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“Nope.” I sat in one of the big chairs behind tons of knobs and buttons. “But there’s no time like the present.” The only problem was, Connor was no help. I couldn’t Erase his memories and then try to bring them back. I looked around, then dug my phone out of my pocket.

I rested it on top of two knobs. “Addie’s house.” Immediately the directions to Addie’s house appeared, a red line showing the way. I lifted my hands and concentrated. A computer was different from a brain, but I could still feel the most active components. I shut them off and opened my eyes. The directions were gone. Awesome.

Connor sat down on the other seat. “You can Erase a computer’s memory.” He said it with such a flat voice I wasn’t sure whether he was impressed.

Now for the hard part. I tried to concentrate, force my mind to send out its power. A buzz started in my head, and I thought about how Addie was worried about me trying this. How she thought her ability had been damaged by pushing too hard. I shook off the thought. Other people advanced their ability all the time; it couldn’t be that bad. But nothing was happening. I gritted my teeth and tried again.

“You’re trying to restore its memory by advancing your ability?”

“Yes.”

“And you need some strong emotion?”

I paused. Strong emotion? I didn’t let the gasp that wanted to come out escape with the revelation, with the memory of just minutes before when I’d felt an energy building around me. That was usable? So Connor knew more about advancing abilities than he let on. “Yes.”

“You must be off the DAA program then. If you’ve been using that, it’s not going to work.”

A lot more. “I am.” I swallowed hard. “Can you just . . .”

“Can I just what?” He turned toward me, his eyes meeting mine. They were electrified, like a lightning storm raged behind them. I needed to feel that energy. I swiveled my seat toward him, rested my hand on my knee and turned it palm up. That was as much risk as I could take. Now it was his turn.

CHAPTER 21

Addie: Need to purchase some protective face gear.

“Trevor, wait!” I called down the stairs. He was at least a floor below me. I could hear his footsteps but couldn’t see him when I leaned over the rail. “Wait!”

The footsteps stopped, and I walked down the remaining space between us.

“Your grandfather’s kind of different, yeah?”

“That’s a nice word for it.”

He smiled. “What was the thing that looked a lot like a toaster sitting on the coffee table?”

Possibly the reason he’s been able to stay hidden all these years. “I think it was a modified toaster. Maybe he receives transmissions from Mars on it. I don’t know.”

“Maybe it tells him the future.”

“Let’s not get carried away.”

“So . . .” He started walking again. “You came after me why?”

“You think there’s another way out of this building? Besides the lobby?”

“I’m sure there’s a back exit. I think there’s a parking lot back there.”

“So we have a choice?”

“My car’s parked out front, so that makes my choice easy.”

“Can you just . . .” I grabbed his arm and he stopped. “Can we just sit for one minute?” One minute should be enough to do a quick Search. “I’m feeling a little dizzy.”

“Sure.” He helped me sit on a step and then leaned against the wall. “It seemed like you hadn’t seen your grandfather in a long time.”

This wasn’t going to work if he tried to talk to me. “Yeah, I hadn’t. I didn’t realize he lived here. I’ve been learning a lot of interesting things lately.”

A discarded kid’s tennis shoe sat on the step by Trevor’s foot. He nudged it a few times with the toe of his shoe, flipping it, then flipping it again. I wondered how many times some mom had searched her apartment over for something that wasn’t there. For a shoe that was sitting here in the stairwell. She might never find it, because she obviously had no memory of it falling here.

I put my forehead on my knees so it wouldn’t look suspicious when I went catatonic for a minute during my Search. I braced myself for the headache that would follow, wondering if I should even be using my ability right now when I was worried about the lasting effects of these headaches. Of what caused them to begin with.

“Addison,” he said, stopping my Search before it started.

I looked up and barely saw the flash of an object as it hit my face. “Ouch.” The kid’s shoe landed on the step below me with a thump, then rolled down a few more. “Did you just throw a shoe at me?”

“I’m so sorry.” He rushed forward and sat on the step below me. “I thought you would move fast and catch it.”

I rubbed my cheek, trying to hide a smile. He was relentless. And funny. Why did he have to be so easy to be around?

“I’m sorry. Are you okay?” One of his hands went to my elbow while he inspected my cheek. He cringed. “There’s a red mark.” He retrieved the shoe, then held it out for me. “You have my permission to throw this at my face as hard as you can.”

I laughed. “I’m not going to hit you in the face with a shoe.”

“It would make me feel like less of a jerk.”

“It’s fine. It doesn’t even hurt.”

He tossed the shoe aside, then ran his fingers lightly over my cheek, which, despite what I’d said, actually stung a little. He studied the new mark intently. “I don’t know what’s gotten into me. I don’t do this. I don’t follow people. And I don’t throw things at girls.”

“What do you do?”

“I . . .” He stopped, and I could tell I’d caught him off guard with the question.

“Tell me more about your comic. What’s it about?”

“My attempt at a comic.”

My eyes went to his hands, where I could see a callus along the inside of his middle finger along with lead smudges. I meant to just point at his finger, but instead my hand brushed along the smudge. “You don’t earn a callus like that from just attempting.”

He put his hands palms up and inspected them. “I’ve been trying to throw with my left hand.”

I figured he was talking about a football. “And how is it?”

“As evidenced earlier, I’m a much better aim with my right.”

I laughed.

His eyes traveled over my hair and then came to rest on my neck. “Your hair is starting to curl underneath. Is it naturally curly?”

I smoothed my hair. “Yes. I straighten it every day.”

He pulled lightly at one of my curls. My heart stammered in my chest as a familiarity at his closeness washed over me again. Maybe I was just remembering the Search from the hospital. Or the way he’d looked at me in the mall.

The mall. With Stephanie.

I cleared my throat and crossed my arms, trying to provide a barrier between us. He was so close. And he smelled so good. And . . . I needed to stop. “Stephanie bought this really amazing dress for the formal. You really should ask her.”

He laughed a little and backed away, leaning his head against the wall. “Are you and Rowan ganging up on me?”

“Rowan?”

“He keeps telling me to ask her, and like I told him the other night, I’m kind of tired of her drama. I know you’re friends with her and everything, but she and I aren’t good together.”

A tingling worked its way over my arms. Despite my body thinking this was a good thing, it wasn’t. Stephanie was my friend, and she really liked him. “You should give her one more chance. She’s working on her drama.”

“We’ll see.”

I buried my head in my arms again, remembering I still needed to Search. He seemed lost in his thoughts, so now was as good a time as any. I took a deep breath and concentrated.

“Are you okay? Does your face hurt?” Trevor asks.

“No. I’m fine.” I lift my head, meeting his eyes. They are full of concern.

“Are you sure?”

I stand. “Yes. Can you give me a ride home after all?”

“Of course.”

I glance over my shoulder, up the stairs toward my grandpa’s apartment. I’ll come back tomorrow. We walk down the remainder of the stairs and I peer out the lobby doors, still not sure whether my grandpa was being paranoid. I don’t see anyone “waiting to intercept” Trevor, but it’s probably better to be on the safe side.

“So you’re going to think this sounds ridiculous, but can we circle around the back?” Then I’ll be able to scope out the street.

“Why?”

“There were some guys on the street earlier who made me uncomfortable. I don’t feel like passing them again.”

He stands a little taller. “We’ll be fine.” He takes a step toward the lobby, and just as he almost comes into view of the windows, I grab his hand.

“No. Please. Can we just go this way?” I pull him toward the red exit sign I see at the end of the hall. He doesn’t argue, just lets me lead him out back. I wait for him to pull his hand out of mine, but he doesn’t. His hand is warm and comfortable. It swallows mine in its grip. I should let go. I don’t.

Once outside we sneak around the building, and I peer up the street. There are several parked cars, but none of them occupied. There doesn’t seem to be anyone after Trevor. I relax with the thought.

Trevor lets go of my hand, then points. “I parked a couple blocks down.”

Perfect. When we reach his car, he opens the door for me.

I start to get in but stop. “Thank you.”

He has one hand on the open door, and he puts his other hand on the top of the car next to my head, boxing me in. “For what?”

I lift my hand, my first instinct to put it on his chest, but hesitate and grab a section of my hair instead. “For not making us go out the front.”

He doesn’t move away, just stares at me through his thick lashes. My heart flutters. He feels very close all of a sudden, even though neither of us has moved. His eyes drift to my cheek, probably checking on the red mark he made there, but then they flit to my lips. I take a breath in through my mouth, my lips parting slightly with the action.

My hand that grabbed a piece of my hair has frozen, and the hair slips slowly through my fingers, my hand now hovering in the air, empty. As if it has a mind of its own, it presses itself right over his heart, each fast beat now crashing against my palm. He leans closer and his breath washes over me, my eyes closing. He hesitates for a second too long, and I quickly drop my hand and back into the open car door, out of breath. He stares down at me for a moment and then shuts the door.

The memories of the first option flowed together with the memories of the second.

“Are you okay? Does your face hurt?” Trevor asks.

“No. I’m fine.” I lift my head, meeting his eyes. They are full of concern.

“Are you sure?”

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