The Burning Shadow (Origin 2) - Page 169

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“A lot are at work at the markets or doing what they did before all of this happened,” she said, leading us down the street. I realized we were walking toward the way we’d come in. “The kids are in school—not at the old one, but a house that’s been set up for the different ages. Others may still be in bed.”

I didn’t want to think about the fact that one house was large enough for all the kids of school age here.

The streets were clean while most of the yards were taken over by tall, reedy grass, which made sense. I doubted precious fuel needed to be used to keep the grass at a certain height. There were only a few cars parked in the driveways. Maybe five. All were at least a decade or so old, and I realized that was because they would’ve been made pre-electric ignition. As we continued on, the distinctive feel of being … watched crept over me, and every dark window we passed, the sensation grew.

“Is Eaton in the same place? The blue house near the park?”

Kat nodded.

“Why don’t you go head back and rest,” Luc offered, stopping. “I know the way.”

“It’s not bad for me to walk. I think I’m supposed to be doing it, actually, but I am so freaking tired.” She laughed, patting her belly. “Who knew cooking up a baby could be so exhausting.”

I smiled at that. “You’re due any day now, right?”

“I think I’m actually a day or so overdue,” she said, worry tightening her voice. “But that’s normal. Or people keep telling me it is. It’s just…”

“You’re going to be okay. Both of you are going to be just fine,” Luc assured her, and I wondered if he was picking up on her thoughts or not.

“I know.” When she lifted her chin, I could see the smile on her face. It was faint and weary. “I know,” she repeated. “I’m going to head back. Come find me when you guys are done. We have a lot of catching up to do.”

“We will.”

I was quiet as I watched Kat make her way back the way we came. “If they have to induce labor or … do something like a cesarean, do they have the stuff they’d need for that? Or doctors who can do that here?”

Luc was quiet for a long moment. “There are a few doctors, and I think one or two surgeons. There’s medical supplies, things left behind and stuff others have scavenged.” He tilted his head to the sky. “She’s a hybrid and she has Daemon—she has her family. None of them will let anything happen.”

His words were meant to cause relief, but I still worried for the girl I didn’t know. Special alien abilities or not, women have died giving birth since the beginning of time, even when they had access to every life-saving measure.

“She’ll be okay.” His voice was softer.

I nodded, and then we started walking again, crossing the street. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone by one of the front porches of a small home, and when I looked over, he moved under the canopy, seeming to disappear into the shadows. I thought about how Kat hadn’t wanted to tell me what was going on with whatever the Yard was, and I had a sinking suspicion that not everyone was at work or in school. They were in their homes or hidden, because—

“It is because of us.”

I shot him a look.

“I know what you’re thinking—and no, not because I’m reading your mind.” He squeezed my hand. “Well, I kind of did, but just a little.”

“Really,” I replied dryly.

“It was an accidental mind reading.”

“Uh huh.” A small dog trotted out from one of the narrow streets, tail wagging as it continued across. “People are hiding because of us.”

“Because they don’t know us,” he explained.

“I can understand that.” And I did. “She doesn’t trust me, does she? That’s why she didn’t tell me what the Yard is used for and changed the subject.”

“It’s not personal.”

“How is that not personal?”

“In the same way you wouldn’t trust anyone showing up here, in a place that is one of the few last safe spaces for everyone, and especially when that person was believed to have died,” he said, being all logical. “They’ve all been through a lot. Trust is not given and it’s rarely earned when you’re asking for it from people who’ve been betrayed over and over.”

I fell quiet, because Luc had a point. Not that I hadn’t thought of that originally. I couldn’t blame any of them for being wary around me when I was also wary of myself, but it was still hard knowing you weren’t trusted … and knowing there was a damn good reason for it.

About two blocks down a narrower street, I saw the park up ahead. The breeze was swaying the seat-less swings and toying with the weeds that were as tall as the still merry-go-round. The blue house sat between what appeared to have once been a corner market and a home that was identical in shape but painted a red that had faded.


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance
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