I shouldn’t be here.
I know I shouldn’t be here but I’ve wanted to get into her room since I first saw her. Damn, I’m being dumb. Look at what’s already happened. Mantis tried cornering her which means the entire Kings are speculating over us, over her. They think she’s my girl—exactly what I didn’t want to happen. Without even realizing it, Fallon’s become my new weakness. And she doesn’t even know it. I should really go. Right now. I could leave her safety to Chief and Jace. They’re the two best fighters I have. They’ll keep her as protected as I could. It’s their new assignment so she’ll be constantly surrounded and secured. And the rumors would fade if I stayed away…
I lean forward, pressing my head against her door.
What do I do?
Even if I wanted to stay away, I couldn’t. Not at this point. I’m here and there’s nothing I can do to convince myself to leave. Besides, I’m Rox for fuck’s safe. Why can’t I have this? Not that there’s anything to have… it’s not like we’re dating. I’m just telling her about the food gatherings. That’s all. She wants to know about them and probably help. And there’s nothing wrong with me delivering this information to her…in her bedroom…where we’ll finally be alone.
With this thought, I retrieve the Sirolla Sampson gave me and hold it up to the door. A thousand tiny white hairs emerge, gripping the crimson blocks as six click back in place and the door slowly opens. Silently, I step in and lean against the door frame, quickly scanning the room.
Fallon is on her bed, leaning back and staring up at the dark ceiling.
For a long moment, I just watch her, feeling like a total perv. I should probably say something—announce I’m here at least—but at this point, all I want to do is crawl on top of her and start kissing up her neck. I know she tastes good. God I’m dying to do it again. But I don’t even know if she wants me. After I kissed her at Lecture, she didn’t bring it up. Maybe I shouldn’t have done it. Maybe I should’ve tried again…
She sits up, her cheeks burning red. “Hi.”
“Mind if I…?” I gesture myself in, but don’t wait for her to answer. Normally I’m allowed instant entrance wherever I go, so it’s strange doing this. I close the door, my blood racing to find myself in a small quarter with her.
“Of course…” she glances over my shoulder. “How’d you do that?”
“What?” I look behind me. It takes a minute to understand what she’s asking. I mostly hang around the Rogues and they all know about the easy door access. That’s how we move all the tokens and basically run our side of the Market. “Oh—a sirolla,” I walk over to her, presenting the tiny sphere. It really is an ingenious device. I’m not sure we’d be half as successful without it and it’s just another reason meeting Sampson was so beneficial to the Rogues. “Like a door decoder—can open anyone’s.”
Looking up, I find her eyes are already on mine. My heart speeds, especially at the knowledge that only a few inches separates us. She must recognize it too because she’s blushing again.
“So…” she backs up, moving away from me, “…that’s how you got into Griffin’s room.”
“Yeah. I’m surprised that slipped past you.”
I’m not trying to be a dick, but sometimes I can’t help it. Side effect of being around the Rogues constantly. I have to give her credit though—she’s still here. At first I was afraid I’d introduced her to too much too quickly—Camp, the Snatchings, the underground Labyrinth. Usually it takes an Arival a fair amount of time to get adjusted and here I am, throwing all this at her. But she’s handling it well. Better than well. And then revealing who I am—the role I play in all this—I’m surprised she hasn’t run screaming.
She’s still walking, keeping away from me and I wonder if she’s nervous. The thought brings a smile to my face. I could say something… call her on it, but decide to keep quiet.
“You wanted to know about gathering food. Pratt will pick you up after Leisure Time starts. We’re out for two hours and that’s it,” I watch her bite her lip. “You uh, sure you want to go?”
“It’s freedom. Besides,” she gestures to the food I’ve had Pratt bringing her, “I need to start working off my debt.”
“It’s a paid.”
I shrug, “I know the Boss.”
“Yeah…” she laughs, “thanks for telling me by the way.”
“Didn’t think it was important,” I cross my arms, “besides, my name is Reid. That’s what you asked for. My name.”
“”Knowing you go by Rox is pretty helpful too.”
“Well… I didn’t tell you because I’ve taken some time off.”
I rub the back of my neck. Shit. Am I really going to tell her? Maybe I can lie… but I don’t want to lie to her. Okay. Here it goes…“I was seeing someone and it didn’t work out.”
“Yeah… so Tucker’s taken over Rogue Leader. Rogues report to him now.”
“But he reports to you. Is that right?”
I shrug. Pretty much, except nothing’s really changed. Tucker always reported to me and the Rogues have always reported to him, even when I was the official Rogue Leader. I guess if we’re going to talk about this, I’ll just let her in on it all. It’s probably best that she knows. “I try to stay out of it.”
“But lately he’s been begging me to resume my post.”
“I don’t know… they miss me? Probably has to do with the pills and list.”
“So why don’t you go back?”
I can’t tell her about Ansley… about what she did. That’s fucking mortifying. I don’t want her thinking I’m not…that I can’t… No. I don’t even know if Fallon likes me. I’m not going to tell her some other girl left because I wasn’t doing it for her. Hell no. Gnawing on the tip of my thumb, I shake my head.
“Okay…” she sits on her bed and folds her legs. “What about that guy earlier? The King. What was his deal?”
“He uh…” I look away, feeling the heat flow to my face, “he thinks you’re my new girl.”
Is that a good response? She’s shocked. But good shocked or bad? Shit—do I tell her this? She’s waiting for an answer and besides, I owe her an explanation. I’m sure she’s seen Ansley hanging around me recently. I don’t want her to get the wrong idea.
“Since Ansley, I haven’t really—I mean, I don’t ever talk to anyone outside Pratt and the Rogues. You’re the first…” am I really saying this? “…girl I’ve actually been seen talking to. Guess he sort of assumed.”
“Okay… but even if he thinks that, does it really merit an escort? I mean, I’m not in any danger am I? Reid?”
“No one’s coming near you,” I sit next to her, “and look, sorry for this mess. It’s my fault. I should’ve been smarter being around you.”
“Maybe it was the scapegoat thing?”
“Maybe…” I try hiding a smile, thinking of pressing her against the wall beneath me, of tasting her skin. Jesus, I wanted her then. I want her now. I suppress a gulp, “But seriously, you’re good. Mantis or any of the Kings come within feet of you, I’ll know.”
I’ll beat the living shit out of them. I shrug, “I’ll take care of them.”
“And…” her eyes look between mine, holding me, melting me, “this is all because you’re Rox. Because they’ve seen you with me a total of three times. This makes me your girlfriend?”
I like the sound of that.
“Yeah,” I sit forward, trying to concentrate on anything else. The floor, my shoes, my beating heart. “Stupid, I know.”
Maybe I should tell her it’s smarter to be considered my girlfriend… it would keep her safe. Who am I kidding? She’s already the most well-protected person on Harrizel. Maybe I should tell her I want her to be my girlfriend… but that’s lame, right? Shit, how do I do this again? The other girls… they all sort of throw themselves at me. Even Ansley made the first move but Fallon…
“Why weren’t you?” she’s quiet.
“Smarter with me?”
“Jesus, Fallon,” I laugh, dropping my head. She’s really going to make me do it. But can I admit how much I’m feeling her? Straight out admit it? “What do you want me to say?”
Silence sits between us. We’re at this point now. I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to make my move. But she still hasn’t given any clue that she likes me. Even if she doesn’t, she needs to know she’s safe. That much I can promise her.
“No one’s going to bother you, okay? It’s kind of a good thing he thinks you’re my…” I clear my throat. I should’ve said it. Should’ve asked it. Want to be my girl? I’m such a lame ass idiot. “…it’s protection.”
“Look at me.”
When I do, my heart stops. Damn. I need to kiss her. Right now. I need to know what her lips taste like. I bet they’re soft like the rest of her. Delicious. It takes everything I have not to reach over and do it. Do it. Just do it.
“Was the scapegoat thing for real?”
I’m giving myself away at this point. She’s got to know that I want her, right? I nod, “But…”
I run my hand through my hair, focusing on the ground. It’s becoming painful. I have to focus on keeping my hands still, to myself. “But normally I jet into the Maze.”
It’s quiet again. I can’t take it anymore. I have to kiss her or I’m going to explode. We’re on her bed, inches apart and all I can smell is her. All I’m aware of is her, and how close we are. Shit. It’s happening. Even if she pushes me away—even if she doesn’t want me, I have to find out.
I take a breath. “Don’t hit me, okay?”
“Hit you? Why would I—”
I take her face in my hands and kiss her. God she tastes good. And she’s not resisting either; she’s not pushing me away. She’s letting me do this, letting me touch her, letting me hold her like I’ve wanted to, like I’ve dreamed about since first seeing her. All I want is her. And I was right—her lips are soft, delicious. Addictive. How have I kept from kissing her this entire time? I need this; I need more of her. I open my mouth and slip my tongue in, finding hers, massaging it. Holy shit this is happening. I’ve needed this—wanted this. Fuck the repercussions. I’ll deal with them. All that matters is Fallon.
She starts to pull back, her lips swollen pink. She looks like she might say something but I don’t give her a chance to stop this. I can’t. I need more of her. Now. Kissing her again, I hold her close to me, keeping us together. And I feel her melt under me. Oh she wants this too. Her mouth opens, letting more of me in, giving control to me. My blood races, the urge inside me growing.
I lean her back.
…And then Pratt flies through the door.
Using every amount of willpower I have, I pull back, grunting as I drop my hands from Fallon, who seems equally as pained with the interruption. It takes everything I have to stop myself when my body’s roaring with the need to continue. Jesus I want to continue. But if Pratt’s here, that means something serious must’ve happened. Something she couldn’t wait to tell me because I know how much she’s wanted me to go after Fallon.
“I’m so sorry Reid,” she glances at Fallon with genuine guilt in her eyes, “so sorry but you have to come now. Right now.”
“Snatching turned into a Clan fight.”
A clan fight? Double fuck. That means we have to deal with the Kings and Tetlak. “Vic?”
I’m on my feet, flying after Pratt. I turn to Fallon back on the bed. “You stay here.”
“What’s going on? What happened to Raj?” she tries to follow me out but I block her with my body. “Is she okay?”
“I’m serious. STAY HERE!” I order, jetting after Pratt.
I can’t have her involved in this. It’s too dangerous. Whenever there’s a clan fight, it turns deadly. Quick. The Kings have their own way of obtaining weapons but I have the Carpenters who make stuff for us. I’ve got enough blades and things to last a lifetime. And I’ve used most all of them. Clan fights are fucking terrible and if Fallon comes… no. I can’t even think of it. If she got hurt… if…
“Reid, look!” Pratt points to the bloody brawl at the bottom of the stairs.
Shit this is bad. Already. Of all nights, it happened when I finally made my move on Fallon. At least she’s back in her room. If she was to come, not only would she be in physical danger, the Kings would know. There wouldn’t be a doubt in their mind who was she was… and she’d be the most sought after target.