The Quiet

I followed her gaze to the other side of the room, where there were two windows. One was closed tightly. But the other was opening slowly. I could see some kind of shadow come over the bottom. Someone was coming inside.

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44. Fall

Finally, after many hours, the lights came back on. They flickered at first, making the scene before us all the more frightening and unsettling. When the hallway was illuminated, I gasped.

Maddox was lying against the wall with blood dripping from his mouth. He groaned and looked at me.

“You should have run when Lena told you to,” he whispered.

Lena. My heart sank at the mention of her name and I shook my head. We should have listened, all of us, and maybe none of this would have happened.

“He’s dying,” Alec said, gesturing to Maddox. Then he smirked. “You should have listened to the warnings. Otherwise Lena probably would have lived.” He stood and walked over to me, his eyes narrowed. “It’s your fault she’s dead.”

His words, though untrue, stunned me. Before I opened my mouth to say something, Clay cut in.

“You killed Lena,” he hissed, his blue eyes darkening. “You took a fucking gun and shot her. You’re the murderer, not Cari.”

Anger boiled inside me and I wanted to hit Alec, but I was afraid he would kill me without a second thought, so I stayed quiet.

“I don’t think it’s wise to piss me off, Clayton.” He seized Clay by the throat and slammed him into the wall. “I might kill you just because you did. But that wouldn’t be fair, would it?”

He glanced at me and something cold went through my bones. Then he dropped Clay and advanced on me, gripping my hair.

“Or,” he whispered, “I could kill her. Your choice.”

I twisted around to look at Clay, to look at his expression, which was blank. He had nothing. He didn’t know what to do. But I did.

I reached up and sent the heel of my palm into Alec’s nose. He let me go and staggered back, howling in pain. He started to come toward me again until Maddox tackled him, sending them both down the stairs.

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