Made of steel (made of s.., p.40
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       Made of Steel (Made of Steel Series Book 1), p.40

           Ivy Smoak
 

  Chapter 31

  Sunday

  With each step, I felt like I was walking farther and farther into a bad part of town. I glanced over my shoulder. The hairs on the back of my neck seemed to prickle and I picked up my pace. My legs were sore from another run this morning, and they seemed to protest with each movement.

  A cat scampering across a path made me jump. Why did the author of the blog have to live in the sketchiest place ever? I had been happy when they had written me back. But the message was blunt. It was just an address and a time. Now I was regretting my decision. This was something a stupid girl in a horror flick would do. My feet kept moving though.

  I had convinced myself that the vigilante was writing the blog himself. Which meant I was about to come face to face with him. A few sirens and beggars on the streets weren't going to scare me away. I stopped in front of a rundown building. Some of the windows were boarded up. This can't possibly be right. I pulled out the piece of paper I had written the address down on to double check. 255 S. Broad Street, apartment 1057. The number above the front door verified that I was indeed in the right place.

  I glanced over my shoulder again. I was starting to get used to the feeling of being watched. The vigilante was out there. I could feel it. It was more comforting than alarming now. I turned my attention back to the front of the building and pressed on the button for apartment 1057.

  The door immediately buzzed. I grabbed the handle and walked inside. I jumped as a rat scurried across the floor. Why would the vigilante live here? He should have kept some of that money he had given away for himself. I pictured a poor boy, wanting to fight for people like him. I wasn't at all surprised when the button for the elevator didn't do a thing.

  I found the stairs and slowly started walking up. My muscles were screaming at me. Each step up, I'd look down at my Converses. I was going to meet the vigilante. I wanted to prove to him that I was strong. Hell, I wanted to prove to myself that I was strong.

  I opened the door to floor 10. It made a terrible squeaking noise. One of the lights in the ceiling was flickering. It seemed more like I was walking into a villain's den than a superhero's. I stopped in front of the door marked 1057. This was it. My heart seemed to be beating out of my chest as I lifted my hand. My knock seemed to echo in the empty hallway.

  There was a scuffling noise inside. And then it sounded like someone was undoing a dozen locks. A moment later the door opened. A girl with frizzy dark hair and big glasses was standing in front of me. "You're Sadie Davis?" She pushed her glasses up her nose.

  It took me a moment to find my voice. She wasn't what I was expecting at all. "Yes. And you're the author of The Night Watch?" I tried to hide my disappointment. I had been expecting the vigilante.

  "Shhh." She stepped out into the hall and looked both ways. "You'll ruin everything. Come in, hurry."

  I flinched as she grabbed my arm and pulled me into her apartment. I stood awkwardly in the center of a barely furnished studio apartment as she bolted the door. There were newspaper clippings strewn all over the place. A single couch was the only furniture in the living room. But the whole right wall of her apartment was filled with computer monitors, showing different angles of the city.

  "Everyone thinks I'm crazy."

  I turned around to look at her standing by the door. She looked crazy. Her apartment was insane. But I knew that wasn't what she was talking about. She meant that no one believed in her articles. "I don't think you're crazy."

  "No one sees the connection." She started pacing back and forth. "The missing money. The apartment payments. The charity donations. Why does no one see it? It's not just a correlation."

  "I see it."

  She stopped pacing as she stared at me. "I was at the bank that day. He's a hero. So many people are making him out to be a villain."

  "He saved my life. I know he's a hero."

  "But why? Why did he save you? There was no money involved. It doesn't fit. Why you?"

  "I don't know. But he knew my name. I feel like he's been watching me."

  She pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. "He has been. I'm trying to figure out why."

  "What do you mean he has been?"

  "He hacks my computers." She walked over to her monitors. "Well, I should say that I let him hack them. If I didn't want him to be able to, I could block him. His hacking skills aren't exactly great."

  I didn't know anything about hacking. My mind was still fixated on the fact that she said he'd been watching me. "But how do you know what he sees?"

  She stared at me blankly. "I'm good at what I do. For example, you just started school at Eastern University. Which just so happened to be one day before the vigilante's first appearance. And he was at the bank where all your money is. Which is a lot for someone your age. It's all connected somehow, I just don't know how. Your appearance set off this timeline of events. It jumpstarted something. He was waiting for you."

  I shook my head. "None of this makes sense."

  "It's basic cause and effect."

  "No, I mean...I'm not involved in this. I don't even know who he is."

  "That doesn't mean you didn't cause it. Look." She pointed to one of the monitors. The imaging was rotating, giving another view of the street. "He's looking for you."

  A chill ran down my spine. "He's looking for what to do next. It has nothing to do with me."

  "It has everything to do with you."

  I stared at the monitor. This crazy girl wasn't touching anything. It was almost like a ghost was controlling it. Was he really looking for me? It should have scared me. But I wasn't scared of him. I knew he wouldn't hurt me.

  "You have virtually no cyber footprint except for the information about your school enrollment and your bank account," the girl continued. "Which means you're not really who you say you are."

  "I don't know what you're talking about. I'm Sadie Davis."

  "And I'm the Queen of England."

  I laughed.

  She didn't look like she thought it was funny.

  "I just don't like computers. That's why you couldn't find much on me."

  "Who doesn't like computers?"

  "I didn't grow up with one. I..."

  "What kind of person who has 3 million dollars sitting in their bank account doesn't have a computer growing up?"

  It was strange. But not as strange as the fact that she had hacked into my bank account. "I..."

  "Why are you here, Sadie?" She put Sadie in air quotes. "In your email, you said you knew why the vigilante had broken his usual MO. So tell me why."

  I shook my head. "Honestly, I thought maybe you were the vigilante. I just wanted to meet you. I didn't understand how you knew that it was him that had turned in that convict. It didn't fit his MO. So I thought maybe you were him. Because you had to be watching me."

  She shook her head. "I wasn't watching you. It was the sedative the vigilante used. It's an odd mixture of ingredients. It's easy to trace the connection after you hack into the files from the NYPD."

  "You hacked into the NYPD computers?"

  "Yeah. It was easy." She sat down in the chair and swiveled to face her computers. "You just..."

  "You don't have to show me."

  She shrugged her shoulders and turned back around. She just stared at me, like she was waiting for me to answer a question she hadn't asked.

  "What's your name?" I finally said, breaking the awkward silence.

  "Liza. Or maybe I'm making it up. I guess you'll never know."

  I laughed.

  This time she responded with a small smile.

  Now seemed like as good a time as ever to ask for a favor. "Actually, since you're so good with computers, I was hoping you could help me."

  "You're right. I am good with computers. What do you need?"

  I slid my backpack off my shoulder and pulled out my laptop. "I was trying to check someone's Facebook profile the other day. And for some reason I couldn't see it on here. But my ro
ommate easily pulled it up on her phone."

  "Whoever it was probably blocked you."

  "But we only just met."

  She shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know what to tell you."

  "Could you maybe just look at it?" I held out my computer toward her.

  She sighed and grabbed my computer. "What's the password?"

  "Password."

  "Seriously? No wonder someone messed with your computer." She pushed her glasses up her nose and then started typing furiously. "Overprotective parents?" she finally said.

  "Something like that, I guess. Why?"

  "You have parental controls set. It's weird that they'd involve phrases including names. That's not usually what they're used for. I can override them if you want or..." she stopped talking as the computer screen turned blue. Numbers and letters started scrolling across the screen. "What the hell?" She started typing furiously again. "This isn't like any normal settings I've ever seen before. It's extremely high tech." A red light started beeping on the key pad. Liza's fingers stopped as her eyes scanned the screen. "Fuck. Why would you bring this here?" She slammed the lid shut and ran over to the window.

  Before I could stop her, she had opened up the window and thrown my laptop out of it.

  "What did you just do?! What is wrong with you?!" I ran over to window and stared out. I couldn't even see it, we were so high up.

  Liza hadn't answered me. I turned around and she was pacing again. It looked like she was mumbling something under her breadth.

  "Why did you do that?" I tried to ask a little more calmly.

  She stopped mid-pace. "It had a tracking device in it. The vigilante isn't the only one watching you. You need to go. When they realize the transmitter isn't working, they might try to come for you. You have to go."

  It was just Mr. Crawford. It made sense that he wanted to know where I was. To make sure I was safe. "It was just my parents," I lied.

  "That was some next level government shit, Sadie. Someone is after you. And the vigilante isn't high tech enough to pull that off. It's someone dangerous, with deep pockets. You have to go."

  "But I..."

  "You coming here started something, something bigger than the vigilante." She hit something and all her monitors went black.

  "Let me help you figure out who he is. I need to know."

  "I don't want your help with this. You're not who you say you are. You're involved somehow and I don't want..."

  "Please. Please help me."

  She stared at me for a moment before handing me a card. "Don't use whatever phone you currently have. It probably has a tracker on it too. You need to dump it. Give me a few days. I'll have a new headquarters by then." She unplugged a fistful of wires.

  "Isn't this where you live?"

  "In this dump? No way. Now go before they find you."

  I knew it was Mr. Crawford, so why did her words send a chill down my spine? Who else had access to my computer? Just a few other members of the witness protection program. And Kins. And I guess anyone else who had come into our dorm. Patrick. Eli. Maybe a few people from our floor. It was just Mr. Crawford.

  I unbolted all the locks on the door and left Liza to her computers. She said people thought she was crazy. And maybe she was. She was intelligent too, though. It was hard not to take her warning seriously. The flickering light in the hall seemed more ominous now. I quickly made my way down the stairs and out onto the city street.

  It was virtually deserted. I looked up at the sky. Not a single star was visible tonight. I looked down at my Converses instead. They had given me the strength I needed recently. I was letting go of my obsession with the stars and holding on to something new for once in my life. I needed the vigilante. He helped me forget about my pain. He helped me want to be Sadie Davis.

  A clanging noise made me jump. I looked up at a fire escape just in time to see the vigilante leap off of it and land several feet away from me. He was at the entrance of an alleyway, and he was bathed in darkness. The moonlight cast shadows across his masked face and his hood was pulled low over his eyes.

  "I told you to go home." The rumble in his voice didn't scare me.

  "And I did. I went back to my dorm." I took a step toward him.

  He held his ground. "You know that's not what I meant. This city isn't safe for you."

  "I don't have a home."

  He shook his head. "You can't stay here, Sadie."

  "How do you know my name?" A few more steps and we were less than two feet part.

  He didn't answer my question.

  "You've been following me. Why?"

  "You're reckless. You shouldn't walk the streets alone at night."

  "Neither should you."

  His laugh rumbled low and deep. I wanted to know what it sounded like without whatever mechanism was changing it. I took another step toward him. I thought he might step back, but again he held his ground. I could feel his body heat. I could smell his sweet cologne. He smelled like a million bucks.

  "Home. Now, Sadie."

  "Do you know who else is following me?" I asked, ignoring him.

  "You've brought darkness to this city. Trust no one."

  He was talking in riddles. But it was similar to what Liza had said. That somehow I had caused all of this. "And what about you?" It was like my hand had a mind of its own. I reached out and lightly touched the side of his masked face.

  A low hiss escaped his lips. It was like my touch pained him. I knew how that felt. I immediately pulled my hand away, but I stayed right in front of him. It was like the whole world was silent when we were together. I was drawn to him. I could tell that he was drawn to me too.

  "There's darkness in everyone."

  His words made me gulp. "How do you know my name?" I asked again.

  "You're the only reason that I'm here, Sadie."

  The rumble in his voice made my insides flip over.

  "There's darkness in me too," I whispered. I was certainly thinking dark thoughts about him. I wanted his lips on mine. I wanted to feel the hard lines of his muscles. I wanted all of him.

  He shifted closer to me so that I could feel his hot breath on my ear. "All I see is light."

  It felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. "I want to help you. I want to be a part of this."

  "You already are a part of it. You're everything."

  I closed my eyes as I relished his breath on my skin. Everything? What did that mean? Everything to him? Everything that was causing problems? I didn't really even care. He was here because of me. That was all that mattered.

  A clanging noise made my eyelids open. I hadn't even heard him walk away from me. But he was gone. I had felt invisible for five years. Now that someone saw the light in me, I didn't feel so invisible anymore. I couldn't leave the city. The ironic part was that the main thing keeping me here was the person telling me to leave.

 
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