Home > Supernova (Renegades #3)(12)

Supernova (Renegades #3)(12)
Author: Marissa Meyer

But Adrian was here, his fingers laced with hers, their toes practically touching, and it had happened.

“Well, thank you,” she said, inching just a bit closer to him. “I have become a little attached to the star, and … it really does seem like it was made for this bracelet.”

“I’m glad you like it. It was my first time giving a girl jewelry, which is sort of a big deal, so…”

She squinted one eye at him. “You didn’t give me jewelry. You gave me a jungle.”

He laughed. “That, and almost a full day of blissful sleep.”

“Okay, stop fishing for compliments. I admit, you’re a pretty good gift giver.” She leaned forward, lifting up onto her toes.

“I’m trying,” Adrian said, bending down to meet her.

The kiss was everything she remembered. Warmth tingling through her limbs. Shooting stars glinting behind her eyelids. Somehow being so perfectly content, while still yearning for more.

A crash startled them both—something heavy falling to the hard floor. They jumped apart and spun toward the darkened subway tunnels where they had come from.

Nova’s pulse raced beneath her skin, and she knew that it had been the helmet. Had the blackmailer realized it was a fake? Had they thrown it?

“Just a rat, probably,” she said, breathless for more reason than one.

“I don’t think that was a rat.” Still holding her hand, Adrian started back toward Honey’s room.

Nova dug in her heels. The last thing she needed was a run-in with someone who knew her secrets and wouldn’t hesitate to give them up, especially to Adrian Everhart himself. “Hold on! What if it’s … what if it’s Nightmare? Or another Anarchist? Shouldn’t we call for backup?”

Adrian shot her a baffled look, and even in the dim lighting she could see his confusion. “You want to wait for backup?”

He was right. It didn’t sound like her at all.

“It’s just…” She swept her other hand toward him. “You’re not wearing your uniform!”

His head shifted to one side, briefly, then he shook it and started dragging her again. “Come on.”

She cursed inwardly and followed. She would play dumb. She would deny anything the blackmailer said. If she had to, she would take desperate measures, silencing him or her before anything could be given away.

Or maybe she could knock Adrian out, right now, before he saw them and had a chance to learn anything. She eyed the bare flesh at the back of his neck. She could make up a story—say that it was Nightmare in the tunnels, and she jumped out from the shadows and put them both to sleep before Nova could stop her.

Yeah … that might work …

Her fingers twitched. They were nearly to the maintenance closet where she’d left the helmet. Adrian was rounding the corner. There was no sign of anyone yet, not even the beam of a flashlight or the thud of footsteps running away. Just the scuffle of their own feet along the tracks.

Was the blackmailer still in Honey’s room?

The door was still closed, just as Nova had left it. Adrian nudged it open, gripping his marker in one hand. Nova hadn’t seen him take it out.

Biting down on her lower lip, she reached for the back of his neck. But something made her stop. A movement in the room. A shadow moving toward them.

Adrian ducked, then flew forward, sending his fist at the attacker.

A crash reverberated through the room. Adrian let out a stream of curses. Nova shone the flashlight toward him.

There was no attacker, no blackmailer. Their assailant had been Adrian’s own reflection in the dresser mirror, which had shattered from the punch.

“Okay,” he grunted, cradling his hand against his chest, face twisted with pain. “I’m officially done attacking people before I get a good look at them.”

“That might be for the best,” said Nova, but her words were distracted.

Her attention had snagged on the top of the dresser, where a few chunks of broken mirror had fallen to the surface.

The helmet was gone.


ADRIAN PACED AROUND the waiting room. Simon was sitting at the edge of one of the sofas, his hands clasped and his fingers twitching against his knuckles. They hadn’t spoken much since their arrival at the hospital. Hugh had gone ahead to see Max, as the only one who was immune to him. The only one who was supposed to be immune to him. Adrian’s confession had been on the tip of his tongue ever since.

It was so frustrating to be out here when there was no reason that he couldn’t be in the room with Max right now. His tattoo would protect him. All he needed to do was tell his dads about the tattoos, explain that, actually, he was immune to Max’s power, too, and he could be back there with his brother.

But the words wouldn’t come. There would be too many questions. Explanations he wasn’t ready to give.

So instead he paced. Back and forth. Past the fake potted plants. The tables full of fashion and celebrity magazines—one, he noticed, had his dads’ faces in a small box on the cover, but Adrian didn’t read the headline. Nothing mattered right now except Max.

Sweet rot, why wasn’t he back there with him?

It felt like hours before finally, finally, Hugh emerged through the swinging double doors, a smile plastered across his face. Hope surged through Adrian’s veins. Simon launched to his feet.

“He’s going to be okay,” said Hugh.

It was all he managed to say before they were embracing one another. Hugh pulled Adrian against him, squeezing tight around his shoulders, and then Simon had his arms around them both. Adrian fought to hold back the tears of relief that threatened to spill over. He ducked away, letting his dads hold each other a moment longer while he gathered himself.

“The doctor says he’s been through the worst now,” Hugh continued, his voice rough with emotion. “They expect a full recovery, though there will be a scar that I’m sure he’ll be proud to show off for the rest of his life. And Max is … He’s good. Weak still, but good. He’s in high spirits. If things weren’t in such disarray at headquarters, we could probably take him back by the end of the month.”

“Headquarters?” said Adrian, spinning to face them. “He can’t go back to headquarters.”

“Not anytime soon, obviously,” said Hugh, running a hand through his blond hair. “It will take a while to rebuild the quarantine. He’ll just have to stay put until then, but I know the staff here is going to keep him comfortable. They say he’ll be able to move to a new room in a few days, one that’s intended for longer-care patients.”

“Hold on,” said Adrian. “The quarantine? You’re going to rebuild the quarantine?”

Hugh and Simon stared at him, baffled. “Well … of course we are,” said Simon. “He can’t stay at the hospital forever.”

Adrian shook his head. “No. You can’t!”

“What are you talking about?” said Hugh. “What did you think would happen?”

Adrian stepped back. “I just thought…”

What had he thought would happen once Max was able to leave the hospital? That he could come home to the mansion? That he could share the basement with Adrian, be brothers for real?

That wasn’t possible. Not with Simon living under the same roof.

But to go back to the quarantine?

“This can’t be the only option. He hates the quarantine. And now that we don’t need him for Agent N—”

“We still need to protect him,” said Simon. “He’s a threat to prodigies everywhere, which means he can be targeted anytime.”

“Or weaponized against us,” added Hugh. “And it’s dangerous for him to be out in the world. You’ve seen the trouble we’ve had to go through just to make sure no prodigy healers accidentally wander past his room while he’s here. No. It’s safer for him at headquarters, where we can keep an eye on him.”

Adrian’s heart thumped, as if reminding him of the immunity tattoo inked onto his chest. He swallowed hard. His dads still didn’t know about the tattoos. They would ask questions, demand to know more—and all those questions and demands could tread too closely to the truth of his alter ego.

But an idea had been brewing in his thoughts for months now and was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. What if he could tattoo other prodigies? What if he could give Simon immunity against Max? Not just Simon, but his friends. Nova, Ruby, Oscar, Danna …

He didn’t know if it would work, but there was a chance. Didn’t he owe it to Max to find out?

Just considering it made his pulse drum faster. Because what if his dads discovered his secret? What would they do if they knew he was the Sentinel?

He felt sick to his stomach at his own selfishness, and yet he couldn’t bring himself to tell them.

I will, he thought. If there’s no other way to keep Max out of that quarantine, then I’ll tell them.

“It might be safer at headquarters,” Adrian admitted, “but it’s not better. He’s a ten-year-old kid. He deserves to have a life.”

Simon sighed, while Hugh started to rub his temple. “I’m sorry this is so upsetting to you, but I don’t know what else you expect us to do. And honestly, Adrian, we’ve already made our decision.”

“He’s my brother! I deserve to be a part of this conversation. Hell, he deserves to be a part of this conversation.”

“You’re both too young to understand everything at stake here,” said Hugh.

“But we’re not too young to risk our lives fighting crime every day? Max wasn’t too young to be taken into battle against Ace Anarchy when he was a year old? You’ve been controlling him for his entire life, and this is … You can’t do this to him again.”

“We love him, too, you know,” said Simon, looking weary. “We’re trying to do what’s best for him. Do you have any idea how many people want to hurt him? Or use him? This is for his own good.”

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