The door pulls open and light spills across the porch. A middle-aged woman still dressed in an elegant black evening gown from the hospital’s staff Christmas party stands in the entryway. Her confused frown looks out of place on her soft features. I slink back from the light, telling myself again what a terrible idea this is. We should have just taken Milo to the hospital.
“Good evening, Mrs. Hanover,” Lance says, “I believe this young man belongs to you.”
Her eyes finally take in more than the stranger addressing her. The sight of her bloody son hanging limply on Lance’s arm shocks her into reacting. “Milo! What happened?”
“He and a Guardian strike team had a minor disagreement,” Lance replies.
“Guardians!” Mrs. Hanover gasps. “Matthew! Matthew, get down here right now! The Guardians found Milo!”
The terror in her voice is answered immediately by the pounding of footsteps. A man with lightly graying brown hair barrels down the staircase and takes in the scene with the practiced calm of an experienced ER doctor. Which is probably because that’s exactly what he is. “Get him into the living room and lay him on the couch. Annabelle, get my bag from my office, please. Celia? Celia, honey, are you alright?”
Stuck behind Lance and Milo, Celia calls out to her worried father. “I’m fine, Dad, just take care of Milo.”
Lance lugs Milo through the doorway, allowing Celia to dart inside the house and race into the living room ahead of them. Mrs. Hanover rushes back in and crosses the entryway without looking at me once, her voice filling the room as she starts yelling at Milo.
“What on earth were you doing that got the Guardians’ attention? How many times have we told you that you have to be careful? Look at you, Milo! You could have been killed!”
“I was being careful,” Milo growls. “I’m always the one being careful! You and Dad were the ones trying to get me killed from the beginning!”
The argument fades in volume, if not in anger, as they drag Milo into the den. His dad joins in as soon as he gets back in sight of his son, bag of supplies in hand. It’s a free-for-all of blame and accusations. I’m left here without anyone missing me. I can leave, sneak outside and wait. Milo’s dad will help him, and he and his wife will never be the wiser about me. I am trembling with concern for Milo. He perked back up on the drive over, and his ability to fight with his parents now shows he’s in control of his faculties. I can’t say the same thing about his temper. It’s a promising sign, but I’m afraid of his condition turning back around. I have to know he’s okay. Plus, Celia is the worst secret-keeper in the world. She’ll spill the whole story the moment Milo is okay.
I close the door quietly and take a hesitant step forward. My one freezing bare foot shuffles along beside my high heel, my gait lopsided and painful. I reach the doorway to the living room and peek in. Mr. Hanover’s hands work ceaselessly as he berates Milo for being so foolish. He checks his son’s pulse, blood pressure, and pupil dilation, dispensing medication, and finally cleans and bandages the head wound. He leans back at last and frowns at Milo. Milo looks up with an equally foul expression, but there is thanks in his eyes as well. His eyes look much clearer than they did a few minutes ago. I was so intent on Milo that I didn’t even hear Celia babbling in the background at first because of the arguing. She’s saying something about the theater, but I don’t think anyone is listening to her.
“Libby,” Milo says suddenly, his voice sounding loud in the absence of any fighting, “where’s Libby?”
Celia pauses in her monologue and looks around. “She was here a minute ago.”
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...