Chapter Forty-Eight

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It was early afternoon the following day when May finally surfaced from the bedroom she was sharing with Em. Though her girlfriend was too shattered to get out of bed, May was starving. Quietly, she sneaked out of the room and down the stairs. Her plan was to grab something from the kitchen, it didn't matter what, and abscond back upstairs with it. She knew Em would stubbornly refuse to eat, but she figured it wouldn't hurt to have something on hand just in case she changed her mind.

The kitchen was mercifully empty when May arrived. She hurried around the room, filling glasses of water and hunting through the pantry and refrigerator for something to eat. She was contemplating making a couple sandwiches when she caught the low murmur of conversation from the next room.

"Do you think they'll be okay if we leave them here alone?" Rue asked in a hushed voice.

"I don't think we have another option," Connor replied.

"Yeah," Priva said. "It's not like we can just ask them to wait in the car while we go meet with the Loyals."

"I'm sure they'd be fine if we cracked the windows and left them some water."

"Not funny, Jeremy."

May poked her head into the living room. "I'm sorry, did I just hear you say you're going to meet with the Loyals?

All four members of WIND jolted with surprise. Tea sloshed over the rim of Rue's mug. "May, you can't sneak up on people like that!"

"Don't worry," Jeremy said. "It's just one of our regular check-ins. Gotta keep up appearances and shit like that."

May cocked her head to one side. "Don't you usually do that by phone?"

Jeremy grimaced and looked to Connor for support. Rue sipped her tea while Priva suddenly became quite fascinated by the fibres of the carpet she was sitting on.

Connor cleared his throat. "We used to be allowed to check in by phone. But ever since the, uh..." his eyes flicked upwards, as if he could see through the ceiling to the next floor where Em was still curled up and miserable. "The incident with Marina they prefer to see us in person."

"Yeah, it's like they don't trust us or something," Jeremy quipped, forcing a smile to lighten the mood.

May pulled her bottom lip between her teeth. The day Connor's older sister sold them out to the Loyals had changed everything; it was the catalyst for the entire faux break-up scheme and all the heartache that came after it. She couldn't imagine how Connor must have felt to be betrayed by his own family like that.

"I'm sorry," she said, feeling a touch ashamed even though she knew nothing about that day was her fault. "Does this mean you're going to the university?"

Connor shook his head. "No, nothing like that. We usually meet an agent somewhere public—a park or restaurant—in the next town over."

"Right." May glanced around. "Where's Dom and Lety?"

Emandi had left in the early morning hours once Welkin's funeral pyre was nothing more than a mound of smoldering ash. May didn't remember the others saying anything about leaving too.

"They're the ones going to the university, actually," Jeremy said. He stood from the sofa and stretched up tall. "They're going undercover to scope out the lay of the land for us."

"Undercover?"

"Yeah, as a dog and a tree. Pretty convenient cover, don't you think?"

May ran a hand through her hair. She looked at Rue. "So, that's what you meant when you said we'd be left alone.

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