Despite the fact I wasn’t entirely sure Grayson was at all familiar with emotions like empathy or compassion, I knew Kent’s loss had hit him hard, and I hoped Zoe was able to comfort him …
Without causing him physical harm.
Luc didn’t head over to Daemon’s when we finished cleaning up after our late lunch like I’d thought he might. Not that I was complaining. The idea of being alone in this stranger’s house with only my own head for company wasn’t exactly something I was looking forward to. He ended up coaxing me into the bedroom and into the bed, his arms settling around me and holding me close to his side, my cheek resting on his chest. Thoughts of the strange light I’d seen in the city fell into the background as we talked about what we’d learned from Eaton.
It was while we were lying there and there was a lull as I stared at Diesel, the pet rock Luc had given me, that I asked something that had taken up residency in the back of my mind ever since we’d left Eaton’s. “What do you think the Daedalus would’ve done if you hadn’t accepted me when Paris brought me to you? Like, if it didn’t work, would they have kept finding people to put in your path?”
I wrinkled my nose against his chest. “I know it’s random, but Eaton made it sound like you and I meeting was planned from the beginning.”
He was quiet for a bit. “I don’t know how that would be possible, and it’s not that I doubt their ability to orchestrate some screwed-up things, but how would they have played a role in you running away?”
“And you not knowing about it,” I added.
“Well, there was some stuff about you that I didn’t know. You were still loud then, but you rarely thought about your father or what made you run, and I didn’t push.” His chest rose with a deep breath. “It doesn’t matter what they would’ve done if I’d turned you away. I didn’t. The rest is history.”
“I know there’s no point dwelling on it, but it’s just—I don’t know. It’s a big what-if.”
“What-ifs are the STDs of the mind,” he said, squeezing me when I laughed. “Seriously. They’re pointless, and they end with you wanting to take a wire brush to your brain. Don’t waste your time there.”
I sighed. “You’re right.”
“I always am.”
“I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s annoying when you are.” I smiled when he huffed, and then he changed the subject.
Somewhere after discussing if Luc could take out an army of Trojans and me suggesting he could take the threat a bit more seriously, I must’ve fallen asleep.
Because I was suddenly back in the woods outside of Atlanta, surrounded by masked men with guns, but it wasn’t raining this time, and there was no sound.
Heart racing, I looked around the small clearing at the men who did not move and did not breathe. They were frozen, arms outstretched and fingers on triggers of guns aimed at me.
“This is a dream,” I said into the eerie silence. “I just need to wake up. I need—”
My heart stuttered at the voice echoing above me and in me, coming from nowhere and everywhere. A voice that wasn’t mine. A voice I now recognized.
Spinning around, I searched the trees and the shadows they cast, only seeing more men with guns—men I knew I’d already killed.
“Only me,” he repeated.
I whirled, crying out as a flare of pain lanced the back of my skull before easing off.
“My opinions.” His voice echoed through the forest, through me and my own thoughts. Every muscle tensed in my body as my hands curled into fists at my sides.
“My needs. My demands.” His tone steady, oddly pleasant. “My opinions. My needs. My demands. Only I matter, your maker. Do not ever disappoint me.”
“Never,” many voices whispered back, a legion of them, and mine was one of them.
Pressure clamped down on my chest, squeezing and twisting. I started to speak, but my mouth was so dry it was dust as the masked men shattered into glimmering, golden ash.
A man appeared between two heavy trees, nothing more than a shadow, but I knew it was Jason. He was pulling himself out from the recesses of my subconscious, where years of memories had been buried.
“No,” I bit out, hands spasming as my skin flashed hot and then cold. “You’re not my maker.”
“I pulled you from the grasp of death and gave you life.” His voice was fingers crawling inside my mind. I could feel them slipping over me, searching for a way in. “What would that make me if not your maker?”
“Nothing.” Each breath was too heavy. “It makes you nothing.”
“Do not disappoint me,” he said as if I hadn’t spoken. “Not when I have such beautiful plans for you, Nadia.”