Caine has Drake and Orc, Panda and Chaz, and I hear Mallet has made peace with him. And maybe a half dozen other guys.”“Are you afraid of them?” Astrid asked him.“Yeah, Astrid, I am.”“Okay,” she said. “But you were scared of going into a burning building, too.”“You don’t get this, do you?” Sam demanded with enough heat that Astrid took a step back. “I know what you want, okay? I know what you and a bunch of other people want. You want me to be the anti-Caine. You don’t like the way he’s doing things and you want me to go kick him out. Well, here’s what you don’t know: even if I could do all that, I wouldn’t be any better than him.”“You’re wrong about that, Sam. You’re—”“That night when I first used the power? When I hurt my stepfather? How do you think I felt?”“Sad. Regretful.” Astrid looked at his face like the answer would be written there. “Scared, probably.”“Yeah. All that. And one more thing.” He held up his hand and inches from her nose squeezed his fingers into a tight fist. “I also felt a rush, Astrid. A rush. I thought, oh my God, look at the power I have. Look what I can do. A huge, crazy rush.”“Power corrupts,” Astrid said softly.“Yeah,” Sam said sarcastically. “I’ve heard that.”“Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. I forget who said it.”“I make a lot of mistakes, Astrid. I don’t want to make that mistake. I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want to be Caine. I want to…” He spread his arms wide, a gesture of helplessness. “I just want to go surfing.”“You won’t be corrupted, Sam. You wouldn’t do those things.” He had moved back. She moved to close the distance.“How can you be so sure?”“Well, two reasons. First, it’s not your character. Of course you felt a rush from the power. Then, you pushed it away. You didn’t grab at it, you pushed it away. That’s reason number one. You’re you, you’re not Caine or Drake or Orc.”Sam wanted to agree, wanted to accept that, but he felt he knew better. “Don’t be so sure.”“And reason number two: you have me

~ Michael Grant