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“Sweet!” Allen exclaimed softly, straightening to his full height. “Let’s get out of here.”

But Summer didn’t move, and Silas stood, meticulously unhooking the glass pad and wiping the area down. “Have you texted Peri?” he asked, seeing Peri still with the guard.

Summer glanced at the phone in her hand. “Just now.” The phone went dark. “Drone has been sent into the drink.”

“Guys?” Allen prompted, and Silas watched Peri “find” her phone, jumping up and down and giving the guard a hug, making him flush and stammer. “Before the sun goes nova, maybe?”

But Summer didn’t move. “I can’t wait until tomorrow to see if this worked,” she said, voice strained. “I have to know now.”

Allen’s urgent ushering motions stopped. “But these things take forever to reboot,” he complained as the monitor went dark. Immediately it lit up and started to come alive.

Please work, Silas thought, anxious as he continued to stuff things in his belt pack with no regard to organization.

“It will work,” Allen said, fidgeting. “It’s Silas’s program. They never fail. Let’s go!”

But Summer remained before the glowing screen, breathless as the systems came up and alive. He had just trashed the academy’s grading computer. Silas felt good, and bad . . . and he was glad that Summer was with him.

Please . . . he thought as the system came alive. And then a message box flashed up.


“It’s good. Can we go now?” Allen demanded.

Summer exhaled, the soft sound going to Silas’s core and igniting him. One by one, the programs began to shut down again. It had worked.

“Let’s go.” Summer breezed out to the hall, almost jogging. Jerking into motion, Silas followed, leaving Allen to finish swabbing the door free of their prints. His feet hardly seemed to touch the floor, and he moved without effort. It wasn’t the high of a successful task, it was the chance they might be able to make this work, to be together as they wanted. He wanted this, she wanted this. It was right. It was perfect.

Thank God Peri had a reason for being here yesterday, or this wouldn’t have gotten past the front door, he thought, then, Thank God she had hit me with the drone.

They slipped out the way they’d come in, spurred on by Peri’s cheerful chatter just a hallway away. Together they spilled into the night, Summer and Silas hustling into the dark as Allen wiped down the door and intercom. He slipped out of sight just as Peri and the night guard turned the corner into the hallway.

Silas held his breath as Peri’s voice became louder. Summer’s warmth was beside him, her excitement adding to his. Whatever happened now, it had been worth it.

“I can’t believe we just did that,” Allen whispered as he settled nearby, making Silas feel like a hulking giant.

“It’s good to be bad,” Summer said, her teeth catching the light as she smiled, and Silas nodded, his arm slipping around her, pulling her closer.

They froze as the door buzzed and then opened. “Thank you so much,” Peri was gushing, the overhead light illuminating her. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this.”

“I’m glad it was still there.” The night guard hung halfway through the open door. “Have a good night, and good luck with your studies.”

“Thanks!” she said expansively. “Bye!”

She turned away, her face losing its light cast as the shadows took her, a dangerous glint blossoming in its place. Silas’s own expression went still as he recognized the depth of her determination, her focus. There was no play in her, no farce, not like there had been in Allen and Summer. Seeing her pacing away from the locked door, Silas realized she would have knocked that man cold if she had needed to, fought him, maybe even shot him with his own weapon to protect them. But she hadn’t. She was good enough not to need to.

And she trusted us to do the same, he realized, not knowing if that had been the smart thing to do. Peri was far more invested in this than Allen ever was about anything.

Uneasy, Silas made a soft noise as she passed them, and she flicked her fingers, acknowledging him even as she continued on as if oblivious.

“Let’s go.” Allen touched his arm, and they backed up before turning and walking away.

Oblivious to the strength of Peri’s commitment, Allen almost danced across the dark campus. “That was so sweet!” he exclaimed, hardly above a whisper. “Damn, I love my life.”

Laughing, Summer pointed out Peri, and they angled toward her.

“You did it, yes?” Peri asked as they closed the gap and halted under a lone streetlight.

Summer nodded, looking beautiful as the two women exchanged phones. “I sent the drone into the ocean, and trashed the controlling app already.”

“Thanks.” Peri checked her messages, head jerking up when Silas grabbed Summer, spinning her around in a shrieking circle and pulling her into him as they came to a happy halt. She was soft against him, and laughing, and, not letting go, Silas took a wipe from his pocket and cleaned the black smut from Summer’s face. A new closeness made his motions more tender, loving, as he traced her lines, and, sensing it, she smiled at him, the happiness and relief in her warming him.

Unable to resist, he pulled her closer and gave her a kiss, his passion kindling deeper as she responded as if they were alone, pressing into him with a fervent tension. He would never let her go.

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