After dinner, Leila started heading straight upstairs. Kadri and I walked with her.
“Aren’t you going to relax for a little while before going to see Ingrid and Brielle?” I asked her when I saw her heading towards their room instead of hers.
She gave me a somewhat puzzled look. “I don’t really think I need to,” she told me. “I’m sure they’ve been waiting anxiously for me to visit them.”
“Didn’t–” I grumbled. I knew I was grumbling, and that I shouldn’t have been, but I was. “Leila, Blackthorne fed them this morning.”
She kept on walking towards the vampires’ room. “I know; it was really sweet of him to do that even though he could have just gone right back to enjoying his honeymoon with Justin.”
“Yeah, that’s really noble and all, but they should have gotten him to begin with instead of kidnapping you.”
“Neither of us asked to be here,” she reminded me, “but now that we’re here, we might as well help out.”
“Leila!” I grabbed her wrist and stopped us right there in the hall. We were only feet from Ingrid’s door.
She glowered up at me and yanked her wrist free. “What, Stefan?”
“I…” I sighed heavily. “Can we talk?”
Leila did not look at all enthusiastic about that question. “We could, if I didn’t think this was just your way of preventing me from helping them.”
“No, Leila, I just–”
“You just what, Stefan?!” she snapped. “You don’t want your supposed best friend to do something kind? You want to go back to denying my purpose for being here?”
“Woah, Leila, I–“
“You wanna tell me what to do, too? Jean-Marc wants me to be the next Terran to bring music to Tierney Ríocht, Lorne Thorne wants me to feed Ingrid so she can keep Brielle alive, and you– You act like you can’t decide between helping me and holding me back like some over-protective parent!
“Put a sock in it, Stefan!” She was shouting now; I hadn’t seen her that mad in a long time. “You wanna show that you care so much? Take Kadri to my rooms and help her get settled in. I will be up after Ingrid has fed enough to help Brielle regain her strength. I’m not leaving it up to just Blackthorne to make sure one of our musicians doesn’t starve to death while we return to Earth and collect ourselves.”
I didn’t try to stop her; I knew I couldn’t. Leila was not about to turn back and listen to me, so I didn’t even try. I simply watched her walk into Ingrid’s room, where I could hear Matthias thanking her gratefully. Then I looked down at Kadri.
“I really managed to piss her off that time,” I sighed.
“Was that they call a lovers’ quarrel?” she asked me. I couldn’t tell whether her innocence was feigned or genuine.
“We’re just friends,” I told her, trying to keep my tone neutral so as not to get anyone else angry with me.
“Maybe if you had a way to show her how much you really do support her being here, she’d let you be more,” Kadri suggested matter-of-factly.
I blinked and stared at her. “More than friends?” I scoffed with a nervous laugh. “I couldn’t do that.”
“Why not? Didn’t you fight Lorne Thorne’s childe and a bunch of werewolves in order to protect her?”
“Yeah, but I’d have done the same thing for Killian or Larsa.”
Kadri gave me a disbelieving look.
“Besides, it wouldn’t last,” I insisted. “And it’s not like our friendship would be the same when we stopped being lovers. I don’t want to lose that.
“If,” she said.
“‘If you stopped being lovers.’ But you said ‘when.’ What if you never stopped being lovers?”
I felt my cheeks getting hot. “Well, I– uumm… Look, I can’t talk about this right now. Leila wants me to take you up to her room, so I’d better just do that.”
“Yes!” Kadri agreed with a grin. “That’ll be the first step in showing her that you support he being here.”
That said, she took my hand and walked with me back to the stairs and up to Leila’s room. I wasn’t sure whether Larsa had been putting ideas in her head, but I couldn’t yell at her the way I had with him– especially since doing so would upset Leila even more, and that was the opposite of what I wanted to do.