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Juliette’s smile vanishes. Gone too soon is the wistful, faraway look on her face. She says nothing, but I can sense the anger and sadness boiling over inside her.

Too suddenly, she says,

“Warner, Castle, Kenji?”

“Yeah?”

“Yes, Ms Ferrars?”

I merely stare.

“If we’re done here, I’d like to speak with the three of you alone, please.”

JULIETTE

I keep thinking I need to stay calm, that it’s all in my head, that everything is going to be fine and someone is going to open the door now, someone is going to let me out of here. I keep thinking it’s going to happen. I keep thinking it has to happen, because things like this don’t just happen. This doesn’t happen. People aren’t forgotten like this. Not abandoned like this.

This doesn’t just happen.

My face is caked with blood from when they threw me on the ground and my hands are still shaking even as I write this. This pen is my only outlet, my only voice, because I have no one else to speak to, no mind but my own to drown in and all the lifeboats are taken and all the life preservers are broken and I don’t know how to swim I can’t swim I can’t swim and it’s getting so hard. It’s getting so hard. It’s like there are a million screams caught inside of my chest but I have to keep them all in because what’s the point of screaming if you’ll never be heard and no one will ever hear me in here. No one will ever hear me ever again.

I’ve learned to stare at things.

The walls. My hands. The cracks in the walls. The lines on my fingers. The shades of gray in the concrete. The shape of my fingernails. I pick one thing and stare at it for what must be hours. I keep time in my head by counting the seconds as they pass. I keep days in my head by writing them down. Today is day two. Today is the second day. Today is a day.

Today.

It’s so cold. It’s so cold it’s so cold.

Please please please

—AN EXCERPT FROM JULIETTE’S JOURNALS IN THE ASYLUM

I’m still staring at the three of them, waiting for confirmation when, suddenly, Kenji speaks with a start.

“Uh, yeah—no, uh, no problem,” he says.

“Certainly,” says Castle.

And Warner says nothing at all, looking at me like he can see through me, and for a moment all I can remember is me, naked, begging him to join me in the shower; me, curled up in his arms crying, telling him how much I miss him; me, touching his lips—

I cringe, mortified. An old impulse to blush overtakes my entire body.

I close my eyes and look away, pivoting sharply as I leave the room without a word.

“Juliette, love—”

I’m already halfway down the hall when I feel his hand on my back and I stiffen, my pulse racing in an instant. The minute I spin around I see his face change, his features shifting from scared to surprised in less than a second and it makes me so angry that he has this ability, this gift of being able to sense other people’s emotions, because I am always so transparent to him, so completely vulnerable and it’s infuriating, infuriating

“What?” I say. I try to say it harshly but it comes out all wrong. Breathless. Embarrassing.

“I just—” But his hand falls. His eyes capture mine and suddenly I’m frozen in time. “I wanted to tell you—”

“What?” And now the word is quiet and nervous and terrified all at once. I take a step back to save my own life and I see Castle and Kenji walking too slowly down the hall; they’re keeping their distance on purpose—giving us space to speak. “What do you want to say?”

But now Warner’s eyes are moving, studying me. He looks at me with such intensity I wonder if he’s even aware he’s doing it. I wonder if he knows that when he looks at me like that I can feel it as acutely as if his bare skin were pressed against my own, that it does things to me when he looks at me like that and it makes me crazy, because I hate that I can’t control this, that this thread between us remains unbroken and he says finally, softly,

something

something I don’t hear

because I’m looking at his lips and feeling my skin ignite with memories of him and it was just yesterday, just yesterday that he was mine, that I felt his mouth on my body, that I could feel him inside me—

“What?” I manage to say, blinking upward.

“I said I really like what you’ve done with your hair.”

And I hate him, hate him for doing this to my heart, hate my body for being so weak, for wanting him, missing him, despite everything and I don’t know whether to cry or kiss him or kick him in the teeth, so instead I say, without meeting his eyes,

“When were you going to tell me about Lena?”

He stops then; motionless in a moment. “Oh”—he clears his throat—“I hadn’t realized you’d heard about Lena.”

I narrow my eyes at him, not trusting myself to speak, and I’m still deciding the best course of action when he says

“Kenji was right,” but he whispers the words, and mostly to himself.

“Excuse me?”

He looks up. “Forgive me,” he says softly. “I should’ve said something sooner. I see that now.”

“Then why didn’t you?”

“She and I,” he says, “it was—we were nothing. It was a relationship of convenience and basic companionship. It meant nothing to me. Truly,” he says, “you have to know—if I never said anything about her it was only because I never thought about her long enough to even consider mentioning it.”

“But you were together for two years—”

He shakes his head before he says, “It wasn’t like that. It wasn’t two years of anything serious. It wasn’t even two years of continuous communication.” He sighs. “She lives in Europe, love. We saw each other briefly and infrequently. It was purely physical. It wasn’t a real relationship—”

“Purely physical,” I say, stunned. I rock backward, nearly tripping over my own feet and I feel his words tear through my flesh with a searing physical pain I wasn’t expecting. “Wow. Wow.”

And now I can think of nothing but his body and hers, the two of them entwined, the two years he spent naked in her arms—

“No—please,” he says, the urgency in his words jolting me back to the present. “That’s not what I meant. I’m just—I’m—I don’t know how to explain this,” he says, frustrated like I’ve never seen him before. He shakes his head, hard. “Everything in my life was different before I met you,” he says. “I was lost and all alone. I never cared for anyone. I never wanted to get close to anyone. I’ve never—you were the first person to ever—”

“Stop,” I say, shaking my head. “Just stop, okay? I’m so tired. My head is killing me and I don’t have the energy to hear any more of this.”

“Juliette—”

“How many more secrets do you have?” I ask. “How much more am I going to learn about you? About me? My family? My history? The Reestablishment and the details of my real life?”

“I swear I never meant to hurt you like this,” he says. “And I don’t want to keep things from you. But this is all so new for me, love. This kind of relationship is so new for me and I don’t—I don’t know how to—”

“You’ve already kept so much from me,” I say to him, feeling my strength falter, feeling the weight of this throbbing headache unclench my armor, feeling too much, too much all at once when I say “There’s so much I don’t know about you. There’s so much I don’t know about your past. Our present. And I have no idea what to believe anymore.”

“Ask me anything,” he says. “I’ll tell you anything you want to know—”

“Except the truth about me? My parents?”

Warner looks suddenly pale.

“You were going to keep that from me forever,” I say to him. “You had no plan to tell me the truth. That I was adopted. Did you?”

His eyes are wild, bright with feeling.

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