Crash by Eve Silver

Book: Crash by Eve Silver Read Free Book Online
Authors: Eve Silver
error. I fail and fail a bunch of times and I get stuck on a level until finally I figure it out, take a different approach, and get to the next level. It’s about a clean slate, like if I knew stuff about the game beforehand, if I looked it up or asked people about it, I’d have all these biased notions going in and that could blind me to opportunities. My mind wouldn’t be open.”
    â€œInteresting philosophy.”
    Luka shrugs. “I can’t claim it. It’s something Jackson told me when we first met. But I agree with it.”
    I chew another mouthful and nod again.
    Then I pause. Rewind.
    â€œWait, Jackson told you that when you first met him? Like the very first time you met? In the game?”
    â€œYeah, it was in the game.” Luka frowns. “We were in the lobby. Maybe the second or third mission. So no, he didn’t tell me that the first time we met. He was beinghis usual self.” He grins at me. “Cocky. Abrasive. Refusing to answer questions or answering with these cryptic non-answers. Then he starts talking about video games. To break the ice, I guess.”
    â€œWhat sort of questions were you asking him when he burst into gaming verbosity?” I don’t know why I think this is important, but it is. I feel like there’s some sort of aha-with-harps-and-choirs moment here if I can just find it.
    â€œVerbosity? Is that a word?”
    â€œGoogle it.”
    Luka snorts. “I was asking him about the”—he lowers his voice—“Drau. And about how we get pulled.” Again, he frowns. “I think the scores had shown up and I was asking about that. So instead of answering, he starts telling me about moving to different campaign levels in Call of Duty , saying that failure leads to knowledge by experience and seeing it from a different angle and a whole bunch of stuff like that.”
    I stare at him. “It wasn’t to break the ice,” I say slowly. “It was to explain himself.”
    â€œThe way he never answers questions, never tells new recruits much about the game . . .” I exhale on an incredulous laugh. “He does it on purpose.”
    â€œOf course he does it on purpose.” Luka holds his hands out to the sides. “He purposely doesn’t tell anyone anything. Ever.”
    â€œBut not because of the reasons we thought.” Whenwe were in the caves and I didn’t want our team to split up, Jackson made me think about strategy and see all the angles. I remember the way he looked at me, hung on my every word, like my decision, my perception mattered. Once I found out he meant to trade me into the game for his own freedom, I thought my decisions mattered that day because he was seeing what kind of leader I’d be. Now, I think maybe it wasn’t that at all, or maybe not solely that. . . . The times he didn’t tell me things and then watched my reactions, he was learning from them, using me to give him a new perspective, a fresh set of eyes.
    I pick something up and absently nibble the edge. Luka makes this sound that’s half growl, half laugh. I realize what I’m doing and gently place the spring roll back on his plate. “Sorry.”
    â€œ No hay problema .” He bites off half the spring roll, dumps a packet of plum sauce in the other half, swallows.
    â€œThe first time I got pulled, you never explained that much, either,” I point out.
    â€œThere’s never much time to explain a whole heck of a lot when someone new gets dropped into the lobby,” he says. “And Tyrone told you stuff. He gave you the rundown of the whole scoring system.”
    â€œOkay. That’s true. But back to Jackson—”
    â€œIt’s always back to Jackson.” Luka’s tone is teasing, but I can’t help thinking back to right after the first time I got pulled when I thought Luka might like me. He and Jackson had this weird

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