Restore Me (Shatter Me #4)(3)

Mind games.

Castle is always visiting, advising. It was his suggestion that I be proactive—that I take the upper hand. Instead of waiting around, anxious and defensive, I should reach out, he said. I should make my presence known. Stake a claim, he said. Take a seat at the table. And attempt to form alliances before launching assaults. Connect with the five other supreme commanders around the world.

Because I may speak for North America—but what of the rest of the world? What of South America? Europe? Asia? Africa? Oceania?

Host an international conference of leaders, he said.


Aim for peace first, he said.

“They must be dying of curiosity,” Castle said to me. “A seventeen-year-old girl taking over North America? A teenage girl killing Anderson and declaring herself ruler of this continent? Ms Ferrars—you must know that you have great leverage at the moment! Use it to your advantage!”

“Me?” I said, stunned. “How do I have leverage?”

Castle sighed. “You certainly are brave for your age, Ms Ferrars, but I’m sorry to see your youth so inextricably tied to inexperience. I will try to put it plainly: you have superhuman strength, nearly invincible skin, a lethal touch, only seventeen years to your name, and you have single-handedly felled the despot of this nation. And yet you doubt that you might be capable of intimidating the world?”

I cringed.

“Old habits, Castle,” I said quietly. “Bad habits. You’re right, of course. Of course you’re right.”

He leveled me with a straight stare. “You must understand that unanimous, collective silence from your enemies is no act of coincidence. They’ve certainly been in touch with one another—they’ve certainly agreed to this approach—because they’re waiting to see what you do next.” He shook his head. “They are awaiting your next move, Ms Ferrars. I implore you to make it a good one.”

So I’m learning.

I did as he suggested and three days ago I sent word through Delalieu and contacted the five other supreme commanders of The Reestablishment. I invited them to join me here, in Sector 45, for a conference of international leaders next month.

Just fifteen minutes before Kenji barged into my room, I’d received my first RSVP.

Oceania said yes.

And I’m not sure what that means.


I’ve not been myself lately.

The truth is I’ve not been myself for what feels like a long time, so much so that I’ve begun to wonder whether I ever really knew. I stare, unblinking, into the mirror, the din of buzzing hair clippers echoing through the room. My face is only dimly reflected in my direction, but it’s enough for me to see that I’ve lost weight. My cheeks are hollow; my eyes, wider; my cheekbones more pronounced. My movements are both mournful and mechanical as I shear off my own hair, the remnants of my vanity falling at my feet.

My father is dead.

I close my eyes, steeling myself against the unwelcome strain in my chest, the clippers still humming in my clenched fist.

My father is dead.

It’s been just over two weeks since he was killed, shot twice in the forehead by someone I love. She was doing me a kindness by killing him. She was braver than I’d ever been, pulling the trigger when I never could. He was a monster. He deserved worse.

And still—

This pain.

I take in a tight breath and blink open my eyes, grateful for the time to be alone; grateful, somehow, for the opportunity to tear asunder something, anything from my flesh. There’s a strange catharsis in this.

My mother is dead, I think, as I drag the electric blade across my skull. My father is dead, I think, as the hair falls to the floor. Everything I was, everything I did, everything I am, was forged from the twins of their action and inaction.

Who am I, I wonder, in their absence?

Shorn head, blade switched off, I rest my palms against the edge of the sink and lean in, still trying to catch a glimpse of the man I’ve become. I feel old and unsettled, my heart and mind at war. The last words I ever spoke to my father—


My heart speeds up as I spin around; I’m affecting nonchalance in an instant. “Hi,” I say, forcing my limbs to slow, to be steady as I dust errant strands of hair from my shoulders.

She’s looking at me with big eyes, beautiful and worried.

I remember to smile. “How do I look? Not too horrible, I hope.”

“Aaron,” she says quietly. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” I say, and glance again in the mirror. I run a hand over the soft/spiky half inch of hair I have left and wonder at how the cut manages to makes me look harsher—and colder—than before. “Though I confess I don’t really recognize myself,” I add aloud, attempting a laugh. I’m standing in the middle of the bathroom wearing nothing but boxer briefs. My body has never been leaner, the sharp lines of muscle never more defined; and the rawness of my body is now paired with the rough cut of my hair in a way that feels almost uncivilized—and so unlike me that I have to look away.

Juliette is now right in front of me.

Her hands settle on my hips and pull me forward; I trip a little as I follow her lead. “What are you doing?” I begin to say, but when I meet her eyes I find tenderness and concern. Something thaws inside of me. My shoulders relax and I reel her in, drawing in a deep breath as I do.

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