[This post is from Thomas Merlin Ambrose’s point of view.]
“Lin, dammit, slow down.”
I ignored Tory, my head down as I kept walking. I was determined to get back—hopefully before he and Anne had the time to ask more questions.
Then he grasped my shoulder and I almost blacked out from the white-hot pain that shot through me as his hand closed over the bandages hidden beneath my shirt. I nearly went to my knees, stumbling the next few steps as he let go, eyes going wide.
“What the hell?” he blurted. “Lin?”
“Just leave me alone,” I said through gritted teeth, regaining my stride after those few stumbled paces. “I’m not in the mood.”
“Did they do this to you? The strangers?”
“No.” I bit off the word. He fell in behind me, though he didn’t try to draw up alongside or touch me again, just stayed an arms’ length behind me. “They had nothing to do with it.”
“Then what happened?”
“Ask someone else. I’m going to bed.”
“I’m asking you.”
I swallowed a curse and shook my head. My vision twinned for a second, then returned to normal. The thumping pain just got worse.
I should have stayed in bed like Aunt Jac said. Dammit anyway.
“Lin, seriously. What—”
“Next time you’re going to run off to the lake, tell someone you’re going,” I said. “Because it’s fucking dangerous out there and my uncle will tell you all about it once you check in with him and let him know you’re alive. Or your mother will—your mother, who’s probably worried about both of you. You should probably go see her.”
His footsteps stopped. I kept walking.
One foot in front of the other.
It was all I could manage as darkness nibbled at the edges of my vision. I just wanted to make it back to my bed before I fell over.