Shadow of Temptation (Asylums for Magical Threats 2.50) - Page 9

Of course he’d catch that. Her next words could be dangerous, but a new idea made her want to chance it. If she could get a Shadow-Shifter to work with her, sneaking into Watkins’s rooms would be a breeze. “Second, I want to take down Watkins just as much as you do.”

She watched Jorge’s face closely. She couldn’t read any reaction, but she knew what was coming.

Jorge raised his eyebrows. “How convenient that you also want to take down Watkins. What’s the reason?”

She raised her chin. “I want to leave the Fed League, but I’ll never be able to do that as long as Watkins is around.”

“Why now? It took a lot of digging for me to learn about your other identity. No doubt you could pull the same stunt again, and disappear without getting caught.”

Time to make up some believable excuses. “I don’t have the same resources as before. The only way for me to leave is to take out the man holding the Fed League together. Watkins is the only one who takes this organization’s aim seriously, and only because he’s paid to. The other so-called leaders just bicker and have petty arguments, each trying to outrank the other and prove they have the biggest dick. Lock away their leader and the Fed League goes back into obscurity.” She moved her head closer to his. “You don’t like me, that’s clear. But agree to work with me, and I’ll help you bring down Harry Watkins in a matter of days.”

Jorge couldn’t tell from Sabrina’s body language if she were telling the truth or not. However, all of this seemed a little too convenient for his liking.

Before he’d been kicked out, he and Sabrina had been close. Going on long runs together, racing in the pool, or even sharing a quiet moment sitting on a park bench—they’d spent nearly every free moment together. Jorge had done it because he’d been infatuated with the spirited woman. Now, however, he was starting to wonder why Sabrina had hung around with him in the first place. He hadn’t had any special protections or friends in high places. He’d just been an angry young man swayed by promises of revenge. Being surrounded by people who’d also had family members tortured and abused inside the AMT had made him feel at home.

Yet Sabrina had always sought out his company, even after she’d turned down his advances for more. Hell, he’d tried to kiss her more than once.

But never had she mentioned wanting to get out of the Fed League. Nor had she shown any dislike of Harry Watkins beyond the usual discontent of the Fed League recruits.

True, something could’ve happened to her between then and now, but his gut told him something else was going on. “Let’s pretend what you’ve told me is true. What’s your plan for taking down Watkins? What happens next?”

A buzzing sound came from near the laptop, where Sabrina had put her phone. She glanced over and then tried to push him away, but Jorge didn’t budge. She frowned up at him and said, “I need to check and see if that’s Watkins.”

He shook his head. “I’m not about to waste time pinning you up against the counter again to get a clear answer. Tell me what you have planned; then I’ll let you check your message.”

She held his gaze for a few seconds before sighing. “I’m in the process of finding people to help me break into his rooms and hopefully take him down.”

He hadn’t expected an answer. “Yeah, and how exactly are you going to make that happen?”

She shook her head. “No, this isn’t a case of me spilling my plans with nothing in return.” She tried to get free of his grip, but failed. “Before I tell you anything else, you’re going to tell me how taking down Watkins will protect your sister.”

Damn, she’d remembered about that. But this was his chance to make Sabrina really understand what she’d done nine months ago.

“Fine.” He leaned in close so she would have to look into his eyes. “I refused to use my shadow-shifting abilities to kill. The Collector didn’t like it, and she brought in my sister to change my mind.”

Jorge kept a tight rein on his emotions. The next few sentences weren’t going to be easy, but Sabrina needed to understand the enormity of what had happened to Alejandra. “They usually chained me up and tranquilized me to keep from shifting. Rather than risk me being lucid and torturing Alejandra in front of me, they decided to take their cruelty up another notch.”

Usually he kept the memories locked up tight, but this time he let them out. He continued, “At first, I thought they were just playing random sounds of a woman calling for help. She kept chattering because of the cold, her words getting fainter as time went on. But once sounds of slapping started, the woman started crying and begging for ‘Jorge to help her.’ The more she talked about our past, the more I started to realize—even through my drug-haze—they had Alejandra.”

His sister had already told him she forgave him in the brief video he’d seen of her after she’d been rescued by DEFEND, and that she still loved him. But he had no idea how he was going to face her. Not just because of what had happened to her, but also because of what he’d had to do to stop her torture.

“Jorge.” He looked up and wished he hadn’t. Sabrina’s face was soft, her e

yes kind. He released her wrists and tried to step back, but Sabrina grabbed the front of his shirt and said, “I’m sorry for what happened to your sister.”

He succeeded in breaking her grip and took a few steps away from her. “Don’t you see? If you had just talked to me instead of going behind my back, none of that would’ve happened.”

While working for the Feiru Liaison office, Sabrina’s actions had caused pain, torture, and even death in the past. Somehow she’d found a way to carry on and do her job. But this time, with a man she’d once called friend, she wasn’t able to push away her guilt.

“I—” She took a deep breath. She needed to make him understand her actions, too. “I did it because I wanted you to move on to better things. You always talked about bigger and better plans to help the first-borns, but I knew you wouldn’t leave unless I did. And I couldn’t leave.”

Jorge looked skeptical. “Your vague statements aren’t helping your case. If you want me to even remotely start to believe you, I need a hell of a lot more information than that.”

In that instant, she wanted to tell him everything. About her secret identities and her training. About her true reasons for joining the Fed League. About how close she was to cracking because of the strain of living a lie for too long.

Her life didn’t lend itself to many friends, but despite whatever had happened between her and Jorge, he had been her friend once. Could she trust him?

He was the key to finishing this assignment quickly. His abilities would lessen the risk of exposure or danger to herself or others. She couldn’t tell him the full truth, but half-truths might just work.

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