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.Great.I ignored Douglas and went to my room, two stairs at a time.I wasn’t going to let him ruin what had been the best day of my life.I wanted to change my shirt, which still smelled of Maxwell.I put on one of my shirts that had a picture of an eagle.The symbol of my father’s party.When I turned, I saw Douglas, waiting by the door with his hands behind his back.“Young master,” he said again, and I wished he’d just go away.“Your father requests your presence in his study.”I cursed and bolted out of my room.Who knows when my father had actually called me, and Douglas just stood there without telling me.The fact that I was running to my father’s study said a lot about our relationship.Fear is a powerful motivator, but what did I really fear? Getting caught breaking curfew.My father’s disappointment that I didn’t present myself when called.Or him finding out what I had done today.It was combination of all of them.The fear was ingrained in my brain so hard I didn’t even think― just reacted.Almost like a survival instinct that right then was solely focused on being in front of my father as fast as I could.I took a second to catch my breath before knocking on the door to my father’s study.I counted to five like I always did, then simply opened the door.“I’m here, Father.” I announced my presence and waited for him to acknowledge me.This little ritual hadn’t changed the slightest since I was a child, from the time I was old enough to understand that this was the way it was done.Only once did I break the ritual― when I was five and I fell and scraped my knee.My father was the only one in the house, so I burst into his office that time without knocking, hoping to claim his attention from his papers to my scraped knee.Sometimes I can still feel my knee burning from when he grabbed it, and still hear his voice yelling that it was just a scratch and calling me a weak child.I learned more than just knocking on the door that day.My father was not an old man― he had just turned forty-five― but you wouldn’t know it from looking at him.Half the tabloids rumored that he lied about his age to appease a younger demographic.His hair was graying early around the edges, and his face already carried the sunken look of an old man.But mostly it was his behavior.He didn’t act like a man that, more than likely, still had another forty or more years of life ahead of him.Life had hardened my father.The life of being the head of a political party, of succeeding my grandfather when he was so young, and of losing my mother after I was born.My father easily looked ten years older.His eyes were the only thing that retained some of his true age.His brow furrowed as he looked at me, then quickly returned to the stack of papers on his desk.“You should not take so long to take a bath, Andrew.You kept me waiting.”I hid my surprise well.I didn’t even flinch when he spoke.So Douglas had lied and covered for me.It was something to keep in mind.“I am sorry, Father.Douglas neglected to tell me it was urgent.” I didn’t feel an inch of guilt in blaming Douglas for my lateness.“You need to take responsibility for yourself, Andrew.You know I dislike when you place blame on others.”It was really hard not to scowl.“Yes, Father.Why did you need to see me?” I was ready to get this done so I could go back to my room.My father’s hand went to the display on top of his desk, his fingers moving nimbly across the surface until the television screen on the far wall turned on, his fingers continued tapping until the screen displayed the channel he wanted.They were talking about him.“Latest polls have us five points ahead, but I have better news.” He was talking to me, even though his eyes never left the screen.“What could be better, Father?” I asked predictably.I didn’t care about any of this.Heck, deep down I wanted him to lose; our party hadn’t won since my mother died.Maybe if he kept losing he’d realize this was a waste of time.That our party was a dead horse and there was no use beating it.It would make it easier for me to leave.Because deep down that’s what I wanted.To leave.To get in a car and never look back.Even if I was scared when Maxwell drove us to Orth, I secretly wished he would have kept driving down that decrepit highway and taken me so far away we could never go back.Run away to a life where I wouldn’t know what the next day brought.An unscripted life.“I got good word that Torres will drop out from the race.”My daydream vanished.I tried as best as I could to not show my reaction, but my body language changed and it was hard to keep my voice uncaring and monotone.“Why would he do that?” I knew immediately that wasn’t the right thing to say, but if it bothered my father he didn’t let me know.“To avoid scandal, of course.”That was a long list.Pretty much anything in our society was considered scandalous.Even the fact that Clare Mason remarried was scandalous.I wasn’t really listening to the next words my father said, because all I could imagine was Maxwell having to move out of The Circle and into the unruly city.It was one thing to escape for a one-night escapade where the danger was brief, but to reside in its midst?My father must have asked me something because he was looking at me as if waiting for an answer.I said the safest thing that popped in my head.“When will we know if it is official?” When in doubt, ask a question.Father was about to answer when there was a knock on the door.The man that opened it did not wait the five seconds like I had to.His name was Kane Reeves, a fair-skinned man with blue eyes and light hair.He had also come into my life after the bombings, even if he should have been in it long before [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]