Flawed (Flawed, #1)(6)

Written By: Cecelia Ahern



But we all know Angelina Tinder has no chance. Everyone who goes through the Flawed court is found guilty; otherwise, they wouldn’t be taken in the first place. Unlike Juniper, I understand rules. There is a line, a moral one, and Angelina crossed it, but I just can’t believe that I could know someone who is Flawed, that I could sit in her house beside her at her piano, a piano she touched, then I touched with my fingers. I want to wash my hands immediately. I try to think back on our last conversation, on previous conversations, to see if she showed any hint of a dent in her character. I wonder about her daughter, Colleen. Can I still talk to her at school? Probably best not to. But that doesn’t feel right, either. I’m conflicted.

“Where is Cutter?” Bosco suddenly says, looking at Mom angrily.

“He’s with Bob. I’m sure he’ll be back soon,” she says politely.

“That doesn’t look good,” he says. “He should be here.”

“I’m sure he’ll be—”

“I hope she can still play piano,” Juniper interrupts Mom, out of nowhere. “With her hand seared.”

“Do you feel sorry for her?” Bosco asks, his irritation rising.

“Of course she doesn’t,” Art pipes up, mouth full of food, knife and fork squeezed between his huge man hands and pointing up at the ceiling like he’s a caveman. He waves them around as he talks, food spraying off and flying onto the table. “We’re all just shocked, Dad, that’s all. I mean, come on, you could have given us a heads-up, that our expected dinner guests were about to be taken away? When that siren went off, poor Celestine looked like she thought she was about to get carted away to the madhouse, which between me and you is where she belongs, but she doesn’t need to know that.”

He says it so easily, so fresh, so, well, judged that it seems to remind Bosco of where he is: in his neighbor’s dining room with his son, and not in his courtroom.

“Of course.” Bosco looks confused for a moment, and then he looks at Ewan, who has been remarkably quiet at the table. He reaches out a hand and pats my hand warmly. “Sorry, dear Celestine, I didn’t mean to scare you. Let’s start again, shall we?” He picks up his glass of red wine and holds it in the air with a beaming smile. “Happy Earth Day.”





SIX

WHEN I HEAR that the quiet murmuring, which was decidedly longer tonight than usual after the evening’s events, has ended in my parents’ bedroom, and the house has settled for the night, I make my way to the summit, where Art and I have been meeting most nights for the past three months.

I have spent more time with the Crevans over the past few months than with my own family, often wishing I could stay with them for good. I feel like I fit in with them more, that everything with them is logical and makes sense. I have always believed in the workings of the Guild. I am one of Bosco’s greatest supporters. I like to hear him regale people with stories of the courthouse over dinner, how he Ousted a charity board member for taking a golden payment pension package, or branded a celebrity who’d made millions on the sale of her fitness DVD but was discovered as having a secret tummy tuck. Every day, he has interesting stories coming through his courtroom, and I love sitting down and hearing about them. I understand what he is doing. He is preventing people from being deceived. I know the difference between right and wrong. I understand the rules. But today I feel that the rules, of which I am a true supporter, have been blurred, because today they were literally on my front doorstep.

It is 11:00 PM. The summit overlooks the sleeping capital city. We live in a valley surrounded by mountains. Atop one of those mountains, Highland Castle dominates the city. Lit up by powerful red uplighters at night, it watches over us menacingly. In existence since AD 1100 and once the seat of the HighKings, Highland Castle is a fortress. It stands above us all, the tallest round tower in the world, its powerful eye seeing far and wide. The scene of centuries of invasions and massacres, it now houses state conferences and dinners, guided tours of its architecture, museums of its ancient artifacts, and, of course more famously now, the offices of the Guild. We sit on the summit opposite the castle; to the left of us, the lights of more cities dot the night and stretch on forever, the castle keeping its watchful eye on them all. To the right are farmland and industry, where my granddad lives. Humming is the largest and capital city of Highland, and it is rich in history and beauty. Tourists flock from all over the world to visit our city, our bridges, our fairy-tale castle and palace, our cobblestoned pathways, and our ornate town square. Most of its buildings have survived the violence and destruction of the twentieth century, and it is a hub for appreciators of our Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture. Humming Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in the world. At thirty feet wide and over six hundred yards long and built in the fourteenth century, it crosses the river and leads to Highland Castle. It, too, is a beauty at night, lit up at its six arches, three bridge towers, and the statues from our history lining the bridge to protect it.

I like to travel the world on vacations, but I intend on continuing to live here after school. Art and I have talked about it. We want to go to the city university, me studying mathematics, him studying science. We have it all worked out. Juniper wants to leave as soon as she can, become a snowboard instructor in Switzerland by winter, a lifeguard in Portugal by summer, or something like that.

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