My latest plan was my most ambitious plan ever. Was that why I had a bad feeling? Or was it just the curse?
What could go wrong? Aside from everything? Rosaline probably wouldn’t kill Rowan… Probably.
At least she’d have to reanimate him afterward, and if she refused, Papa would do it instead. Maman would make him. Or I could try myself if I had to…
Somebody knocked at the door. “Come in,” I yelled. “I’m not naked.” Just in my pajamas, but my mom would tell me to get dressed if I left my room.
“Is that you, Rowan?” I asked, but I was pretty sure it was. The antlers were a dead giveaway, even if they were blurry. “I forgot where I put my glasses.”
“Don’t go,” I said, because I thought I heard hoofsteps, like Rowan was turning around. “You’re my BFFAE. And we have plotting to do, you and me. You’re my accomplice.” I think I pointed at him, but it could’ve been a painting on the wall instead.
“Jump with me!” I commanded him. “I need to get some exercise while I plot.” Some things you just never grew out of! Especially with your BFFAE.
“I can count on you just like always, right, Row-Rave?”
He smiled at me and didn’t let go of my hand.
We jumped and jumped!
But in the end, the bed won and we lost. But it wasn’t the worst loss ever.
“I need you to be…an actor, kinda,” I said. “I know lines aren’t your thing, but that’s okay. You have stage presence. Charisma. That’s even better, if you ask me.”
I was pretty sure he’d gored my pillow and maybe even my mattress, but that was okay. Grandpa Graham could get me a new one. “…”
I pushed myself up onto my knees, and Rowan followed, just like always. “I don’t know how many wood nymphs and fauns you’ve seduced,” I said, “but this is gonna be your toughest target yet. Are you ready?”
He looked into my eyes, like I’d be able to see his readiness from the intensity of his tree-boy gaze or something. “…”
Except it was really hard to see his facial expression, even this close up. “I guess you’ll have to practice on me. Seducing, I mean. And kissing. I know it’ll kinda be like kissing your sister, except not, because I’m your BFFAE and not your sister, and she’s a lot older than us.” Velvet was also Xanny’s mom, which made things extra weird.
Rowan took my face into his hand, like he was my boyfriend and not my BFFAE. “…”
“Sorry,” I said. “I know this must be really blech for you. I’m not amazingly gorgeous like Rosaline. Curse and all, and also probably genetics.”
He stroked my face with his rough, bark-like hand. Would Rosaline like that? I was pretty sure I did, but she had higher standards. And he was my BFFAE, not hers.
“Good job, Rowan,” I mumbled. “Now you just have to kiss me…”
“Yeah. Sorry. On the mouth. I mean, you don’t have to. You can practice on a pillow instead. Or maybe you already have lots of experience. But this has to be perfect–”
I might’ve been able to pretend it was Xanny, if he didn’t smell so…mossy. (Xanny smelled a lot more like hellfire.) I hadn’t kissed anyone before–except for my stuffed animals and that was kind of traumatic after my fang got caught and ripped open Mr. Sweethorns–but I thought this was pretty good…
…It was a really good thing I was a vampiress and didn’t need to breathe.
I finally broke away from him and burst into giggles. “Oh Rowannnn,” I said in a singsong voice–the voice of a girl in love. Maybe not my sister’s voice. “I looooove you. You’re sturdier than an oak tree and your legs are so furry and your tail is soft and twitches like a deer’s and your tongue–”
I didn’t know what to say about his tongue. Would Rosaline like it? I couldn’t imagine it going anywhere near her, to be honest.
“A-plus,” I said. “Or whatever they say to actors to tell them they did a good job, aside from giving them a gold statue. Now you’ll just have to do that on Rosaline once she starts falling for you. It shouldn’t take much.”
“I mean, she probably won’t be a huge fan of the naked thing, but you can’t help that. Being naked. Naked on my bed. Naked…wow, I never thought about how naked you are. So, um, are your…manly bits more goat-y or tree-y? I mean, not that I want to know, but Rosaline will, for educational purposes and all. Hopefully she doesn’t ask to slice off a sample to study or anything.”
I wasn’t sure, but I’d kind of thought I’d felt something while we were kissing, but it’d be rude to look now when he was naked and couldn’t hide it… I mean, it was right there and it was really really hard not to look but he was my BFFAE and I owed him a little privacy. Good thing I could barely see.
It usually wasn’t a big deal that he couldn’t talk…but I really wanted him to talk right then. Not about his manly bits…but about my plan. Why was he looking at me like that?
This couldn’t go wrong, could it? Rosaline had to love him. I loved him more than anything–as my BFFAE, of course.
And soon Xanny would give up on Rosaline and love me instead, and everything would be great.
But until then, this feeling of foreboding wouldn’t go away…