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The guy at the table stands up. He’s twice my height, and at least two heads taller than Ethan.
“Leave it,” the guy says.
I look over at Ethan hesitantly.
“You have to start at the bottom of the food chain and work your way up,” Ethan says quietly. He turns to meet my eyes. “If you don’t teach them that you’re more powerful than they are, they’ll never fear you. It’s time for you to take action.”
I nod to him.
“Look,” the guy says, “I said—”
I raise my hand out in front of me and suddenly the boy flies three feet backwards, crashing into the wall of the coffee shop. He starts cursing and frantically trying to move, but I’ve got him a foot off the ground. He has no leverage. I’m in control.
The others at the table gasp and start to freak out.
“The girl’s got a phone out,” Ethan says calmly.
With my other hand I use my Legacy to rip it from her fingers and throw it to the ground. The screen shatters.
“The boy is going to run for it.”
One of the other guys at the table is heading towards the side entrance. I take his legs out from under him with a flick of my wrist.
“There’s someone behind you.”
I swing around, both palms out, ready to fight.
But there’s no one there.
I turn to Ethan. He’s smiling.
“Perfection,” he says. Then he glances around quickly. “We should go.”
I let the boy drop to the ground. He’s shaking and gasping for air as we walk away as if nothing has happened. His friends gather around him. My heart is thumping in my chest. I feel dizzy and light and weirdly satisfied.
I can’t help but grin.
“You look pleased with yourself,” Ethan says. “How did that feel?”
“Wonderful,” I say.
It felt wonderful.
A year after being at Ethan’s—almost down to the day—I’m pulled out of sleep in the middle of the night. My calf is on fire. I yelp, howling at the pain as I knock half the things off the nightstand trying to find the light. Even before it’s switched on, I know what the burning means.
Another one is gone.
A swirling, reddish symbol has appeared on my leg above two similar ones. Three is dead. This red mark is likely the only kind of tombstone he or she will get. Another Garde sacrificed for the Lorien cause. Only one person rests between me and death now, if what Rey always told me was true about the order in which we had to be killed.
I stagger out of bed, wincing a bit every time I put weight down on my ankle. And it’s more weight than usual. After a year of meals served up in Ethan’s house any time of day I might be hungry, I look nothing like the sunburned, skinny kid from the island. I’m built like a tank now. Solid. Maybe a little on the chubby side. Definitely a lot pastier than I was a year ago. I’ve been focusing much more on my Legacies than keeping my body in shape.
The death of Three takes me completely by surprise. I haven’t necessarily forgotten about Lorien and the Garde, but without Rey constantly badgering me about them, all that has kind of lived in the back of my mind. I’ve spent so much time lately living things up with Ethan that the Garde have once again become stories. I’ve forgotten that they’re actual people. I’ve tried to ignore the fact that I may end up the next target on death’s numerical list.
One more way I tell lies, I guess. Only these are told to myself.
My mind is finally catching up with my body’s wakefulness, and I start to think of all the implications this new development might have. Maybe Four’s death isn’t that far away. There’s always the chance that Three and Four were together. I do always imagine the other Garde working together without me.
I walk around the room holding my breath, waiting for a new searing burn to take over my leg. But after a few minutes nothing comes. Still, if another scar does appear, it means I’m next. I’m the new big target.
Me, and anyone else I’m around.
I stop pacing.
I could leave right now. Ethan would never be any wiser to what’s actually going on. I could fly away to a different city. A different country. Finally up to Canada—just a while later than I’d planned.
But I don’t want to be on my own again. Maybe Ethan would want to go with me. For someone who doesn’t like big groups of people, the thought of not having one person to rely on scares me.
Even then, though, the Mogs might track me back to him. We haven’t necessarily been subtle with the use of my powers. I feel so stupid all of the sudden. As good as it felt displaying my superiority over people like that asshat at the coffee shop, I never should have let Ethan talk me into it.
I have to tell him about what’s happening. It’s the least I can do for how good he’s been to me.
As I slip out of my room, I can almost hear Rey’s voice in the back of my head. Tell no one who you are. Tell no one what you know. Secrecy is your greatest weapon. But Rey’s not actually here now, and the world hasn’t exactly been the labyrinth of fear and persecution that he always said it would be. I’ve been in Miami for over a year and I haven’t even heard so much as a whisper of the word “Lorien.” If Rey were still alive, we’d probably be fishing sea snails out of their shells with bamboo shoots while we sweated and half-starved on some tropic island.