Page 9

“Where is he?” I open my eyes. “Is he okay?”

Kenji rubs the back of his neck. Looks away. “He’ll be all right.”

“Can I see him?”

Kenji sighs. Turns to the girls. Says, “Hey, can we get a second alone?” and the 2 of them are suddenly in a hurry to go.

“Of course,” Sara says.

“No problem,” Sonya says.

“We’ll give you some privacy,” they say at the same time.

And they leave.

Kenji grabs 1 of the chairs pushed up against the wall and carries it over to my bed. Sits down. Props the ankle of 1 foot on the knee of the other and leans back. Links his hands behind his head. Looks at me.

I shift on the mattress so I’m better seated to see him. “What is it?”

“You and Kent need to talk.”

“Oh.” I swallow. “Yes. I know.”

“Do you?”

“Of course.”

“Good.” He nods. Looks away. Taps his foot too fast against the floor.

“What?” I ask after a moment. “What are you not telling me?”

His foot stops tapping but he doesn’t meet my eyes. He covers his mouth with his left hand. Drops it. “That was some crazy shit you pulled back there.”

All at once I feel humiliated. “I’m sorry, Kenji. I’m so sorry—I didn’t think—I didn’t know—”

He turns to face me and the look in his eyes stops me in place. He’s trying to read me. Trying to figure me out. Trying, I realize, to decide whether or not he can trust me. Whether or not the rumors about the monster in me are true.

“I’ve never done that before,” I hear myself whisper. “I swear—I didn’t mean for that to happen—”

“Are you sure?”


“It’s a question, Juliette. It’s a legitimate question.” I’ve never seen him so serious. “I brought you here because Castle wanted you here. Because he thought we could help you—he thought we could provide you with a safe place to live. To get you away from the assholes trying to use you for their own benefit. But you come here and you don’t even seem to want to be a part of anything. You don’t talk to people. You don’t make any progress with your training. You do nothing, basically.”

“I’m sorry, I really—”

“And then I believe Castle when he says he’s worried about you. He tells me you’re not adjusting, that you’re having a hard time fitting in. That people heard negative things about you and they’re not being as welcoming as they should be. And I should kick my own ass for it, but I feel sorry for you. So I tell him I’ll help. I rearrange my entire goddamn schedule just to help you deal with your issues. Because I think you’re a nice girl who’s just a little misunderstood. Because Castle is the most decent guy I’ve ever known and I want to help him out.”

My heart is pounding so hard I’m surprised it’s not bleeding.

“So I’m wondering,” he says to me. He drops the foot he was resting on his knee. Leans forward. Props his elbows on his thighs. “I’m wondering if it’s possible that all of this is just coincidence. I mean, was it just some crazy coincidence that I ended up working with you? Me? One of the very few people here who have access to that room? Or was it coincidence that you managed to threaten me into taking you down to the research labs? That you then, somehow, accidentally, coincidentally, unknowingly punched a fist into the ground that shook this place so hard we all thought the walls were caving in?” He stares at me, hard. “Was it a coincidence,” he says, “that if you’d held on for just a few more seconds, this entire place would’ve collapsed in on itself?”

My eyes are wide, horrified, caught.

He leans back. Looks down. Presses 2 fingers to his lips.

“Do you actually want to be here?” he asks. “Or are you just trying to bring us down from the inside?”

“What?” I gasp. “No—”

“Because you either know exactly what you’re doing—and you’re a hell of a lot sneakier than you pretend to be—or you really have no clue what you’re doing and you just have really shitty luck. I haven’t decided yet.”

“Kenji, I swear, I never—I n-never—” I have to bite back the words to blink back the tears. It’s crippling, this feeling, this not knowing how to prove your own innocence. It’s my entire life replayed over and over and over again, trying to convince people that I’m not dangerous, that I never meant to hurt anyone, that I didn’t intend for things to turn out this way. That I’m not a bad person.

But it never seems to work out.

“I’m so sorry,” I choke, the tears flowing fast now. I’m so disgusted with myself. I tried so hard to be different, to be better, to be good, and I just went and ruined everything and lost everything all over again and I don’t even know how to tell him he’s wrong.

Because he might be right.

I knew I was angry. I knew I wanted to hurt Castle and I didn’t care. In that moment, I meant it. In the anger of that moment, I really, truly meant it. I don’t know what I would’ve done if Kenji hadn’t been there to hold me back. I don’t know. I have no idea. I don’t even understand what I’m capable of.

How many times, I hear a voice whisper in my head, how many times will you apologize for who you are?

I hear Kenji sigh. Shift in his seat. I don’t dare lift my eyes.

“I had to ask, Juliette.” Kenji sounds uncomfortable. “I’m sorry you’re crying but I’m not sorry I asked. It’s my job to constantly be thinking of our safety—and that means I have to look at every possible angle. No one knows what you can do yet. Not even you. But you keep trying to act like what you’re capable of isn’t a big deal, and it’s not helping anything. You need to stop trying to pretend you’re not dangerous.”

I look up too fast. “But I’m not—I’m n-not trying to hurt anyone—”

“That doesn’t matter,” he says, standing up. “Good intentions are great, but they don’t change the facts. You are dangerous. Shit, you’re scary dangerous. More dangerous than me and everyone else in here. So don’t ask me to act like that knowledge, in and of itself, isn’t a threat to us. If you’re going to stay here,” he says to me, “you have to learn how to control what you do—how to contain it. You have to deal with who you are and you have to figure out how to live with it. Just like the rest of us.”

3 knocks at the door.

Kenji is still staring at me. Waiting.

“Okay,” I whisper.

“And you and Kent need to sort out your drama ASAP,” he adds, just as Sonya and Sara walk back into the room. “I don’t have the time, the energy, or the interest to deal with your problems. I like to mess with you from time to time because, well, let’s face it”—he shrugs—“the world is going to hell out there and I suppose if I’m going to be shot dead before I’m twenty-five, I’d at least like to remember what it’s like to laugh before I do. But that does not make me your clown or your babysitter. At the end of the day I do not give two shits about whether or not you and Kent are going steady. We have a million things to take care of down here, and less than none of them involve your love life.” A pause. “Is that clear?”

I nod, not trusting myself to speak.

“So are you in?” he says.

Another nod.

“I want to hear you say it. If you’re in, you’re all in. No more feeling sorry for yourself. No more sitting in the training room all day, crying because you can’t break a metal pipe—”

“How did you kn—”

“Are you in?”

“I’m in,” I tell him. “I’m in. I promise.”

He takes a deep breath. Runs a hand through his hair. “Good. Meet me outside of the dining hall tomorrow morning at six a.m.”

“But my hand—”

He waves my words away. “Your hand, nothing. You’ll be fine. You didn’t even break anything. You messed up your knuckles and your brain freaked out a little and basically you just fell asleep for three days. I don’t call that an injury,” he says. “I call that a goddamn vacation.” He stops to consider something. “Do you have any idea how long it’s been since I’ve gone on vacation—”

“But aren’t we training?” I interrupt him. “I can’t do anything if my hand is wrapped up, can I?”

“Trust me.” He cocks his head. “You’ll be fine. This … is going to be a little different.”

I stare at him. Wait.

“You can consider it your official welcome to Omega Point,” he says.


“Tomorrow. Six a.m.”

I open my mouth to ask another question but he presses a finger to his lips, offers me a 2-finger salute, and walks backward toward the exit just as Sonya and Sara head over to my bed.

I watch as he nods good-bye to both of them, pivots on 1 foot, and strides out the door.

6:00 a.m.


I catch a glimpse of the clock on the wall and realize it’s only 2:00 in the afternoon.

Which means 6:00 a.m. is 16 hours from now.

Which means I have a lot of hours to fill.

Which means I have to get dressed.

Because I need to get out of here.

And I really need to talk to Adam.


I jolt out of my own head and back to the present moment to find Sonya and Sara staring at me. “Can we get you anything?” they ask. “Are you feeling well enough to get out of bed?”

But I look from one set of eyes to another and back again, and instead of answering their questions, I feel a crippling sense of shame dig into my soul and I can’t help but revert back to another version of myself. A scared little girl who wants to keep folding herself in half until she can’t be found anymore.

I keep saying, “Sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m sorry about everything, for all of this, for all the trouble, for all the damage, really, I’m so, so sorry—”

I hear myself go on and on and on and I can’t get myself to stop.

It’s like a button in my brain is broken, like I’ve developed a disease that forces me to apologize for everything, for existing, for wanting more than what I’ve been given, and I can’t stop.

It’s what I do.

I’m always apologizing. Forever apologizing. For who I am and what I never meant to be and for this body I was born into, this DNA I never asked for, this person I can’t unbecome. 17 years I’ve spent trying to be different. Every single day. Trying to be someone else for someone else.

And it never seems to matter.

But then I realize they’re talking to me.

“There’s nothing to apologize for—”

“Please, it’s all right—”

Both of them are trying to speak to me, but Sara is closer.