His head snapped in my direction, eyes blazing a stunning violet. “And I haven’t.”
“But you have,” I whispered. “Mentally and emotionally, you’ve totally left me, and I don’t get what you want from me. You say that there can only ever be me. Like I’m the one—”
“You are.” He was closer, a mere foot from me. “You are the one for me; you’ve always been. We were made for each other.”
“Then why have you shut me out, Luc?”
He looked away, shaking his head once more.
Chest caving in, I shook my head. I didn’t have space for this on top of everything else. “Just leave. Please. It’s late, and I—”
“I did this to you,” he said, his voice so low I wasn’t sure I’d heard him right at first.
But I had.
I jerked. “What?”
“I did this. All of this, because I was selfish and weak and couldn’t bear to think about living in a world you no longer existed in.”
My heart stopped.
“When that bastard Jason Dasher made an offer to heal you in exchange for his life, I knew better. Deep down, I knew there had to be a catch, because there is always a catch, but I was desperate. I’d do anything, so I took you there and agreed to let them give you God knows what. Then I walked away. I held up my end of the deal and walked away while who knows what was being done to you. I did this, Evie.”
Emotion clogged my throat. “Luc—”
“And now look. I ensured that you lived, and for what? For you to experience everything you thought you knew about your life being destroyed. For you to find dead bodies and be targeted by an Origin. For you to watch your mother die and for your entire future to be ripped away from you and for you to be hunted by pure, fucking evil, because that is what the Daedalus is. I did this, and people died. That’s what I did. That’s what I think about when I look at you, because I—”
“Gave me life,” I whispered.
His entire body jerked.
“That’s what you did. You made sure I lived. You didn’t know this was going to happen.”
“That doesn’t matter.” The pupils of his eyes turned white. “Because I should’ve known better. That I would be exchanging your death for—”
“For life!” I repeated. “Yeah, things are super messed-up right now, but if you didn’t take that risk, we wouldn’t be standing here. We wouldn’t have this second chance, something so few people get. We have it because of you.”
“And does that second chance overshadow everything? What has happened to Sylvia? To you? Does it—” Air shuddered out of him. “It doesn’t matter. I don’t think I’m worthy of you.”
That stunned me, and it took me a moment to realize he’d said something similar before. “How can you think that?”
“I don’t think,” he responded, thick lashes lowering. “I just know.”
“You’re wrong.” I crossed the distance between us. He stiffened, and I placed my hands on his cheeks. “You do deserve me, and I wish that all these bad things hadn’t happened, but I don’t blame you. I could never blame you, because I think I love you, and I don’t want you to regret being here with me—”
Luc jerked out of my grasp, his chest rising and falling rapidly. “What? What did you say?”
I lowered my hands. “I said I don’t want you to regret being here with me.”
“Not that.” His entire pupils now glowed. “What you said before that.”
I raced back through my thoughts, and I … Oh my God, I’d said I’d loved him. Those words had come out of my mouth, an admission of what I wouldn’t even let myself acknowledge. A proclamation I hadn’t been ready to feel but I had been ready to speak.
Because it was the truth.
I’d fallen in love with Luc, and I didn’t even know exactly when. Whether it was somewhere between the first terrible pickup line and the weird surprises that made no sense. Maybe it was the first time he’d kissed me in the closet at Foretoken or the first time he’d held my hand.
Or maybe I’d always been in love with him, because I was certain I had before, even if I couldn’t remember.
“I love you,” I said, trembling. “I’m in love with you, Luc.”34Luc moved so fast I didn’t see him. Only knew that he had when his mouth touched mine and his arms folded around me. The kiss took my breath and then my soul. The fierceness shattered me and it pieced me back together.
“It feels like I’ve waited my entire life to hear you say that,” he said against my lips, his hands gliding down my back. “To see your lips move around those words. I may not deserve them, but I’m greedy. I’m still selfish. You can’t take them back.”