wood furniture polish-but it didn’t mask the reminder of destruction entirely. A burgundy wingback chair sat in the corner where my perfume cabinet had been. I recognized it as a remnant from the attic.

The red roses that Vincent had placed around the room were cleaned up by Uri and Sophie, but all I had to do was close my eyes to see them again. And to see Vincent lying on my bed, dressed in a black funeral suit, his hair white-blond like Caspian’s, even down to the black streak …

Mom put a hand on my shoulder. “Is everything okay?” she asked. “You don’t have to sleep in here if you don’t want to. I can make up the guest room.”

“It’s okay, Mom. I’ll be fine.” I purposefully went over to my bed and sat down on it. I didn’t want the memory of Vincent to drive me away from here. This is my room. Not his.

Mom came over too, and moved the pillows around, stacking them one on top of the other. Then she turned back one edge of the covers, folding it and unfolding it again.

I caught her hand and held it. “I’m fine, Mom.” I forced a brave smile. She had no idea what had really happened here, and I wasn’t going to let on.

“Is there anything that I can get you?” she said. “Anything you need?”

“Nope. But thanks for the offer.”

She looked at me for a long time without saying anything, her eyes wide and kind of glassy. Then she leaned forward and kissed my forehead before standing up. “Try to get some sleep. I’ll wake you when dinner’s ready.”

“Okay, Mom.” I kept the smile on my face until she left the room, then I slumped against the bed and let out a little sigh. My arm ached, and I lifted the sling with a sad little wave at Caspian. He sat down beside me.

“Hurt myself,” I said.

“I see. Looks like you’re going to need an extra hand.”

“Know any takers?”

“By your side like glue.” He grinned at me, but his eyes were sad.

I wanted to take away the sadness that was there. Make it disappear and have it never return. “What I told Ben goes double for you, you know. It’s not your fault.”

He ran a hand through his hair and looked away. “Yeah, but unlike Ben, it is my job to protect you. Or at least … to do the best that I can. I can’t believe I let that happen.” He smacked his fist against his open palm as he spoke. “Vincent attacked you, and now you’re here, like this, and I’m …”

“Stuck like glue?”

“That’s right,” he said softly, catching my eye. “Stuck like glue.”

“Lucky for you I happen to like glue.” I kicked off my sandals and unzipped my hoodie. It was hard to pull my injured hand through the sleeve, but once it was out, I was able to shrug the shirt off the rest of the way and tossed it on the floor.

Caspian reached down and picked it up. Then he walked over to the closet door and hung it on the knob. “Is this okay here?”

“Yeah, it’s fine. You know, you’re going to be handy to have around. You can put away all of my laundry.”

He made a short bow, then came back to the bed and stretched out beside me. “If laundry duty is what milady wants, then laundry duty is what she will get.”

He turned to face me, and his black streak of hair covered one eye. My heart fluttered.

“That’s the picture of domestic bliss,” I said. “Add in a big fan and an exotic drink, and you have every girl’s dream fantasy.”

“Domestic bliss, huh? You wanna play house with me, Abbey?”

I felt my cheeks heating up. “I, um … You know what I mean. Servant. Fantasy. That sort of thing.”

“Right. Right. Every girl’s fantasy. But I’m only interested in one girl’s fantasy.” He leaned forward. “Yours.”

I thought back to our recent hotel stay in West Virginia. Where we’d shared a bed … and a towel. Then something else struck me. “Hey, who did the laundry at your house?” I asked softly.

His face grew serious, and he looked away. “We went to the Laundromat. There was a lady there who washed it for us. Eventually she showed me how to do it. She even made me a cheat sheet so I wouldn’t forget. Only took a couple loads of pink shorts and one overflowing washer, but then I taught Dad.”

I watched his face move as he spoke, and was struck once again by how beautiful he was. And by something more … How mine he was.

“So you did all of your own laundry? What else did you do?”

“I got myself up for school and made my own lunches.”

I pictured a younger version of Caspian trying to put together peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every morning, and my heart felt sad. Mom had always made my lunches for me when I was little. She’d even taken special requests, like when I wanted egg salad for three months straight. “I would have made your lunch for you,” I said softly.

He went to squeeze my hand, but pulled back as he remembered he couldn’t. “I know, Abbey,” he replied instead. “I know.”

We lay there in silence until finally I said, “You know what’s going to be the best thing about having you here with me?”

“Having a manservant at your beck and call?”

“Nope. But that’s a close second.” I moved my free hand closer to his until that faint tingle of almost touching buzzed through me, and I gazed up at the constellations covering my bedroom ceiling. “The best thing is having someone to look at the stars with.”

A couple hours later Mom called me down for dinner, while Caspian stayed up in my room. The whole time we ate, I kept thinking about what it was going to be like to have him there without my parents realizing it. I’ll have to be careful. Have to watch that I don’t let anything slip in front of them, that they don’t hear me talking to him.

“You’re awfully quiet over there,” Dad said. “What are you thinking about?”

“The fact that we should get an alarm system.”

Okay, so that wasn’t really what I’d been thinking about, but it sounded good.

Mom and Dad exchanged uncomfortable glances. “Your mother and I have someone coming over this week to talk about our options,” Dad replied.

I forked a piece of broccoli and kept eating. “Okay.”

They both just looked at me, dumbfounded.

“So … you’re okay with that?” Dad asked.

“Yeah. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Well, we wouldn’t want you to be uncomfortable with the idea of needing to have one, to feel safe here.”

I put my fork down. “Dad, someone broke into our house. I think an alarm system would be okay.”

Mom put her hand on the table with a loud bang. “Enough! Enough of this conversation! I don’t want to discuss it anymore.”

“I think we should all discuss this,” Dad said.

“Yeah. It’s only an alarm system, Mom. No big deal …”

Mom’s face was stricken. “I don’t want to discuss this. We’ve lived in this town our entire lives and nothing like this has ever happened before. I don’t want to know that we’re getting an alarm system put in because there’s some crazy person breaking into homes and hurting people’s children and … and …” Her voice grew louder with every word until she was practically screaming.

Then she shut down.

“I can’t deal with this. I need a pill.”

She suddenly left the room, and I waited for some type of explanation from Dad.

But he didn’t give me one.

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