Made for You Page 69

I look at Nate as I thump my way into the media room. It’s comfortable here, all dark wood, black walls and ceiling, and three rows of deep red reclining chairs.

Nate’s sitting on the floor reading the back of a movie. He looks up and grins at me, and then he gestures at the stack of movies on the floor beside him. “Did you want to watch something? We can, but I just wanted an excuse to give you privacy.”

“Sure.” I sit in one of the chairs and prop my foot up. I figure I might as well say something about the conversation with my mother. If not, it’ll bother me until I do, so I blurt, “Mom thinks you should get tested for STDs before we have sex.”

He lowers the movie in his hand. “Say again?”

“Tests,” I repeat, my gaze on the floor not on him.

When I look up, he’s coming across the room to me. He sits beside me and takes my hand. I don’t see his death when he does. What I do see is the look in his eyes. He’s worried.

“I swear that I won’t ever do anything to hurt you. No lies. No cheating. I can go to the doctor weekly if you want.”

“No,” I say. “I trust you.” I realize as I say it that I do trust him. That moment of doubt isn’t about him. It’s about me. I gaze at Nate as he is cueing up the movie. He is beautiful and experienced, and I’m a maze of scars who couldn’t keep her boyfriend before these cuts were all over me.

“Nate, just . . . if you decide you don’t want to be with me, you’ll tell me before you go out with anyone else, right? If you decide that the way I look is too—”

“Not going to happen.” He kisses me briefly before continuing, “If I lose my mind and think there could be anyone I like more, I’ll tell you, but it’s not going to happen.”

“Thank you.” I lean my head against his shoulder. “I need to try again. I need to see the people I missed, get them to touch me so I can see their deaths, and we need to talk to Reid,” I start.

“After your mom leaves,” Nate finishes. “Let’s just relax for an hour or two. Most of them are probably still in bed.”

He’s right. I know he’s right. “Let me text Grace.”

My fingers race as I let her know my tentative plan so far: watch movie with Nate, then see her, then talk to Reid, and then we’ll figure out how to check on the people I missed yesterday. Once that’s sorted out, and I express sympathy to her for the General’s insistence that running is temporarily forbidden, I sit in the dark with my new boyfriend. The movie hasn’t even started when I begin laughing. He’s picked American Pie to watch.

“It seemed fitting,” he whispers.

I roll my eyes, but I nestle as close to him as I can in the chairs. That’s the other limitation with this room: I’d rather not have a chair arm between us. We lace our fingers together, and for the moment, it’ll have to be enough.

DAY 15: “THE EPIPHANY”

Judge

MADISON REFUSED TO GO out with me. I called her last night, and she laughed. If she hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be sitting here watching and waiting for her parents to go to work. That’s the challenge, though. I’ve only ever left a message in the dark. Eva knew. She knew this—the daylight and with no time to plan—would be a test of my resolve. I won’t fail her. I have roses—red and white tied together for unity—next to me on the passenger seat.

After the Tremonts leave, I walk up to the door and ring the bell. I stand with my hands behind my back so she doesn’t see my gloves or my water bottle. It’s a refillable one that I can squirt in her mouth so she doesn’t leave her DNA on it. There’s no graceful way to get her to drink the water with GHB, so I’m going to have to force her. A few weeks ago, I practiced holding down a dog and pouring water in its mouth in case I needed to do it. I think the key is keeping the front feet trapped—or in Madison’s case, her arms. I just need to get her in the house first. I can’t do it on the porch.

“What do you want?” Madison folds her arms over her chest.

“Eva,” I admit. It feels good to say it. “I want Eva to be happy, and you want Bouchet, so we can work together.”

She stares at me for a moment before saying, “What makes you think I want Nate?”

“Don’t.” I shake my head. “Just let me in so we can talk, or come with me.”

For a moment, I think she’s going to cooperate. I hope she will, but this a test that the Lord set. I would have preferred Piper. She would have been easier, but Eva picked Madison as a challenge.

“I can’t, Reid. My parents would lose it if I went out without telling them.” Madison steps back and starts to close the door.

I shove my foot forward and push her back into the house. “I understand.”

Her eyes widen, and she opens her mouth to scream. I slam the palm of my hand into her mouth to keep her quiet and step inside her house. She starts to fall, but I grab her arm—dropping my bottle in the process.

I shove the door closed behind us.

There are tears in her eyes now. It reminds me a little of Amy. “Shhh, come on now. You need to be quiet.”

She’s shaking, and I sweep her feet from under her and push her to the floor. I still have my palm shoved into her mouth, and she’s trying to bite me.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” I tell her. “Stop! Maddy, stop!”

There’s a wash of guilt as I realize how we’re lying on the floor. My h*ps are up against hers, and she looks afraid. I realize why, and it makes me feel horrible. “I’m not going to do that. Shh!” I push my hand tighter to her mouth. “I told you I want to talk to you. I need you to give Eva a message.”

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