He turned toward me, and the first thing I noticed was his eyes. They were just like Luc’s. An extraordinarily violet color, and those eyes widened. “What the—”
“Don’t,” Luc warned.
The man twisted toward him. “Don’t what?”
“You know exactly what I’m telling you not to do.” Luc kept his back to the man as he sat down on the edge of what appeared to be a narrow bed.
I had no idea what was going on as the stranger faced me once more. “I have so many questions,” he said, looking at me in a way that made me feel like I was under a microscope.
Kent snorted. “Don’t we all?”
“She is no one you need to worry about, Archer.”
Archer? What kind of name was that?
“Huh,” Archer murmured, and then gave a little shake of his head. “Anyway, you think it’s wise that she’s here? Now?”
“No,” Luc replied.
My brows shot up, and I opened my mouth to speak, but Luc leaned back, and I got an eyeful of who was lying on the bed. Gasping, my hand flew to my mouth. “Oh my God . . .”
A man lay on his back. At least, I was guessing it was a man. His brown hair was matted, coated in sweat and . . . and blood. His face was a mess of angry, purplish bruises. Eyes swollen shut, lips puffy and torn. The man’s chest barely moved.
“What . . . what happened to him?” I asked.
Luc’s gaze drifted to me and he sighed. When he spoke, he sounded way older than eighteen. “Good question. I’m not quite sure.” He folded the washcloth in half. “I was about to find out, but I was interrupted.”
Me. He was talking about me.
Archer crossed his arms. “I found him like that, outside by the dumpsters in the alley.”
A shiver danced over my shoulders. I knew what dumpsters he was talking about. The window I climbed out last night emptied right into the alley beside those dumpsters.
“I don’t know who he is,” Archer continued, glancing over at me. A strange look crossed his handsome face. “Or what he was doing out there.”
“That’s Chas.” Kent sat in a small, metal chair. “He . . . helps out around here.”
It was like Luc forgot I existed as he leaned over the man, carefully dotting the washcloth along the man’s forehead. The man named Chas shuddered, and the very edges of his body blurred. His bloody skin lost some of the color, becoming . . . translucent. Another gasp parted my lips as I lowered my hand.
The man was a Luxen, a very badly injured Luxen.
I saw the bluish veins in Chas’s still arms for only a brief second before his human form took hold again. I saw no sign of a Disabler. Based on only the injuries I could see, I had a feeling that if he were human, he wouldn’t be breathing.
“When was the last time you saw him?” Luc asked.
“Last night.” Kent rubbed the heel of his palm along his chest. “After the raid.”
Archer’s jaw locked. “You think the ART officers did this?”
My stomach tumbled at the thought. The man looked like he was near death. Why would the officers do that?
“No,” answered Luc. “If it were them, they would’ve taken Chas into custody. They wouldn’t have left him lying out there.”
“Had to be another Luxen to get the upper hand on Chas.” Kent glanced over at Archer. “Especially considering those types of injuries. Chas knows how to defend himself.”
Feeling like I shouldn’t be here for this conversation, that I was hearing things I shouldn’t, I started to back up. I only made it about a foot.
“Stay put, Evie,” Luc said softly, and I stopped, wondering if he had eyes in back of his head. “Just for a few more moments.”
I stopped, not even sure why. I wanted my phone, but I could wait out in the hallway until he was done in here. I glanced around the room. “Shouldn’t . . . shouldn’t he be in a hospital?”
“A hospital isn’t going to help him,” Luc answer, his voice stoic, and I wondered if that was because Chas might be unregistered.
Archer was staring at me again, his expression curious. I folded my arms over my chest and looked away. “So, Evie,” he said, and I tensed. “How do you know Luc?”
“I don’t know him,” I said, and Luc’s shoulders stiffened.
“That’s interesting,” Archer began. “I wonder if—” A phone rang from his pocket and he pulled it, a soft smile forming on his lips as he answered. “Hey, babe. Give me a sec, okay?” He lowered the phone as he pushed away from where he was standing, starting for the door. “It’s Dee,” he said to Luc’s back. “I’ll tell her you said hi.”
Luc didn’t respond, and that seemed normal to Archer, because he walked out of the room, glancing in my direction. The man on the bed moaned again as a shudder rocked his entire body.