“Not that fast, no, but we do it all the time with new drafters,” he said, sounding like a psychiatrist. “You must have wanted to remember, hence the memory knot.”
“It was not a memory knot,” she protested, but his head was down over his phone.
“I need to make a call. I want you to meet someone.”
Uneasy, Peri reached for the coat. “One of your alliance friends?” she said bitterly as she shoved her arms in. I want to remember that I loved the man I killed? Right.
Silas hesitated, cell phone in hand as he saw she had her coat on. “Where are you going?”
She didn’t know, but she couldn’t stay here. Jack was dead, and she could hardly breathe.
They both turned at the soft knock on the door and the muffled “Room service.”
“There’s potential here, Peri, more than I’ve seen in five years. At least stay until you’ve eaten,” he said as he put his phone in a back pocket and strode to the door.
Peri’s stomach rumbled at the thought of food, and she fell back down in the chair, rubbing the blue upholstery and feeling a matted, dirty maroon carpet instead. Where did we make love? What city were we in? She closed her eyes so they wouldn’t well up. She felt drained, exhausted, aching with the knowledge of Jack. There’d been a button under the bed. It was a talisman—she’d felt the pull to it even in the memory. It was probably in her apartment. If she had access to it, she might be able to recover the memory of that night, with or without Jack. That’s why drafters made talismans in the first place.
“Coming,” Silas said as he moved a chair to make room for a rolling table. “I’ve got a spot by the window,” he said as he unlocked the door and pulled it open.
Peri’s head snapped up when Silas cried out, falling back to crash into the closet door and slide to the floor. Eyes wide, he plucked a red-fletched dart from his shoulder.
Allen stood in the hallway, black curls swinging as his dart gun shifted to her. Behind him were three men, the cart with their fries and milkshakes pushed to the side.
Gasping, she rolled to hide behind the chair.
“Got her!” Peri heard a man say, and on her hands and knees, Peri looked at the red-fletched dart stuck in her arm. Horrified, she yanked it out, relieved that the thick coat had absorbed its length. She was untouched.
“How did you find her?” Silas groaned. And then his air puffed out as someone kicked him. The dart was probably a massive muscle relaxant to keep her from drafting and make her easier to catch.
“Peri?” Allen’s steps were silent on the carpet. “We don’t have to do it this way.”
“You lied to me!” she exclaimed from behind the chair, then wondered if she should pretend to have been hit. “Jack isn’t corrupt. You are. You and Bill!” But if Jack wasn’t corrupt, that meant she was.
“We’re trying to help you,” Allen said, and Peri looked under the chair to see his dress shoes moving across the room. Four men, and only a questionable assist from Silas. She desperately didn’t want to draft. She’d left her pen on the bathroom counter, and Peri frowned, glad she was wearing boots; she wouldn’t break her foot slamming it into thick male skulls.
Peri stretched to reach the tray under the empty ice bucket on the desk. There was a soft thump and Silas groaned. He was still at the door, propping it open by the sound of it. “Get him in the van,” Allen said, and she rose up with her tray, screaming.
The two men pulling Silas into the hall dropped him to fumble for their dart guns. The third man got a shot off, and she deflected it, howling as she front-kicked his middle, then spun to hit the side of his face with her boot as he conveniently dropped it down within easy reach. His weapon was there for the taking, and Peri yanked it from his slack grasp, dropping to the floor to avoid the volley of darts.
One scored on her coat, and she left it there as she shot at them. They both jumped for the doorway, falling over Silas and out into the hall.
“I’m trying to help!” Allen shouted, hands upraised.
“Yeah, right,” she said, then threw the gun to Silas. He caught it like a field agent, and she smiled, eyes fixed on Allen’s as there was a sudden commotion in the hallway, then silence.
“And don’t come back!” Silas shouted, making her smile even wider.
“How did you find me?” Peri asked, watching the man who’d tried to shoot her as she moved closer to Allen—and Allen backed up, hands upraised and eyes wide under his curly black hair. His long face was even longer in alarm. “How?” she barked.
Silas found his feet and leaned heavily against the doorframe. “We have to go,” he panted.
She held out her hand, and he threw the gun back. Allen moved while it was in the air, and she went after him instead, letting the gun hit the floor.
“You lied to me!” she exclaimed, arm going numb as Allen blocked her punch.
“Just … listen,” Allen pleaded, and she planted a vicious side kick on his knee.
Mouth open in a silent cry, he went down, clutching it. Peri back-kicked the guard grasping for the dart gun, then she reached for Allen’s arm as he shakily went for whatever was in his belt holster.
“No one lies to me,” she snarled, and broke his fingers. At least three.
Allen crumpled, white-faced and staring at her in shock as he cradled his hand close.
“We have to go,” Silas said. “Now.”