The Burning Shadow (Origin 2) - Page 56

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“And she might’ve just been scared. Who knows what happened to her or why she’s sick,” Kent reasoned. “It doesn’t have to end in the worst possible way. Not always.”

But didn’t it?

“I’d do it,” Emery spoke up, drawing my attention. Our gazes met and held. “All of us would do exactly what Luc has to. I’d kill to protect those I care about and those I love without hesitation. I’d do the same to protect this place and what we do here. So would Kent. So would Grayson. It’s not something we want to do; it’s something we have to do. None of us would hesitate. All of us have to live with that.”

I tried to swallow again, but my throat was like a desert as I nodded in understanding. Daemon had said the same … and then some.

Heidi leaned into Emery and whispered something to her, then kissed her olive-tone cheek before pulling back.

“I don’t think what Luc has had to do is wrong. You all talk about killing like it’s nothing, though, but I know it is to Luc—to all of you—and that it’s an everyday part of your lives.” I stopped messing with my hair. “To be honest, I don’t know what to think about it because … all of this is new to me.”

“And to me.” Heidi threaded her arm through Emery’s as her stare connected with mine. “This isn’t a world we’ve been a part of.”

This was a world I used to be a part of, back when I’d been Nadia. I had no idea if I’d easily accepted the ruthless nature of survival or if it had distressed me then, too.

Or if I’d just had a better understanding of it.

But I’d just demanded of Luc to let me in, to involve me in this world. I didn’t think I wasn’t cut out for it. I just wasn’t expecting this.

Emery brushed her lips over Heidi’s forehead, and I closed my eyes, rubbing my fingers along my temple. Had I offended Emery? I hoped I hadn’t, but she had to understand that none of this was a normal Halloween to me or to Heidi.

We normally bought candy and had a scary movie marathon. We didn’t generally witness some girl turning into God knows what before tossing herself out a window.

“Well.” Kent drew the word out. “This has taken a turn for the awkward.”

I snorted.

The door opened behind us, ending the strained silence. I twisted at the waist, heart skipping a beat when Luc strolled into the room with Dawson behind him. The door swung shut as I clutched the back of the couch. Luc’s gaze immediately connected with mine. There was nothing to be gained from his expression. His features were shut down.

“Did you find zombie girl?” Kent asked.

“She’s not a zombie,” Luc said with a sigh as he walked around the couch. I followed his progress, straightening when he sat beside me, close enough that his thigh rested against mine.

“That’s what people keep saying until someone crashes through a door and starts eating your nose off,” Kent retorted.

Heidi’s lips curled as she blinked rapidly.

“We didn’t find her.” Dawson leaned against the wall, crossing his arms. “And we scoured this entire city.”

“How is that possible?” Heidi’s voice pitched as she bent forward. “The condition she was in, how is she even alive?”

“Good question.” Luc leaned back, tossing an arm over the couch, behind me. “If she’s still in this city, she’s hiding somewhere. Grayson and Zoe are checking a few places.”

“Do you think whatever happened to her is the same thing that happened to Coop?” I asked.

“I don’t know, Peaches.” His gaze slid toward me, and I felt his fingers sifting through the strands of my hair, finding the center of my shoulders. Luc was always … touchy, whether it be how close he sat, brushing his hand over mine, or playing with my hair. The act seemed almost unconscious, as if he were unaware of his need to prove that I was, in fact, sitting beside him. I didn’t mind it. If I had, I wouldn’t have let him. To be honest, I liked it because there was this part hidden deep inside me that needed the reminder that he was also there.

I thought about what Emery and Kent had said. “She said something was done to her.”

His eyes met mine. “What?”

No way.

Luc hadn’t heard her, either?

I glanced at Dawson, and he looked as if he didn’t know what I was talking about either. “I thought I heard her say something.”

“Say what?” His fingers dragged over the nape of my neck.

“I thought she said, ‘They did something to me,’ but you all didn’t hear her?”

Dawson shook his head.

Luc’s gaze searched mine intently. “No, Peaches. We didn’t hear that.”

What the hell? Had I imagined that? My shoulders slumped. Maybe it was an auditory hallucination? Or I thought the sounds she was making were words? The mind could do that, take sounds and turn them into something familiar.


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance
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