Outside In

Page 12


“Why?”

“You’re nasty to her at every opportunity. And I suspect the only reason you stayed there is to make her suffer for her actions during the rebellion. Her guilt was probably why she put up with you as long as she did.”

I wanted to correct him, but I suspected he was right. “I like helping the patients.” Weak.

“You could have interned with Doctor Sanchia.” Riley sat next to me.

“I wasn’t that nasty. More like grumpy and a little surly.”

“Sorry, but no. Nasty is the right word.” He held up a hand to stop my protest. “Consider your refusal to take a blood test. She still grieves for her daughter and you could ease her pain.”

“What if I’m not Sadie?”

“Then she’ll know Karla lied and there’s no hope.”

“Wait a minute. Karla could be telling the truth and Sadie is living in the lower levels right now.”

“Doctor Lamont already tested every girl born close to Sadie’s birth week. All fifteen of them. No match. You’re the last one.”

Oh. “Are you going to counter all my comments?”

“Yes.”

“Why? Her betrayal could have sent us all to Chomper, including your father.”

“You keep forgetting, she didn’t tell Karla everything. Her information made it difficult for us, but we won.” He ran a hand through his hair, pulling his bangs from his eyes. Riley stared into the past. “Besides, if Karla had offered me the chance to see my mother again, to hug my mother and tell her I love her… I would have been mighty tempted. And you had been ready to exchange your life for Cogon’s. Remember? Lamont’s actions aren’t as despicable when you look at it that way.”

I grumbled, but couldn’t respond. He had a point.

“Will you at least think about it?”

“I will. Later.” I scooted closer to him and he hooked his arm around my shoulder.

“Do you want to stay with us?” Riley asked. “You’ll have a shower close by.”

I glanced around the storeroom. “Eventually I’ll want to, but right now this place is…comforting and familiar. Do you understand?”

He smiled and I realized just how much I missed his smile. This was the first time in weeks that we had complete privacy.

“Yes, I do. And so does Sheepy. He was just reminiscing about those hours we spent in here with you before the rebellion.” Riley turned to me. “In fact your uniform is bringing back those memories of the first time I met you.” He trailed his fingertips along the slippery material of my arm as he cocked his head, considering. “Something’s not quite right.”

Reaching around with both hands, he pulled my hair from its braid. His touch sent shivers through me. When he fin ished, he mussed my hair. “There, that’s better. Now you look like the wild scrub that fell into my life.”

“Because you loosened the vent’s screws.”

“Best. Decision. Ever.” He combed his fingers through my hair and laced them behind my neck, pulling me in for a kiss.

Heat burned inside me as he deepened the kiss. I snaked my arms around his shoulders and pressed against him. The thin material of my uniform chafed and when he tugged at the zipper along the back, I broke our kiss long enough to whisper an encouragement for him to keep pulling. Reclaiming his lips, I worked on unbuttoning his shirt.

He peeled the top of my uniform down, exposing my br**sts. One of the benefits of being on the smaller side—no uncomfortable support garment. His surprise at encountering nothing but smooth skin lasted mere microseconds, before his thumbs sent tingling waves through me.

This was farther than we’ve ever explored before, but I wasn’t about to complain. I yanked his shirt off and ran my hands along his muscular arms. He abandoned my lips to nibble on my neck, pushing me back so I reclined on the couch.

“Trella, are you there?” Logan’s voice squawked from my earring. I groaned in annoyance and was about to switch it off when Logan said, “Trell, I need you at the Power Plant’s control room now.” Logan’s panic rang loud and clear.

Riley pulled away. Concern creased his forehead.

I fumbled for the transmitter clipped onto my uniform. “What happened?” I asked.

“Sabotage.”

4

ALL TINGLY WARMTH FLED MY BODY. “SABOTAGE?” I asked. “I didn’t feel—”

“Come to the control room, and I’ll explain,” Logan said.

“Why can’t you tell me now?”

“This frequency isn’t secure.”

The click from Logan switching off sounded in my ear. I met Riley’s resigned gaze. He buttoned his shirt. I pulled up the top of my uniform and zipped it.

“Promise me we’ll continue this…conversation later.” Riley’s mournful tone made me smile.

“That’s an easy promise to make.”

I glanced at the air vent in the ceiling. Riley’s broad shoulders would never fit. Gesturing toward the door, I asked, “Did anyone see you come in here?”

“Nope.”

“The corridors should be patrolled by ISF officers.”

“They are. I told them I was checking the wiring. As soon as they lost interest in me, I ghosted down our hallway.”

“Ghosted? You’ve been hanging around Logan too much.”

“I’d rather be…exploring with you.” He ran his hands down my sides and rested them on my hips. “There may be other surprises under your jumpsuit just waiting to be discovered.”