he really was.
“Okay,” I said. “Explain.”
Of all the places she could’ve picked to fill us in, she picked the damned forest. With the tigers and giant man-eating snakes. Okay, granted, she could control them all, but still....
“Last night,” she started, plucking at the grass. “A stranger came here. He was from Lunadr.”
“I’m gonna assume that’s bad?”
“Yes,” she snapped, irritated at my interruption. “Lunadr...is a bad place. The Illusionist there puts no thought into anything except his power and gain. The creatures there aren't made naturally...they're forced, for his own gain. They give no compassion, and they get even less. It's like an internment camp without half the mercy.”
“So what was the stranger doing here?" I asked.
“He wanted to arrange a meeting,” she said. “I said no. They're coming anyway.”
“Come,” I choked out. “Come here? Come now?”
“No,” she whispered. “Not now.”
"You mean they, like...not just the Illusionist?" Gerard asked.
“But,” Gerard said. “What does that have to do with...that thing being here.”
"Strategy," I said, remembering what Daniel had said.
She looked at me, confused.
“I don’t want this place split up right now,” she said. “Yes, I said these creatures are dangerous, and you should never be around them. But they're dangerous...because they're territorial. When they sense their homeland is in trouble, they get angry. They'll do anything to protect their home, and if that means staying here for a while and not tearing you to shreds, they'll do it.”