The Burning Shadow (Origin 2) - Page 6

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A tiny part of me didn’t want to go into the office.

I’d found pictures of her in there, the real Evie, hidden away in a photo album. I’d always been told that we didn’t have any old photo albums. That Mom hadn’t had the chance to grab any of them during the invasion. I’d blindly believed in that, but now I knew the truth, and I knew why there could be no photo albums.

I wouldn’t have been in them. The real Evie would’ve been.

“You remember the night you called me while I was at work because you thought someone was in the house?” she asked.

The question caught me off guard. She was talking about the night I’d been here alone and had heard someone downstairs. “Yeah, I’m probably not going to forget that until I’m eighty. You thought I imagined it.”

“You didn’t.” She turned to her desk. “Someone was in here, and they did take something.”

I opened my mouth, but I couldn’t get any of the words out. That was probably a good thing, because most of the words building on my tongue were curses. Finally, I found my voice. “You said nothing was taken.”

“I was wrong. I wasn’t hiding anything from you. I just didn’t realize until this afternoon. I was organizing my office when I discovered it,” she said.

I had no idea how she could organize her office any more than she normally had. For Pete’s sake, her office was already more organized than a monthly planner.

Unease surfaced as I stared at her. “What was taken?”

She reached into the desk drawer and pulled out that damn photo album, placing it down on the desk. She opened it to the blank pages. “When I was in here straightening up, I happened to open up the album. I hadn’t looked through it in a while, but I noticed it then. There were pictures of Jason’s daughter here. Other birthday pictures and a few candid ones.” Her fingers lingered on the blank pages. “Those were taken.”

Confused, I lifted my gaze to hers as my thoughts whirled. “It had to be Micah. He’d been…”

“He’d been what?”

He’d been in this house before, while I’d been sleeping. He’d scratched me—choked me. I’d thought it had been a nightmare until he’d admitted to me what he’d done. A shudder rolled through me. Mom didn’t know about that. Crossing my arms, I stared down at my bare feet. The purple nail polish had begun to chip on my big toe.

Micah hadn’t admitted to taking the photos, and he also claimed that he hadn’t killed Andy, one of my classmates, or that poor family in the city. He’d owned up to Colleen’s and Amanda’s deaths, and Luc and I had just assumed he’d been lying.

What if he wasn’t?

And why would he take pictures of the real Evie? He knew who I was from the beginning. He didn’t need picture proof. Knots twisted up my stomach as I lifted my gaze to hers. “What if it wasn’t Micah? Why would someone take them?”

The line of her mouth thinned until the upper lip was nearly gone. “I don’t know.”2“We will not be silenced! We will not live in fear!” April Collins’s voice carried from the front of the school Monday morning, the sound like rusted nails on my nerve endings. “No more Luxen! No more fear!”

My steps slowed as I squinted against the glare of the sun. April was lifting a bright pink poster, shaking it as the small group of classmates behind her continued to chant, “No more Luxen! No more fear!”

A teacher was trying to usher April and the others in through the front door, but the young woman wasn’t having much luck. She looked like she needed about two more large cups of coffee to deal with this.

It was way too early for this nonsense.

I should’ve stayed home like Mom had wanted, just to avoid seeing April riling up the students. Then again, I would’ve been bored out of my mind, and Mom would’ve stayed home. If I wanted to see my friends and if I wanted to see Luc, like I planned to later, that meant I had to go to school.

And apparently deal with April.

Good news was I hadn’t had any more dizzy spells even though I hadn’t gotten a whole lot of sleep the night before. First, I couldn’t stop thinking about the missing pictures even though it had to have been Micah who had taken them, and when I did finally fall asleep, a nightmare had woken me hours later.

I’d been back in the woods with Micah and Luc … he had been hurt badly and—

Cutting those thoughts off as a chill swept down my spine, I powered forward. April had taken to protesting outside, at the front entrance in the mornings and the parking lot after school let out, both places where she was bound to be seen by the registered Luxen who attended our school.


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance
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