Chapter 24 - Explanations

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I sat on the fifth step up out of the twenty-three steps to the forbidden floor.

I knew this information because I had been waiting for the past thirty minutes for Mason to come down and deliver on his promise for an explanation- well, at least a conversation- to why they had used Joe to spy on me at school. Call me stubborn, but he said he would speak to me when I came inside, well I'd been inside for half an hour and I wasn't moving until I got a reasonable answer.

Mason frustrated me. A lot. Whenever I was angry, he sent me a look, a single look, and the anger evaporated from me like boiling water until I was a tepid warm.

Not this time.

Xander and Joe were both on my to-be-angry-at list and depending on Mason's explanation, he may or may not be joining them. His lack of punctuality was disappointing. Cole got moved to my treading-on-thin-ice list, purely because of the apology he whispered when hugging me on our way into the house. It just wasn't possible to hold a grudge against him.

Sometime later, I heard footsteps thudding down the carpeted steps and then Elijah's kind gaze met mine. I had never felt such relief and I had to fight the impulse to launch into his arms. No! I reminded myself. I was angry at all of them until they proved otherwise.

But Elijah...


"Hey, sweetheart, what are doing waiting here?"

His voice was as soft as Elly. Like a teddy bear screaming, 'I give the best hugs'. I folded my arms over my chest and looked down, I wouldn't give him a chance to see through me to that weakness of mine.

"Mads." He crouched in front of me. "What's up?"

"Did you know too?" I asked without a falter in my voice, reluctantly meeting his warm gaze. I was proud of myself for not falling for those kind eyes and gentle smile.

"About Joe?"

My heart fell in my chest and stopped beating for a moment, like a rollercoaster ride you know you're not going to enjoy but you take the risk anyway and sometimes, sometimes it breaks you. My stomach twisted with betrayal.

Lijah! I was rooting for you!

"Why?" I said. This time, I allowed my voice to crack. I wanted them to hear me hurt. Who knows, maybe that would spark some guilt, or understanding, or in fact any emotion other than anger in my brothers.

"Is that why you're waiting here?" He asked instead.

"Why won't you answer my question?"

He sighed and sat next to me. "I was coming to find you now to come and have a chat with Mason and me. We can explain then. Have you been waiting since you came in?"

"Only half an hour," I shrugged, picking lint and fluff off my school jumper.

"Didn't you have homework?"

Oh, yes, well, there was that too.

"Mason said he'd explain when I came in, so I figured I'd wait here," I said and then added quietly, "I wouldn't want to break your trust by going up to the third floor."

Then again, it's not like you can break something that isn't there.

I felt a twisted satisfaction at the frown that pulled on Elijah's lips. At least he felt something that resembled guilt. At least if you're guilty, you recognise you did something wrong or at least that you hurt the other person. When Mason called, he made it sound like the most normal thing in the world, that was why it took a lot of strength to remind myself that it was definitely not normal. No. No, it wasn't.

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