The Burning Shadow (Origin 2) - Page 76

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My heart thundered in my chest.

His gaze pierced mine. “I’m mad at what you’ve had to experience. I’m mad that you have nightmares, and I’m pissed over the situation we’re in. I’m furious at what happened to Heidi and to innocent Luxen who want nothing more than to just live their lives. I’m enraged that I thought I was saving—” He cut himself off, his chest rising with a deep breath. He shook his head. “There’s a lot that I’m angry over, but I’m never angry with you.”

My entire body jolted.

Luc threaded his fingers through mine. “Was I annoyed Saturday night? Yes. Irritated that you’re surprised that I would come when you needed me? Hell yes. But I’m never mad at you,” he repeated. “I was trying to give you some space after everything. Figured you needed it. Figured we both needed it.”

I didn’t know what to say, and I realized in that moment that even though words were powerful, they weren’t always necessary.

Springing forward, I wrapped my arms around Luc before I could give myself time to think about what I was doing. The action obviously surprised him, because he froze but didn’t topple backward. That lasted only for about a second before his arms swept around me, holding me tightly.

My face was planted against his chest. “Thank you,” I said, and I wasn’t sure I even knew what I was thanking him for.

Everything?

That sounded about right.

His hand folded around the back of my head, fingers tangling in my hair. “Peaches…”

I squeezed him tighter.

His chin brushed over the top of my head. “One of these days, you’re going to realize that I’ve never left and I never will.”18Before Luc and I left, I peeked in on Heidi. Both of the girls were asleep, and I didn’t want to wake them, so I crept away, telling myself I’d come back the next day.

Once I was in the car, with Luc behind the wheel, we grabbed burgers and I answered James’s string of texts. He wanted to know where everyone had disappeared to after the fire alarm, and I hated being evasive.

“I know I can’t tell James the truth, but this sucks.” I put my phone back in my bag and let it rest next to my feet. “It’s like having an alternate life.”

He arched a brow. “It’ll get easier.”

“Really?” I stared out at the dark stretch of trees. The subdivision I lived in was surrounded by thick woods on either side of the road, and I used to like that. Now it seemed dark and full of nightmares. “I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.”

He glanced over at me. “Depends on how you look at it.”

I wasn’t sure how else I could look at it, but whether it was good or bad, it was now my life and I was going to have to deal with it.

When we pulled into the driveway, I immediately knew Mom still wasn’t home. It wasn’t all that late, but the only light on was in the upstairs hallway, signaling she hadn’t returned from Frederick yet.

I glanced over at Luc as he killed the engine. “Thank you again—”

“Don’t thank me for this.”

“I just did.”

“I don’t accept it.” Opening the driver’s side door, he unfolded his long body and stepped out.

I hurried out of the car, almost forgetting my backpack. Snatching it up, I darted over the grass, causing the motion detectors to come on. Luc was waiting on the front porch. “What are you doing?”

His face was shadowed under the porch light. “Waiting for you to unlock the door.”

I cocked my head. “I figured that, but you’re coming in?”

“I don’t want you here alone. Not when April is out there and we have no clue where she is.” He paused. “If you don’t want me here, I can call Zoe back or—”

“No, it’s okay.” Digging out my house keys, I unlocked the front door, hoping he didn’t notice how my fingers trembled. “We just have to be careful.”

“Sylvia will freak if she comes home and finds me?” He chuckled under his breath as he followed me. “She won’t know I’m here.”

Even though Mom hadn’t said anything about Luc’s last late-night visit, I wasn’t sure that meant she had no idea he’d been here.

Standing in the foyer, I shifted my bag up my arm. “I need to take a quick shower.” Even though I was wearing one of Luc’s thermals that smelled like him, I knew there was blood in places where Luc had not cleaned. “If you’re still hungry or want a drink, help yourself.”

His gaze flicked to me and he nodded, hands in his pockets.

I hesitated and then spun on my heel, dashing up the stairs. Once in my bedroom, I closed the door and dropped my bag by my desk. Snatching up a pair of sleep bottoms, I quickly undressed, rolling my jeans into a ball and tossing them into the hamper. I started to grab a shirt but decided to bring Luc’s borrowed shirt with me.


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance
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