“Can I ask you something?” I asked as Kimber popped a couple of raspberries into her mouth. She gave me a droll look, and I remembered her dumb joke the last time I’d asked her that. I didn’t wait for her answer this time.
I examined the strawberry in my hand with great concentration. “Is Ethan really flirting with me, or is that just how he is with anything female?” Kimber’s reactions suggested that it really was flirting, but I couldn’t fathom why he’d bother.
Kimber didn’t answer immediately, so I stole a cautious glance up at her face. Her lips were pursed, and there was an unhappy look in her eyes that I didn’t understand. So much for the positive effects of the posset.
“It’s no big deal if he is,” I assured her. “I can handle it.” I said that with all the confidence of someone who has to fend off horny boys right and left, but of course I was lying. I’d forgotten to breathe when he’d looked at me with those hungry eyes of his, and my skin still felt the phantom warmth of his side against mine.
Kimber shook her head and looked me straight in the eye. “No, you can’t handle it,” she told me bluntly. “He’s charmed lots of more experienced girls than you out of their knickers.”
I gave a pseudo-offended sniff. “For all you know, I’m the school slut.”
She laughed. “Yes, and that’s why you blush every time he looks at you.”
Busted. I decided to try a different tack. “Okay, so he’s really flirting with me. Why? I didn’t think guys his age were interested in high school girls.” Especially not half-human high school girls who weren’t all that pretty.
Kimber got that tight look around her eyes again, and she thought a long time before answering. “Ethan likes to think of himself as a big manly-man, but he’s only eighteen. I know you’re younger than that, but he’d still consider you to be fair game. Besides, you’re not a typical high school girl. You’re a Faeriewalker. You have the potential to be … very powerful. And Ethan’s very fond of power.”
I looked quickly away from her face, not wanting her to see my expression, whatever exactly it was. I don’t know what I’d hoped she’d tell me. Maybe I’d hoped she’d stroke my ego a bit, tell me I was so clever and witty that Ethan couldn’t help but fall at my feet and worship me. Of course, I’d have known she was lying. I wasn’t all that clever and witty in normal life, and around Ethan I acted like I had an IQ of about seventy.
But to think he was flirting with me because I was powerful, or could be in the future …
My opinion of him lowered considerably, although I suspected when I saw him again my common sense might go right back out the window. I mean, just because he was attracted to power in general didn’t mean that was why he was attracted to me, right? The fact that I might be powerful could be just a coincidence. Besides, he hadn’t known for sure about me until this afternoon.
I shook my head at myself. None of this mattered anyway. As long as I was with Kimber, Ethan wasn’t going to do more than give me the occasional smoldering glance. And maybe after dealing with Ethan for a bit, I’d be more ready when a boy who was actually in my league was interested. Best to act like a gibbering idiot around a guy who was unattainable than around one I actually had a shot at.
“I’m sure Ethan really likes you,” Kimber said gently. I guessed she’d figured out that telling me Ethan was attracted to my power didn’t give me warm fuzzies. “He wouldn’t be flirting quite so much if he didn’t. It’s just…” She shook her head. “It’s just that there’s always more than meets the eye with him.”
“You and he don’t get along so well, huh?” I asked tentatively. It wasn’t really any of my business, but even a moron could see they had issues.
Kimber’s face closed off and she looked away. “Let’s not talk about Ethan anymore, okay?”
Kimber’s cell phone chirped, and I was strung so tight I jumped and let out a little screech. Kimber banished her glum look, suppressing a smile.
Kimber grabbed the phone from the counter and read a text message. Her eyes widened, and she said something in a language I was completely unfamiliar with. I felt sure it was a cuss word, though.
Kimber slammed the phone down, then grabbed my arm and started hauling me across the kitchen.
“Hey!” I protested, stumbling along after her.
“Shh!” she hissed. “That was Ethan. Your aunt just stormed his flat, and you can bet she’ll come here next.”
I swallowed my next protest and allowed Kimber to drag me into her room. I balked when she opened her closet door and tried to shove me in. The rest of her apartment may have been obsessively neat, but the closet was a nightmare of clothes, shoes, boxes, and assorted other junk all crammed in willy-nilly. It looked like I’d need a crowbar to get in.
“You have to hide!” Kimber insisted. “Quick. Or would you prefer to spend more quality time with Grace and Lachlan?”
I wasn’t sure I bought the theory that Aunt Grace wanted to make me disappear, permanently. But I had no desire to be locked up again, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say I hated Aunt Grace, I thoroughly disliked her.
I shoved my way into the crowded closet, Kimber pushing and pulling to get me past various obstacles. I ended up wedged in a corner between a stack of shoe boxes piled from floor to ceiling and a big, billowy, froufrou dress trimmed with feathers that tickled my cheeks.