The Burning Shadow (Origin 2) - Page 113

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“Doubtful.”

I shuffled over to him. “I talked to her the morning after Heidi was hurt, about … about the summer before I started school. I know you said that you wanted to be there, but I…”

“Couldn’t wait?” He started walking backward. Shaking my head, I gave him a bashful smile as I followed him. “What did she say?”

“Not much. She thought you said something to me and then asked what you told me.”

His gaze sharpened as we reached the stairs. “Of course she did.”

I started up the steps. “I told her it was something that came up in conversation with Zoe, and she told me that I was here, but I wasn’t suitable for going out in public. That some days I didn’t remember anything, not even that I was Evie, and others I was fine. And I asked her why she did it—giving me Evie’s memories.” We rounded the landing, and I knew Luc was substantially slowing his steps so I could keep up with him. “She said what she’d told me before. That she missed the real Evie.”

Luc was quiet as we walked into my bedroom, placing my bag by the desk and the camera on it. Then he spoke. “Do you believe her?”

Not ready to speak those words, I walked over to the bedside table and put the bottle on the stand, next to Diesel. Picking up the remote, I turned on the TV, keeping the volume low. “I…”

“You don’t have to answer the question.” He sat on the bed, resting his arms on his thighs.

“Why? Because you already know the answer?”

Luc didn’t respond, and he didn’t look smug about it, either. Instead, he changed the subject. “I know you were upset with me earlier.”

“What gave that away?”

A half smile appeared. “I think you’re brave—”

I laughed outright at that. “I’m not brave.”

He lifted his brows. “You say that even though a handful of hours ago you were dealt another life-changing blow.”

“Oh, I may seem like I’m dealing with that, but I’m probably going to need years of intensive therapy.” I paused. “If there’s such a thing for possible alien experiments.”

Experiment.

That’s what I was, wasn’t I?

God, that was just as hard to process as learning the truth of who I was.

Luc was undaunted. “Not only that, you had to defend yourself. You took a life today, and you had to do that, but I know that’s not something easy to process.”

He would know, wouldn’t he? A shiver coursed through me. Truth was, I couldn’t let myself think about the fact that I had killed someone … or the fact that I felt no guilt. Did that mean something was wrong with me? Like, shouldn’t I feel—

“Nothing is wrong with you,” Luc answered, eavesdropping on my thoughts. “You did what you needed to do.”

I was pacing in front of him, fiddling with the piece of obsidian. “Like you do?”

Luc nodded. “There are times I feel no guilt. None. It’s not always like that.”

I thought about the young Origins. “You’re brave, Luc. You do things no one else would want to do so that others are protected.”

“And you volunteered to possibly go through what sounds like the worst pain possible again,” he insisted. “And you’re ready to face Sylvia, knowing what that could mean.”

She could tell us nothing or she could tell us everything, and if it were the latter, I didn’t know what I would do.

But it definitely wouldn’t be pretty.

“If that doesn’t make you brave, I don’t know what does.”

It made me … desperate to know what the hell I was and what could happen.

“No.” Luc reached out, catching my hand. He tugged me down onto his lap. His gaze caught mine.

“You’re so much like who I knew you as. You have no idea. You’ve always been brave. You’ve always been strong.”

I relaxed into him.

“You faced the cancer diagnosis the same way. Just dealt with it. Did you get upset? Yes. Did you break down a time or two? Yes.” Letting go of my hand, he splayed his fingers along my cheek. “But you got up every day, and you faced it. Just like you’ve gotten up every day since you learned who you really are. That’s strength, Peaches. The real kind.”

That was what Zoe had said. “I just feel like I have no control over anything. Neither of us knows what is going to happen.” My voice dropped as if I was worried about being overheard. “I could mutate. I could … Anything is possible.”

Sliding his hand to the back of my head, he drew my forehead to his. “If something like that happens, I’m going to be here. I won’t let you run off. I won’t let you forget.”

“Promise?” I whispered.

“Never again,” he swore, his nose brushing mine. “And I know you will get through it. Not because of me, not because of your friends, but because of you.”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance
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