Chapter 11

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When the meal is over, I excuse myself and walk back up to Henry's and my room to make my call.

When I finally open my connection to her, I am met with a busy, static symbol and I feel my heart sink. Was the President misinformed and my sister has already been Relocated? There's no reason someone would deceive the President. And there's no reason he should have tricked me.

I shake my head free of the conspiracy theories. I don't need to cloud my judgment before speaking to Kalli. Even as I have the thought, a pang of guilt pierces me. I'm already thinking of my sister as a criminal. Forcing my mind to become blank, void of fearful or negative thoughts, I try contacting her again.

This time, to my relief, she answers.

"Rosemary?" she asks, leaning forward so I can see her stunned expression in full, holographic definition.

I feel tears come to my eyes, and smile through them, so relieved to see her again. "It's me, Kalli."

"How are you?" She looks around me. "Where are you now?"

Do I tell her the whole truth? "I'm with Henry. Didn't you hear that I had left home immediately after being Matched?"

She nods. "You can't tell me. I understand." Her eyes lower, and I hate how we are both dancing around the accusation hanging over her head like an archaic executioner's axe and simultaneously severing our once steadfast bond.

"Where are you?" I ask.

"I'm still at my home with Geoff, but I doubt that will be the case for long."

"I don't believe what they're saying about you, Kalli. You have to know that."

She smiled. "Thank you, Romy. But I doubt anyone else will agree."

"Henry voted against your Relocation," I say, defending my Match, "but he was outnumbered."

"I'm sure the President was mad with his son for that..."

How did she know?

"I actually think they're on the same page," I say, knowing it's a lie. "They just take different approaches. Also, the President told me that the Relocation would only be temporary as they investigate further. I know they won't find anything, so you'll be back soon, and everything will go back to normal."

She shakes her head. "Romy, nothing can ever 'go back to normal.' No matter what happens with the investigation, society will see me as a threat for as long as I live now."

"When they find you're innocent, the Board of Justice will pardon you. Everyone will know that you were wrongfully accused."

Kalli doesn't seem relieved by this news. If anything, it makes her more agitated. Her gaze darts around me again, reexamining my surroundings. "Are you alone?"

I nod.

"Rosemary, you have to promise to keep what I'm about to say to you a secret."

"Kalli—"

"Promise me. Or this conversation is over."

I'm surprised by how serious she is, and curiosity compels me to say the words, "I promise whatever you tell me won't leave the room."

"Please don't hate me."

Those small four words make me tense for a blow. And it comes.

"Barlow contacted me a month before the robbery."

"How?"

"I was working on a project on the seventh floor of Dragoste Laboratories because I had surpassed the other interns in my program. During a lunch break, he approached me and told me that the company was creating an experimental poison." She pauses and takes a deep breath. "At first, I didn't believe him. He could see I was skeptical too, but he was very insistent. He kept contacting me either in person or through messages for a whole week before I finally told him that I had to see for myself, but I wouldn't be going for him."

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