“You don’t have to do everything they want, James.”
The rage in James’ eyes fizzled into misery, but even as anguish threatened to overtake his soul, hope lingered. His familiar scent drew me closer. It reminded me of the young man he used to be. He towered over me, as if he could shelter me from the cruelty of life. It was tempting to let him, but I knew it would just be another lie. The Ringer made a game out of life and death. They created the rules and demanded everyone abide by them or suffer the consequences. Nevertheless, I couldn’t ignore the truth any longer. I needed answers.
“Yes, I do. If I want to protect the ones I love…” James said. He leaned in close enough to steal a kiss. An agonized smile crept onto his face.“To protect you.”