Crossed by Eliza Crewe Read Free Book Online

Book: Crossed by Eliza Crewe Read Free Book Online
Authors: Eliza Crewe
Beacons has dropped with us. Even if we turned this thing around now, we’re going to be facing the darkest period in our history since the Hemoclysm.” The Hemoclysm, or “blood flood,” was a time when the demons were able to eliminate a large number of Beacons, people destined to do good for mankind, by stealing the Beacon Map.
    The Sarge continues, still not raising her voice, though the emotion in it is unmistakable. “Our children are scattered, hidden for their own protection. We don’t have enough Crusaders to protect them. We don’t even have enough to take care of them. The youngest ones, who can’t accidentally blow our cover, have been placed with normal families. If we don’t come back from this, they’ll never even know they’re Crusaders, that they are meant for better things.”
    Given everything else she just said, better seems debatable.
    “Do you understand what I’m saying?” the Sarge asks, and there’s a crack in her armor. Desperation seeps out. “We’re dying out.” She takes a moment to collect herself. “The time for desperate measures is upon us.”
    She stops talking and the silence in the room is profound. Everyone else already knew everything she just said, but the Sarge has a way of putting things that doesn’t allow you to hide behind the bullshit blanket your mind uses to pad hard truths.
    “I understand. But you need to understand this.” I point at Armand. “Whatever he’s planning—it helps no one but himself.” I let my arm fall. “Trust me. I’m doing you a favor.”
    For the second time, I turn and walk out. The room erupts in chaotic argument behind me, most of it shouted in my direction. I was failing the Crusaders, I was abandoning the world. I was dooming them all to death.
    I don’t care what any of them say except for the one person who says nothing. Jo. I know she’s furious, but I don’t hear a word from her and she doesn’t follow me. I’m not sure if it’s because she senses my need to blow off steam, because she wants to get more information from the Crusaders, or because she needs time to formulate a plot to change my mind.
    Knowing Jo, probably all three.
    But that’s a problem for later. For now I head down to the stable and make two monsters very, very sorry they were ever born.
    Jo doesn’t return for hours, not until I’m stepping out of the bath. I pull the stopper, setting the bloody, pink-tinged water spiraling down the drain, then towel off and toss on some sweats. The TV is on in the common area and I find Chi there, sprawled on the couch playing a video game. It’s almost morning.
    “Too jazzed to sleep?” I ask.
    “What?” He spares me the briefest glance before returning to the screen where he appears to be blowing up aliens with a bazooka. “No. I’ve just wanted to play one of these for, you know, my whole life . . . Whoop!” He jumps to his feet and launches another rocket at his enemies. Like an Amish kid with a Nintendo. I take it as a good sign. Surely he wouldn’t be playing video games if Jo was plotting my murder.
    “She in her room?”
    He grunts distractedly.
    I push into Jo’s room without knocking, preferring to be on the offensive. She’s sitting on the bed, leaning against the headboard. Her pant leg is hauled up to her thigh and she’s working the strap of her leg brace. I don’t often see her leg—she tries to keep it covered, as if she thinks if no one sees it, they’ll forget it’s there. She jerks at my sudden appearance, habit sending her hands skittering to pull her pant leg back down. But she stops when she realizes it’s me, and just sends me a peeved look before going back to working the strap. She doesn’t seem mad or, at least, especially mad, so I move deeper into the room.
    She gets the first, then the second strap undone and makes a groan that’s both pain and relief as she pulls the brace off. There’s a faint noise, a soft pop of release, and I smell blood. She tosses

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