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‘Here is all we have,’ he says, drawing my face up to meet his eyes. The electricity is back, and it threatens to overwhelm in its intensity.
Jost leans down to kiss me, but I pull away.
‘We won’t even have that for long,’ I say in a soft voice.
His arms drop from around me, and I straighten up, fighting the urge to burrow into his chest.
‘Why are you here?’ he asks, barely controlling the rage in his voice.
I tell him what I’ve learned about Enora and how they plan to remap me. About what I’ve learned from Loricel about Earth and the mantle of Arras. As I speak, the coldness fades from his face, and by the time I tell him about Cormac’s last visit, his hand has found mine again.
‘I’m sorry,’ he says, interrupting my tale. ‘I’ve been unfair.’
I shake my head. ‘I deserved it.’
‘You were doing what you thought was best and I—’
‘Jost,’ I butt in, sensing the guilt building in his voice. ‘It’s in the past.’
It’s tender and sincere, and maybe it’s not everything I want to say about how confused but hopeful I feel. It’s not the questions I want to ask or even the one thing I think I want to tell him, but it’s enough.
He breaks into a wide smile and wraps his arms around me.
‘You’re right.’
This time I let him kiss me. It starts slowly, but I press closer to him and clutch his shoulders. He holds my waist, and then his hands, warm and strong, move slowly up my back. Everywhere they touch, my body sings out for more. His lips are soft, but I demand more, sliding my arms tight against his neck and pulling him closer. He responds, his mouth opening against mine, and I feel a tremor run through my body. Finally he pulls back, our foreheads still touching, and we breathe in quick pants against one another. His breath is hot on my face, and I struggle to remember what I came to tell him.
‘We have to leave.’ I force the words out before I give in to the ache building up in my chest that begs for the touch of his lips again.
‘Where can we go?’ he asks, straightening up but leaving his hands on my back.
‘I’m still working on that.’
‘But you only have a few days,’ Jost says, kissing the top of my head.
‘I could weave a moment,’ I say, still pressed up against his neck.
‘And never leave?’
‘Something like that.’
‘Do I need to tell you why that won’t work?’
I pull out of his arms and sigh. ‘That’s what the Guild did, and here we are,’ I point out.
‘On a much larger scale,’ he says, ‘and it’s not going too well.’
‘I know. I can’t leave without finding Amie anyway.’
‘Amie’s safe,’ he says, weaving his hand through mine.
I want to believe him as much as I long to run away with him and forget everything I know about the Guild. But I can’t leave Amie in Cypress, and I know he only suggests it because he doesn’t have anything else to lose, except me. That’s about to change though. ‘Would you leave someone you loved?’ I ask, fingering the digifile in my pocket with my free hand. ‘If I leave, the Guild might . . .’
It’s too terrible to even consider.
‘Why? Out of petty revenge? They have no reason to hurt her.’
‘Cormac said something once,’ I confide. ‘He thinks she might be useful. They’re hoping she has my abilities.’
‘But they’ve never proved weaving is genetic.’
‘I know that, but it won’t stop them from taking her. I’m not saying I have to get to her right now, but I have to keep track of her until I know what to do.’ Without realising it, I’ve grabbed a handful of Jost’s shirt, and I’m tugging on it. He loosens my hand gently and takes it in his own.
‘There’s nowhere for us to go,’ he reminds me. ‘They’ll just pull our sequences, and even if you could weave out a moment, how long before they break through that?’
‘I don’t know,’ I say. Loricel said it was inevitable, but it’s the only plan I can come up with.
‘We need more time,’ he grumbles.
‘Good thing you’re with a Creweler,’ I say, giving him a half-smile.
‘How will you find Amie anyway? It could take you decades to comb the weave looking for her.’
‘I know her sequence, but the geographic locators will be different. They change that information when they perform an alteration,’ I explain.
‘But even if you had her information, you don’t have the clearance to pull by personal identifying sequence, do you?’ he asks.
‘No, but Loricel does,’ I say.
‘And you think she’ll let you do that?’ His tone is doubtful.
‘I wasn’t going to ask. How do you think I got this information?’
‘We need a better plan than this,’ he mutters. He drops my hands and runs his through his tangled brown hair.
‘I haven’t told you everything,’ I admit, but as much as I want to blurt out what I’ve found, I find myself holding back. I could ignore his past, because time separated us from it, but now that distance would be removed.
He narrows his eyes and takes a breath. ‘Let me have it.’
‘I know how to find Amie.’ My hand closes around the digifile, and I pull it out of my pocket.