I am so relieved she's giving me a chance. This has to work, it has to.
As soon as I got home after school, I bolted up to the top floor of the house where Andrew, Shaun, Simon, Jack and my parents slept.
I knocked on Andrew's door, feeling slightly apprehensive. It was time for some serious acting.
He opened it and looked surprised, then cool.
"What?" he asked. Behind him I could see Elizabeth sitting demurely on his bed, looking as if he had been lecturing her or making her feel bad about something she'd said or done. My heart went out to her and I almost, almost, let my pity show on my face. But, keeping myself detached, I said, "I'd like to meet Michael and his ... proprius."
Andrew looked amazed. "You would?"
"Really? But what's brought this on? You always seemed to care. Especially for your girlfriends: they really mattered to you. But now you want to meet a proprius?"
"It'll be ... interesting," I said.
Andrew beamed. "Wow. I'm proud of you. Is it for research? Are you going to find out how so you can obtain one?"
"I'll ... see how it goes," I replied, knowing that saying I wanted one was just one thing I would never be able to do.
"When do you want to see them? Anna would never leave Michael's side. I could call them right now, if you like."
"No thanks," I answered. "I'd like to see them tomorrow. Could you ... invite them around ... at about six o'clock in the evening?"
"Sure thing," Andrew replied, still smiling. "Well, I never. Little Henry all grown up. I so hoped you wouldn't turn out to be a disappointment like some of your brothers. Maybe I'll give you a few tips here and there about being the best Captivator you could possibly be."
"Maybe," I replied, remaining expressionless.
He was shaking his head as he returned to Elizabeth. Elizabeth looked sad. I guessed she might know what a proprius was and have the wrong impression of me. Oh well, too late to worry about what people thought of me now.
I walked back to my room and made plans for tomorrow.
The following day, Henry almost bounced up to me.
"This evening, five thirty at my place," he said before walking off without giving me a chance to reply.
I was terribly curious about what he was so desperate to tell me but I still disliked him so I kept away from him from the rest of the day (failing in the subjects where he was in the same class as me).
That afternoon, I received a text from Arthur to meet him in the park at five o'clock. I was about to reply that I couldn't when I remembered that he'd see me come around his place to visit Henry. I fretted about what to do. Henry didn't want me to tell Arthur and I was sure he wouldn't be greatly appreciative if I visited his brother when I was his girlfriend, especially in light of his mood at the weekend. I did say I couldn't and was worrying about what to do until I began the walk down to the changing rooms for sports and remembered that Henry caught the bus home. I was extremely fortunate to see him and ask if I could ride home with him since it turned out that I needed a pass from the school office to say I was catching it.
Sports was fun and relaxing after a stressful lunch break and I enjoyed being out in the not quite fading autumn sun.
At the end of school, I collected a slip of paper from the office to say I was going home on Henry's bus before walking with him to where we had to wait for it. The journey back was short and stopped metres away from Mesmerising Mansion, which I found a little pointless since the bus I took stopped near my house which was only half an hour away. Henry hadn't said anything the whole way and in a way that had been good because I sensed this was almost like a date to him - going home with the girl you love, just the two of you. We walked the short distance to the mansion, snuck in through the back door and walked to Henry's room, seeing no sign of Arthur whatsoever. The problem after that was what to do. I was stuck in a room with a closed door with Henry with nothing to do. I got all my homework done and texted my mum to tell her I was round a friend's house and would be back before seven (or so Henry said) but then was left with half an hour to spare before I'd been meant to arrive at in the first place.
"So, what were you going to talk to me about?" I asked Henry who was quietly getting on with some work of his own. I could tell he was trying not to look at me. He sighed, put down his pen and looked up. The longing in his eyes was difficult to ignore.
"I've invited someone to introduce you to their proprius," he said, very quietly. "Then we can talk."
"What's a ‘proprius'?"
"When are they coming over?"
"Did we need half an hour? Obviously, we've had longer now but..." I raised an eyebrow.
"I thought I'd let you have some time to relax, get some work done like you just have. The sight of a proprius is not one for those who were already distressed."
I rolled my eyes. "I'm sure it's not that bad."
Henry murmured, "It's not bad, it's horrific," but returned to his work.
"Are you sure you didn't just make this whole thing up so you could get me alone?"
Henry didn't look up. "I told you: this is more important than my feelings for you."
I pulled a book out of my bag and began to read it.