Chapter Seventeen

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It had been exactly one week since the storm. Whatever Copenhagen was planning, he hadn't let a word slip out to anyone who wasn't essential to his plan. Which naturally left Rachel dying for answers.

So today she decided she would talk to Copenhagen. See if there was anything she could do to help.

He wasn't in his office but she quickly found him in the conference room standing with two other men in uniform. Both of the men held tablets in their palms and were excusing themselves as she entered.

"Rachel," Copenhagen acknowledged, sparing her one glance before he went back to shuffling through his own tablet.

"Hey. Any news?"

"No. Everything is quiet on the capital front. We sent an aircraft to do a sweep but they reported nothing suspicious. No sign that they're preparing for an attack."

Rachel gripped the back of a leather chair. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"Actually yes, there is something you can do." He removed the glasses from his face and set his tablet down on the table.

She stood up straighter, awaiting his response.

"You can stop having your friend train you to be a pilot. I won't allow it. I won't allow you on an aircraft and I won't allow you to worry your mother that way."

Rachel made sure her face was clean of any expression as she replied.

"I don't know what you're talking about."

He fixed her with a stern look that made anger bubble up inside her.

"Rachel, I know you've been sneaking into the training lab. I know your friend has been smuggling books for you to read. And I let it be, thinking that maybe you would give up eventually but I see that this is something you're stuck on and I won't permit it any longer."

"You won't permit it any longer? You can't force me to stop doing anything."

"No but I can place you on house arrest."

Her mouth moved but no sound came out. Finally, her anger broke loose in a string of words. "Who do you think you are? What I do with my time is my problem, not yours."

"Rachel--"

"No, you listen. I don't know who gave you the authority to scold me like some little kid or treat me like a prisoner but if you put me on house arrest how are you any different than Nicolas?"

"Ruth is worried about you. She's worried you'll try something stupid if I let you become a pilot and I agree with her. You know, you remind me so much of her when she was younger."

Rachel narrowed her eyes at him. The way he said her mother's name was with familiarity, intimate, as if he and Ruth shared more than just a friendship.

But how had she not noticed it before? The way she could compel him to make choices no one else could. The way only her mother called him by his first name. She had to be blind. Or too wrapped up in her own world to notice. But now she noticed.

"I don't know what's going on between you and my mom and I honestly don't care. What I do care about is you trying to tell me what to do as if you were my father. Being my mom's boyfriend does not give you authority over me."

Copenhagen cleared his throat, looking uncomfortable. "You're right. But it does give me the right to worry for her. And I'll do anything in my power to make sure you and her are protected. Even if it means locking you up in a room to keep you from getting yourself killed because some boy who can barely fly an aircraft himself is trying to teach you how to do it."

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