Chapter Fifty-Eight

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"Listen, I get why you're speeding but my life has flashed before my eyes at least three times since we left the motel."

"Then maybe you should close them."

"No, I don't think that will help." Jeremy shifted in the passenger seat, pulling his feet off the floor and tucking them under his lean body so he was sitting cross-legged.

May kept her eyes on the road as she shrugged. "I guess you'll just have to keep suffering. We've got to be getting close by now."

Jeremy pulled the map out from where he had it rolled and tucked beside his seat. He spread it awkwardly over his lap and surveyed it closely, drumming his lips with his fingertips as he did. "The good news is we're officially more than halfway."

"Ugh," May groaned. Jeremy didn't have to give her the bad news to know what it was. They had already been on the road for three hours. The idea of having to drive another three made her want to crawl out of her own skin. But given that there wasn't much to be done about it, she kept her complaints to herself — it wasn't like moaning about it would get them there any faster. "How long do you think it will take us to hike through the conservation lands?"

"Are you sure that's a question you want the answer to right now?"

Pursing her lips, May opted not to respond. Jeremy didn't answer her question either.

For a while, they drove on in silence, the only sound was that of the SUV's tires whirring across the pavement and the occasional shifting of Fargus, who had taken up residence at the base of the potted fern Jeremy had buckled into the back seat. May gazed passed her white knuckles on the steering wheel and down the seemingly endless stretch of highway, wondering what they would find on the other side. Eventually, when the silence and the wondering started to make her feel stir crazy, May searched her mind for something to fill the space between them.

"Have you ever been to the university before?" she asked.

"A couple of times. Once when I was a kid, pre-Grant, and then again when we struck the treaty with the Loyals."

"Huh." May frowned. "So you were never a student or anything like that?"

Jeremy shot her a glance out of the corner of his eye. "No, why?"

She shrugged a shoulder. "I was just curious. I never went to university or anything like that."

"Me neither." Jeremy huffed a quiet laugh. "It's probably for the best — I'm not sure where I'd fit academics into my busy schedule of just trying to stay alive."

"Just trying to stay alive..." May echoed. The sentiment made her think first of Em and whatever unknown horrors she was enduring at that very moment, and then of Gaten and what he had already endured at such a young age. She tilted her head, stretching her neck. "I hope Gaten's going to be okay."

"Me too," Jeremy said. "But knowing Connor and Rue, they'll make sure he has whatever he needs to get through this. They're great parents that way."

When May didn't reply, Jeremy shifted and cleared his throat. "I know you hate us, but I swear we're not bad people. We're just... I dunno. Desperate, I guess. And tired. Think of all the shit you've been though since we showed up, then imagine that same shit stretching on for years and years with no end in sight."

"This isn't a suffering contest, Jeremy — we've all had shitty lives."

Now it was Jeremy's turn to clam up. He folded his arms across his chest and resumed staring out the window. A twinge of guilt nibble at May and she swallowed her pride.

"I'm sorry. That was insensitive."

"Whatever."

May pursed her lips and steeled her patience. "I've been wondering... Does Gaten have any Wish abilities?"

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