The Thousandth Floor

Page 111

“There.” Nadia paused the vid and zoomed in on Leda’s hands, replaying it in slow motion. “Do you see? She slipped something into your drink.”

“Why the hell would she do that?” he cried out.

Nadia kept playing. Watt watched, dismayed, as Leda straddled him and kissed him. How stupid he’d been, he thought. The kiss went on, longer than was comfortable for him to watch. “You can fast-forward, Nadia,” he said, and she did.

Eventually Watt’s eyelids began to close—he assumed that was the drug at work—just as Leda sat back, her shrewd gaze on him.

“Watt.” Her tone was light and coaxing, syrupy sweet. “How are you feeling?”

“Great,” he murmured.

“You’ve been very bad, you know.” Watt’s eyes blinked open for an instant, and he saw her reach up toward his head. He guessed she was playing with his hair. Thankfully Nadia’s playback included only audio and visual stimuli, not touch.

“No,” Watt protested. His eyes fluttered closed and didn’t open again.

“You lied to me earlier, when you acted like you could never figure out who Atlas was seeing behind my back.”

“I don’t …”

“You do know, don’t you?” Her voice was soft, like a feather bed. The kind of voice you might use on a sick child.

“Yes.” Shit, he thought, hearing it all now, his stomach twisted in dread.

“Who is it?” The sweetness was gone, replaced by urgency.

“Avery …”

“Focus, Watt! I asked you who Atlas is seeing. Forget about Avery!”

“No, Avery and Atlas, they’re together …”

There was a long silence. Watt was suddenly glad his eyes had been closed this entire time. He didn’t want to imagine the look on Leda’s face as she processed this news.

“You’re sure?” she said quietly, finally. He could hear the shock in her tone. “Atlas and Avery Fuller? You know they’re brother and sister,” she said, but it sounded at this point as if she were reminding herself as much as him.

“Nadia hacked it! I heard them in bed …”

There were the sounds of pill bottles shaking, of rustling and rearranging, and then Leda’s voice came from farther away, by the door. “Thank you, Watt,” she said. “You’ve been so very helpful. Sweet dreams.”

Watt heard the door close, and then the replay ended.

What have I done? Watt thought, horrified.

“Don’t blame yourself,” Nadia was saying. “I did a scan on your vitals this morning, and she’d given you an extremely high dose of vertolomine, mixed with some sedatives. It’s an inhibition-reducing drug, known for slowing the thought processes so much that people find it difficult to lie.”

“I mentioned you!” Watt added, with growing alarm.

“Yes, but Nadia was the name you used with her. She probably thought it was just a drunken slip.”

“You’re forgetting that Leda is completely insane.” And now she knew about Avery and Atlas.

Watt couldn’t explain the sense of responsibility he felt for Avery. He didn’t technically owe her anything—she’d kicked him out in order to hook up with her own brother, he reminded himself. Yet he hated the way he’d handled all this. He remembered how sad she’d seemed, that very first day he met her at the ARena, when she’d said wistfully that no one could really know anyone else, because everyone was hiding something big.

He’d taken her greatest secret and delivered it straight into the hands of her crazy ex–best friend, who had no line she wasn’t willing to cross.

“Has Leda already blasted it out, about Avery and Atlas?” Watt sat up, suddenly panicked.

“No,” Nadia assured him. “I’ve followed all their movements today, and it doesn’t seem like Leda has done anything, yet. As far as I can tell, she hasn’t even seen Avery.”

“Where are they?”

“Avery is having a party,” Nadia said, and pulled up Avery’s feed on his contacts. “Leda’s headed there now.”

“Then I need to get up there!” Watt started for the door, still in his stale, rumpled clothes from last night. He wasn’t sure why, but he had a bad feeling, almost like a premonition, that something terrible was going to happen. This was all too tangled and screwed up not to end in disaster.


RYLIN SAT IN her bed, not seeing anything, barely thinking. The room was dark. She knew Chrissa was worried about her, that she should go say something to her sister, but she couldn’t move right now. She just kept blinking up into the darkness, her mind a whirlpool of dark, spinning thoughts. She wished she could go back and do things differently.

A pounding sounded on the front door.

“Ry,” Chrissa called from the entryway, her voice quavering, “it’s Hiral.”

Rylin stood up and ran a hand through her matted curls. She was still wearing the dress with zippers she’d so naively put on earlier.

“I’ll get it. Don’t worry,” she said to Chrissa, and went to open the door.

There he was, standing on their front doorstep as if nothing between them had changed, wearing the sweatpants he’d been in when he was arrested—they must have returned his clothes when they released him, which meant that he’d come straight here. That didn’t bode well.

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