The Burning Shadow (Origin 2) - Page 23

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His striking features were pale as his hand spasmed around mine. “It’s real.”

The next breath I took got stuck as I curled my fingers around his. I closed my eyes again, seeing him as a boy—his features the same but softer and younger, his body familiar but thinner. I inhaled sharply as a cool breeze lifted my hair, tossing it over my face.

“It was right after the invasion and things had begun to calm down. We came back to see if anything here had been impacted, and it was like the only place for miles around that had been untouched.”

“That’s strange.”

“It was, but the day we came here … it was a good day. You were feeling good.” He let go of my hand, and when I opened my eyes, he was tugging the beanie off his head. “It was after you were given the—”

“Prometheus serum?” I said, and those wide, questioning eyes shot to mine. “Daemon told me about it.”

Luc stared at me for a long moment. Tension crept around his mouth, and then he exhaled heavily. “The Prometheus serum seemed to work for a few days. You had more energy. You weren’t nauseous at all. You could eat. And all those goddamn bruises that covered you had started to fade. I was still cautious. Didn’t want you out running around, but you wanted to come up here, and who was I to deny you?”

Luc stared out over the valley. “Sometimes I wonder if you knew the serum hadn’t worked beyond giving you a respite from the disease. Looking back, I think you did.” Lifting his hands, he scrunched his fingers through his hair. “Anyway, that was the day you kissed me, and damn, it takes a lot to catch me off guard, but you’d managed to do just that. I had … these feelings for you. I didn’t like them at first. I didn’t even understand them.” His fingers curled around the short strands of hair. “And I’d always thought you saw me as a brother. That’s all I could let myself think. I was young. You were even younger.”

I didn’t know how anyone could look at Luc as only a brother other than someone who was legit his sibling, but I kept that to myself.

“But you kissed me and…” He dropped his hands as he tilted his face to the sun, eyes closed. “It broke me in a way I didn’t even know you could be broken.”

“That doesn’t sound good.” I felt like I needed to apologize.

“It was…” He lifted his hands, shaking his head. “It wasn’t bad, Evie. Not at all.” A quick smile appeared and then disappeared. “Do you remember what you said to me afterward, while I was staring at you like an idiot?”

I shook my head. “No, I don’t.”

“Do you remember anything else?”

“No. Just that, but as soon as I saw the sign for the town, I felt weird. I told you that.” I threaded my fingers through the grass. “Is that why you brought me here? To see if I’d remember anything?”

“Yes? No? I don’t know. Mainly, I brought you here because it was someplace I knew you used to love. I’ve been wondering if you’d still feel the same.”

Taking in the ancient trees and the valleys and rivers below, I could see why I’d loved this place. There was a calming effect to it, being close to civilization and yet somehow surrounded by nature and rich history. “I think I could grow to love it again.”

He was silent and then asked, “Do you want to stay or leave?”

I knew if I said I wanted to leave, he would be standing faster than I could finish the sentence, but I didn’t want to leave. “Not yet.”

“Okay.” His throat worked on a swallow.

Companionable silence fell between us as I watched the limbs move in the wind, shaking loose dying leaves and sending them fluttering to the ground. The scent of river and soil surrounded us, and if it hadn’t been for the million steps we climbed to get here, I would’ve raced back to my car for my camera.

“What did I say to you?” I asked, remembering what he’d said. “After I kissed you?”

Luc was quiet for a long moment. “You said, ‘Don’t forget this.’”

I stilled. God. Maybe I had known that the serum hadn’t worked, because that was a hell of a thing to say.

“How ironic is that?” He chuckled, but it was without any lightness. “Like I would ever be able to forget what it felt like for your lips to touch mine. Like I could ever forget you.”

“It was me who forgot.” Tears pricked my eyes as I pulled my knees to my chest and wrapped my arms around my legs. He couldn’t forget me, and I’d forgotten him. “I’m sorry.”

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance