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Chapter 34

The next day dawned bright and sunny, which was the exact opposite of how I felt about it. In fact, I felt distinctly sick to my stomach and sore in more places than I thought I should be.

“Good morning,” Zoe said cheerily.

I stared at her for a moment, quite annoyed that she wasn’t feeling the same ‘bad day’ vibes that I was.

Some of these people certainly didn’t act like they’d been through a lot. They acted like every day was the beginning of the rest of their lives and that it was all amazing.

It wasn’t.

I huffed and pushed myself up, working incredibly hard not to wince. I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t hard because it absolutely was, but I was still frustrated I had to work so hard.

Then again, why don’t you try to use three limbs that didn’t want to work and try to stay straight-faced while doing so? It’s just about as hard as holding your breath longer than your body wants to. It’s painful.

And yet I do it anyway.

I stood up and looked around, wondering briefly if I could get out of there before Marlee or Devin showed up. That thought lasted all of one second because Marlee pushed herself up and watched me carefully.

“You’d better not back out,” She said.

I looked away. Not only did I not want to reply, but I also wanted to momentarily forget that I had to tell them something so personal.

“Dev, she’s trying to get out of it!” Marlee called.

For a moment, I pitied the people who were still asleep, but I quickly forgot all about that.

“No, I’m not,” I hissed, cursing under my breath. Devin had made a quick beeline in our direction, his eyes narrowing. I took a step towards Marlee and shook her, forgetting about the pain in my shoulder.

“Why are you backing out?” Devin asked me, sounding suspicious.

“Because she is being unreasonably perky,” I grumbled. “I wasn’t trying to back out. She’s just suspicious of every move I make. What a lovely kind of person to spill my secrets to.” I made a move to walk away but Marlee stepped in front of me, holding her arms out to her sides as she pinned a hot glare on me.

I vibrated in anger. “I’m not going anywhere!” I burst out. My jaw clamped shut when I saw that the people around us were starting to stare. I balled my fists and bit down on my tongue so hard I began to taste blood. “I’m injured,” I growled at her, my lip curling. “Do you really think I could escape you two?”

“I didn’t think you could ditch me the first time either,” Marlee retorted, “And yet you did. Forgive me for being wary.”

I couldn’t think of anything to say. All I felt or heard for a long moment was heat, the small bite of my nails digging into my palms, and the rushing of blood through my veins. Everything was starting to look spotty and red.

“Guys, you’re making a scene,” Devin said, stepping in between us.

“Who cares?” Marlee laughed humorlessly. “Everyone should know who she is.”

I felt myself begin to close off. “Hmm, I wonder who that is,” I said only half to them.

“Look what you did,” Devin hissed at Marlee. “You’ve lost her.”

“I’m still here,” I told them flatly.

Devin gritted his teeth, glaring at Marlee. “I gave you a chance,” He hissed. “I thought you could be decent.”

Marlee sneered at him. “You think a lot of things about me, Devin.”

For some reason, Devin flinched.

Marlee cast a disgusted look my way before turning away. “I’m going to go take a task.”

Devin blinked. “You hate taking tasks,” He said in confusion.

Marlee laughed mirthlessly. “I’ll do anything to get away from her,” She said.

I didn’t feel anything. I was gone. I was a body. My emotions weren’t a part of me anymore. I didn’t care what they said.

I didn’t.

I wasn’t.

I wouldn’t.

…I was.

I was everything Marlee thought I was. I was a liar, I was an inconsiderate monster, I didn’t care about anyone else because I had to save myself from this constant battle with myself first.

A battle that I was currently losing.

Devin turned back to me. “Please, Lee,” He began, his face falling. “You’ve got to tell someone.”

I looked at him, wondering if who I was seeing was even real. Did he really tower over me? Was I imagining the way his voice was rasping?

Did he really care?

“Why do I need to tell someone?” I asked emotionlessly. “I’ve never told anyone anything they didn’t need to know.”

Devin looked even more concerned. “Lee…”

“Tell me,” I growled, closing in. “You could be just like her. You could say that you care about me, but on a bad day, I could mess up and lose you, too. What would you do with my secrets, then? You might consider selling them to the highest bidder, wouldn’t you?”

Hurt flickered in Devin’s eyes but it disappeared quickly. He grabbed my wrist and began pulling me towards the back door. “We aren’t talking about this here,” He said.

I resisted, but he had grabbed my left wrist, which meant that every tiny bit of resistance made my injured shoulder hate me that much more. Instead of arguing, I saved my energy and let him guide me outside.

He opened the door for me and I cringed, already imagining it hitting my shoulder. Thankfully, he held it open until I’d exited the warehouse.

“Why can’t you just believe me?” Devin asked, his eyes nervous.

I shook my head. “I don’t believe anyone,” I said, wondering if I was even lying. “I don’t trust anyone because no one ever has a reason for liking me or trusting me other than a gut feeling. Do you know how many plans have broken because of a gut feeling?”

I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t thinking about what had happened back home.

“I…” Devin looked unsure. Briefly, he looked up at the sky, but his focus quickly returned to me. As though just realizing that he was still holding onto my wrist, he let go. “I can’t give you a reason for liking you,” He admitted, his jaw clenching.

I kept watching him, wondering what the emotion I’d seen flicker across his face was. I looked away, swallowing. “You can’t think less of me for it,” I told him. “If I tell you what I did, it’s not always because I want to do it.”

“Of course,” Devin blinked, hopefulness creeping into his voice.

“I…” I kept hesitating. “I went up to the castle,” I said slowly, glancing up through my eyelashes at Devin.

He stiffened, but shifted, looking nervous about what information would follow that statement.

“I sorta… evaded your question when you asked if I’d been meeting with royals,” I told him.

Devin paled and he took a step back from me.

“No!” I yelped, reached out with one hand before wincing. “You said you wouldn’t…” I choked. “Just let me finish, please,” I begged.

This weakness was horrible, but I needed to let it out before I could stop it. Bottling it up was making it worse.

Devin looked wary. “I’ll listen,” He said slowly.

“I haven’t been conspiring with them or anything, just…” I hesitated. “The day I came here—”

“What do you mean came here?” Devin asked, his eyes narrowing.

I looked away, trying to pretend that tears weren’t filling my eyes at his judgmental tone. He wasn’t giving me the chance he was supposed to be. “My family was a gang on the mainland. After they got caught, I snuck onto a ship and ended up here. I have no clue what this place is, because it sure doesn’t exist on maps on the mainland, so I followed the first person I knew who left the boat. It just happened to be Cole.”

Devin blinked. “So, you literally have no clue how this place came to be and you have started calling Crown Prince Cole Black by his first name? You’ve got to be kidding me.” He kept watching me like he was waiting for me to start laughing.

I fisted my hands, getting angry. “Why do you think I never told anyone? Don’t you think that they would have the same reaction?”

Devin tilted his head. “I’m sure they would. That doesn’t mean I have to believe you.”

My face fell but I pulled it back into my normal expression. “Fine then. Believe what you want about me. I never promised anything to you.”

“You promised to tell me where you came from yesterday,” He pointed out.

I laughed, the sound coming out sounding uglier than I ever could’ve imagined. “I promised to tell you and Marlee if neither of you pissed me off. Now, it looks like both of you did. I don’t owe you anything.” I turned away, walking up to the door. I looked back. “Especially since you never gave me a chance like you said you would. Goodbye, Devin.

Again, Devin winced.

I put my hand on the door handle and pulled before pausing. “Oh, and never call me ‘Lee’ again.”

Devin’s eyes widened. “Wait, Lee—”

I dropped the door handle like it had burned me and was beside him in a second, my knife already pulled out. “When I said don’t call me that, I meant it. Don’t test me. I’m not your friend, I’m not your acquaintance. You don’t know me and I don’t know you. I think at this point, I’m going to keep it that way.”

Devin swallowed hard, his eyes wide as he looked down at the shining blade. It hadn’t been sharpened in a while, but my father bought only the best. It would be a while before it started showing wear. “Okay,” He managed.

I pulled back, walking back over to the door. This time, I opened it and left without another word.

I was so sick of no one being worthy of my trust.

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