- Unravel Me
It’s like forgetting how to move your muscles and reliving every nauseous moment in your life and struggling to get all the splinters out from underneath your skin. It’s like that one time you woke up and tripped down a rabbit hole and a blond girl in a blue dress kept asking you for directions but you couldn’t tell her, you had no idea, you kept trying to speak but your throat was full of rain clouds and it’s like someone has taken the ocean and filled it with silence and dumped it all over this room.
It’s like this.
No one is speaking. No one is moving. Everyone is staring.
At Adam staring at me.
His eyes are wide, blinking too fast, his features shifting in and out of confusion and anger and pain and confusion so much confusion and a touch of betrayal, of suspicion, of so much more confusion and an extra dose of pain and I’m gaping like a fish in the moments before it dies.
I wish he would say something. I wish he would at least ask or accuse or demand something but he says nothing, he only studies me, stares at me, and I watch as the light goes out of his eyes, as the anger gives way to the pain and the extraordinary impossibility he must be experiencing right now and he sits down.
He does not look in my direction.
He’s up. He’s up. He’s up and he’s charging out of the room and I scramble to my feet, I chase him out the door and I hear the chaos erupt in my wake, the crowd dissolving into anger all over again and I almost slam right into him, I’m gasping and he spins around and he says
“I don’t understand.” His eyes are so hurt, so deep, so blue.
“He’s touched you.” It’s not a question. He can hardly meet my eyes and he looks almost embarrassed by the words he speaks next. “He’s touched your skin.”
If only it were just that. If only it were that simple. If only I could get these currents out of my blood and Warner out of my head and why am I so confused
“Yes,” I tell him, I hardly move my lips. The answer to his nonquestion is yes.
Adam touches his fingers to his mouth, looks up, looks away, makes a strange, disbelieving sound. “When?”
I tell him.
I tell him when it happened, how it all began, I tell him how I was wearing one of the dresses Warner always made me wear, how he was fighting to stop me before I jumped out the window, how his hand grazed my leg and how he touched me and nothing happened.
I tell him how I tried to pretend it was all just a figment of my imagination until Warner caught us again.
I don’t tell him how Warner told me he missed me, how he told me he loved me and he kissed me, how he kissed me with such wild, reckless intensity. I don’t tell him that I pretended to return Warner’s affections just so I could slip my hands under his coat to get the gun out of his inside pocket. I don’t tell him that I was surprised, shocked, even, at how it felt to be in his arms, and that I pushed away those strange feelings because I hated Warner, because I was so horrified that he’d shot Adam that I wanted to kill him.
All Adam knows is that I almost did. That I almost killed Warner.
And now Adam is blinking, digesting the words I’m telling him, innocent of the things I’ve kept to myself.
I really am a monster.
“I didn’t want you to know,” I manage to say. “I thought it would complicate things between us—after everything we’ve had to deal with—I just thought it would be better to ignore it and I don’t know.” I fumble, fail for words. “It was stupid. I was stupid. I should have told you and I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I didn’t want you to find out like this.”
Adam is breathing hard, rubbing the back of his head before running a hand through his hair and he says, “I don’t—I don’t get it—I mean—do we know why he can touch you? Is it like me? Can he do what I do? I don’t—God, Juliette, and you’ve been spending all that time alone with him—”
“Nothing happened,” I tell him. “All I did was talk to him and he never tried to touch me. And I have no idea why he can touch me—I don’t think anyone does. He hasn’t started testing with Castle yet.”
Adam sighs and drags a hand across his face and says, so quietly only I can hear him, “I don’t even know why I’m surprised. We share the same goddamn DNA.” He swears under his breath. Swears again. “Am I ever going to catch a break?” he asks, raising his voice, talking to the air. “Is there ever going to be a time when some shitty thing isn’t being thrown in my face? Jesus. It’s like this insanity is never going to end.”
I want to tell him that I don’t think it ever will.
I freeze at the sound of his voice.
I squeeze my eyes shut tight, so tight, refusing to believe my ears. Warner cannot be here. Of course he’s not here. It’s not even possible for him to be out here but then I remember. Castle said he’s no longer a hostage.
Castle must’ve let him out of his room.
This can’t be happening. Warner is not standing so close to me and Adam right now, not again, not like this not after everything this cannot be happening
but Adam looks over my shoulder, looks behind me at the person I’m trying so hard to ignore and I can’t lift my eyes. I don’t want to see what’s about to happen.
Adam’s voice is like acid when he speaks. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“It’s good to see you again, Kent.” I can actually hear Warner smile. “We should catch up, you know. Especially in light of this new discovery. I had no idea we had so much in common.”
You really, truly have no idea, I want to say out loud.
“You sick piece of shit,” Adam says to him, his voice low, measured.
“Such unfortunate language.” Warner shakes his head. “Only those who cannot express themselves intelligently would resort to such crude substitutions in vocabulary.” A pause. “Is it because I intimidate you, Kent? Am I making you nervous?” He laughs. “You seem to be struggling to hold yourself together.”
“I will kill you—” Adam charges forward to grab Warner by the throat just as Kenji slams into him, into both of them, shoving them apart with a look of absolute disgust on his face.
“What the hell do you two think you’re doing?” His eyes are blazing. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed but you’re standing right in front of the doorway and you’re scaring the shit out of the little kids, Kent, so I’m going to have to ask you to calm your ass down.” Adam tries to speak but Kenji cuts him off. “Listen, I don’t have a clue what Warner is doing out of his room, but that’s not my call to make. Castle is in charge around here, and we have to respect that. You can’t go around killing people just because you feel like it.”
“This is the same guy who tried to torture me to death!” Adam shouts. “He had his men beat the shit out of you! And I have to live with him? Fight with him? Pretend everything is fine? Has Castle lost his mind—”
“Castle knows what he’s doing,” Kenji snaps. “You don’t need to have an opinion. You will defer to his judgment.”
Adam throws his hands in the air, furious. “I don’t believe this. This is a joke! Who does this? Who treats hostages like they’re on some kind of retreat?” he shouts again, making no effort to keep his voice down. “He could go back and give away every detail of this place—he could give away our exact location!”
“That’s impossible,” Warner says. “I have no idea where we are.”
Adam turns on Warner so quickly that I spin around just as fast, just to catch the action. Adam is shouting, saying something, looking like he might attack Warner right here in this moment and Kenji is trying to restrain him but I can hardly hear what’s going on around me. The blood is pounding too hard in my head and my eyes are forgetting to blink because Warner is looking at me, only me, his eyes so focused, so intent, so heart-wrenchingly deep it renders me completely still.
Warner’s chest is rising and falling, strong enough that I can see it from where I’m standing. He’s not paying attention to the commotion beside him, the chaos of the dining hall or Adam trying to pummel him into the ground; he’s not moved a single inch. He will not look away and I know I have to do it for him.
I turn my head.
Kenji is yelling at Adam to calm down about something and I reach out, I grab Adam’s arm, I offer him a small smile and he stills. “Come on,” I tell him. “Let’s go back inside. Castle isn’t finished yet and we need to hear what he’s saying.”
Adam makes an effort to regain control of himself. Takes a deep breath. Offers me a quick nod and allows me to lead him forward. I’m forcing myself to focus on Adam so I can pretend Warner isn’t here.
Warner isn’t a fan of my plan.
He’s now standing in front of us, blocking our path and I look at him despite my best intentions only to see something I’ve never seen before. Not to this degree, not like this.
“Move,” Adam snaps at him, but Warner doesn’t seem to notice.
He’s looking at me. He’s looking at my hand clenched around Adam’s covered arm and the agony in his eyes is breaking my knees and I can’t speak, I shouldn’t speak, I wouldn’t know what to say even if I could speak and then he says my name. He says it again. He says, “Juliette—”
“Move!” Adam barks again, this time losing restraint and pushing Warner with enough strength to knock him to the floor. Except Warner doesn’t fall. He trips backward, just a little, but the movement somehow triggers something within him, some kind of dormant anger he’s all too eager to unleash and he’s charging forward, ready to inflict damage and I’m trying to figure out what to do to make it stop, I’m trying to come up with a plan and I’m stupid.
I’m stupid enough to step in the middle.
Adam grabs me to try and pull me back but I’m already pressing a palm to Warner’s chest and I don’t know what I’m thinking but I’m not thinking at all and that seems to be the problem. I’m here, I’m caught in the milliseconds standing between 2 brothers willing to destroy one another and it’s not even me who manages to do anything at all.
He grabs both boys by the arms and tries to pry them apart but the sudden sound that rips through his throat is a torture and a terror I wish I could tear out of my skull.
He’s on the ground.
He’s choking, gasping, writhing on the floor until he goes limp, until he can hardly breathe and then he’s still, too still, and I think I’m screaming, I keep touching my lips to see where this sound is coming from and I’m on my knees. I’m trying to shake him awake but he’s not moving, he’s not responding and I have no idea what just happened.