The Rising Page 31

“And now you are.”

“For short periods. They’ll continue with the doses and they expect I should be back to myself in a few months.” She paused. “Rafe tells me you’ve shifted.”

“I have.”

“No . . . problems?”

I tried not to think about what Nast said. “Not yet. But I feel a lot better knowing there’s a cure. They worked fast finding it.”

“Not really,” Rafe said. “They already knew there were possible side effects. They had something ready in case this happened. Untested but—” He shrugged. “Obviously working.”

Annie clasped my hands. “I’m glad you’re okay, Maya. I know you don’t want to be here, but I’m glad you’re safe, and I’m looking forward to getting to know you. Really know you.” She smiled at Rafe. “You’ve made my brother happier than I’ve seen him in a very long time.”

Rafe rolled his eyes, but he still hadn’t completely wiped the smile from his face. I knew I wasn’t the only reason he was happy. This was what he wanted—to help Annie. It was why he’d come to Salmon Creek. The reason for everything he’d done since he arrived.

“And with that, I’m going to take my leave and let you two catch up,” Annie said as she stood. “I’m sure Rafael doesn’t want his big sister around for that.”

“You don’t have to—” I began.

“My time’s running out,” she said. “I only get about twenty good minutes every treatment.”

“That doesn’t matter,” I said. “You were fine before—”

“I appreciate you saying that, Maya. I really do. I remember how kind you were to me. But if you’re going to get to know the real me, I’d rather . . .” She shrugged, looking uncomfortable. “I’d rather stick to that. With you and with Rafe. We’ll get our twenty minutes a few times a day, and that’s it for now.”

“Believe me, I’ve argued,” Rafe muttered. “But she’s almost as stubborn as you.”

As Annie walked by, she reached out and ruffled his hair, as I’d seen her do before, but gentler now, only laughing when he grumbled, then patting his shoulder, waving to me and leaving us alone.

Rafe waited until Annie closed the door behind her, then he slid onto the couch beside me. “So, any ideas how we should spend our time alone?”

I hesitated. I didn’t want to. I wanted to just grab him and kiss him and forget everything else. That’s how it used to be. See Rafe; forget the rest of the world. But now that world was thundering in my head, with those photos of Daniel front and center.

I turned away, trying to make it look casual, teasing even. But I needed that moment to clear my mind. Worrying about Daniel wouldn’t help. I wanted to forget. Just for a minute. When I was ready, I glanced back at him and smiled. “I might have a few ideas. You?”

He grinned. “Maybe.”

I inched closer. “I bet I can guess yours.”

“I bet you can.”

“Does it involve . . . ?” I crossed the gap and leaned toward him. “This?” I thrust a game controller up between us. “I play a mean game of Mario Kart.”

He laughed and pushed the controller aside. “I’m sure you do. However, that’s not quite what I had in mind.”

I waited until he bent for a kiss, then jumped up and grabbed a handful of cases from the coffee table.

“Call of Duty?” I said, lifting one.

He stood and stepped toward me. “No.”

I backed up. “Left 4 Dead?”

Another step forward. “No.”

I continued moving back, waggling the cases in front of me. “So you don’t want to play games?”

“Mmm, never said that. Just not those. I prefer something more . . . physical.”

“Got it!” I shoved a case forward. “Wii Fit.”

He laughed and plucked it from my hand. We did another two-step—me back, him forward, his gaze on mine, his grin sending heat rushing through me.

“Do you like chasing?” I said.

His grin sparked. “You know I do.”



I held up Grand Theft Auto and WWE. He lunged. I dodged, dropping the games and racing across the room. He gave chase and I felt his fingers brush the back of my shirt. I veered and vaulted over the sofa. He tried to do an end-run around it, but I quick-stepped the other way, then back again when he reversed course.

We paced along our sides of the couch a few times. Then he sprinted. I raced around the other side. He lunged over the back, fingers grabbing my shirt and yanking me to him when I tried to run.

“Gotcha,” he said.

I rolled my eyes and let him pull me close. When we were almost touching, he relaxed his grip. I broke away. He managed to snag my leg with his foot. I stumbled. He caught my arm and redirected my fall, and the next thing I knew, I was lying on the couch, with Rafe over me, my arms around his neck.

“You are remarkably good at that,” I said.

“It’s all instinct.”

“Uh-huh.” I smiled and pulled him down into a kiss.

We were still down there, a few minutes later, when a voice over our heads said, “Jesus. I know you guys have been separated for an entire forty-eight hours. But really?”

I looked up to see Sam—Samantha Russo—standing there, arms crossed, looking remarkably like the teacher who’d caught Rafe and me making out behind the school. A crutch was propped under one arm.

“Yes,” said another voice. “Get a room. Please.”

When I looked at Hayley, Sam said, “Don’t suggest that or he will. And Maya’s too gaga to resist.”

Rafe shot her the finger, but it was a cheerful gesture, as if even she couldn’t spoil his mood. I got up and gave Hayley a hug. It was awkward—we’ve never been friends—and she seemed surprised, but not displeased. Sam just scowled, arms crossing tighter, as if I might try the same thing on her. I didn’t.

“So you’re both okay?” I said. “You look okay.”

Sam shrugged. “We’re good.”

“I wouldn’t say ‘good,’” Hayley said. “We’re lab rats in a secured facility under twenty-four-hour surveillance.”

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