When I finished, Dr. Fellows said, "And this was a vision you had Corey?""Right.""Are you sure?""Huh?" She lowered her voice. "Is it possible that Derek... influenced this vision of yours?""What? No.""Absolutely not," I said. "Derek's the one who cut it short. Accidentally, but still. And if by influence, you mean 'talked us into telling a lie to get everyone out tonight,' then I don't appreciate the insinuation, Dr. Fellows." Her brows shot up to meet her hairline. Tori smirked and leaned back onto her pillow. "Well, Maya, I don't know you yet, so you'll forgive me if I question you.""I don't blame you. You don't know us. But you do know Derek and, sorry, but persuasion doesn't seem to be the guy's strong suit.""She has a point, Lauren," Tori said.Dr. Fellows shot her a look, which Tori met with a cool gaze. "Also," Tori said, "I really think you'd know your niece better than that. I wouldn't put it past Derek to lie to get us out of here, but no way would Chloe let him pull others into the scheme."
Tears sprang to my eyes. I blinked them back, grabbed some tissue, and started awkwardly trying to daub leftover dye into my pale eyebrows, praying it would make a difference.Through the mirror, I saw Tori walk in. She stopped. "Oh. My. God." It would have been better if she'd laughed. Her look of horror, then something like sympathy, meant it was as bad as I thought. "I told Derek to let me pick the color," she said. "I told him.""Hey," Simon called in. "Everyone decent?" He pushed open the door, saw me and blinked. "It's Derek's fault," Tori said. "He—""Don't, please," I said. "No more fighting." Simon still shot a glare over his shoulder as Derek pushed open the door. "What?" Derek said. He looked at me. "Huh." Tori hustled me out the door, brushing past the guys with a whispered "jerk" for Derek. "At least now you know never to go dark again," she said as we walked. "A couple years ago, I let a friend dye mine blond. It was almost as bad. My hair felt like straw and..." And so, Tori and I bonded over hair horror stories.
I knew Derek didn't lack empathy—he couldn't forget what he'd done to that kid who attacked Simon. But it was like what he held some weird list of checks and balances, and if you got on the wrong side, like Tori had, he had no problem 'kicking you on the curb,' to face whatever fate waited. "No," I said. "It isn't up for negotiation. She's not coming.""Okay." I stood and brushed off my jeans. "Come on, Tori." When Simon rose, I thought he was going to stop me. Instead, he followed me to the door. Tori caught up, and we made it into the next room before Derek jogged out, catching my arm with a wrench that yanked me off my feet.I winced and peeled off his fingers. "Wrong one." He dropped my arm quickly, realizing he'd grabbed my injured one. A long minute of silence, then, "Fine." He turned to Tori. "Three conditions. One, whatever your problem is with Chloe, get over it. Go after her again, you're gone.""Understood," Tori said. "Two, get over Simon. He's not interested." She flushed and snapped, "I think I've figured that out. And number three?""Get over yourself."
"I'm not going anywhere. I'm joining your little gang of baby heroes on the quest to find Superdad." Simon and Derek exchanged a look. "No," Derek said. "No? Excuse me, it was Rae who betrayed you guys. Not me. I helped Chloe.""And was it Rae who tormented her at Lyle House?""Tormented?" A derisive snort. "I didn't—""You did everything you could to get Chloe kicked out," Simon said. "And when that didn't work, you tried to kill her.""Kill her?" Tori's mouth hardened. "I'm not my mother. Don't you dare accuse—""You lured her into the crawl space," Derek said. "Hit her over the head with a brick, bound and gagged her, and locked her in. Did you even check to make sure she was okay? That you hadn't cracked her skull?" Tori sputtered a protest, but from the horror in her eyes, I knew the possibility hadn't occurred to her. "Derek," I said, "I don't think—""No she didn't think. She could have killed you with the brick, suffocated you with the gag, given you a heart attack from fright, not to mention what would have happened if you hadn't gotten out of your bindings. It only takes a couple of days to die from dehydration.""I would never have left Chloe to die. You can't accuse me of that.""No," Derek said. "Just of wanting hr locked up in a mental hospital. And why? Because you didn't like her. Because she talked to a guy you did like. Maybe you're not your mother, Tori. But what you are..." He fixed her with an icy look. "I don't want around." The expression on her face...I felt for her, whether she'd welcome my sympathy or not. "We don't trust you," Simon said, his tone softer than his brother's. "We can't have someone along that we don't trust.""What if I'm okay with it," I cut in. "If i feel safe with her...""You don't," Derek said. "You won't kick her to the curb, though, because it's not the kind of person you are." He met Tori's gaze. "But it's the kind of person I am. Chloe won't force you to leave because she'd feel horrible if anything happened to you. Me? I don't care. You brought it on yourself."
Backup?" Tori said. "You mean he didn't need that?""Apparently not," I murmured.Simon looked from her to me, confused, then understanding. "You guys thought...""That if you didn't get your medicine in the next twenty-four hours, you'd be dead?" I said. "Not exactly, but close. You know, the old 'upping the ante with a fatal disease that needs medication' twist. Apparently, it still works.""Kind of a letdown, then, huh?""No kidding. Here we were, expecting to find you minutes from death. Look at you, not even gasping.""All right, then. Emergency medical situation, take two."He leaped to his feet, staggered, keeled over, then lifted his head weakly."Chloe? Is that you?" He coughed. "Do you have my insulin?"I placed it in his outstretched hand."You saved my life," he said. "How can I ever repay you?""Undying servitude sounds good. I like my eggs scrambled."He held up a piece of fruit. "Would you settle for a bruised apple?