So I tell him.
I finally tell him the things I’ve always wanted to confess. I tell him the truth about Warner’s ability and the truth about how Kenji was injured outside the dining hall that night. I tell him how Warner had no idea what he was capable of, and how I let him practice with me in the tunnel while everyone was in the medical wing. How together we broke through the floor.
“Holy shit,” Kenji whispers. “So that asshole tried to kill me.”
“Not on purpose,” I point out.
Kenji mutters something crude under his breath.
And though I mention nothing about Warner’s unexpected visit to my room later that night, I do tell Kenji how Warner escaped, and how Anderson was waiting for Warner to show up before shooting me. Because Anderson knew how Warner felt about me, I tell Kenji, and wanted to punish him for it.
“Wait.” Kenji cuts me off. “What do you mean, he knew how Warner felt about you? We all knew how Warner felt about you. He wanted to use you as a weapon,” Kenji says. “That shouldn’t have been a revelation. I thought his dad was happy about that.”
I go stiff.
I forgot this part was still a secret. That I’d never revealed the truth about my connection to Warner. Because while Adam might’ve suspected that Warner had more than a professional interest in me, I’d never told anyone about my intimate moments with Warner. Or any of the things he’s said to me.
I swallow, hard.
“Juliette,” Kenji says, a warning in his voice. “You can’t hold this shit back anymore. You have to tell me what’s going on.”
I feel myself sway.
“He’s in love with me,” I whisper. I’ve never admitted that out loud before, not even to myself. I think I hoped I could ignore it. Hide it. Make it go away so Adam would never find out.
I take a deep breath. I suddenly feel exhausted.
“Please tell me you’re joking,” Kenji says.
I shake my head, forgetting he can’t see me.
“This is soooo weird. Because I always thought Warner was crazy, you know?” Kenji laughs. “But now, I mean, now there’s no doubt.”
My eyes fly wide open, shocking me into laughter. I push his invisible shoulder, hard.
Kenji laughs again, half amused, half reeling from disbelief. He takes a deep breath. “So, okay, wait, so, how do you know he’s in love with you?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, like—what, he took you out on a date or something? Bought you chocolates and wrote you some really shitty poetry? Warner doesn’t exactly seem like the affectionate type, if you know what I mean.”
“Oh.” I bite the inside of my cheek. “No, it was nothing like that.”
“He just . . . told me.”
Kenji stops walking so abruptly I nearly fall over. “No he didn’t.”
I don’t know how to respond to that.
“He actually said those words? To your face? Like, directly to your face?”
“So—so—so wait, so he tells you he loves you . . . and you said? What?” Kenji demands, dumbfounded. “‘Thank you’?”
“No.” I stifle a cringe, remembering all too well that I actually shot Warner for it the first time. “I mean I didn’t—I mean—I don’t know, Kenji, it’s all really weird for me right now. I still haven’t found a way to deal with it.” My voice drops to a whisper. “Warner is really . . . intense,” I say, and I’m overcome by a flood of memories, my emotions colliding into one jumble of insanity.
His kisses on my body. My pants on the floor. His desperate confessions unhinging my joints.
I squeeze my eyes shut, feeling too hot, too unsteady, everything all too suddenly.
“That’s definitely one way of putting it,” Kenji mutters, snapping me out of my reverie. I hear him sigh. “So Warner still has no idea that he and Kent are brothers?”
“No,” I say, immediately sobered.
Brothers who hate each other. Brothers who want to kill each other. And I’m caught in the middle. Good God, what has happened to my life.
“And both of these guys can touch you?”
“Yes? But—well, no, not really.” I try to explain. “Adam . . . can’t really touch me. I mean, he can, sort of . . . ?” I trail off. “It’s complicated. He has to actively work and train to counteract my energy with his own. But with Warner—” I shake my head, staring down at my invisible feet as I walk. “Warner can touch me with no consequences. It doesn’t do anything to him. He just absorbs it.”
“Damn,” Kenji says after a moment. “Damn damn damn. This shit is bananas.”
“So—okay—you’re telling me that Warner saved your life? That he actually begged the girls to help him heal you? And that he then hid you in his own room, and took care of you? Fed you and gave you clothes and shit and let you sleep in his bed?”
“Yeah. Okay. I have a really hard time believing that.”
“I know,” I say again, this time blowing out an exasperated breath. “But he’s really not what you guys think. I know he seems kind of crazy, but he’s actually really—”
“Whoa, wait—are you defending him?” Kenji’s voice is laced with shock. “We are talking about the same dude who locked you up and tried to make you his military slave, right?”
I’m shaking my head, wishing I could try to explain everything Warner’s told me without sounding like a naive, gullible idiot. “It’s not—” I sigh. “He didn’t actually want to use me like that—,” I try to say.
Kenji barks out a laugh. “Holy shit,” he says. “You actually believe him, don’t you? You’re buying into all the bullshit he’s fed you—”
“You don’t know him, Kenji, that’s not fair—”
“Oh my God,” he breathes, laughing again. “You are seriously going to try and tell me that I don’t know the man who led me into battle? He was my goddamn commander,” Kenji says to me. “I know exactly who he is—”