“But I believe it,” Cate said.
I wanted to tell her that her beliefs weren’t worth a damn thing when she spoke again. “I’ve spent the last month looking for you. I stayed in this area, hoping you’d eventually show up, but Ruby, where were you? Where did you go? You look like—like—”
“East River,” I said.
Cate sucked in a sharp breath. So the League had heard about what happened.
“Oh, that’s perfect,” Martin said, pushing himself up off the wall. He slid the strap of his rifle over his shoulder and stalked toward me. “Sitting around on your ass for weeks doing nothing? Figures. I’ve been actually making a difference. I’ve been part of something.”
He made as if to touch my leg, but I grabbed his wrist tight in my hand. I wanted to see what he had gone through for myself—the training, the screaming instructors. I latched on to the strongest of his memories and spread it open in my mind. I wanted to glimpse our future.
Martin’s memory bubbled up like hot tar, forming and shaping itself until I was standing where he had stood. The package that had been in his hands was now heavy in mine. I felt the weight of it cramp my fingers, but my eyes were focused only on the climbing numbers on the elevator’s display: 11, 12, 13… The bell dinged as it passed each floor, heading to 17.
I cast a sly look to the girl standing next to me, dressed in a skirt suit, her young face caked with enough makeup to age her well beyond her years. She clutched her leather tote bag to her side like a shield, and it was only when she released it that I noticed her hands were shaking.
I was wearing a FedEx uniform; I could see myself through Martin’s eyes, reflected in the elevator’s silver doors as they slid open.
We were in an office building of some kind. It was dark out, but there were still men and women working, tucked away in their cubicles, their eyes glued to their computer screens. I didn’t stop, though, and neither did the girl at my side. Her face had broken out in a sweat, heavy enough to smear her makeup, and I felt a stab of irritation go through me at the sight of it.
The largest office was located at the far back corner of the building, and that was where I was headed. The girl all but let out a sigh as I left her by the drinking fountains. She was there for backup. This was my mission.
The door to the office was closed, but I could see someone’s shape behind the frosted glass. He’s still here. And so, thankfully, was his executive assistant. She looked confused at the sight of the package, but all it took was a single stroke at the back of her hand. Her eyes went glassy, unfocused, and I knew I had her. The elderly woman got up from her chair and turned toward the office door. I left the package right on her desk.
Free of that weight, I hustled back through the maze of cubicles, catching the eye of the girl by the fountain. When I jerked my head toward the elevators, she followed, looking back and forth between the elevator bank and the office floor, her lip caught between her teeth.
She didn’t do anything stupid until we were outside, though. I jogged down the steps, heading for the waiting FedEx van and the dark-haired man sitting in the driver’s seat. I was already at the door when I realized she wasn’t behind me. The girl was frozen at the top of the marble steps, her eyes wide and her face as pale as the stone beneath her feet.
She was going to run back into the building to warn them about the explosive, to warn them. Weak. The words shot through my mind, as crisp as if they had been drilled there. Ditch and die. Double-cross the League and die.
I took the handgun from under my seat and leaned out the open window. But I never got a shot off. Upstairs, high on the seventeenth floor of the building, an explosion blew out a shower of glass and concrete, and she had disappeared under their weight.
Martin’s hand stayed at my side, and he stopped moving. This is what it means to be one of them, I thought. This is what they will turn us into. I had slipped into his mind to confirm my suspicions, but even I was surprised at how easy it had been. Weeks ago, when we first got out, I hadn’t been able to fend him off. Now, all he had to do was brush by me and I overpowered him. With a single touch.
Clancy had taught me well.
I looked at Martin again, feeling a strange sort of pity for him. Not because of what I was about to do, or the way I would be using him, but because he thought he knew what it meant to be powerful and in control. He honestly still thought he was stronger than me.
I put a finger on the back of his hand, just one.
“What’s your name?” I asked him.
The reaction from him was priceless. There wasn’t an ounce of color left in his cheeks, and his lips began to smack against one another, trying to form the word, trying to call up a memory that was no longer there.
“Where are you from?”
I could see the panic now; it caused his eyes to bulge. But I still wasn’t finished.
“Do you know where you are now?”
I almost felt guilty—almost—when I saw the moisture began to gather at the corner of his eyes. But I also remembered how helpless and afraid he had made me feel, and I regretted not having done more. A plan was forming at the back of my mind, and it was almost too terrible to acknowledge as my own.
“I don’t—” He gasped the words out. “I don’t—”
“Then maybe you should leave,” I said in a cold voice.
I barely had to push the image of him doing it. He bolted from the room, slamming the door behind him. Running from the scary monster.
Cate stared after him, an unreadable expression on her face. “Impressive.”
“I thought he could do with an attitude adjustment,” I said. I kept my voice cold and flat, just the way I thought she’d want it. I had seen enough to know the viciousness these people demanded, and I needed them to want me. “Since it seems we’ll be spending a lot of time together now.”
Her pale blond hair fell over her shoulders as she bowed her head, but Cate didn’t deny it. We were trapped here. She had accepted Liam’s deal.
“I guess it was never really a choice to begin with,” I continued. “Eventually, you were going to have to bring me in.”
“You are a valuable asset to the resistance.” Cate lifted her hand toward me, only to drop it before it could touch my face. Smart lady. She knew what I could do. “I hoped you would come to see that on your own terms.”