Home > Split Second (Pivot Point #2)(9)

Split Second (Pivot Point #2)(9)
Kasie West

I grabbed Duke by the arm and left before Connor had a chance to change his mind. We headed down the driveway to the car.

“He drew blood,” Duke said, pulling his hand off his shoulder and showing me his bloody palm.

“Remember what I said about whining.”

“I didn’t even think it was working, but . . . he drew blood.”

I held up the paper. “But we got what we came for.” My ability was about to be maximized.

“You’re welcome.”

CHAPTER 11

Addie: Saving Norms from themselves is exhausting.

“Addison?” Trevor walked down the dimly lit hall. “Is everything okay?”

“Hi.” I whirled away from my intent study of his past, displayed in frames on the wall. “I mean, yes. I’m fine.”

“The bathroom is at the very end on the right.”

“Huh? Oh. No, I’m not looking for the bathroom. I’m waiting for your brother. He wanted to show me some pictures he drew.”

He looked over my shoulder to the door behind which Brody had disappeared and smiled. “He likes you.”

Trevor’s smile seemed so genuine that despite what Rowan had implied, and how I had just witnessed the evidence of its use on Stephanie, it made me smile. “He’s cute.” I pointed to the bedroom. “Your brother.” I bit my lip, not knowing why I felt the need to add the qualifier to that statement. Of course I was talking about his brother.

Trevor looked at his hands and then back up at me, through his amazing lashes. “He doesn’t like a lot of people.”

“Well, I have a slight advantage. . . .”

“You saved him.”

“I was going to say that I know what the Millennium Falcon is, but I guess saving him worked too.”

He laughed. “Star Wars knowledge is a big advantage.” He tilted his head as if remembering something. “So you really were under the table at the bookstore reading comics.”

I scrunched my nose. “Yes, and just because your brother and I like the same books doesn’t make me immature.”

“No. I’m impressed. I . . .” He hesitated, like he wasn’t sure if he wanted to share whatever he was thinking. I remembered Stephanie saying he was private, so it surprised me when he continued. “I draw comics. Or attempt to.”

“You do? Online somewhere?”

“No. Nothing so public.”

“Wow, that’s cool.” How could he be impressed that I read them, when he wrote them?

“So are you moving to Dallas then?” he asked.

I took the hint—he was ready to change the subject. I’d have to ask him more about his comics later. “No. My dad lives here. I’m visiting for the holidays. I just needed a break from things.” I regurgitated the story the Compound had approved, like I was reading it off a paper. For a minute I thought he would call me on it.

But he only nodded and didn’t ask for any clarification.

“Duke. I needed a break from Duke.” Why was I telling him this? That definitely wasn’t in my packet. Maybe because I wanted him to know I wasn’t a fan of Duke either. Maybe because he had just shared something personal with me. Maybe because I hadn’t been able to talk to anyone about it. Even though I tried not to hold it against her, Laila had been a part of the heartbreak, and I didn’t feel comfortable talking to her about it. Probably because every time I tried she got this guilty expression on her face and couldn’t stop saying sorry. It was easier to talk to a total stranger—especially this total stranger, for some reason. “He was using me.” I hadn’t said that out loud before. It still hurt.

“For what?”

Oh crap. Well, Trevor, he wanted me to tell him his future. I couldn’t say that. So what might a Normal guy use a Normal girl for? My face went red as I thought of the main possibility. “Not for that. We weren’t . . . He just needed help . . . with his homework and stuff.” Oh my gosh, that was lame. I’d just made myself and Duke sound like total idiots. “He’s not a good guy.”

“No, he’s not. I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry. About your shoulder.”

He rubbed his shoulder with my mention of it.

“And I didn’t know Duke was in on the whole cheating scheme until recently.” I was getting way off my script, but I didn’t think the Compound accounted for Trevor actually knowing some of the same people I did. It’s not like I could pretend they didn’t exist. But I should have avoided the subject altogether, because Trevor’s eyes went tense.

“In on it?”

“I mean, the plan, whatever that was.”

“To purposely injure people . . .”

“Right.” Warning lights went off in my head. I had just been talking about what Rowan said—the dirty plays, hitting after the whistle—but Trevor seemed to think I meant something more. What did he think he knew, exactly? And how could I make him unthink what he thought he knew? I suddenly realized why Laila was so quick on the draw with her ability. “They’re bullies. They need to grow up.”

He looked at me for so long I wanted to squirm under the stare, tell him, Whatever you’re thinking is probably right. Someone intensified your injury by using an ability. Finally, he said, “Duke can go—”

Brody burst out of the room holding a sketchbook. I held Trevor’s stare for a moment, trying to let him know that I understood how he felt about Duke. That I agreed. Brody tugged on my arm, breaking my gaze.

I looked at the drawing. “Wow. You are really good.”

Trevor tousled his hair. “He’s the best.”

The next morning I sat on a bar stool in the kitchen, my laptop open, flash drive plugged in, ready to start a session. But I had distracted myself with a pencil. I kept dropping it over and over again, trying to slow its path to the ground. Slowing down time didn’t seem to be about concentration, because no matter how hard I stared at the pencil, gravity still pulled it to the ground just as fast as always. I knew my dad wanted me to give my ability a rest for a couple of weeks, but the more I thought about that advice, the worse it seemed. I’d never taken a day off from exercising my brain from the time I was five. I just needed to work through this.

I stared at the pencil. Maybe it didn’t work because the pencil wasn’t in peril. That seemed to be the commonality in all the events where time had slowed around me. Bobby had said something about strong bursts of emotions advancing an ability. Maybe that’s when my ability was advancing—when my emotions were heightened.

I stood and walked to the sink, turned on the tap, and flipped on the garbage disposal. “Okay, pencil, your death is imminent.” I held the pencil, tip down, above the sink. Just as I dropped it, my dad walked in, and my heart doubled its beat. The pencil’s path to the sink slowed and I swiped it out of the air, slammed it on the counter, and turned off the garbage disposal. I cringed and kept my back to him. I should’ve just let it fall. Outside the window in front of me, a little girl rode by on her bike at normal speed. My head burst with pain. I leaned into the counter.

“What are you doing?” His voice sounded normal, and I let out the breath I’d been holding.

Gritting through the pain, I grabbed a dirty plate inside the sink and ran the sponge over it a few times before I spoke. “Cleaning this plate.”

I turned off the water and returned to my computer before he had too much time to assess. Double-clicking on the brain icon, I settled in for some mind expansion, trying to ignore my pounding head.

“Are you okay?”

“Fine.” My mom had always warned me not to push my ability too hard too soon. She was right. I had obviously damaged something. This was not good. I loosened my shoulders and tried to relax. If heightened emotions were bringing out this ability, I just needed to learn not to let my emotions take over.

“Is your head still bothering you?”

“Yes.”

“Have you been resting your ability?”

“No, not really.”

He let out a frustrated sigh.

“I know. I will.” Starting now. My program filled the screen.

“What is that?”

“Oh, just a morning routine. Mom sent it with me.”

His face hardened for the briefest moment. “Is it a new one?”

“Sort of. I got it a few weeks before I came.”

“You’re not even supposed to have that here.”

“They approved it.” I pointed to the black stick in the computer. “That’s why it’s on a flash drive.”

“This isn’t resting.”

“I don’t really consider this work. It’s a part of my daily routine.”

“Have you been doing it every day since you’ve been here?”

“Not every day.”

“Can I see it?”

I pulled it out and handed it to him. He flipped it over in his hand several times and then held it up to the light. I didn’t understand what he was looking for, but then he said, “Can I . . . will you . . .”

I waited. My dad rarely hesitated on a sentence.

“I’d like to speak with your mother about this.” He pocketed the flash drive without asking my permission and pulled out his phone while he walked away. Nothing worse than parents just laying down the law without explanation.

I sat, frustrated for a moment, then followed after him. If he wasn’t going to tell me why he did that, I’d find out on my own. And by “on my own” I meant “eavesdropping.”

I pressed my ear to his closed door and advanced my hearing. He was midsentence. “. . . had discussed this. No more experimental programs. Let it go, Marissa, she’s developing fine.” Long pause. “No, but I want to. I still think we should.” Another long pause. “Of course she’ll be angry, but better now than later.” He grunted. “That’s not true. And if we’re going to talk about unfair advantages, I think you have them all, from her friends to her school.”

I was so lost, but that didn’t stop me from listening.

“No, I told you I’d wait, and I’ll wait. But we need to tell her soon. . . . . Stumble upon it? I don’t think so. I pulled some strings and got it moved into Pioneer Plaza just in case for some reason she ended up at the local cemetery with a friend.”

Cemetery? What was going on? I wanted to burst into the room and force my dad to tell me what he was talking about. But at the same time all my limbs were frozen with the thought that they were keeping something huge from me. The last time they’d sat me down, it was to tell me they were getting a divorce. I wasn’t sure I could handle their secrets on their terms anymore. My dad hung up the phone, and I backed away from his door.

I dialed Stephanie’s number and slipped into my room.

“Hi, Addie.”

“Hey.” I shut myself in the closet for the added layer of sound protection, not that I thought my dad would spy on me, but just in case.

“How are you?”

“I’m okay. I have a question. What’s Pioneer Plaza?”

“Pioneer Plaza? Downtown?”

I fingered the sleeve on one of my hanging shirts. “I guess.”

“It’s a park that has all these bronze statues of cowboys and bulls. I think it’s supposed to be like a tribute to the pioneers who settled Dallas or something.”

What? “Do you think you could take me there sometime this week?”

“I have cheer practice all week. I would take you after, but it’s probably not a good idea to go downtown after dark. How about next week?”

“Yeah. Okay.” But next week wasn’t soon enough for me. Maybe I could borrow my dad’s car and go by myself . . . and get lost and mugged and kidnapped. Well, maybe not those last two, but definitely the first one.

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