“Others?” An idea began to form in my mind. If Greyson could find a picture of me, one I hadn’t even known existed, then Sampson must have been right—there had to be one of the real Daxton.
“She had an entire file on you,” he said. “Pictures, test results, your birth certificate—”
My head snapped up. “Birth certificate? Why would she have all of that?”
“I don’t know.” Greyson frowned. “I didn’t read everything, but there were reports on you, too—yearly ones, like she’d been keeping tabs on you. I thought you knew.”
I blinked. I’d had no idea. “Do you know where the file is now?”
“I don’t know. Daxton cleared everything out after she died.” His face fell. “I’m sorry, I should have saved it. I wasn’t thinking—”
“It’s okay,” I said hastily, my mind whirling as I clutched the picture frame. “Thank you—for this, for the frame, for everything.”
“’Course,” he mumbled. “There’s a switch on the back—here, like this.” He took it gingerly and pointed to a barely visible button. “Hold it down for five seconds, and it’ll change into you and Benjy. Press it again, just once, and it’ll change back to us.”
“Thanks.” I took the frame back and tried it. My face dissolved into Lila’s once more. Instead of being sorry to see me go, I was relieved. This was my life now. As much as I wanted to go back in time to last Christmas, all I could do was go forward. It was the only option any of us ever had.
Greyson shuffled his feet and shoved his hands into his pockets again. “You were really pretty before.”
“Thanks,” I said quietly. It didn’t matter, not anymore. I was stuck as Lila Hart for the rest of my life, however long or short it might be.
He cleared his throat. “I’m sorry for—for being distant. You don’t deserve that.”
I did, though. “I get it. I’d be distant, too.”
Greyson jerked forward, as if he wanted to move toward me but had stopped himself at the last instant. “Grandmother—she deserved what she got. I’m not mad at you. I’m mad at her for everything she did. She didn’t have to, but she did and...I’m sorry.”
For a second time, I hugged him tightly. “You don’t have anything to be sorry about, okay? You’re my friend. You’ll always be my friend, no matter where we are or what’s going on.”
“You, too,” he mumbled. “When this is all over and I’m—I’m Prime Minister, I’ll make sure you get to be that girl again, okay?”
A lump formed in my throat. “Okay.”
He let me go, and the smile on his face nearly made me forget how impossible his promise really was. I could never be Kitty Doe again, and if he ever had to be Prime Minister, it would mean only one thing: I had let him and the entire country down, and the Blackcoats had lost.
The way Greyson’s gaze lingered on me as we said our good-nights made it seem almost as if he knew tonight would be the last time we saw each other. I watched him leave, part of me aching to give him one last hug, and another part of me wishing I didn’t have to say goodbye at all. But I had no choice—I had to get Benjy out of there, and there was no more reason for me to stay. I wanted the future he had drawn on that napkin. I wanted the lake, the cottage, the sunshine, the happiness, and the only way I would ever have it was to get out of the line of fire before the war began.
I couldn’t leave yet, though—not until I found proof that Daxton was an impostor. I wasn’t useless. I wasn’t just a stupid III who was only good for cleaning sewers. I wasn’t going to make Knox put his neck on the chopping block because of me, and I wasn’t going to let the entire world come crashing down around Greyson, trapping him in a life he didn’t want the way Daxton and Knox had trapped me. He deserved better. We both did.
After I changed into the most durable outfit Lila owned—jeans, a thick sweater, a leather jacket, and a pair of boots I could actually walk in—I stuffed a duffel bag full of clothes, jewelry, small electronics, and anything we might be able to pawn for food and shelter until we found someplace more permanent. A single one of Lila’s bracelets was worth more than most IIs and IIIs made in a decade, and she had several jewelry boxes full of them. I would’ve felt guilty if I hadn’t known the Harts could replace them without batting an eye, but it was a fair price for stealing my life.
A knock on the door made me jump and drop a pearl earring into the bag. “Who is it?” I called, my heart racing. I shoved the duffel bag underneath the bathroom sink.
Knox. I scowled. “I’m busy.”
“I don’t care how busy you are—I need to talk to you.”
Damn. Knox must have caught Benjy packing, which meant he was here to stop me. I couldn’t let him try, not yet. Not when I didn’t know what he’d do to keep me here, and not when the Blackcoats needed that file. Knox wouldn’t stand a chance sneaking around Daxton’s office, but I did. “Fine,” I called. “I’m changing. Give me a minute.”
I looked around the living room frantically. How was I supposed to get past him when he was right outside the door?
Stupid question. My eyes fell on the ceiling in the corner of the room, where a grate led into a maze of metal tunnels that made up the ventilation system throughout the entire fourth level of Somerset. I’d used them to sneak around undetected before Augusta’s death, but I’d been forced to show my hand to Knox and Benjy, rendering my secret useless. Until now.