“Because Blake should not be a part of that world or this world,” Kat said.
The argument continued around us, running in a vicious circle until Zouhour said, “It sounds like he has done enough in his past to warrant a death sentence, but we’re not just talking about him. Chris has been held hostage more than half his life. He has done nothing to any of you. We kill Blake, we kill him. Do any of you want that on your conscience?”
“It’s a weight I’m willing to carry,” Daemon said.
Neither Zouhour nor Cekiah seemed to have expected that answer. I wouldn’t have, either, if I hadn’t seen Daemon’s anger. I still had no idea how to feel about this. They were talking about capital punishment, but without a trial, and I’d always been conflicted by the idea of a life for a life. Part of me thought that some people had committed crimes so atrocious that they forfeited their right to life, but the other part? How did taking a life make things right? But then I thought of Jason Dasher. He didn’t deserve to live.
This was all too real, though. Beforehand, I would never have to seriously consider the idea of being a part of the decision to end someone’s life. Now, I was witness to it. I guessed that was a part of the normalcy of my old life that I missed.
Glancing over at Luc, I saw he was watching everyone, but I could tell he was barely following the conversation. I knew he had no problem with the whole eye-for-an-eye thing, but he also wanted Blake alive, at least for a time. It looked like he’d get what he wanted. Except right now, as I studied his profile, I couldn’t tell what he wanted. His expression was so unreadable.
His lashes lowered and lifted. Yes?
Are you okay?
There was a beat of silence, and I heard his response. Yeah.
Heaviness settled in my stomach as I stared at him. I didn’t need to hear his voice or see his expression to know that he was lying. What Daemon had said—what I had said—was still tearing at him. I didn’t need to read minds to know that.
You want to get out of here? I asked.
Actually, I do need some fresh air.
I started to rise, but his voice stopped me.
Alone. I’ll meet you back at the house. Don’t wait up.
And with that, he left the room without a single look back.36I did wait up.
How could I not?
Having left shortly after Luc, I waited for hours, but Luc didn’t show. It had to be several hours past midnight before I finally caved to the exhausting worrying that had me pacing the length of the dark house.
At some point, I’d felt the bed shift and the warm weight of his arm settling over my waist. I’d started to turn to him.
“Go back to sleep,” he’d whispered, his arm tightening around me. “We’ll talk in the morning.”
Half-asleep and surrounded by Luc’s familiar scent, the smell of pine and fresh air, I’d done just as he’d requested. I wished I hadn’t. Luc was gone by the time I woke, and it was now past lunch. I hadn’t seen him since, but a box of hair color was on the dresser, the shade labeled rich mocha. I’d left it there, thinking now wasn’t the time for a makeover.
Concern wasn’t just a shadow in the back of my mind. It was a full-blown, tangible entity that made it difficult to pay attention to the conversation around me. I knew exactly what was keeping Luc away from me. It was what Daemon had said the day before.
It was what I had said to him.
Will that be worth causing your friends even more pain?
That was what I’d said to him, and I couldn’t take those words back. I wouldn’t. Those words were the truth. Luc’s attempts to keep me alive had put others in harm’s way. They had hurt people. They had led to death, and that was something he had to live with—we both had to live with—but I didn’t hold it against him. I couldn’t regret how far he had gone to keep me alive. Even without reading my mind, Luc had to know that. He had to know that if it had been him, I would’ve done the same. It didn’t matter who I used to be or who I was now, I knew I would’ve done anything to save his life.
“Do you really think they’re going to kill them?” Heidi asked from where she sat next to Emery. We were outside by the firepit. They had taken up the love seat, and Zoe was curled up in one of the other chairs.
Looking around, it was almost easy to pretend we were in any pretty garden and things were normal. Or at least the new normal. We were all together finally. Only we were missing James, and they were discussing whether or not Blake would be executed.