The Burning Shadow (Origin 2) - Page 77

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After pulling a brush through my hair, tearing out God knows how many strands in the process, I pulled it up in a topknot and then stepped into the shower.

The hot water stung my chest and stomach, causing me to flinch as I stood under the spray. I took a deep breath, but it went nowhere. Slowly, I lifted my hands, placing them over my face.

Something cracked inside me. A wall I never knew was there, and it wasn’t a small fissure but a gaping fracture that rattled every bone in my body. Tears raced up my throat and welled behind my closed eyes. There was no keeping them back, and I let them out, clamping my jaw tightly so I didn’t make a sound.

I cried for Heidi and how close she’d come to dying today. I cried for the panic Emery must’ve felt when she saw her. I cried for how scared Zoe and I had been waiting to hear if Heidi was going to be okay. And I cried because I didn’t want Luc to be angry all the time. I cried because I had Luc’s affection, his loyalty, but I didn’t have his trust and, truth was, I doubted him, over and over.

Pull it together.

Put it back together.

I pulled my shaking hands away from my face and picked up my pink loofah, focusing on scrubbing at my skin until it turned pink and the water circling the drain was clear. By the time I dried off and changed into my sleep shorts and Luc’s thermal, steam had covered the mirror and I had pulled it together. I opened the door, and my heart launched itself into my throat.

Luc was in my bedroom, standing in front of the corkboard of pictures. He looked over his shoulder, his gaze roaming from the tips of my toes—toes that I still needed to either take the polish off of or redo—to the damp tendrils of hair curling around my cheeks. A soft smile appeared. “Sorry,” he said, turning back to the tacked photos. “I figured I should wait up here just in case Sylvia comes home.”

“Makes sense.” Fingering the hem of the gray thermal, I walked over to the bed and sat. “I hope you don’t mind that I’m wearing your shirt.”

Luc turned to me. “Actually, it’s the exact opposite.”

I didn’t know what to say to that.

He faced the corkboard again. “Grayson called while you were in the shower. They just checked out April’s house. She wasn’t there, and it didn’t look like anyone else has been there for a while. No parents.”

“That’s really weird. April has a little sister.”

“Grayson said Zoe pointed that out, too, but no one was there.”

Dread formed like a weed in the pit of my stomach. “That update couldn’t be good whatsoever.”

“Probably not.”

He walked over to the nightstand, reaching into the pocket of his pants. I immediately recognized the small, black object. A stun gun.

“I grabbed some stuff before we came here. Keep this on you. Who knows if it will work against April, but it’s worth having.”

I nodded.

“And I also brought you this.” In his palm was a long, shiny, pendant-shaped black object that was chiseled to a fine point. It was secured to a silver chain. “This is obsidian. Remember what that does?”

“Yeah, it’s deadly against Arum.”

“Again, no idea if it will work against April, but I want you to keep this on you at all times. Even when you’re showering.” He held up the necklace, and I leaned over, heart thumping heavily as he draped the necklace over my shoulders, securing it behind my neck. The tips of his fingers brushed over my skin as he straightened the chain. “Okay?”

“Okay.” I picked up the piece of obsidian. The necklace wasn’t as heavy as I’d thought it would be. The volcanic glass was about three inches long, and the silver chain was delicate, spiraling over the top of the obsidian. “This would stop an Arum? I was picturing something … bigger and thicker.”

“That’s what she said.”

Lifting my head, I stared at him. “Really?”

“I mean, you kind of set that one up perfectly,” he replied with a sly grin. “A very small piece of obsidian can do major damage to an Arum. Stab them anywhere with that, and they’re going down. And the end is wickedly sharp, so please try not to stab yourself.”

That was a promise I wasn’t sure I could keep.

I let the obsidian go, and it came to rest between my breasts, on the outside of Luc’s borrowed shirt.

Luc roamed back over to the corkboard. “Can I admit something to you and you not get mad?”

Pulling my legs up and crossing them, I picked up my pillow, planting it in my lap. “Depends on what it is.”

“I’ve seen some of these photos before, and I’m not talking about when I was here before.”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance
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