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Chapter no 13

Shatter Me

Warner insists on accompanying me to my room.

After dinner Adam disappeared with a few of the other soldiers. He disappeared without a word or glance in my direction and I don’t have any idea what to anticipate. At least I have nothing to lose but my life.

“I don’t want you to hate me,” Warner says as we make our way toward the elevator. “I’m only your enemy if you want me to be.”

“We will always be enemies.” My voice is cracked into chips of ice. The words melt on my tongue. “I will never be what you want me to be.”

Warner sighs as he presses the button for the elevator. “I really think you’ll change your mind.” He glances at me with a small smile. A shame, really, that such striking looks should be wasted on such a miserable human being. “You and I, Juliette—together? We could be unstoppable.”

I will not look at him though I feel his gaze touching every inch of my body. “No, thank you.”

We’re in the elevator. The world is whooshing past us and the walls of glass make us a spectacle to every person on every floor. There are no secrets in this building.

He touches my elbow and I pull away. “You might reconsider,” he says softly.

“How did you figure it out?” The elevator dings open but I’m not moving. I finally turn to face him because I can’t contain my curiosity. I study his hands, so carefully sheathed in leather, his sleeves thick and crisp and long. Even his collar is high and regal. He’s dressed impeccably from head to toe and covered everywhere except his face. Even if I wanted to touch him I’m not sure I’d be able to. He’s protecting himself.

From me.

“Perhaps a conversation for tomorrow night?” He cocks a brow and offers me his arm. I pretend not to notice it as we walk off the elevator and down the hall. “Maybe you could wear something nice.”

“What’s your first name?” I ask him.

We’re standing in front of my door.

He stops. Surprised. Lifts his chin almost imperceptibly.

Focuses his eyes on my face until I begin to regret my question. “You want to know my name.”

I don’t do it on purpose, but my eyes narrow just a bit. “Warner is your last name, isn’t it?”

He almost smiles. “You want to know my name.” “I didn’t realize it was a secret.”

He steps forward. His lips twitch. His eyes fall, his lips draw in a tight breath. He drops a gloved finger down the apple of my cheek. “I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours,”

he whispers, too close to my neck.

I inch backward. Swallow hard. “You already know my name.”

He’s not looking at my eyes. “You’re right. I should rephrase that.

What I meant to say was I’ll tell you mine if you show me yours.” “What?” I’m breathing too fast too suddenly.

He begins to pull off his gloves and I begin to panic. “Show me what

you can do.”

My jaw is too tight and my teeth have begun to ache. “I won’t touch you.”

“That’s all right.” He tugs off the other glove. “I don’t exactly need your help.”

“No—”

“Don’t worry.” He grins. “I’m sure it won’t hurt you at all.” “No,” I gasp. “No, I won’t—I can’t—”

“Fine,” Warner snaps. “That’s fine. You don’t want to hurt me. I’m so

utterly flattered.” He almost rolls his eyes. Looks down the hall. Spots a soldier. Beckons him over. “Jenkins?”

Jenkins is swift for his size and he’s at my side in a second.

“Sir.” He bows his head an inch even though he’s clearly Warner’s senior. He can’t be more than 27; stocky, sturdy, packed with bulk. He spares me a sidelong glance. His brown eyes are warmer than I’d expect them to be.

“I’m going to need you to accompany Ms. Ferrars back downstairs. But be warned: she’s incredibly uncooperative and will try to break free

from your grip.” He smiles too slowly. “No matter what she says or does, soldier, you cannot let go of her. Are we clear?”

Jenkins’ eyes widen; he blinks, his nostrils flare, his fingers flex at his sides. He takes a short breath. Nods.

Jenkins is not an idiot. I start running.

I’m bolting down the hallway and running past a series of stunned soldiers too scared to stop me. I don’t know what I’m doing, why I think I can run, where I think I could possibly go. I’m straining to reach the elevator if only because I think it will buy me time. I don’t know what else to do.

Warner’s commands are bouncing off the walls and exploding in my eardrums. He doesn’t need to chase me.

He’s getting others to do the work for him. Soldiers are lining up before me.

Beside me.

Behind me.

I can’t breathe.

I’m spinning in a circle of my own stupidity, panicked, pained, petrified by the thought of what I’m going to do to Jenkins against my will. What he will do to me against his will. What will happen to both of us despite our best intentions.

“Seize her,” Warner says softly. Silence has stuffed itself into every corner of this building. His voice is the only sound in the room.

Jenkins steps forward.

My eyes are flooding and I squeeze them shut. I pry them open. I blink back at the crowd and spot a familiar face. Adam is staring at me, horrified.

Shame has covered every inch of my body. Jenkins offers me his hand.

My bones begin to buckle, snapping in synchronicity with the beats of

my heart. I crumble to the floor, folding into myself like a flimsy crepe. My arms are so painfully bare in this ragged T-shirt.

“Don’t—” I hold up a tentative hand, pleading with my eyes, staring into the face of this innocent man. “Please don’t” My voice breaks. “You don’t want to touch me—”

“I never said I did.” Jenkins’s voice is deep and steady, full of regret. Jenkins who has no gloves, no protection, no preparation, no possible defense.

“That was a direct order, soldier,” Warner barks, trains a gun at his back.

Jenkins grabs my arms.

NO NO NO I gasp.

My blood is surging through my veins, rushing through my body like a raging river, waves of heat lapping against my bones. I can hear his anguish, I can feel the power pouring out of his body, I can hear his heart beating in my ear and my head is spinning with the rush of adrenaline fortifying my being.

I feel alive.

I wish it hurt me. I wish it maimed me. I wish it repulsed me. I wish I hated the potent force wrapping itself around my skeleton.

But I don’t. My skin is pulsing with someone else’s life and I don’t hate it.

I hate myself for enjoying it.

I enjoy the way it feels to be brimming with more life and hope and human power than I knew I was capable of. His pain gives me a pleasure I never asked for.

And he’s not letting go.

But he’s not letting go because he can’t. Because I have to be the one to break the connection. Because the agony incapacitates him. Because he’s caught in my snares.

Because I am a Venus flytrap. And I am lethal.

I fall on my back and kick at his chest, willing him away from me,

willing his weight off of my small frame, his limp body collapsed against my own. I’m suddenly screaming and struggling to see past the sheet of tears obscuring my vision; I’m hiccupping, hysterical, horrified by the frozen look on this man’s face, his paralyzed lips wheezing gasps through his lungs.

I break free and stumble backward. The sea of soldiers parts behind me. Every face is etched in astonishment and pure, unadulterated fear. Jenkins is lying on the floor and no one dares approach him.

“Somebody help him!” I scream. “Somebody help him!

He needs a doctor—he needs to be taken—he needs—he— oh God— what have I done—”

“Juliette—”

“DON’T TOUCH ME—DON’T YOU DARE TOUCH ME—”

Warner’s gloves are back in place and he’s trying to hold me together, he’s trying to smooth back my hair, he’s trying to wipe away my tears and I want to murder him.

“Juliette, you need to calm down—”

“HELP HIM!” I cry, falling to my knees, my eyes glued to the figure lying on the floor. The other soldiers are finally creeping closer, cautious as though he might be contagious. “Please—you have to help him! Please—

“Kent, Curtis, Soledad—TAKE CARE OF THIS!” Warner shouts to his men before scooping me up into his arms.

I’m still kicking when the world goes black.

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