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Chapter no 4 – Juliette

Defy Me (Shatter Me Book 5)

I’m sitting on an orange chair in the hallway of a dimly lit building. The chair is made of cheap plastic, its edges coarse and unfinished. The floor is a shiny linoleum that occasionally sticks to the soles of my shoes. I know I’ve been breathing too loudly but I can’t help it. I sit on my hands and swing my legs under my seat.

Just then, a boy comes into view. His movements are so quiet I only notice him when he stops directly in front of me. He leans against the wall opposite me, his eyes focused on a point in the distance.

I study him for a moment.

He seems about my age, but he’s wearing a suit. There’s something strange about him; he’s so pale and stiff he seems close to dead.

“Hi,” I say, and try to smile. “Do you want to sit down?”

He doesn’t return my smile. He won’t even look at me. “I’d prefer to stand,” he says quietly.

“Okay.”

We’re both silent awhile.

Finally, he says, “You’re nervous.”

I nod. My eyes must be a little red from crying, but I’d been hoping no one would notice. “Are you here to get a new family, too?”

“No.”

“Oh.” I look away. Stop swinging my feet. I feel my bottom lip tremble and I bite it, hard. “Then why are you here?”

He shrugs. I see him glance, briefly, at the three empty chairs next to me, but he makes no effort to sit down. “My father made me come.”

“He made you come here?” “Yes.”

“Why?”

He stares at his shoes and frowns. “I don’t know.” “Shouldn’t you be in school?”

And then, instead of answering me, he says, “Where are you from?” “What do you mean?”

He looks up then, meets my eyes for the first time. He has such unusual

eyes. They’re a light, clear green. “You have an accent,” he says.

“Oh,” I say. “Yeah.” I look at the floor. “I was born in New Zealand.

That’s where I lived until my mum and dad died.” “I’m sorry to hear that.”

I nod. Swing my legs again. I’m about to ask him another question when the door down the hall finally opens. A tall man in a navy suit walks out. He’s carrying a briefcase.

It’s Mr. Anderson, my social worker.

He beams at me. “You’re all set. Your new family is dying to meet you. We have a couple more things to do before you can go, but it won’t take too lon

—”

I can’t hold it in anymore.

I start sobbing right there, all over the new dress he bought me. Sobs rack my body, tears hitting the orange chair, the sticky floor.

Mr. Anderson sets down his briefcase and laughs. “Sweetheart, there’s nothing to cry about. This is a great day! You should be happy!”

But I can’t speak.

I feel stuck, stuck to the seat. Like my lungs have been stuck together. I manage to calm the sobs but I’m suddenly hiccuping, tears spilling quietly down my cheeks. “I want—I want to go h-home—”

“You are going home,” he says, still smiling. “That’s the whole point.” And then—

“Dad.”

I look up at the sound of his voice. So quiet and serious. It’s the boy with the green eyes. Mr. Anderson, I realize, is his father.

“She’s scared,” the boy says. And even though he’s talking to his dad, he’s looking at me. “She’s really scared.”

“Scared?” Mr. Anderson looks from me to his son, then back again. “What’s there to be scared of?”

I scrub at my face. Try and fail to stop the tears.

“What’s her name?” the boy asks. He’s still staring at me, and this time, I stare back. There’s something in his eyes, something that makes me feel safe.

“This is Juliette,” Mr. Anderson says, and looks me over. “Tragic”—he sighs—“just like her namesake.”

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