Flynn had realized after a while that he didn’t actually have anyplace in Tharoux to go besides Harvey’s house, and he wasn’t all that eager to face Harvey and Penny right now. They were going to take one look at his face and know what happened.

So he had just wandered around aimlessly all night long and eventually found himself at Ivy’s secret clubhouse. He hadn’t walked there with any intention but he’d been sitting there for a few hours now, just slumped on the ground with his back against the tree below the treehouse. It was pretty peaceful out there; a deer even strolled by. It watched him warily before flicking its ears and nibbling at some grass.

“I guess I’ve hit rock bottom if I’m so pathetic even a deer can ignore me,” he muttered. The deer grazed for a while but bounded off in alarm at the sound of someone approaching. Flynn tried to leap to his feet when he saw Ivy, and the froze with one foot in midair to gawk at him. He was prepared to flee but his leg had fallen asleep. He flailed against the tree trunk as his leg almost gave out under him.

“What are you doing here?” Ivy asked. Flynn stomped his foot, trying to bring feeling back into it.

“I was just walking, and I ended up here. Don’t worry, I’ll leave as soon as I can feel my foot again.”

He yelped in alarm as Ivy suddenly rushed at him, knocking him over onto the ground.

“Hey! Ivy, what the hell? I told you I was leaving.” He struggled to his feet, brushing leaves off of his clothes.

“You’re not going anywhere,” Ivy snapped. “Not until you tell me just what the hell is going on. Why did you lie to me? How do you know Violetta? Why are you really in town?”


“I want to know, Flynn. I think you owe me that much, don’t you?”

He was silent for a long time and Ivy just stared him down, hands on her hips. Finally he sighed and slumped down onto a tree stump.

“To answer your third question first, I really am in town for family business and it is complicated. I didn’t lie about that.“

“And Violetta? Did you two...have a thing or something?”

Flynn made a gagging noise. “God, Ivy. No. I know her because Benedict Radcliffe is my father.”

Ivy’s jaw dropped, and her glare turned into a look of shock. “You’re a Radcliffe?” she exclaimed.

“That’s not what I said,” Flynn said dryly. “I said Benedict is my father. I am most certainly not a Radcliffe, as they make a point of reminding me.” He would’ve laughed at her comical expression if he hadn’t been so miserable.

“My mother isn’t from Tharoux,” he explained, staring at the ground. “She lived a few towns over, she was barely eighteen when she met Benedict. She didn’t know he was married when they started seeing each other. She ended it as soon as she did find out, but she was already three months along with me. I’m here now because he’s dying and apparently he left me god only knows what in his will. He wanted me to be present to find out what it is so that Cordelia doesn’t do something to keep it from me. She hates me. Violetta hates me too, which is why she was so happy to tell you about me. Like I said, my family life is complicated.”

Ivy took a moment to digest this information. “Okay, fine. Your family is complicated. But why didn’t you just tell me all this?”

Flynn laughed bitterly. “I couldn’t exactly find the right time to say, hey, Ivy. By the way. I snuck into that party where we met; I’m not someone who would ever be allowed there because I am, in fact, a shabby worthless lowlife and there’s probably actually a law on the books barring someone like me from breathing the same air as someone like you. Anyway just thought I’d let you know, lovely weather we’re having, isn’t it?” Flynn shook his head. “How was I supposed to tell you that?”

“But Flynn I don’t care if you’re not rich, I still would have been your friend. Your social standing doesn’t mean anything to me. You should know me well enough to know that.”

“It matters to me,” Flynn burst out, startling her. “It’s not hard to dismiss the social pecking order when you’re at the top, Ivy. You can’t ignore it when you’re at the bottom.“

She was quiet for a moment. “But there’s something I still don’t understand. If it worried you so much for me to know...why even keep seeing me? It would’ve been easier to just say goodbye at the party and leave it at that.”

“You have to know the answer to that,” Flynn told her seriously. “Not that it matters, least of all now.” He hadn’t forgotten the look on her face last night after Violetta ratted him out. But if she hated him now then at least she could move on and find someone better.

Ivy sagged against the tree, and she looked like she might cry. He must’ve done the wrong thing. Again. Flynn flinched and stood quickly. “I should go. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come here.”

“What? Flynn, I just...I need to think. I came here to be alone.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I’m going. Just don’t stay long, it’s not safe out here.”

He walked a ways down the path and then paused. He would at least wait, out of the way, until she left. The woods didn’t seem like the best place to be with a killer still running loose. He ducked into some bushes and watched Ivy climb up into the treehouse, then he waited until she climbed down again an hour later and headed back into town. He kept his distance but kept an eye on her until she reached her own street. When he was sure she’d made it back safely he finally went back to Harvey’s.

Penny was there and sprung to her feet when she saw him. “Ivy was looking for you.”

“She found me.” Flynn trudged toward his room.

“What happened?”

“Violetta told Ivy all about what a loser I am at the gala. Ivy wanted to know why I didn’t tell her myself, then she wanted to be alone.”


“And what? That’s it. It’s over.”

“Did she say that?”

“Does she have to?” Flynn snorted. “I lied to her. I’m a waste of space. I have absolutely nothing to offer her besides maybe abject humiliation. There’s nothing left to say.”

“I’m not sure-“

“Penny, I appreciate you and all your help but I really don’t want to talk about this anymore, okay? You were right and I was dumb and now it’s over and I just want to get this suit off and sleep for about fifteen hours.” Flynn shuffled into his room, closed the door, tossed his jacket and bow tie away in disgust, and flopped facedown on the bed.