The Brightest Night (Origin 3) - Page 17

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The sound of my name, my real name, was a bomb exploding deep within my mind, shattering open the locks and bursting open sealed doors.

Energy poured out of me, crackling through the forest and filling the air with static. Power filled the damp, musty space, licking over my skin and raising the hairs at the nape of my neck. The air warped—no, it was the trees doing the warping.

Groaning under the weight of the energy, the seams of the sky above stretched. Fine cracks formed, and a dusting of snow drifted to my bare feet. In the back of my mind, I knew this wasn’t right. The sky couldn’t crack. The dream and the reality flashed back and forth. I was standing in a forest, and then I was on my back, in a bed, and then the hard ground was rattling under my feet. My gaze flicked up to where he stood. Fury funneled into me, a whipping, whirling storm. I wanted to kill this man, to take back everything he’d stolen and to stop him from taking any more. Every cell in my body focused on him. I needed to kill him, because all those still tightly shrouded memories were expanding and shuddering, and they filled my mouth with the taste of blood and terror, of humiliation and the throat-clogging dirtiness of defeat and hopelessness. Those repressed memories screamed in rage and pulsed with uncontrollable hatred for every dark and soul-destroying deed the most hidden parts of my subconscious remembered even if I couldn’t. They choked and smothered me, squeezing so tight until they crowded out every good feeling or thought I’d ever had and only they remained.

I hated him.

I hated myself.

I hated all of it.

The air heated, and at any moment I expected the trunks of old trees and the coiled shrubs to combust. The forest would ignite like a matchbox if that happened, taking everything in it in a fury of flames. Or the trees would simply cave in, burying us under the rubble of bark, dirt, and rock. Wind whipped through the trees, lifting my hair off my shoulders.

“That’s it,” he said, that voice of his still in my head, still digging in, and then I was no longer in the forest, but in a room. White walls. White light. A man standing before me. Fitted, plain white shirt. Dark, olive-green trousers. Brown hair dotted with gray.

A churning mass of shadow and light, a kaleidoscope of dark and light surrounded my arms and then my entire body. My feet were no longer on the floor.

“You’re confused. Uncertain. Afraid. Most of all, you’re so very angry.”

“Yes,” I seethed, my voice an echo of a long-hidden memory. The shadows continued to swirl around me, a white luminous glow streaking through the darkness like bursts of lightning.

“Good. Use it.” He smiled, showing no teeth. “Take that fear and that anger and use it.”

“Evie,” a different voice intruded, softer and warmer. “Wake up. Wake up now.”

“Use it, or it will swallow you whole,” he said, staring at me with no fear. “And if it doesn’t, I will take back the life I gave you. I will take his life. You know I will. You know I can.”

Opening my mouth, I screamed the rage and the terror—

“Evie!” A hand clamped down on mine, and a jolt of electricity pimpled my skin as it shorted out my senses. The touch shattered the white room and the devil who stood before me, yanking me out of the nightmare and into reality.

My eyes flew open, and I saw I was in the bedroom. Lit only by slivers of moonlight, I was face-to-face with the blades of a ceiling fan spinning far faster than I thought it could, given there was no electricity to power it.

The hand on my arm was real, and it tightened, fingers imprinting on my skin. “You’re safe, Evie. You’re here. You’re awake, and you’re safe.”

Was I?

The choking, smothering feeling lingered as I stared at the fan, wondering how I was so close to it. “I saw him. He was in the woods with me, telling me only he mattered. That he was my maker.” I sucked in several ragged breaths. “Then I was in this room, and I saw him.”

“You’re not there anymore, and he’s not here.” Luc’s voice remained soft and sure. “He’s nothing to you.”

The fan spun even faster. In the darkness, the bedroom door creaked, swinging open and then closed. “He made me,” I whispered, squeezing my eyes shut.

“He did not make you.”

“You don’t understand.” My thoughts were running at a rapid clip, making sense of the nightmare that had combined multiple realties together. “He made me do things.”

“Evie, look at me.” Luc’s voice hardened into a tone that brokered no room for argument. “Look at me.”

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance