EIGHTY-FIVE

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At first, there was only me. His concern for me was overriding everything else. I felt myself sink into him, my body finally relaxing against his front, an unhindered sigh crossing my lips.

When he started to realize that I was okay, that I was slowly regaining some peace, other things started to stir beneath the surface of his consciousness. And little by little, it became very clear to me that he was in shock.

His thoughts and feelings lacked their normal structure. They were unanchored, leaving his mind as soon as they had arrived. Things were making sense to him, childhood events were being explained. But simultaneously, nothing made sense any longer. He was untethered, floating aimlessly in this large silent space where his reality had been desperately compromised.

I recognized parts of his feelings and was familiar with certain aspects of his thoughts. It was what I had been feeling when I found out about the existence of aliens. When I had found out that the boy I was falling in love with was not entirely human. When some of the more basic rules of life had been shaken and altered. Granted, it had all been muffled by the death of my mom and everything going on around us, but the core of his emotions was like an eerie reproduction of my own.

Which is why I instinctively knew that I needed to get him out of there.

I shuffled in his embrace, pushing my legs underneath me, softly removing his arms from my waist while holding onto one of his strong wrists while I got to my feet.

"Come," I asked him, looking down into his eyes heated with the color of amber.

He knew that I needed us to go outside, but his absent long look in his father's direction also informed me that he needed more answers. That he needed to know more now. His father had opened a can of worms and Max wanted to inspect them in detail under a microscope.

"Go," Mr. Evans agreed in the spotlight of my boyfriend's flickering gaze.

"We need a break," I said, catching Max's eyes as he looked back up at me. "We need some fresh air."

There was a subtle twitch to his eye, bubbling frustration brushing the fringes of our bond, as he hesitated. He was already considering blocking me from this. That he alone would be the recipient to his father's memories, without the risk of hurting me further. So that he could stay behind and get more information from his father.

My heart fluttered with the brief sting of pain as he, almost as by routine, kept reverting back to him feeling like keeping me in the dark was the best way to protect me.

I forced the pain to the side and smiled at Max softly, my own tears from Mr. Evans' memory of my mother still drying on my cheeks. "Humor me."

"I'll be here when you get back," Mr. Evans promised. I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Evans was actually reading the situation - and Max's hesitancy - with sharp accuracy. Especially after having seen into Mr. Evans' mind.

Mr. Evans' promise broke through Max's hesitation and Max got to his feet, looping his arm around my waist and placed a kiss to my temple as he pulled me into his side. "Let's go."

*****

Max had called it diversion. The act of hiding what you were really thinking behind disguising thoughts. He had said that it was difficult to do properly, but had also hinted to it being the light version of blocking. Which I had already succeeded in doing.

If I had been hiding my true intentions behind words, it would have been called a white lie. Being at the mercy of the bond (which enabled him to read my intentions even when I didn't say them out loud) hiding something from him was a bit more tricky.

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