The next day, Holly woke up in the bed in the room instead of on the floor. For a second she wondered how she’d gotten there, but one look around told her the answer.
“You know, for someone so small, you’re rather heavy,” Artemis commented, without looking up from his laptop.
She scrambled back, away from him. She would have fell off the other side of the bed if he hadn’t reached out and snatched her ankle, pulling her back up. She almost let out an involuntary scream at his touch, but it only came out as a whimper. She pulled away and he let her.
“What do you want?” she snapped, remembering their previous night’s events.
He looked up at her from his laptop for a second, then his eyes flashed back down to it. Without looking up again, he pushed a plate of food onto her lap and simply said, “Eat.”
She shook her head, and looked at the food like it was poison, which might actually be. “No.”
“It wasn’t a question. Eat.”
“I’m not hungry,” she complained.
“Do you really want to test me right now?!” He almost yelled.
He finally looked up and gave the elf his full attention before closing his eyes and easing back to his calm state. “Look, Holly, you need to eat. I’m sorry for what happened last night, but you made me…very angry. Now, you’re not going to leave this room. You need some food in your system, and I will get it into you, one way or another. Eat.”
Her eyes flashed to the door, like she was contemplating trying to run. He saw the movement and smirked. “The door is locked. And even if you unlocked it somehow and got out, you can’t leave the manor, so it will be a futile effort.”
“How will you get out, then?” she demanded.
“I have a key, which I don’t intend to use until you’ve eaten.”
“You can’t stay in here forever.”
“Captain, I can stay in here with you as long as I need to. If you want me out of your hair, then eat, and I’ll leave you alone for a while.”
“This is ridiculous,” she sighed. She took a bite and swallowed quickly, barely chewing it, and then another, and another. She scraped the plate clean after a few more minutes, and Artemis watched intently to make sure she swallowed every bite of it. When she was done, he took the plate from her and put it on the nightstand beside her bed.
“Good girl,” the boy murmured, patting her arm lightly.
She flinched and jerked away from him. “I’m not a dog, Fowl,” she snapped, realizing a second too late that was probably not the brightest thing to say.
She braced herself for him to snap on her again, to drag her down to the basement, but it never happened. He just shrugged.
“You seem… different.” She said cautiously.
She had paused halfway through, deciding her original statement, “you seem less hot-headed than usual,” was probably not a smart thing to say.
“Why? Because I didn’t get mad?” She nodded. “Well, I’ve decided that our arrangement was not working out very well, so I thought a different approach would be better. I’ll try to keep my temper in check, and you don’t purposely say things you know will make me mad, deal?”
She nodded again. “I can try… You’re just so… temperamental. I never know if what I say will set you off or not.”
“Then you should watch your tongue until you figure it out.” He got up and walked across the room, picking a bag up off a dresser that was pushed up against the wall. He threw the bundle towards her, and she caught it automatically. “Now, get dressed, and meet me outside your door in half an hour. I think, as you’ll be staying here for a while, I should show you how to navigate the manor. It will make things a lot easier on both of us.”