Stung by Bethany Wiggins

Page 38

  I blink at the doctor’s face, confused.

  “Kiss him,” he says again, frantic. “Just do it!”

  I stare at him and wonder how hard I hit my head. I’m obviously losing it.

  “You still carry trace amounts of the vaccine. It has certain advantages in very small doses, certain healing properties,” Doctor Grayson calmly explains. “If you can pass more of them on to Dreyden, he might live. ”

  I push up onto my hands and knees and crawl over to Dreyden, pressing my uninjured hand against his cold cheek. “Dreyden?” He doesn’t move. I lean down and put my mouth against his slightly open mouth, but his lips are cool and hard. I kiss him anyway, and as my warm lips leave his, I’m certain it is the last time I will ever kiss him.

  Feet scuffle and the doctor curses under his breath. I turn away from Bowen’s cold, still face to see what’s going on and gasp. I am seeing a ghost.

  A man crosses the pool and falls to his knees beside Bowen. He presses his fingers against Bowen’s neck. “What happened?” he demands, looking at Dr. Grayson with accusing gray eyes. “Why is my brother in the pits?”

  “He came to save her,” the doctor says, nodding toward me, eyes steel hard.

  Duncan focuses on me, and I can hardly believe how much he looks like his younger brother. The only difference is his eyes—cold, flat gray instead of warm green. “You’re not dead yet? But I was told the Fec …” His eyes move to the slash on my arm, the spot where Arris’s knife wounded me. Ironically, the only spot on my body that doesn’t hurt. At all.

  I look at my arm and gently prod the oozing knife wound. My skin is completely numb. Thin veins spiderweb away from a sickly purple gash, spreading up my entire arm and disappearing beneath my shirtsleeve.

  The doctor is at my side, eyes panicked, staring at my arm. “You’ve been poisoned!” he blurts. And then he does three things that make me wonder if I’m hallucinating. First, he tears the tie from his neck and cinches it around my bicep so hard that I yelp. Next, he takes the knife from Dreyden’s belt and slashes it over Arris’s knife wound—and I don’t feel it, even a little bit. Last, he starts squeezing my arm like he’s wringing out a washcloth, forcing blood from the numb wound.

  “Stop,” a calm, smooth voice commands. Hard-soled shoes click across the pool floor, and a man stops beside Doctor Grayson. Duncan Bowen jumps to his feet, spine ramrod straight, and salutes. The governor doesn’t seem to notice Duncan, doesn’t take his eyes from the doctor and me. “There’s nothing you can do to save her now,” he says, a satisfied gleam in his eyes.

  “Get out of here or I will physically remove you, Jacoby. ” The doctor gently releases my arm and stands, looking down at the governor. He’s a full head taller than the governor, has broad shoulders, and looks at least a decade younger.

  The governor laughs and steps up to Grayson. “You think you can stop me?”

  “I already have,” Grayson says, his body trembling as if he’s about to explode. “As soon as Mickelmoore heard that I found a cure and you’ve been covering it up, he has been rallying the militia to stand against your Inner Guard. They’re taking over control as we speak. They outnumber you five to one. ”

  “You have no proof that there is a cure,” the governor says.

  Grayson smiles and, without taking his eyes from the governor, nods at me.

  The governor takes a deep breath. He slowly removes his suit jacket and tosses it to the side of the pool. Without warning, his hand darts out and he grabs the doctor’s wrist, twisting. The doctor gasps and falls to his knees, his arm at an unnatural angle. “If I move your arm an inch, your shoulder will dislocate. ” The governor’s muscles bulge beneath his spotless white shirt, the seams barely holding the cloth together.

  “You’re not going to be able to hide this forever,” Grayson says through gritted teeth.

  The governor laughs. “You have no idea who you’re dealing with. I can hide anything. Without the girl, there’s no proof. It will look like you fabricated this whole thing in an attempt to usurp me. ” He kicks the doctor in the stomach. “Bowen, get the bodies out of here, starting with the girl,” the governor says, holding the panting doctor firmly in place.

  “But the girl is still alive,” Duncan says.

  “Just do it,” the governor orders. Veins are bulging beneath his skin, and a sheen of sweat has glossed his wrinkled forehead.

  “Yes, sir. ” Duncan Bowen steps up to me. He bends down to grab me when something clicks. Duncan freezes and his startled eyes flicker past me. I follow his gaze to Dreyden, to the handgun in his quivering hand—aimed at his brother’s chest.

  “You touch her, Duncan, I shoot,” Dreyden warns, his voice a hoarse whisper.

  Duncan looks between me and his younger brother. “You’ve got to be kidding me! You’d shoot me? Over a beast?” he asks.

  “You left Mom and me to fend for ourselves outside the wall. I should shoot you for that. But I won’t,” Dreyden says, voice weak. “But if you move a single inch closer to Fiona, I swear I’ll kill you so fast you won’t even feel it. ”

  Slowly, eyes wide, Duncan stands and backs away from me. He hasn’t taken two steps when Grayson crashes to the pool floor and the governor leaps toward me.

  “Shoot him!” Grayson shrieks. Time seems to slow down. I watch the governor arcing through the air toward me, teeth bared, see Dreyden move his gun a fraction, hear him pull the trigger. The governor’s eyes grow wide as he skids to a stop on the ground beside me. His brows knit, and he looks from me to the blood spreading over the chest of his white button-up shirt.

  As if responding to the gunshot, men in brown storm into the arena and circle the pool, guns pointing in, aimed at Duncan Bowen and the governor. Mickelmoore strides to the side of the pool and looks in. “Tommy, Rory, restrain those two,” he says.

  Tommy jumps down into the pool with two pairs of electromagnetic cuffs in his hands and chuckles. “Hello, Governor Soneschen! Never thought I’d see the day I put a pair of these on you. If only my mother could see it. But you threw her out of the wall and got her killed on her fifty-fifth birthday. ”

  He slaps the cuffs onto the governor, over his shirt. Rory jumps in next and cuffs Duncan.

  Too woozy to keep watching, I roll onto my side and face Dreyden. He turns his head and we stare into each other’s eyes. Inching his way to my side, he carefully lifts my head with cold, clammy hands, onto the crook of his shoulder. I tilt my chin up and press my warm lips to his cold mouth. I kiss him like I am the blood transfusion he needs to stay alive. Because, really, I sort of am.

  My lips fall away and I nestle closer to him, my head cradled in the soft spot just below his shoulder where I can hear the gentle thump-thump of his heart.

  “Sleep,” Dreyden whispers. And I do.

  Chapter 37

  I wake to pain. Everything hurts, even my eyebrows. My tongue is thick, my eyes grainy. I try to spread my arms, but only one arm works—the other is strapped to my chest.

  I open my eyes, but heavy darkness fills my vision and I panic, thinking of tunnels where children eat worms and sleep on stale sewage. I wait for Arrin’s knife—no, Arris’s knife—to find its way to my neck.

  A light flashes on, illuminating a square of glass that frames a woman, like I am seeing her on television. My mind tries to understand her appearance, until I realize she is watching me from the other side of a window. She leaves the lit window. A moment later, a door opens, shining a rectangle of light across me, and she enters the room.

  She’s dressed in white, wearing a nurse’s white cap, white shoes, and white nylons beneath a white skirt. With her back illuminated by the open door, I can’t see her face. But I see what’s in her hand and start thrashing. Because now I remember. I am at the lab. And I am going to be their guinea pig, experimented on until I die.

  She pauses and the hand holding a giant syringe wavers. “Shh. I won’t hu
rt you,” she croons, and turns toward the door she’s come through. She turns on an overhead light, and I flinch, my skull instantly too tight, my eyes so sensitive I want to vomit.

  Warm hands frame my face, and something wet splatters on my chin. I thrash against the touch and lash out with my good hand.

  “Fiona! Open your eyes!” the nurse says, grasping my flailing hand and holding it to my chest as if I were weak as a baby, which I am. Something about the voice calms me. I swallow and peer up at the nurse through my lashes, but the light is too bright. My gaze moves to her neck, to a golden treble clef hanging on a gold chain. I know this necklace. My father gave it to me on my thirteenth birthday. My good hand comes to my bare neck, and I remember how it felt against my skin. I look back at her face.

  Tears are streaming down her cheeks, splattering onto my chin, my lips. She smiles and it warms her hazel eyes. I look from her face to her dress and the words embroidered over her heart—L. Grayson, LPN—and back to her face.

  “Lis?” I ask, my voice a hopeful whisper. She nods, leans down, and kisses my forehead. I throw my good arm around her neck and press my cheek against hers. Joy warms me. My sister is alive. Another thought hits me and I turn cold. “Bowen? Is he alive?” I say, trying to claw my way to sitting. Lis puts her hands on my shoulders and eases me back down into bed.

  “You mean Dreyden?” I nod. “He’s doing better than you, actually. Lick your lips,” she says with a laugh, wiping her damp cheeks. “You might taste him. The instant he learned that your saliva would help him heal, he’s been taking full advantage. He left less than an hour ago and kissed you at least five times while he was here. ”

  I feel my face heat and try not to giggle. I lick my lips. A smile finds my mouth, and my entire body melts into the mattress with relief. Bowen is alive. “What about Jonah?” I ask.

  “He’s alive,” she says, looking away, “but barely. If he survives it will be a miracle. ” My heart hurts for my brother.
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