Never Fade Page 66

“Olivia,” I gasped. “Oh my God!”

How—No, I knew that she had escaped. Liam had told us as much. When the fires and PSFs came to East River, a few of the Watch kids had been lucky enough to get away in time, Olivia included. Liam was the only one who had come back to look for us.

“Christ,” Chubs said, automatically taking a step toward her. “You—”

“The four of them were with me when we escaped the PSF van that had rounded us up,” Olivia said, ignoring the hand Chubs raised in her direction. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the boy in the green coat push himself off the door and through the crowd, stopping near Knox’s side. “We got separated in the escape through the woods.”

The Olivia I had known had been so full of fire, she could have brought the entire warehouse down to a pile of simpering ash. Now, she merely bobbed her head with a meekness that didn’t suit her at all. “Ruby is the one who planned the escape, sir.”

“Oh yeah,” said the boy in the green coat. He stuffed his hands in his pockets, rocking back on his heels. “I thought they looked familiar. A couple kids gave us the slip that day.”

Olivia’s gaze flickered toward his, her brows creased in what was either surprise or confusion. It certainly wasn’t gratitude on her face.

“Really.” Knox’s voice was still flat, but I felt his eyes drift back over to me. “And you spent the last few months just wandering around my fine state?”

“Laying low, gathering supplies, looking for Olivia,” I said quickly, risking a glance to the boy. What was he playing at?

“Why didn’t you mention this to Michael, Brett?” Knox asked. “Or speak up before.”

The boy—Brett—shrugged. “Didn’t make the connection till now, I guess. Her hair was shorter”—he nodded toward me—“and the other one was dressed different.”

“They can help me,” Olivia continued, her eyes still on the ground. “At least until they prove themselves to you.”

Knox blew out an exasperated sigh. He began to pace again, each step falling like thunder in the silence of the warehouse. There was almost a little skip to his step as he walked. “Fine,” he said, looking up. “Take the Yellow and Green. Charles, too.”

And just like that, he was out of my reach. I was useless to get us out of there.

“The hot piece will stay and keep us entertained,” Knox said, smoothing his hair behind his ears with a grin. He nodded to the boys at his left. “Strip their jackets, take anything valuable they might still have on them, and keep them outside—where the trash belongs.”


THE SIDE DOOR OF THE WAREHOUSE led into an extensive parking lot. The sea of black was broken up by a few sullen-looking tents, all near to collapsing under the pockets of water collecting on them. Wood pallets formed a kind of floating platform for each one and connected them in a crooked loop. I saw right away why they were needed—they lifted us those few precious inches out of the murky water that swamped the whole lot.

Smoke drifted up lazily from the smoldering remains of fires, mingling with the sour smell of old water. I crossed my arms over my chest, feeling the last bit of anger and despair at the loss of Liam’s jacket shake off me. At the far left end of the lot were two small gray buildings—one of which Michael and his team were streaming out of, clutching armfuls of bread and chips. They crossed paths with Brett on their way back to the warehouse, slapping his shoulder, trying to turn him back. He simply waved them on and kept walking toward the building they had come from and the one next to it marked with a spray-painted red X over the door. Judging by the locks on the door, no one came out, and no one went in.

Olivia waited until the hunters ducked back into the warehouse before she turned sharp on her heels and gripped my shoulders.

“Oh my God,” she was saying, her voice shaking madly. “Not you, too—He’s—”

“What happened?” I whispered. Chubs was there in an instant, looping one of Olivia’s arms over his shoulder. “What the hell is going on?”

“Wait, you actually do know each other?” Jude cried. Chubs yanked him forward, pulling him into our huddle.

“After I left East River…I was, well…” There was no small amount of fury tucked into her words. “I found a car with a few of the others and we got all the way to Tennessee.”

I nodded, waiting for her to continue.

“Of course the car gave out. The PSFs were on us the entire time, and we didn’t really have a choice. We split up and ran. I took to the woods and got pulled in by one of the ‘Slip Kid’s’ hunting parties.”

“But I thought Fancy was the Slip Kid?” Jude wrapped his arms around himself in a vain attempt to stay warm. I elbowed him hard.

“Fancy?” Olivia asked, startled.

“He nicknamed Clancy,” I said, blowing out a long sigh.

The slightest smile curled her lips, only to be replaced by a burst of intense, dark pain. Her hand floated up to her neck and pressed hard at her collarbone, as if she were trying to keep something in by force.

“You know what happened, right?” I whispered. “You know he was responsible?”

She nodded. “I didn’t want to believe it at first, but that night, when you guys tried to leave…I could see the way he had manipulated us. Controlled us. Our security system was near perfect, and we always knew Gray would leave Clancy alone rather than risk exposing him. The only way they could have found us was if someone leaked the coordinates or provoked him, and the only one with a way to do that was…was…”

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