Ch. 196. Meeting in the Dark

Lotye spun around. She had been focused on where to set her feet not to make a sound on the wooden floor. In her head, she had been busy trying to figure out what just had happened. But she hadn’t paid much attention to her surroundings. Which now turned out to be a mistake. Too careless! Dammit, I have to stop running around with my head in the clouds. Especially when there’s a storm.

Without even seeing him, she immediately recognised Peino’s voice. Now that she knew where to look, she could make out his figure against the slightly lighter shade of grey of the wall. The selkie seemed to wear his nightclothes. At the same time, he couldn’t just stand there, half hidden in the darkness, by coincidence. He had noticed her and Lotye couldn’t help but wonder how long he had watched, or rather heard, her.

Her first instinct was to throw up her hands and scream “I didn’t do anything!” Yet, she somehow was able to control herself and didn’t. Though, actually that statement wouldn’t really be all that incorrect, some part of her realised with surprising clarity. The remaining part of her just stood stunned. It took her a few long moments standing there, wide-eyed and with her mouth open. Then, she closed her mouth. She took a few deep breaths, trying to calm herself, to give herself time to think.

The look of surprise, shock and guilt on her face finally made way for a nervous smile. She didn’t know what to do with her hands. After fumbling around with her fingers without results, she just crossed them in front of her chest. She was still thinking. Maybe it had only been seconds since Peino’s voice had sounded through the darkness, maybe much longer. She couldn’t tell. The tethering bracelet suddenly seemed to weigh heavily on her.

But why should I feel guilty? I haven’t done anything wrong, have I? I wanted to, but that’s not the same. This thought grew and in the end it was the strongest one running through her head. If anything, I decided to stay, even though I could have left. That’s got to mean something … Lotye tried to mobilise her usual wit before she opened her mouth.

“No. I’m heading in exactly the right direction.” To underline her point, she made a step forward, as if she just wanted to walk past him and to her room. A second step, then she stopped. She turned to Peino again and added, “To bed.”

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