“You choose this moment to act like the Abnegation?” His voice fills the room and makes fear prickle in my chest. His anger seems too
sudden. Too strange. “All that time you spent insisting that you were too selfish for them, and now, when your life is on the line, you’ve got to be a
hero? What’s wrong with you?”
“What’s wrong with you? People died. They walked right off the edge of a building! And I can stop it from happening again!”
“You’re too important to just … die.” He shakes his head. He won’t even look at me—his eyes keep shifting across my face, to the wall
behind me or the ceiling above me, to everything but me. I am too stunned to be angry.
“I’m not important. Everyone will do just fine without me, ” I say.
“Who cares about everyone? What about me?”
He lowers his head into his hand, covering his eyes. His fingers are trembling.
Then he crosses the room in two long strides and touches his lips to mine. Their gentle pressure erases the past few months, and I am
the girl who sat on the rocks next to the chasm, with river spray on her ankles, and kissed him for the first time. I am the girl who grabbed his hand in
the hallway just because Iwanted to.I pull back, my hand on his chest to keep him away. The problem is, I am also the girl who shot Will and lied about it, and chose between
Hector and Marlene, and now a thousand other things besides. And I can’t erase those things.
“You would be fine.” I don’t look at him. I stare at his T-shirt between my fingers and the black ink curling around his neck, but I don’t look
at his face. “Not at first. But you would move on, and do what you have to.”
He wraps an arm around my waist and pulls me against him. “That’s a lie, ” he says, before he kisses me again.
This is wrong. It’s wrong to forget who I have become, and to let him kiss me when I know what I’m about to do.
But Iwant to. Oh, Iwant to.
I stand on my tiptoes and wrap my arms around him. I press one hand between his shoulder blades and curl the other one around the
back of his neck. I can feel his breaths against my palm, his body expanding and contracting, and I know he’s strong, steady, unstoppable. All things
I need to be, but I am not, I am not.
He walks backward, pulling me with him so I stumble. I stumble right out of my shoes. He sits on the edge of the bed and I stand in front
of him, and we’re finally eye to eye.
He touches my face, covering my cheeks with his hands, sliding his fingertips down my neck, fitting his fingers to the slight curve of my
I can’t stop.
I fit my mouth to his, and he tastes like water and smells like fresh air. I drag my hand from his neck to the small of his back, and put it
under his shirt. He kisses me harder.
I knew he was strong; I didn’t know how strong until I felt it myself, the muscles in his back tightening beneath my fingers.
Stop, I tell myself.
Suddenly it’s as if we’re in a hurry, his fingertips brushing my side under my shirt, my hands clutching at him, struggling closer but there
is no closer. I have never longed for someone this way, or this much.
He pulls back just enough to look into my eyes, his eyelids lowered.
“Promise me, ” he whispers, “that you won’t go. For me. Do this one thing for me.”
Could I do that? Could I stay here, fix things with him, let someone else die in my place? Looking up at him, I believe for a moment that I
could. And then I see Will. The crease between his eyebrows. The empty, simulation-bound eyes. The slumped body.
Do this one thing for me. Tobias’s dark eyes plead with me.
But if I don’t go to Erudite, who will? Tobias? It’s the kind of thing he would do.
I feel a stab of pain in my chest as I lie to him. “Okay.”
“Promise, ” he says, frowning.
The pain becomes an ache, spreads everywhere—all mixed together, guilt and terror and longing. “I promise.”
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