The Burning Shadow (Origin 2) - Page 81

Listen Audio

My heart hammered against its cage as I scanned my surroundings. I was in my bedroom, not in the woods outside the house, this time face-to-face with a bloody April instead of Micah. I was home. Safe. Heidi was safe. Micah was dead, and April … she was somewhere out there, God only—

“Evie?” The sleep-rough voice came from beside me.

In bed.

In my bedroom.

My head jerked to my left, and I saw the shape of Luc raising up on his elbow. He was still here? My mind was still clogged with sleep and images of April ripping apart—

“Hey.” Luc sat up swiftly. His face was inches from mine as his hand moved in a slow, soothing circle along my lower back. “You okay?”

I swallowed the rise of nausea and croaked out, “Yeah.”

His other hand came to my cheek. Even though I could barely see his eyes, I could feel his gaze inching over my face. He then carefully eased me back down so that my cheek was resting on his shoulder. There was space between our bodies—several inches, to be exact—but his arm was still around me, his hand balled in a loose fist, resting just above my hip, and my heart was still racing.

I kept my hands in the space between us. “You’re still here.”

“Yeah. Sylvia got home a little after midnight, I think. Then I fell asleep. Sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

His other hand was resting low on his stomach. “Is it?”

Was it? I’d never hear the end of it if he were caught in my bedroom, sleeping beside me. Not like this was the first time, but neither of us knew where we stood with each other, and sleeping side by side surely wouldn’t help anything.

Still, I nodded as my heart finally began to slow down.

Luc was silent for several long moments. “Nightmares?”

“Yeah,” I whispered.

“Want to talk about it?”

I shook my head.

“Want me to stay?”

My legs curled under the soft blanket, pressing against Luc’s leg. The blanket was usually on the floor somewhere, but he must’ve draped it over me at some point. I didn’t speak. I couldn’t.

I nodded.

The arm around my waist tightened, and the only sound was the low hum of conversation coming from the television. Luc didn’t speak, but I saw his fingers moving. They were tapping in a slow rhythm against his lower stomach, and as my eyes adjusted to the dimly lit room, I could see that his shirt had ridden up when he’d lain back down, exposing a thin sliver of skin above the jeans he wore. I stared at those long fingers as they continued to move, thinking of the power those fingers could wield.

Slowly, my gaze lifted, traveling over his stomach to where his chest rose and fell steadily, almost as if he’d fallen back to sleep. I knew he was awake.

I wondered how many times we’d lain like this that I didn’t remember, side by side with just the tiniest space between us—space that could easily become nonexistent if I just inched closer to him or lifted a hand.

Warmth flooded my skin, and I had the sudden urge to kick the blanket off. The thermal wasn’t the greatest piece of clothing to wear to bed, but I knew the heat burning through my veins had little to do with the shirt I wore.

It had everything to do with who was lying beside me and what I felt for him. A confusing mix of yearning and trepidation.

My gaze found its way to his profile. His eyes were closed, but there was a tenseness to the line of his jaw. Was he as wide awake as I was? Every part of me became hyperaware of him—of each breath he took, how deep his chest sank and then rose, of the rhythm of his fingers. Was he as aware of me as I was of him in this moment?

I imagined it was countless times we’d lain like this, but I doubted I’d been thinking what I was thinking now. We’d been too young to harbor the images that were flipping through my mind. Memories of the night in his bed, our hands and mouths frantic and greedy. The quick kiss of thanks I’d bestowed upon him after seeing the framed photograph of Harpers Ferry. Us dancing hip to hip on Halloween and then him hovering over me, touching me, his mouth inches from mine.

If Dawson hadn’t knocked on that door, Luc would’ve kissed me, and I would have reveled in it.

My pulse picked up, thrumming heavily as my fingers curled into the blanket between us. I needed to push these thoughts aside. It was late, and I’d just woken from a nightmare. Some really horrific stuff had gone down, so my mind wasn’t exactly functioning at its best, but in the wake of a blood-soaked nightmare, there was a sudden sense of clarity that had eluded me at the lake on Sunday, that had eluded me since the first time I’d walked into Foretoken.

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance