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"You can put your thoughts in my mind?"

Tom nodded and sat on the bench. He planted his elbows atop his thighs as he leaned forward.

"Okay, that's just wrong. That's like, mind control or something. And when you did it, my brain hurt." I flapped my hands up for dramatic effect as I paced the small patch of grass in front of where he sat.

He'd dragged me away from the Sasha-scene out to the south side of the campus courtyard. Thankfully it was late enough that few students milled around. The only group I saw stood outside the student center entrance talking.

"I'm sorry, but-"

"First rule, Newbie, no using your powers on your own kind."

"It surprised me a little, Red. I didn't know you heard that until you flinched and jumped up."

"Wait. What?"

"I thought maybe you might be able to, but I wasn't sure." He stood, and I flipped my gaze from his bare chest to the ground.

He'd removed his shirt to give to me to cover up Sasha, but it only just registered with me now that he was naked from the waist up.

And now was so not the time to notice.

"Look, Red. I didn't mean to hurt you or use my powers on you. You just can't blame yourself for what happened to Sasha. It's not your fault."

I took a quick glance behind us. Some of my TLC teammates still hovered around the building across the way. The medical team had taken Sasha's body away a while ago but Charles, Bryce, and Briana stayed back to watch over the area and debrief.

The trees that flanked the sides of the building swayed as the wind picked up. I smelled water in the air. I showed Tom my back, then drew in a deep breath and closed my eyes. The fresh scent chased away the fowl demon stench imbedded in my nostrils. I needed a nice, long, hot shower to wash all the blood off, too. And to wipe the image of Sasha's mangled body from my brain.

Tom's pale face popped into my mind. His beautiful brown eyes. Bare chest. Smooth skin. I shook my head and snapped my eyelids open. He stood inches from me. I hadn't heard him move.

"It's not your fault, Red."

I scrubbed my face with my hands, fighting back the tears that were beginning to burn my eyes again. Stay strong just a little longer. "I was supposed to do watch here tonight. Did you know that?"

He nodded.

"But I switched, so I could go out and party." I looked up at the black sky. Raindrops splattered on my forehead, sending ripples through my body. "How could I do that? How could I-?"

"You never miss a shift, do you?" he asked.

"No, but-"

"You're entitled to have a night off. You didn't do anything wrong."

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