“His—what? Whose?” Shit, what the hell is she—one of the fairies? From the Shakespeare garden? “Carolyn?”
Her brow furrowed and she closed her mouth, glancing between the glimmer at her shoulder and me. “Can’t you see him?”
I opened my mouth to speak, then closed it again, shaking my head. “Only as little glimmers of light.” I dropped my voice low. “Care, don’t tell anyone.”
“They’ll think I’m crazy, right?”
“More crazy than I’m sure some of them already think Kellin and I are, yes.” I motioned her closer and she edged nearer, settling so she was almost knee-to-knee with me. “Maybe a little, maybe a lot. I don’t know. Rory and Drew will believe you if you tell them. Kellin definitely will. Don’t tell Thom. J.T. might be okay. My brother’ll think you’re a little crazy, but he’ll shrug it off like he shrugs off my stuff. Jury’s out on the rest.” Jacqueline, Brandon, Leah, Davon…probably can’t handle it. Maybe later, but not yet. Give it time. Tala might, or might not. Jury’s definitely out there.
“Why shouldn’t I tell Thom?”
I shook my head. “It’s just better not to.” Because I don’t know how he’ll handle it, other than maybe badly. I don’t need him to talk you into not believing, or thinking you’re as crazy as the rest of us. He’ll get upset. He says he believes me, but I know he’ll get upset.
Carolyn frowned at me, then nodded. “All right. I guess I have to trust your judgment, right?” She paused, brow furrowing. “Are you guys okay?”
“Yeah, we’re fine.” I probably said it too fast, but she believed me anyway—and if she didn’t, she had the grace not to say anything. “Just been scaring the crap out of each other the past few days.”
“I’m glad you guys are back together,” Carolyn said quietly. “He’s kind of impossible without you.”
He’s impossible with me, too. I smiled wryly. “Who told you that?”
“It’s kind of obvious.” She grinned at me and squeezed my fingers. “Now he’s just being stubborn. And a perfectionist.”
“You’re talking about the shelter situation.”
“I know he’s working on it, Mar, but if what just happened should tell us anything, it’s that this tent thing isn’t going to work for long.”
I sighed. “I know. I’ll talk to him.”
“You don’t have to,” Thom said quietly, limping into our range of vision. “I know it’s a problem.” He smiled weakly at Carolyn and handed her the giant mug of something steaming that he’d been carrying. “This morning made that pretty abundantly clear.” He winced as he sat down next to me, brushing some hair out of my face as he reclaimed the mug from Carolyn once he was settled. Whatever was in it didn’t smell that great.
“Here,” he said as he pressed the mug into my hands. I must have made a face, because he glared at me. “Mar, just drink it. It should help.”
“Leah just said that it should help, okay? Drink it.” Pain flickered in his eyes.
Worry. He’s worried again. I stopped arguing and drank.
It tasted about as bad as it smelled, which was a little bit like old socks. I shuddered. Carolyn gave me a sympathetic smile.
“I’ll let you two be,” she said. I just nodded. Thom wrapped his arm around my shoulders.
“J.T. was looking for you, Care.”
She nodded. “I’ll go find him. Thanks, Thom.” She waved a little to me and wandered off. I looked at Thom.
“What’re you going to do? Or should I not ask.”
After a moment’s hesitation, he just shook his head and wrapped both arms around me. “Probably better not to ask. Anything I say right now’s going to come out half-baked anyhow.” He went quiet and I took another swallow of the foul brew, trying not to taste it. I was starting to get a little drowsy. “You scared me a little today,” Thom finally said in a whisper, breath warm against my ear. “Don’t do it again. Please?”
“I’ll try not to,” I whispered back, then smiled up at him. He smiled back and brushed my hair away from my face again.
“Love you,” he murmured.
“I love you, too,” I answered, then smiled wryly. “Even if you are making me drink this crap.”
He choked on a laugh and squeezed me. I swallowed the last of what was in the cup, shuddered, then set it aside. My eyelids were heavy.
“What was that supposed to help with?”
“Go to sleep, Mar,” he murmured. “You’ll be warmer when you wake up.”
“Mmm.” I closed my eyes. Maybe he was right. If he wasn’t, I’d have plenty of time to be angry later.
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