It was the wrong thing to say. Jude crouched next to me, his cheek close to my ear. “Please,” he said, and grabbed my hand.
And this feeling, this terror, was something new. Like nothing I’d ever experienced—not earlier, in the trunk, or in the asylum.
“Why should I help you kill me?” My voice was barely more than a breath. Barely a whisper.
He was close again. So close. Behind me, next to my ear. “You can choose, Mara. Your one life, or two of your brothers’.” He reached around and held the blade against my cheek. Reminding me what he could do.
And reminding me of something else.
His watch, his Rolex, the same one Noah saw in his vision, was inches from my face. “Nice watch,” I whispered. Keep talking. Keep talking.
“Where’d you get it?”
“Abe Lincoln,” he sneered.
“Why did you take Joseph?”
Jude said nothing.
“He’s twelve.” My voice sounded like a wail.
Jude’s stare was ice. “A brother for a sister.”
My hate grew, a formless, shapeless mass that devoured my fear. “You used to talk about football with him at my house.”
Jude laughed then, and the word that reverberated in my mind was sick.
“I had this whole plan,” he said, sounding exasperated. “I was going to bring Daniel over for a party—don’t worry, I wasn’t going to hurt him either. You were.”
I would’ve shaken my head, but the blade was too close. “I’d never hurt him.”
“Never say never,” he said seriously. His voice turned quiet. “I can make you do anything I want.” Then he sighed. “But someone had to go and be a hero,” he rolled his eyes. “And now here we are.”
“I’m not a—”
Jude chuckled. “You think I mean you?” he said, wrinkling his nose and moving closer. His breath was in my ear, tickling me. “You are no hero, Mara Dyer. You’d do anything to get what you want. Which makes you just. Like. Me.”
Then he moved in front of me so that I could see him. Stood up to his full height. He was broad and enormous and immovable before me. His eyes scanned my body. “Kind of a waste.” He ran the back of his hand down my bare arm, and my flesh died.
Make him talk. I grasped for words, for anything. “Why’d you take Joseph to the Everglades?”
“I told you already. And if you’re going to dispose of a body in Florida, there’s really no better place.”
But the shed—the property was owned by my father’s client. By Leon Lassiter. “Why there?”
“It was a suggestion.”
I was reeling. “From who?”
“A mutual friend,” he said, as he inspected my wrists. Turned them over. Glanced at the blade.
My family might believe that I would kill myself. After everything that happened, it was possible. But, “Why would I come here?” I asked urgently. Tell me where we are.
“You wouldn’t want them to find you at home, would you? Where Joseph could be the one to find your body? No, you’d do it somewhere out of the way. Somewhere you’d be found pretty quick, but not by anyone you knew. You took Daniel’s car tonight, by the way.”
He sounded so proud of himself. It made me want to cut out his tongue.
Jude moved behind me. Dragged my chair to the back of the room, which was when I noticed that there was, in fact, another door; it was painted the same color as the walls and there was no knob, so I didn’t notice it until he pushed it open, dragging me through.
“You know, I always thought that once I had you like this, what I would want most would be to kill you for what you did. But I wonder if there might be something worse?” His eyes slithered over my skin.
I couldn’t bear him staring at me that way. I squeezed my eyes shut.
He shook the chair and my teeth chattered. “Hey.” Shake. “Look at me.” He was right in my face and he took my chin in his hand. “Look at me.”
There was nothing I could do. I was alone. My eyes opened.
But as I stared right into Jude’s—unnaturally dark, considering the bright lights in the boathouse—words seared through me, words that weren’t mine.
“You aren’t alone in this.”
Noah’s words, spoken to me just hours before. Noah found Joseph when he’d been taken—by Jude, I knew now—when my brother was drugged and in danger. He felt an echo of what Joseph felt, and knew where Jude had taken him because Noah saw it through Jude’s eyes.
Noah heard me when I was hurt and trapped in the asylum. I trapped myself, so he saw what I saw through my eyes.
If I hurt myself now, he might see through them again.
He wasn’t in Miami, so he couldn’t save me. But I could make sure he knew the truth.
I bit down on my tongue so hard that I moaned. See me, I wished.
“Are you going to do this,” Jude breathed into my ear, “or am I?”
Blood filled my mouth and silent sobs wracked my chest. Water stretched out in front of us, black and endless. We were at the end of a dock. I turned my head to try and find anything that would give me a clue as to where I was—a sign, something—but my vision swam. From the pain? From tears?
Yes, from tears. When they cleared a little, I saw that the dock veered off to our right in a narrow path toward a grouping of blurry, faraway boats.
But no people. No one.
Jude gripped my head hard in one of his hands, palming it like a basketball. He looked down into my eyes. “You’re not motivated enough.”
I had no idea if Noah could see this. I remembered that it wasn’t just pain that made him see; there was something else. But we never figured out what.
As I spat blood out onto the dock, Jude smacked me. Not hard enough to leave a bruise, but hard enough to sting. “Do not. Do not fuck everything up. You will kill your family, Mara.” He leaned down. “Look at me and tell me I’m lying.”
See me, I begged silently. Help me help me help me help me help me help me help me help me.
“Okay,” I said out loud. “Okay, I’ll do it. I’ll do what you want.”
“Just like that?”
“If you try to run, don’t forget I have the key to your house.”
“I won’t,” I whispered.
“And I could always cut the brakes on Daniel’s car. Or your parents’.”
I couldn’t breathe. A sob escaped from my throat. I was beyond terrified for them. Beyond reason.