She couldn’t hide it.
Oh, she tried hard enough with the cool veneer, the calm arrogance and the biting words. But sometimes, the mask would crack and the real Isabel would slip through.
Luke saw her reading Timothy a story while the other boys were playing outside. He was practically snuggling into her side, completely entranced by the pictures. He would ask her questions about the story and she would always answer them.
He hadn’t recognised her until she walked onto the stage. She looked so different: the black leather was gone and so was the sheen of ice she had covered herself with. When she started singing, she threw her heart into it; as she walked off the stage, she was smiling and her eyes were shining.
When the water balloon hit the back of her head, she froze. Then she turned around, water dripping from her hair.
And she grinned, eyes glinting mischievously.
Alisha was nervous about attending the ball. Like most Changers her age, she’d never left the territory before; she didn’t even know how to dance.
“I’ll pretend to be the gentleman.” Isabel stepped forwards. “Put your left hand on my shoulder and take my right hand in yours…that’s it.”
Alisha giggled as Isabel put her other hand on her waist. “That tickles!”
“Sorry. The gentleman always places his hand on the lady’s waist in a waltz and he’s the one who leads. Don’t know why, it’s always been that way. Could you start the music again?”
Luke watched as Isabel took a pace backwards, Alisha following her. The two girls began to move in a shuffling circle around the room.
“What does it matter? Why do you care which one of these people I am? Why do you care who I am?”
He was standing so close to her; their hands were almost touching. She looked as though she wanted to take a step back, but she didn’t. She held her head up, looking right into his eyes.
He returned her gaze. “Because it matters.”