50- In Which a New Life Starts

Phinn led the way into his own Kingdom as they crossed the threshold of the courtyard inside the big door. Almost as soon as that happened, the Kingdom began to rumble and pick up off the ground.

"How do we know this isn't a trap or something?" Turner asked, following Phinn up the stairs.

"It's not," said Phinn, turning around and raising his eyebrow.

"Actually," Elena said, looking back at Turner and suddenly beginning to feel rather uneasy about all this, "Turner's got a point."

She felt really stupid that it was only just now occurring to her. For the longest time, Hunt's goal had been to get Phinn into his own Kingdom to Infect him and now, out of the blue, here was his Kingdom. It wasn't as if Anya had greeted them at the door or given them any reason to believe there weren't evil people on board.

"Hunt's dead, remember?" Phinn pointed out, continuing up the stairs, completely unwilling to even entertain these shenanigans.

Maybe it's just because he knew that if it was a trap and Hunt had somehow gotten his Kingdom, then that meant Anya was undoubtedly dead. He didn't want to even go there.

"What if he pretended to be dead and this is a trap?" Turner tried.

Phinn spun around and grabbed Turner by the collar, shoving him up against the wall rather roughly. Elena tried to wrench the two of them apart but if Phinn did not want to be moved, then he was not going to move. Instead of trying to fight back, Turner immediately took the submissive stance and shrunk away from his older brother, waiting for whatever punishment he was going to deal out.

Elena merely quietly said Phinn's name, hoping to remind him that she was standing right there and didn't want to see the two of them go at each other.

So Phinn took in a deep breath and let Turner go. "It's not a trap, okay?" Phinn said firmly.

"Okay, fine," said Turner uneasily, readjusting his collar.

"Maybe you guys should try a little harder to get along," Elena suggested.

"Maybe he oughta not say stupid shit!" Phinn yelled angrily.

"Okay, okay," Elena said, trying to calm him down.

Once he saw Anya, he'd be much more relaxed. Right now, he was way too overly anxious to even bother listening to reason.

She continued to tell herself that because she was really just hoping that she hadn't made a big mistake by deciding to come along with him.

Phinn continued up the stairs, pausing briefly when he heard a door above them open up. He leaned over the railing, trying to look up at whoever had opened the door. Elena listened: they heard the sound of someone coming down the stairs.

"Anya?" he called, sounding even more on edge than before, like he had just started to think that maybe it wasa trap after all.

Anya then leaned her head over the edge. Her brown eyes lit up in a way that Elena had never seen before—she was almost kind of human. She pulled away from the railing and began to run down the stairs, though Phinn remained where he was stationed. Turner stole an awkward glance at Elena, like he had just realized that he didn't want to be there after all.

She understood why he suddenly looked that way because as soon as Anya appeared at the top of the stairs, she saw Turner and Elena standing there for the first time. And it really must have been the worst thing that could have happened to her because clearly she had been looking forward to being reunited with her son only to have the moment tarnished by anyone else in the entire world having to witness it.

It was beginning to occur to Elena that Anya was going to make all of this substantially more complicated (though she didn't realize that was possible).

"Phinn," said Anya as she slowly began to descend the stairs. Her eyes were fixed on Turner and Elena, and she wasn't blinking, only furiously trying to find an explanation in her head for why they would be there. "Did you realize they followed you?"

Phinn looked over his shoulder as if he didn't know what she was talking about. Elena saw a flicker of fear in his eyes as well. Clearly he had not considered how complicated Anya was going to make this either.

"Yeah," said Phinn.

And apparently he decided that was sufficient.

Anya was finally at the bottom of the stairs. Maybe, if they didn't have an audience, they would have hugged each other. But she was quite aware that she was being watched (which was the source of her anger), and so she decided to smack Phinn across the face instead. "You had no right!" she screamed at him.

Elena tried not to change her expression. Now was not the time to assert her feelings regarding Anya's abuse.

Phinn exhaled a loud breath through his nose and clenched his fists. She reached up and grabbed him by the ear and pulled on it. At first, he bent with her arm to avoid the pain but he quickly got fed up with that. Instead of allowing it, he put both his hands on her shoulders and shoved her backwards so she stumbled into the stairs.

As she fell, Phinn grunted at her. Turner slapped his forehead and Elena tried not to watch.

"This is my Kingdom, all right?" he shouted. "I can invite whoever the hell I want on it! You touch me again and you're out, got it?"

Anya glared up at him. Then she tore her glare away and stared at the ground, almost pouting. She knew he was much stronger than her so, in a physical confrontation, she didn't stand a chance. It had been that way for a while. It was just that she had hoped it would take him longer to figure out he could take advantage of it.

"Fine," she said, through her teeth. "Where are we taking them?"

"We're not taking them anywhere," said Phinn. "They're staying on board."

And now Anya's fists clenched. "Why?" she demanded.

"I'm gonna teach T how to fight," said Phinn.

"Really?" Elena said, looking up at Turner.

Turner shrugged embarrassedly. "I thought it might be useful," he said.

"And her?" Anya questioned, her glare shifting to Elena.

This was going to do it. This was going to really set Anya off.

Phinn turned his head slightly to see Elena. It was kind of eerie that they were both staring at her so intensely with almost matching expressions. Elena had observed in the past that they had the same eyes, but she hadn't realized they had the same glares too.

He broke away and looked down at Anya, which caused her to look up at him as well. "She has to be somewhere," he nearly mumbled.

"Why here?" Anya pushed.

"Because!" Phinn protested, not really offering a sufficient answer. "Because she's—just because, okay? It's what I've decided and it's my Kingdom!"

Anya's glare returned to Elena. "Fine," she said, knowing exactly how to translate Phinn's tantrum into a cohesive answer.

"And I don't want to go after Chaste Beauties anymore," Phinn said as he abruptly started climbing the stairs. "I don't care about what they have to say and I don't want to waste my time."

"Phinn—" Anya began but he only raised his hand without even looking at her, which instantly silenced her.

"She's…" Phinn started, gesturing haphazardly at Elena without knowing where he was headed with the sentence he had already committed to.

"She's his girlfriend," Turner intervened.

Elena immediately felt herself go completely red, which wasn't much of a stretch since she was almostcompletely red right before Turner spelled it out.

Anya waited for Phinn to call Turner a liar and correct his assessment. When he didn't, she pushed herself to her feet, wearing the most epic frown on her face that Elena had ever seen. She began to move in Elena's general direction, which caused Phinn to nearly throw himself on her (out of fear that there might be physical assault involved), but Anya passed by without touching anyone. She flung the door open and slammed it shut behind her.

Elena inadvertently let out a sigh of relief. She did feel bad that Anya didn't get to have the reunion with Phinn she had obviously been looking forward to, but at the same time, she was glad to have that confrontation out of the way so it didn't have to happen later when no one else was around.

Phinn leaned against the wall and stared at the door.

"Are you going to go after her?" Turner asked.

Phinn only shook his head. "She'll get over it," he determined. "She never stays mad at me for very long, right?"

"What about me?" Elena tried.

Much to her dismay, Phinn's confident expression shifted a bit to indicate his apprehension on the matter. "Maybe you should stick with me for now, all right?" he suggested.

"All right," said Elena uneasily.

Maybe this wasn't among her best ideas. Or even among her mediocre ideas. No, it was safe to say this might have been a very bad idea.

/end book 6

A/N: Hello again everyone! Thanks for reading and reviewing. It's really uplifting and motivating to suddenly find a new comment in my inbox. Although these stories are fun to write on a personal level, I'm glad that there are other people reading and enjoying and getting really into the story and the characters. The next book will be the seventh and I hope you'll all want to continue reading as I update. I know there's already been a lot of story thus far (if you've read since the beginning then you should know that you've read about 1500 pages) but there's still more to come. See you inThe Kingdom of Stormswhich I will start uploading in early December, no less than a week from now! Thanks again!