The Burning Shadow (Origin 2) - Page 116

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Keeping an eye on her, I grabbed a bra from my dresser and hooked the tiny clasp in the front.

I knew without a doubt, I was not going anywhere with her.

My foot, the left one, started tapping nervously as I pulled the sweater that was more of a heavy shirt on over my head, unease forming like balls of lead in my stomach. Everything felt surreal as I straightened the worn cotton.

Walking over to where my flats were by the desk, I toed them on. There was a thick envelope next to the bag. I picked it up and opened it. “Holy crap.”

Hundred-dollar bills were neatly lined up in the envelope. There had to be over a thousand dollars there. Probably even a couple of thousand. A dark green billfold was at the end of the wad of cash. A passport. I pulled it out and almost fell over.

A picture of me smiled back. The same picture from my driver’s license, but the name under it was not Evie Dasher.

It wasn’t even Nadia’s name.

The unease spread like a noxious weed. “Who the hell is Stephanie Brown?” I turned to her. “It’s a fake ID and money.”

“Just get ready,” she repeated, taking the money from me and placing it by the bag. “Now.”

I stared at her. “You need to tell me what the hell is going on right now.”


“You’ve been lying to me since the beginning!” I shouted at her, heart racing. “If you know what happened to me today, then you’ve always known that there is … there is something inside me.”

“Please, I’ll explain—”

“You took my life from me, and you just expect me to trust you?”

“And I’m trying to give your life back to you—”

Glass exploded.

Mom’s body jerked as if someone had pushed her. She stumbled forward. The cell phone bounced off the carpet. She opened her mouth as her chin dropped.

Everything seemed to slow down.

I saw the broken window and the billowing curtains behind her, and then I followed her gaze. She was looking at the front of her pretty white blouse—the pretty white blouse with a quarter-size red splotch in the center.

She took a step, and her knees gave out. She folded like a sack, falling onto her back before I could draw in another breath.

The red stain spread so rapidly that her entire chest was covered in seconds.

I was rooted to where I stood, and then every muscle reacted. I sprang forward. “Mom! Oh my God, Mom!” I dropped onto my knees beside her. “Mom!”

She opened her mouth as she blinked rapidly, her hands fluttering in the air. That wasn’t a stain on her blouse. It was blood, so much blood. “Evie…”

Horror swamped me as I pressed my hands down on her chest, a horrific sense of history stuck in a vicious cycle overwhelming me. Heidi. Luc. Mom. Blood soaked my palms.

“No. No, this isn’t happening.” A knot swelled in my throat, threatening to choke me. “This isn’t happening!”

Mom’s slim body spasmed as she grabbed at me. Her fingers dragged over my arm. Her eyes widened.

No. No. No. No.

I pushed on her chest, but it didn’t help. I thought I might’ve made it worse, because wet warmth poured through my fingers. A tremble took hold, making it hard for me to keep my hands steady.

“You’re going to be okay,” I told her, voice thick. Phone! I needed to call Luc. He could heal her. “It’s going to be okay. I need to call—”

She gripped my wrist as I lifted my hands and reached for the phone she’d dropped. “I tried.” A thin streak of blood trickled out from the corner of her mouth, and I knew, oh God, I knew that was bad. I’d watched enough Life in the ER reruns to know that. “No matter … what, Evie.” Her breath rattled as she drew in air that didn’t appear to go anywhere, didn’t seem to help at all. “I love you … I’ve loved you like you were mine, and I … I tried to make this … right, but it’s … it’s too late. He’s coming … for you. I’m sorry.”

“No,” I whispered, and I didn’t know what I was saying no to.

She let go of my wrist, and her hand fell to the floor. Her chest rose, but that was it, and her stare fixed on me, but I knew she wasn’t seeing me.

A prickly sensation danced over my skin. It was like being split in two. One part of me was logical and knew what was happening. Mom had just been shot through my bedroom window and she was gone, the bullet striking her somewhere not even a Luxen could survive, or it was a bullet designed to take out a Luxen. I wasn’t sure, but I knew she was past saving, and yet I didn’t because I couldn’t accept it.

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance