I was simmering with anger until I saw Arthur look at me with love in his eyes.
"Is everything okay, princess?" he asked.
I sighed, smiling. "It is now."
"Don't let my brothers get you down. What did Ryan want with you, anyway?"
"Oh, Henry was in pain because he'd been hypnotised to resist me," I said, rolling my eyes as I went to sit in front of Arthur on his bed.
Arthur cocked his head to one side. "Resist you?"
I nodded. "I suppose things are better that way."
"Oh, I'm just surprised."
I smiled, guessing the nature of his next comment. "Why?" I asked.
"I thought you were impossible to resist."
I grinned and closed my eyes as Arthur leaned forwards to kiss me.
I was surprised when he tickled me instead.
I opened my eyes and, after being momentarily dazed by rainbows, asked "Did you not plan on kissing me?"
"Just didn't want to be too predictable," Arthur explained, gazing lovingly into my eyes. He caressed my hair lightly.
"I can never predict the magnitude of the next earthquake," I said quietly before closing the small yet inconceivably large gap between us to kiss him.
It was with a heavy heart that I went back home. I was quiet during dinner and didn't speak between then and bedtime. I found it nice to play back memories of Arthur whenever I had a spare moment - it was like ‘reminiscing about old times' though with ‘old times' still very much accessible.
It was just before I fell asleep that I realised I'd told Sophia I'd thought Ryan was a decent guy. But the way he had acted this afternoon appeared to indicate he wasn't all good. I needed to see him: to tell him to be a better boyfriend because Sophia deserved that - any girl did. I felt guilty for not expressing my outrage when this had happened. Poor Sophia - I mean, she can't have noticed that Ryan was taking advantage of her: she'd been too lovestruck and unsure of herself at the time.
The next day, I strode out to Mesmerising Mansion to sort out the Ryan problem. I knocked boldly on the front door. To my horror, Andrew opened it. I was suddenly frightened.
"Hi," he said coolly.
"Morning," I said, trying to sound polite.
"D'you happen to know why my girlfriend decided to ... break off our engagement?" he asked casually but I could sense the danger, tasting it in the air.
"She did?" I asked, pretending to sound shocked, though secretly happy. "Did she say why?"
"Well, apparently I'm cold."
Menace flashed in his eyes. "Oh, really? So instead of cordially inviting you to step in and have a drink before you see your beloved boyfriend, I might ... use my powers to inflict fear or even pain, being this ‘nasty' person?"
"N-no," I stammered. "Of course not."
"Then, why, pray, should Liza take off her engagement ring and give it back to me?"
"Er, no idea..."
"Ah, so it's just coincidence that you were the last person to talk to her before she caused my heart to splinter?"
"To splinter?" I asked evasively. "It doesn't sound like you're too cold if you could be affected in that way."
"You'd be willing to persuade Liza to reconsider her decision?"
"Well, it's her decision, isn't it?"
"She sought your advice before."
"But what should the things that I say matter?"
"I don't know: what should they? If I hadn't seen you in the park, I would have thought Elizabeth's actions were totally spontaneous."
"You can't honestly be blaming me," I said, slowly stepping back.
"Oh, don't go: we haven't finished yet. And yes I am blaming you because you're guilty."
"Who's to say Elizabeth hasn't been planning this for a while and one tiny thing I said just ... gave her the confidence?"
"That ‘one tiny thing' has caused me immense pain, so even if it wasn't your entire fault, your actions must have consequences."
"Must they?" I replied, quivering.
"Naturally. Besides, I couldn't hurt Liza."
"But didn't she say that she didn't like the way you hurt other people?" I squeaked.
"She may have mentioned it in passing."
"Then shouldn't you be trying to change so that she does want to marry you?"
"Oh, Harriet, you think this conversation is about retrieving the state of a relationship. No, my dear, this is about revenge."
"It creates vicious circles," I whispered in an attempt to dissuade him from doing whatever he was about to do.
He laughed, petrifying me.
"Oh, Harriet, you are hilarious. Follow me." The command had been spoken in a hypnotic tone, but even if it hadn't, I wouldn't have dared disobey him.
I desperately hoped that one of his brothers would come and rescue me, but as if reading my thoughts, Andrew said "They all fell asleep. Isn't that odd? Even Zara and Sophia."
"Wh-when will they wake up?"
Andrew glanced at his watch. "In about quarter of an hour. Which gives me plenty of time."
"Wh-what are you going to do to me? How did you know I was coming? How did you know what time I was coming?"
"A well-worded suggestion I made yesterday that you of course don't remember."
It terrified me that he'd hypnotised me and I'd forgotten. Who knew what else he had done to me?
"Wh-what are you g-going to do to me?" I repeated, trembling inside.
"I don't know," he replied, sounding cheerful. "Something unpleasant yet delightful. That sounds good, doesn't it?"
I didn't answer. Andrew led me up a staircase off the first floor onto a richly decorated landing. I followed him into a room with a window that looked out across the countryside and felt sick with fear when he beckoned me to sit down on a chair.
"Now, I don't need to tie you up, do I? You really would be stupid to try and escape."
"Please don't do this."
"Oh but Harriet, have you never felt like this before? In so much pain that you just wanted to ... lash out? I need to do this to relieve my own pain... and also to warn you that if you ever try to interfere with my relationship with Liza again, you will regret it."
"You've warned me now. Can't you give me another chance?" And anyway, I'm already in a sort of pain - I'm terrified."
"Only terrified? Not ... scared for your life?"
"T-too scared t-to be able t-to express it properly."
"How... unsatisfactory. I wanted to hear you scream: scream out in a similar agony to that which I felt when Liza gave me back the ring I'd put on her finger."
Then, I did scream. "Arthur!" I cried. "ARTHUR!"
"He can't hear you," Andrew said, smiling wickedly.
"Henry!" I shouted, in one last desperate attempt to be rescued.
"Silence," Andrew snarled. "I grow tired of your pitiful whining."
"Th-thought you w-wanted me to scream," I said, so scared that I wasn't even thinking properly.
Andrew gave me a look as if to say ‘Are you really trying to encourage me?'
"You know," I said, "Liza doesn't deserve you: she's lovely. And you're horrible for confusing her and exploiting her kindness as well as for being cruel to everyone else. I hate you!"
Andrew's expression became one of purest loathing. "I assure you that the feeling's quite mutual."
He began to stare into my eyes. I was simultaneously terrified and mesmerised by those vicious indigo eyes.
"Stop!" came a voice which could only have been in my imagination.
Nevertheless, Andrew turned towards his door looking stunned.
"How did you wake up?!"
There, looking defiant and blazing with anger was Henry.