Chapter Thirty-Seven

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"Why did you come here?"

Grayson sat next to me at a large wooden table. It surprisingly had enough seats for nearly everyone in our group and a couple of his own. Every chair was occupied, and, somehow, I'd ended up right next to him. I didn't mind.

I hadn't realized just how many people Grayson had been staying with until I'd walked inside. When Mace had mentioned his friend, I assumed he was just a lone survivor, trying to fight through the wilderness. I hadn't expected a city – and I hadn't expected a town-sized group of people to go along with it.

There had been people everywhere across the main floor right inside the door. In that room alone, I could've sworn there were more people than the entirety of the Snow Society. Then, he mentioned that this wasn't the only building. The amount of people in this group he'd compiled together spanned a couple blocks of the city – and contained about 99.9 percent of all the city's survivors.

Essentially, as he'd explained while leading us into a dining room in the back, the entire city had been a mess of lone survivors, constantly afraid of getting picked up by a gang. At the time, there'd been a group there, harassing those who'd been unfortunate enough to call it their home. He didn't get into detail, but somehow, he'd ended up saving most of the city's remaining population. Since then, they'd been grateful enough to listen to him and create a kind of government.

My mind was drawn back to the question at hand. Why we came here.

This would be the moment of truth. All that mattered was that we convinced him to guide us to the Equator. Judging by the amount of responsibility he had here, I had a bad feeling we wouldn't leave with what we came for.

"We need to get to the Equator," Mace started. He didn't need to finish.

"No." The answer popped out of Grayson's mouth immediately. "I'm not doing it."

"Please."

"No."

Mace seemed at a loss for words. I could tell he was frustrated. I also could tell that he'd expected this to happen.

I wasn't sure if saying anything would help. I almost wanted to. We'd come all this way, and it couldn't just be for nothing.

"I can't get you there. You of all people should understand that," Grayson said, a little less harshly. "I'm sorry."

The dinner table got quiet after that. Even though Grayson had declined, I knew Mace wasn't about to give up that easily. None of us were. I could see it in everyone else's face. We were going to convince him otherwise or get kicked out trying.

But for now, we were starving.

And I was too focused on the food now being brought in to bother arguing.

I remembered the last time we'd been given food, but I could tell this time was different. I could easily guess the source of what had been placed down in front of me. It looked like canned food that had been heated up over a fire. Even so, I didn't mind it. If this is how they ate here, I could stay forever.

I began eating and closed my eyes at the taste. It wasn't even good, and that's what made it so good.

Next to me sat the red-headed girl from earlier. I still hadn't talked to her or gotten her name. She seemed a bit passive aggressive, but I had a feeling it was more because she didn't trust us than that she didn't like us.

She noticed my reaction to the food and raised her eyebrows. "Guests always surprise me," she commented.

"Why is that?"

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