Way down the block.
I had no idea where I was going. I was just going. Maybe get on the interstate and head west, keep driving until I ran out of gas. I figured—
Evie . . .
Tiny hairs rose all over my body. My name. I heard my name, but it hadn’t been—It didn’t sound like it had been out loud. More like it had been in my head, but that made no sense.
I had been through a lot in the last twenty-four hours. Attacked. Had my arm broken and healed. Found out I wasn’t even Evie. So I shouldn’t be surprised that I was hearing voices. That seemed like the most expected thing to be happening.
Evie . . .
There it was again. I stopped, frowning. What in the world?
Slowly, I turned around even as every part of my being screamed that I should hightail my behind right back to the party, but that wasn’t what I did. I stepped out onto the sidewalk. “Hello?”
I scanned the street and sidewalk, seeing nothing but cars. I walked toward the corner, sticking close to the large retaining wall. I reached the corner and looked around. Nothing. Nothing at all . . . My gaze dropped.
Something was lying there. Like a bundle of clothing. I stepped closer, squinting. The streetlamps cast a dim glow, and I knelt down. The clothing looked rumpled, but there was a shape to it. I breathed in sharply and there was the scent of . . . of burnt flesh.
I jerked back and stumbled to the side. That wasn’t just clothes. Oh my God, that wasn’t just clothes at all. Two legs were stretched at an awkward angle. A torso twisted to the side, and a mouth gaped open, skin charred at the corners. Burnt sockets where eyes should’ve been. The entire face was charred.
I dragged in gulps of tainted air as I pinwheeled backward. Horror seized me. Oh God, that was a body—a body like Colleen’s and Amanda’s, and the bodies of that family. I spun around, blindly reaching for my phone and stun gun, but I’d left both of them in my car.
Because I was an idiot in the middle of an utter breakdown—
The streetlamp popped, exploding in a shower of sparks. I whirled as the one across the street blew out too. One after the other, all the way down the street, lamps burst, pitching the entire block into darkness.
My mouth dry, I backed up and then turned. Darkness blanketed the sidewalk, blocking out the cars parked along the road. It was so dark, it was like I’d lost my vision. I exhaled roughly, and my breath puffed out as a misty cloud in the air. Goose bumps spread across my flesh. The temperature felt like it had dropped twenty or more degrees.
He was back—oh God, I was such an idiot, and I was going to get myself killed.
The darkness suddenly shifted and it—it pulsed, expanding and deepening, reaching out toward me in thick tendrils. Icy air stirred around me, lifting the hair off my shoulders and sending it flying across my face. A startled scream burst out of me as the thing took shape right before my eyes.
That wasn’t a shadow or darkness. I didn’t even think it was the psycho Origin. This was something straight out of nightmares. Was it an Arum? Emery and Kent had said they looked like shadows, but hearing about them and actually seeing something like them were two very different things.
Instinct flared to life once more, demanding I listen to it, and this time I gave in. I spun around and took off, running as fast as I could. I darted into the right, utterly blind in the cloaking darkness. Panic dug in, but I kept going—
My legs and hips slammed into something hard—something metal. The impact knocked the air out of my lungs and my legs out from underneath me. I screamed as I lost my balance, falling backward. I threw out my arms, but there was nothing to grab on to except cold air.
I went down fast, my back and shoulders slamming into the sidewalk a second before the back of my head collided with cement. Raw pain exploded all along the base of my neck and skull, shooting stark white-hot pain down my lips. Light burst behind my eyelids and then . . . then there was nothing.29
For the second time in I don’t even know how many hours, I woke up and had no idea how I’d gotten where I was, but I recognized the damn brick walls.
Jackknifing upright, I scanned the dimly lit room. For a moment I thought I was alone until I saw Luc rise from the couch like a wraith.
“You’re awake,” he said, his voice flat. Distant.
I scooted to the edge of the bed. “Why am I here?”