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CHAPTER NINE

TOBIAS

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THE NIGHT AIR slips into my lungs, and I feel like it is one of my last breaths. Tomorrow I will leave this place and seek another.

Uriah, Zeke, and Christina start toward Erudite headquarters, and I hold Tris’s hand to keep her back.

“Wait,” I say. “Let’s go somewhere. ”

“Go somewhere? But . . . ”

“Just for a little while. ” I tug her toward the corner of the building. At night I can almost see what the water looked like when it filled the empty canal, dark and patterned with moonlit ripples. “You’re with me, remember? They’re not going to arrest you. ”

A twitch at the corner of her mouth—almost a smile.

Around the corner, she leans against the wall and I stand in front of her, the river at my back. She’s wearing something dark around her eyes to make their color stand out, bright and striking.

“I don’t know what to do. ” She presses her hands to her face, curling her fingers into her hair. “About Caleb, I mean. ”

“You don’t?”

She moves one hand aside to look at me.

“Tris. ” I set my hands on the wall on either side of her face and lean into them. “You don’t want him to die. I know you don’t. ”

“The thing is . . . ” She closes her eyes. “I’m so . . . angry. I try not to think about him because when I do I just want to . . . ”

“I know. God, I know. ” My entire life I’ve daydreamed about killing Marcus. Once I even decided how I would do it—with a knife, so I could feel the warmth leave him, so I could be close enough to watch the light leave his eyes. Making that decision frightened me as much as his violence ever did.

“My parents would want me to save him, though. ” Her eyes open and lift to the sky. “They would say it’s selfish to let someone die just because they wronged you. Forgive, forgive, forgive. ”

“This isn’t about what they want, Tris. ”

“Yes, it is!” She presses away from the wall. “It’s always about what they want. Because he belongs to them more than he belongs to me. And I want to make them proud of me. It’s all I want. ”

Her pale eyes are steady on mine, determined. I have never had parents who set good examples, parents whose expectations were worth living up to, but she did. I can see them within her, the courage and the beauty they pressed into her like a handprint.

I touch her cheek, sliding my fingers into her hair. “I’ll get him out. ”

“What?”

“I’ll get him out of his cell. Tomorrow, before we leave. ” I nod. “I’ll do it. ”

“Really? Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure. ”

“I . . . ” She frowns up at me. “Thank you. You’re . . . amazing. ”

“Don’t say that. You haven’t found out about my ulterior motives yet. ” I grin. “You see, I didn’t bring you here to talk to you about Caleb, actually. ”

“Oh?”

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I set my hands on her hips and push her gently back against the wall. She looks up at me, her eyes clear and eager. I lean in close enough to taste her breaths, but pull back when she leans in, teasing.

She hooks her fingers in my belt loops and pulls me against her, so I have to catch myself on my forearms. She tries to kiss me but I tilt my head to dodge her, kissing just under her ear, then along her jaw to her throat. Her skin is soft and tastes like salt, like a night run.

“Do me a favor,” she whispers into my ear, “and never have pure motives again. ”

She puts her hands on me, touching all the places I am marked, down my back and over my sides. Her fingertips slip under the waistband of my jeans and hold me against her. I breathe against the side of her neck, unable to move.

Finally we kiss, and it is a relief. She sighs, and I feel a wicked smile creep across my face.

I lift her up, letting the wall bear most of her weight, and her legs drape around my waist. She laughs into another kiss, and I feel strong, but so does she, her fingers stern around my arms. The night air slips into my lungs, and I feel like it is one of my first breaths.

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