The Burning Shadow (Origin 2) - Page 134

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He inclined his head. “You know, you have a good point.”

“Of course I do.” I smiled faintly. “Pick one.”

His brows lifted. “Right now?”

“Why not? Not like we have anything better to do.”

Stretching out his long legs, he crossed them at the ankles. “We have to figure out what was done to you.”

I tensed. “We do, but can we do that right now?”

One side of his mouth tipped up. “No. Only because there’s not much we can find out while here. When we get to Zone 3, there will be people there who may know. Or will know where to go.” He paused. “It’s weird.”

“What’s weird?”

“That I don’t know what was done to you,” he replied, folding his arms over his chest. “I keep thinking about it. I know everything. Always. But this? I have no clue.”

“Well, that’s a crappy time for your all-knowing skills not to kick in.”

“Truth.” He eyed me.

“You also don’t know what Sarah and April are—or were, which is probably what I am,” I pointed out.

“Thanks for showcasing my flaws.”

I smiled. “That’s what I’m here for.”

“That and telling me to pick a last name.”

I nodded.

Luc’s gaze lifted to mine. A moment passed, and then he patted the space beside him. “Sit. I need your help, and your closeness will give me inspiration.”

“That makes no sense.” But I pushed away from the dresser and went over, sitting on the bed. There wasn’t much space, so our thighs were pressed against each other’s. “Happy?”

He looked over at me, his smile mysterious. “Getting there. Okay.” He crossed his ankles. “I think I know what I want my last name to be.”

“What?” I said.

“I think it will be a fitting last name. You’ll like it.”

“Only the good Lord knows what this is going to be,” I replied dryly.


“What?” I arched a brow.

“King. I’m going to give myself the last name King.”

“Wow.” I laughed. “I don’t even know what to say about that.”

“Luc King. I think it sounds amazing.”

“I think it sounds like you should be a mob boss.”

“Like I said, completely fitting.”

Running my toes through the soft carpet, I grinned. “It does have a nice ring to it. Luc King, badass extraordinaire.”

“What? You think I’m a badass?”

I shot him a sidelong glance. “You know you’re a badass. I mean, come on. You can hover off the ground.”

“Is that a requirement for being a badass?”

“I’m pretty sure that it is.” Tucking my hair back behind my ear, I stopped moving my feet. “So, this whole Zone 3 thing. I really don’t understand it. Those towns are basically useless, right? No electricity. Nothing. And they’ve all been evacuated.”

Luc inhaled deeply. “The cities aren’t empty. They never have been.” He twisted toward me, planting a hand on the bed behind him. “The general public thinks that the nice, caring government went in there and evacuated everyone after the EMT bombs were dropped and all the Luxen were dead, right?”

My forehead creased. “They had to, right? Because nothing works there—no lights, no cooling or heating. No stoves or medical equipment. I could keep going, but I think you get the point.”

He studied me closely. “They didn’t.”

Disbelief gave way to pure shock. “Are you seriously telling me that they left people there … walled up in those cities, and then told the world that they evacuated every human out of there?”

“Yes. That’s what I’m telling you.”

I gaped at him. I had no reason not to believe him, but this was huge and also horrific.

“There were people who couldn’t evacuate. Those who were elderly or sick. Those who were too poor or had family they needed to take care of. People—human people—that the government decided were not worth saving. People they judged and decided wouldn’t make tomorrow a safer, better day.”

Horror rose. “Oh my God…”

His face was hard. “I don’t think God had anything to do with that, but people did. Humans. Biggest assholes on Earth.”

Couldn’t argue that.

“Each of the zones had varying degrees of population in them. A lot of people have … well, let’s say that their living conditions were so poor, many didn’t make it past the first year of the walls. Many of them were dying inside those walls, in those barren cities being fed a lie that help was coming, and finally help did come. The Luxen.”

“The … unregistered Luxen?”

“Yes. Those cities may be without electricity, but they are not without power.”

So much disgust and anger filled me that I couldn’t even think straight. How could they just leave people there? How could they be so damn inhuman?

How did the world not know this? The walls had gone up quickly, unbelievably so, but how could the world not know that there were people in those cities?

“The world only sees what it wants to see,” Luc answered my unspoken question quietly. “They don’t want to acknowledge just how inhuman humans can be. This isn’t the first time people have been left behind when tragedy strikes.”

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance