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When they’d all left—all but Helene who’d insisted on staying close to Bria to be certain she wouldn’t disappear again—Bria collapsed on her bed and stared out the window.
“You can tell me,” Helene said. “We’re in this together.”
Bria met Helene’s gray eyes.
“About the tie, I mean. I know you’re tied to me somehow. You could at least tell me why you did it. I mean, we were never even friends.”
Bria gave a half-smile. “True. We weren’t really friends, but I’ve never truly had friends here outside my sister.”
“Why is that? Is it just because you won’t take your Dedication?”
Bria shrugged. “Maybe. Old town, new people. You probably know as well as anyone. Would we be talking now if we didn’t share this bond?”
They both shifted under the weight of her question.
After a pause, Helene said, “So, there is a bond.”
Bria bit at her upper lip as she considered how to answer the question. “You know there is, but it’s not the same thing as being knotted. It’s a bond only women can share, and not all women can reciprocate it.”
“Can I reciprocate it?”
“I don’t know. You noticed that I was cut off from you.” There was another awkward silence. “Well, do you feel my feelings?”
“What?” Helene had been sitting calmly in a desk chair, but she jumped to her feet. “You feel my feelings?”
Bria experienced Helene’s shock and embarrassment, and flushed red with her as she crossed her arms over her chest. Bria quickly wove a shield between them.
“I didn’t ask you to!”
“I know, and I never should have bonded you without asking you first. It was impulsive and crazy, but you were so sad after Alan… And then you tried to jump into the fire and almost took me with you. And then in the Dunes.” Bria stared into her hands. “I’m sorry.”
When she could finally look up, Helene was standing right in front of her with her hands wrapped over her own face. Tears leaked between her fingers. “I can kill you, too?” she squeaked.
“What do you mean ‘me, too?’”
“It’s just that Alan wouldn’t have taken that dare. And this means you know about the …”
Words tumbled out between them. In the end, they sat shoulder to shoulder on the bed, gazes fixed to the opposing wall, Helene trying to listen to Bria who had taken down the weave between them.
“Do you think I can learn this?” Helene whispered.
“I think you have to be born with the talent, but there’s only one way to find out.” Bria called up her most striking memories one after another and Helene guessed happy or sad.