Read The Revealed Online

Authors: Jessica Hickam

The Revealed (10 page)

BOOK: The Revealed
3.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“We just went to the fields!” I say.

My breathing builds as I feel more and more overwhelmed. I shut my eyes tightly and rub my forehead. The absolute worst part of this article is the picture. Kai’s strong arms reaching out to me gently. His dark hair falling loosely around his strong jaw as he peers down at me with concerned eyes. Concerned eyes that are meant for me. And me with
that
look on my face. I look shy and surprised at his attention, peering up at him between my eyelashes. I’m inviting his look. We didn’t even kiss!

My mother is fuming beside me. “How could this happen?”

All I can say is, “I don’t know,” over and over again.

Who knew all of this? Unless I leaked this information to the press myself—which I definitely hadn’t—then no one could know all these details. No one was there in the fields when this happened. Just me and—

I stand up from the table.

The revelation is like a slap in the face.

I grab the paper and rip it to shreds, throwing the pieces around the breakfast table. Before I realize it, I’m in the entryway.

My mother catches up with me. “And just where do you think you’re going?”

“I’m getting some air,” I huff, feeling my frustration spiral out of control.

“Lilith,” she says through clenched teeth, “you will not walk away! You will explain this and apologize.”

“Apologize?” I turn on her. “You want me to apologize?” I am so out of control, so on the edge, and she just stands there with her hands pressed neatly against her hips. Her magenta lips are on the verge of pursing, but she doesn’t allow them to completely. God forbid she shows any emotion that could cause wrinkles.

There is nothing I can say to reason with her. She’s too selfish to even see me, let alone listen to what I have to say.

I yank my coat from the closet and head outside.

I don’t hear footsteps behind me, or the sound of a door opening. Just the guards patrolling, and I know they’re watching me keenly. One nods in my direction, but none approach me. They don’t try to strike up a conversation, which I appreciate. Silence folds around me. Finally, it feels like I can think. But my thoughts aren’t clear. Kai did this to me, and that I can’t understand. No matter how many times I see that photo in my mind and tell myself I’ve been betrayed, it isn’t something I can accept or come to terms with. Confusion and betrayal blanket around me.

Is he really that good a liar? He looked me in the eye and told me he wanted to know me. For just that one moment he made me feel like I was something more than Mark Atwood’s daughter. I really believed he was interested in me.

And now I feel like an idiot.

I think of those girls back in high school who flitted about him like little birds opening their mouths for attention like sustenance essential for life. He just shoved me off his lap, just like he discarded those girls, and left me on the bleachers without a second thought.

He played me against my family to get Roderick Westerfield votes.

I walk to the gardens on the east side of the house. The smell of gardenia reaches me, and it’s calming, almost intoxicating.

I try to rationalize my thoughts, think through my next move. My mother will want me to speak with the press. That’s always my mother’s answer to any crisis. She thinks the public loves us enough that any explanation will suffice. Hopefully, Jet will veto that idea. It’s better if we don’t draw more attention than necessary.

How could Kai do this to me? Worse, how could I let him? I hate him. I’ve never hated anyone more in my life.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN

I find Rory in the kitchen the next day, working on the filet mignon entrée for my father’s luncheon with his campaign staff. I try not to think about my father and the look on his face as I stood in his office and my mother presented him with the article. I disappointed him. He wasn’t surprised, though. He just chewed for a moment on the inside of his cheek as he looked at it, then tossed it to the corner of his desk and got back to work at the computer.

“Dad, I—”

He held up a hand to silence me, then looked to my mother. “Call Jet, have him do some damage control. Set up some articles with reporters you trust. Find a way to explain this.”

My mother’s efforts to explain this are that we are silly children who’ve known each other for years. Our families used to be good friends, of course. So why shouldn’t we see one another? My being out of the house was another cover they had to devise. My mother said that from time to time she allows her daughter to get some fresh air, closely monitored by security, of course. And that’s all the picture was. Just an image made worse by gossip.

The reporters printed it.

The explanation ran in the paper this morning. But no one is buying it. No one really cares what my parents’ excuses are either. They want to know how deep my relationship with Kai goes now that it’s been confirmed.

The events of the last day are grating. Every time I think of Kai my eyes began to sting and my throat squeezes in on itself. It feels like prep school again. Not that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be alone, but to have the loneliness shoved in my face repeatedly feels even worse.

“Hey,” Rory greets me, looking up from the pan where she is sautéing a mix of vegetables.

“How’s everything going?” I ask, leaning against the counter.

She shrugs. “Same old. I saw that story yesterday.” She cringes. “You and Kai Westerfield, huh?”

My stomach churns, and I try to not focus on the nausea. Plus the fact that I think Rory was developing a thing for Kai. And now that I’m …
was
, I mean … for just a second thought he and I were— “It just sort of happened.”

I’m beyond frustrated with myself. Even after he sells me out to the papers, I can’t stop thinking about him. I keep trying to rationalize his behavior like it was somehow justified. I don’t want to think he could really be that coldhearted. But he is, and he always has been. I made the mistake of forgetting that for one moment of freedom I’m now paying for.

To my relief, she rolls her eyes and grins, “I know how that happens, babe.”

“Yeah, well, the whole mess is kind of why I’m here. I could really use a break from all this.”

“Guess you were right when you said he was bad news. Wanna talk about it?”

“No,” I say, a little too quickly. There’s a moment of silence as I collect myself. “I don’t want to talk about it, but there
is
something I’d like to do.”

“What did you have in mind?”

“A night on the town. I want to go out—with you—to that new Frost place.”

“Looking for a rebound?” Rory nudges me with her elbow.

“No.” I smile at the look on her face.

“Yeah right, you want to get over Kai. And you think booze and boys is the way to it.”

“I don’t need a boy,” I counter.

“Of course you don’t. That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.” Rory shimmies her shoulders suggestively.

“So you’ll take me?”

Her shoulders drop. “I wouldn’t know the first thing about getting you out of this house.”

My mind flashes to Kai and that mischievous smirk as he explained how he’d turned the cameras on repeat. He was the only person I’d ever met in my life who could do anything remotely close to that. The system was otherwise foolproof. My own escape attempt had ended with a roadblock less than a mile from my house.

Despite my determination I admit, “Neither do I.”

“And you’ve had more practice than me.”

If only I could fool the cameras like Kai did. I have no idea how. But maybe I can do something else. Suddenly, a plan sparks in my mind.

If we can’t trick the cameras, maybe we can trick the eye.

Just like we practiced. I take a deep breath and glance up. She’s standing on the balcony, silhouetted against the moonlight. Her hair is coiled into a bun on the top of her head so it’s hard to make out any distinguishable characteristics.

The floodlights cast an eerie white glow over the property. I see the shadows in the distance as the security figures patrol the perimeter.

I pull the chef’s apron tighter around my waist and flip up the hood of my sweatshirt. My fists tighten at my sides and the keys in my hand press firmly into my palm.

Staff parking is around the corner from the main entrance, and I trek down the grass, sure to keep my head down.

The first patrol guard I pass is Darren, just like Rory and I talked about. Darren always has this patrol shift. He’s Jeremy’s second-in-command, and a little too eager. This is the best time because Darren’s shift is almost over, and he won’t be as cautious.

“Goodnight, Darren,” I say, keeping my voice low and casual.

“Night.” He brushes past me without a second glance. “Have a good weekend.”

The car squeaks open with a click of the unlock button on the keys. Rory has an ancient Honda Civic. The red paint is fading away in large patches all over the vehicle. When I open the door it creaks loudly. I glance back over my shoulder. Darren isn’t paying any attention. I settle into the driver’s seat and wait.

Darren continues his patrol around the perimeter. At the end of the lot, he meets with another man. I can’t see his face but assume it’s Evan, who will take over the post. I check my watch. It’s 10:00 p.m. exactly. Right on time.

But the two begin to talk, chatting on and on about who knows what.

I anxiously watch in the rearview mirror.

Maybe they caught on. Somehow they figured out what Rory and I have been plotting and are waiting, laughing at us until we try to get through the gate. Then the joke will be on us.

They’re still talking, quiet shadows at the edge of the parking lot.

And then they shake hands and Darren wanders out to his car, calling it a night.

I skooch over into the passenger seat and sink down, careful to make myself still so Evan won’t notice anyone in the car.

Darren’s car flashes to life, and he pulls from the lot. His headlights hit my mirror briefly, and I tense. But he passes by and no one starts running toward the car.

Evan circles back to the other side of the lot and begins his patrol. He’s swinging the flashlight back and forth, tipping his head from side to side. He turns his back to me to march the other way, and I slink deeper into the passenger seat. My eyes focus on the rearview mirror. Waiting.

What’s taking her so long?

Evan turns around at the end of the parking lot and starts walking back to the opposite corner. He’s all scrawny limbs, which make his movements jerky.

A bead of sweat begins to trickle across my forehead. Even though the night is chilly, the nerves beat it from my body. I pull the sweater over my head and yank the ties open on the chef’s apron, tossing both in the backseat.

Then I focus back on the rearview mirror, but my eyes collide with Evan’s. He’s staring in my direction.

Shit.

Can he see that it’s me in the darkness?

He hesitates, then whips around suddenly.

“Hi, Evan,” Rory calls through the darkness. I can see Evan relax.

“Hi, Rory.” He grins. It’s a grin that all boys give Rory when they’re privileged with her attention.

“How’s your night so far?” she purrs.

“Well, I just started. It isn’t bad.” I can see Evan struggle to stand a little straighter and puff out his chest, posing for her.

“That’s good.” Rory brushes past him. “Goodnight,” she says over her shoulder.

But he runs after her. “Let me walk you to your car.”

“Don’t be silly,” she says, waving him off. “I’m a big girl.”

“An eighteen-year-old girl,” he corrects. Clearly this isn’t Evan’s first attempt to gain Rory’s attention. “Can’t be too careful.”

“Oh, I’m careful.” Rory produces a can of pepper spray from her purse and holds it out for Evan to see.

He snorts, “You think that’s gonna stop The Revealed? You were at the gala weren’t you?”

“Of course I was there,” Rory replies, “but a girl does what she can.” With this she gives him a snarky smile. Rory doesn’t need a hero.

“What you need is this,” he produces his gun, tossing it from hand to hand.

Rory rolls her eyes. “Yeah, ’cause those were
so
useful that night. Look, I have to get home.” Rory brushes past him again, this time not giving him a chance to cut her off. “See you tomorrow.”

BOOK: The Revealed
3.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Stealing Ryder by V. Murphy
Sword Sworn-Sword Dancer 6 by Roberson, Jennifer
Booker T: From Prison to Promise: Life Before the Squared Circle by Huffman, Booker T, Wright, Andrew William
The Fortune Hunter by Jo Ann Ferguson