So maybe playing Truth or Dare with the Feather of Truth wasn't such a good idea, but neither was leaving two bored teenagers unattended.
And I swear, Anubis suggested it first.
"So," he started, leaning back lazily, "while Carter's in there talking with your father, what are we going to do?" He hadn't changed much since I'd last seen him, three years ago. He was still tall and lean, with a cute half-smile and chocolate-brown eyes that probably made every girl he looked at melt. Then again, being an Egyptian god and all, he probably didn't get to see that many girls. Which was just as well, because I had resolved that he was mine, even if it was highly unlikely to ever happen.
"We?" I shot him a disparaging look. Anubis grinned.
"Yes, we, Lady Kane," he teased, before I cuffed him on the head.
"Don't call me that," I grumbled.
"Owww," he complained, rubbing the back of his head and grimacing. "You've got a sharp tongue and a strong arm."
"Shut up." Anubis quieted for a while – a little too long for my comfort. "You didn't actually have to listen to me when I said that, you know," I said, anxious to fill up the awkward silence that had surrounded us.
"I know," he said, still rubbing the back of his head. "I was thinking."
"Well, that's not vague at all," I scowled, itching to hit him again. I played nervously with the red strand in my hair.
"Why don't we…er, play a game? You could teach me one," Anubis offered. I shrugged. It sure beat sitting around doing nothing.
"Um, sure. What game?"
"Right," I said sarcastically, "because this is such a party." I gestured to the empty room and then the two of us, sitting comfortably on one of Anubis's magical toilet-paper sofas. We were in the Hall of Judgment, in whichever portion Anubis had conjured up this time. This particular cemetery was quiet, much quieter than the one in New Orleans that was Anubis's favorite. All in all, it was very funereal (Anubis was the god of funerals, after all).
"You're not really helping," Anubis pointed out. "Are you going to teach me a game or not?" And that was when I made what was, looking back, a very stupid suggestion. It was the first game that popped into my head, because Liz, Emma and I played it so much.
"Truth or Dare," I blurted. "We can play Truth or Dare."
"Hmm," Anubis said. "That sounds easy enough. I have the Feather of Truth with me, which is pretty convenient." My eyes widened.
"No! You don't play it with a Feather of Truth!"
"Why not?" Anubis asked, sounding genuinely confused. "If you don't use a Feather of Truth, then how can you tell if the person is telling the truth?"
"Er…you…trust them?" I asked. It was harder to explain than I thought it would be. "Besides," I added, "this is a mortal game, and mortals don't have Feathers of Truth handy, in case you didn't know."
"Well, yeah, but since I'm not a mortal, what's wrong with using the Feather of Truth?" Anubis persisted. He was so hung up on ensuring that our game of Truth or Dare really did involve telling the 'truth' that I obliged. Which I totally should not have done.
"Fine," I sighed. "We can use the bloody feather." Anubis opened his palm, and in a burst of bright light the feather appeared, hovering.
"So, um, how does this work exactly?" he asked, clearing his throat when I just sat staring at the feather. I shook my head.
"Oh yeah, sorry. Um, you pick 'truth' or 'dare' and then I get to either ask you a question, if you picked truth, or make you do something, if you picked dare."
"The things that you make me do…they aren't going to be…dangerous or anything, right?" Anubis asked, sounded a little worried. I would have laughed had I not remembered some of the very stupid dares that Liz and Emma had made me do when we played.
"No! Of course not," I reassured him.
"Okay. Ask away, then, Lady Kane," Anubis said, resuming his annoying personality. I wanted to strangle him, but he fixed me with his chocolate brown gaze and I felt my cheeks flush.
"Right then. Truth or dare?"
"Dare," he answered decisively. I looked around the cemetery for inspiration, but I found none.
"Um, I dare you not to call me Lady Kane for the rest of the day!" Anubis nodded solemnly.
"Done, La-" he stopped, shooting me a teasing half-smile. I fumed.
"If you do say it, you owe me something."
"Like a…" I trailed off. "I don't know. But I'll figure out something, mind you," I said, pointing an accusing finger at him. Anubis shrugged, still smiling that insufferably cute smile of his.
"Truth or dare?" I blinked, remembering we were still playing.
"Truth?" I hadn't meant for it to come out as a question. I cleared my throat. "Truth." Anubis motioned for me to hold out my palm. I'd had one experience with the feather before, so I knew what to expect. It rested in my palm, no longer glowing, and slightly heavy.
We both sat staring at the feather.
I coughed. "You're supposed to ask me a question."
Anubis opened his mouth, but then closed it. "I'm not really sure what question to ask."
"Ask me anything you want. I kind of have to tell the truth, thanks to your insistence we use the bloody feather." At that Anubis smirked. I didn't like the mischievous glint that appeared in his eye.
"Can it be an open-ended question?"
"Well, yeah, I suppose."
"Well then, Sadie, my question is this: what do you really think of me?"
It felt weird hearing him say my name that way. I was so accustomed to him saying Lady Kane, or Sadie Kane, but him saying Sadie with such familiarity made me feel…different, somehow. I felt lighthearted and faintly dizzy, but scolded myself for being silly.
He just said your name, stupid. It doesn't mean anything.
My thoughts flew back to the more pressing dilemma: his question. What did I think of him? A lot of things. I thought a lot about him. But I wasn't going to boost his ego any further and tell him that.
"That's not fair!" I protested.
"You said I could ask any question! I may not be a mortal, but that sounded like a perfectly valid question to me," Anubis said innocently. I grimaced.
"Ask me a different question."
"What's wrong with that one?"
"Do it. Now."
"Are you always this stubborn?" Anubis asked, bemused. He stretched languidly, waiting for my response.
"Fine," I consented. "I'll answer your bloody question." But what was I going to tell him? I opened my mouth, ready to spout out how he was insufferable, annoying, and not good-looking in the least (in case he thought he was), but caught myself before I said any of those things. Because, need I remind myself, I was holding the bloody Feather of Truth. One little lie and I'd be burned to a crisp.
"Okay, but don't let this get to your head or anything," I babbled. "I just think the way your ears stick out are really cute and you've got this amazing smile that's completely blinding – but that's just me being objective, mind you. Your hair falls in your eyes just right and your eyes – don't get me started on your eyes. They're this gorgeous chocolate-brown that makes my insides melt…" I wanted to stop before I embarrassed myself further, but I was too far gone. "You're so confusing, though," I complained. "I mean, all you do is tease me. You're sarcastic and it's like I can never figure out if you're joking or not, but at the same time you keep me guessing. And you are full of yourself. Oh no, don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. You're incredibly hot and you know it, you wave it around and do this half-smile thing plus this I've-got-gorgeous-eyes-so-I'm-going-to-look-at-you-with-them-and-make-you-fall-completely-in-love-with-me look, and it's really, really hard to resist."
Anubis opened his mouth and closed it. I took a little bit of pleasure in his surprise. But then, of course, he ruined my triumphant moment and found a way to turn it against me.
"That was quite a description," he stated, looking thoughtful.
"Oh yeah?" I managed to come up with, staring red-faced at the ground. Anywhere but at him.
"Hm. I finally learned what the infamous Sadie Kane thinks of me," Anubis continued. If I hadn't known better I'd have thought he was talking to himself, puzzled, but I knew he was messing with me.
"Can you take the bloody feather back now?" I said through gritted teeth.
"Sure." Anubis scooted closer to take the feather from my hand. He smelled faintly of cinnamon, for some reason. I forced myself to breathe. Anubis reached out to take my hand.
"Oi, what are you doing?" I asked, confused. Anubis looked at me blankly.
"Taking the feather back," he said.
"Oh," I muttered, feeling stupid. I looked up again, and found Anubis's eyes startlingly close to mine. I was vaguely aware that one of his hands still held mine. However, I was more aware of his other hand tucking my red strand of hair behind my ear and coming around to cup my cheek before suddenly his mouth was on mine. He pressed his lips to mine for just a few seconds, soft and sweet.
And then it was over. Anubis smiled at me, fixing me with his chocolate-brown gaze as his eyes sparkled.
"What was that?" I asked, struck dumb. I couldn't think of anything else to say.
"A modern courtship ritual, I think," replied Anubis with a grin, before vanishing in a bright glow, leaving me gaping.
I was still fuming when Carter came back.