Never Fade Page 11

I nodded.

“Excellent. This agent recently went to meet a contact to pick up a packet of information from him.”


“Outside of San Francisco. That is as precise as I’m able to get.”

“Did the contact have a name?”

There was a long pause. I didn’t need to look up from the woman’s hooded face to know the advisers were conferring with one another. Finally, his voice filtered back through. “Ambrose.”

The two soldiers who brought the woman in retreated back outside. She heard the door lock, but it wasn’t until I reached across the way to touch her bound wrist that she tried to jerk away from me.

“Ambrose,” I said. “San Francisco. Ambrose. San Francisco…” Those words, over and over again, as I sank into her mind. The pressure that had been steadily building from the moment I boarded the plane in Maryland released with a soft sigh. I felt myself lean closer to her, a rushing stream of thoughts filtering through her mind. They were blindingly bright—there was a painfully intense sheen to them, as if each memory had been dipped in pure sunlight.

“Ambrose, San Francisco, the intel, Ambrose, San Francisco…”

It was a trick Clancy had taught me—that mentioning a specific word or phrase or name to someone was often enough to draw it straight into that person’s forethoughts.

The woman relaxed under my fingers. Mine.

“Ambrose,” I repeated quietly.

It was noon or near to; I was the agent and she was me, and we shot a quick glance up toward the sun directly above us. The scene shimmered as I ran through a deserted park, black tennis shoes gliding through the overgrown grass. There was a building up ahead—a public restroom.

It didn’t surprise me, then, that a gun suddenly appeared in my right hand. The better I got at this, the more senses came to me with the images—a smell here, a sound there, a touch. I’d felt the cold metal tucked into the band of my running shorts from the moment I stepped into the memory.

The man waiting at the back of the building didn’t even have time to turn before he was on the ground, a hole the size of a dollar coin in the back of his skull. I recoiled, dropping the woman’s wrist. The last sight I had before I cut the connection was a blue folder and its contents scattering in the wind, drifting down into a nearby pond.

I opened my eyes, though the light from the hanging bulb made the throbbing behind my eyes that much worse. At least it wasn’t a migraine—the pain might have been lessening every time I did this, but the disorientation was still just as bad. It took me two seconds to remember where I was, and another two to find my voice.

“She met a man in a park, behind the public restrooms. She shot him in the back of the head after approaching him from behind. The intel he carried was in a blue folder.”

“Did you see what happened to it?” Alban’s tone was tinged with excitement.

“It’s at the bottom of the pond,” I said. “Why did she shoot him? If he was her contact—”

“Enough, Ruby,” Cate cut in. “Send them in, please.”

The woman was limp, still half dazed with my influence over her. She didn’t fight them off as they snapped her restraints and picked her up out of the chair. But I thought—I thought I heard her crying.

“What’s going to happen to her?” I pressed, turning back toward Cate.

“Enough,” she said again. I flinched at her tone. “May we have your permission to be excused? Are you satisfied with her results?”

This time Alban met us at the door, but he never crossed that last bit of space between us. Never even looked me once in the eye. “Oh yes,” he said softly. “We are more than satisfied. This is a special thing you can do, my dear, and you have no idea the difference you can make for us.”

But I did.

Liam hadn’t told me a great deal about his time with the League; it had been short, and brutal, and so damaging that he had taken his chance and escaped at the first opportunity that presented itself. But without either of us realizing it, he had prepared me for the new reality of my life. Warning me once, twice, three times that the League would control every move I made, that they would expect me to take someone else’s life, just because it suited their needs and was what they wanted. He had told me about his brother, Cole, and what he had become under the coaxing of the League’s guiding hands.

Cole. I knew from League gossip that he was a hotshot—a deep-cover agent with terrifying efficiency. I knew from Liam that he thrived on the pulse of power that came from firing a gun.

But what no one, not even Liam, had thought to mention was how very, very much alike they looked.


FOR WHATEVER REASON, Jude had nominated himself to serve as the team’s one-man welcoming committee. When I arrived back at HQ after my first Op with the League, it had been his lanky, pacing shape waiting for me at the end of the entry hall, torpedoing toward me, burying me under an avalanche of questions. Six months later, he was still the only one who waited there for us, rewarding our safe return with a smile that split his face.

I braced myself for impact as Vida tapped her ID against the door. Rob and the remaining members of the tact team had escorted Cole Stewart in a few minutes before, but I’d forced us to hang back, take our time going down the tunnel. It was important to make sure Rob got the full credit for this one, to let him roll around in the glory like a dog in the grass. We’d heard the cheers go up as they strolled through the entry, and watched them pump their fists as they strode into HQ, almost leaving Cole behind in his wheelchair.

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