“How are you feeling?” She immediately came to where I sat while Kent went to Luc, speaking to him in a voice that was too low for me to hear. Concern filled her expression as she placed her hands on my shoulders. “Evie?”
I could feel it, this crumbling inside me. I caught it in time, putting all those pieces back together. “I’m okay.”
She didn’t look like she believed that at all.
“Are you?” I asked. “Were you hurt when they showed up at the club?”
Zoe shook her head. “No. I’m okay. I got out, but…”
“Have you seen Heidi? Emery? They’re okay?”
“Yes. They are. Heidi’s scared, but she’s okay.” She glanced over at Grayson, who had returned to staring out the window like a dog waiting on the mailman. “I went into your bedroom…”
Air lodged in my throat.
“I am so sorry, Evie. If we had gotten there quicker…”
If they had gotten there sooner, would anything have changed? I didn’t know. I would never know.
“Where are we going now?” I asked, looking around the room. Kent sat on the arm of the couch.
“We’re going to Zone 3,” Zoe answered, and honestly, if she’d said we were going to the moon, I wouldn’t have been more surprised.
A dry laugh escaped me. “What?”
“We’re going to Houston.” Luc stepped forward. “That is the safest place I know. There are people there that can help us figure out what has happened.”
Confusion took hold. “Zone 3 is nothing. It’s a wasteland,” I said. Houston was one of the cities absolutely destroyed by the nonnuclear pulse bombs. They were evacuated and walled up. “Why in the hell would we be going there?”
“You have no idea what is beyond the walls, in those cities.” Luc tilted his head. “It’s where we take the unregistered Luxen. Well, one of the places. It’s also where Daemon and Dawson live.”
I didn’t understand. “How? They said—”
The entire front room window exploded, sending glass shards flying. Zoe yelped as she was knocked backward.
Blinding terror roared through me as I shot forward. “Zoe!”
Out of nowhere, an arm snagged me around the waist and hauled me back against a hard chest. Luc. I hadn’t even seen him move.
I strained, gripping his arm. “Let me go! Zoe’s been—”
“She’s okay,” he said, holding me tightly to him. “Look, she’s okay.”
I was looking, but it took me long seconds for everything to visually make sense. Zoe was crouched down. Grayson was holding something in his hand. She was peering over the coffee table, rubbing her shoulder.
“A rock,” Grayson said, sounding bewildered. “A rock?”
Kent was on his belly, on the floor. His gaze darted from Grayson to us. “I’m so confused.”
“That stung,” Zoe said, and my legs almost gave out.
“Well…” Luc’s arm was like a steel band around my waist. His thumb moved along the side of my rib in a slow, calming circle. “That’s unexpected.”
I was still gripping his arm. “You think?”
Grayson stood slowly, and then he was nothing more than a blur. He ended up at the front door, most of his body hidden as he peered out the small window. “I don’t see any— Oh, shit!” He slipped into his Luxen form, becoming a human-shaped lightbulb at the exact moment the door exploded off its hinges.
Luc cursed as he grabbed me, pressing me down to the floor. A second later, another blast rocked the house—the entire house. A burst of heated air slammed into us. I felt my feet leave the floor as a scream got stuck in my throat. Walls shook. Dust plumed into the air. Windows blew out, and I could no longer feel Luc behind me.
I hit the floor on my knees. Instinct flared to life. I threw my arms up, over my head, just as something came down on me. Pieces of the wall? Drywall. I grunted as it hit my back, knocking me down. The air immediately became thick, coating my throat and making it hard to breathe.
Were we just bombed?
Ears ringing, I peeked through the space between my arms. White smoke poured into the living room, and I couldn’t see more than a foot in front of my face. Heart pounding, I started to call out, but my lungs seized. Deep, body-rattling coughs consumed me as I shifted onto my side. Debris slipped off me. Eyes watering and body spasming, I cleared my throat. “Zoe? Luc?” I thought I called out, but the ringing was still so loud.
Scanning the destroyed room, I saw where the coffee table had been. It was in pieces, legs snapped right off it. Zoe was nowhere to be found. I looked to the right, and I thought I saw someone stumbling to their feet. It was just a shape.
Panic dug in with razor-sharp claws as I scrambled across the floor, looking for Luc. There! Something was sprawled along the floor near the stairs. It couldn’t be him—no way.