“When you asked why I smoke, I told you I’ve never been ill. It’s true—and when I’ve gotten into rows, I hurt for a while and then—nothing. No pain. It’s over.”
I looked at him, disbelieving. “Are you saying that you can—”
“How’s your shoulder, Mara?”
I had no words.
“You’d be in quite a lot of pain right now, even once it was back in its socket. And your arm?” Noah said, taking my hand and extending it. He traced his finger down from the indent of my elbow to my wrist. “You’d still be blistering, and probably starting to scar,” he said, his eyes roaming over my unbroken skin. Then they met mine.
“Who told you about my arm?” I asked. My voice sounded far away.
“No one told me. No one needed to. Mabel was dying when you brought her to me. She was so far gone, my mother didn’t think she’d survive the night. I stayed at the hospital with her and I don’t know, I held her. And heard her heal.”
“It makes no sense,” I said, staring at him.
“You are telling me that somehow, you’ve seen a handful of people who were about to die. You could feel an echo of what they felt. And that whenever my heart—or anyone else’s— races, you can hear that.”
“And somehow, you can hear what’s broken in people, or what’s wrong, and fix it.”
“While the only thing I’m capable of is—” Murder. I could barely think it.
“You had visions as well, no? Saw things?” Noah’s eyes studied mine.
I shook my head. “Hallucinations. Nothing was real except the nightmares, the memories.”
Noah paused for a beat. “How do you know?”
I thought back to every hallucination I had. The classroom walls. Jude and Claire in the mirror. The earrings in the bathtub. None of them had actually happened. And the events I thought didn’t happen—the way I’d excused Morales’s death and the death of Mabel’s owner—did.
I did have PTSD. That was real. But what had happened, what I did, what I could do, was also real.
“I just know,” I said, and left it at that.
We stared at each other, not laughing, not smiling. Just looking; Noah serious, myself incredulous, until I was seized by a thought so potent and so urgent that I wanted to scream it.
“Fix me,” I commanded him. “This thing, what I’ve done— there’s something wrong with me, Noah. Fix it.”
Noah’s expression broke my heart as he brushed my hair from my face, and skimmed the line of my neck. “I can’t.”
“Why not?” I asked, my voice threatening to crack.
Noah lifted both of his hands to my face, and held it. “Because,” he said, “you aren’t broken.”
I sat perfectly still, breathing slowly through my nose. Any sound would shatter me. I closed my eyes to stop myself from crying, but the tears welled anyway.
“So,” I said as my throat constricted.
“Both of us?”
“Seems that way,” Noah said. A tear trickled onto his thumb, but he didn’t move his hands.
“What are the odds of—”
“Highly unfavorable,” Noah cut me off.
I smiled under his fingers. They were painfully real. I was so aware of him, of us, lost and confused and with no new understanding of what was happening or why.
But we weren’t alone.
Noah moved closer and kissed my forehead. His expression was calm. No, more than that. It was peaceful.
“You must be starving. Let me get you something from the kitchen.”
I nodded, and Noah stood to leave. When he opened my bedroom door, I spoke.
“When you heard me before—before I moved here. What did I say?”
Noah’s face grew somber.” ‘Get them out.’ “
I MUST SAY, I THINK I RATHER LIKE THIS SLEEPING arrangement.”
I didn’t think I would ever tire of hearing Noah’s voice in the nether darkness of my bedroom. The weight of him in my bed was unfamiliar and thrilling. He leaned against two of my pillows and had me curled into his side, sharing my blanket. My head rested on his shoulder, my cheek on his chest. His heartbeat was steady. Mine was insane. I think I knew that it wasn’t safe for him here. With me. But I couldn’t bring myself to pull away.
“How did you work this out, anyway?” I still hadn’t left my room or seen my mother since she’d been in to check on me earlier that afternoon, before Noah’s confession. Before my confession. I wondered how we were getting away with this.
“Well, technically, I’m sleeping in Daniel’s room right now.”
“As we speak,” Noah said, curving his arm around my back. It rested just below the hem of my shirt. “Your mother didn’t want me driving home so late.”
“That’s a good question.”
I leaned up to see his face. It was thoughtful, serious, as he stared at my ceiling. “Whether you’ll be here tomorrow?” I kept my voice even. I knew by now that Noah didn’t play games. That if he was going to leave, he would leave, and be honest about it. But I hoped that wasn’t what he was going to say.
He smiled softly. “What happens to us tomorrow. Now that we know we’re not insane.”
It was the ultimate question, one that haunted me since last week, since I remembered. What was next? Was I supposed to do something with it? Try to ignore it? Try to stop it? Did I even have a choice? It was too much to deal with. My heart beat wildly in my chest.
“What are you thinking?” Noah shifted on to his side and tightened his grip on my back, pressing me into him, aligning us perfectly.
“What?” I whispered as my thoughts dissolved.
Noah shifted closer and tilted his head as if he was going to whisper something to me. His nose skimmed my jaw instead, until his lips found the hollow beneath my ear.
“Your heart started racing,” he said, tracing the line of my neck to my collarbone with his lips.
“I don’t remember,” I said, consumed now with the feel of Noah’s hand through the thin fabric of my pants. He slid his hand up behind my knee. My thigh. He tilted his face up to look at me, a wicked smile on his lips.