Read Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi Chapter 27
Warner’s eyes close very slowly. He steps away very slowly. His lips twitch into a dangerous smile. “Kent.”
Adam’s hands are steady, the barrel of his gun pressed into the back of Warner’s skull. “You’re going to clear our exit out of here.”
Warner actually laughs. He opens his eyes and whips a gun out of his inside pocket only to point it directly at my forehead. “I will kill her right now.” “You’re not that stupid,” Adam says.
“If she moves even a millimeter, I will shoot her. And then I will rip you to pieces.”
Adam shifts quickly, slamming the butt of his gun into Warner’s head. Warner’s gun misfires and Adam catches his arm and twists his wrist until his grip on the weapon wavers. I grab the gun from Warner’s limp hand and slam the butt of it into his face. I’m stunned by my own reflexes. I’ve never held a gun before but I guess there’s a first time for everything. I point it at Warner’s eyes. “Don’t underestimate me.” “Holy shit.” Adam doesn’t bother hiding his surprise.
Warner coughs through a laugh, steadies himself, and tries to smile as he wipes the blood from his nose. “I never underestimate you,” he says to me. “I never have.”
Adam shakes his head for less than a second before his face splits into an enormous grin. He’s beaming at me as he presses the gun harder into Warner’s skull. “Let’s get out of here.”
I grab the two duffel bags stowed away in the armoire and toss one to Adam. We’ve been packed for a week already. If he wants to make a break for it earlier than expected, I have no complaints.
Warner’s lucky we’re showing him mercy.
But we’re lucky the entire building has been evacuated. He has no one to rely on.
Warner clears his throat. He’s staring straight at me when he speaks. “I can assure you, soldier, your triumph will be short-lived. You may as well kill me now, because when I find you, I will thoroughly enjoy destroying every bone in your body. You’re a fool if you think you can get away with this.”
“I am not your soldier.” Adam’s face is stone. “I never have been. You’ve been so caught up in the details of your own fantasies you failed to notice the dangers right in front of your face.”
“We can’t kill you yet,” I add. “You have to get us out of here.”
“You’re making a huge mistake, Juliette,” he says to me. His voice actually softens. “You’re throwing away an entire future.” He sighs. “How do you know you can trust him?”
I glance at Adam. Adam, the boy who’s always defended me, even when he had nothing to gain. I shake my head to clear it. I remind myself that Warner is a liar. A crazed lunatic. A psychotic murderer. He would never try to help me.
“Let’s go before it’s too late,” I say to Adam. “He’s just trying to stall us until the soldiers get back.”
“He doesn’t even care about you!” Warner explodes. I flinch at the sudden, uncontrolled intensity in his voice. “He just wants a way out of here and he’s using you!” He steps forward. “I could love you, Juliette—I would treat you like a queen—”
Adam puts him in a swift headlock and points the gun at his temple. “You obviously don’t understand what’s happening here,” he says very carefully.
“Then educate me, soldier,” Warner wheezes out. His eyes are dancing flames; dangerous. “Tell me what I’m failing to understand.” “Adam.” I’m shaking my head.
He meets my eyes. Nods. Turns to Warner. “Make the call,” he says, squeezing his neck a little tighter. “Get us out of here now.”
“Only my dead body would allow her to walk out that door.” Warner exercises his jaw and spits blood on the floor. “You I would kill for pleasure,” he says to Adam. “But Juliette is the one I want forever.”
“I’m not yours to want.” I’m breathing too hard. I’m anxious to get out of here. I’m angry he won’t stop talking but as much as I’d love to break his face, he’s no good to us unconscious.
“You could love me, you know.” He’s smiling a strange sort of smile. “We would be unstoppable. We would change the world. I could make you happy,” he says to me.
Adam looks like he might snap Warner’s neck. His face is so taut, so tense, so angry. I’ve never seen him like this before. “You have nothing to offer her, you sick bastard.”
Warner presses his eyes shut for one second. “Juliette. Don’t be hasty. Don’t make a rash decision. Stay with me. I’ll be patient with you. I’ll give you time to adjust. I’ll take care of you—”
“You’re insane.” My hands are shaking but I hold the gun up to his face again. I need to get him out of my head. I need to remember what he’s done to me. “You want me to be a monster for you—”
“I want you to live up to your potential!”
“Let me go,” I say quietly. “I don’t want to be your creature. I don’t want to hurt people.”
“The world has already hurt you,” he counters. “The world put you here. You’re here because of them! You think if you leave they’re going to accept you? You think you can run
away and live a normal life? No one will care for you. No one will come near you—you’ll be an outcast like you’ve always been!
Nothing has changed! You belong with me!”
“She belongs with me.” Adam’s voice could cut through steel.
Warner flinches. For the first time he seems to be understanding what I thought was obvious. His eyes are wide, horrified, unbelieving, staring at me with a new kind of anguish. “No.” A short, crazed laugh. “Juliette. Please. Please. Don’t tell me he’s filled your head with romantic notions. Please don’t tell me you fell for his false proclamations—”
Adam slams his knee into Warner’s spine. Warner falls to the floor with a muffled crack and a sharp intake of breath. Adam has thoroughly overpowered him. I feel like I should be cheering.
But I’m too anxious. I’m too suspended in disbelief. I’m too insecure to be confident in my own decisions. I need to pull myself together.
“I love you,” he says to me, his eyes just as earnest as I remember them, his words just as urgent as they should be. “Don’t let him confuse you—”
“You love her?” Warner practically spits. “You don’t even—”
“Adam.” The room shifts in and out of focus. I’m staring at the window. I glance back at him.
His eyes touch his eyebrows. “You want to jump out?” I nod.
“But we’re fifteen stories up—”
“What choice do we have if he won’t cooperate?” I look at Warner. Cock my head. “There is no Code Seven, is there?”
Warner’s lips twitch. He says nothing.
“Why would you do that?” I ask him. “Why would you pull a false alarm?”
“Why don’t you ask the soldier you’re so suddenly fond of?” Warner snaps, disgusted. “Why don’t you ask yourself why you’re trusting your life to someone who can’t even differentiate between a real and an imaginary threat?” Adam swears under his breath.
I lock eyes with him and he tosses me his gun.
He shakes his head. Swears again. Clenches and unclenches his fist. “It was just a drill.”
Warner actually laughs.
Adam glances at the door, the clock, my face. “We don’t have much time.”
I’m holding Warner’s gun in my left hand and Adam’s gun in my right and pointing them both at Warner’s forehead, doing my best to ignore the eyes he’s drilling in my direction. Adam uses his free hand to dig in his pockets for something. He pulls out a pair of plastic zip ties and kicks Warner onto his back just before binding his limbs together. Warner’s boots and gloves have been discarded on the floor. Adam keeps one boot pressed on his stomach.
“A million alarms are going to go off the minute we jump through that window,” he tells me. “We’ll have to run, so we can’t risk breaking our legs. We can’t jump.”
“So what do we do?”
He runs a hand through his hair and bites down on his bottom lip and for one delirious moment all I want to do is taste him. I force myself back into focus.
“I have rope,” he says. “We’ll have to climb down. And fast.”
He sets to work pulling out a coil of cord attached to a small clawlike anchor. I’d asked him a million times what on earth he would need it for, why he would pack it in his escape bag. He told me a
person could never have too much rope. Now, I almost want to laugh.
He turns to me. “I’m going to go down first so I can catch you on the other side—”
Warner laughs loud, too loud. “You can’t catch her, you fool.” He squirms in his plastic shackles. “She’s wearing next to nothing. She’ll kill you and kill herself from the fall!”
My eyes dart between Warner and Adam. I don’t have time to entertain Warner’s charades any longer. I make a hasty decision. “Do it. I’ll be right behind you.”
Warner looks crazed, confused. “What are you doing?” I ignore him.
I ignore him.
“Juliette.” I ignore him.
“Juliette!” His voice is tighter, higher, laced with anger and terror and denial and betrayal. Realization is a new piece in his puzzled mind. “He can touch you?”
Adam is wrapping his fist in the bedsheet.
“Goddamn it, Juliette, answer me!” Warner is writhing on the floor, unhinged in a way I never thought possible. He looks wild, his eyes disbelieving, horrified. “Has he touched you?”
I can’t understand why the walls are suddenly on the ceiling. Everything is stumbling sideways.
Adam breaks through the glass with one swift crack, one solid punch, and instantly the entire room is ringing with the sound of hysteria like no alarm I’ve heard before. The room is rumbling under my feet, footsteps are thundering down the halls, and I know we’re about one minute from being discovered.
Adam throws the cord through the window and slings his pack over his back. “Throw me your bag!” he shouts and I can barely hear him. I toss my duffel and he catches it right before slipping through the window. I run to join him.
Warner tries to grab my leg.
His failed attempt nearly trips me but I manage to stumble my way to the window without losing much time. I glance back at the door and feel my heart racing through my bones. The sound of soldiers running and yelling is getting louder, closer, clearer by the second.
“Hurry!” Adam is calling to me.
Warner swipes for my leg again and I gasp so loud I almost hear it through the sirens shattering my eardrums. I won’t look at him. I won’t look at him. I won’t look at him.
I swing one leg through the window and latch on to the cord. My bare legs are going to make this an excruciating ordeal. Both legs are through. My hands are in place. Adam is calling to me from below, and I don’t know how far down he is. Warner is screaming my name and I look up despite my best efforts.
His eyes are two shots of green punched through a pane of glass. Cutting through me.
I take a deep breath and hope I won’t die.
I take a deep breath and inch my way down the rope.
I take a deep breath and hope Warner doesn’t realize what just happened. I hope he doesn’t know he just touched my leg.
And nothing happened