No matter how hard I tried not to think about it, I could still see Riley in there. Just a couple hours ago, he’d spoken to me. A piece of him remained. I just had to dig for it. Hope that it would be enough to get him away from the Vesper’s dreadful hold.
He turned his head slightly, the only indication that he acknowledged me.
“Did you like living on the ship? The Dauntless?”
“Why do you ask?” There was no trace of interest in his voice.
I shrugged. “Curious, I suppose. You and Sawyer were always at odds, but you seemed happy there.”
My eyes traced along his face as he looked away again. “I don’t remember much.”
My heart tripped, suddenly hopeful. The Vesper wasn’t in his head right now. If he were, he would have drawn me out instantly. Still, I had to be careful. I had been fooled before.
“What do you remember?” I asked.
He stayed silent for so long I was sure he either forgot my question, or was ignoring me.
“I helped a little girl read the constellations. She looked like you.”
Hope surging through me, I turned to face him and pressed on. “What else? Tell me what you remember.”
Riley’s face scrunched up as though he were in pain. I wondered if I was pushing him too hard, but this was the furthest I’d ever gotten with him. I couldn’t relent now, no matter how sorry I was to be hurting him.
“I remember training you how to fight,” he said. The corner of his lips twitched. A smile fighting to break free. “You were a difficult student.”
I had to control my own smile. I couldn’t let Davin see what I was doing. Riley’s smile faded as quickly as it came.
“I remember the engineering bay in the Meridian,” he said gravelly. “The story I told you about the girl I killed for the Hellions’ entertainment. I remember the look on your face when he got hold of me again.”
I was losing him. Being as discreet as I could, I reached out and took Riley’s hand. “Riley, please, you have to fight him. I know you can.”
He pulled away. “I know what you’re trying to do, Claire. It’s not going to work.”
A twinge of fear went through me when I realized I might have made a mistake. I thought the Vesper had caught me.
Riley continued to speak, growing colder and more distant with every second. “I can’t fight him. He’s got almost complete control of me. I’m only free when I’m away from him and in some kind of interference.” Bright blue eyes flicked up to the raging storm around us. The sky was lighter than before. We were close to Aon.
Riley glanced down, meeting my eyes straight on.
“I can’t help you, Claire. Not unless you’re going to do something drastic.”
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