And her hand is on my arm when she says, “I was hoping to explain later. But now you know. And now you have to run.”
I turn to Ian, who’s standing to the left of me, and say, “It’s time to bail, bro. Let’s go.”
Ian looks at me, his eyes widening for a fraction of a second, and then he grabs Lily’s hand and shouts, “Run—RUN—”
The sound of a gunshot splits open a moment of silence.
It feels like slow motion. It feels like the world slows down, turns on its side, and swings back around. Somehow I think I can see the bullet as it moves, fast and strong, right at Juliette’s head.
It hits its mark with a dull thud.
I’m hardly breathing. I’m beyond pretending I’m not terrified. Shit just got real, super fast, and I have no idea what’s about to happen. I know I need to move, need to get the hell out of here before things get worse, but— I don’t know why, but I can’t convince my legs to work. Can’t convince myself to look away.
No one can.
The crowd has gone deathly still in the aftermath. People are staring at Juliette like they didn’t believe the rumors. Like they wanted to know if it was really true that this seventeen-year-old girl could murder the most intimidating despot this nation has ever known, and then stand in front of a crowd and peel a bullet off her forehead after an attempted assassination, looking for all the world like the experience was no more annoying than swatting a fly.
I suppose now they know that the rumors were true.
But Juliette looks suddenly more than annoyed. She looks both surprised and furious as she stares at the ruined bullet in the palm of her hand. From this vantage point it looks like a mutilated coin. And then, disgusted, she tosses it to the ground. The sound of the metal hitting stone is delicate. Elegant.
That’s it. Everyone goes apeshit.
People lose their goddamn minds. The crowd is on its feet, roaring threats and obscenities, and they all pull weapons from their bodies and I’m thinking, Where the hell did they get them from? How did so many of them get through? Who’s our mole?
More gunshots split the air.
I swear, loudly, and move to tackle Castle to the ground—and then I hear it. I hear it before I see it. The surprised gasp. The heavy thud. The reverberations of the stage under my feet.
Brendan is on the ground.
Winston is sobbing. Desperately, I push through my teammates, falling to my knees to assess the wound. Brendan’s been shot in the shoulder. Relief sags my body. He’ll be okay.
I toss the glass pill bottle at Winston and tell him to force a few down Brendan’s throat, tell him to apply pressure to the wound and remind him that Brendan’s going to be okay, that we just need to get him to Sonya and Sara—and then I remember.
I know this girl.
I look up, pan