Kate said, “Hey.”
He looked back.
“This isn’t your fault.”
That night, Ethan lay next to Theresa in a warm, dark room, deep inside the superstructure.
Ben slept on a rollaway at the foot of their bed, the boy snoring quietly.
The nightlight across the room put out a soft blue and Ethan stared into the glow. The first night in ages he could actually sleep in warmth, in safety, without a camera spying on him. Sleep was there for the taking, but he couldn’t find his way in.
Theresa’s hand moved around his side and across his stomach.
She whispered, “You awake?”
He rolled over to face her, and by the illumination of the nightlight, saw the glistening in her eyes, the wetness on her face.
“I need to tell you something,” she said.
“You’ve only been back in our lives for barely a month.”
“We’d already been here for five years. We didn’t know where we were. If we were.”
“I already know all this.”
“What I’m trying to say is . . . there was someone before you came.”
“Someone,” Ethan said, a sudden pressure building in his chest, a weight pressing down on his lungs, stopping him from drawing a full breath.
“I thought you were dead. Or that maybe I was.”
“When I first came to town, I didn’t know a soul. I woke up here just like you did, and Ben wasn’t with me, and—”
“You saw that Adam Hassler is here.”
“He saved my life, Ethan. He helped me find Ben.”
“Are you for real?”
She was crying now. “I lived with him in that house on Sixth Street for over a year, up until the day he was sent away.”
“You were with Hassler?”
A sob caught in her throat. “I thought you were dead. You know how this town can mess with you.”
“Did you share his bed?”
He rolled away from her onto his back and stared at the ceiling. No idea how to even begin to process this. All he had were questions, images of Hassler and his wife, and a raw, combustive pool of confusion, anger, and fear coalescing deep inside of him that was accelerating toward supernova.
“Talk to me,” she said. “Don’t shut down.”
“Were you in love with him?”
“Are you still?”
“That’s not a no.”
“Do you want me to protect your feelings, Ethan, or do you want me to be honest?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because I wasn’t prepared to have this conversation. You’d only been here a month. We were just starting to reconnect again.”
“You never were. Your lover showed up out of nowhere and forced your hand.”
“That is not true, Ethan. I swear I would’ve told you. I was assured that Adam was never coming back. And by the way? I was with Hassler when I thought you were dead. You f**ked Kate Hewson while I was still very much alive. While I was your wife. So let’s keep this shit in perspective, shall we?”
“Do you want to be with him?”
“If he hadn’t found me, I would’ve kept running and running until they murdered me. There is no doubt in my mind. He supported me, he took care of me when there was no one else to do it. When you weren’t around.”
Ethan turned back onto his side and faced his wife, their noses touching, her breath in his face and a roiling mass of emotion inside of him that he wasn’t completely certain he could keep tied down.
“Do you want to be with him?” he asked again.
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? Does that mean maybe?”
“I have never been loved the way that man loves me.” Ethan stopped breathing. “If this is hard for you to hear, I’m sorry, but I was his world, Ethan, and it . . .” She let the words go, let them trail off into nothing.
“I shouldn’t say any—”
“No, finish your thought.”
“It was like nothing I’d ever experienced. Since the first time you and I met, I have loved you with everything I have. Can I just be straight up with you? I have always loved you more than you loved me.”
“That is not true.”
“You know it is. My loyalty, my devotion to you has been total. If our marriage was a rope, you on one end, me on the other, I was always pulling a little bit harder. And sometimes a lot.”
“This is punishment, isn’t it? For Kate.”
“Not everything is about you. This is about me and this man I fell in love with while you were gone, and who’s now back, and I have no f**king idea how to handle it. Can you put yourself in my shoes for two seconds?”
Ethan sat up in bed, threw back the covers.
“Don’t leave,” she said.
“I just need some air.”
“I shouldn’t have told you.”
“No, you should’ve told me on day one.”
He climbed out of bed, walked out of their room wearing socks, pajama bottoms, and a wifebeater.
It was two or three in the morning, and Level 4 stood empty, the fluorescent lights humming quietly overhead.
Ethan walked down the corridor. Behind every door he passed, residents of Wayward Pines slept safe and sound. There was comfort in knowing that some had been saved.
The cafeteria was closed, dark.
Stopping at the doors to the gymnasium, he peered through the glass. In the low light, he saw the raised basketball hoops, the court covered in cots. The people in the mountain had volunteered as a group to give up their rooms on Level 4 to the refugees, a gesture he hoped would be a good omen for the tough transition to come.
Down on Level 2, he swiped his card and stepped into surveillance.
Alan sat at the console, watching the screens.
He looked back as Ethan entered, and said, “You’re up late.”
Ethan took a seat beside him.
“Anything?” he asked.
“I disabled the motion sensors that powered up the cameras, so they’re running all the time now. I’m sure the batteries won’t last much longer. I’ve spotted a few dozen abbies back in town. I’ll take a team down in the morning first thing to finish them off.”