Reborn Page 69

I shrugged. ’’Better than yesterday. Every day is better than the last.’’

He nodded. ’’Good.’’

’’I just wish things had been different. I wish there\d been a bit more closure.’’

Nick\s expression hardened. He knew I was talking about Riley. The man was a cockroach (Cas\s word);no matter how many times the group went up against him, he always seemed to get away.

And if he\d dragged my mother and me into the Branch\s fold once, he could do it again. To me or someone else.

I had this constant fear in the back of my mind, like I could never relax until Riley was gone for good. Anna said that was normal. They all felt that way.

’’There\s something I\ve been meaning to ask you,’’ I started, turning back to the lake. Asking what I wanted to ask seemed somehow easier if I wasn\ looking at Nick, at his unsettlingly blue eyes.

’’Yeah?’’ he coaxed.

’’Why did you save me that night in the woods?’’

I\d thought about that night a lot. Nick had later told me he\d been in the woods chasing Chloe, since his order had been to kill her. He could have easily left me in the woods and continued with his mission. Or he could have given up my hiding spot, and the Branch would have taken me back.

Nick thought for several beats, and I waited impatiently for him to answer.

’’I saved you,’’ he said, ’’because you needed saving.’’ His jaw clenched and his eyes grew watery. I could tell there was more he wanted to say, things left unsaid about who he was, and who his father was, and whether or not they were the same.

He\d told me only scant details about his life before the Branch, about his family, and Anna had filled in some of the missing information. But I could tell that always, every day, he was fighting to be a better man than his father had been.

Without warning, tears burned my eyes, too. ’’Thank you,’’ I said quietly. He pulled me in closer. ’’So now what?’’ I asked.

’’Now we go home,’’ Nick said. ’’And we...’’ He tried to read my face. ’’We watch TV?’’

I shook my head.

’’We eat dinner?’’

Another shake.

’’We... read a book?’’

’’Think cozier.’’

He ran his free hand through my hair, drew me in, and kissed me, long and eager. His lips were warm, gentle. So good.

’’We go to bed,’’ he said finally, with a glint in his blue eyes.

I nodded. ’’You lead, and I will follow.’’


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