Like it hit an invisible wall, the door stopped mid-swing. Oh dear. Luc prowled into the room, his expression a mix of disbelief and anger.
Perhaps using his full first name was a mistake.
Without anyone touching the door, it closed behind Luc, clicking softly shut. When I looked at him, he appeared … awed. Like I imagined someone did the first time they saw a falling star. “I cannot think of the last time someone told me to shut up and didn’t end up a burn mark on the ground.”
“Oh, I haven’t said it before to you? For some reason, I feel like I have, but just in case, let me say it again. Shut up. And let me add to that. Get out.”
His lips parted. “You’re…”
He was quiet as his gaze flicked from me to the nightstand, and I wondered if he was looking at Diesel. “You’re beautiful when you’re angry.”
“You know what? You can go— Wait.” My entire system jolted. “What?”
Luc’s head tilted to the side, sending several locks of hair toppling to the side. “I said you’re beautiful when you’re angry. And you’re beautiful just standing there. You’re even beautiful when you’re sad. And when you’re happy, you are breathtakingly beautiful.”
I was stunned into absolute silence. My hands went limp. “I wasn’t expecting you to say that,” I said, my voice hoarse. The flutter was there, deep in my chest, but there was also this cracking motion in my chest. Like a sledgehammer was slamming down on my ribs. Raw, potent emotion slammed into me with the force of a speeding freight train. “Don’t say that to me right now. It’s bad timing.”
“Bad timing? I like to think that there is no bad time to tell someone they’re beautiful,” he said quietly. “Especially when oftentimes people, no matter if they’re human or not, tend to run out of time before telling someone that.”
“God,” I whispered.
The cracking sensation spread, cutting deep. I smacked my hands over my face as the knot of emotion swelled, threatening to choke off all rational thought. Tears burned the back of my throat, and climbed into my eyes.
There was silence, and then Luc’s warm fingers wrapped around my wrists. “I didn’t say that to upset you.”
It wasn’t what he’d said that upset me.
It wasn’t how he’d said it, either.
It was because it made me feel and it made me think, and right now, combining those two things was dangerous.
Luc gently tugged my hands from my face. He didn’t let go, and when I opened my eyes, his searched mine intently. “You’re going to need to let it out. You can’t keep going not thinking or feeling.”
Pressing my lips together, I shook my head.
“It’ll burn you up from the inside like a fever. You’ve got to let it out.”
A broken sound split the air, and it took a moment for me to realize it was me who’d made that sound. “You said I was brave and strong, and that’s what I’m trying to be right now. I need to keep it together.”
He dipped his chin. We weren’t eye level, not with how tall he was, but we were close. “You are brave and strong, but I’m telling you not to be right now.”
Panic took hold. I couldn’t let it out, because I couldn’t face what had happened to my mom, not right now, because then it would be true and it would be real.
I yanked my hands free from his. “I’m mad at you, so stop trying to be supportive. It’s confusing.”
Luc’s brows arched. “What?”
“Yes! I’m mad and you are confusing me. First off, you were acting like a douche toward me downstairs. I didn’t open that stupid basement door, and you’ve been acting weird, ever since my—since everything happened.”
“You’ve been distant, and I know you’ve gone through bad stuff. I’m trying to be understanding. You lost Clyde and Chas and the club, but I—” My voice cracked, and it took me a moment to speak again. “I watched my mom die right in front of me. Her blood soaked my hands and my clothing. And I don’t care that she really wasn’t my mom or if she had anything to do with what was done to me; she was still my mother! I have no idea what is really going on, what’s going to even happen five minutes from now. And you lost people you care about, that you’ve protected and took care of, and I know it’s hurting you whether you admit it or not. I want to be here for you, but you just shut me out, and I don’t understand.”
His mouth snapped closed as he looked away. He had no response, and that wasn’t good enough. Not now. Not after everything.
I took a step toward him, hands shaking. “You told me that you weren’t going to leave me. Not ever again.”