Never Fade Page 24

Cole looked insulted at the suggestion. “Hell, no. My cover was impeccable. I could have stayed there forever and they wouldn’t have suspected a damn thing. I only got hauled in because the skip tracer trailing Lee saw him go into my apartment and called me in for aiding a fugitive Psi kid. None of this would have happened if he hadn’t shown up—I was three hours away from being extracted!”

“Fine, but you still haven’t told me what the hell you were doing in Philadelphia. I want to know what was on that flash drive and why you couldn’t find it at the end. That’s what you were looking for, right?”

“Yeah,” he said finally. “That’s what I was looking for. The dumbass took it without even realizing it.”

I balked at that. “What?”

“I was deep cover at Leda Corp, working as a lab tech on their Psi research that Gray commissioned. You heard about that program, right?” He waited until I nodded before continuing. “My original objective was just to keep an eye on how things were going. Alban wanted to know what kinds of tests they were running and if they had figured anything out, but I was also supposed to report back if I thought it was possible to extract any kids from the program.”

“You did,” I said, making the link so suddenly it surprised even me. “Nico—that was the testing program he was in.”

Cole hunched his shoulders against the stream of water. “He was the only subject that was…strong enough to be taken out. The others were just…I can’t describe it to you without it sounding like a horror show.”

“How did you get him out?”

“Simulated cardiac arrest and death,” he said. “The ‘disposal service’ the lab used was called, but the League picked him up first.”

My brain was firing at a rapid pace, drumming up one horrible possibility after another. “So the intel on that flash drive—it was research that you stole?”

“Yeah, something like that.”

“Something like that?” I repeated in disbelief. “I don’t even get to know what’s on the stupid thing?”

He hesitated long enough that I was sure he wouldn’t actually tell me. “Think about it—what’s the one thing every parent of a dead kid wants to know? The one thing scientists have been after for years?”

The cause of the Psi disease.

“Are you—” No. He wasn’t kidding. Not about this.

“I can’t give you details. I didn’t have time to look through the research before I downloaded everything, but I heard the talk in the lab that afternoon when they concluded their experiments. They had proof the government is responsible for all of this.” Cole clenched his hands into tight fists. “Though the fact that they shuttered the lab and permanently silenced all of the scientists the day after I got picked up by PSFs should be proof enough for most people.”

“Did you tell Alban?” I asked. No wonder he was so desperate.

“Not until I got back and I had to think up some excuse for why my cover was blown. I told him I downloaded it, but it set off some silent security system. I’m sure my pride will recover from that in about a thousand years.” Cole sighed. “I was afraid if I told him what I had, the agents here would already have figured out how to use it before I even got back with it.”

Cole’s fingers tapped at his side. “I couldn’t tell him before and risk the news getting ahead of me. As disconnected from HQ as I was, I saw things were changing here. People I knew and trusted were being shuffled out to the other bases, and people I didn’t like all of a sudden had Alban’s ear. It was enough to make a guy a little uncomfortable, you know?”

I nodded.

“I knew if I had something real to offer Alban,” Cole continued, “there’d be a good chance we could outmaneuver the agents trying to change the League. But if word got around here what it was, they’d be able to start planning ways to use it. That intel is the currency we need to buy this joint back from the bad seeds, to convince Alban to stick with us. It’s the only way to outgun them at the staff table when their plan starts looking like the only real option we have.”

Random bursts of Rob and Alban’s argument were blasting in my ears. Big statement. Children. Camps.

“If this intel is so important, how did you get it out of Leda in the first place?”

“Sewed the damn flash drive into the lining of my jacket. I walked right out of the building with it, because I was on the security team, and my buddies there didn’t feel the need to frisk me. I knew someone would be alerted I downloaded the files, but I used one of the scientists’ network IDs,” he said. “Easiest damn thing I’d ever done. By the time they figured out she was innocent, I was going to be long gone. Until my precious little brother saw the PSFs coming toward my apartment while I was out getting us food. He bailed and grabbed my jacket instead of his by mistake.”

If Cole hadn’t looked so angry about it, I’m not sure I would have believed him. I was torn between laughing and beating his head into the concrete wall behind us.

“How could you have been so stupid?” I asked. “How could you make such a dumb mistake? You’ve put his life in danger—”

“The important thing is that we can still get the intel back.”

“The most important—” I was almost too outraged to string a sentence together. “Liam’s life is more important than that stupid flash drive!”

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