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The End of the Line

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 Jo turned to Henry and pulled out her cell phone as Lucas walked away. After the assistant M.E. was out of earshot, she said conversationally, “So, I got a strange email—said I should look into some of your records.”

Henry struggled to keep his voice even and his expression innocently surprised as fear, never far from the surface, leapt into his throat. “How strange. Did you?” No, that was wrong, damn it, he sounded all wrong. He turned away, knowing that her trained eyes would catch the sign of a guilty conscience but unable to face her.

“Not yet. Any idea why someone would say that?” His mind worked furiously, reaching for possible responses, but the thought of lying to Jo yet again was exhausting, and he paused just a moment too long. Behind him, Jo’s eyebrows snapped together, but her voice was still even as she asked, “Henry, what will I find in your records?”

— the look on Nora’s face as he begged her to believe him — the asylum — Nora again, determined to reveal his secret to the world — the gunshot, yet another person he loved slipping away — the countless moves — the forged and reforged identities — Adam’s description of the experiments he was put through — the life he had built here crumbling away —

It was too much. He shook his head, trying to think through the haze of memories and the rising fear. He had to say something, to brazen his way out of this. It wasn’t as though he hadn’t had close calls before, hadn’t learned to lie so well he hated himself for it sometimes. But this was Jo Jo lying next to him, looking into his eyes and asking him why he studied death —

Her hand on his shoulder made him jump. “Henry. Henry, look at me.”

He turned, opening his mouth to say something, anything, but when he met her eyes his voice failed him. He swallowed and looked down.

“If you don’t tell me, I will go look right now. But I figured I owed you a chance to explain.” She paused. “And I’d rather hear it from you.”

Henry took a deep breath. “Thank you. I appreciate that.” He drew himself up. “Before you go any further, I have to tell you… I have kept secrets from you.”

Jo swallowed a sarcastic reply. Henry looked more serious, and more afraid, than she had ever seen him. “I always knew you had secrets, Henry.”

“Yes, I suppose so. But you don’t understand how many. I have been… less than honest about many things. Please,” his eyes met hers, and her breath caught at the desperation there, “Please know that it was not by choice. I never wanted to lie to you.”

“There’s a difference between keeping secrets and lying.” Jo kept her tone as neutral as possible.

“Yes. I am afraid I’ve done both.” He looked around, gathering his thoughts. “Could we perhaps continue this in my office? It’s rather a lo—”

“A long story? I thought it might be.”