s i x t e e n | Homecoming

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s i x t e e n | Homecoming

The drive back was almost frightening in the harsh silence.

I decided to keep my tongue only because Alexander was keeping his. He could be pissed all he wanted—it appeared to be his default setting anyway—but if he wasn't saying anything, I could focus on how I was going to handle any fallout at the palace. Because there was going to be fallout. I could practically feel it, the promise of repercussion barely contained in the quiet of the car.

I fully expected Bernice to rip into me, but I hoped I could talk Uncle Albert around to my side. Because really, I hadn't done anything wrong, right?

But if that was right, why was I freaking out right then?

I narrowed my eyes at my train of thought and decided to shut it down. I'd deal with whatever happened when it happened.

At that point, as I pushed my hair behind my ear, my attention snagged on how the movement kind of stung my right forearm. With a frown, I pushed back the sleeve of my sweater to see the skin there red and tender to the touch.

When had that happened? I'd been totally careful.

The only time I'd been even gotten near the flames was maybe near the stairs and I'd dodged them pretty well.

But clearly not.

At least it wasn't bad. Hell, I hadn't even felt it till now.

Somewhat self-conscious of Alexander seeing that and using it against me to list all the ways I had possibly screwed up, I covered my arm back with the sweater. A sweater, I was beginning to notice, was not the pretty, cream-colored one of the morning, but one now covered in dark patches and soot.


Maybe I could slip in for a quick shower and change of clothes before I had to face the wrath of Bernice.

"I saw that," I heard Alexander snap next to me in the car and I had the sudden urge to punch him.

Instead, I decided to ignore him.

He was fine with that for the rest of the way back to the palace.

Alexander disappeared the moment I entered the castle and Bernice absolutely did not disappoint

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Alexander disappeared the moment I entered the castle and Bernice absolutely did not disappoint.

I got a scolding that was akin to that of a troublemaker child and I took it, because I thought maybe that was for the best. She wanted me to promise I wouldn't do it again, and since I had no plan to, I thought it was safe to agree and assure her. Then she let me go to get a shower and change my clothes, but told me to come to the television room as soon as I was done.

I didn't think it was the best time for TV, but hey, what could I say right then?

I grabbed my shower, careful of the sensitive skin of my arm as I dressed in a long sleeved red T-shirt and leggings, thinking that was good enough for whatever verbal lashing was left as penance. I didn't have much patience for anything else, since it was getting dark and I was already tired from the events of the day. I just wanted to go to my fluffy bed and crash.

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