That would have to do. I’d take the time to shower later.
Before I left, I took one look at my brother and my heart sank. His skin was pale, with a sheen of sweat. “What about… If he wakes up and he’s…”
“Dr. Gonzales is going to come in and watch him. If something changes, you’ll be the first to know.”
“Okay.” I could deal with that. Leaning down, I brushed a kiss across his forehead and was surprised at how cool he felt. “Has Dr. Gonz—”
“I passed her on my way in. She says he’s stable, for now.”
“He hasn’t woken up at all?” I’d expected to wake up when he did, but I’d been sleeping so hard, maybe I’d missed it.
Teresa shook her head slowly. “I’m sorry.”
Fear for my brother and what might happen to him gnawed at me. I brushed his black hair away from his forehead. “I’ll find a way to fix this, Raphael.” It was a promise that I would do anything to keep. I hoped it didn’t mean that I was going back to Luciana, but if that would fix him, then… I turned away from his bed. “Okay. Let’s go.”
We were quiet for a little bit of the walk, but Teresa broke the silence. “I know that it’s going to be tempting to go to Luciana. I just… I’m really afraid of what will happen to you if you do.”
I was afraid, too. But if it came down to it, I wasn’t sure I could stop myself from going to her. “He’s my brother. My twin.”
“I know. And I’d do anything for Axel, but—”
“You don’t understand.” It wasn’t the same. He was my twin. He was all I had left in this world. “He stood by me in that hell of a compound. He wouldn’t leave. He sacrificed so much. And if I have to sacrifice to save his life—”
“No!” She spun, grabbing my hand and pulling me to a stop. “He wouldn’t want you to do that. Even if it meant his life.”
I wrenched my arm away from her. “You’re not a twin. You couldn’t possibly understand what that means.”
“Maybe not, but I know what Luciana is capable of. I went to her trying to save Meredith, and if you remember, that didn’t exactly work out.” She stared me straight in the eye. “If you try to go back to her, I will stop you.” The words were calm and clear, and I knew she wasn’t messing around.
My hands made tight fists. “You’ll stop me?” My voice had gone cold, and I couldn’t bring myself to care.
“I won’t let you put yourself in harm’s way.” Her tone was soft and placating. The guilt at the harsh tone I’d used with her weighed heavy. She was being kind, and how was I repaying that? “If you need protection from yourself, then that’s what I’ll do. What exactly do you think will happen if you go back to her? Because I promise, it’ll be nothing good.”
I knew it wasn’t going to be good. I’d lived there. I knew what she was like. But that didn’t change the position I was in. “I’ll do what it takes to help my brother,” I said softly.
“I get that. But I’m your cousin and I’m going to help you the best way I know how. I’m sorry, but I’m all you’ve got right now.”
The truth of that sunk in, and hit me hard. Oh God. If Raphael dies, I’ll be alone. Truly alone. I bit my bottom lip to stop it from trembling.
“You’re going to be okay, Claudia. I’ve been through my share of tight spots in the last couple of months—ones that I didn’t know how to get out of. But I did. You will, too. You can do this. You can find the answer. Just don’t give up. Don’t go back to that lady. Find another way.”
I met my cousin’s dark brown gaze and found strength in it. In her. I wished I were as strong as her. I had to try to be. I would save my brother. “Then I hope Muraco has something good to tell me because I’m barely hanging on.”
“If he doesn’t, then we’ll figure it out.” She half-smiled, just a slight tip up on the right side of her mouth. “I’m not really one to quote anything religious, but if all this crazy stuff doesn’t make you believe in some higher being, then I don’t know what will.” She huffed a little laugh. “I’ve found that when God closes a door, there’s usually a window.”
“And if there’s a window, there’s a good chance Tessa is jumping out of it,” Meredith said from behind us.
“Shut up. I was trying to be serious,” Tessa said.