“But we’re not normal human beings.” Luc sent me a long side look. “And I cannot be out-snarked, Peaches.”
I rolled my eyes. “You know what I mean.”
“He’s right, though.” She scrubbed at a spot on the island only she could see. “None of this is normal. It’s not going to be.”
Frowning at her, I had to admit she had a point. Nothing had been the same from the moment Luc entered—actually, reentered—my life. Everything had changed. My entire world had imploded the moment I realized just about everything about me was a total lie. “But I need normal right now. Like, really badly need normal right now.”
Luc’s jaw clamped shut as he returned to staring at his sandwich, his shoulders unnaturally tense.
“There’s only one way you’re going to get normal back in your life, honey,” she said, and I flinched at the endearment.
It was something she always called me. Honey. But now, knowing she’d only been in my life these last four years made the simple, sweet word seem wrong. Unreal, even.
“You want normal? Cut this one out of your life.”
I dropped my sandwich, shocked that she would say that—not just in front of Luc but that she would say it in general.
Luc’s head shot up. “You already took her from me once. That’s not going to happen again.”
“I didn’t take her from you,” she fired back. “I saved her.”
“And for what, Colonel Dasher?” Luc’s smile was razor sharp. “To give yourself the daughter you lost? To have something you knew you could hold over my head?”
My heart squeezed painfully in my chest. “Luc—”
The dishcloth wrinkled under Mom’s fingers as her hand balled into a fist. “You think you know everything—”
“I know enough.” His voice was too soft, too even. “And it’s best you don’t forget that.”
A muscle thrummed along her temple, and I briefly wondered if Luxen could have strokes. “You don’t know her. You knew Nadia. This is Evie.”
The gulp of air I inhaled got stuck in my throat. She was right and she was wrong. I wasn’t Nadia. I also wasn’t Evie. I had no idea who I really was.
“They are not the same,” she continued. “And if you really do care for her—for Evie—you’d walk out of her life and let her go.”
I jolted. “That’s not—”
“You think you know her better than I do?” Luc’s laugh could’ve frozen the Alaskan wildlands. “If you think she’s your dead daughter, then you’re living in a fantasy world. And if you think that me walking out of here is what’s best, then you don’t know shit.”
My gaze darted between them. “Just FYI, I’m sitting right here. Totally present for this argument that is about me.”
Both ignored me.
“And just to be really, painfully clear,” Luc went on, “if you think I’d walk away again, then you’ve obviously forgotten who I am.”
Was the dishcloth starting to smoke? “I haven’t forgotten what you are.”
“And that is?” Luc challenged.
“Nothing more than a killer.”
Luc smirked. “Then you and I should get along famously.”
Oh my God!
“It’s best that you remember you’re only a part of her life now because I’m allowing it,” she retorted.
Luc kept his arms crossed. “I would sincerely love to see you try to keep me away from her now.”
“Don’t push me, Luc.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been pushing.”
Bluish-white energy flickered over Mom’s knuckles, and I just lost it. All the violent, raw emotions swirled inside me like a cyclone, lashing through every part of my being. This was too much—just too much.
“Stop it! Both of you!” I shot to my feet, and the barstool toppled over, cracking off the floor and startling both her and Luc. “Do you guys really think any of this is helping right now? At all?”
Luc whipped around on the stool, his odd eyes slightly wide while Mom stepped back from the island, dropping the dish towel.
“Have you guys forgotten that I almost died last night because a psychotic and slightly suicidal Origin had a T. rex–sized bone to pick with you?” I pointed at Luc, and his jaw hardened in response. “And have you forgotten that you’ve spent the last four years pretending to be my mom? Which is scientifically impossible because you’re a Luxen, something else you’ve lied about?”
Mom’s face paled. “I’m still your mother—”
“You convinced me that I was some dead girl!” I shouted, throwing my hands up. “You didn’t even adopt me. How is that even legal?”
“That’s a really damn good question.” Luc smirked.
“Shut up!” I swung on him, my heart racing and my temples beginning to throb. “You’ve also done nothing but lie to me. You even made my best friend become friends with me!”
“Well, I didn’t exactly make her become your best friend,” he replied, slowly unfolding his arms. “That happened organically, I’d like to think.”
“Don’t bring logic into this,” I snapped, my hands tightening into fists when the lines of his mouth softened. “You two are driving me out of my mind, and I barely have any of it left. Do I need to remind you of what happened in the last freaking forty-eight hours? I learned that everything I knew about myself was a lie and that I was pumped full of alien DNA courtesy of a serum I can barely pronounce, let alone spell. And if that’s not messed up enough, I found a classmate super-duper dead. Andy’s eyes were legit burned out of his face, and then I was literally just dragged through the woods and had to listen to the bizarre ranting of an Origin who had hard-core abandonment issues!”