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Chapter no 69

Unravel Me (Shatter Me Book 2)

Breathing. I have to remember to keep breathing.

“It’s quite extraordinary,” Anderson says, “what you were able to do entirely on your own. There were only three people in that room,” he says. “You, me, and my son. My soldiers were watching that entire area for anyone else who might’ve come with you, and they said you were utterly alone.” A pause. “I actually thought you’d come with a team, you see. I didn’t think you’d be brave enough to meet me by yourself. But then you single-handedly disarmed me and stole back your hostages. You had to carry two men—not including my son—out to safety. How you managed to do it is entirely beyond my comprehension.”

And it hits me: this choice is simple.

I either tell him the truth about Kenji and Adam and risk having Anderson go after them, or I take the fall.

So I meet Anderson’s eyes.

I nod. I say, “You called me a stupid little girl. You said I was too much of a coward to defend myself.”

He looks uncomfortable for the very first time. Seems to realize that I could probably do the same thing to him again, right now if I wanted.

And I think, yes, I probably could. What an excellent idea.

But for now, I’m still strangely curious to see what he wants from me. Why he’s talking to me. I’m not worried about attacking him right away; I know that I have an advantage over him now. I should be able to overtake him easily.

Anderson clears his throat.

“I was planning on returning to the capital,” he says. He takes a deep breath. “But it’s clear that my work here is not yet finished. Your people are making things infinitely more complicated and it’s becoming harder and harder to simply kill all the civilians.” A pause. “Well, no, actually, that’s not true. It’s not hard to kill them, it’s only that it’s becoming impractical.” He looks at me. “If I were to kill them all, I wouldn’t have any left to rule over, would I?”

He actually laughs. Laughs as if he’s said something funny. “What do you want with me?” I ask him.

He takes a deep breath. He’s smiling. “I must admit, Juliette—I’m

thoroughly impressed. You alone were able to overpower me. You had enough foresight to think of taking my son hostage. You saved two of your own men. You caused an earthquake to save the rest of your team!” He laughs. He laughs and laughs and laughs.

I don’t bother telling him that only 2 of those things are true.

“I see now that my son was right. You could be invaluable to us, especially right now. You know the inside of their headquarters better than anything Aaron is able to remember.”

So Warner has been to see his father.

He’s shared our secrets. Of course he has. I can’t imagine why I’m so surprised.

“You,” Anderson says to me, “could help me destroy all of your little friends. You could tell me everything I need to know. You could tell me all about the other freaks, what they’re capable of, what their strengths and weaknesses are. You could take me to their hideout. You would do whatever I asked you to do.”

I want to spit in his face.

“I would sooner die,” I tell him. “I’d rather be burned alive.”

“Oh, I highly doubt that,” he says. He shifts his weight onto the cane to better hold himself up. “I think you’d change your mind if you actually had the opportunity to feel the skin melt off your face. But,” he says, “I am not unkind. I certainly won’t rule it out as an option, if you’re really that interested.”

Horrible, horrible man.

He smiles, wide, satisfied by my silence. “Yes, I didn’t think so.” The front door flies open.

I don’t move. I don’t turn around. I don’t know if I want to see what’s about to happen to me but then I hear Anderson greet his visitor. Invite him in. Ask him to say hello to their new guest.

Warner steps into my line of vision.

I’m suddenly weak through the bone, sick and slightly mortified. Warner doesn’t say a word. He’s wearing his perfect suit with his perfect hair and he looks exactly like the Warner I first met; the only difference now is the look in his eyes. He’s staring at me in a state of shock so debilitating he actually looks ill.

“You kids remember each other, right?” Anderson is the only one laughing.

Warner is breathing like he’s hiked several mountains, like he can’t understand what he’s seeing or why he’s seeing it and he’s staring at my neck,

at what must be the ugly blotchy bruise staining my skin and his face twists into something that looks like anger and horror and heartbreak. His eyes drop to my shirt, to my shorts, and his mouth falls open just enough for me to notice before he’s reining himself in, wiping the emotions off his face. He’s struggling to stay composed but I can see the rapid motions of his chest rising and falling. His voice isn’t nearly as strong as it could be when he says, “What is she doing here?”

“I’ve had her collected for us,” Anderson says simply.

“For what?” Warner asks. “You said you didn’t want her—”

“Well,” Anderson says, considering. “That’s not entirely true. I could certainly benefit from having her around, but I decided at the last moment that I wasn’t interested in her company anymore.” He shakes his head. Looks down at his legs. Sighs. “It’s just so frustrating to be crippled like this,” he says, laughing again. “It’s just so unbelievably frustrating. But,” he says, smiling, “at least I’ve found a fast and easy way to fix it. To put it all back to normal, as they say. It’ll be just like magic.”

Something about his eyes, the sick smile in his voice, the way he says that last line makes me feel ill. “What do you mean?” I ask, almost afraid to hear his response.

“I’m surprised you even have to ask, my dear. I mean, honestly—did you really think I wouldn’t notice my son’s brand-new shoulder?” He laughs. “Did you think I wouldn’t find it strange to see him come home not only unharmed, but entirely healed? No scars, no tenderness, no weakness— as if he’d never been shot at all! It’s a miracle,” he says. “A miracle, my son informs me, that was performed by two of your little freaks.”

“No.”

Horror is building inside of me, blinding me.

“Oh yes.” He glances at Warner. “Isn’t that right, son?”

“No,” I gasp. “Oh, God—what have you done—WHERE ARE THEY—” “Calm yourself,” Anderson says to me. “They are perfectly unharmed. I

simply had them collected, just as I had you collected. I need them to stay

alive and healthy if they’re going to heal me, don’t you think?”

“Did you know about this?” I turn to Warner, frantic. “Did you do this? Did you know—”

“No—Juliette,” he says, “I swear—this wasn’t my idea—”

“You are both getting agitated over nothing,” Anderson says, waving a lazy hand in our direction. “We have more important things to focus on right now. More pressing issues to deal with.”

“What,” Warner asks, “are you talking about?” He doesn’t seem to be

breathing.

“Justice, son.” Anderson is staring at me now. “I’m talking about justice. I like the idea of setting things right. Of putting order back into the world. And I was waiting for you to arrive so I could show you exactly what I mean.

This,” he says, “is what I should’ve done the first time.” He glances at Warner. “Are you listening? Pay close attention now. Are you watching?”

He pulls out a gun.

And shoots me in the chest.

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