Home > Love's Cruel Redemption (The Ghost Bird #12)(10)

Love's Cruel Redemption (The Ghost Bird #12)(10)
Author: C.L. Stone

“It’s all part of a decision we all have to make,” Dr. Green said. “In a way, it is just like the Academy. We decide how much to tell people, have precautions for those who may abuse their knowledge we exist. In a way, we’ve been preparing for this sort of situation.”

It surprised me he’d be so open about Academy talk on the phone. Maybe something changed in the rules lately? I’d been out for a bit but they knew better than I did about security measures.

“It’s not really the same,” Kota said.

“Isn’t it?” Dr. Green asked. “What persona do you feed your mother when she asks about school? About where you were some weekends? When you were playing drums in a bar until four in the morning or helping Luke do...things?”

“You play drums?” I asked.

“Long story,” Kota said and shook his head. “But my mom will be around me. And the rest of us—”

“Not forever,” Luke said. He opened a container and started poking at his pancakes. “Won’t we be pretending to go off to college soon?”

Kota mumbled something. “I don’t know what we’re doing.”

“Luke’s right,” Dr. Green said. “You all may be moving on, and probably pretty quickly. When it comes to the Academy, we don’t go into details about it, so it will be the same with the fullness of whatever this relationship is.”

“More secrets,” I mumbled. We had many secrets surrounding us. For some reason, this felt different. It was Kota’s mom. She’d done so much for us. Didn’t she deserve some honesty?

Or was telling her about this just like telling my own mother about it? Were some things really best left a secret?

Kota pressed his lips together a little but didn’t say anything.

“Pumpkin,” Dr. Green said in a more subdued tone, “it’s what we signed up for. We do it with the Academy. You don’t have to agree to this now. But even if you decided...if you picked one of us...we would always be in the Academy. And we’d always have secrets. Everyone does.” There was a small chuckle. “I could tell you some whoppers I’ve overheard from nurses...”

“Not right now,” Kota said. “But if there isn’t anything else we need to do today, do you think it’s safe enough for us to go somewhere?”

“If you don’t take her out, I will.”

Kota sighed. “It’ll look weird if Sang doesn’t come back with me tonight, but also, I don’t know if she should. I’d like to smooth things out with my mom.”

“I’d have her come here tonight, only...” Dr. Green paused. “I’d risk it. Want to come over tonight, Sang?”

“I think we’ve got enough trouble with parents right now,” I said. “Not that I don’t mind meeting your mom, or seeing you.” It wasn’t just meeting her. Dr. Green was older than me by a couple of years. Would she say something about me being younger?

“Aw,” Dr. Green said.

“I’d be tempted to just go to a movie or something, but we’ve already had someone I thought was following us,” Kota said. “I’d prefer to go somewhere we can lie low anyway.”

“Then you know where you need to go,” Dr. Green said. “Take her to Victor’s. Just in case someone is following. No more taking chances. We’re getting close on Mr. Hendricks.”

“We are?” I asked.

“He’s getting restless,” Dr. Green said. “We’ll fill you in at school on Monday.”

“Woot!” Luke said. “Victor’s! I love his house.”

“You like the ice cream,” Kota said.

“I do,” Luke said. He reached out to my shoulder and held it, supportive. “It’s the cure for everything.”

“Doctor approved,” Dr. Green said.

After Dr. Green was off the phone, I settled into the seat, relieved to be going somewhere other than the Lee house. I hated feeling like I needed to avoid the place after that morning.

I glanced at Kota on occasion, checking in with him. He smiled at me on occasion, but it seemed the thing with his mom was really bothering him.

Do we tell her? And how much did we dare to tell her?

Back to Where We’ve Been

On the way to Victor’s, we stopped shortly in a parking lot so we could eat the breakfast and double check if the car that had followed us reappeared.

We drove an odd way toward downtown Charleston, just in case. Getting off the highway and weaving through retail areas and neighborhoods at times to get to where we wanted to be made the journey take a lot longer.

The moment we entered the gate of the Morgan estate, Kota got a text message. He checked his phone and groaned after he read it. “Nathan needs me to come over. I’ve got to drive all the way back.”

“He needs someone,” I said. “He went back to his house after what happened...”

“I can’t take you with me,” Kota said. “Just in case, at least right now. You shouldn’t be seen going to Nathan’s. Not until we can figure out...” He twisted his hands on the wheel. “I hate this feeling.”

I put a gentle, supportive hand on the back of his neck. “What do you want to do?”

“I want to tell her Nathan isn’t a bad guy,” he said. “But it means telling her about...this.”

“I’m okay with it,” I said. I moved my hand away, putting it down in my lap. “But I...don’t want her to not like me, either.”

He pressed his lips together again, and then touched the corner of his glasses. “I guess I should go talk to Nathan. I don’t know what to say to her. But...I should ask him, too. Maybe I don’t tell her everything. Maybe I just say it’s just Nathan and me. See how she takes that?”

“It’s probably what he wants to talk about,” Luke said. “Some sort of plan. Should we all go back?”

“No,” Kota said. He leaned over the center seat in his car, closer to me. “Do you trust us to talk about it? I’d rather you stay here. I want to go back anyway and see if that car returned to the street. I’d rather not do that with too many people. Nathan can hop in the car with me, and we can see if it will follow.”

That made sense. “Tell your mom whatever you decide. I’ll go with whatever you say. We can stay here.”

“Yeah,” Luke said, he reached out, patting at Kota’s arm. “I’ll take care of her.”

“I trust you,” Kota said and then smirked a little. “Just don’t go raiding the freezer for ice cream. You’ve just had breakfast.”


I looked out the window. Kota had parked in Victor’s drive, near the garage. The large yellow estate still intimidated me. I knew we were being watched. “I guess we should go in. Is Victor here?”

“Not at the moment,” Kota said. “But his parents aren’t here. Just security and a new maid.”

“She’s legit this time, isn’t she?” Luke asked.

“Academy vetted.”

Luke and I got out of the car. The air seemed to be warming now that it was getting closer to noon, but it was still nippy.

Kota turned the car around in the drive and approached the gate again. It opened, and the sedan turned down the road and disappeared.

Luke reached for me, wrapping an arm around my neck. “Come on,” he said. “Let’s go do something fun.”

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