Invoke, Chapter Ten: Free Serial Novel

Invoke, an NA paranormal, is being posted in installments on Tuesdays and Thursdays. After it has been posted in its entirety, it will be taken down.

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Chapter Ten

“I hope you all got a chance to read the supplemental piece I gave you to go with the chapter in Workman,”said Madame Braith. She was standing in the den, her arms crossed over her chest. Wyn, Reese, and David were sprawled on various couches. Gavin hadn’t bothered to show up for class. Wyn felt guilty. She should have gone to knock on his door this morning when she didn’t see him at breakfast. But she still felt strange about what had happened between her and Reese the other night.

It had been wrong. She knew it. But it had been so sweet and lovely. She’d never felt anything as wonderful as being close to Reese. When they were together, she felt this sense of rightness, this feeling like coming home. It was like being wrapped in a big, warm bubble of bliss. She loved it.

For all she knew, it only happened because they were possessed by spirits. It probably wasn’t even real. But she liked it. So. She didn’t want to face Gavin. She was afraid he’d see it in her face. She was afraid he’d notice the way she and Reese were around each other.

Not that they were really around each other. They’d been doing their best to avoid each other all morning. Now they were on opposite sides of the room. Neither was looking at the other. Still, Wyn was aware of his presence. She could feel him across the room. He was strong and male and warm and dark and she could sense him there. Reese. God. She really liked Reese.

“Wyn,”said Madame Braith. “What did you think of the reading?”

The reading. Right. She’d done it. She thought. But she’d been flitting in and out of Guinevere while it had been going on, worrying about whether or not Arthur was going to go off to war, and half-wanting him to leave Lancelot behind as regent, so that they could be closer without having to sneak around. The Guinevere thing felt completely real to her. As real as her issues with Reese. In her mind, when she was Guinevere, sometimes she pictured Lancelot as Reese. Sometimes, Lancelot looked different. Older. Darker. With a beard. It was strange. Hell, everything was strange. And if she was honest with herself, things had always been strange in her life. She’d been a Sensitive ever since she could remember. There was no part of her life that wasn’t filled with weird stuff. But this… This business with being possessed by a medieval queen. This was the strangest stuff ever. And it made it tough to concentrate on Workman. Or the supplemental reading.

“Well,”said Wyn, struggling to get straight her memories from Guinevere’s, “they were both about the same thing, kind of. The chapter in Workman was about the spirit who was trapped in a violent cycle. Workman got rid of it with garlic or something.”

“No,”said David. “I didn’t get the impression the spirit was really gone. Because all of the sudden, new disturbances started happening, and Workman said it was a new spirit.”

“It was the same one,”said Madame Braith. “Didn’t you think so, Reese?”

“I didn’t get a chance to read it,”Reese said. “I glanced at the supplemental material, but it seems weird to me to be reading this book that’s all about what not to do. I don’t really see the value in Workman.”

“So you simply decided not to read it? Because you don’t see any value in it? You, a student who’s been here less than a month?”

“I was also kind of busy. There were purging rituals and people falling down steps and dead girls. Or maybe you forgot about all of that.”Reese glared at Madame Braith.

She shrugged. “Wyn found the time.”

“I…”Wyn looked at Reese guiltily. “It was tough for me too.”

“Right,”said David, “because you guys were doing that role playing or whatever it was last night. Where you’re all kings and queens.”

Wyn glared at him. How much had he heard? She didn’t think she liked this David guy. Not at all.

“Let’s get back to violent spirits,”said Madame Braith. “If you did get a chance to read the supplemental reading, then you know that violent spirits are brought into existence by a particularly violent event, like a murder or a fire or anything that kills suddenly. The energy that is released latches onto the spirit world, and it can be very hard to break the bond and to encourage the spirits to take another form, to move on.”

“And garlic doesn’t work,”said Wyn.

David laughed. “Surprise, surprise,”he said.

Madame Braith smiled. “Well, no,”she said. “Garlic doesn’t work. The supplemental material details a few rituals that may work. Most often, with a violent spirit, we will have to visit the spirit realm ourselves. There we can attempt to speak with the spirits, perhaps encourage them to let go of their violent patterns. If we cannot encourage them, more forceful steps must be taken, however, as in the case of the third ritual, which attempts to make the environment inhospitable to the spirits themselves.”

“Have you ever dealt with a violent spirit like this?”David asked.

“Me?”asked Madame Braith. She smiled. She clearly liked David. “No. Fortunately, I’ve never run across anything so powerful or insidious.”

“They only form after a death?”David asked.

“Yes, especially after violent ones,”said Madame Braith. “They can be extraordinarily difficult to get rid of. Oftentimes, I believe ancient spirits that were worshipped as gods were born of violence.”She turned to look at the Irish crow-cow thing that sat on the end table next to her.

“Worshipped as gods?”said David. “You think ancient gods were simply spirits? What an interesting theory.”He smirked.

“Well,”said Madame Braith, “we see much of the same behavior patterns amongst the two. They refuse to change form and are sometimes only vanquished by removing their power source. In the case of ancient gods, it took the killing or conversion of their priests to stop their power. Once the priests no longer owed the spirit allegiance, the spirit could not draw power from them.”

Wyn wanted to tune Madame Braith out and lose herself in her own thoughts, but she couldn’t. With only three students in a class, it was next to impossible to fade into the background and not be seen. She forced herself to pay attention and participate in Madame Braith’s lecture, but the lesson seemed to go on forever.

Afterwards, she accidentally caught Reese’s gaze. The two looked at each other for several seconds before Reese looked away. Then he slunk out of the den. Wyn thought about following him but didn’t. It was too weird and awkward. She didn’t know what she would say to him. Instead, she stayed on the couch where she was sitting and pretended to read the Workman book.

“You’re Wyn, right?”said a voice.

She snapped her head up. It was that David guy. “Yeah,”she said. She didn’t know what was wrong with her. She knew she should be polite to this guy. He was new and he didn’t know anybody. For some reason, something about him rubbed her the wrong way.

David sat down next to her on the couch. “So, you’re dating Gavin, then,”he said.

She nodded. What did he care?

“Sure aren’t any available girls around here,”he said, grinning. But his smile looked eerie to Wyn. He looked like the Cheshire cat.

“Sorry,”she said. She wished he’d go away. She wondered if there was any polite way to just get up and walk away from him.

“It’s okay,”he said. “Not a big deal. It is kind of too bad, though. I mean, you’re super gorgeous.”

Ew. Was he flirting with her? He grinned his too-wide grin again. Wyn shuddered. She had to get away from him. She just had to. “Thanks,”she said, “but I’m–“

“I know,”he said. “You’re taken.”

She had been about to say that she was going to go upstairs to work on reading Workman, but figured the taken bit was just as good. She smiled.

“Gavin seems like a nice guy.”

“He is.”

“A really nice guy. The kind of guy a girl could find and latch onto. The kind of guy you’d consider settling down with.”

Where was he going with this? “He’s pretty awesome.”

“So where was he today for class?”

“I don’t know.”

“You didn’t talk to him this morning?”

“No.”What did David care, anyway?

“Don’t you guys usually talk? I thought you were close.”

“We are close.”God. She was just going to get up and run away from him. Was there anything else she could do? But no, she couldn’t just run away. That would make her look crazy. Mentally unstable. She had to come up with an excuse to get away. “Listen, I’m thinking I’ll–“

“Are you two having a fight, then?”

“We’re not fighting.”Not exactly, anyway. She’d just slept with Reese, and she didn’t want Gavin to know. Somehow, even though Gavin had been forced to sleep with Madame Braith, she didn’t think he’d understand. And on top of that, she didn’t think what had happened between her and Reese was exactly the same thing. She felt like she could have stopped it. But…she hadn’t wanted to.

“Just not speaking.”

“We’re speaking!”God. It was none of his business, anyway.

“Doesn’t look like you’re speaking to Reese, either.”

What? “David, really. Why are you asking me this stuff?”

“I just noticed that the two of you were avoiding each other this morning. It was pretty obvious. And I’d kind of like to know what’s going on here, if I’m going to try to fit in.”

“Nothing’s going on.”And you’ll never fit in. But she didn’t say that out loud. But she knew it was true. There was something weird about David. Sure, they were all weird here at the academy. But David was really, really weird.

David shrugged.

He wasn’t talking? It was her chance. “I’ve got to go,”she said.

“Okay,”said David.

She stood up. “See you later.”


She started for the door.

“Reese seems like a nice guy too,”said David.

She rolled her eyes. “He sure is,”she said, without stopping. She was getting out of there if it was the last thing she did.

“Does Gavin know you think that?”

She turned around and glared at David. “What are you talking about?”

“I saw Reese leaving your room,”said David, grinning again.

“So what?”she said. “Reese is my friend. We were talking.”

“Okay,”said David again. “So you wouldn’t mind if I mentioned to Gavin that I saw Reese leaving your bedroom in the middle of the night?”

God! “What is your problem?”she demanded.

“I like Gavin,”said David. “I just…I don’t like it when girls play guys for fools, that’s all. You could say I have a personal stake in it.”

“You have no idea what’s going on,”she said, seething. Sure David could talk to Gavin. It would probably be fine, but it would make things more complicated.

“You said you and Reese were friends,”said David.

“We are. Just friends.”

“So why don’t you want me to talk to Gavin?”

Screw him. What was it? Had he been cheated on in the past or something? Did he think he needed to protect other guys? She had to make him understand that things were more complicated than he suspected. Or she had to… Damn it. She didn’t know what to do. “Tell Gavin,”she said finally. “I don’t care.”

David raised his eyebrows. “Look, I’m only curious, Wyn. I’m not trying to cause issues for you and your boyfriend. You say that you and Reese are friends. Fine. Good enough for me.”He smiled. “Don’t let me keep you.”

She turned to walk out and then stopped. “Are you going to tell Gavin or not?”

David laughed. It was not a pleasant sound. “I thought you had to go, Wyn.”

“I do,”she muttered. She swept out of the room. She really didn’t like that guy.

* * *

Reese was waiting for Madame Braith outside her office when Wyn appeared around the corner. Crap. He didn’t know what to say to her. He felt himself blushing, his face getting hot. He couldn’t help but remember the way she’d felt against him, or the way his lips had felt against hers.

“What are you doing here?”she demanded.

She hated him. She didn’t want to talk to him.

“Uh…”Reese fiddled with the hem of his shirt. “I wanted to talk to Madame Braith. I wanted to make sure that she knew the ritual didn’t work.”He needed this weird spirit stuff to stop. He couldn’t handle being around Wyn anymore. It was distracting and uncomfortable. He hated it. If there was any way that Madame Braith could help, then he wanted her to do it.

Wyn nodded. “Me too.”


“I can’t handle this spirit stuff anymore,”said Wyn. “It’s screwing everything up. David saw you coming out of my room and drew some conclusions. He thinks Gavin should know for his own good.”

“No,”said Reese. “I don’t think we should tell Gavin.”Gavin might be able to understand, because of what had happened with him and Madame Braith, but Reese remembered the look on Gavin’s face when he’d heard that Reese and Wyn kissed. He’d been crushed. Reese didn’t want to do that to him again. Especially when what he and Wyn had done now was so much worse.

“Neither do I,”said Wyn. “I think I convinced him not to. But I just want this over. Madame Braith’s last idea didn’t work. She needs to try something else.”

“What idea?”It was Madame Braith behind them. She smiled, looking innocent. Reese glared at her. She knew very well what they were talking about.

“The King Arthur stuff,”said Reese. “The spirits. The purging ritual didn’t work.”

Madame Braith raised her eyebrows. “But of course it did.”

“No,”said Wyn. “It didn’t. All kinds of messed up things have happened. Like Meaghan and Lissa and stuff between Reese and me.”

Madame Braith cleared her throat. “Well, I’m not sure what goes on between you and Reese is my business,”she said, “but what happened to Lissa was an accident. And we have no idea whether or not Meaghan just ran off.”

“Right,”muttered Reese. “Like Luke and Sophia did.”

Madame Braith hung her head. “Yes,”she said. “That’s my fault. I know it. But the ritual worked. It did. I’m not pregnant anymore, am I?”

Reese and Wyn both stared at her flat stomach.

She smiled and squeezed between them, walking into her office. “You two go on then. I’ll see you in class tomorrow.”She shut the door to the office, leaving them in the hallway.

Reese and Wyn stared at the closed door, speechless.

They didn’t move for several seconds. Finally, Wyn started trudging away from the door, back towards her room. Reese went after her.

“She’s not going to help,”said Wyn. “She doesn’t believe us.”

“She’s never much help, is she?”asked Reese. If he thought there was an easy way out of this mess, he would have left a long time ago. But now things were too complicated. He cared too much for Wyn and Gavin to leave them alone. He had to stay. And they had to fix this.

Wyn looked like she might cry.

“Hey,”he said. “It’s going to be okay.”

“It’s not going to be okay,”said Wyn. Tears started to spill onto her cheeks. “I miss Meaghan. We don’t know where she is or what happened to her. I hate not knowing.”

Reese reached for her hand. She let him grasp it. He held her hand as they walked up the stairs. Wyn was still crying. She seemed to be crying harder and harder. Reese couldn’t help it. He wanted to hold her. To comfort her. But he couldn’t just do it in the hall. He pulled her into his bedroom and drew her into his arms. She sobbed with abandon for several minutes, moaning things about people being dead and not wanting to be so attracted to him. He let her cry, stroking her hair and murmuring comforting words.

Eventually, she quieted. She pulled back, rubbing at her eyes. “Sorry,”she said.

“It’s okay,”said Reese. “Everything sucks right now.”

She nodded.

He wished there was some way to make it not suck. If he could give her what she wanted–if he knew how–he’d do it in a heartbeat. But he didn’t know.

“Most of all, this thing with you is confusing,”she said. “It feels so real, but I don’t know if it is. Part of me wants it to be real, so that I know my feelings aren’t being manipulated by the spirits. But part of me doesn’t want it to be real, because if it’s real, then I’ve betrayed Gavin, and I’ve hurt him, and it’s all my fault.”

“It’s not all your fault,”said Reese. He sighed. “It feels real to me too, though. It’s just complicated.”

She shook her head. “I hate it. I hate everything.”

He pulled her close again. He kissed her.

“No. Reese don’t,”she said.

“I’m sorry,”he said. He let go of her. He walked to the other side of the room. Of course he shouldn’t try to kiss her like that. They were trying to stay away from each other. They didn’t want to hurt Gavin. He scolded himself for being weak.

“It’s just that I thought we weren’t going to do that anymore,”she said.

“We weren’t,”he said. “We aren’t. It’s wrong to hurt Gavin.”

“Yeah,”she said.

He turned away from her and looked out his window. Outside, everything looked perfectly normal. The sun was even shining. God. What was he going to do? How was he going to make things better? Wyn’s hand rested on his arm. He turned to face her. She kissed him.

“I thought–“he said.

“Shh,”she said.

* * *

“You’re royally dense,”said Meaghan. She was sitting on a bloody floral couch in the den, holding a bunch of dead leaves like they were flowers.

Reese winced. He’d barely closed his eyes, and he was dreaming. Not a Lancelot dream, thank God. It seemed, anymore, like the spirits didn’t bother taking over his head when he was asleep. Instead, they just hijacked his body when he was awake. This dream again. The den, looking different than it did now, drenched in blood. Meaghan was wearing one of those druid robes too. Where were Sophia and Luke? He looked Meaghan over. “Where are Sophia and Luke?”he asked.

“I wanted to talk to you alone,”she said.

“Right,”he muttered. Even in his dreams, Meaghan wanted him to bone her. Perfect.

“Don’t get any stupid ideas,”said Meaghan. “Now that the Elaine spirit isn’t riding my body, I’m not attracted to you in the least.”

“I wish you were real,”said Reese. If she were real, he’d know that the feelings he had for Wyn were only coming from the spirits. He’d be able to stop it, he thought, if he was sure they didn’t really care about each other. He’d be able to stop hurting Gavin.

“I am real,”said Meaghan.

“You’re dead.”

Consumed,”said Meaghan. “Geesh. See what I mean about you being dense?”

Whatever. Sophia had told him she was consumed in that vision. He guessed his subconscious had decided to take that idea and spit it into every dream he had these days. “Fine,”he said, “I’ll play along. So if you’re not really dead, does that mean you could come back to life?”

Meaghan looked sad then. “No,”she said. “No.”

“This is such a weird dream,”Reese muttered. He sat down on the bloody couch with Meaghan. He must feel really guilty about her death. Why else would he be dreaming this?

Meaghan stood up. “This is not a dream,”she said. “We’re trying to tell you something, but you’re too stupid to figure out what it is.”

Oh? “Tell me what?”

“We can’t come out and say it. The spirits are watching. They spirits won’t let us. And until you vanquish them, we’re stuck here. If you could just figure out what it is we’re trying to tell you, then you could stop the spirits, and we could actually be dead.”

“You want to be dead?”Reese asked. He thought that being alive in some way was preferable to being dead.

Meaghan didn’t answer for a while. “I do,”she said finally. “I want to be dead. Anything is better than this.”

What if this wasn’t a dream? What if this really was Meaghan? After all, he was a psychic, wasn’t he? That was why he’d come to this school. That was why this weird stuff was happening to him. Why the spirits could ride his body. He leaned forward on the couch. “What do you want to tell me?”

“You think I can whisper it or something?”Meaghan glared at him. “I can’t.”She spread her hands, gesturing at the room.

Reese looked around. “It’s something in the room?”

“This isn’t twenty questions, genius.”Suddenly, she shuddered. “I’ve already said too much.”She looked above her head as if something was there, something horrible.

Reese turned. There was nothing there.

Meaghan screamed, throwing her hands over her head to protect herself. And then…

And then she just disappeared.

Reese stood up, looking around for her. “Meaghan?”he called. She was simply gone.

What had happened to her? Whatever it had been, it hadn’t seemed good. Was this why she preferred to be dead? Were the same spirits that were controlling his body also trapping Meaghan here? Was she in pain? Were Sophia and Luke here as well? If so, he had to stop it.

He began to look frantically around the room. They were trying to tell him something. What was it?

The room was the den. But it wasn’t the den. It had different furniture. The walls were different. There were posters, not bookshelves. There were books, though. Reese crossed the room to the desk where the computer sat. He picked up one of the books. It was spattered with blood. The Once and Future King? Wasn’t that about King Arthur? Quickly, he riffled through all the books. They were all about King Arthur.

He flung The Once and Future King on the floor. “I know we’re in the King Arthur myth. We figured that out already!”he yelled at the room. The room didn’t answer.

What else was there? The posters? The Indigo Girls? Weren’t they a lesbian band? And the lead singer of Garbage was a girl. Was this some kind of nod to Lissa and Sophia? God. He didn’t get it.

“I don’t get it,”he called. “Meaghan? Sophia? Luke? I don’t get it.”

Nothing. Silence.

In the distance, a woman screamed.

Reese sat down on the floor. “I don’t get it,”he said softly.

He woke up frustrated, but Wyn was nestled against him on his bed and she felt so nice there that he burrowed into her warmth and fell back asleep. When he woke up later, he didn’t give the dream another thought.

* * *

Gavin was hungry. It was late. He knew Wyn was already asleep. Well, he thought Wyn was already asleep. He hadn’t talked to her since yesterday, when they’d all been taken over by the spirits again and had been discussing going to war or something. He wasn’t sure, but he felt like she was trying to distance herself from him. Like she was trying to hide something. He wasn’t sure if it was Wyn trying to hide or Guinevere. Everything was so confusing these days.

He crept through the quiet halls of the house, making his way down to the kitchen. There would be leftovers or something in the refrigerator. He could heat them up. But a look into the refrigerator let him know that there wasn’t much of anything in the way of food. There were the usual cold cuts, lettuce, and whole wheat bread. Gavin wasn’t really in the mood for a sandwich, though. Shutting the refrigerator, he opened the pantry. There was microwave popcorn. There was soup. Gavin picked up the popcorn in one hand and a can of soup in the other. He brought both out and set them on the table. Which one should he eat?

“Having a snack?”said a voice.

Gavin jumped.

David was standing in the doorway to the kitchen. His black hair was a little greasy. It fell into his eyes. He was smiling. Gavin wasn’t sure if he liked David’s smile.

“Yeah,”said Gavin, feeling uneasy. “I’m hungry.”

“Me too,”said David. He settled down at the table, propping his legs up. “A little lonely too. It must be nice for you, having your girlfriend here.”

“Uh, yeah,”said Gavin. He snatched the popcorn up and opened the package. It would be more portable. He could get away from David with it. Gavin put the popcorn in the microwave and pressed some buttons.

“So what’s there to eat around here?”David asked.

Gavin really wished David would go away. But then he felt guilty. David was new here. He was just trying to be friendly. The guy had said he was lonely. Gavin sat down with David. He gestured to the soup. “You’re looking at it. And there’s stuff for a sandwich in the refrigerator.”

David perked up. “Cheese?”

Gavin nodded.

David went to the refrigerator. “Listen,”he said as he opened it and began to root around inside, “I don’t mean to meddle in things that aren’t my business, and I don’t know you guys very well yet.”

Gavin waited, but David didn’t continue. “But?”he prompted.

David emerged from the refrigerator with a package of sliced Swiss. “But,”he continued, “I really thought that Wyn was your girlfriend. She is your girlfriend, isn’t she?”

Gavin sighed. He hadn’t seen much of her today. “Things have been weird around here,”he said. “You should know that.”

David rolled up a piece of Swiss cheese and took a bite. “I’d expect nothing less at a school for Sensitives.”

“No,”said Gavin, “like really weird. In a creepy way. I think…”He stopped himself. Should he really tell David that he thought some of the students were dead?

“You think what?”

“Just that stuff’s been happening around here. Not good stuff.”

“Between you and Wyn.”

“Between everybody.”Now that he’d started to give this half-formed warning, he suddenly didn’t feel like talking about it at all. He tried to change the subject. “So where are you from, David?”

“All over,”said David. He grinned and took another bite of cheese. “Army brat.”

“Yeah? So your dad got reassigned a lot?”

“Not my dad. My mom. Dad wasn’t in the picture, if you know what I mean.”

“Sorry,”said Gavin. He wasn’t particularly close to his own parents anymore. For a long time, the only people he’d cared about had been right within the walls of the mansion. He’d never thought he’d want out of this place. But he did. If he and Wyn could leave, he’d do it now. He would do it, if he wasn’t worried that Arthur and Guinevere would come with them.

David shrugged. “One day I’ll find him. I’ll get my revenge.”

Revenge? Gavin guessed that David must be pretty mad at his dad. Still, wasn’t revenge kind of a strong word? But David was talking again.

“Like I said, I don’t want to pry into things that aren’t my business, but if you and Wyn are dating, then–“He broke off, shaking his head. “No, I shouldn’t.”

“Shouldn’t what?”


“You can’t not finish whatever you were saying.”

“It’s only that I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for what I saw the other night. And I don’t want to cause problems for you and Wyn.”

“What did you see?”

“I…”David put down the piece of cheese he was eating. “Okay, if I tell you this, you have to promise that you won’t get angry without talking to Wyn first. Because it’s probably nothing, and if you guys were fighting because of something I said, I’d feel pretty crappy about it.”

“Tell me what you saw.”Gavin was feeling frustrated.

“Would you say you guys have a close relationship?”

Geez. Would he get on with it? “Yeah.”

“Really close. Like you tell each other everything.”

Well. They used to. But now… “We don’t keep secrets.”

“Okay, then,”said David, “I’m sure she probably already told you why Reese was coming out of her room at two in the morning last night.”


The microwave beeped. Gavin just sat there. Reese had been in Wyn’s bedroom? What had they been doing? He’d known the Guinevere stuff was getting strong, but he hadn’t expected that they’d be… Gavin swallowed. He didn’t want to think about it.

The microwave beeped again.

“You okay?”asked David.

Gavin nodded.

“You want your popcorn?”

“I, uh, I’m not feeling hungry anymore,”said Gavin. Had she slept with him? He and Wyn had only had one night together and that night had been stolen from them by the spirits. Now she was with Reese?

It was the spirits manipulating them, he knew, like they’d manipulated him and Madame Braith. He should understand that. He should forgive her.

The image of Reese and Wyn in bed together, naked, their arms around each other, swam in his head. He didn’t know if he could forgive her.

“So did she tell you about that?”asked David.

Gavin shook his head. “No,”he said.

* * *

It was early. Wyn eased out of Reese’s bed and tiptoed to the door, not wanting to wake him. She really hadn’t meant to stay the entire night like that. They needed to be more careful. God knew, she wanted to stay away from him. Well. She wanted to want to stay away from him.

Carefully and quietly, Wyn turned the doorknob. She opened the door just a little and squeezed out into the hallway. Slowly, she pulled the door shut behind her.

“Hey,”said a voice.

Wyn started. She turned in the direction of the voice. It was Gavin. He was leaning against the door to his own room. He was still wearing the clothes he’d worn yesterday. She wondered if he’d been to sleep. Her heart raced. Gavin had just seen her leaving Reese’s room. He’d think–

“Can we talk?”Gavin asked. His voice cracked a little.

Wyn swallowed. “Sure.”

She padded up the hall to him. He gestured to the open door to his room, an invitation. She went inside.

David was sitting on Gavin’s bed. So this was what had happened. David hadn’t been able to keep his big mouth shut. Wyn glared at him.

Gavin came in behind her. He shut his bedroom door and locked it.

“I thought you and I were going to talk,”said Wyn. “What’s David doing here?”

David smiled. “Gavin’s upset,”he said. “I’m a neutral party. I told him I’d help you guys talk it out.”

Wyn turned on Gavin. “He has no idea what’s going on here. You know that I can’t help the way I feel about Reese.”

Gavin wouldn’t look at her.

David gestured to Gavin’s desk chair. “Sit down, Wyn.”

Wyn looked between the two of them. She sat. “Gavin, please tell David to leave.”

“He’s a witness,”said Gavin. “I can’t let my feelings for you blind me to my duty to mete out justice.”


“You’ve committed treason. You’ve betrayed your king. The people will want–“

“No, Gavin, focus!”He was slipping into the King Arthur stuff. And in front of David too. “Be Gavin, please?”

Gavin folded his arms over his chest. “No matter how much I care about you, it does not change the fact that you’ve committed a crime.”

Oh God. He wasn’t snapping out of it.

David just grinned. “A crime,”he said, looking delighted. “Treason.”

Wyn turned to David. “Look, this isn’t just role playing, okay? It’s much worse than that.”

“Oh, I’ve gathered that,”said David. “I’ve figured that out. No, whatever this is, it’s much more fun than role playing. This is just…neat.”

What? Wyn recoiled. She stood up. “I’m going back to my room.”

David stood up too. He smirked. “Oh, you’ll do no such thing, Miss Queenie. Absolutely not. You’ve committed a crime against the crown, and there will have to be punishment.”


“What do you have in mind, your majesty?”David asked, turning to Gavin.

“You can’t mess with him like that!”Wyn snapped.

David waggled a finger in her face. “I don’t think you’re in much of a place to talk, missy. We just caught you with your pants down–well, off, really–and you’re guilty as sin.”He went to Gavin and slung an arm over his shoulder as if they were old pals. “What are you going to do about it, your worship? Huh? What are you going to do?”

Wyn lunged for David, pulling his arm off Gavin. “Leave him alone!”

David twisted away from her grasp, seizing her wrist and wrapping his arm around her waist. He pulled her close. “You banging all the boys in the house, then? Give us a taste, and I’ll stop messing with your boy.”

Wyn was horrified. She was too stunned to react for a minute. It was too ugly–almost cartoonish, like something out of a bad action movie.

“Let her be,”Gavin said.

“She’s a whore, Your Highness,”said David. He tightened his grip on Wyn’s waist. “I’m only sorry you had to find out this way.”

Wyn spat in his face.

David went red. His fingers dug into Wyn’s wrist. He released his grip on her waist. And then…

He slapped her.

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