The Burning Shadow (Origin 2) - Page 117

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I grabbed her shoulder, shaking her slightly. My fingers smeared blood over the neck of her blouse. “Mom?”

There was no response.

“Mom!” This wasn’t happening. Oh my God, this wasn’t happening. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I leaned over her. My bloodstained hands hovered uselessly over her. “Don’t do this. I’m not mad at you. I’m not. I’m sorry. I trust you. I—”

A faint light flickered under her blouse, like a flashlight going on and off. My gaze flew to her face, and from her mouth, liquid radiance spilled. Jerking back, I fell onto my butt as a dull light replaced her pale skin, and her body … wasn’t hers. I saw the shape of hands and features of her face, but there were silvery veins under semitransparent skin.

No.

I shook my head as I stared at what had been my mom, in her true form. I knew what that meant. I already knew, because her chest wasn’t moving, and she wasn’t breathing, and I couldn’t take back anything I said to her. I couldn’t change any of it.

I curled my fingers into my palms, digging my nails in as I briefly squeezed my eyes shut. My mouth ripped open, but I didn’t make a sound. I couldn’t. Rage and terror choked me. I screamed—screamed from deep inside, jangling my skull and jarring my insides.

The floor rattled underneath me. The bed shook beside me. The dresser trembled, and the entire house shook—

“Back door open. Left rear window open.”

I sucked in a sharp gasp.

That was the house alarm. My gaze flew from my mother’s translucent face to the open bedroom door. Icy fingers of fear dragged down my spine. That wasn’t Luc. He came to the window. Granted, someone just shot through said window, but if Luc were here, he wouldn’t trigger an alarm.

“System disarmed. Ready to arm.”

Air punched out of my lungs. The house alarm had just been turned off. No one besides Mom and I had the code …

Someone was in the house. Instinct screamed at me to get up and get moving.

Body shaking, I rose and backed away from Mom. Her body blurred as my vision swam. I couldn’t even think about what her body looked like right now, what that could mean. What do I do? What do I do? Turning around, I saw the bag and wad of cash.

Get out of the house and call Luc. Hiding was stupid. I’d seen Taken enough times to know that never ended well. Fighting back wasn’t an option unless I miraculously turned into the Terminator again, and I didn’t feel like a badass at the moment.

Moving as if I were caught in a dream, I grabbed the envelope and shoved it into my bag, wincing when I left bloody fingerprints behind.

I wiped my palms along my hips and then darted back to the bed, grabbing my cell phone. I started to turn, but then stopped, snatching up Diesel. I spun, having no idea where my charger was. Maybe in my book bag? There was no time. I ran back to the bag as I dialed Luc’s number. It rang … and rang, and that was bad, because Luc always answered on the first or second ring.

What if they’d come for him, too?

Pressure clamped down on my chest as I hung up the phone and dropped it in my bag. I couldn’t think of that right now. I couldn’t think of … of Mom. Grabbing the strap, I draped it over my shoulder.

Inhaling deeply, I crept toward the open door. I didn’t look back. I couldn’t look back. I had to focus. That’s what Luc would tell me. To focus. But it was hard, because as I stepped out onto the hardwood, every step I took sounded like a herd of cows stomping their feet. Tremors racked every limb of my body. I inched out into the hall, keeping close to the wall.

The foyer light was off, but there was a soft glow coming from the sitting room. I didn’t hear anything, but I knew someone had to be in the house. The only way out was going downstairs.

I didn’t want to look.

I didn’t want to move.

But I had to.

Peeling away from the wall, I held my breath as I made my way to the railing. Sweat dampened my forehead as I looked down. At first, I didn’t see anything.

Then I saw a rifle.

Like the assault rifle the ART officers carried. Whoever was carrying the rifle was dressed all in black. His face was covered. Not by one of those SWAT-like helmets but by a black ski mask I imagined murderers wore.

Murdery Dude wasn’t alone.

Another man or woman was behind him, and then I saw another. I stopped counting as I saw four, because they were heading for the stairs.

Shit.

I stumbled back from the railing and pressed against the wall. If I was going to turn into a badass assassin, now was the time. Now was—


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance
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