Chapter 43

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Monday evening was Shay's first lecture of the week.

Leithan sat in the front row, alone and comfy at the edge of the bench, smiling up at her. Shay smiled back as she brought her stack of papers to the lectern, tapping it and squaring the corners before laying it down.

"Today," Shay said to her modest Monday evening crowd, "I want to talk to you about Kinali's Journals. More specifically when she was a student in Veya's ethics class."

Shay looked up from her notes. "This is anecdotal, but I find it really amusing that Kinali lied about her age to get into that class. She said she was fifteen when really, she was thirteen. And later, when Veya found out about it, she realized she couldn't be angry" – Shay made an amused shrug – "because she'd lied about her own age years ago, so she could get into the Rimar Palace School. Anyway. I guess that's something they had in common right off the bat. They were both really driven. They wouldn't let something as mundane as rules get in the way of their goals."

Leithan smiled.

Shay was drawing inspiration from the graduation paper he'd written on Kinali and Veya's partnership and friendship – or was it more than friendship? Which was the entire point of the paper, titled Between the Lines. Shay and Leithan were convinced Veya and Kinali had been lovers.

Of course, to claim this in so many words was controversial. They'd talked about it, and Shay would make sure to remain within the shallow surface of things for her lecture. Leithan hadn't been so careful with his paper two years ago – his teacher had very nearly failed him for it.

Leithan was looking forward to the rest of Shay's lecture and also, later, hearing all the details of her afternoon at the Happy Monkey with Quin.

They hadn't hung out since. Leithan had been busy himself, mostly at the Neverland Shop, getting his hair, finally, chopped off by Ella.

It felt really strange not having any hair touching his neck.

Like Rami's hair, it was short on the sides and in the back, and longer on top. Layered in a calculated, messy way, it tumbled to the side, long enough to hide the birthmark beside his left eyebrow. Long enough, also, to gently tickle the top of his left ear, but that was it. And sometimes, when it decided to be all rebellious, to go rogue, some strands fell down the back, or tumbled to the right side, like jerks.

Still, this haircut was exactly what he'd wanted, and Ella Neverland was the best.

But Leithan kind of hated it. Which was normal. He'd get used to it, in time. When he was fifteen, it had taken him at least a few days. Maybe a week.

Leithan was half-listening to Shay's lecture, half-thinking about his hair, when Priest Grisham came by to tap his shoulder.

Thing was, he hated Priest Grisham. So much.

"I'm trying to pay attention to my friend's lecture," Leithan said in an angry whisper.

Grisham shook his head in a solemn, disappointed manner. Even his flawless goatee had a dissatisfied air about it. Also, he wore a deep violet brocade long coat. Weird.

"You're late," Grisham said on low tones. "The Elder Priest summoned you. It's frankly quite disrespectful of you."

Leithan was actually proud of himself because for a moment there, he'd truly forgotten about that summons.

Huh. Go figure.

Leith wasn't too sure what got into him, but he grinned up at Priest Grisham and told him, "You know, it's funny, I thought sending henchmen to attack me in my room was quite disrespectful of the elder."

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