Rise An Eve Novel - By Anna Carey Page 0,3

flats from the bottom of my closet. Alina, my new maid, rarely allowed me to wear them in public, insisting on the formal heels that pinched my toes and made me feel like I was falling forward. “You can’t leave—it’s past curfew,” Charles said, realizing what I was doing. “The soldiers won’t let you out.”

I grabbed a suit jacket from a hanger, along with the pants that were folded underneath. “They will,” I said, tossing them at him one by one, “if you’re with me.”

He glanced at me, then at the clothes, which were balled up against his chest. Slowly, without a word, he went into the bathroom to change.

IT TOOK US NEARLY AN HOUR TO REACH THE HOSPITAL IN THE Outlands. The vehicles were still clustered on the main road, so a soldier escorted us by foot. As we walked, I kept my head down, my eyes on the sandy pavement. The last time I’d been in this area I was going to meet Caleb. The still night had enveloped me, spurred on by the possibility of a life together beyond the walls, the possibility of us. Now the faint outline of the airport rose up in the distance. My eyes found the hangar where we’d spent the night. The thin plane blankets had provided little protection from the cold. Caleb had brought my hand to his lips, kissing each finger before we fell asleep . . .

A queasy, unsettled feeling consumed me. I held the cold air in my lungs, hoping it would pass. As we moved further into the Outlands my thoughts shifted from Caleb to Pip. The last time I’d spoken to my friends was months before, on an “official” visit I’d negotiated with my father. I’d returned to our School to see them, agreeing to address the younger students there. Pip and I had sat just beyond the windowless brick building, Pip rapping her knuckles against the stone table until they were pink. She’d been so angry with me. It had been more than two months since I’d given Arden the key to the School’s side exit, the same key Teacher Florence had given me. But I hadn’t heard anything about an escape attempt. I wondered if Arden still had it, concealed somewhere among her belongings, or if it had been discovered.

As we approached the hospital, the air filled with the low puttering of engines. A row of Jeeps hugged the side of the stone building, their headlights a welcome respite from the dark. Up ahead, three female soldiers stood outside the glass doors, half of which were boarded up with plywood. The hospital hadn’t been used since before the plague. Even now, the shrubs around it were shriveled and bare, the sand piled in the space where the wall met the earth. Two of the soldiers were arguing with an older woman dressed in a crisp white shirt and black pants—the uniform worn by workers in the City center.

“We can’t help you,” a soldier with a red, oval birthmark on her cheek said to the woman. One of the other soldiers, a woman in her midthirties with thin eyebrows and a small, beaklike nose, ordered the person on the other end of her radio to hold off.

The worker had her back toward us, but I recognized the thin gold band she wore on her finger, with a simple green stone in the center. They were the same hands that had held mine when I’d first arrived in the Palace, the ones that had worked the washcloth over my dirt-caked skin and carefully untangled the knots in my wet hair. “Beatrice,” I called out. “How did you get here?”

She turned around to face me. Though only two months had passed, she looked older, the deep lines framing her mouth like parentheses. The skin beneath her eyes was thin and gray. “It’s so good to see you, Eve,” she said, stepping forward.

“Princess Genevieve,” Charles corrected, holding up a hand to stop her.

I pushed past, ignoring him. After I was discovered missing the morning of the wedding, Beatrice had confessed to helping me leave the Palace. The King had threatened her and her daughter, who’d been in one of the Schools since she was a baby. Afraid for her daughter’s life, Beatrice had told him where I was meeting Caleb, revealing the location of the first of three tunnels the rebels had built beneath the wall. She was the reason they’d found us that morning, the reason

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