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It had beenalongtime since I’d been sedated.

That’s probably why it was hard for me to recognize it as it was happening… but really that was no excuse.

I should know better.

Ihadknown better.

But because I’d allowed myself to become lazy and weak, I was waking up now in an unfamiliar bed, my head pounding, ears ringing, mouth dry… a complete mess.

It had started out as such a normal day.

“Ah. Sleeping Beauty awakes.”

My heavy eyelids snapped open wider at the sound of a newly familiar voice – the thorn that had been on my heels all day.

I clenched my fists, trying to sit up, only to quickly discover that wouldn’t be happening.

Not when I was handcuffed to the bed.

Now that I was fully awake, I could really take in my surroundings – a full-blown hospital room, but I doubted I was in an actual medical facility.

“Is this necessary?” I asked, licking my dry lips as I finally looked in his direction.

He was on the other side of the room, leaning very casually against a table behind him, hands slung into the pockets of his sweats.

He… had the typicallythornlook – the face, the physique. Now that I wasn’t exactly on the run anymore, I could admit to myself that it was vaguely comforting.

Finallyhere was something familiar.

While I watched, he pulled a tiny key from his pocket, holding it up in front of him. “Are you going to attack me, if I uncuff you?”

“No,” I answered. “I’m not stupid. I might kill you, but there’s more on the other side of the door. Right?”

He lifted an eyebrow at me. “More?”


The corner of his mouth curled into a smirk. “I don’t think Ace would like hearing us referred to that way.Operativehas a certain connotation she wants to lean away from.”

“Am I supposed to know this Ace?”

“Not particularly,” he answered, pushing off from the table to approach the bed. “But you will. She wants to meet you.”

“Meet me for what?”

He grabbed my wrist, holding it up so he could unlock the cuff. “My best guess is… she wants to offer you a job.”


I pulled away from him, pure fire in my eyes as I declared, “I willneverserve in anotherGarden.Not willingly.”

“This is different. Trust me.”

I laughed atthatshit. “Trust you? I just spent a whole day running from you. You can’tpossiblybe serious.”

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