“What if I mess up?"
"Oh, you will. You'll mess up, you'll make mistakes, you'll break things. Some you'll be able to piece together, and others you'll lose. That's all a given. But there's only one thing you have to do for me."
"Stay alive long enough to mess up again.”
“Lying is easy. But it's lonely."
"What do you mean?"
"When you lie to everyone about everything, what's left? What's true?"
"Nothing," I say.
“It takes at least three assassination attempts to scare me off. And even then, if there are baked goods involved, I might come back.”
“I’ve been thinking.”
“A dangerous pursuit.”
“You're trying to block out every bit of noise. But people are made of noise, Mac. The world is full of noise. And finding quiet isn't about pushing everything out. It's just about pulling yourself in.”
“His gaze settles on the discarded book. He leans, reaching until his fingertips graze Dante's Inferno, still on its bed of folded sheets. "What have we here?" he asks.
"Required reading," I say.
"It's a shame they do that," he says, thumbing through the pages. "Requirement ruins even the best of books.”
“Because the only way to truly record a person is not in words, not in still frames, but in bone and skin and memory.”
“Curiosity is a gateway drug to sympathy.”
“Free caffeine and sugar, a recipe for making friends.”
“Lying is easy. But it’s lonely.”
“Everything is valuable, in its own way. Everything is full of history.”
“He fought the men and he slayed the monsters and he bested the gods, and at last the hero, having conquered all, earned the thing that he wanted most. To go home.”
“I am a horrible hollow kind of tired; all I want is quiet and rest.”
“Ignorance may be bliss, but only if it outweighs curiosity. Curiosity is a gateway drug to sympathy.”
“You know,” he says, “for someone who doesn’t like touching people, you keep finding ways to put your hands on me.”
“It becomes a game, whispered and breathless.
"I hide who I am."
"I fight with the dead."
"I lie to the living."
"I am alone.”
“The silliest things shatter you. A T-shirt discovered behind the washing machine. A toy that rolled under a cabinet in the garage, forgotten until someone drops something and goes to fetch it, and suddenly they’re on the concrete floor sobbing into a dusty baseball mitt.”
“And then I get why Wes can’t stop smiling, even though it looks silly with his eyeliner and jet-black hair and hard jaw and scars. I am not alone. The words dance in my mind and in his eyes and against our rings and our keys, and now I smile too.”
“We protect the past. And the way I see it, that means we need to understand it.”
“He manages a sad smile. “An omission is not the same thing as a lie, Miss Bishop. It’s a manipulation.”
“What do schools do that for?” he grumbles. “What’s the point of summer if they give you homework?”
“We make a good team, Mackenzie Bishop.”
“We do.” We do, and that is the thing that tempers the heat beneath my skin, checks the flutter of girlish nerves. This is Wesley. My friend. My partner. Maybe one day my Crew. The fear of losing that keeps me in check.”
“Things only hurt more when you can see them.”
“What a mess. Truths are messy and lies are messy, and I don’t care what Da said, it’s impossible to cut a person into pielike pieces, neat and tidy.”
“Everything about Wesley Ayers is messy. My three worlds are kept apart by walls and doors and locks, and yet here he is, tracking the Archive into my life like mud. I know what Da would say, I know, I know, I know. But the strange new overlap is scary and messy and welcome. I can be careful.”
“More of a cookie person, myself. No offense to the other baked goods. I just like cookies.”
“A death is traumatic. Vivid enough to mark any surface, to burn in like light on photo paper.”
“The Archive makes us monsters. And then it breaks the ones who get too strong, and buries the ones who know too much.”
“But once you know, you can’t go back. Not really. You can carve out someone’s memories, but they won’t be who they were before. They’ll just be full of holes. Given the choice, I’d rather learn to live with what I know.”
“I am still frozen when he reaches out and brushes a finger over the three lines etched into the surface of my ring, then twists one of his own rings to reveal a cleaner but identical set of lines. The Archive’s insignia. When I don’t react—because no fluid lie came to me and now it’s too late—he closes the gap between us, close enough that I can almost hear the bass again, radiating off his skin. His thumb hooks under the cord around my throat and guides my key out from under my shirt. It glints in the twilight. Then he fetches the key from around his own neck.
“There,” he says cheerfully. “Now we’re on the same page.”
“And a Fool is supposed to be wise?”
“A man may be accused of cowardice for fleeing away from all manner of physical dangers but when things supernatural, insubstantial and inexplicable threaten not only his safety and well-being but his sanity, his innermost soul, then retreat is not a sign of weakness but the most prudent course.”
“She was perfect, pure maddening sex, and she knew it, and she played on it, dripped it, and allowed you to suffer for it.”
“So you’re a real person! I always thought you were a legendary figure, like unicorns or Giuseppe Verdi.”
“It had been a great thing, in those Old Times, to be an American. You had been deeply conscious of being one of a great nation. It was no mere matter of pride, but also there went with it a profound sense of confidence and security in life, and a comradeship of millions.”
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