Never Fade Page 41

We couldn’t hide in there forever—someone, eventually, would realize the restroom shouldn’t be locked and come with a key. So I counted. I counted out four minutes in my head, stopping and restarting every time I heard someone’s boots clobbering by.

“Come on,” I whispered, forcing Jude up onto his feet. “We’re going to have to run.”

We didn’t even get two feet.

Vida pushed herself up from where she leaned against the wall directly across from us, her brows rising along with the gun in her hand.

“Hi, friends,” she said sweetly. “Miss me?”


EVERY SINGLE WORD that filtered through my mind was of the four-letter variety. “What are you doing here?”

The triumphant smile I expected to see there never made an appearance. Instead, she gave me a once-over and snorted. “Wow, your danger instincts are set on high-fucking-alert, aren’t they? And they said it would be hard to find you.”

I pulled the gun out of my waistband slowly and took careful aim. I let the invisible hands inside my mind unfurl, imagining them launching toward her, driving into her thoughts. But…nothing. Nothing at all.

“How cute,” she said. “I have one of those, too!”

For one long beat, neither of us moved; her dark eyes flicked down over me, the same way they did when we sparred in training. Sizing me up. Wondering if I’d really do it.

Neither of us saw him move; one minute Jude was cowering behind me and the next, he had sidled up to Vida, one hand on her shoulder. “I’m really sorry about this.”

A tiny arc of blue electricity leaped up from the walkie-talkie clipped to her belt, stroking Vida’s skin softly, like a snake’s exploring tongue. Vida must have realized what he was about to do at the same moment I did, but she couldn’t move away fast enough. Her eyes rolled back as she crumpled to the ground.

“Oh my God,” I said, dropping down beside her to feel for a pulse in her neck.

“I just gave her a little love zap,” Jude said, every hair on his head standing on end. “She’ll—she’ll come around in a minute, but, Roo, tell me I just did the right thing. I don’t want to leave her here. I don’t think we should go without her, but she wasn’t going to help, and we have to find Liam, and she would have told, and he’s important—”

“You did the right thing,” I said. “Jude, thank you. Thank you.”

“What are we gonna do now?” Jude whispered, following me down the hallway to a room marked EMPLOYEES ONLY.

A quick look around told me that the tact team had divided—half were upstairs, visible in the glass offices above us, and half were heading out onto the train platform. What PSFs weren’t sprawled out and still on the floor were bound together in an unwilling huddle of black.

We followed the long hallway to its end, narrowly missing a station worker going into the employee break room. I kept my eyes focused on the double doors at the very end of the stretch of concrete, too scared of what I would see if I tore my gaze away.

I opened the right door as quietly as possible, motioning for Jude to follow. It shut with a faint click. It took me two precious seconds to figure out we were even looking at the bus terminal, and another two to see the old man in a navy uniform come hustling around the corner, a huge, wet coffee stain all down his front.

Every bone in my body went hollow as I grabbed Jude’s arm and hauled him closer. The man came up short of us, his already wide, panicked eyes going just that bit wider as he gave us the once-over. For one long, terrible moment no one said anything at all. There was only the sound of gunfire from inside the station and the screech of car tires from the parking lot on the other side of the building.

I raised a hand out toward him on instinct, but Jude caught it and pushed it down.

“Are they…?” The man—Andy, his nametag said—was having a hard time choking the words up. “Are they soldiers?”

“They want to take us in,” Jude said. “Please, can you help us?”

And then Andy did the absolutely last thing I expected him to.

He nodded.

We rode under the bus in the luggage compartment for the first twenty minutes of the trip, until the train station and the PSFs and Vida were too distant to be caught in his rearview mirror. It was freezing and uncomfortable to be tossed around under there; we’d slide across the cold metal with every single turn, hunched over our knees and disoriented. I let Jude loop his arm through mine, adding my little bit of body heat to his.

He was muttering something under his breath. I felt him shaking his head, his curls brushing my shoulder. Finally, when the road quieted, I heard what he was saying. “She’s never going to forgive us.”

“Who?” I asked, my hand squeezing his arm. “Cate?”

“No. Vida.”

“Jude…” I began. The guilt had clocked in at record time.

“We did the same thing her sister did to her,” Jude explained, cutting me off. “We just left her. She’s going to hate us forever.”

“What are you talking about?”

Jude turned back toward me, rubbing his eyes with the back of his hand. “Well, you know about Cate, right? How she was our CPS case worker?”

Something heavy and slick rose in my stomach.

“You know,” he said quickly, “Child Protective Services? Okay, maybe not.”

“You and Vida both?”

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