The Brightest Night (Origin 3) - Page 114

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The burst of power left me in a wave. Flung up and outward, the explosion of the Source was more than a bomb detonating. Once released, the Source was a concussive force, simply disintegrating whatever was in its path the moment the shadowy light reached it. Brick. Plaster. Wood. Cloth. Steel. All of it turned to glittering ash, surrounding me like a thousand fireflies, slowly drifting to the ground, where no worn carpet stained by years of living existed. No subfloor or crawl space. The sparkling ash blanketed the reddish-brown clay and loam that lay several feet from where I hovered.

I stared at the spot where she had stood. Nothing was there. Not even ash. A keen sense of satisfaction swept through me.

She failed.

I had not.

I smiled as I surveyed what remained. The absolute destruction seemed to be limited to the ground below where I floated; however, the blast had released a shock wave, shaking the nearby homes and shattering some of their windows. Curtains now drifted out of the gaping holes and into the silence of the built-upon hills and valleys overlooking a steel tomb of a city.

“You can fly?” a tiny voice asked.

Strands of my hair lifted off my shoulders, flowing out and around me as my gaze lowered.

A small child stood barefoot on the cracked sidewalk, a young girl of four or five. She wore overalls, the legs rolled up and one strap unbuckled and hanging loose, revealing the blue shirt covered with yellow-and-white daisies. Her hair reminded me of the darkest chocolate, too wild to be kept in the pigtails that were desperately trying to rein in the waves and curls. A fluffy stuffed llama was clutched to her chest as she stared up at me with wide, stunning eyes the color of violets.

Her eyes reminded me of something.

Of someone.

“Can you?” she asked, creeping closer to the edge of the sidewalk, to where the raw earth was exposed.

Could I? “I’m not sure.”

She tilted her head to the side. “You should try to find out.”

The little girl was right. I should try to find out. So I willed myself forward, toward her, and I drifted through the air.

“You can fly!” Her heart-shaped face broke out a wide, uninhibited smile as she shoved a little fist in the air and hugged the llama closer.

The corners of my lips tilted up. “I can.”

“I wish I could fly. I can only make other people fly. I’ve tried to do it myself, but Mama got real sad when I tried, and Daddy yelled.” Her nose scrunched. “It’s the only time I’ve heard Daddy yell.” She lifted her llama to her chin. “Did you do this?”

“I did.”

“Is your daddy going to yell?”

“I…” I wasn’t sure how to answer that. “I don’t have a daddy.”

“But you have two names.” An impish grin appeared. “I want two names.”

I did have two names, because I was two people, and I was something other.

“Ashley! Oh my God!” A woman raced up the sidewalk, a fuzzy pink blanket gripped in one hand as hair the same dark chocolate color streamed out from behind her.

The little girl named Ashley glanced at the woman. “Mama is gonna cry again.” The devilish grin reappeared when she looked back at me. “I was supposed to be napping, but I felt you.”

The woman only spared me a brief glance before she scooped up the little girl in her arms. She backed away, pressing the blanket to the girl’s back. The woman looked at me then, her gaze never leaving me as she moved farther away.

Movement all along the street caught my attention. People coming out from behind the warped, cracked fence across the street. Bodies moving forward. One was Blue Eyes, his face smeared with dirt. He came to a stop on the stained pavement. “Oh, shit.”

Behind him was a female Luxen, eyes amber. Both were powerful. That, too, I could sense, but neither could take me. Blue Eyes looked pale, appearing thunderstruck. The female looked … ready.

The back of my neck crawled as power pressed against me. I looked over my shoulder. Purple Eyes stood there, his hair blown back from his dirty face—a face full of tiny scratches. He’d been too close to the house. He wasn’t alone. A man made more of shadows than flesh stood kitty-corner. On the other side was another Luxen, one who I knew I’d made bleed before. His green eyes held the memory of that.

Blue Eyes at my back. The Arum to my right and the Green Eyes to my left, and him to my front.

They were caging me in, and I didn’t like that. And I didn’t understand it, because I didn’t wish to hurt them. I wasn’t sure why, but I knew it wasn’t my will. I rapidly calculated the most threatening.

Purple Eyes. He was powerful. His body shone with it. He could be a threat, that I knew, but I did not want to hurt him. Nor did I want to hurt the others.

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance