I don’t realize I’ve fallen asleep until Milo wakes me with a gentle whisper. “Hey, Sleeping Beauty, we’re home.”
I yawn and open my eyes. “You say that like you live here, too.” We’re home. He has yet to talk me into letting him stay over. I have no doubts that he’s thinking of my safety—well, almost no doubts—but I also know that I would have a very hard time asking him to sleep on the floor. I have a hard enough time watching him leave every night. Tonight will be even worse. Having Celia with us this past week has made it a little easier. Milo’s parents may forget he exists, but Celia has a ten o’clock curfew.
Milo shrugs, a hint of a smile ruining his nonchalance. “I practically do. The only time I see my own house is to sleep.”
“And that’s how it’s going to stay, right?” I say.
He just smiles and gets out of the car. I wait patiently for him to open my door and take his hand. We walk to the door together. Milo already has his keys in hand and opens the door. I honestly didn’t even reach for my own keys. He doesn’t live here, my foot. It’s more like this is his home and his real house is the hotel he stops in at every night for the fun of it. This is hardly lost on Milo. His chuckle says, “I told you so,” just as much as words could.
I brush past him with my nose in the air just for spite. I’m to the bed before I realize Milo isn’t following me. Turning back to the door, his dark shape is outlined in silver by the light of the street lamps outside. For a moment his appearance seems sinister, and Lance’s warning comes back to mind.
“Milo, what’s wrong?” I ask as I approach him.
Up close to him, the fear I felt a second ago disappears. His face is serious, but not anxious. Whatever his worry is, it’s not for my safety. “It’s late,” he says finally. “I should go.”
After his teasing I find this oddly funny, not to mention the fact that we never got to finish our conversation at the dance. “But I thought you practically lived here?”
He doesn’t appreciate the joke. “It’s late, Libby. I should get home before my parents start wondering where I am.”
“Did you tell your parents where you were going tonight?” I ask, wondering why his parents would care where he is tonight more than any other night.
“They asked when they saw me dressed up, so I told them I was going to the dance.”
“But not who you were going with,” I say. I don’t know why I should expect anything else, but it’s another reminder that normal will just never apply to me.
Milo pulls me into his arms. “No. I’m sorry, Libby. I hope you know I would introduce you to them if I could, but it would only put you in more danger. It’s too bad, too, because I think they would really like you if you weren’t Cassia.”
“It’s okay,” I say, “I understand.”
For several moments neither of us says anything. Maybe it’s foolish to think having Milo and Celia in my life are enough. I wouldn’t know what to do without either of them, but it would be lying to say I didn’t miss having parents, or talking to other people, or being able to meet my best friend’s family. Villains are always lonely, though, aren’t they? But I don’t feel like a villain. I don’t want to be one, either. I don’t even want to be a hero. Living a normal life where people aren’t afraid to look at me is all I’m really asking for. And if I only get two more years to live, is it really that much to ask? I bury my head against Milo’s chest and will my melancholy to stay away.
YOU ARE READING
For Libby Sparks, turning sixteen means only one thing…death. Guardian rule demands she attend the ritualistic Inquest that will unveil her talents and secure her place in society. But that isn’t all that will be revealed in Libby’s case. The more t...