Chapter Thirty-four

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Sitting across from Jeremy — staring him dead in the eyes — May chose her words carefully.

"How did wishing for you land your mother in prison?"

Jeremy pursed his lips and looked out over the room. May could feel the agitated bouncing of his knee beneath the table.

"My father put her there."

"Why would he do that?"

"Because he's a Loyal." He stole a quick glance at her and she was surprised to catch a glimmer of shame in his eyes. "A die-hard. And he's a pretty powerful guy."

May was shocked enough to do a genuine double-take. "Wait, if they were Loyals, why would she do that?"

"I said he's a Loyal," Jeremy corrected. His knee bounced to an impatient beat. "She didn't buy into any of that shit. But she loved him."

"So why risk it?"

"Why did any of our parents risk it?"

"You know what I mean." It was May's turn to bristle with impatience. "Did she not know his beliefs?"

Closing his eyes, Jeremy leaned back against the plush booth seat. "She knew. She just didn't care. Their marriage was falling apart and she thought having a kid would make things better — I guess they had tried back when they first got married but it never took. She thought she could use the star and somehow keep it a secret from him."

"But he figured it out."

He pointed a finger at her. "Ding ding, we have a winner."

May ignored his snark and pressed on. "Is using the wishing star a crime?"

"No, but like I said, he's kind of a big deal." Jeremy sneered, like the words had gone sour in his mouth. "High up in the Loyal organization and a senior aldermember in the community. When he found out, he was pissed and humiliated. He thought if word got out about what my mom did, he'd lose his status. So he pulled some strings and had her locked away for some bullshit fake charge."

"That's terrible," May said. "And people just let him get away with it?"

"He's Wyndam Aviar," Jeremy replied, looking disgusted. "He gets away with everything."

May had no idea who Wyndam Aviar was, but the name picked at a familiar thread somewhere in her memories. "I feel like I've heard that name before."

Jeremy gazed longingly at the bar. He looked like he needed a drink. "He was a talking head on every news broadcast after the, uh, incident at Marina's. Stirring up all kinds of false public panic over Em because he knows exactly what she is — another Starborn that needs to be eradicated."

That was it. The memory of a video flashed in May's mind — the broadcast Grant had shown them the first day she and Em arrived at the Crow's Nest.

"That was your dad?" she hissed in disbelief.

"Only according to my birth certificate." Jeremy grimaced.

May considered all of this. Jeremy's persistent anger was starting to make a lot more sense.

"I guess that's why you changed your last name?" May ventured.

"Part of it, yeah."

"Okay, but why did you take Grant's last name? Didn't he kidnap you when you were little?"

A shadow fell over Jeremy's already tense expression. "She told you about that, huh?"

May's blood went icy. Yes, Em had told her how Jeremy had gotten caught up with the Rookery after being kidnapped and held for ransom as a child. Only now was it occurring to May that mentioning it probably hadn't been a great idea.

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