“How could they hide it, though? Not everyone in the world is an uncaring douchebag.”
“The pulse bombs. Airplanes can’t fly within a hundred miles of those cities. Drones don’t work, either. Satellite images are disrupted over the areas, as are cell phone signals. Experts say it’ll be like that for at least another decade or so.”
He was right. I’d dumbly forgotten about the fallout radius and how several major airports near those cities had had to relocate. “So these people are just stuck there?”
“For now,” he said. “They are being taken care of.”
“By the Luxen? By unregistered Luxen?”
“Registered and unregistered.”
“When did you start helping Luxen go there?” I asked, hoping he wouldn’t shut me out like he often did.
“When President McHugh starting campaigning. He said things that made a lot of Luxen uneasy. It started with wanting to move Luxen to their own communities.” His lip curled in a sneer. “I think communities is code for another, less attractive C-word that history has never favorably looked upon.”
A shudder worked its way through me. No, not for one second did I think anything good could come from Luxen-only communities.
“Zone 3 is one of our hideouts for those we’re moving and if anyone needs to lie low. Obviously, transporting Luxen has its risks.”
“Obviously,” I murmured, once again awed by him, by all of them. “I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this or not, but what you’re doing is amazing.”
He shrugged. “What I’m doing also means a lot of people owe me favors.”
I eyed him closely. “I don’t think collecting favors is the only reason you’re helping the Luxen.”
Luc didn’t immediately reply. “And why would you think that?”
“Because I feel like I know you well enough to know that’s not true,” I told him.
His gaze flickered over my face, and I wished he’d touch me. Wished that he’d do more.
“I don’t think you know me as well as you think you do,” he said.
“Why would you say that?”
“Because you’re giving me far too much credit.” One shoulder lifted, and then he changed the subject before I could respond. “Obviously, a big issue with the zones is communication. Since cell phones don’t work within about a hundred-mile radius of the cities, we set up hot spots outside that radius, places where messages can be left on burner phones.”
“A Harry Potter owl would be cooler,” I muttered.
Silence fell between us as my mind wandered over what I’d learned. There was a sense of awe and hopelessness, a weird mixture. The thing was, Luc and the gang couldn’t move all the Luxen to safer areas. Many would be forced into these communities.
Something had to be done, because there was no way all the Luxen could be moved out.
“Hey.” The back of his hand brushed over my cheek as he caught a piece of hair, tucking it back behind my ear.
I lifted my chin, and my gaze moved to his. Bright eyes the color of the most intense lilacs held mine. It seemed like he’d been about to say something, but words had fallen by the wayside.
His fingers lingered just below my ear. A spark flared to life, passing from his skin to mine, humming in the air. I took a breath, but it didn’t go anywhere.
That was all I could think. Please. I wanted him to kiss me. I wanted to lose myself in him. I wanted to forget, and I wanted to remember.
Tension lined his mouth, and my heart sped up. His breath was a warm stroke along my cheek, moving closer and closer—
A swift curse carried up from the living room, and I jerked back, a little breathless as Kent’s voice boomed. “Luc? Evie? I think you two need to come down here.”
I could feel Luc’s intense gaze as I rose, not really seeing the room. “I thought you said he was still passed out and a nuke wouldn’t even wake him.”
He cleared his throat, but when he spoke, there was this smoky quality to it. “Apparently, I was wrong.”
Somewhat disappointed, and totally confused by why I hadn’t just kissed him, I hurried out of the bedroom. Luc was right behind me, easily slipping past me and heading down the steps first.
I glared daggers into his back, and at the bottom of the stairs, he looked up and winked.
My eyes narrowed.
Kent was sitting up on the couch, his attention focused on the TV. His mohawk had given up on life and had flopped over to the side. “You guys need to see this.”
“See what…?” Luc trailed off, and then he cursed.
“What?” My gaze followed Luc’s as I stepped down into the living room and looked up at the TV.
My jaw dropped.
There was a picture of my mom—my beautiful, happy mom. It was her Fort Detrick badge.
The floor swayed.
A hand—Luc’s hand—wrapped around my upper arm just as the image on the TV changed.