Never Fade Page 94

The space was tight and almost too narrow to work, but I could be small when I wanted to be. I slid my fingers past the laces into the tight leather. I curled myself around my knees to better my reach before remembering there was nothing to get—I’d never gotten my Swiss Army knife back. I hadn’t been able to find it in the supplies. I swallowed hard. It’s okay. It’s okay. Don’t panic—but I was. I could feel it bubbling up in my chest, and I knew if I let it get out of hand it would suffocate me. You’re okay.

The song finally—finally—faded out.

“Preparations for the Unity Summit are ongoing,” came President Gray’s eerily calm voice. “I look forward to sitting with these men, many of whom I greatly respect, and—”

Rob punched the station off. “It’s funny, isn’t it?” he called back. “That the president all of a sudden is that much more revolutionary than Alban? That he wants something new?”

Yeah, I wanted to say, hilarious. The guy had the misfortune of heading up an organization that had gone and grown itself another head, one with sharper teeth.

“It took Alban forever to see what a mistake it was to bring you in, and he still sent you shitheads out to do jobs any of us could have done. He can have his past, but he’s not going to change my future.”

I looked around, trying to find something potentially sharp enough to saw the plastic zip tie around my wrists.

“And Conner…she just wanted to babysit you, but we got no time for that. We got no place for you, here or anywhere. The only place for you is in those camps or buried with the rest of them. You hear me?” He was shouting now. “I don’t need an excuse for what I did! I joined to get Gray out, not play house with a guy who’s too damn scared to even go aboveground. He thinks we joined up because of you? He wants to know why we can’t respect you? But he won’t let us use you for the one thing you’re good for?”

Dying for people like him, I thought, that’s what he means.

“I did what I had to do, and I’d do it again. I’ll do it to every damn kid in the League until they get their heads straight again, and I’ll start with your team.”

Anger pulsed through me, warring with disgust.

Keep it together, I commanded myself. He doesn’t know. I didn’t need to touch him. He could silence me, but Rob had no power over my mind.

“What would Jude make of the electric fence at your old home, Ruby?” he wondered aloud. “What would the guards do to Vida when they saw just how pretty, just how built she is for a girl her age? And Nico—he’s a pretty easy target, isn’t he?”

I closed my eyes. I forced myself to relax, to remember that here, now, and always, I was the predator. This was what Clancy had meant when he had claimed I’d never be able to control my abilities because I was too afraid of what they would make me. I hadn’t been able to do it before—not from lack of wanting or trying, but because I couldn’t let go of needing to control where it would take me.

I hadn’t needed to touch Mason or Knox to slide into their minds. I hadn’t tried to restrain my abilities out of fear, and, in exchange, they’d given me what I wanted.

All I wanted now was to get out of this damn car. I wanted to show Rob what a terrible, terrible decision it had been to come after me. To threaten the people I cared about.

I was coming to find out that once I had been in someone’s mind, the pathway to get back in was slicker, easier than before. All I needed now was to channel the want I felt burning a hole in the center of my chest, and picture Rob’s face, and the invisible hands peacefully unfurled, slithering under the seats that separated us like wisps of smoke. I had him; I dropped into his mind with the grace and steadiness of an anchor through water.

Before, his memories and thoughts had been slow to bloom, velveteen and expanding with every turn. Now they burst like splatters of black tar, a jumbled mess of faces, numbers, hands, and guns.

I remembered what those kids looked like—I didn’t have to imagine the details. I just had to push the image of them sitting in the car with him. The girl sitting next to him in the front seat and the boy behind her.

“What—What the—?”

I forced the image of her staring at him, exactly as she had the moment before he pulled the trigger. The car swerved to the left, to the right, as Rob swore. I focused on the boy now, bringing him to the front of both of our minds.


This wasn’t enough, not for him. Murderer, killer, animal—someone who took sick pleasure in the hunt but got even more out of the actual gutting. I’d seen his face that night, when he killed those kids. A satisfied smirk, tinged with a hunger I hadn’t understood until now. More.

What would he have done to Jude if I’d let him? Would he have shot him like the others? Slit his throat? Suffocated him with his huge hands until, finally, he’d see that he’d smothered the last spark of his life?

I made the girl reach for him, and he saw it happen all over again, just like I had. The way her right eye socket had cracked as the bullet tore through it. A spray of blood came up to splatter his face and the windshield, and the hallucination was so strong, so deliciously powerful, that the car swerved and I heard the windshield wipers turn on.

“Stop it!” he shouted. “Goddammit, stop it!”

I pictured the girl reaching over, running a hand along his arm, and because his mind told him he felt her, he did. The car jerked wildly to the left again as he tried to get away from her. More.

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