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The Branch is in shambles, but Anna, Sam, Cas, and Nick can't rest easy. Remnants of the organization lurk unseen and the flashbacks to their old lives are only getting stronger--especially Nick's.
considered catching some sleep before going back into town, but I was still feeling restless, and being without the truck made it worse. I needed to have a quick escape, just in case. When I left the apartment, I felt eyes on me as I walked down the driveway. I looked up at the house and saw a shadow pass across the front window. I thought about asking Elizabeth if she wanted to come with me, but decided maybe it was too soon. I didn’t want to run into Evan again at Merv’s Bar & Grill, so I
not okay.” His hands tightened on the steering wheel. “None of this is okay.” I pulled the napkin away from my face. It was red with blood, my blood, but the pain was already gone and I couldn’t let him take me to the hospital. “Stop the truck for a second. Just look.” He slowed and checked me. Finally, he stomped on the brake, and I had to brace myself against the dash. I’d forgotten to put my seat belt on. Nick threw the truck into park. “Cuts to the face usually need stitches,” he said.
men and woman dressed all in black like they were ready for combat? They couldn’t have been the Branch, otherwise they wouldn’t have attacked Nick, who my mother had said was working for the Branch. The Branch. Riley. And then I realized how I knew that name. Where I knew that voice from. In the woods. The night Nick saved me. Take care of it, the voice had said. It being me. Riley was the Branch. And my mother was a part of it. Chloe picked me up within ten minutes, as promised. She
drink and an open beer. “Table twelve,” he said, and Merv nodded as he left. Evan came closer. My face warmed. I couldn’t help but wonder if my makeup had held up since I put it on, or if my pores were huge, or if my teeth were clean. I quickly ran over in my head what I’d eaten for lunch. Apple, peanut butter, string cheese. Nothing that should have been stuck in my teeth. Someone called for Evan down the bar, but he ignored it. “I want to rearrange my night for you.” He leaned in even
heartbeat. In fact, I dreamed about it, and sometimes it was the only thing keeping me going. I wasn’t sure about my plans after high school—I still had one more year to complete before graduating—but if I was able to go to college, then I was going as far away as I could. When I was young, my mother had always talked about moving to California. To the land of permanent summer, she’d called it, and sometimes, in my heart of hearts, I entertained the thought of escaping there, too. Chloe stood