Never Fade Page 118

“Can you at least wait until I finish this chapter?” he asked, his voice as pleasant as ever. I actually felt my stomach heave just that tiny bit. I felt something else, too—the all too familiar trickling at the back of my mind.

“Put down the gun, Ruby,” Clancy said, shutting the cover.

A part of me wanted to laugh. He was honestly trying this? I let the invisible fingers of his mind brush up against mine for one single, solitary second before I threw down the razor-edged wall between them. This time, Clancy did move—he jerked forward, hissing in pain as he turned toward me.

“Nice try,” I said, keeping both my voice and hand steady. “You have thirty seconds to tell me what the hell you’re doing here and how you accessed our Chatter before I do what I should have done months ago.”

“You clearly don’t know how to bargain,” he admonished. “There’s nothing in it for me. I die if I tell you, and I die if I don’t. How is that supposed to be motivating?”

Clancy gave me his best politician’s son’s smile, and I felt the long-simmering anger inside of me boil over. I wanted to see him afraid before I ended his life. I wanted him to be as scared and helpless as the rest of us had been that night.

Stop, I thought. Calm down. You can’t do this again. Control yourself.

“Because there’s a third, worse option,” I said.

“What? Turning me over to the PSFs?”

“No,” I said. “Making you forget who you are. What you can do. Ripping every memory out of your head.”

The corner of Clancy’s mouth twitched up. “I’ve missed your idle threats. I’ve missed you, really. Not that I haven’t been keeping up with your activities. It’s been fascinating to watch these past few months.”

“Oh, I’m sure,” I said, my grip on the gun tightening.

He leaned back against the seat. “I keep track of all of my good friends. Olivia, Stewart, Charles, Mike, Hayes. You, especially.”

“Wow. You really know how to flatter a girl.”

“You have to tell me, though—why did you and Stewart split up? I read the report on the League’s servers. You both were taken in, but there was no mention of why he was let go.”

I said nothing. Clancy laced his fingers together on the table, a knowing smile stretching over his handsome face.

“Look at you, making the impossible choice,” he said. “That’s what that Minder of yours said about you in your file, you know. That was her justification for naming you as Leader of your sad little team. Ruby is fiercely protective and possesses the strong will and resilience needed to make impossible choices. I liked that. Very poetic.”

He slid out of the booth, lifting both hands in the classic pose of surrender. It was about as genuine as his smile.

“Ruby.” His voice was soft, and his hands lowered, angling themselves like he was about to step into an embrace. “Please. I am so happy to see you again—”

“Stay right where you are,” I warned, raising the gun again.

“You’re not going to shoot me,” Clancy continued, his voice taking on that silky quality it always did when he was trying to influence someone. It made my skin crawl, my hands slick. I hated him—I hated him for everything he had done, but, more than that, I hated him for being right.

My expression must have given me away, because he lunged toward me, his fingers straining toward my gun.

The shot was all lightning and thunder; the bullet ripped through the air, catching him across the arm, and the explosion of it followed a second later. Clancy howled in pain, dropping onto his knees. His left hand clutched the place where the bullet had clipped his right forearm.

I could hear Jude banging on the back door of the kitchen, his muffled yells, but it was Vida who came into view. She rose up from behind the counter, the gun in her hands aimed directly at his head.

“She told you to stay where you are,” Vida said coldly as she came to stand behind me. “Next time it’ll be your nuts.”

I realized the danger two seconds too late, when Clancy lifted his head.


Vida made a noise like a small gasp, her face scrunching with the force of Clancy’s intrusion. She shuddered, fighting it—I could see it in her eyes just before they went glassy under his mind’s touch. Her arm shook as she lifted the gun again, this time pointing it at me.

“Put down your gun and listen to me,” Clancy ordered. He had hauled himself back up so he was sitting on the edge of the booth, glancing at the line of blood darkening his formerly pristine shirt. I didn’t budge, fighting every urge in my body to shoot him dead on the spot and just be done with it. Vida was shaking behind me; I felt the barrel of the gun tremble as it came to rest against my skull. Her cheeks were wet, but I didn’t look long enough to see if it was sweat or tears.

It surprised me how very little fear I had in that moment outside of what was happening to Vida. If Clancy had gone out of his way to do this—to come here, to hack into our Chatter link, to degrade himself by waiting in a Dairy Queen of all places—then he had done it for a purpose. He couldn’t talk to me if I were dead.

“Ah,” he said softly, like I’d spoken my thoughts aloud.

Clancy shifted his eyes back to Vida. The gun pulled away, coming to rest against the side of Vida’s temple.

“You wouldn’t,” I whispered.

“Are you really going to test me?” He only raised his brows and swept his hand out to the other side of the booth. Inviting me to sit. I stayed on my feet but switched the safety back on my gun and slid it into the back of my pants.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies