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on the cusp of developing this for years. Better that it be created and controlled. He nudged the cuffs with
the tip of his finger, as subtle as a brick through a window.  And make no mistake, it will be controlled.
 Charming, Kellen muttered.  I would have been better off leaving it to Vradoz and doing a runner
with Cass.
 I hadn t accounted for sentiment when she stole it, Heston said, his disgust evident.  I didn t
account for sheer greed either, and between the two of you, I think you ve given me quite enough trouble.
 She stole it for Vradoz, Kellen said, eyes narrowed.
 Who wanted it back very badly, because he already had a buyer, one he didn t want to disappoint.
 You had Vradoz contract Cassie to steal your own project, hoping that she d both figure out the tech
and want it for herself. Another tick, another cog meshing into the grand machine.  She blew your plan,
and then she gave it to me when I told her I d help. Kellen gave in to a moment of bitter laughter, shaking
his head.  And if the seal on the capsule hadn t ruptured after I swallowed it, I could have avoided most of
the last month, including getting Vanya shot.
Heston s interest sharpened, his eyes fixing on Kellen as his thick brows drew down.  Vanya was
 In the shoulder, Kellen said, brushing it away without acknowledging how worried he d been at the
 Never did have the sense to stay out of trouble that wasn t hers. Kellen couldn t tell if Heston s
obvious disgust had more to do with Vanya s injury or that she d been in a position to get shot in the first
place. His shrug seemed to release the line of tension in his thick brows, and his face fell back into an
uncaring repose.  You ve got the rest of it mostly right. See? Clever, like I said. The best part is that with
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you, I don t have to waste time finding some way to keep you in line until I need you. You ll do that all on
your own, won t you?
Kellen upped the wattage on his smile, already aware that he was going to hate the answer to his next
question.  Now, why would you think that, Heston?
 Not everyone can walk out of a high-security prison just by thinking themselves free. I d hate to see
what a few years in the hole would do to my daughter and her husband, wouldn t you? The fact that
Heston s voice was a cheerful burr wasn t as disturbing as the smile that had grown on his face.  I think
you ll answer me when I call, and you ll do your duty to the Empire, and you ll keep yourself out of
trouble until you hear from me again. And if you do, I ll let you walk out of here, and neither of them ever
has to know that their safety is riding on you jumping when I say boo.
 You re more than kind of a bastard, aren t you? Kellen s voice didn t rise at all, imbued with a
sarcastic parody of wonder.
 I m the nastiest bastard you ll ever meet, Frey. Success and safety for the Empire and Empress. If
you don t imagine that your life will ever win out over that, we ll get along just fine. He kicked a bag out
from under the table, and Kellen spotted a set of street clothes that made him wish he was as colorblind as
Heston seemed to be. It didn t stop him from stripping out of the prison-issue disposables as fast as he
could, forgoing modesty in favor of not looking like a convict.
 I don t particularly care to get along with you. Shoving the wadded ball of clothing into the empty
bag, he toed it back under Heston s chair.  I m not so stupid that I m going to turn down a way out of here,
whether you think I m just a piece on the board or another player in your great game. Tal and Vanya aren t
playing though. He ran a hand through his hair, tousling it enough to make him look younger, hoping to
pass the clothing off as club wear.
 You re bright enough. You ll figure out which you are on your own, I m sure. Heston stretched, the
rolled sleeves of his shirt pulled tight across his forearms.  Don t make me wish your girl had loaded
herself up instead. You re already losing to her on looks, and she was smart. Greedy I could have worked
around, but you re going to be a pain in my ass, aren t you?
Kellen smirked at Heston, and he knew the game was in his smile when he spit the man s words back
at him.  I m the biggest pain in the ass you ll ever meet, Heston. Snatching up the notebook earned him
only a faint protest, and his fingers flew over the screen as he called up the systems he needed. A few
seconds later, a guard knocked on the glass and opened the door.  Your release paperwork was just
finalized, Mr. Frey. I ll escort you out.
Two quick steps to the door, just like the cell, and Kellen paused, turning around to toss the notebook
back to Heston, who barely caught it. He was on his feet, but he didn t seem in much of a hurry to come
around the table. If anything, he seemed more amused than he ought to have been, and Kellen ducked his
head quickly, fighting back a laugh that would have put him too close to smug.
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S. Reesa Herberth and Michelle Moore
 Your move, he flung back over his shoulder, because he did like a good exit. It was an unnecessary
indulgence in dramatics, and it felt damn good after a ten-day spent useless and bored. The guard, not the
same woman who patrolled his cellblock, led him back to the booking area in silence, ushering him through
the neat rows of desks and the people who were probably going to spend the rest of their lives drowning in
hellish imprisonment.
Even if they stopped him, he d deleted the files Heston had collected, the charges they were holding
him on included. The only trace that remained of him in the Imperial system was his release order. Kellen [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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