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The Doubted by Shiloh Walker (19)

Chapter Twenty

 

On their way out the door, Taige pushed a closed envelope into his hand. “Read it. Oh, hell, I don’t know. You’ll figure it out. You’re looking for something. Maybe it’s an answer,” she said.

Then she called the class together, minus Nyrene.

She’d informed Nyrene she’d given her a little slack as she was still trying to settle in, but within a week, Nyrene’s slack would be gone.

Nyrene glanced over her shoulder as the door shut, then met his eyes. “If she calls this slack, I don’t want to know how it gets when it’s slackless,” she said gamely.

Her skin was still flushed, and when they reached a water fountain up in front of them, she paused and refilled her water bottle. She emptied half of it standing there and refilled it.

“Yoga making you thirsty?” he asked.

“It’s not just the yoga,” she said, a pained look on her face. “It’s…everything. I had to get up and go running this morning. I was up at seven a.m. to go running. I’ve never run a day in my life. But Taige was hounding me about how all of this”—she waved a hand at her head—“takes discipline, and if I can discipline my body, then having discipline over my brain will be a lot easier. Thus the running and the yoga. Although she said the yoga is both mental and physical discipline.”

They pushed through the doors on the right and Nyrene sighed. “There are chairs out here. That kid Alex mentioned them earlier.”

“You seem at home already,” Dev said, starting to wonder if he even needed to be there.

“I…” She stopped and shook her head. “I can’t say I feel at home. But I can breathe.” A faint smile curled her lips as she turned to look at him. “I don’t have a hundred thoughts weighing in on me so even though I’m maintaining my shields, nothing weighs them down. It’s like the difference between holding an umbrella over your head on a nice day when there’s no rain and a stormy day with hail and wind.”

“But it’s the stormy days when you need the umbrella,” he pointed out.

“I know.” Her full lips turned down in a grimace as she added, “But I never learned how to really do any of this. I don’t have the…muscle for it. So it’s all that much more exhausting.”

“Then you’re fine with being here.”

“I need to be here,” she said simply. “Not just to learn, but because…” She hesitated, licking her lips as she struggled to find the words. “It’s going to take me some time to learn what I need to learn, Ben. And I don’t want to be a burden while I’m doing it. Here, I don’t have to be. Taige needs a nurse on hand. She runs a school here for the younger psychics they come across. There’s also a business—security stuff, but she has other people who help head that up. Sometimes people get hurt and unless it’s super serious, they avoid hospitals. It’s just too complicated coming up with explanations for things like…” She shot him a nervous smile. “How would we explain it if one of us had gotten hurt the past few days? People would think we were crazy.”

“It’s not just training you want then?” The words tasted bitter in his throat. He felt like he was at loose ends now. He didn’t really want to go back to the Clary Police Department, but it was all he knew. He didn’t want to leave Clary because that was where she was, or he’d thought it was where she’d be.

“I’m trying to make a life for myself,” she said softly. “I’ve never had one.”

He turned away. “That’s…well, good for you, Nyrene.” He had to clear his throat to force out the words. “I’m happy for you.”

He tried to will his legs to move—one step. That was all he needed to do, take one step.

But he couldn’t do it.

“They said there was a reason,” Nyrene said behind him.

He looked back over his shoulder at her.

She edged closer, looking beautiful in skin-hugging pants and a close-fitting top. Her hair was swept up into a ponytail and her eyes looked incredibly dark, incredibly beautiful.

“I think part of the reason was because I was meant to save you,” she said. “I think that’s part of the reason all of this happened.”

“Yeah.” He nodded slowly. “I think so, too.”

She took another step and he turned to face her, although logically he needed to get the hell out of there. Leave, before he started to beg.

“But I think there’s another reason you and I ended up running across each other’s path, Bennett Deverall,” she said softly. “I think we were meant to.”

She reached up and touched his cheek.

His heart slammed against his ribs as he covered her hand with his own. “Nyrene?”

She leaned in closer, letting him take some of her weight.

“Don’t you feel…something here?” She bit her lip after asking, indecision on her face, but then, after taking a breath, she pushed on. “I mean, I know we just met, and everything’s been crazy, but I felt something for you practically from the second I met you, even when I was crying all over you.”

“You…this…” He fisted his hand, only to have paper crumple in his fist.

Confused, he looked down and saw the envelope Taige had given him.

Nyrene continued to talk.

“I know you’ve got a job in Clary and I’m here, but maybe we can work something out.”

You’re looking for something. Maybe it’s an answer, Taige had said. He’d been looking for something for a while. But how could Taige have any clue?

Dumbass, that voice inside him whispered. She’s psychic.

He turned away from Nyrene and opened the envelope.

Inside it, he found two pieces of paper.

The first one… He blinked and shook his head, immediately flipping to the next.

Then he just stared.

After a few seconds, he started to laugh.

Nyrene harrumphed behind him. “You know, I don’t really see what’s—”

He turned to her, crossing the paved stones to catch the back of her neck in one hand, hauling her up against him for a kiss. He swallowed down the rest of her comment, wishing he could just eat her up in five or six greedy bites, but this wasn’t the time or place.

“I won’t be in Clary,” he said, breaking the kiss.

She blinked up at him.

“You won’t?”

“No.” He pulled her up against him, smiling down at her, feeling lighter than he had in…months. “Taige just offered me a job.”

 

Deverall,

Like I said, you’re looking for something. So am I. I need a cop. Most of my people are young and even some of the people who aren’t come to me without any law enforcement training. What we do, we do by instinct. But instinct doesn’t trump real training.

What do you think about coming on board here and working with my people?

I don’t just mean being a teacher, either. There are cases we get that need the brains of a cop on them. I want you to be that cop.

Let me know what you think.

 

It was signed simply,

 

Taige

 

 

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