The Brightest Night (Origin 3) - Page 167

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Irritation rose. “Well, good thing you don’t get to make decisions for me.”

An emotion flickered across his features, gone too fast for me to track what it was. His expression smoothed out. “Come on.”

Ignoring the tickle of unease and the ravaging flood of uncertainty, I followed him down the hall and toward the windowless door situated at the end, tucked beside an alcove that featured a glass case I imagined once showcased books. The hallway was dark and cramped, and even my new special alien eyes couldn’t make out a step from the darkness, but that didn’t last long. The glow of the Source spilled out around Luc’s hand, lighting the way. He started down the steps.

Telling myself yet again that now wasn’t the time to talk to him, I opened my mouth and blurted out, “Are you okay?”

“Yes,” came his answer, and I knew it was lie.

“You sure?” I asked as we rounded the corner. “I’m worried.”

He was quiet for several moments, stopping when he reached the next landing. He faced me, the glow softening his features. “If you’re going to come in here and talk to Blake, you can’t be worried about me. I’ll know when he’s lying, but you won’t, and I might not be able to say anything before the damage is done. And then there is the truth,” he said. “You have to be present in what we’re doing. You understand?”

My heart turned over, but I nodded. “I do.”

His gaze searched mine, and then I sent him the message again. I do.

“Okay.” Luc turned, and the door creaked open.

Lanterns lined the walls of the basement, casting enough light that we didn’t need to use Luc’s hand like a flashlight. We walked past packed goods, boxed and labeled. I wasn’t paying attention to any of it as the door at the end of the room opened into a space lit the same. I wasn’t thinking of anything, because there was a cell. There were several of them, and all of them glimmered in the low light like they’d been doused with glitter.

“Onyx,” Luc explained. “The bars are coated with onyx and diamonds to prevent Luxen from escaping.”

“How did they make them?”

“I believe the bars already existed. They were moved here by humans,” he said, and I couldn’t help but think of who those bars had held at one time. But I needed to be focused on who the bars held now.

Blake was in the center cell, alone. He was sitting on a bed, one leg curled up, the other stretched out and resting on the floor. I looked around, seeing that the other cells were empty.

Chris is being held in the other room, Luc’s voice filtered through my thoughts. They didn’t want them together.

That made sense.

Blake lifted his head as we approached. A half-eaten sandwich sat on a plate beside the bed, next to a bottle of water. He didn’t smile or show any emotion. “I’ve been waiting for you two.”37“Sorry to keep you waiting.” Luc stopped about a foot from the bars. He didn’t sound sorry at all.

Blake sensed that, because he smirked. “I see you haven’t changed at all.”

“I think if you have five seconds outside the cell, you’ll find that even more people haven’t changed,” Luc replied.

The smirk faded. “I guess Daemon knows I’m here.”

“He does.”

He focused on the ceiling. That, too, shimmered with chips of onyx. “And Kat?”

“If I were you, I wouldn’t even think her name, let alone say it.”

“Yeah.” He exhaled heavily. “They want me dead.”

“Of course they do,” Luc answered.

“But that’s not why you’re here.” He lowered his gaze.

“Nope,” Luc said as I stepped forward. “The story is that you’re alive because Chris healed you.”

“I did die. More than once. Kat kicked my ass, and I’ve got the scars to prove it.” He gestured to his face. “They don’t stop there. My whole body is covered in them.”

“Am I supposed to feel sorry for you? If so, spoiler alert, I don’t.”

“I don’t expect you to feel sorry,” he answered. “Chris healed me. Brought me back, and then I was moved to another location, and if you want to know why they let her think I was dead, I have no idea.”

“How did Chris heal you if you died?” I asked. “Wouldn’t that have meant he would’ve died?”

Blake’s gaze slid to me. “Good catch, but Luxen don’t always die immediately when the hybrid they mutated dies. Some linger for a couple of minutes. Luckily—or unluckily—Chris lingered, but it’s not like he didn’t have help. The Daedalus kept restarting my heart and pumping more blood into me.”

I glanced at Luc.

“He’s telling the truth,” Luc said.

“Why would they keep you alive?” I asked. “From what I can remember about the Daedalus, they don’t tolerate failure, and if Kat beat you, you failed.”

“They thought I was still useful,” he said.

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance