“He knows I killed a pure-blood,” I whispered. “And he knows either Seth or a pure covered it up.”
Aiden said nothing.
I really started to freak out. “He’s definitely part of the Order, and I think he’s the one who sent the Guard to kill me. It’s the only way he could know unless the compulsion—”
“The compulsion hasn’t faded.” Aiden dragged his hand over his head. Dark waves tumbled through his fingers. “We would know. I’d be arrested by now.”
“Then the only way he would know is if he sent the Guard to kill me.”
Aiden clasped the back of his neck. “Are you sure he knows?”
I laughed harshly as I gestured at my cheek. “He did this when I wouldn’t admit to it.”
The silver in his eyes burned. “I want to kill him.”
“Me too, but that’s not really going to help things.”
He flashed me a wild smile. “But it would make us feel better.”
“Damn, you’ve gotten dark. Funny, but dark.”
Aiden shook his head. “What did he say, exactly?”
I told him the questions Telly had asked. “You know, the only good thing about this is that he didn’t think using my father had any pull on me. But he said that, if I turn myself in, he wouldn’t push to find the pure who covered for me. If I didn’t tell him, then he would go after every pure who seems to tolerate me: you, Laadan, Leon, even Marcus. I guess he doesn’t think he can get Seth or he’s afraid of him.”
“I don’t know what to do.” I pushed off the couch, sidestepping him. I prowled the length of the small living room, feeling caged. I stopped, my back to Aiden. “I’m screwed, you know that, right?”
“Alex, we’ll think of something.” I felt him come up behind me. “This isn’t the end. There are always options.”
“Options?” I crossed my arms. “There were options when the Guard tried to kill me, and I chose the wrong one. I made a huge mistake, Aiden. I can’t fix that. And you know what? I don’t even think he cares about that Guard.”
“I know,” he replied softly. “I think he sent that Guard knowing that you’d be able to defend yourself, that you would probably even kill the Guard. It makes sense.”
I turned around. “It does?”
He nodded, eyes narrowing. “It’s the perfect set-up, Alex. Telly sends the Guard to kill you, knowing there would be a good chance that you’d fight back and kill the Guard out of self-defense.”
“And self-defense means nothing in this world.”
“Exactly. So Telly would have you then. No one could stop him from having you killed or at least placing you into servitude. He puts you on the elixir and you don’t Awaken. Problem solved, except Telly didn’t expect a pure to use compulsion and cover it up for you.”
I nodded. “But he now knows that someone did.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Aiden said. “He may know but he has no evidence without incriminating himself. Telly may be the Head Minister, but he does not wield the kind of power where he can indiscriminately go after pure-bloods. He can accuse us all he wants, but he can’t do anything without evidence.”
A tiny seedling of hope rooted in my chest. “He has a lot of power, Aiden. He has the Order, too, and gods know how many people belong to it.”
“It doesn’t matter, Alex.” Aiden placed gentle, strong hands on my shoulders. “All he has right now is fear. He thinks he can scare you into admitting the truth. He’s using that fear against you.”
“But what if he does go after everyone? What about you?”
Aiden smiled. “He can, but he’s not going to get anywhere with it. And when you don’t admit to anything, then he’ll go back to New York. And we’ll be ready if he tries something again. This isn’t the end.”
I nodded again.
Aiden looked me straight in the eyes. “I want you to promise me that you won’t do anything stupid, Alex. Promise me that you won’t turn yourself in.”
“Why does everyone think I’m always going to do something stupid?”
His look said he knew better. “Knee-jerk reaction, Alex. I think we’ve covered that.”
I sighed. “I won’t do anything reckless, Aiden.”
Aiden stared at me for a moment, then nodded. Instead of relaxing like I thought he would, he seemed to grow more tense. He exhaled roughly and then nodded once again. Whatever he was thinking, I knew it wasn’t good.
And when his steely gaze met mine, I knew there was a good chance he didn’t believe any of the promises I’d made.
LATER THAT EVENING, I HELD THE CELL PHONE TWO feet from my head and still felt like Seth was yelling in my ear.
“I’m going to kill him!”
“Yeah, you’re not the first one to say that.” I climbed off the couch, scowling at the door. I didn’t need to check to know that Leon stood right outside my room. Thank the gods most of the kids were gone, because having a personal Sentinel guard would make me an even bigger freak. “And it’s pretty sad when I’m the voice of reason.”
“What else do you suggest?” he asked. “He’s the Head Minister, Alex. It’s obvious that he ordered that Guard to attack you.”
“Yeah.” I headed to my bathroom, turning my head to the side. The left side of my cheek was red and slightly swollen. A bit of blue lined my jaw. Jackson had done worse. Telly hit like a girl. I started to smile. “But Aiden said that he doesn’t—”