It makes me hard. It was the same sound she made when he was tasting her.
I wasn’t any different than them. I wasn’t any better. All along, I’d thought that gaining more control over my abilities would mean reclaiming my life. But that wasn’t the case at all, was it? It was entirely possible that not being able to control them—being afraid of them—was the only reason I hadn’t followed the other Oranges down that path earlier.I saw now how the League had been good for me. They’d given me discipline, focus, and direction on how and when to use my abilities. It only proved I’d been right when I told Cate I shouldn’t be Leader—we needed people who were stronger, people who still had good left to their names. Or, at the very least, people who could still trust that their instincts wouldn’t take them into this kind of darkness.
Murderer. Just like all the other agents in the League.The blanket was hot and damp with my tears. I lifted my face again, trying to cool my aching face and lungs, but nothing helped. Nothing erased the images of what I imagined Rob must have looked like to Vida when she saw him that last time. Nothing eased away the final thoughts that had blazed through his mind in the seconds before his life ended. A beautiful woman in a checkered dress, a red bicycle, an open field, the sunset over Los Angeles—And I hurt. Every part of me, from the blinding headache behind my eyes to the cuts and bruises along my back. There wasn’t enough space in my lungs for the air I needed. No matter how hard the sobs shook my body, I couldn’t ease the pressure there. It felt like I was being folded, and folded, and folded again, until there was nothing left to do but break.
The rushing water swallowed every other sound, including the footsteps that tapped out a slow, hesitant trail over the wood behind me. But I knew he was there.Hey, Liam said, his voice soft.
The mist from the falls passed between us, spinning the large snowflakes into a pure white screen. When it pulled away with the next freezing breeze, he was still standing there, still clutching my black boots to his chest, still with that tortured look on his already worn, ashen face. He opened his mouth, taking a small step forward. His legs were still unsteady, but it was the way he was openly looking at me, searching my face, that had me anxious.
But he was alive. He was standing on his own two feet. The glaze over his eyes had passed. His breathing was shallow but consistent—a steady in, a steady out, with only a small interruption for him to cough.I stood in the dark, blinking to adjust my eyes to the light. I felt a movement at my side—a solid, thick shoulder appeared directly in front of me, blocking both my path and line of sight. I followed the line of green coat up to Brett’s grim face.
You can’t be here, he whispered. I felt him try to press something into my hands and glanced down. He’d taken his hat off and stuffed it with tiny packages of saltine crackers. Take this and go back before he sees—I had just wrapped my fingers around his wrist when the eyes up on the platform finally picked me out of the shadowy crowd.
Well, well, well… Knox called. Look what the wind went and blew in.I glanced around, surprised to find nearly twice as many kids scattered around the space as before. Most were up near the platform, seated on the ground in circles with bags of chips and cereal boxes out in front of them. They were dressed in shades of gray and white—hunters, back from their hunting? The boys and girls at the far end of the warehouse were stretched out on the cement, moving just enough for me to see that they were breathing. I didn’t see any food or fire near them.