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“I understand that wasn’t really the best first impression,” he admitted. “And look… I know you underwent the same training I did – we know how to manipulate and lie, how to step into a character. But this… isn’t that. She’s the real deal.”


He nodded. “Ace. Alicia.”

My eyes went wide. “You mean… Alicia Pelletier? The one who took down theGarden?”

“One in the same,” he confirmed, taking advantage of my dumbfounded distraction to unlock my cuffs. “We went through this a bit back at the house, remember?”



He didn’t have to worry about me attacking him – I was too busy dealing with the duplicity happening in my brain.

Alicia’s actions – however justified – had completely upended my life. For a long time, I hadn’t known where I was going, or who I was.

Hell… I still didn’t.

TheGarden,by design, was a huge part of my identity, and once it was stripped away, we were all left adrift. There was no longer any kind of beacon to call us home, nowhere to be safe from the dangers our forced realities exposed us to.

Her personal restitution had left the rest of us broken.

But… ifanybodyhad the right, it was certainly her.

Her discord with theBelroseswent deeper than theGarden– it was murder and betrayal and torture and abuse and the stripping away of family… andthenshe was made into arose.

In that, her pain, her rage… were quite unique.

So it was hard to find fault with her.

Etienne Belrose had broken his own rules where she was concerned, had subverted the code he drilled into us from the first moment we came awake under theGarden’s… tutelage. Truly, that had been his downfall – simply not sticking to his word.

Thatwas the thing that woke the latent behemoth in Alicia.

The betrayal.

Her reprisal would be awe-inspiring if it hadn’t ruined my life.

“Hasn’t she done enough?” I asked, circling my wrists with my fingers to soothe the sting of the handcuffs as he stepped back. “Now she’s hunting us down… for what?”

“For nothing – I wasn’t out there looking for you, I was there for May. To protect her, and her daughter.”

I huffed. “Yeah, great job with that. Real top-notch service.”

“Yeah,” he chuckled. “Talk your shit, it doesn’t bother me. Just know that if it weren’t for your imposition, we would have May and her daughter safely in custody, instead of in the wind.”

“Where is Amelia?” I asked, suddenly remembering the state she’d been in before I passed out. “Did she get medical attention?”

He nodded. “Of course. And she’s going to be okay. She had an ear infection, that needed to be treated. I’m not sure how much further you two would’ve been able to take her.”

Which is probably why May left without her.


Just the thought of that brought anger rushing to the surface.

“May was in on the bombing,” I said, as details started coming back to me. “Or at the very least, she knew about it. And there was money – alotof money. She was strapping it to herself, and she was on the phone with someone. With…”

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