The Burning Shadow (Origin 2) - Page 91

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Luc nodded as he cut toward the side of the house, passing numerous dark windows. The backyard was fenced, but the gate was open, framed by overgrown butterfly bushes. I could see the outline of a large, outdoor play set. A swing swayed in the breeze, making a soft creaking sound. A wave of goose bumps rose along my arms, under my sweater.

I stopped.

So did Luc.

Instinct roared to life, screaming that we were being watched. No sooner had that thought finished, a shadow peeled away from the back of the house, stepping underneath the faint glow of a solar light.

Grayson.

God.

Relief nearly doubled me over as the tall Luxen said, “No one is inside. At least not alive.”

My hand fluttered to my stomach. “Is someone … dead inside?”

“If there is, I haven’t seen them.”

“Then why would you…?” I trailed off, immediately deciding it wasn’t worth the time or energy to understand why he’d phrased it like he had.

Luc walked up the short set of steps and onto the porch. “Did you guys check out anything yesterday?”

He shook his head. “We just looked around to see if April was here, and that was about it. Then Zoe and I went to several of her known friends’ houses. The house is unlocked, and no one has been here as far as I can tell.”

“Perfect.” Luc glanced back to where I stood. “Want to head in?”

Throat dry, I nodded as I came up the small set of steps, aware of Grayson watching me.

“You sure this is a good idea?” Grayson asked. “Her?”

I stopped and looked at the Luxen.

“Gray.” Luc sighed.

“What? She has no experience in these kinds of things.” Grayson had a point, the jerk. “She shouldn’t even be here.”

“I didn’t know we needed your opinion,” I snapped, and I could practically feel Grayson’s laser-like gaze narrowing on me.

“We don’t.” Luc’s tone was even. “Go keep Kent company.”

Grayson stiffened. “Shouldn’t I be keeping you guys company?”

“Are you going to be able to keep your mouth shut?” Luc returned.

The Luxen seemed to mull that over and then groused, “No.”

I rolled my eyes.

“Then peace out.”

Sending me one last wrathful look, Grayson was nothing but a blur as he left the porch, off to find Kent.

“Why does he hate me?” I asked when I was sure he was gone.

Luc paused in the entryway. “He doesn’t hate you, Peaches.”

I laughed at that. “Oh, come on. He totally hates me.”

Shaking his head, Luc drifted into a dark mudroom. “You’re reading it wrong.”

“Pretty sure I’m reading him exactly right.”

A whitish glow surrounded Luc’s hand as he proceeded into the kitchen, guiding our way. “Once we close some of these curtains and blinds, we can probably turn on a few of the lamps.”

I nodded as I crept behind him, scanning the area. A wooden bowl sat in the middle of the island. There were bananas in it, still fresh. I passed a fridge cluttered with random magnets. There were letters, but not pieced into any kind of word I recognized. Luc moved ahead, systematically closing blinds and curtains, using the Source to guide his way.

The kitchen flowed into a dining room and then a living room with fluffy pillows everywhere. There were magazines on the coffee table, coasters from a local bar on the end tables. The room smelled like apples, and everything about it seemed normal.

Turning, I spied the steps and made my way to them. I’d been to April’s house a few times over the years, so I knew where her bedroom was upstairs. Luc and I went up the carpet-covered stairs, our steps silent, and entered a long hallway.

It was strange being here now, wondering if everything about April had been a performance she’d wanted us to see. Had she always been this … whatever this was? Was her hatred of Luxen real or an act? Did she know what Zoe was, and when we’d been friends, had any of that been real?

“There’s something odd about this house,” Luc said as he opened a door and found the linen closet.

“What makes you say that?” I moved along the other side of the wall.

“There’s not a single sound here. No fan. No bumps or bangs of air kicking on and off.” Now that he pointed it out, I realized he was right. “It’s like walking through a graveyard—a haunted graveyard.”

I shuddered as I opened the door to what appeared to be a guest bedroom. “Thanks for putting that in my head.”

“You’re welcome.” A door opened, and then Luc said, “You said she had a little sister, right?”

“Yeah.”

“This must be her room.” He stepped inside. “There’s some clothing laid out on the bed. Looks like something that belongs to a child.”

My fingers curled over the cool handle, heart thumping. Where was April’s family? Were they whatever she was, including her little sister? I moved ahead, pushing open the door to April’s bedroom with one hand while I fiddled with the obsidian hanging from my necklace, rubbing my thumb along the smooth rock. The blinds in this room were already drawn, and I hurried over to a bed, turning on the lamp. I saw the makeup vanity first, where several tubes of red lipstick were neatly stacked in a little cubby.


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance
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