“I don’t know. It was impressively descriptive.” Daemon grinned. “Look, feed your girl, and then come see me. This conversation can’t be delayed forever.”
“There’s no point in hiding from it,” Luc replied. “It’s as inevitable as you getting on my nerves.”
“If I had feelings, you might’ve hurt them.”
“If I cared, that would concern me, but since I don’t, you fill in the blanks.”
Daemon chuckled even though I was watching both of them with wide eyes. Sometimes I wondered how these two hadn’t seriously maimed each other yet. They had the weirdest friendship.
As Daemon and Luc went another round attempting to out-snark each other, I turned slightly, toward the city. We were on higher ground, which afforded a better view of what remained of Houston. I was struck again by how the city deserved to be captured before decay brought the buildings down. Swallowing a sigh, I started to turn back to Luc and Daemon.
Something snagged my attention. Unsure of what I saw at first, I squinted. I didn’t know what it was, but as I scanned the landscape, sweeping over the skyscrapers on the outskirts of the city, I saw it.
A flash of light, easily mistaken for the glare of the sun off one of the windows high up in the sky, but it flashed three times in short bursts before a longer pause and then two more.
The sun didn’t do that.
Out of the corner of my vision, I saw another burst of light coming from across the street, kitty-corner to the other building. Light flashed in a steady rhythm from a window lower down.
He turned from Daemon as soon as I called his name, but he was focused on me. “Not at me,” I told him, glancing back. “Those two buildings.”
Luc did as I asked. “What?”
Doing the same, Daemon stepped forward. “What are we looking at?”
“You guys don’t see the…” I trailed off, gaze darting from one building to the next. The flashing lights were gone.
“What am I supposed to be seeing?” Luc asked.
“I saw…” I waited to see if the lights would appear, but they didn’t. “I saw lights flashing in the windows of those two buildings.” I pointed them out to them.
“I don’t see anything like that.” Luc’s brows furrowed. “Just the glare of the sun off the windows.”
“That wasn’t a glare. It was a steady flash in both windows at different times, almost like—” I cut myself off before I said, Almost like the lights were communicating with each other, because that sounded weird.
“Maybe the sunlight was catching something on the ground and it was bouncing off the windows. There’s a lot of debris left in the city, along with abandoned cars,” Daemon suggested. “And it’s windy, so God only knows what’s blowing around down there, but no one’s there. Not even scavenger teams. There’s nothing left of any value.”
Luc nodded. “That or aliens. It’s always that or aliens.”
Daemon snorted as I rolled my eyes, but no matter how long I stared at the buildings, no flashing light appeared, and neither did a weird reflective glare. Daemon and Luc had to be right. It was the glare of the sun or a trick of the eye.
Because what else could be responsible in a city abandoned and dead?* * *Luc did end up “feeding his girl” with the most amazing charbroiled hamburger from ground meat provided, interestingly enough, from Daemon. He cooked it out on the little firepit that sat in the backyard someone had put a lot of effort into. Pansies that almost matched Luc’s eyes flowed in abundance along the wooden privacy fence. Orangey-red marigolds bloomed in raised flower beds. Pale pink snapdragons blossomed along the flagstone pathway. There were other flowers, some red and some yellow that I didn’t recognize, but it was beautiful, and I wished I knew how to tend to flowers.
Once, I managed to kill one of those tiny cactus gardens.
The firepit and an outdoor couch with deep red cushions sat in a small patio situated along the back of the secluded property. Faded metal signs designed as weathervanes tacked to the fence. As I wandered through the garden while Luc fiddled with the pit, I wondered who was taking care of this. The flower beds were free of weeds, and heads of the dead plants had been plucked away. Even the grass here had been relatively trimmed, and I figured the old-school reel mower propped against the fence was responsible for that.
There had been a few fresh slices of homemade bread sealed in the kitchen pantry, and Luc and I ended up turning our burgers into bread tacos. They hit the spot.
So did half of the second burger I ended up sharing with Luc.
I kept expecting Zoe to show up, but she didn’t, and when I asked where she might be, all Luc said was, “I believe she is with Grayson.”