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Chapter no 3

Unravel Me (Shatter Me Book 2)

I could touch him from here.

His eyes, dark blue. His hair, dark brown. His shirt, too tight in all the right places and his lips, his lips twitch up to flick the switch that lights the fire in my heart and I don’t even have time to blink and exhale before I’m caught in his arms.

Adam.

“Hey, you,” he whispers, right up against my neck.

I bite back a shiver as the blood rushes up to blush my cheeks and for a moment, just for this moment, I drop my bones and allow him to hold me together. “Hey.” I smile, inhaling the scent of him.

Luxurious, is what this is.

We rarely ever see each other alone. Adam is staying in Kenji’s room with his little brother, James, and I bunk with the healer twins. We probably have less than 20 minutes before the girls get back to this room, and I intend to make the most of this opportunity.

My eyes fall shut.

Adam’s arms wrap around my waist, pulling me closer, and the pleasure is so tremendous I can hardly keep myself from shaking. It’s like my skin and bones have been craving contact, warm affection, human interaction for so many years that I don’t know how to pace myself. I’m a starving child trying to stuff my stomach, gorging my senses on the decadence of these moments as if I’ll wake up in the morning and realize I’m still sweeping cinders for my stepmother.

But then Adam’s lips press against my head and my worries put on a fancy dress and pretend to be something else for a while.

“How are you?” I ask, and it’s so embarrassing because my words are already unsteady even though he’s hardly held me but I can’t make myself let go.

Laughter shakes the shape of his body, soft and rich and indulgent. But he doesn’t respond to my question and I know he won’t.

We’ve tried so many times to sneak off together, only to be caught and chastised for our negligence. We are not allowed outside of our rooms after lights-out. Once our grace period—a leniency granted on account of our very abrupt arrival—ended, Adam and I had to follow the rules just like everyone else. And there are a lot of rules to follow.

These security measures—cameras everywhere, around every corner, in every hallway—exist to prepare us in the case of an attack. Guards patrol at night, looking for any suspicious noise, activity, or sign of a breach. Castle and his team are vigilant in protecting Omega Point, and they’re unwilling to take even the slightest risks; if trespassers get too close to this hideout, someone has to do anything and everything necessary to keep them away.

Castle claims it’s their very vigilance that’s kept them from discovery for so long, and if I’m perfectly honest, I can see his rationale in being so strict about it. But these same strict measures keep me and Adam apart. He and I never see each other except during mealtimes, when we’re always surrounded by other people, and any free time I have is spent locked in a training room where I’m supposed to “harness my Energy.” Adam is just as unhappy about it as I am.

I touch his cheek.

He takes a tight breath. Turns to me. Tells me too much with his eyes, so much that I have to look away because I feel it all too acutely. My skin is hypersensitive, finally finally finally awake and thrumming with life, humming with feelings so intense it’s almost indecent.

I can’t even hide it.

He sees what he does to me, what happens to me when his fingers graze my skin, when his lips get too close to my face, when the heat of his body against mine forces my eyes to close and my limbs to tremble and my knees to buckle under pressure. I see what it does to him, too, to know that he has that effect on me. He tortures me sometimes, smiling as he takes too long to bridge the gap between us, reveling in the sound of my heart slamming against my chest, in the sharp breaths I fight so hard to control, in the way I swallow a hundred times just before he moves to kiss me. I can’t even look at him without reliving every moment we’ve had together, every memory of his lips, his touch, his scent, his skin. It’s too much for me, too much, so much, so new, so many exquisite sensations I’ve never known, never felt, never even had access to before.

Sometimes I’m afraid it will kill me.

I break free of his arms; I’m hot and cold and feeling unsteady, hoping I can get myself under control, hoping he’ll forget how easily he affects me, and I know I need a moment to pull myself together. I stumble backward; I cover my face with my hands and try to think of something to say but everything is shaking and I catch him looking at me, looking like he might inhale the length of me in one breath.

No is the word I think I hear him whisper.

All I know next are his arms, the desperate edge to his voice when he says

my name, and I’m unraveling in his embrace, I’m frayed and falling apart and I’m making no effort to control the tremors in my bones and he’s so hot his skin is so hot and I don’t even know where I am anymore.

His right hand slides up my spine and tugs on the zipper holding my suit together until it’s halfway down my back and I don’t care. I have 17 years to make up for and I want to feel everything. I’m not interested in waiting around and risking the who-knows and the what-ifs and the huge regrets. I want to feel all of it because what if I wake up to find this phenomenon has passed, that the expiration date has arrived, that my chance came and went and would never return. That these hands will feel this warmth never again.

I can’t. I won’t.

I don’t even realize I’ve pressed myself into him until I feel every contour of his frame under the thin cotton of his clothes. My hands slip up under his shirt and I hear his strained breath; I look up to find his eyes squeezed shut, his features caught in an expression resembling some kind of pain and suddenly his hands are in my hair, desperate, his lips so close. He leans in and gravity moves out of his way and my feet leave the floor and I’m floating, I’m flying, I’m anchored by nothing but this hurricane in my lungs and this heart beating a skip a skip a skip too fast.

Our lips touch

and I know I’m going to split at the seams. He’s kissing me like he’s lost me and he’s found me and I’m slipping away and he’s never going to let me go. I want to scream, sometimes, I want to collapse, sometimes, I want to die knowing that I’ve known what it was like to live with this kiss, this heart, this soft soft explosion that makes me feel like I’ve taken a sip of the sun, like I’ve eaten clouds 8, 9, and 10.

This.

This makes me ache everywhere.

He pulls away, he’s breathing hard, his hands slip under the soft material of my suit and he’s so hot his skin is so hot and I think I’ve already said that but I can’t remember and I’m so distracted that when he speaks I don’t quite understand.

But it’s something.

Words, deep and husky in my ear but I catch little more than an unintelligible utterance, consonants and vowels and broken syllables all mixed together. His heartbeats crash through his chest and topple into mine. His fingers are tracing secret messages on my body. His hands glide down the

smooth, satiny material of this suit, slipping down the insides of my thighs, around the backs of my knees and up and up and up and I wonder if it’s possible to faint and still be conscious at the same time and I’m betting this is what it feels like to hyper, to hyperventilate when he tugs us backward. He slams his back into the wall. Finds a firm grip on my hips. Pulls me hard against his body.

I gasp.

His lips are on my neck. His lashes tickle the skin under my chin and he says something, something that sounds like my name and he kisses up and down my collarbone, kisses along the arc of my shoulder, and his lips, his lips and his hands and his lips are searching the curves and slopes of my body and his chest is heaving when he swears and he stops and he says God you feel so good

and my heart has flown to the moon without me.

I love it when he says that to me. I love it when he tells me that he likes the way I feel because it goes against everything I’ve heard my entire life and I wish I could put his words in my pocket just to touch them once in a while and remind myself that they exist.

“Juliette.”

I can hardly breathe.

I can hardly look up and look straight and see anything but the absolute perfection of this moment but none of that even matters because he’s smiling. He’s smiling like someone’s strung the stars across his lips and he’s looking at me, looking at me like I’m everything and I want to weep.

“Close your eyes,” he whispers. And I trust him.

So I do.

My eyes fall closed and he kisses one, then the other. Then my chin, my nose, my forehead. My cheeks. Both temples.

Every inch

of my neck and

he pulls back so quickly he bangs his head against the rough wall. A few choice words slip out before he can stop them. I’m frozen, startled and suddenly scared. “What happened?” I whisper, and I don’t know why I’m whispering. “Are you okay?”

Adam fights not to grimace but he’s breathing hard and looking around and

stammering “S-sorry” as he clutches the back of his head. “That was—I mean I thought—” He looks away. Clears his throat. “I—I think—I thought I heard something. I thought someone was about to come inside.”

Of course.

Adam is not allowed to be in here.

The guys and the girls stay in different wings at Omega Point. Castle says it’s mostly to make sure the girls feel safe and comfortable in their living quarters—especially because we have communal bathrooms—so for the most part, I don’t have a problem with it. It’s nice not to have to shower with old men. But it makes it hard for the two of us to find any time together—and during whatever time we do manage to scrounge up, we’re always hyperaware of being discovered.

Adam leans back against the wall and winces. I reach up to touch his head. He flinches.

I freeze.

“Are you okay . . . ?”

“Yeah.” He sighs. “I just—I mean—” He shakes his head. “I don’t know.” Drops his voice. His eyes. “I don’t know what the hell is wrong with me.”

“Hey.” I brush my fingertips against his stomach. The cotton of his shirt is still warm from his body heat and I have to resist the urge to bury my face in it. “It’s okay,” I tell him. “You were just being careful.”

He smiles a strange, sad sort of smile. “I’m not talking about my head.” I stare at him.

He opens his mouth. Closes it. Pries it open again. “It’s— I mean, this—” He motions between us.

He won’t finish. He won’t look at me. “I don’t understand—”

“I’m losing my mind,” he says, but whispers it like he’s not sure he’s even saying it out loud.

I look at him. I look and blink and trip on words I can’t see and can’t find and can’t speak.

He’s shaking his head.

He grips the back of his skull, hard, and he looks embarrassed and I’m struggling to understand why. Adam doesn’t get embarrassed. Adam never gets embarrassed.

His voice is thick when he finally speaks. “I’ve waited so long to be with you,” he says. “I’ve wanted this—I’ve wanted you for so long and now, after

everything—”

“Adam, what are y—”

“I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep and I think about you all—all the time and I can’t—” He stops. Presses the heels of his hands to his forehead. Squeezes his eyes shut. Turns toward the wall so I can’t see his face. “You should know— you have to know,” he says, the words raw, seeming to drain him, “that I have never wanted anything like I’ve wanted you. Nothing. Because this—this—I mean, Godwant you, Juliette, I want—I want—”

His words falter as he turns to me, eyes too bright, emotion flushing up the planes of his face. His gaze lingers along the lines of my body, long enough to strike a match to the lighter fluid flowing in my veins.

I ignite.

I want to say something, something right and steady and reassuring. I want to tell him that I understand, that I want the same thing, that I want him, too, but the moment feels so charged and urgent that I’m half convinced I’m dreaming. It’s like I’m down to my last letters and all I have are Qs and Zs and I’ve only just remembered that someone invented a dictionary when he finally rips his eyes away from me.

He swallows, hard, his eyes down. Looks away again. One of his hands is caught in his hair, the other is curled into a fist against the wall. “You have no idea,” he says, his voice ragged, “what you do to me. What you make me feel. When you touch me—” He runs a shaky hand across his face. He almost laughs, but his breathing is heavy and uneven; he won’t meet my eyes. He steps back, swears under his breath. Pumps his fist against his forehead. “Jesus. What the hell am I saying. Shit. Shit. I’m sorry—forget that—forget I said anything—I should go—”

I try to stop him, try to find my voice, try to say, It’s all right, it’s okay, but I’m nervous now, so nervous, so confused, because none of this makes any sense. I don’t understand what’s happening or why he seems so uncertain about me and us and him and me and he and I and all of those pronouns put together. I’m not rejecting him. I’ve never rejected him. My feelings for him have always been so clear—he has no reason to feel unsure about me or around me and I don’t know why he’s looking at me like something is wrong

“I’m so sorry,” he says. “I’m—I shouldn’t have said anything. I’m just— I’m—shit. I shouldn’t have come. I should go—I have to go—”

“What? Adam, what happened? What are you talking about?”

“This was a bad idea,” he says. “I’m so stupid—I shouldn’t have even been here—”

“You are not stupid—it’s okay—everything is okay—”

He laughs, loud, hollow. The echo of an uncomfortable smile lingers on his face as he stops, stares at a point directly behind my head. He says nothing for a long time, until finally he does. “Well,” he says. He tries to sound upbeat. “That’s not what Castle thinks.”

“What?” I breathe, caught off guard. I know we’re not talking about our relationship anymore.

“Yeah.” His hands are in his pockets. “No.”

Adam nods. Shrugs. Looks at me and looks away. “I don’t know. I think so.”

“But the testing—it’s—I mean”—I can’t stop shaking my head—“has he found something?”

Adam won’t look at me.

“Oh my God,” I say, and I whisper it like if I whisper, it’ll somehow make this easier. “So it’s true? Castle’s right?” My voice is inching higher and my muscles are beginning to tighten and I don’t know why this feels like fear, this feeling slithering up my back. I shouldn’t be afraid if Adam has a gift like I do; I should’ve known it couldn’t have been that easy, that it couldn’t have been so simple. This was Castle’s theory all along—that Adam can touch me because he too has some kind of Energy that allows it. Castle never thought Adam’s immunity from my ability was a happy coincidence. He thought it had to be bigger than that, more scientific than that, more specific than that. I always wanted to believe I just got lucky.

And Adam wanted to know. He was excited about finding out, actually.

But once he started testing with Castle, Adam stopped wanting to talk about it. He’s never given me more than the barest status updates. The excitement of the experience faded far too fast for him.

Something is wrong. Something is wrongOf course it is.

“We don’t know anything conclusive,” Adam tells me, but I can see he’s holding back. “I have to do a couple more sessions—Castle says there are a few more things he needs to . . . examine.”

I don’t miss the mechanical way Adam is delivering this information.

Something isn’t right and I can’t believe I didn’t notice the signs until just now. I haven’t wanted to, I realize. I haven’t wanted to admit to myself that Adam looks more exhausted, more strained, more tightly wound than I’ve

ever seen him. Anxiety has built a home on his shoulders. “Adam—”

“Don’t worry about me.” His words aren’t harsh, but there’s an undercurrent of urgency in his tone I can’t ignore, and he pulls me into his arms before I find a chance to speak. His fingers work to zip up my suit. “I’m fine,” he says. “Really. I just want to know you’re okay. If you’re all right here, then I am too. Everything is fine.” His breath catches. “Okay?

Everything is going to be fine.” The shaky smile on his face is making my pulse forget it has a job to do.

“Okay.” It takes me a moment to find my voice. “Okay sure but—”

The door opens and Sonya and Sara are halfway into the room before they freeze, eyes fixed on our bodies wound together.

“Oh!” Sara says.

“Um.” Sonya looks down. Adam swears under his breath.

“We can come back later—,” the twins say together.

They’re headed out the door when I stop them. I won’t kick them out of their own room.

I ask them not to leave. They ask me if I’m sure.

I take one look at Adam’s face and know I’m going to regret forfeiting even a minute of our time together, but I also know I can’t take advantage of my roommates. This is their personal space, and it’s almost time for lights- out. They can’t be wandering the corridors.

Adam isn’t looking at me anymore, but he’s not letting go, either. I lean forward and leave a light kiss on his heart. He finally meets my eyes. Offers me a small, pained smile.

“I love you,” I tell him, quietly, so only he can hear me.

He exhales a short, uneven breath. Whispers, “You have no idea,” and pulls himself away. Pivots on one heel. Heads out the door.

My heart is beating in my throat.

The girls are staring at me. Concerned.

Sonya is about to speak, but then

a switch a click a flicker

and the lights are out.

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