Chapter no 42

Shatter Me

“We’re here, and it’s nighttime. So according to my calculations, we must not have done anything stupid.”

Kenji shifts into park. We’re underground again, in some kind of elaborate parking garage. One minute we were aboveground, the next we’ve disappeared into a ditch. It’s next to impossible to locate, much less to spot in the darkness. Kenji was telling the truth about this hideout.

I’ve been busy trying to keep Adam awake for the past few minutes. His body is fighting exhaustion, blood loss, hunger, a million different points of pain. I feel so utterly useless.

“Adam has to go straight to the medical wing,” Kenji announces. “They have a medical wing?” My heart is parasailing in the


Kenji grins. “This place has everything. It will blow your goddamn mind.” He hits a switch on the ceiling. A faint light illuminates the old sedan. Kenji steps out the door. “Wait here—I’ll get someone to bring out a stretcher.”

“What about James?”

“Oh.” Kenji’s mouth twitches. “He, uh—he’s going to be asleep for a little while longer.”

“What do you mean . . . ?”

He clears his throat. Once. Twice. Smooths out the wrinkles in his shirt. “I, uh, may or may not have given him something to . . . ease the pain of this journey.”

“You gave a ten-year-old a sleeping pill?” I’m afraid I’m going to break his neck.

“Would you rather he were awake for all of this?” “Adam is going to kill you.”

Kenji glances at Adam’s drooping lids. “Yeah, well, I guess I’m lucky he won’t be able to kill me tonight.” He hesitates. Ducks into the car to run his fingers through James’s hair. Smiles a little. “The kid is a saint. He’ll be perfect in the morning.”

“I can’t believe you—”

“Hey, hey—” He holds up his hands. “Trust me. He’s going to be just fine. I just didn’t want him to be any more traumatized than he had to be.” He shrugs. “Hell, maybe Adam will agree with me.”

“I’m going to murder you.” Adam’s voice is a soft mumble.

Kenji laughs. “Keep it together, bro, or I’ll think you don’t really mean it.”

Kenji disappears.

I watch Adam, encourage him to stay awake. Tell him he’s almost safe. Touch my lips to his forehead. Study every shadow, every outline, every cut and bruise of his face. His muscles relax, his features lose their tension. He exhales a little more easily. I kiss his top lip. Kiss his bottom lip. Kiss his cheeks. His nose. His chin.

Everything happens so quickly after that.

4 people run out toward the car. 2 older than me, 2 older than them. A pair of men. A pair of women. “Where is he?” the older woman asks. They’re all looking around, anxious. I wonder if they can see me staring at them.

Kenji opens Adam’s door. Kenji is no longer smiling. In fact, he looks

. . . different. Stronger. Faster. Taller, even. He’s in control. A figure of authority. These people know him.

Adam is lifted onto the stretcher and assessed immediately. Everyone is talking at once. Something about broken ribs. Something about losing blood. Something about airways and lung capacity and what happened to his wrists? Something about checking his pulse and how long has he been bleeding? The young male and female glance in my direction. They’re all wearing strange outfits.

Strange suits. All white with gray stripes down the side. I wonder if it’s a medical uniform.

They’re carrying Adam away.

“Wait—” I trip out of the car. “Wait! I want to go with him—”

“Not now.” Kenji stops me. Softens. “You can’t be with him for what they need to do. Not now.”

“What do you mean? What are they going to do to him?” The world is fading in and out of focus, shades of gray flickering as stilted frames, broken movements. Suddenly nothing makes sense. Suddenly everything is confusing me. Suddenly my head is a piece of pavement and I’m being trampled to death. I don’t know where we are. I don’t know who Kenji

is. Kenji was Adam’s friend. Adam knows him. Adam. My Adam. Adam who is being taken away from me and I can’t go with him and I want to go with him but they won’t let me go with him and I don’t know why—

“They’re going to help him—Juliette—I need you to focus. You can’t fall apart right now. I know it’s been a crazy day—but I need you to stay calm.” His voice. So steady. So suddenly articulate.

“Who are you . . . ?” I’m beginning to panic. I want to grab James and run but I can’t. He’s done something to James and even if I knew how to wake him up, I can’t touch him. I want to rip my nails out. “Who are you


Kenji sighs. “You’re starving. You’re exhausted. You’re processing shock and a million other emotions right now. Be logical. I’m not going to hurt you. You’re safe now. Adam is safe. James is safe.”

“I want to be with him—I want to see what they’re going to do to him


“I can’t let you do that.”

“What are you going to do to me? Why did you bring me here . . . ?” My eyes are wide, darting in every direction. I’m spinning, stranded in the middle of the ocean of my own imagination and I don’t know how to swim. “What do you want from me?”

Kenji looks down. Rubs his forehead. Reaches into his pocket. “I really didn’t want to have to do this.”

I think I’m screaming.

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