I promised Mathew that I wouldn't interrupt, no matter how desperate I was to ask him a question, so he untied me and put the duct tape at the other end of the room, where we could forget about it. He didn't want me sitting on the kitchen chair, either, for it seemed to hold too many bad memories. For now, we were allies. It wouldn't last, but we had to make the most of it.
When we comfortably settled on the sofa, he began.
"You know that things aren't how you always thought they were. Well, that's true. There's a lot about this world that is different - more different than any human can possibly imagine, because everything that they've been told is a lie, and there's nothing you can do about it. What's more, there's nothing anybody else can do about it, either.
"You also know that you're not your parents' daughter, because I've told you that. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done - that was wrong. Insensitive. I suppose you're wondering why they didn't tell you the truth, but the answer is that they didn't know either. It was all a secret. They think you're their own beloved daughter who can do no wrong. For now, it's best if they carried on thinking that. But it's about time you knew the truth, before it puts you into danger.
"You're not actually a human, Eilidh. I'm sorry. That's going to be hard for you to digest, and I know you were having trouble getting to grips with the fact that I wasn't. To hear that you're not what you thought you were is even worse, but it's better than living a lie, isn't it? You're not a human. You're actually a fairy, one of us. A changeling.
"Your parents had a daughter, who is still alive. She doesn't live in this world, though, not exactly. She's safe in the Otherworld and I hope that's where she'll stay for a good long time. When you were two days old we swapped the babies. Fortunately, you looked rather alike and your parents didn't notice a difference, for we put a glamour on you. By the time it wore off they wouldn't have noticed anything.
"When you were five years old we started to keep a watch on you. It's about that age that any unusual powers might appear, but there was nothing, which is unusual with your kind. So we waited a few more years. Still nothing. Then there was the fact that you were so desperate to drive, yet so terrified when the time came - most unusual. Sprites usually hate technology and metal and anything so potently human, but they love danger and wouldn't be frightened of anything. We began to get suspicious.
"I had arranged for Jon to be your instructor as he knows what he's doing. He's one of us, too. He's what we call a 'scout' - basically, he keeps an eye on the changelings we're monitoring and makes sure that no one hurts them, because if there's one thing we can't stand about humans it's the way they hurt things that are different, just because they're afraid or because they don't like them.
"You were almost within our grasp. Jon managed to get you here. You're in my living room, the home of one of the most influential Fae in goodness knows how many years. And I want to test something."
"Test what?" I asked. I wasn't interrupting, I really wasn't. He'd paused and was looking at me, waiting for a reaction, but I'd filed away my feelings so carefully that I didn't show a thing. Later, when he wasn't there, I'd yell at someone and smash my fists into the wall, but I didn't want to do that now. It was like giving in.
"I want to take off the deeper glamour, the one you've got on now. It's on all changelings from the moment they're born. It makes you look human. But I can only do it with your permission. May I?"