Author’s Note: I was writing a scene I thought needed to go before this one, and then I changed my mind, thinking the dramatic effect of this one going first was better than the other, since it was all about the plans and that would have ruined a bit of the “surprise” here.
I also need to settle on a working title for this one…
“You flooded my house.”
Cress nodded. “No choice.”
She winced, shaking her head as she looked around the room, listening to the water drip from every surface. The flames had left their mark, black, angry patches burned into the wood, and she knew it was only their contrary nature that had kept them from taking the whole thing down, her house and rest of the state with it.
“The monster got out.” She heard herself whisper, shuddering even with most of his weight trapping her to the floor. If he hadn’t been just as soaked as she was, that might have mattered, though it was more than a chill that had her shivering right now.
Of course he did. He’d had to stop it again, and from the way he kept talking, it hadn’t been easy. He hadn’t moved since she came back to herself, and he would have if he could. Too considerate to dump himself on her, too aware of what they’d never been, too much of a goody-goody ever to cross any kind of line, not with her or anyone else. She’d shove him to the side if she had any energy left, but the fire had stripped her as it had the house, leaving nothing behind.
“The shift in the air.”
“I knew you missed me,” he said, all smiles and charm as he leaned down next to them. Sandy blonde, always looking windswept and yet perfect, he had a tendency to be smug that she’d almost forgotten about—right until she saw him again and put all the pieces together that made him what he was. Hot air was his specialty, after all.
She would have laughed, but none of this was funny, not after what she’d done. “I didn’t.”
“Liar. I keep telling you—fire needs air to breathe.”
“Just because I fell for that line when I was thirteen doesn’t mean I’ll do it again,” she said, regaining some of her strength. She had to shut him up before he mentioned that it wasn’t just at thirteen or at fifteen. If she’d been any more of a fool, any weaker to what he was…
“Come on, Cress,” Oceana said, taking hold of her brother’s arm. “We’ll get you back to the car. You’ve done enough. Sherwin can carry her.”
Cress used her help and Moira’s to get up again, and Enya got a better look at him, shaking her head in disgust. She’d almost claimed three lives tonight. He could have been one of them. “They were here. Looking for you.”
“Told you you shouldn’t have gone to see her,” Terra said, and Enya glared at her, the moment ruined as Sherwin lifted her into his arms.
“Didn’t ask for your opinion, Terra, and if they’d seen me then, they would have just taken me. Well, they would have tried,” Cress told her, echoing Enya’s thought from earlier. “They’d have had no choice but to try for it. They can’t afford to let that kind of opportunity pass. They need me to be on my own, and even then, they can’t handle what I can do to them.”
“They didn’t know that I had any ability of my own. I was just Cress’ unsuspecting ‘girlfriend,’ no threat at all.”
“I’d be more concerned about their ability to find Enya and still not know what she was,” Cress said, giving Sherwin a pointed look. “We’re not going to argue again. Enya’s been compromised, and if this wasn’t a trap before, it is now. Move. Everyone in the car, now.”