“I don’t know,” I said, my voice strained and quiet. “I don’t really remember.”
“Any of it?”
The screaming—my screaming—echoed in my brain, making me a liar if I answered that question with a no.
“I remember some of it,” I admitted. “It was a man, I think. We were living in an apartment and he came in yelling at my parents. I don’t remember what about, but it was probably drugs. They were both really high, like always.” I frowned as the images flashed through my brain. “My mom took me back to the bedroom and I think we were trying to climb out the window. I remember looking down at the grass thinking it was really far down. I heard gunshots and I screamed and my mom put my hand over my mouth and—”
“Are you trying to kill us?”
I swallowed at the sound of my mom’s voice in my ear. “That’s really all I remember.”
Callum took a deep, shaky breath. “I’m sorry.” The horror was spread across his every feature.
“Sorry you asked?” I said with a little laugh.
“Of course not.”
“So we can do it if you want, but this should stay on,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest.
He laughed. He saw my confusion and tried to stop, but another one escaped and he shook his head.
“No,” he said, tucking my hair behind my ear and softly kissing my cheek. “I think I will wait for you to have a bit more enthusiasm than ‘we can do it if you want.’” He chuckled again.
My cheeks flushed as I focused on the floor. “Oh. I didn’t, that wasn’t—”
“It’s fine.” He pressed his lips to my forehead and slid off the bed. “I wasn’t expecting that, for the record.”
I wanted to melt into the floor. To become a big pile of bright red, mushy Reboot.
“I can go sleep in my parents’ room,” he said.
I quickly grabbed his hand. “No, will you stay?” I still wanted him close, even if I didn’t want him that close.
“Of course.” He was pleased I’d asked; I could see it in his eyes as he crawled into bed.
I slid in next to him and scooted closer until he wrapped his arms around me. I pressed my face into his chest and he leaned in until his lips brushed my ear.
“When we do have sex, there will be none of this keeping-your-shirt-on nonsense.”
“Nope, sorry. I don’t care about the scars and neither should you. All or nothing.”
“Then you may get nothing.”
“Please. You’re not going to be able to resist me for much longer.”
I laughed and tilted my head up to kiss him. He held me tighter against his chest as our lips met, and for a moment, I thought he might be right.
“WREN.” CALLUM’S BREATH TICKLED MY EAR AND I STIRRED, my forehead brushing against his chest. “The sun is setting.”
I peeked through my eyelids to see the room bathed in orange light. Callum’s skin was bright and almost human-looking in its glow.
I stretched my legs against the softness of the sheets. I had the plushy material of the comforter clenched in a hand under my chin. I was inside a cloud—a luxurious, bubbly cloud where my body sank into a bed softer than anything I’d ever felt. The cloud smelled like Callum. Like soap and spice and warmth and the unmistakable hint of Reboot.
He pushed the hair off my forehead and pressed his lips against the skin, sparking a trail of fire all the way down to my neck.
“We should go soon.” His dark eyes met mine and I saw no point in trying to pretend I wasn’t scared. He could already see it. His thumb rubbed warmth onto my cheek and his steady gaze suggested he didn’t mind my fear.
I nodded but didn’t move. I would have rather stayed in this bed with him all night, all day, all week. Forget Leb’s daughter, forget the nonexistent reservation, forget everything but his arms and smile.
But he was shaking. His fingers jerked against my skin and he rolled away, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. He stole a quick glance at his trembling hands before reaching for his clothes.
The panic that tore through my chest took my breath away, made me press my face into the bed for fear I would scream.
“Maybe I have a smaller shirt you can wear,” Callum said, hopping off the bed and striding across the room to his closet. “Something from when I was four or so.”
I laughed against the mattress, sitting up and pushing the panic off my features. It sat on my chest, insistent, mocking.
“At least seven,” I countered. “I’m not that small.”
“Here,” he said, throwing me a light blue shirt. “That’s still going to be too big, but maybe you can tie the bottom.”
He left the room to change and I pulled on my own pants and his shirt, which came down to the middle of my thighs. I tried to tie a knot with the extra material, eventually giving up and shoving it inside my pants. I took the black sweatshirt he’d thrown over the desk chair for me and smiled as I pulled the soft material over my head.
Callum returned and put the photo screen and a small camera in a pack, along with a couple pieces of clothing.
“We can go check if my parents left any food, but I really doubt it,” he said, zipping the bag up and tossing it over his back.
The kitchen was bare except for a few abandoned, chipped plates. Callum shrugged and held his hand out to me.
“Ready,” I said, taking his hand.
I glanced around one last time as we headed down the hallway and into the living room. Callum seemed to be making an effort not to look, his gaze on the floor as he opened the front door for me. The temperature had dropped several degrees from the previous night, and the evening air was chilly. Even Callum shivered.
“One stop before we cross over,” he said, pointing to the house next door. “I need to find out where my family went.”
“What are we going to do? Pop in and ask?”
“Yep,” he said, pulling me around to the back of the house. He rapped on a back window before I could protest.
The curtains parted and a human boy not much younger than us peeked through, letting out a yell and snapping them shut when he spotted us.
“Eduardo!” Callum yelled. “I just need to know where my parents and David went!”
Eduardo peeked out again, his eyes wide as he pressed his forehead against the glass to stare at us. “Callum?”