"Depuis que nous avons reçu la lettre, maman flotte sur un petit nuage. Elle à l'air d'y voir la solution a tous nos problèmes, la promesse d'une nouvelle vie. Le seul petit grain de sable qui vient gripper les rouages, c'est moi. En temps normal je ne suis pas du genre à ruer dans les brancards mais là, je dis stop. Je n'ai pas envie d'aller grossir les rangs de la famille royals. Encore moins ceux de l'élite du pays. Hors de question."
"You let them win." he throws out. "Why ?"
"No, I didn't." I reply quickly. I busy myself with cleaning off the table, removing Margot's water glass and taking it over the bar sink on the opposite side of the room.
I hear a creak of leather and am compelled to look over. Jared leans forward, his hands draped acreoss his knees as he stares intently at me.
"Why, Lucy ?"
"Why what ? Don't be ridiculous. And whatdoes it matter, anyhow ?" I run the glass under water and set aside to dry. I wipe my hands. I'm still trying to figure out how to make a graceful exit when jared's tall, lithe form appears between the narrow galley of the bar, blocking my exit. My heart starts to thunder so ;oud I wonder if he can hear it.
He places a hand on either side of the bar, locking me in. "And why won't you admit it ?" he asks.
I'm startled by his new, gentler tone that I hazard a glance. My breath catches in my throat. Jared's eyes have changed to that sumptuous green, huge and mesmerizing. The pupils dilating like a cat's. I can't seem to look away as he inches forward, until he's standing all but a hair's breadth away from me.So close I can smell more cinnamon on his breath, the scent of him.
I want to move away, but instead I stand my ground. "You have a lot of nerve."
"As do you. Why do you let her win ? Why are you always pitting her ahead of yourself ?"
I clasp my hands tightly together so he can't see me trembing. "You don't understand."
"So explain it to me."
"Can't ? Or won't ?"
"Both" I blurt out.
A beat of silence stretches between us as he considers me with a thoughtfu, almost hungry look. "You don't trust me."
"It's not that," I'm quick to say.
And it's the truth. Trust has nothing to do with it - at least, not trust in him. I don't feel in control with Jared. When I'm with him, I feel I'm standing on a precipice and will go into free fall just by standing next to him.
"So tell me." His breath is soft on my cheeck. I'm trembling so badly he'll have to notice, which is the last thing in the world I want him to do.
So I do what will distract him most.I tell Jared the unravished truth about the Fox family. "You think we're spoiled rich brats but we're not, not really. Our family is ... very strict. The rules that govern the Upper Circle, all the etiquette and protocol ? It's doubled on us. The Fow twins... We have a lot to live up to. Our family's rreputation is at stake every time we take a step. Our father is an important man. What we do reflects on him." I briefly muse over the Russian who will be coming to stay with us, Father's most important guest.
Jared screws up his face in confusion. "What does that have to do with letting Margot always get her way ?"
I shake my head. "No, you don't understand.3
"Then explain it to me. Please. I really want to know." Jared"s hand comes up and rests on my shoulder where it burns like a hot coal. He doesn't seem to mind or even notice.
"Margot is... different than me." Jared snorts. Apparently this is no great surprise for him. "The restrictions we live under -I don't mind them much. But for Margot ? They make her crazy. She ends up acting out. Does rach and stupid things. I have to protect her, and the family. And despite all that- or maybe even because of it- she's better than me." He lloks like he's going to interrupt me, so I continue. "Margot is better at dressing up and flirting and impressing a crowd. Margot is the Fox family's crown jewel, and it's my job to keep her that way."
"I am a flame of fury. The last flickering flame in a
world long since burned out. I have rage threaded
through my skin, whispering against my ears, tied
tightly around each one of my bones. My eyes, one
brown and one blue, leak with it.
Most of the times it frightens me.
But sometimes I like it."
I managed to snag a muffin on my way down, and I wipe quickly at my face, hoping I haven’t left evidence around my mouth. I don’t know how Warner feels about muffins, but I’m guessing he’s not a fan.
“Hey,” I say, and I sound out of breath. “What’d I miss?”
“This is my fault,” he says, waving a hand around the room. He doesn’t even look at me.
“I mean, I already know it’s your fault,” I say quickly, “but, like, just to be clear—what are we talking about?”
“This,” he says. Finally, he looks at me. “This situation.”
“It’s my fault,” he says, pausing dramatically, “for thinking I could depend on you.”
I make an effort not to roll my eyes. “All right, all right, calm down. I’m here now.”
“You’re thirty minutes late.”
Il ne pourrait sauver que cinq millions d’humains sur les quelque sept milliards qui vivaient sur cette planète des confins.
Cinq millions, un chiffre dérisoire.
Mais c’était bien plus que les survivants de sa propre race, songea Jave. Les trente mille Lyniens du Collectif représentaient une culture confetti éparpillée sur des centaines de mondes, au service de Combinats, d’autorités locales ou dans les milieux académiques. Sur cette population anémique, un nombre encore plus faible possédait le talent.
Un bien précieux. En voie de disparition.
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