xiii. the foreigner

Start from the beginning

Why was W in my bedroom?

"Um, hi," he said, his mouth twisting into a nervous grin.

"Why — Why—,"

"You had a concussion, I couldn't just leave you there."

W's cheeks blazed with colour and he looked towards the rough stone floor. He ran a hand through his hair, which was sticking out every which way.

My chest heaved as my stammering heart tried to calm. The soft black velvet of the couch I sat on wasn't my bed. The castle-like grey brick walls that surrounded me was not the attic studio of my room. The fireplace behind W, which stretched with commanding authority from the rock of the floor almost three stories up to the vaulted roof, hidden by shadows, was altogether too real.

I wasn't dreaming.

I gulped heavily, lifting the knuckle of my thumb to grasp between my teeth. "Where am I, W?" Had this slightly obsessed boy dragged me off to a dungeon somewhere?

An anxious laugh.

"You're at my home, in The Hills. It was the quickest way to heal you," he muttered, lifting his head only enough so that I could see the top sliver of his eyes. They hid beneath his tidy brows, which presently squeezed up and together. Almost as if he were scared.

But scared of what?

I slowly exhaled, lifting a hand to bury in my hair. The quickest way to heal me. The events of the day came barrelling back to me, slamming into my chest like a freight train. I had fallen, somehow. It hurt so much.

My hand crept up and under my shirt, gently probing the bones of my spine. No pain met my fingers, though every breath before had brought with it a sense of death. I withdrew my hand, letting it slowly creep up to my face. My cheek lay flat and content under my touch. I let my hand fall, shaking to my lap.

"What did you do to me?" My words came out in trembling squeaks. Maybe I was still dreaming.

W pushed off the floor, hesitating for a moment when he went to sit on the other end of the couch. He lifted a hand, looking uncertainly at me. "Is it...?"

Nodding, I shifted closer to my end. "It's your house, W." Apparently.

He gulped, quickly bobbing his head. Unfolding like a cat, he sprawled on the corner, choosing to sit on the elaborate armrest. His lips pressed together, and he crossed one leg over the other. For a moment, only the crackling of a newly split log penetrated the hush.

Then, W spoke.

"I healed you, Jenna. I couldn't just leave you there." His cheeks reddened again, and though we were but a few arm lengths apart, his words were almost lost to me.

"Healed me?"

I stared around, searching for some sign of medical equipment — a stethoscope, maybe a needle or two. Even an IV would make more sense. I saw nothing, save for a small silver pen which glistened from the glass top of a coffee table in front of us. Coffee table may have been an inadequate description, though. The table was made from the trunk of an immense tree, a Redwood perhaps, and its curling edges whirled and swooped around each other like loose yarn.

"Yes," he nodded, lifting a hand to tug on his hair. "You had broken almost every rib in your back." W paused, letting his eyes drop to the ground. "If you fell back to Earth, like I'm starting to think you did, then you're lucky I came across you when I did."

I was silent, my own eyes dropping to the ground. It almost sounded like he knew I could jump.

"That is, most bearers don't survive a fall like that. They're sent to the Everything before their time. You're very delicate, you know."

UnwatchedRead this story for FREE!