The Darkest Star (Origin 1) - Page 15

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“Because you gave me a fake ID that enabled me to be a complete idiot and come here in the first place?”

He snorted. “Uh, no.”

“Because you think Zoe would’ve smacked me upside the head if I asked her?” When he nodded, I smiled. “Then you’re right. I knew you’d go with me and you wouldn’t smack me.”

At least I had a plan. Not the greatest, but someone had to be there during the day. Well, unless everyone got arrested, but hopefully someone was there, and I was prepared to beg and plead to be allowed to check out the room I’d dropped my phone in.

“You think anyone is going to answer?” he asked.

I exhaled loudly, let go of the steering wheel, and turned off the car. I hadn’t told him about the raid last night, which probably made me a bad person. “I don’t even know if anyone is in there.” Truth was, after the raid, Luc and everyone could’ve cleared out. “You sure you want to come in?”

He slowly turned his head toward me. “I know what kind of place this is, so if I stay behind in this car, I’m pretty sure I’m violating some kind of friend code.”

“Probably,” I agreed, and reached over, tweaking the bill of his cap.

He opened the passenger door. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

I lifted my brows. There was, like, a metric crap ton of things that could happen, but I didn’t point that out. I grabbed my purse off the backseat and then climbed out of the car to join James. Once there was a break in traffic, we hurried across the street, narrowly avoiding getting run over by a speeding taxi that seemed to come out of nowhere.

I hopped up on the curb and stepped around a man dropping coins into a parking meter. Without warning, my heart started thumping heavily against my ribs as I walked under the awning.

A tremor coursed down my arm as I stopped a good foot in front of the doors, the red paint reminding me of fresh blood. Being here felt . . . It felt final somehow, like once I walked through these doors again, there was no going back. I didn’t even fully understand that sensation or where it truly came from. It was overdramatic, because all I was doing was coming back to get my stupid phone, but the feeling of dread was filling my pores and seeping through my skin.

Instinct roared to the surface, forcing me to take a step back, and my shoulder bumped into James’s chest. Something primal inside me demanded I turn around and get the hell out of there.

Tiny hairs all over my body rose. Air hitched in my throat and pressed down on my chest. The tips of my fingers started to tingle.

Fear.

I was feeling fear.

The dark and cold kind that rose from a deep well. I could taste it in the back of my mouth. Bitter. The last time I’d felt this kind of bone-chilling fear that bordered on panic was . . . It had to have been during the invasion. Those moments were vague and a blur, but it would’ve been that kind of fear.

Mr. Mercier, high school counselor extraordinaire, would say what I was feeling right now was just a symptom of living through the invasion. Post-traumatic stress. That was what I kept telling myself as a shiver curled its way down my spine.

The feeling didn’t go away.

Get away, whispered a voice that sounded like mine. It came from the recesses of my mind, an inherent, elemental part of me that I wasn’t even sure I recognized.

I had no idea why I felt this way or why, with every second, the sensation of going too far increased. My heart rate skyrocketed into cardiac arrest territory. I opened my mouth, but I couldn’t get my tongue to work.

James reached around me for the handle, but the door swung open before he could even touch the tarnished metal, and I knew right then.

It was too late.5

The bouncer named Clyde blocked the entryway, one muscular arm bracing the door open, the other lifted to the top of the door, showing off a bicep that was about the size of a tree trunk. A gray shirt stretched across his broad chest and shoulders. Was that unicorn on his shirt spewing . . . rainbows out of its mouth?

Yep.

That was definitely a unicorn shooting rainbows out of its mouth.

The razor-edge panic and biting fear receded as quickly as it had swept over me. Gone so fast, it was like it had been a figment of my imagination.

“Whoa,” James murmured, dropping his hand to his side.

Maybe I should’ve warned him about Clyde.

Sunlight glinted off the numerous piercings in Clyde’s face as I snapped out of whatever stupor I was in. “I don’t know if you remember—”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance
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