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“I need to cool off,” I tell him, trying to moderate my voice. “I’ll be back to shave your head while you’re sleeping.”

Kenji looks genuinely terrified for the first time. “You wouldn’t.”

I head toward the opposite wall. Hit the button for the elevator. “You’re a heavy sleeper, right?”

“That’s not funny, J—that’s not even a little bit funny—”

The elevator pings open. I step inside. “Good night, Kenji.”

I can still hear him shouting at me as the doors close.


Warner is in the shower when I get back up to the room.

I glance at the clock. This would be about the time he’d start heading down to the training rooms; I usually meet him there for our nightly recap.

Instead I fall face-first onto the bed.

I don’t know what I’m going to do.

Adam is going to show up here tomorrow thinking I still want to be with him. I don’t want to have to walk away again, to see the hurt in his eyes. I don’t want to hurt him. I really don’t. I never have.

I’m going to kill Kenji.

I shove my head under the pillows, stacking them on my head and squishing them down around my ears until I’ve managed to shut out the world. I don’t want to think about this right now. Now, of all the times to be thinking about this. Why do things always have to be so complicated? Why?

I feel a hand on my back.

I jerk up, pillows flying everywhere, and I’m so stupidly startled I actually fall off the bed. A pillow topples over and hits me in the face.

I groan, clutching the pillow to my chest. I press my forehead to the soft cushion of it, squeezing my eyes shut. I’ve never had such a terrible headache.

“Juliette?” A tentative voice. “Are you okay?”

I lower the pillow. Blink up.

Warner is wearing a towel.

A towel.

I want to roll under the bed.

“Adam and James are coming here tomorrow,” I say to him, all at once. I just say it, just like that.

Warner raises his eyebrows. “I didn’t realize they’d received an invitation.”

“Kenji is bringing them here. He’s been sneaking out to go check on them, and now he’s bringing them here. Tomorrow morning.”

Warner’s face is carefully neutral, his voice unaffected. He might be talking about the color of the walls. “I thought he wasn’t interested in joining your resistance anymore.”

For a moment I can’t believe I’m still lying on the ground, clutching a pillow to my chest, staring at Warner who’s wearing a towel and nothing else. I can’t even take myself seriously.

“Kenji told Adam I’m still in love with him.”

There it is.

A flash of anger. In and out. Warner’s eyes spark and fade. He looks to the wall, silent a moment. “I see.” His voice is quiet, controlled.

“He knew it was the only way to get Adam back here.”

Warner says nothing.

“But I’m not, you know. In love with him.” I’m surprised at how easily the words leave my lips, and even more surprised that I feel the need to say them out loud. That I’d need to reassure Warner, of all people. “I care about Adam,” I say to him, “in the way that I’ll always care about the few people who’ve shown me kindness in my life, but everything else is just . . . gone.”

“I understand,” he says.

I don’t believe him.

“So what do you want to do?” I ask. “About tomorrow? And Adam?”

“What do you think should be done?”

I sigh. “I’m going to have to talk to him. I’ll have to break up with him for the third time,” I say, groaning again. “This is so stupid. So stupid.”

I finally drop the pillow. Drop my arms to my sides.

But when I look up again, Warner is gone.

I sit up, alert. Glance around.

He’s standing in the corner, putting on a pair of pants.

I try not to look at him as I climb back onto the bed.

I kick off my shoes and sink under the blankets, burrowing into the pillows until my head is buried beneath them. I feel the weight shift on the bed, and realize Warner must be sitting beside me. He plucks one of the pillows off my head. Leans in. Our noses are only inches apart.

“You don’t love him at all?” Warner asks me.

My voice is being stupid. “Romantically?”

He nods.


“You’re not attracted to him?”

“I’m attracted to you.”

“I’m serious,” he says.

“So am I.”

Warner’s still staring at me. He blinks, once.

“Don’t you believe me?” I ask.

He looks away.

“Can’t you tell?” I ask him. “Can’t you feel it?”

And I am either losing my mind or Warner just blushed.

“You give me too much credit, love.” His eyes are focused on the blanket, his words soft. “I will disappoint you. I am every bit the defective human being you don’t think I am.”

I sit up. Look at him closely. “You’re so different,” I whisper. “So different and exactly the same.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re so gentle now. You’re very . . . calm,” I tell him. “Much more than you were before.”

He says nothing for a long time. And then he stands up. His tone is curt when he says, “Yes, well, I’m sure you and Kishimoto will find a way to sort this situation out. Excuse me.”

And then he leaves. Again.

I have no idea what to make of him anymore.


Adam is already here.

Warner was completely uninterested in dealing with Adam. So he’s gone about his day and his duties, having skipped his morning workout.

And now I’m here.

I’ve just stepped out of the elevator, and the pinging sound that signals the opening of the doors has alerted everyone to my presence. Adam was standing in the corner, talking to James. He’s now staring at me.

It’s weird, how I feel when I look at him now. There is no extreme emotion in me. No excess of happiness or sadness. Not upset. Not overjoyed. His face is familiar to me; his body, familiar to me. His unsteady smile, as he looks at me, is familiar to me.