Home > Split Second (Pivot Point #2)(6)

Split Second (Pivot Point #2)(6)
Kasie West

My heart beat out of control from where it seemed to have taken up residence in my throat. I stared at him in shock. This was my vision in the hospital. The wooden staircase, Trevor and his question. Why? Could I see the future without Searching now? Why had my brain picked this moment? I leaned back on my elbows as a wave of pain struck behind my eyes, causing Trevor’s image to blur. I tried not to cringe. “I’m fine. Just need to catch my breath.”

He looked up the stairs and then back to me. “You came out of nowhere.”

“No, I was on my way down too. You probably didn’t see me. I’m just glad he’s okay.”

He stayed kneeling in front of me, but reached a few feet to my right and picked up my purse. I had no idea how it ended up there. I had probably let go of it halfway down the stairs. I wasn’t sure if it was his hair or his deodorant that I got a whiff of as he stretched to reach it, but it smelled amazing.

“Thanks,” I said, breathless, when he handed me my purse.

He nodded and stood, then held out his hand. I took it, letting him help me to my feet.

He ruffled Brody’s hair. “You sure you’re okay, kid?”

He scrunched his face up, and I held my breath. Once I had pulled him onto my lap, had he been able to see the world in slow motion around us like I had?

“Your books,” Brody said. “Where’d they go?” He looked down the stairs, like he would find them in a heap at the bottom. I knew they were at the top, confirming that I hadn’t been on my way down at all and had been way too far away from Brody to catch him like I had.

“I put them down up there, when we saw Trevor, remember?” I pointed.

“No, you didn’t.”

“I’ll get them for you,” Trevor said.

“That’s okay,” I objected, but he was already walking up and up and was probably realizing just how far I had come in less than a second. When he finally reached my books, I noticed they were scattered, as though dropped in a hurry. He squatted down and picked them up one at a time and then shifted his gaze between them and Brody and me for a few beats before coming down again.

“Thank you,” I said, taking them from him. The confused look on Trevor’s face made me know I needed to quickly get his mind off the books and what he had witnessed. “Well, good to meet you, Brody. Have fun drawing your spaceships.”

I walked down, and they followed.

“Have we met before?” Trevor asked.

Apparently, I wasn’t very memorable. “Yes, we sort of met at a football game a couple weeks ago.”

“So how do you know my brother?”

“I don’t. We just met here.” I pointed up the stairs.

“She was under a table reading comics,” Brody said with a smile.

Trevor’s already lowered brows got lower.

“She wanted to be alone,” Brody whispered loudly.

Trevor studied me for a moment. “A football game?” Then recognition came into his eyes. “You’re Duke Rivers’ girlfriend.”

He must’ve been a Duke fan. Like every other football player seemed to, he probably thought Duke was amazing. I knew something that would make him hate Duke in under a second flat. I had the strongest desire to share it with him. “No, no, no . . . no,” I said both to answer his question and to stop myself from saying what I really wanted to.

He smiled. “Are you sure?”

“Sorry, it’s just . . . we broke up.” And he and his buddies screwed up your shoulder.

He nodded, then looked at his brother. “Well, Brody, we better let . . . um . . .”

“Addie,” I filled in for him.

“Addie?”

“Short for Addison.”

“We better let Addison go. Tell her thank you.”

“Thank you, Addison,” Brody said.

Trevor took a step back. “Maybe we’ll see you around.” He gave one last glance up the stairs to where my books had been, his eyes flashing suspicion. Was this why my brain had warned me about this moment, about Trevor? Because he was someone I needed to be careful around? Make sure nothing about the Compound slipped?

“Yeah, maybe.” I waved and then turned on one foot and made a beeline for the nearest bookshelf. Once safely behind it, I leaned against it and tried to quell the pounding in my skull.

At home later, my head still ached. I tried a few mind patterns, which helped a little, then headed for my bed, thinking a good nap would heal me completely. It didn’t. I tried to analyze when and why this was happening. The added ability wouldn’t have weirded me out so much—abilities grew and expanded all the time—if it didn’t come along with this massive headache.

I rubbed my temples and watched the light on my ceiling dance as the heater blew the drapes. I hadn’t Searched anything since Bobby’s house. What if I just tried a simple Search, two minutes? The choice: Should I get up and get some water or should I stay in bed and stare at the ceiling? I would Search that easy choice.

I took a deep breath and drew on the energies. I felt the cold glass in my hands and the memory of water trickling down my throat. It layered with the other memory of staying where I was, the pillow fluffed up around me. Just when I thought I had nothing to worry about, a pain so intense I had to push my palms to my temples radiated through my head.

I rolled onto my stomach and pressed my face into the pillow. It took a few minutes for the pain to dull. I took a deep breath and forced the tension out of my shoulders. Then I rolled out of bed.

After I walked to the kitchen and took my first drink of water, my dad came in through the garage door.

“You’re home,” I said. It sounded more like a sigh than the happy declaration I was going for.

He set a bag of groceries on the counter. “Not feeling well?” It must’ve been pretty obvious.

“Headache.” I thought about all the things that might happen if I told my dad what was going on with my ability. Would he send me home to have tests run? “I’ve been getting them lately.” I chose my words carefully. I didn’t want him to worry if this really was nothing. “Is that normal?”

“When do they come on?”

“Right after I Search.” I left out the part about being able to slow down time.

“That can be normal.” His eyes looked worried. I may not have been a lie detector, but his look seemed to oppose his reassurance. “Why don’t you rest your ability for a few weeks and we’ll see how you feel then?”

I thought about pressing him. But resting my ability sounded nice. I needed a break. This had to work itself out.

CHAPTER 8

Laila: Your hot ex-boyfriend is annoying.

Take-out bag clutched firmly in hand, I headed for the door of the diner. I’d almost reached it when I saw his blond hair out of the corner of my eye. Duke. I stopped, then backed up and plopped down at the table across from him.

“Where’s your fan club?”

He met my gaze, and a smile formed on his lips. Was that just habit, or was he seriously happy to see me? Because I’d be the last person I’d want to see if I were him. “Laila.”

“You remember my name? I thought I took care of that.”

His smile faltered for a split second. Then he must’ve decided I was joking, because it was back in full force. Why hadn’t I ever Erased any of Duke’s memories? Guilt. I didn’t think I deserved to have Duke look at me normally after what I’d done to Addie. And yet here he was, looking at me like nothing had happened. The boy had nerve.

“You’re going to have a nice future working for the Containment Committee, since you seem to have absolutely no problem wiping unsuspecting people of their memories.”

It’s what everyone assumed a Memory Eraser would do—work for the CC. Erase the memories of Norms who had found out about the Compound. “Such a noble profession,” Mr. Caston had claimed one time when we were forced to fill out a Your Future form in class. I had written Designer, and he had clucked his tongue and shook his head and said, “What a waste of a perfectly usable ability. Not everyone gets something that can translate into such a noble profession.” Blah, blah, blah. He could take my noble profession and combine it with his noble profession and save the world with them. My ability was for me and the memories I wanted to keep to myself.

“This coming from a boy who had to feed his girlfriend emotions in order for her to stay with him.”

He glanced around, then asked, “Where is Addie?”

“Went to stay with her dad for the holidays.”

He took a bite of his burger. “I hope I had nothing to do with that decision.”

You had everything to do with that decision, jerk. That’s what I wished I could say, but I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction.

“Why would you?”

“So why’d she go then?”

I tried to think of something that would really bother him, because I knew that despite what Addie thought, Duke still had lingering feelings for her. Once Addie let someone in, she was impossible to forget. There was something about her that crawled inside a person and built a nice comfy home there, her goodness expanding until it filled every limb. Without her, there was only hollow emptiness. And I knew Duke was feeling that. I could see it on his face when he said her name.

I also knew that Addie had feelings for him. I would not let him hurt her again. Because he would. It’s who he was. He slithered around in a person until he found what he wanted and then took it, leaving a different kind of hollowness, the kind that felt like something had been stolen. “Not that it’s any of your business, but she’s visiting a guy she knows there.”

“She is?” Even though his smile remained plastered on his face, I could see in his eyes that my statement had hit the mark.

I fished in my memory for the name of that cute cowboy she had her eye on. “Trevor.”

“Trevor? She knows Trevor?”

“They started talking after that football game.” Addie would kill me if she knew I was blatantly lying like this, but whatever, it was worth it for the new look on Duke’s face—defeat. I sighed. No, I wasn’t doing this for her, I was doing it for me.

I stood.

“Wait.”

I lifted my hand slightly. Speaking of keeping my memories to myself: A five-minute wipe should do it. Right before I sent the burst of energy his way, I remembered how my ability had failed on Connor. That worry sank in for a brief second, and then I gave a push. I felt the paths in his mind easily close and smiled. I was fine. A thrill that I had long ago come to associate with power trickled through my body. Power was an amazing feeling.

I let my hand fall limply back to my side. Maybe I was the type of person who could work for the Containment Committee. Twisted. I had about three seconds before Duke would come back to full awareness. Feeling a little sick to my stomach, I turned and left.

Just as I reached the door, Duke called, “Laila! Hey.”

I turned. “What?”

“I didn’t even see you there. Where’s Addie?”

“Not here.”

At first I didn’t notice the tugging on my emotions. I thought maybe my anger toward him was just softening to pity; that maybe I was feeling bad for just wiping our conversation from his memory. But when a surge of joy pumped through my chest, I snarled. I marched to his table. “Knock it off.”

He shrugged and held up the last bite of his burger. “I seem to be missing more of my burger than I remember eating, so turnabout’s fair play.” The smile didn’t leave his face, and again a surge of happiness shot through me. It felt so good I almost melted to the seat in front of him. It reminded me of how he had manipulated me in the first place. This feeling. I loved this feeling. And then I knew he could help me.

“I need your help.”

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