The Brightest Night (Origin 3) - Page 149

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Morton stared at me for several moments. “I told you all. Didn’t I? I told each and every one of you.” He scanned the groups of kids. “They can look like anyone. Even a harmless, little blond girl.” He took another step back. “We don’t need any help from your kind, and we don’t want it.”

“So, you’ve been going out and getting food and supplies, and not just one of these kids?” I asked.

The fingers of his right hand curled into his palm. “As I said, we don’t need or want your help. We don’t want or need to see you again, and if you think for one second of coming back here with any of your other freak friends, don’t bother. We won’t be here. I hope you remember the way out,” he said. “Because you need to get going.”

I didn’t move, not until Nate, surprisingly, tugged on my arm. “It’s okay. Come on.”

I held Morton’s gaze as Nate pulled on my arm again. I let the boy pull me away, turning just as I saw the man smirk once more. I didn’t trust myself to even speak until we were outside the building.

“Who is that to you all?” I demanded the moment we reached the middle of the barren street.

“You lied to me,” he shot back in return. “You said you weren’t an alien.”

“I’m not an alien.” I stared down at him. “I’m just not completely human.”

He threw up his hands. “And that makes a difference?”

“No, it doesn’t. Not really, because there’s nothing wrong with being an alien. Just because I’m not a hundred percent human doesn’t make me evil or untrustworthy or a freak,” I told him. “Who is that man to you all?”

Nate glared back at me for a moment, but then he shook his head as he stared back at the building. Jamal and Nia were standing there. “He’s one of the adults that’s still, you know, alive.”

Aware of the other two’s approach, I asked, “They were more adults?”

“My parents,” Nia answered, coming to stop a few feet from us, her fingers toying with the edge of the bandage Jamal had wrapped around her hand. “They got sick about two years ago, died one after the other.”

“My grandma was with me,” Jamal added, his throat working. “She got sick, too. Cut her hand or something, and yeah, it took her down.”

No wonder he’d been so attentive to Nia’s wound.

“There were a few others, some who I guess lived on the streets like Morton before,” Nate said. “But yeah, they’re all dead. Most didn’t last the first year.”

How convenient for Morton. “Does he ever go out and get the food? The supplies?”

None of them answered, and my suspicious were confirmed. This man was using them.

“Has he hurt any of you?” I looked at Jamal. “Did that to your eye?”

“No,” Nate answered. “It’s not like that.”

I wasn’t sure if I believed him or not. “What I’m about to say is probably going to come as a surprise, and it’s also going to be painful to hear, but it needs to be said. The Luxen can heal humans—things that aren’t caused by internal issues. Any single one of those Luxen who are right there, who aren’t evil freaks or whatever, would’ve healed your grandma’s cut on her hand, saving her life. Your parents? The others?” My gaze flicked to Nia and Nate. “They may still have gotten sick, but I can tell you that they would’ve had access to some care and would’ve been in a better place to recover. I hate saying that, because none of this is your fault, and I know all of you probably saw some horrible stuff during the invasion, but the Luxen and everyone who live there are not bad people. That man in there is feeding you all some bullshit.”

Jamal shot a nervous glance at Nate, but Nia’s lips twitched when I cursed.

“You all don’t know me. Not really, but believe me when I tell you that if the Luxen in that community wanted to hurt you—if I wanted to hurt you—none of you would be standing here.”

Nate’s eyes shot back to me. “Is that a threat?”

“No, it’s me pointing out that if I were going to hurt you, I would’ve already done it. If I wanted to hurt that man—and I use the word man generously—I would’ve already done it. And if I don’t want to hurt you and want to help you, why in the world would you think the others wouldn’t feel the same? I would get down on my knees and beg you all to believe me when I say not all Luxen are evil body snatchers. Just like not all humans are bad people.” I took a deep breath. “We can help you.”

“We’re fine here,” Nate replied.


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance
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