Anger can overcome rational thought with barely any effort at all, but curiosity can be just as powerful. The second I arrive on campus with my casted foot and crutches people turn to stare. Concern tempered by amazement makes their eyes linger. I hobble across the blacktop under their wondering stares. I hear more than one person whispering their questions about how I could have gotten hurt.
“Isn’t she supposed to be too powerful for that?”
“Who was strong enough to hurt her?”
“Is she right, after all?”
“She can’t be the Destroyer with a broken leg.”
My foot is throbbing, but there is a secret smile hiding behind my grimace. Milo leans down next to my ear as we reach my locker, and says, “Thirteen must be your lucky number.”
“Must be. Nobody ever cared this much about the other dozen times I broke a bone,” I agree.
This whole thing could backfire in an instant if anyone found out I pretty much did this to myself, but of the four of us who know what really happened, the only one who would even think of telling would be my mom. And admitting to the world that she tried to kill her own daughter, and failed, just isn’t something she’s likely to do. Milo kisses me goodbye at the door to my first class and heads off to his. My first three periods are filled with whispers and guarded stares, but fairly uneventful. They’re so quiet I doze off several times during each one.
Guardian training puts an end to my mini-naps. The click-clack of my crutches on the gym floor draws Coach Clement’s attention at once. He speaks to me for the first time in months. “Libby, what on earth happened to you?”
“I, uh, tripped while I was doing sprints up the bleachers over the weekend.” It’s a lame excuse, but the only reason I would be sprinting up bleachers would be to try and improve in his class. A little extra guilt for the compassionate coach isn’t going to hurt him.
He makes the connection and his frown deepens. I hobble over to him and tug a piece of paper out of my back pocket. “Here’s a note from my doctor. It wasn’t a very bad break, so I should be back after Christmas.”
It’s another lie, but I can’t very well tell him I am a freakishly fast healer due to my phenomenal Strength without cancelling out what I’ve accomplished today. Coach Clement buys the lie without blinking.
“Take as much time as you need, Libby. I’ve been pushing you so hard. I don’t want you training again until your doctor says it okay. Just take a seat on the bleachers for now. Watch the drills and pay close attention to the technique. If you need anything just let me know,” he says.
“Uh, thanks,” I say, a little taken aback by his abrupt shift from hating me to wanting to help me. Maybe he isn’t quite as power hungry as most of the other Guardians are. I lost faith that any of them really cared about protecting people a long time ago. Like the third or fourth time they dragged me back to my house kicking and screaming after sneaking out at night. Coach Clement nods and walks back to the center of the court to start class.
I didn’t even notice Lance wasn’t already here until he comes racing through the doors. The moment he sees me, his eyes bug out of his head. He takes a step toward me, but Coach Clement calls him over. His duffle bag drops with a thud. Four long seconds pass where his expression races through a dozen different emotions before he turns and walks over to join the group.
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...