Chapter Eleven

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Once Kyan was done with me, January helped me return to my room. The entire time she talked about all the different people who'd arrived at their hideout. I listened, partially because I was interested, but mostly because I didn't want to hurt her feelings.

As I sat down on the mat, she sat down next to me. She was finishing talking about Veronica, the girl who'd arrived just a few days before Asten and I.

"So, you never really clarified what your relationship with Asten is...," January said suggestively, as she pulled her knees to her chest. I almost wanted to tell her the truth, since she'd told me so much. I knew I couldn't.

"Oh...we don't really know each other that well. It's not like we're close," I muttered. My lying skills weren't great, and I hoped she wouldn't be able to tell that there was more to be said.

She didn't ask, though, which I was grateful for. Maybe she noticed my reluctance.

"Wait...so who's going to go and find the missing search party?" I asked, trying to strike up a non-Asten related conversation.

"Mace, Delilah, Lillian, Nick....you haven't met them yet, but they're our best fighters. Combat might not even be necessary – it's just in case. Sometimes if they're positive the situation isn't violent, they'll take others," she explains. "I went once."

I was almost tempted to ask if I could go. It would seem unusual for me to want to return to the same place that had been killing me for months. Really, I was curious and also felt a need to repay them for how they helped me. I already felt like a leech: I was using up their shelter and supplies without really offering anything. Going felt like a way to prove to them that I could be more than just a girl lounging around their home.

"Do they ever let new people go on trips?" I asked, trying to act less interested than I actually was. January looked somewhat surprised by my question, but answered anyway.

"Not unless someone asks....I think. Nobody has ever really asked. Usually new members just mind their own business." She stood up and swiped a strand of hair out of her face. "Anyway, I should be going. I need to help with dinner, but I'll be back later. By the way, I suggest you don't try to get up and get food right now...since Kyan would probably kill me if I allowed you to do that. It'll be better if I just bring food for you later."

I nodded in agreement before she exited the room.

Even though she'd warned me, I already knew there was no way I was going to wait in this room for her to get back. I stood up carefully. My mind briefly wondered if Asten would be at dinner, but my stomach replied with a sharp pang of hunger.

When I walked into the dining area, my eyes immediately went to the stage at the other end of the room. Again, someone was singing their heart out and using the piano as background. Even the large amount of chatter in the room couldn't drown out the music.

I sat down in the same spot, right next to Mace. Usually January would also be here, but she was still out doing whatever she left me for. Now that I knew more about Mace, it was different looking at him. In a sense, he was pretty much the leader of everyone here, although it was never specifically stated. He started the entire compound. His importance could have caused all the stares I'd been receiving since my arrival. They probably wanted to know why I was with their leader.

"Do you sing?" Mace asked, and I realized I'd been staring at the stage for a while. I turned to him and he raised his eyebrows at me, expecting an answer.

"Not really," I replied, placing my chin on my hands as I watched. I had always been intrigued by performers, especially musicians. I'd enjoyed music before the radios had broken down and gone silent.

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