The general shook his head. “And that’s why I need to say what I’m about to.”
“I’m all ears and a whole lot of warm fuzzies. I’m listening,” Luc replied.
“We have a more pressing matter than when the Daedalus discover we’re here and what we’re doing.” Eaton drew his right knee up, rubbing it with the palm of his hand.
“And what could that possibly…?” Luc trailed off, and when I looked over my shoulder at him once more, I saw that his brows were knitted, head cocked to the side. His eyes flared an intense, brilliant purple, and then his expression locked down. His face nothing more than striking lines and hard angles. “No.”
“Luc—” Eaton started, and my gaze snapped back to his.
“You’ve already thought it, and that’s bad enough,” Luc cut the older man off. “You can’t take it back. It’s already out there, but if you speak it, give it life to fester and spread, I will not forget that.”
Really wanting to know what in the hell Eaton had been thinking, I opened my mouth, but the look on Eaton’s face silenced me.
Sorrow etched into the lines of his face as he shifted forward, both hands on his knees. “I’m sorry,” he said, sounding genuine. “I don’t want to think or say it, and I sure as hell don’t want it to be, but you know, Luc. You know it’s the only way.”* * *Luc was silent as we walked out of Eaton’s home, his features still hard and gaze distant but blazing, his gentle hold on my hand completely at odds with the barely leashed anger thrumming through his body.
The sun had burned off the cool morning air. I imagined locals found the temps to be on the chilly side, but to me, used to much colder temps in November, it was the kind of weather perfect for grabbing the camera and getting outside.
A pang of wanting lit up my chest. I missed the rush of being behind a camera. It was such a silencer. I didn’t stress or think about what the next hour would bring, let alone the next day or week. Every part of me, from my eyes to the fingers curling around the camera, would be focused on the moment in time I’d be trying to capture. The entire process was a contradiction, intimate and yet remote, sheltered and also like falling without a safety net. Even if my photos never made it beyond Instagram, I always felt like I was leaving behind something bigger than I was, whether it was proof that sometimes death truly was a renewal—like when leaves shifted from green to red and then finally gold before falling—or a candid smile or laugh.
And right now, my fingers itched to capture the looming city of Houston, its buildings stretching high into the sky like hollow skeletons and the freeways congested with cars but empty of people.
A dead city that should be remembered.
But I had no camera to grab. The old one had been destroyed by April, and the one Luc had gotten me afterward had been left behind in the rush to escape the Daedalus.
I pushed away the heavy sadness. I had more important things to deal with.
The narrow street outside of Eaton’s house was empty and the nearby houses silent with the exception of curtains and canopies snapping softly in the windows. I had no idea if people were living in the ranch-style homes or not, but there seemed to be no one around, which was perfect.
I stopped without warning, and Luc halted, looking over his shoulder. Warm sunlight glanced over his high cheekbones. “We need to talk.”
An eyebrow rose, and a moment passed. “About?”
“You aren’t reading my thoughts right now?”
“You’re not being loud.” Facing me, he held on to my hand as he stepped closer, his tall frame blocking the sun. “I try not to listen when you’re not projecting.”
“I appreciate that.” And I really did, because I often thought about really random, stupid stuff like why blueberries weren’t actually blue. “What was Eaton thinking?”
“When he decided to drink half a case of beer before noon?” Lifting his other hand, he caught a strand of my hair. “I imagine it’s stress. Maybe even boredom. Hell, he could’ve always been a—”
“That’s not what I’m talking about, and you know that. He was going to say something, but you picked up on it and wouldn’t let him say it.”
Luc tugged on the strand, wrapping it around his forefinger. “Did you know that in the sunlight your hair is like melted gold? It’s beautiful.”
“Uh, thanks.” I snagged my hair free from his finger. Luc pouted, managing to look equally adorable and ridiculous. “Complimenting my hair isn’t going to distract me.”
“What about complimenting you? Will that distract you?”
I sighed. “Luc—”
“Do you truly know how incredibly resilient you are? How strong?” he asked, placing the tips of his fingers to my cheek. A buzz of electricity skated through my veins. “You’ve dealt with so much, Evie. Your entire life has been flipped upside down and shaken. What you were thinking inside was right. You’re still standing. Most wouldn’t be. Some of the most physically strong people I know wouldn’t be. I don’t think you give yourself enough credit.”