My breath halted.
God, the kind of power Luc wielded was mind-numbing, but something different was happening inside me. It felt like the Source inside me had tightened into a tiny ball, and now it was unraveling, opening up, and it built, not in the back of my throat or in the pit of my stomach but in the center of my suddenly aching, empty, and cold chest. Pulse pounding, my grip started to loosen, but Spencer’s entire body tensed as if he’d come into contact with a live wire. I snapped out of it, pressing his arm down as Viv did the same across from me. The scream pierced my ears and brought tears to my eyes and …
And then I felt a wall of ice press against my back.
Goose bumps pimpled my skin, and Luc’s eyes flipped open. His all-white pupils expanded as his gaze met mine. Breathing halting in my throat, I looked over my shoulder. Grayson was stepping aside as a mass of rippling, stretching shadows pulsed in the kitchen, so dark and deep it could be a black hole. No, not shadows. A man. A man made of shadows and skin a shade of alabaster that somehow managed to appear devoid of blood without looking ghastly. His hair was so black that under the glow of the gas lamp, it tinted blue like a raven’s wing. With strong jaw and straight nose, features hard, as if he were carved out of granite, he was handsome in the same way Grayson was, remote and cold. Perhaps even cruel.
He wasn’t alone.
A short black-haired woman was behind him, a small hand curled around his biceps as she stared down at the table and her brown eyes flecked with green grew wide.
She was human, but he was an Arum.
His eyes, a blue so pale it was almost as if all color had been leached from them, flickered around the room, coasting over me, and then snapping back to where I stood.
This was the first time I’d been able to feel an Arum. There was no doubt in my mind that was why it felt like I’d been drenched in ice, but was he what I sensed that felt different? I wasn’t sure, but I couldn’t shake the crawling sensation of awareness that tasted like heated asphalt in the summer. His head tilted to the side in a movement as fluid as water and so snakelike it reminded me of the Arum I’d met outside of Foretoken. The one called Lore.
The one who’d asked what I was.
He’d sensed the Arum DNA in me, and it was obvious this one did, too. His nostrils flared, and then he took a step toward me, pulling free from the human woman’s grip.
“Serena,” he said, his voice so deep it spoke of dreams and nightmares, and somehow manage to rise above Spencer’s screams of pain. “I want you to get out of this house. Now.”
“What?” Confusion filled the woman’s voice.
The Arum never took his eyes off me, but I saw, along my periphery, Grayson remove the Blow Pop from his mouth. “Because you’ve already seen too much horror to last a lifetime, and I don’t want you to watch as I kill this thing standing in front of me.”23I should’ve felt fear—more like pure terror. This Arum looked like he could cash that check his mouth was writing. And I should’ve been thinking about grabbing that rocket launcher, because the edges of his body suddenly looked like they were shaded in charcoal. The blurred effect started to spread, causing his features to lose their clarity as deep shadows bloomed under thinning skin. The woman called Serena was backing up, reaching around to her back.
Spencer went quiet, all the stiffness seeping from his body. He was still, and I had no idea if he lived or breathed …
And something colder and other was waking from the cavern of my chest, and it slithered up, mingling with my thoughts, tracking not only his every breath and the slightest movement but also the human woman’s, through my eyes.
This was not like the night of the nightmare, nor was it anything like what I’d felt when I’d been training. It reminded me of the woods, of the fight with April, when something other than me whispered through my veins, seizing control and erasing me in the process.
This was the Source—the kind of power that wasn’t used to just move objects or to speak telepathically with Luc.
And it was not afraid.
It wasn’t even slightly concerned that it somehow knew the woman was reaching for a gun.
The Source had simply sensed a threat, like it had done in the woods, like I suspected it had done with April. But this was also vastly different.
Because I still had control.
I would have to overanalyze all of this later, along with the whole Nadia thing. Right now, when an Arum wanted to straight up murder me, was not the time for any of that.