Made for You Page 7

I’ve already removed the grocery price tag from Harris Teeter, but I check again to be sure there are no other identifying marks that will ruin my disguise. I keep my eyes downcast in case there’s a camera in here, too. By the time I reach the fourth floor, where Eva is, my hands are trembling a little, not noticeably enough that strangers would see, but I feel it. Intentionally, I step on the long piece of my shoelace as I walk, untying it as I approach the desk. I tied and retied it repeatedly to get the length right. I’d practiced as I walked around at home too. Today, I’m doing everything right. Today, I’m not going to get impatient. It’s hard though. I didn’t think I’d ever see her again—aside from her funeral. I knew what I’d say there. I’d planned it. The words, the pauses, I practiced. I may change it some now that I have more time.

Maybe I won’t have to say them at all.

When I saw the article, when I found out she was alive, I knew it was a sign. God doesn’t want her to die yet. I understand that now. I was hasty. I have spent the past three days thinking about the right path, praying for clarity and considering my options. He’s giving me another chance, giving her another chance. Maybe I can make her see, and she can be redeemed. If I save her, she can live, and she’ll be so grateful for all that I’ve done to save her.

I stop at the desk and tell the receptionist, “Delivery for”—I glance at the clipboard as if I don’t know her name, as if I could ever forget her name, and read it—“Eva Tilling.”

“That girl gets more flowers than the rest of the floor combined!” the woman says as she signs on the clipboard where I silently indicate. The sheet is very convincing. I ordered my own flowers so I could have a good model for mine.

Once she walks away, I glance at my shoe as if I am just now seeing that it’s untied. No one seems to be watching, but you never know. I crouch, my posture allowing me to use my hat to hide my face as I watch her carry the flowers to a room. She taps on a door, and I finish tying the shoe as I watch her go inside.

Straightening, I glance around. No one pays much mind to delivery people. So many flowers arrive at the hospital. Why would they look at us?

I force myself not to hurry. We wouldn’t be in this situation if I had practiced patience in the first place. Hurrying is dangerous. Slow and steady wins the race, especially in the South. My grandmother told me that so often that I’m sure she’d take a switch to me if she knew that I’d messed everything up by being impatient.

I glance inside Eva’s room as I pass it. It’s only a moment, a split second, but she’s there. She’s awake and speaking softly. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear she was an angel. She’s not though. She’s one of Them. If I can’t save her, she’ll have to die. She’s been spared for now, but I need her to understand. If she doesn’t, she’ll be a sacrifice at the altar of venality.

Like the rest of them.

My mouth is dry at the thought of how close I am to her now. I could walk straight into her room and visit her, but I’m not ready to talk to her. Still, I needed to see her.

I wonder if she’ll notice my name on the card. I listed several names—the editor, a few staff writers, and then I added my own in the middle. Judge. It’s not the name I was born with but it’s my true name, my soul name. I’m not really an executioner yet, and without Eva, I’m not a jury. Together, we could be a judge, jury, and executioner.

I’d despaired when I realized that she was one of Them. On the night I tried to kill her, I thought I would be always solitary. Now that she survived, I have hope again.

Outside, I pause to breathe the already thick air. Early summer in North Carolina isn’t as humid as the heat of July and August, but the air is heavy already. The sweet taste of wisteria fills my mouth, and I wonder if Eva likes the flowers. They’re not as sweet as the pale purple clusters of wisteria clinging to the trees. For her, I brought common flowers—like her, not truly special. That was my mistake before: I raised her up like a false idol. I know better now.

I cross the parking lot to the car I have today and slip on my gloves before I touch the handle. Like my uniform, it’s not memorable, a dark blue, four-door sedan. I’ll park it beside the one that has Eva’s blood on it.

DAY 5: “THE DETECTIVE”

Eva

I’M ALONE. SO FAR, my friends are respecting my “no visitors” stance, and my parents are still stuck in Europe. Apparently, there was another volcanic eruption in Iceland that pretty much shut down all the flights in and out of Europe. It was nothing but smoke, ash, and gas, but Dad explained that when that same thing happened back in 2010, flights were cancelled or disrupted for over a week. I’m not counting on them getting here any time soon. I don’t need them to rush home anyhow. I’ve told them that several times. I told Grandfather Cooper the same thing when he called from somewhere in Alaska on one of his cruise-tour things.

Grandfather Tilling came by the hospital to sit with me, and of course, he had his congregation pray for me. It didn’t occur to me to ask him or Mrs. Yeung to be here for the police visit I’m about to have.

Right now, I wish it had.

“Are you sure you’re ready to talk to the detective, Eva?” my nurse asks again.

“Yeah.” I offer the nurse a smile, but I’m not sure if it’s encouraging with the way my cuts and bruises must still look.

“If it gets too much, you can stop the interview,” the nurse says kindly.

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