Home > Split Second (Pivot Point #2)(11)

Split Second (Pivot Point #2)(11)
Kasie West

“I can see how she might be compelling, but you know that’s not how I work.”

“I know.”

I cleared my throat. “Look, I would’ve found you with or without Boy Wonder here. I’m here for information. I want to advance my ability. I want you to help me. It’s as simple as that.”

He laughed. “I think you’ve mistaken this for the DAA. Does this look like the DAA to you?”

I knew his question was rhetorical, but I looked around anyway. Cases like Connor’s covered tabletops, and several laptops were open and running through mind patterns. “It looks like an illegal operation that the DAA wouldn’t like. Last I checked they prefer to be the sole provider of ability advancement. The Bureau seems to agree with that concept as well.”

He glared at Connor. “Did you bring a narc into my house?”

“She’s just a spoiled brat looking for something to occupy her time.”

Spoiled? I had to clamp back the laugh that wanted to escape. If only. Whatever. It beat him knowing the truth and feeling sorry for me.

He walked back to the door. “Is this some sort of juvenile lovers’ quarrel? I don’t know why you felt the need for a witness. Get out.” Suddenly, his face changed to that of a greasy-haired older man with a goatee.

I tilted my head. “You’re a Perceptive.” He had made me see him the way he wanted me to see him. Now I wondered which of his faces was real.

“Very good. You have brains in that gorgeous head of yours. Now use them to get out of my house.”

I crossed my arms. “No. I’m not going to turn you in to any sort of authority. I just want to advance my ability. You are obviously exceptionally advanced in yours. Teach me.”

At this point, Connor grabbed my arm and dragged me toward the door. I twisted out of his hold. “Don’t touch me.”

“This is my life you’re messing with.”

“Wait,” the Perceptive said. He had added a tattoo of a cross to his neck . . . or maybe took away the illusion covering the tattoo, I still couldn’t tell. “What’s your ability?”

“None of your business.”

“You just made it my business.”

“I did? You’re entering into an agreement with me?” I plopped down on the closest chair. “Good. When do we start the training?”

He looked at Connor as if he thought Connor had any sort of control over me.

“Come here.” He beckoned me to follow him, and I did without a glance in Connor’s direction.

He led me into a room filled with digital images projected onto the walls. People, places, words. It was overwhelming and made me a little dizzy. I leaned against the wall.

“What is all this?” A metal bird sat perched on the desk, and I studied it. “Is that a listening device? Are you recording this?”

“Sit,” he told me.

I sat.

“Put your palm on that black pad there.” He pointed to a palm scanner on the desk.

“Why?”

He raised one eyebrow, and I put my palm on the black pad. Nothing happened. I glanced around the room at the images. I didn’t recognize any of the people, and as I continued to watch, I realized the places all looked unfamiliar as well. These were images from the Outside. “Did you hack into the Containment Committee surveillance?”

He didn’t answer. After a few minutes, he said, “You’re clean.”

“I could’ve told you that. We didn’t need the dramatics.”

“Okay, here are the terms. Five hundred bucks a lesson. Any indication, even the slightest hint, that you are going to talk, this”—he pointed to his face—“disappears with your money.”

“Five hundred bucks? Impossible. I can’t.”

Connor let out a laugh, and I shot him a look.

“Those are my terms,” he said. “Take them or leave them.”

The room was so high-tech, possibly a room straight from the Bureau’s own computers. Maybe he had hacked information from the Department of Ability Advancement as well. His ability was more advanced than that of any Perceptive I’d ever seen. I wanted him to teach me. Needed him to. He was good. “My brother is almost fourteen and he still hasn’t Presented. If you can help him too, then you have yourself a deal.”

His dark eyes were hard and held my stare. He was the first to break contact and reached into a drawer, pulling out an electronic clip. “He can’t come here, but I’ll do you a favor. Tell your brother to stop using the DAA program and use this for a week. It will be my little gift of good faith to you.” He held it out to me. “I’m Face, by the way.”

I took the clip. “Laila.”

As we walked down the driveway, I glanced back at the front door. It was shut tight. I wondered which face was his real one. This was definitely a problem in the having-anything-to-blackmail-him-with department.

Connor chuckled.

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“You don’t think I can get five hundred dollars?”

“I know you can’t. You are broke.” He said the word broke with two syllables. He grabbed his helmet off the seat of his bike. “Maybe you can ask your daddy for some money.”

Considering my daddy asked me for money on a weekly basis, that wasn’t happening.

He pointed to my pocket, where I had stored the electronic clip Face had given me. “You’re going to let your brother use that?”

I wasn’t sure yet. Addie had said the DAA program helped. Maybe I should just have patience and let him continue with that. “Are you saying I shouldn’t?”

He shrugged.

“Oh, that’s right, you’re just the middleman. You don’t ask questions.”

“I was just going to offer to buy it off you. Since you need money and all.”

It was tempting. I was a long way from five hundred dollars, and any little bit would help. But I wanted to help my brother. “No thanks.”

“So what’s your next step then?”

“Nothing that involves you.” I opened my truck door and climbed inside without waiting for a response. I had no idea what my next step was. I was broke no matter how many syllables the word had.

CHAPTER 13

Addie: There really are bronze bulls. Lots of them.

I stared at the black screen of my cell phone long after we hung up. I wanted Laila to restore my memory? Why? Was there something I had learned in the other life that I needed now? Maybe whatever it was that my parents were keeping from me. Or maybe why my head felt like it was going to explode when I used my ability.

I slid my finger across the screen. There was nothing I could do about that now. The only thing I had control over was figuring it out now. I hit the Call button.

“Hello,” Rowan answered, and I could tell by his tone he had no idea who was calling.

“Hi, Rowan, it’s Addie.”

“Addie! Hey. The answer is yes, and what time should I be there?”

I laughed. How could Stephanie hate this guy so much? He was hilarious. “I need someone to take me to Pioneer Plaza.”

“Pioneer Plaza? I don’t even know if I know how to get there. Hey,” he said to someone who must’ve been in the room with him, “do you know where Pioneer Plaza is?”

“Yes,” the other person, who sounded suspiciously like Trevor, said.

“Addie wants to go.”

“Why?” Trevor asked.

“Because she’s funny.”

I smiled. I rarely got described as funny—that was Laila’s trait. Weird, yes. Funny, no.

“We can take her, right?”

“Sure,” Trevor said.

I bit my lip, trying to contain a smile.

Back to me, Rowan said, “We’ll be by to get you in ten minutes. Text me your address.”

“Ten minutes? I didn’t mean tonight.”

“Well, you’re getting tonight.”

I hung up the phone, texted him my address, and ran to the bathroom.

“Please, Mr. Bull, don’t trample me,” Rowan said. He had wedged himself beneath the bronze hoof of one of the many bull statues that trailed through the park in downtown Dallas.

“I wish that bull was real,” Trevor said.

“Hey, Addison is the one who dragged us here, remember?”

Trevor raised his eyebrows at me. “So true.”

I gave Trevor’s shoulder a small push, and he laughed.

“Okay, take another picture, Addie,” Rowan said.

“Sure thing.” I snapped a picture with my phone, and then Rowan ran off to find the next statue. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what I wasn’t supposed to know or see here. They were just bronze statues. I had discreetly studied each one as we walked down the line, but there was nothing out of the ordinary—if bronze statues were considered “ordinary.”

“I think he was born with more energy than the rest of us,” Trevor said, nodding to Rowan, who was now trying to climb on top of a horse.

“It would seem that way.”

His gaze lingered on the blue stripe in my hair, and he asked, “What’s the story with the blue?”

I let out a breathy laugh. “A long one. My one and only attempt at rebellion.” I twirled it around my finger a couple of times, my hair, straight like it had been for weeks, feeling a little frizzy out in the humid air. “Have you ever done something stupid?”

“Today? Or ever?”

I laughed. “Does that mean yes?”

“Haven’t we all?”

“Something you regret, though. Something you wish you could take back.”

We walked over a hill, and a field of gravestones stretched out in front of us. My breath caught. This was what my father had been referring to. It wasn’t visible from the road at all.

“I’m fairly cautious. Most of my regrets have to do with things I didn’t do versus things I did.”

It took me a moment to remember what we were talking about and another one to settle my heart. Crap. We had to stay until I looked at every gravestone. How could I make that seem natural? I had to keep him talking. “So what haven’t you done lately that you wish you did?”

“Most recently would have to be when I came to talk to Duke after the football game a couple weeks ago. . . .”

Ah, here it was again—the sore subject I wished he wouldn’t associate with me. “Oh?”

“I had just overheard some things Duke said in the locker room.”

“Right. So you probably wanted to lay him out.”

He smiled. The first one of the night directed at me, and it made my insides flip. He had an amazing smile. “Something like that.”

I thought back to that night with Duke. “So instead you were super nice? That doesn’t make sense.”

“My mom always tells me that if I feel like punching someone, first I have to say something nice to them. Out loud. If I still feel like punching them, they probably deserve it.”

“Duke totally deserved it, though.”

“But you were there. I wasn’t counting on that.”

My insides flipped again. I wasn’t even sure what that meant, but it sounded good. I grimaced. I needed to stop this small crush I seemed to be developing on Stephanie’s ex-boyfriend. Especially considering she wanted to take the ex out of the equation. I was being dumb. Duke was a jerk, and now apparently my heart wanted to fall for the first guy who talked nice to me. Trevor was just being a gentleman, I reminded myself. He was nice to everybody.

But either way, his regret was now mine. Duke needed someone to lay him out. Not just Laila’s attempt, which only ended in a cut lip, but a full-on, Trevor-delivered knockout. Duke was a big guy. I looked at Trevor’s arms, wondering if he could pull it off. It was hard to tell; they were covered by a jacket, but they seemed thick enough. When I looked back up again, I realized he had caught me assessing. My face went hot. “Sorry. I just wondered if you could do it.” Why did I have to say everything that came into my brain? I could’ve just pretended he had a piece of lint on his jacket or something, but I always thought of those excuses a beat too late.

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