The Brightest Night (Origin 3) - Page 131

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“You okay?” Luc asked, voice low as he approached me.

“Yeah.” I exhaled roughly. “No?” I looked over my shoulder just as another round of balloons evaporated. As far as I knew, only some Luxen could do that with the Source. Most would leave a wounded, smoking body behind. Either way, hitting a human with the Source would be nothing like taking out a balloon. “I don’t remember much of the invasion. Before I learned the truth, I thought I must’ve buried the memories of what happened. Like it was so frightening and traumatizing that was the only way I could cope. Now I know why. I was Nadia when all that happened. Maybe if I remembered, all of this wouldn’t be so unsettling.

“But it is,” I admitted, facing Luc. “But I think if I wasn’t disturbed then, there’d be a problem, you know? I mean, you’re probably not disturbed by any of this because you’ve been around it your whole life.”

“Sometimes, the reality of everything sneaks up on me.” He took my hand, threading his fingers through mine. In the sunlight, his eyes were polished amethysts. “Usually when life feels like what I imagine normalcy is, the things I’ve seen catch me off guard.” His head turned to the field below. “I may be able to take a life when necessary, and I may not even regret doing so, but I don’t forget a single life.”

Pressure clamped down on my chest as I squeezed his hand.

Luc squinted as he returned the gesture. “And before this is over, a lot of lives are going to be taken. On both sides.” He looked over at me. “Are you ready for that, Evie? There are going to be more Sarahs. Enemies who became that way against their will. And there are going to be others who believe they’re on the right side of history.”

My stomach hollowed. “I have to be ready. I want to stop the Daedalus. I can’t do that if I don’t get my hands dirty.”

“You’re not going to get your hands dirty.” He angled his body toward me, his eyes meeting mine. “You’re going to get them bloody.”

“I know.” Another sharp dipping motion lit up my stomach, replacing the grumbling hunger.

His gaze searched mine as he lifted his other hand, placing the tips of his fingers to my cheek. “Soft heart,” he murmured. “I don’t want to see it hardened or destroyed.”

“I don’t, either.” I curled my hand around his wrist. “But if I did nothing, that would do worse things to my heart, Luc, and we don’t have any other choices here. We have to fight back.”

“We have choices, Peaches. We always do.” He stepped in closer. “We could disappear. I have other places, tucked away all over the world—places that would take the Daedalus decades to discover. We don’t have to do anything.”

It took me a moment to really hear what he was saying, because I sort of got stuck on the whole he-had-places-all-over-the-world part. “For real?”



One side of his lips kicked up. “I have a small villa in Greece.”

I blinked. “A small villa?”

He nodded. “Paris bought it a year or two before the invasion. You picked the location.”

“I…” It wasn’t exactly a surprise to hear that I would’ve picked Greece. As Evie, who I was now, I’d always wanted to visit there. “And you have other places?”

“I have a flat south of London and an apartment in Edinburgh,” he told me, and all I could do was stare. “There’s also the house in Puna’auia.”

“I don’t even know where that it is.”

“I can show you exactly where it is. Just say the word and we can disappear.” His head tilted. “We’d even take your friends if they wanted to go.”

There was an allure to what he offered, a seductive, powerful one. There’d be no bloody hands to worry about, no Jason Dasher or Daedalus, at least for decades, and decades was an eternity. We could disappear with the people we cared about.

But the world wouldn’t disappear with us. Neither would this virus or the Daedalus. They’d keep looking for us, and even if they didn’t find us, they’d find others. The world would keep tiptoeing down a path that would change everything forever.

I lowered my gaze. “All of this … it’s bigger than we are, Luc. If we disappeared and did nothing to stop this, I don’t know if I could live with myself.” Slowly, I looked up at him. “Is that what you want?”

“I’m incredibly selfish when it comes to you. You should know the answer to that.”

“You’re selfish, but you’re not apathetic,” I told him. “If you were, you’d forget those deaths you mentioned.”

The hue of his eyes churned as his lashes lowered, and I spoke to him in the way only he could hear. It would eat away at both of us.

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance