Ascend / Page 40

Page 40


“Um, yes, I think that sounds good,” I said. “I’ll have to speak with Kenna first.”  I realized something and looked back at him. “Is everyone awake then?”

“Yeah, everyone but you, Tove, and Loki,” Duncan said. “But I just saw Loki in the bathroom, so I guess he’s up now. What happened with Tove last night? Aurora said that he was sick or something?”

“Yes,” I said quickly. “He’s… sick.” I rubbed at the bruise on my arm, trying to cover it up. “I need to talk to him. Is he in his room?”

“As far as I know,” Duncan said.

“Thank you,” I said. “I’ll go talk to him and get dressed, and then I will meet everyone downstairs. Does that sound alright?”

“Yeah, that sounds great,” Duncan said. “And, Princess, you should really take it easy today. You look like you’re coming down with something.”

I waved him off, and he left. As I walked down to Tove’s room, I kept trying to think of what I wanted to say. Should I tell him about Loki? Not here. Not now. We had too much to do for the people here. I didn’t want to waste time on a fight.

Timidly, I knocked on the door. I still hadn’t come up with what I was going to say to Tove. He opened the door, and the sight of him made it worse. He looked like hell. His hair was always disheveled, but not this bad. I know he’d slept, but he had bags under his eyes. His normally mossy-tan skin had paled, and worst of all, he appeared to have aged a few years overnight.

“Wendy, I am so sorry,” were the first words out of his mouth, and for a second, I didn’t understand what he had to be sorry for. “I never meant to hit you. I’d never do that. Not if I was thinking clearly.”

“No, it’s okay,” I said numbly. “I know. Yesterday took a lot out of everybody.”

“That’s no excuse.” Tove shook his head. “I should’ve… done something.”

“You couldn’t have,” I said. “And I understand.”

“No, you don’t. What I did, it wasn’t okay. It’s never okay to hit a woman, let alone my wife.”

The word wife made me flinch, but I don’t think he noticed. I didn’t want to have this conversation anymore. I couldn’t handle listening to him apologize to me after what I’d done. I didn’t condone hitting women either, but that wasn’t Tove. He hadn’t been in his right mind.

I hadn’t exactly been in my right mind when I slept with Loki either, but if I was being honest with myself, I wanted to, even when I was drained from my powers. Yesterday’s overload of work had only weakened my inhibitions, so I was more willing to give into something I wanted.

I still wanted to be with Loki, and that’s why my crime far outweighed Tove’s.

I brushed past Tove and went over to my suitcase to get a change of clothes. He tried apologizing again, and I reiterated that he had nothing to be sorry for. Before he could bring up last night again, I changed the subject to talk about all the things we had to get done today.

We had gotten all of the major cleaning done, so there was nothing more we personally could do for Oslinna.

I got dressed and went down to start figuring out how to get people out of here. Some vehicles were still in working order, but not enough for everyone. We’d have to send out more cars once we got back to the palace.

As we helped organize the transport, deciding who would go and who would stay, Willa commented on how strange I seemed. I was acting as close to normal as I could, except any time Loki came near me, I left in a hurry. I couldn’t even be around him.

Once everyone was loaded up, we drove home. Kenna stayed behind to run what was left of Oslinna, but I promised her that more help would be on the way soon. Rebuilding the town would be my top priority. Well, right after protecting the kingdom from Vittra domination.

Willa and Matt rode with Tove and me to Förening, and I was grateful. I don’t think I would’ve been able to handle a long car ride with just Aurora and Tove. Matt sat in the back seat, sketching and talking about all the things we could do for Oslinna.

When we got back, we helped get the refugees set up in the spare rooms in the palace. It would be weird having so many people living here, but it might be good too. I tasked Willa with getting the resources together to rebuild Oslinna, and Matt was more than happy to take over the plans.

As soon as the people from Oslinna were settled, I went down to the library to continue my research. I still had to find a way to kill Oren and stop the hobgoblins. Eventually, we would be up against the Vittra, and I needed to know how to defeat them.

Besides that, it would do me good to immerse myself in work. I didn’t want to think about the mess I’d made of my personal relationships.

I spent most of the evening searching through old Tryllic texts to no avail. None of them mentioned anything about immortal trolls, or at least not that I could understand. I went back over to search for a different book. When I looked up, I saw Finn standing in the doorway to the library.

I didn’t think my guilt could get any deeper until I saw him. Despite the fact that Finn and I had never even really been together, not to mention that whatever we had was officially over, I still felt as if I’d cheated on him too.

“Are you alright, Princess?” Finn narrowed his eyes in concern and came into the library.

“Um, yeah, I’m great.” I lowered my eyes and walked back to the desk I’d been studying at. I wanted space between us, and a huge wooden desk would definitely help out.

“You look so pale,” Finn said. “The trip must’ve taken a lot out of you.”

“Yeah, we all worked really hard there,” I said and flipped open a book so I would look busy. I wanted anything to keep my mind off of Finn and his dark eyes.

“That’s what I heard.” He leaned on the desk in front of me. “Loki came to see me today.”

“What?” My head jerked up, and my stomach dropped. “I mean, did he?”

“Yeah.” Finn gave me an odd look. “Are you sure everything is okay?”

“Yeah, it’s all great,” I said. “What did Loki say?”

“He told me what he learned about the hobgoblins from your visit to Oslinna,” Finn said. “All of the damage was focused on property, and people happened to get in the way. He seems to think the hobgoblins are relatively peaceful, but he’s still coming down to help me train the trackers tomorrow.”


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