The Burning Shadow (Origin 2) - Page 11

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Sometimes I couldn’t reconcile the two very different worlds—different lives. The Nadia that Luc claimed was bold and brave, kind and strong. The Evie that thought of Sylvia as her mother and had no idea what she was doing half the time. The monster known as Jason Dasher and the hero celebrated all around the States who had never been my father. I had memories of the man, mourned his death, and I actually never met him.

How messed up was that?

Worse yet, sometimes I didn’t even feel real.

Like, did I really love taking photographs, or was that just because it was something Nadia liked? And if that were the case, did it matter because, at the end of the day, I was Nadia? Did I not know what I wanted to do with my life because I had no idea who I really was, my likes or dislikes? Could I trust anything I wanted when I didn’t know if they were my desires, or the real Evie’s, or Nadia’s?

Did Luc call Nadia Peaches, too?

“Come back to me,” Luc whispered against my cheek, and I sucked in a sharp breath.

Blinking, I focused on features that were both painfully familiar and heartbreakingly not. “I’m here.”

“You went someplace else.” Lifting his other hand, he caught a loose strand of my pale hair and tucked it back behind my ear. His hand lingered, slipping to the nape of my neck. “Do you see these lights?”

My brow furrowed in confusion. “Yes.”

“Do you feel my hand against yours?”

“I do.”

“And do you feel this?” He slid his hand around the side of my neck, gently pressing his thumb to where my pulse started to pound as his eyes searched mine.

“I feel that.” I’d have to be dead to not feel that.

“You’re real, Evie. It doesn’t matter who you used to be or who you thought you were. You are real, and I see you.”

Air caught in my throat, and my lungs felt like they might burst.

“And I never once called Nadia Peaches.”

He’d been reading my thoughts. “Luc—”

“I couldn’t help it. You were broadcasting your thoughts loudly.” His thumb moved, smoothing over the skin just below my ear.

It would be wise to pull away and put some distance between us, but I didn’t move. I couldn’t. A thrill lit up my veins, and a ridiculous amount of warmth poured into my chest. “So, it’s … it’s all mine, then?”

The question might’ve sounded ridiculous to anyone else, but I thought Luc understood. “Yeah.” His voice was rough as he drew his hand up, dragging his thumb under my jaw. “It’s all you.”

A heavy exhalation left me. I couldn’t describe how it felt. It was just a nickname based on the lotion I loved to wear, but still, it wasn’t something that belonged to the Evie before me or to Nadia. It was me, right here and right now, and I latched on to that desperately.

Luc’s hand tilted my chin to the side. Heat climbed down my throat, flushing my skin. Luc had lips that were as soft as satin and hard as steel. I had no idea how one thing could be both, but his lips were, and I knew this, because I’d touched them, tasted them. Those lips were so close to mine—the closest they had been since we’d last kissed, and that seemed like an eternity ago even though it had only been a few days.

I’d been his first kiss—well, Nadia had been his first kiss—and I was confident that I had been his last.

“Evie.” Luc said my name as if it were a prayer and a curse.

I took a breath, but it went nowhere. His forehead touched mine, and I swore my heart stopped right then and there. Low in my stomach, muscles clenched once more.

Luc was so close that I felt his lips curve into a smile near my mouth, and if I turned my head just the scantest inch, our lips would touch.

Would he want that?

Would I want that?

I wasn’t sure. The night we’d kissed, we’d done more. We’d been chest to chest, our bodies tangled and moving together, but Luc had stopped before it had gone that far, and we weren’t boyfriend and girlfriend. There’d been no labels, no definitions to speak of. Not that we needed to be together to be together. There was just this expectation that there could be more, there could be everything if I’d just reach out and take it.

I wanted to reach, but I …

I was afraid.

Afraid of Luc realizing what I feared I already knew. That he was in love with a girl who no longer existed, and ultimately, wouldn’t he be disappointed? I was terrified of letting myself feel those kinds of emotions that could lead to a broken heart. Scared that I would always be second best, or worse yet, a cheap imitation of the real thing.

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance