I didn’t tell her because I knew how much effort he had put into keeping it a secret. Not that I thought Addie would tell everyone. But it wasn’t my place to tell people. I thought about that answer, what it would imply. Then I thought about how little he was telling me and what that implied. So I answered, “Because you never crossed my mind when I was talking to her.”
He held my stare for one more moment, then turned to walk away.
“What’s in Bowie?” I called after him.
He stopped at the entrance to his room, his back to me.
“Your Norm roots? Are you discovering yourself?”
“Something like that.” He went inside and shut the door behind him.
I was angry at myself for providing an answer for him, no matter how snarky it was supposed to be. It gave him an out for having to provide an answer himself. Even a made-up one could’ve given me some sort of clue. I let out a low growl and went to join Addie.
Addie: I need to practice my hiding skills.
Right away I saw Trevor in the stands. He sat the way he always did when watching football, his hands buried in his jacket pockets, his booted feet on the bench in front of him. If I didn’t know how torturous it was for him to watch the game, it would’ve seemed like he was the most relaxed person on earth. I wanted to sit next to Trevor, grab his hand, feel his arms around me, but I resisted. Thank goodness Stephanie was cheering tonight, because I was sure I wouldn’t have been able to handle the two of them together without losing it.
“Oh no,” Laila said.
“What?” I followed her gaze but only saw a group of people standing at the front railing, cheering.
“I was hoping they wouldn’t come.”
I studied the group closer, their broad backs and purple sweatshirts. Carter High’s colors were blue and silver. Lincoln’s colors were purple and gold. My eyes shot back and forth down the line until I saw his familiar hair. Duke. No.
“Why are they here?”
“It’s a football game.”
I ducked down a little and positioned myself behind Laila. “Just don’t let him see me.”
“I’ll do my best.”
As though he could feel me staring, Trevor glanced to where we walked down the aisle a few rows away from him. I gave him a small wave. He looked behind him and then back to me. I smiled, and he gave me a head nod.
We really shouldn’t have sat a couple of rows in front of Trevor, because then it was so obvious when I turned around to look at him.
“How are you going to do this?” Laila whispered at halftime. “You can’t just stare at him every minute like a creeper.”
“I should go and talk to him?”
“Yes. Like I said, you should be good at the stadium. There are so many people here.”
“Okay. I’m going to talk to him.” I’d sit next to him and say, You’re not crazy. I have so much to tell you.
She laughed and gave me a push. “You know him, remember? You’ll know what to say.”
She was right. I knew him. I stood and made my way down the aisle. Just as I turned to walk up the steps, a hand on my shoulder stopped me. I turned and was eye-to-eye with Duke. His smile blasted me. I backed up a step.
“Hi. What are you doing here?”
He jerked his head toward the field. “Our competition. We’re studying their weaknesses.”
Anger flared through me. “What?”
The anger must’ve shown on my face, because he quickly added, “No. Not so we can injure them. Just their football weaknesses.”
“Oh. Okay. Have fun.” I started to leave.
“But I was hoping to see you too.”
His words stopped me, and a familiar warmth crept through my shoulders and neck. “Don’t. Just. I—I have to go.”
I whirled around, but Trevor wasn’t there. I scanned the stands, then raced up the cement steps to the exit and back down them to get to ground level behind the stadium. My entire body relaxed when I saw him at the snack hut, buying a soda. This was very familiar. Maybe I could do a little reenactment of the night we talked behind the stadium in my other future—the night he told me he felt out of place. A chill went through me as I remembered how he had lifted me into his arms. There was so much electrical charge between us that night it was insane. I walked toward the snack hut, anticipating him turning to the darkened baseball field in the back, but he turned toward me and the stadium instead.
He saw me right away.
“Hi,” I said when we were within talking distance.
As he got closer, I smelled his familiar scent and couldn’t believe I had forgotten it. “I . . .” My mind went blank.
He tilted his head.
I pointed to the field. “Will you walk with me for a minute?”
“Um . . .” A soft mist hung over the empty field, and he seemed to take in the scene. It did look like the perfect place for an assault. Was he worried that my ability and I were going to steal his wallet or something? That’s when I remembered how we had left things the last time I saw him outside my grandpa’s apartment. He was mad that I wouldn’t talk. He was obviously still mad.
“Sure.” He followed me as we headed into the darkness, the lights and sounds of the stadium becoming more distant. When we were between the stadium and the back fence of the baseball diamond, I stopped and faced him. Time to make some magic.
I looked up at him, and my heart danced. I had to restrain myself from hugging him. Everything about him was familiar and comfortable, from his easy smile to his relaxed stance. He made me happy. “Is it hard watching them play?”
Hmm. Okay, that didn’t work. “Do you ever think about would’ve beens?”
Work with me, Trevor. He finished off his soda.
“Have you ever read Ninja Wars II?”
“Yes . . . ,” he said warily. “Have you?”
“Yes.” I held out my hand for his soda can. “Remember how Naoto smashed the can between his hands all crazy-like?”
He laughed a little. “And you think you can do that?”
“All right. Let’s see it.”
I turned the can sideways and pushed. Nothing happened. Holy cow, that took a lot more strength than I gave Trevor credit for. No wonder Naoto’s eyes were bugging out of his head when he did it.
“Any day now,” Trevor said.
“Shut up,” I said, laughing. “I’m trying.”
“You want to know a secret?”
I stopped laughing and met his eyes. “Yes.”
His smile dropped. “Um . . . I mean about the soda can.”
“Oh. Right. Of course about the soda can.” What other secret could you possibly tell me, Trevor?
He put his hands over mine on either side of the can. “You have to twist a little as you push.” He twisted the can and then easily crushed it between our hands. “See.”
He let go, and the can slipped from my grip and onto the ground between us. We both stared at it.
But my eyes couldn’t stay off him for long, and my body inched a little closer. It wanted to be near him. “I miss you.”
“I missed it.” I pointed to the can. “Dropped it.”
He reached down and picked it up. He spun the can on the tip of his finger. It did a couple of rotations before wobbling off balance and starting to fall. He caught it.
“So, I know you were kind of mad last time we talked because I couldn’t tell you about . . .” I glanced around. This wasn’t exactly the noise and commotion Laila said would be ideal to talk about the Compound. “Well, you know. But I want to tell you tonight. Answer your questions.”
“I’m sorry. I’m lost. Last time we talked? At the graveyard?” Was he trying to be funny?
“No. Outside my grandpa’s apartment.”
His bewilderment caught me so off guard that I stuttered for a moment before saying, “What?”
“Did you ever figure out why your grandmother’s grave was there?”
I opened my mouth, then shut it again. He thought the last time we talked was at the cemetery? And then it hit me like a punch to my gut. “Did you—? Did they—?” The Containment Committee Erased him? When? After my grandpa’s house? It was the last logical place I could think of. “Crap.”
Laila: I should charge you for this.
When Addie came back, she looked defeated. She slid into her seat. “They Selectively Erased him. I should’ve known they were going to do that. Those agents at my house told me they knew he suspected something. They took the memories of going to my grandfather’s apartment. He knows me even less than before.”
“So I guess that means you didn’t tell him about the Compound.”
“Yeah, and have him think I’m a complete wacko?” Addie looked over her shoulder to where Trevor sat again, watching the game.
“You’re screwed. The CC is not going to let your future boyfriend know anything about the Compound.”
She twisted her hands together. “I’m scared.”
“They messed with Trevor, but this also means they not only know about my grandpa but now think he’s a threat. It’s all my fault. I need to go check on him. Warn him. You have to help me.” She met my eyes. “Do you think you can give Trevor back his memories?”
“I don’t know if I can without Connor here.”
“Can you try? If it works, tell Trevor to meet us at the box. If my grandpa is okay, then I can talk to Trevor there. My grandfather’s toaster device really did detect the Committee the other day. So maybe the box works too. Maybe he can tell us how to keep Trevor safe.”
“It’s at my grandpa’s apartment. He’ll get it.”
How had I gotten myself into this mess? I was in the business of stealing people’s memories, not putting them back. I forced my way down the aisle behind Trevor. When I was directly behind him, I squatted down and said real close to his ear, “Hi, doll, you don’t know me, but I need you not to freak out for a minute.”
To his credit, he didn’t jerk his head away or jump or anything. He just turned slightly to look at me. “You’re Addison’s friend.”
“Yes. Laila. Hi. Now, I’m about to return something that belongs to you. There are certain people who don’t want you to have this. It is imperative that you don’t overreact. It might be shocking. When the game is over, meet us at the box.” I felt like some sort of criminal. Bring the money to the box and you can have your life back. I really hoped my theory that the noise of the game would mask our conversation was true, because if the Committee was tracking him, they might be listening in right now.
“Addie says you’ll know what that means in a minute.”
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