Never Fade Page 65

Each item they took out was enough to break the thin control I had on my anger. I shifted my eyes up toward where Knox was watching this process, wondering how good it would feel to take his mind apart in the same way. It would be easy, if I could just get close to him.

When Knox glanced up at us, it was with a completely new expression on his face. One that was…hungry. Excited. “Where did you get this stuff?”

“We picked over an old gas station,” I said, taking a small step closer. “It’s ours. We found it.”

“What’s yours is mine, baby,” he said. “Everyone here has to earn his or her things.”

Chubs grumbled something under his breath.

“Take this all to storage,” Knox told Michael. “Then you and your guys can eat. As much as you want.”

Michael grinned, gathering the blanket more firmly around his coat. His team was jumping all over themselves with excitement, pushing past one another to go out the same side door the boy had earlier, except for one teen, the one who hung at the back of the pack. He was average height, wearing an army green coat that was a size too small and had to be worn open. His hair was as long and wild as the others in his group, but he kept his out of his face with a fleece hunter’s hat. Just before the door shut, something must have caught his eye, because he turned back, leaning up against the wall there.

“Are you with the kids my guys picked up earlier?” Knox asked, drawing my attention back to him. A heavy gold chain slipped out from beneath his undershirt and jacket as he leaned forward. “The hot piece and the scarecrow?”

Well…that was one way to describe them.

“No,” I said. Another step closer. Another. “I have no idea who you’re talking about.”


Every head in the warehouse swiveled toward that side door. A river of relief broke through me—Vida and Jude stood there, looking slightly worse for wear but whole. Both of them were without jackets. Jude had given up any sort of pretense of pretending he wasn’t freezing, but Vida’s jaw was clenched tight, her arms pressed hard against her sides. I saw something flicker in her eyes, but she didn’t say anything. I wish the same could have been said for Jude.

“See?” he was saying as he poked her arm. “I told you they’d come!”

I sighed, turning back to Knox and the platform.

“Want to try that answer again, sweetness?” he asked coldly.

I shrugged and said nothing. Dammit.

“So a Green, a Yellow, and two Blues walk into my woods.…” Knox began. He stood and hopped down over the edge of the platform. Vida and Jude were shoved toward us.

He was pacing in front of us, to the amusement of the other kids. Just out of my reach. “Now, the two Blues—you’re mighty welcome here, but, of course, we’ll have to figure out which of you is actually strong enough to join the hunting parties in initiation.”


“I have to duke it out with him?” Vida asked petulantly. “I thought you said it was going to be a fight?”

Knox laughed—and once Knox laughed, everyone was laughing, too.

“Honestly,” Vida said, whipping her mass of blue hair back over her shoulder, “you might as well let him go. He’s totally worthless—I’ll have him laid out on the ground in three seconds. Just sayin’.”

Jude wore his confusion plainly, not understanding that this was her warped way of trying to protect Chubs from a fight he’d never win. I was surprised she cared enough to try.

“She’s not lying,” I said. “If you want the better fighter, it’s her, hands down. But he’s trained in first-aid. He’s patched me up more than once. Look.” I lifted my hair away from the scar on my forehead.

Knox didn’t take the bait to examine it closer. He wove his fingers together and rested them on the back of his neck as he seemed to mull this over. “The question is more what we’re going to do with you and the Yellow.”

I did not like the direction this conversation was heading. And neither did Jude. I felt him start to shake, just a little bit, and I closed one hand over his wrist.

“We don’t take on weak ones,” Knox said. “This isn’t a pity parade or a homeless shelter. I’m not about to waste food on a Green or a Yellow. No one here can vouch for you, which means you’ll have to prove yourself in…other ways.”

Chubs turned on him, his fists clenched at his sides, but another voice rose up before his had the chance to. It was small, more timid than I remembered, but I recognized it.

“I can vouch for them.”

At East River, Clancy had relied on two different kids to run security for the camp—Hayes, the ogre-sized brute who ran hits for supplies, and Olivia, who coordinated watch at the perimeters of the camp. To say I was relieved to see a head of long, honey-blond hair push its way through the crowd was an understatement, but her face—I recognized the pieces of her, but it was like they had been torn apart and reassembled with a careless hand. She limped, badly, as she moved closer to us.

Yes. This was Olivia. But at the same time, it wasn’t.

Her round cheeks, always flushed with the run she had taken or the orders she had barked out, had sunk in so deeply that it made her eyes look owlish. The golden tan that had kissed her skin was faded to dull ash—and as she turned to look at me, a bolt of horror raced from my heart to the pit of my stomach. Almost the entire right side of her face was puckered with pink scar tissue; it dragged down the corner of that eye, ran down her jawline. It looked as though she’d been mauled by a wild animal or slapped with a fistful of flames.

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