“What about us?”
“Well, you would be a murder suspect, if I hadn’t managed to painstakingly, painfully, at great cost to my physical and mental well-being, persuade the police otherwise.”
“You sound it.”
“Does this mean we can just go?”
“Sort of. Rochelle’s taking care of it.”
“What did your cousin say we should do? About everything?”
“Well . . .” He drew out the word slowly. “I sort of described the situation hypothetically.”
“As in, ‘Let’s say this billionaire was funding these messed-up genetic experiments on teenagers . . .”
“Right . . .”
“Let’s say these teens have superpowers . . .”
“Uh-huh . . .”
“Let’s say one of them ended up killing some people with her thoughts sometimes and also with her bare hands. Hypothetically.”
I buried my face in my hands.
“Let’s say there was physical evidence tying her to some of the deaths . . .”
Kells. Wayne. Ernst. “Christ, Jamie.”
“And other evidence had been planted to make it look like she was guilty of murders she didn’t commit.”
“Oh, and, just for fun, to make it interesting, let’s say all of these teens have documented histories of mental illness. What do you think our chances would be if we went up against said billionaire in court?”
“I’m guessing you mentioned the stuff we have? The videos? Documents?”
“I’m guessing her response was not encouraging.”
“Shocking, isn’t it? She said—hypothetically, of course—that the documents couldn’t be authenticated. Chain of custody problems, not admissible, blah, blah. I don’t know, do I look like a lawyer?”
I inhaled slowly, trying to stay calm.
“I even left out the parts where you and Noah died and came back to life, but for some reason she still seems to think I’m fucking with her. She was kind of huffy about it, actually. But she’s trustworthy. And smart. With her brains and my awesome power, we’ll be able to leave whenever we want.”
“P.S., you were right about Noah. I am willing to acknowledge that now.”
“About what? About him being alive?”
“Yes, but also about him. Like, generally.”
“I’m not following . . .”
“When I met you, I thought he was going to use you.”
“This is a shock to no one, Jamie.”
“Can you shut up for a second so I can admit my wrongness?” He cleared his throat. “As I was saying. He could never use you. You own him. You should’ve seen the way he was looking at you while you were out.”
I smiled a little. “How?”
“Like you’re the ocean and he’s desperate to drown.”
His words wiped the smile off my face. Noah had drowned. With my help.
I shook my head as if to clear it. Jamie must’ve thought I was disagreeing with him because he went on.
“You don’t get what you do for him. You’re like his manic pixie dream girl or something.” Jamie thought for a second. “Actually, more like his psychotic demon nightmare thing, but whatever. You get my point.”
I refused to acknowledge it.
“Speaking of demon nightmare things,” he segued gracefully, “you dying and coming back to life? That was a neat trick. How’d you manage that?”
“Jude said it’s because I manifested finally, or something. That I healed myself.”
“Huh. And Noah?”
I stayed quiet.
“He looked pretty dead when you were sitting there rocking back and forth, holding his seemingly lifeless body, I have to say.”
“Do you? Have to say?”
“Why do I get the feeling you’re not being entirely truthful, Mara?”
“You’re imagining things. You’re under a lot of stress.”
He looked like he was about to hit me, when someone knocked on the door. Rochelle peeked inside and motioned for us to follow her out into the hallway.
“You owe me, Cousin,” she said to Jamie as we passed Detective Howard and some nurses.
“You love me and you know it.”
“You’re lucky I do.”
We passed Noah’s closed door on our way to the elevator. The cops were still there, still guarding him. I recognized one of them; he’d been at the factory. The one distracted by Jamie shouting from the computer.
Jamie stopped walking. “You okay?” Jamie asked the officer. I stopped to listen.
“Yeah,” the cop said slowly. “Why?”
Jamie motioned to his own nose. “You have . . . something.”
The cop’s eyebrows drew together and he sniffed, then rubbed his nose. His fingers came away red. They left a bloody smear above his lip.
He nodded at Jamie. “Thanks.”
We resumed our exit. When we neared the elevator, though, something caught my eye.
A scalpel rested on a little cart outside a patient room. I glanced around to see if anyone was watching me.
No one was.
I slipped it into my back pocket and followed Jamie and Rochelle into the elevator. The officer was dabbing a bloody tissue to his nose when the doors closed.
MARA IS WAITING FOR US when Jamie springs Daniel and me that night. She stands beneath a streetlight on an empty sidewalk, looking very gorgeous in a very bad way.
“Subway?” Jamie suggests.
Daniel sticks his hand up in the air. “Cab. Definitely.”
A minute later one pulls up to the curb. The cabbie turns around once we’re in. “Where are we going?”
Mara grins at me. “Wherever we want.”
Almost as soon as Jamie unlocks the front door to his aunt’s house, he ducks into the bathroom, and Daniel passes out on the couch in the parlor.
I look around. “Nice place,” I say as Mara leads me farther in.
“Upstairs or downstairs?” she asks.
“Bed,” I answer. Her smile widens as she leads me up the steps. I follow her into a bedroom and we collapse together in each other’s arms.
I wake up the next afternoon. Mara is beside me, dead, her limbs tangled in the sheets.
No. Not dead. Sleeping.
But the panic stays with me. I extract my arm from beneath her as guilt rises in my throat. It’s so thick I could choke.