I watched the shadows flicker across his face. “You don’t like not knowing, do you?”
He snorted. “Is it that obvious?”
A brief smile appeared. “I’m not used to not knowing, Peaches. It’s not a superpower, you know? How I know things. I can read thoughts, so very little is hidden to me.”
Seemed like a superpower to me.
“When I met with Jason and Sylvia, I pried into their thoughts. It wasn’t easy,” he said after a moment. “Both had shields up. They knew I could read their thoughts, so they were careful.”
“What do you mean by shields?”
“Many who worked in the Daedalus, especially those who were involved in the development of Origins, learned how to block their thoughts. Mainly by deflection, thinking about random things, but others could make it seem like their heads were just … empty. Jason and Sylvia were good at that, but no one is perfect. Not even them. I looked around in their heads, and I didn’t find anything that made me think…”
Made him think that they were going to turn me into an experiment.
I didn’t have to read his mind to know where his thoughts had gone. I rolled onto my side, facing him, and then I snuggled close, forcing his chin up as I tucked my cheek to his chest and wiggled an arm under the blanket, around his waist. He gathered me even closer, tangling his legs with mine.
“Luc?” I whispered after a few moments.
“What are you thanking me for?”
“Being here.” I kissed the warm skin of his chest. “Thank you for being here.”* * *The sun had just crested when Luc rose from the bed, stirring me awake. I blinked open sleep-heavy eyes. “You leaving?”
“Grayson needs to see me,” he murmured and then kissed the corners of my lips as he slipped over me. “Everything is fine, though. Go back to sleep.”
I started to rise, but his hand on my cheek stopped me. “It’s early,” he said, violet eyes meeting and holding mine. “You need to rest.”
It was almost like his words held some kind of compulsion, because I settled back down, and I was asleep before he even left the room. When I opened my eyes again, the room was filled with bright, warm light, and the bed was empty. It took me a couple of moments to remember that Grayson had somehow summoned Luc. Had he knocked on the door and I’d just been so out of it that I hadn’t woken up until Luc rose? I doubted Luc had allowed Grayson into the room.
My thoughts drifted over the night before, and I was snagged somewhere between euphoria and grief, feeling whole and yet empty. It was an odd place to be, having the heart-racing joy of realizing what I felt for Luc, admitting that and seeing how it had affected him, and also trying to process the loss of my mother, of life as I knew it.
But I could deal with this. I knew I could, as Evie and as Nadia.
When I rose, my muscles were less cramped and sore, and I figured that had to do with finally getting some rest. Maybe a little too much. It was almost eleven in the morning.
I hurried through getting ready, taking a quick shower and then changing into a pair of jeans and a loose pink-and-white-striped shirt I didn’t remember even having in my closet.
Turning toward the door, I took a step and then stumbled as the floor swayed under me and the walls wobbled. The house was moving—no, not the house. It was me.
Air wheezed in and out of me as I doubled over. A powerful surge of dizziness swept over me as I clasped my knees and squeezed my eyes shut.
White light exploded behind my eyes. There was no pain, just static until an image of me standing above a body formed. A body of a boy no older than I was. Black ink leaked out of his ears and his nose while I stood there … waiting for further instruction.
“Flawless,” he said. “I’m so proud of you. That was utterly flawless, Nadia.”
I was sucked back as the image faded and the house stopped moving. The churning dizziness dissolved. Slowly, I opened my eyes, and when I didn’t feel like I was going to hurl, I straightened.
What the hell was that?
A memory? If so, of what? Because it sure looked like, sounded like I’d … I’d killed someone.
Had been rewarded for it.
And had been called Nadia.
Wiping my sweaty palms on my hips, I took a step toward the door and then another. I knew that the voice in my head hadn’t been Luc’s. It had been the one I kept hearing in those brief, random memories, and no one called me Nadia except Luc.
I needed to tell him this immediately, because it had to mean something.