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.I came to discuss my past.Deciding to bring her into my confidence and share some of my biggest secrets.Convinced not only that I can trust her but that she'll beable to help me as well.Because the truth is, I need someone I can count on.There's just no way I can go it alone.And it's not abouthelping me decide whether I should stay or go, because I'm beginning to realize I really don't have much of achoice.I mean, the thought of leaving Damen—the thought of never seeing him again—is almost morepainful than I can bear.But when I think about my family, and how they unwittingly sacrificedtheir lives forme—either because of a stupid blue sweatshirt I insisted my dad return for, which ultimately caused theaccident that killed everyone—or because Drina intentionally made the deer run in front of our car so shecould be rid of me and have Damen to herself—I feel I have to do something to make it all right.Because either way you look at it, it leads back to me.It's my fault they're no longer living their lives, it's myfault their bright shiny futures were cut so tragically short.If I hadn't gotten in the way, none of this everwould've happened.And even though Riley insisted it all turned out the way it was meant to, the fact thatI'm being given the choice just proves that I need to sacrifice my future with Damen so they can have theirs.It's the right thing to do.It's the only thing to do.And with the way things are going, with my social exile from school, Ava's pretty much my only friend left.Which means I'll need her to pick up any stray pieces I might leave behind.I bring my teacup to my lips, then set it back down without drinking.Tracing my fingers around the curve ofthe handle as I take a deep breath and say, "I think someone's poisoning Damen." Seeing her eyes bug out asshe gapes."I—I think someone's tampering with his—" Elixir "—favorite drink.And it's making him act—"Mortal "—normal, but not in a good way." I press my lips together and rise from my seat, barely giving her achance to catch her breath when I say, "And since I'm banned from the gate, I'm gonna need you to help mebreak in."Chapter Thirty-Two"Okay, we're here.Just act cool," I say, crouching down in the back as Ava approaches the gate."Just nodand smile and give her the name I told you." I pull my legs in, trying to make myself smaller, less obtrusive, atask that would've been a heck of a lot easier just two weeks ago, before I was faced with this ridiculousgrowth spurt.Crouching down even farther and pulling the blanket tighter around me as Ava lowers herwindow and smiles at Sheila, giving her the name of Stacia Miller (my replacement on Damen's list of welcomed guests), who I hope hasn't come around quite enough yet for Sheila to recognize her.And themoment the gate swings open and we're headed for Damen's, I toss the blanket aside and climb onto theseat, seeing Ava gaze around the neighborhood with obvious envy, shaking her head and muttering,"Swanky." I shrug and glance around too, never having given itmuchnotice before.Always viewing this placeas ablur of phony Tuscan farmhouses and upscale Spanishhaciendas with well-landscaped yards andsubterranean garages one has to pass in order to reachDamen'sfaux French chateau."I have no idea how he affords it, but it sure is nice," she says, glancing at me."He plays the ponies," I mumble, concentrating onthe garage door as she pulls into his drive, taking noteofits most minute details before closing my eyes and willingfor it to open.Seeingit rise and lift in my mind, then opening myeyes just in time to watch it sputter and spurt beforedropping back down with a very loud thud Anunmistakable sign that I'm still a long way frommastering psychokinesis—or the art of movinganything heavier than a Prada bag."Urn, I think we should just go around back like Iusually do," I say, feeling embarrassed for failing somiserably.But Ava won't hear of it, grabbing my bag andheading for the front door.And even when I scramblebehind,telling her it's no use, that it's locked and wecan't possibly enter that way, she just keeps going, claiming we'lljust have to unlock it then."It's not as easy as you think," I tell her."Believe me, I've tried it before and it didn't work." Glancing attheextra door I accidentally manifested the last time Iwas here—the one that's still leaning against thefarwall, which is exactly where I left it since apparentlyDamen's too busy acting cool and chasing Staciatotake the time to get rid of it.But the moment I think that, I wish I could erase it.The thought leaves me sad, empty, and feeling farmore desperate than I care to admit."Well, this time you have me to help." She smiles."And I think we've already proved just how well wework together." And the way she looks at me, with such anticipation, such optimism, I can't see the point in refusing to try.So I close my eyes as we both join hands, envisioningthe door springing open before us.And just secondsafter hearing the dead bolt slide back, the door openswide, allowing us in."After you." Ava nods, glancing at her watch andscrunching her brow as she says, "Tell me again, exactlyhow much time do we have here?"I gaze at my wrist, seeing the crystal horseshoebracelet Damen gave me that day at the track, the onethatmakes my heart swell with longing every time Isee it.Yet I refuse to remove it.I mean, I just can't.It's my only physical reminder of what we once had."Hey? You okay?" she asks, her face creased withconcern.I swallow hard and nod."We should be okay on time.Though I should warn you, Damen has a bad habit ofcutting class and coming home early.""Then we best get started" Ava smiles, slipping intothe foyer and looking all around, her eyes movingfromthe huge chandelier in the entry to the elaboratewrought-iron banister that leads up the stairs.Turningto mewith a gleam in her eye when she says, "Thisguy is seventeen?" I move toward the kitchen, not bothering to answersince she already knows that he is.Besides, I've gotmuchbigger things at stake than square footage andthe seeming implausibility of a seventeen-yearoldwho's neither a pop star nor a member of a hit TVshow owning such a place."Hey—hold up," she says, reaching for my arm andstopping me in my tracks."What's upstairs?""Nothing." And the second it's out I know I totallyblew it, answering far too quickly to ever be believed.Still, the last thing I need is for Ava to go snoopingaround and barging into his "special" room."Come on," she says, smiling like a rebellious teenwhose parents are gone for the weekend."School getsoutat what? Two fifty?"I nod, just barely, but it's still enough to encourageher."And then it takes, what? Ten minutes to drive homefrom there?""More like two." I shake my head."No, scratch that.More like thirty seconds.You have no idea how fastDamen drives." She checks her watch again, then looks at me.A smileplaying at the corner of her lips when she says,"Well,that still leaves us plenty of time to take a quick lookaround, switch out the drinks, and be on our way." Andwhen I look at her, all I can hear is the voice in my head shouting: Say no! Say no! Just.Say.No! A voice Ishould heed.A voice that's immediately canceled by hers when she says, "Come on, Ever.It's not every day I get to tour ahouse like this [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]