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“Did you know about Ryan?” I asked.

“He’s stil alive, I know that,” Jared said, peeling off his coat. He hung it on the rack, and then walked to me, kneeling beside me on the floor. “You read the letter?”

“He said he’s going into the Special Forces.”

Jared thought for a moment, and then shook his head. “No, the shortest time anyone has been accepted is eighteen months in. That can’t be right.”

“That’s what I told her, but she doesn’t believe me,” Bex said, rol ing his eyes. He walked over to the wadded letter and reopened it, scanning the words. “But that’s what it says. Maybe he’s trying to impress her.”

Jared immediately pul ed out his phone and dialed Claire’s number. Her angry tone carried into the room.

“He’s a maniac!” Claire yel ed. “He has zero respect for his limited lifespan and tries to throw himself on grenades for his buddies every other day,” she huffed.

“Claire…keep your voice down,” Jared chuckled nervously. He noticed my horrified expression, and turned his head. “You’re not serious?”

“I’m exaggerating, but not by much. The grenade part is true, but that was just once.”

I wrapped my arms around my waist and walked over to Bex, waiting for more bad news. Bex put his arm around me with a light hug.

“He’s saved every man in his company in one way or another. He walks around with explosives on his back while the enemy is shooting at us.

You thought your detail was bad, this is impossible!”

“Great,” I said, throwing my arms up and letting them slap to my sides.

“It stil doesn’t explain how he made sergeant in an impossible amount of time,” Jared said.

The other end of the phone was silent, and Jared nodded, whispering something so quickly I could barely discern his reply at al . “Okay. Watch your six,” Jared said, flipping his phone shut. He watched me for a moment, and then sighed. “He stil has Claire, Nina. You know her…it’s like he’s in military day care.”

“How did he get sergeant so quickly?” I asked.

Jared peered at Bex for a moment before speaking. “It appears Colonel Brand pul ed some strings. The Special Forces guys are more familiar with how we do things, and it made it easier for Claire to protect him.”

“Sending Ryan on more dangerous missions wil protect him,” I deadpanned.

“Wel , since everyone has bad news….” Bex said.

“Bex, don’t,” I said through my teeth, but it was too late.

“What is it?” Jared asked, his eyes bouncing between the two of us.

“Nina slept al night. She didn’t budge until seven this morning.”

Jared let his words sink in. It was several moments before he moved, and then nodded. His hand searched for the closest chair to pul beneath him. He fel into it, and stared at the floor. “So that’s it.”

“Jared, that doesn’t mean anything,” I said, reaching for him.

He looked to his younger brother. “Now we just have to see how far away I have to be to keep the dreams away.”

“This is ridiculous!” I said. “It’s happened three times, that isn’t a definitive trial by anyone’s standards!”

“So we’l test the theory,” Jared said. “Starting tonight.”

“No,” I said, shaking my head. “Absolutely not. I didn’t move in with you to have to sleep alone every night.”

“It’s just until we figure this out,” Jared said.


“Yes,” Jared said, his tone final.

The air was knocked out of me. I couldn’t believe what he was saying, but I was too tired to argue. Tears wel ed up in my eyes, and I looked away from him.


“I get it…it’s okay.”

“Let’s just try it. See if it works. I’ll start out just outside town, and then come a bit closer every half hour. If you have the dream, we’l know.”

“This is ridiculous!” I said. “How are you going to find the damn book if you’re experimenting with my dream?”

“She has a point,” Bex said.

Jared frowned. “I have to know.”

We tested his theory. The first night, I lay in bed for what seemed like an eternity, waiting to fal asleep. Being alone in our bed felt so cold and depressing. My fingers traced the wrinkles in the sheets, remembering the first time I woke in his bed. That perfect morning, after the night he told me who—and what—he real y was, seemed like light years away. A tear formed in the corner of my eye, and slipped over the bridge of my nose to the white fabric beneath me.

Jared began just on the outskirts of Providence. When he felt I was asleep, he made his way to the loft, a block at a time, every ten minutes or so.

He was just over two blocks away when he felt my anxiety. In Shax’s building, it was apparent the moment Jared backed off, because my surroundings blurred away, forming into the hal s of my old high school.

The alarm bleated, and my eyes peeled open. Two ful nights of sleep. My body felt a bit closer to normal. Jared walked in the front door, trotted up the stairs, and crawled into bed beside me, wrapping his warm arms snugly around me. We didn’t speak, we were just stil , letting reality sink in.

“Why would Dad do this? It doesn’t seem fair,” Bex said from the first floor.

Jared didn’t answer. He simply pressed his forehead against my temple and sighed.

Night after night, I slept alone. Jared used that time to harass every connection he had, and pursue every lead to learn the location of the book.

Seconds after I woke in the mornings, he was at my side.

The days slowly returned to normal. Lectures in class were written down, and my hours at Titan were used for work instead of naps. Beth gladly decreased the number of times she fetched coffee, and excuses to Grant.

One afternoon she brought me a file and sat in the plump, green leather chair in front of my desk. She had bought new clothes, and her auburn hair had a new shape to it. Stil short, but different. Embarrassed that I had no idea how long it had been that way, I took the file from her and sat it to the side.

“I love the shoes,” I said.

“Thanks,” she said, picking one foot off the floor to bring the yel ow stilettos into view. They boasted a big bow on the side, and the heel, sole and strap were black. “It’s a lot easier to dress for work when you have money. Thanks again, Nina. Things at home have been a lot better since you hired me.”