I flinched at the harsh truth in what he said. What was I doing? Big fat nothing most days.
Grayson wasn’t done. “You’re not just a threat because of who Sylvia Dasher is but because you’re the weakest link that can and will be exploited,” he said, and each word he spoke was like a slap. “Despite popular opinion, Luc is not indestructible. The longer you’re in his life, the more likely you’re going to get him killed … or worse.”* * *“Brunch is kind of stupid when you think about it,” I muttered as I watched Zoe pick a chunk of walnut out of her chocolate muffin. “Like, why not just have lunch? And why don’t you just order a plain chocolate muffin like me instead of sitting there, picking out the nuts?”
Zoe looked up, grinning. “You’re in a wonderful mood this morning.”
I was in a terrible, no good, really bad mood.
I didn’t even know why I’d agreed to meet Zoe late Sunday morning. I was not fit for company. Obviously. Grayson’s words still burned through me like a wildfire. What he’d said to me the night before had been harsh, but it also had been true. I wasn’t … strong. Not like Zoe. Not like any of them. Even if I were a badass with a katana, which I wasn’t, I’d still be the weakest link among them. That was a bitter pill to swallow.
And as much as I hated to admit it, I’d lain awake last night after returning home, expecting Luc to show up at my bedroom window, and he hadn’t. No visit. No text.
Not even after I managed to fall asleep and woke up, gasping for air from a nightmare.
I was guessing he was still ticked off, and I didn’t know how to feel about that. I was also still mad, but I wasn’t used to Luc being mad at me. Not at all. I’d always gotten the impression that even when he was getting irritated with me, he was happy to be able to be irritated with me, which was kind of weird but, given our history, also made sense.
“And I like just a sprinkling of walnuts in my muffins. Not chunks. It’s just too much nut.” She dropped the nut on a napkin while I wrinkled my nose. “Are you not feeling well? Usually you’ve already swallowed your muffin whole by this point. I hope you’re not getting sick.” Her eyes widened. “Or coming down with what that girl had.”
“Well if I am, I can at least throw myself out of windows and survive, so there’s that.”
“Look at you, being positive and stuff.”
I snorted as I toyed with a straw. “I can’t believe she’s just missing. Like, where in the hell did she go?”
“I don’t know.” Zoe sighed as she shook her head. “She could be anywhere. Maybe she went somewhere and died.”
Heaviness settled on me. “God, I know there was something very badly wrong with her, but I hate the idea of anyone dying by themselves like that. She was scared, Zoe. She had no idea what was happening to her.”
“Emery seemed to think that she caught that weird virus that we saw on TV, but if Luxen can’t make humans sick, and even if it were some unrelated thing—”
“It doesn’t make y’all do that.” Zoe nodded. “Unless it’s something totally crazy. I mean, something that someone created, but with the Daedalus being gone, that doesn’t make sense.”
Which meant all we had was a lot of questions and absolutely no answers.
I flicked my muffin onto its side. “I saw the strangest thing when I left last night—not as strange as what happened to Sarah, but weird.”
“Since you were around Foretoken, that could literally be anything.”
“True, but I saw an Arum. Actually, I talked to him.”
“Lore? You ran into him?”
I blinked as my fingers stilled around the straw. “You know him?”
“Not really well or anything, but I’ve seen him and his brother a time or two—his brother Hunter. Not the legit psychotic other brother,” she explained. “He was there when I got back.”
“I’m a little confused. I thought Arum were, like, the bad guys. The Luxen’s archnemesis.”
“Most are, but not all Arum are out to murder people and feed off unwilling Luxen. Some are just like the Luxen, trying to find a place in this world and eke out an existence.”
“There are Luxen willing to be fed off of? That sounds … kinky. And Lore is one of them?”
“If he weren’t, he wouldn’t be alive right now.” Zoe smiled tightly. “Luc wouldn’t tolerate him if he harmed people.”
All righty then.
“Lore helps us every so often,” she explained. “Moving packages and stuff. He was there to help Dawson move the rest of the group, since they ran into problems.”
I took a quick sip. “Do you help them move packages, or are you just on Evie duty all the time?”