The Darkest Star (Origin 1) - Page 52

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Heidi had grown up in Columbia, unlike Zoe and me, who were transplants after the invasion. I was pretty sure Colleen was from this area too.

“When we were younger, like in elementary school, we used to play together during recess and sometimes afterward, but we kind of grew apart when we went to middle school. I don’t even remember why. It was something that just happened. Now . . .” She trailed off, resting her head against the booth. “I wish I knew why we stopped being friends.”

I folded the napkin. “We never really talked. Nothing more than the bare minimum, you know? I saw her Friday at the club. We talked for a couple of seconds, and then I think someone called her name and she went back on the dance floor.”

“I didn’t see her.” She leaned forward. “Do you . . . Do you think a Luxen really did that?”

“I don’t know.” Unease blossomed as I lowered my voice. “But why else would she look like she’d been electrocuted—in a school bathroom, almost four full days after she disappeared?”

Her shoulders tensed as she turned to the window. “Oh, here comes Emery.”

I turned to look, but she was already out of my line of sight. Nervousness grew as I waited for her join us. I wanted Emery to like me because Heidi liked her so much. Nothing sucked more than one of your best friends’ significant other not being able to stand you.

A wide smile broke out over Heidi’s face as she scooted all the way over to the window. “Hey.”

I looked up, plastering what I hoped was a normal, welcoming smile on my face as I waved my hand. “Hi.”

Emery grinned down at me as she murmured back the same greeting before sliding into the booth next to Heidi. Emery looked over at her, and there was a moment where neither quite knew how to acknowledge the other person. Should they kiss? Hug? Just smile? They were at that adorably awkward stage where every moment and every act counted, the stage I’d never . . . Wow, I’d never experienced that with Brandon.

Holy crap, how was I just now realizing that?

Whenever Brandon and I saw each other, even after the very first date, it was always a kiss and then he’d start talking about the football game he had coming up or I would ask about his classes.

None of those moments had counted, not for me and not for him.

They counted for Heidi and Emery, though.

They hugged, and when they pulled back, Heidi’s normally pale face was flushed and there was a pinker tint under Emery’s deeper-hued skin.

Ugh. They were so cute.

I wish I hadn’t left my camera in the car. Taking a picture of them together would’ve been perfect.

“I’m really sorry about what happened,” Emery said, tucking her dark hair behind her ear. Up close, her green eyes were the muted color of moss. “It’s unbelievable.”

“It really is,” Heidi agreed. “I was just telling Evie that I used to hang out with Colleen in grade school. We weren’t close over the last . . . well, in forever, but it’s still so sad.”

“Did you know her?” Emery asked me.

I shook my head. “We never really talked beyond the basics.”

Emery’s gaze flickered to the window and she drew in a shallow breath. “So, not to change the subject or anything.” She focused on me. “Please don’t be mad at me.”

My brows rose as I glanced at Heidi. “Why would I be mad?”

“I didn’t come alone,” she said, and muscles I didn’t even know I had clenched in my stomach. “Well, I tried to. It didn’t work out that well.”

“What do you . . . ?” Heidi’s eyes widened as her gaze focused on something or someone behind me. “Oh my word.”

I didn’t have to look behind me to know. On a cellular level, I just knew, and my heart started throwing itself around in my chest. My pulse picked up as a shadow fell over our table. I knew it wasn’t our waitress, and I had no idea how I felt.

But I did look.

Slowly, I lifted my head and looked to my right, and there stood Luc, his bronze hair a mess of waves and curls. He was wearing silver aviator sunglasses, the kind with lenses so reflective, I could see my own wide-eyed stare in them. My gaze was drawn to the clean, hard lines of his jaw and then lower, over the broad width of his shoulders, and then to his chest.


My mouth gaped open.

“Like my shirt?” he asked, dropping into the space beside me.

“It’s . . . nice.”

“I think so.” He threw his arm over the back of our booth. “Kent got it for me.” The ever-present half grin faded. “Sucks about what happened at your school, to that girl.”

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance