Beckett spent a week trying to pretend he wasn’t sulking, and another week trying hard to ignore the questions. None of them were polite. Some of them were just insulting.
“So, Mirella cut you free?”
“So, you couldn’t hack it as a Keptie?”
“So, you’re in the market now?”
So, so, so. No, no, no. Beckett didn’t feel free. He didn’t feel like he’d failed. He felt, more than anything… angry.
“I wish…” But life didn’t work that way.
“What do you wish? Maybe I can make it come true.”
He knew Leithe. He shared a couple classes with her; more importantly, Mirella had declared her utterly and completely off-limits. She was petite, lovely, and looked nothing at all like Mirella.
“I’m not sure.” Beckett shrugged. Pretty girls didn’t generally talk to him – part of why he’d been such a sucker for Mirella. “I wish she’d either never Kept me or never released me, I guess.”
“It hurts, doesn’t it?” She tilted her head and frowned at him. “When it breaks, the bond? It makes you feel like everything is going sideways.”
It did. Beckett nodded cautiously.
“And it makes you feel empty.”
“You’ve been Kept?” It was a stupid question, but he was good at those. Everyone was Kept eventually.
“I did my time. You got off easy, some people would say.”
“Being hers… it wasn’t bad.” He’d felt like he’d been worth something. “Not being anyone’s kind of sucks.”
“Well, there’s always the alternative.”
Beckett swallowed. Even HE could pick up what she was offering. But was that somewhere he wanted to be?
“Think about it?” Leithe tilted her head again. She was smiling; she had a pretty smile. “And if not that… well, come talk anyway. Having friends around here is helpful.”
“Friends.” Beckett swallowed. Friends, he could do. “Okay. Uh. Friends.”
Mirella had cut him free. For the first time, free didn’t feel like falling.
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