United as One (Lorien Legacies #7)(11) by Pittacus Lore

My hands heat up. They glow. Sarah’s pale skin is suddenly tinged pink, and my heart skips a beat.

It’s a trick of the light. My Legacy isn’t working. There’s no spark in Sarah left to rekindle.

I let the power seep away. Now that I’ve seen Sarah’s wounds firsthand, the horrific visions that haunted me during the hours I’d waited are gone. It’s become reality. With shaking hands, I cover Sarah’s body with the sheet.

The morbid details aren’t what I find myself focusing on. They aren’t what will stick with me. It’s her face—tinted blue in the muted light. She doesn’t look like she’s in any pain; there are no lines creasing the skin and her eyes are closed. Sarah’s lips are forever pursed into an almost-curious smile. I lean down and gently kiss that smile, not surprised by how cold her lips are. Then I put my head down, rest it on her chest. It probably looks like I’m listening for a heartbeat, but I’m just saying good-bye.

I don’t cry. She wouldn’t want me to do that. But the insomnia I was feeling before, it’s gone now. I feel like I could finally rest, right here, with Sarah.

“Is that it?”

Mark. I’d completely forgotten he was in the room with me.

I lift my head and turn around slowly, without standing up. Mark’s head is cocked; he stares at me, his fists clenching and unclenching.

“What?” I ask, surprised by how tired I sound.

“I said, is that it?” he repeats, the words harsher now. “Is that all you’re going to do?”

“There’s nothing else I can do, Mark,” I reply with a sigh. “She’s gone.”

“You can’t bring back the dead?”

“No. I’m not a god.”

Mark shakes his head like he expected that answer and is disappointed all the same. “Shit,” he says to himself, then looks me right in the eye. “What the hell are you good for?”

I’m not going to do this with him. Not here. Not ever. I stand up slowly, take one last look at Sarah and walk wordlessly towards the ship’s exit ramp.

Mark gets in my way.

“I asked you a question,” he says.

For a moment, his tone brings me back to Paradise High. I know this isn’t the same jock who tormented me and Sam—now he’s got a wild and haunted look in his eyes, unkempt hair and filthy clothes that would’ve embarrassed the hell out of the old Mark James. But he’s still a master of that alpha-male voice. It makes him seem bigger than he is in reality.

“Mark,” I say warningly.

“You don’t get to just walk away from this,” he replies.

“Get out of my way.”

He shoves me. The contact actually surprises me and causes me to stumble back a few steps. I stare at him.

“You’re angry; you’re hurting . . . ,” I say to Mark, keeping my voice measured even though I want to scream at him. Like I’m not feeling the same way. Like I don’t want to punch through a wall. “But this—us? Fighting for no reason? That’s not happening.”

“Oh, spare me your bigger-man routine, John,” Mark says. “I was there when she died. Me. Not you. She spent her final moments on the goddamn phone with you, giving you a pep talk. You. The guy who got her killed.”

It stings to hear Mark say what I’d already been thinking.

“We were in love,” I tell him.

Mark rolls his eyes at me. “Maybe. Maybe you really were. But—come on. Mysterious new kid rolls into the small town, and oh, he’s got superpowers. And oh, he’s trying to save the world. What girl wouldn’t fall for that shit, huh? Hell, look at me, standing here. Look at dumb-ass Sam Goode. We all got sucked into your vortex of suffering.”

“She didn’t fall for anything. I didn’t trick her.” My words are sharper now. He’s starting to get under my skin. “We were in love before—before she even knew about me and what I am.”

“But you knew!” Mark yells, taking a step towards me. “You always knew what it meant to be around you and you—you went for her anyway! In all those towns you traveled to before Paradise, how many—how many other girls were there?”

I shake my head, losing the thread of what Mark’s trying to prove. “There weren’t—”

“Exactly! You kept it in your pants because you knew that being around you is a death sentence. Until Sarah. You just couldn’t leave her alone. You got selfish, or lonely, or whatever, and you—you got her killed. She’d be alive and happy if you had just gone to another town, John. Yeah, this whole invasion would still be happening, but I got a feeling the Mogadorian warships are a long way from Paradise. Without you, without your needy bullshit, she at least would’ve had a chance.”