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Chapter no 41

Unravel Me (Shatter Me Book 2)

Warner’s head is on my lap.

His face is smooth and calm and peaceful in a way I’ve never seen it and I almost reach out to stroke his hair before I remember exactly how awkward this actually is.

Murderer on my lap Murderer on my lap Murderer on my lap I look to my right.

Warner’s legs are resting on Adam’s knees and he looks just as uncomfortable as I am.

“Hang tight, guys,” Kenji says, still driving the tank toward Omega Point. “I know this is about a million different kinds of weird, but I didn’t exactly have enough time to think of a better plan.”

He glances at the 2 3 of us but no one says a word until

“I’m so happy you guys are okay.” I say it like those 9 syllables have been sitting inside of me for too long, like they’ve been kicked out, evicted from my mouth, and only then do I realize exactly how worried I was that the 3 of us wouldn’t make it back alive. “I’m so, so happy you’re okay.”

Deep, solemn, steady breathing all around.

“How are you feeling?” Adam asks me. “Your arm— you’re all right?” “Yeah.” I flex my wrist and try not to wince. “I’m okay. These gloves and

this metal thing actually helped, I think.” I wiggle my fingers. Examine my

gloves. “Nothing is broken.”

“That was pretty badass,” Kenji says to me. “You really saved us back there.”

I shake my head. “Kenji—about what happened—in the house—I’m really sorry, I—”

“Hey, how about let’s not talk about that right now.” “What’s going on?” Adam asks, alert. “What happened?” “Nothing,” Kenji says quickly.

Adam ignores him. Looks at me. “What happened? Are you all right?” “I just—I j-just—” I struggle to speak. “What happened— with Warner’s

da—”

Kenji swears very loudly.

My mouth freezes midmovement.

My cheeks burn as I realize what I’ve said. As I remember what Adam said just before we ran from that house. He’s suddenly pale, pressing his lips together and looking away, out the tiny window of this tank.

“Listen . . .” Kenji clears his throat. “We don’t have to talk about that, okay? In fact, I think I might rather not talk about that? Because that shit is just too weird for me to—”

“I don’t know how it’s even possible,” Adam whispers. He’s blinking, staring straight ahead now, blinking and blinking and blinking and “I keep thinking I must be dreaming,” he says, “that I’m just hallucinating this whole thing. But then”—he drops his head in his hands, laughs a harsh laugh—“that is one face I will never forget.”

“Didn’t—didn’t you ever meet the supreme commander?” I dare to ask. “Or even see a picture of him . . . ? Isn’t that something you’d see in the army?”

Adam shakes his head.

Kenji speaks. “His whole kick was always being, like, invisible. He got some sick thrill out of being this unseen power.”

“Fear of the unknown?”

“Something like that, yeah. I heard he didn’t want his pictures anywhere— didn’t make any public speeches, either—because he thought if people could put a face on him, it would make him vulnerable. Human. And he always got his thrills from scaring the shit out of everyone. Being the ultimate power.

The ultimate threat. Like—how can you fight something if you can’t even see it? Can’t even find it?”

“That’s why it was such a big deal for him to be here,” I realize out loud. “Pretty much.”

“But you thought your dad was dead,” I say to Adam. “I thought you said he was dead?”

“Just so you guys know,” Kenji interjects, “I’m still voting for the we don’t have to talk about this option. You know. Just so you know. Just putting that out there.”

“I thought he was,” Adam says, still not looking at me. “That’s what they told me.”

“Who did?” Kenji asks. Catches himself. Winces. “Shit. Fine. Fine. I’m curious.”

Adam shrugs. “It’s all starting to come together now. All the things I didn’t

understand. How messed up my life was with James. After my mom died, my dad was never around unless he wanted to get drunk and beat the crap out of someone. I guess he was living a completely different life somewhere else.

That’s why he used to leave me and James alone all the time.”

“But that doesn’t make sense,” Kenji says. “I mean, not the parts about your dad being a dick, but just, like, the whole scope of it. Because if you and Warner are brothers, and you’re eighteen, and Warner is nineteen, and Anderson has always been married to Warner’s mom—”

“My parents were never married,” Adam says, eyes widening as he speaks the last word.

“You were the love child?” Kenji says, disgusted. “I mean—you know, no offense to you—it’s just, I do not want to think about Anderson having some kind of passionate love affair. That is just sick.”

Adam looks like he’s been frozen solid. “Holy shit,” he whispers.

“But I mean, why even have a love affair?” Kenji asks. “I never understood that kind of crap. If you’re not happy, just leave. Don’t cheat. Doesn’t take a genius to figure that shit out. I mean”—he hesitates—“I’m assuming it was a love affair,” Kenji says, still driving and unable to see the look on Adam’s face. “Maybe it wasn’t a love affair. Maybe it was just another dude-being-a- jackass kind of th—” He catches himself, cringes. “Shit. See, this is why I do not talk to people about their personal problems—”

“It was,” Adam says, barely breathing now. “I have no idea why he never married her, but I know he loved my mom. He never gave a damn about the rest of us,” he says. “Just her. It was always about her. Everything was about her. The few times a month he was ever at home, I was always supposed to stay in my room. I was supposed to be very quiet. I had to knock on my own door and get permission before I could come out, even just to use the bathroom. And he used to get pissed whenever my mom would let me out. He didn’t want to see me unless he had to. My mom had to sneak me my dinner just so he wouldn’t go nuts about how she was feeding me too much and not saving anything for herself,” he says. He shakes his head. “And he was even worse when James was born.”

Adam blinks like he’s going blind.

“And then when she died,” he says, taking a deep breath, “when she died all he ever did was blame me for her death. He always told me it was my fault she got sick, and it was my fault she died. That I needed too much, that she didn’t eat enough, that she got weak because she was too busy taking care of us, giving food to us, giving . . . everything to us. To me and James.” His eyebrows pull together. “And I believed him for so long. I figured that was why he left all the time. I thought it was some kind of punishment. I thought I

deserved it.”

I’m too horrified to speak.

“And then he just . . . I mean he was never around when I was growing up,” Adam says, “and he was always an ass-hole. But after she died he just . . . lost his mind. He used to come by just to get piss-drunk. He used to force me to stand in front of him so he could throw his empty bottles at me. And if I flinched—if I flinched—”

He swallows, hard.

“That’s all he ever did,” Adam says, his voice quieter now. “He would come over. Get drunk. Beat the shit out of me. I was fourteen when he stopped coming back.” Adam stares at his hands, palms up. “He sent some money every month for us to survive on and then—” A pause. “Two years later I got a letter from our brand-new government telling me my father was dead. I figured he probably got wasted again and did something stupid. Got hit by a car. Fell into the ocean. Whatever. It didn’t matter. I was happy he was dead, but I had to drop out of school. I enlisted because the money was gone and I had to take care of James and I knew I wouldn’t find another job.”

Adam shakes his head. “He left us with nothing, not a single penny, not even a piece of meat to live off of, and now I’m sitting here, in this tank, running from a global war my own father has helped orchestrate”—he laughs a hard, hollow laugh—“and the one other worthless person on this planet is lying unconscious in my lap.” Adam is actually laughing now, laughing hard, disbelieving, his hand caught in his hair, tugging at the roots, gripping his skull. “And he’s brother. My own flesh and blood.

“My father had an entirely separate life I didn’t know about and instead of being dead like he should be, he gave a who almost tortured me to death in a control and his hands are shaking and he has into fists and he presses them against his forehead “He has to die.”

And I’m not breathing, not even a little bit, not even at all, when he says, “My father,” he says, “I have to kill him.”

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