The Brightest Night (Origin 3) - Page 172

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“See, that’s where you don’t know me as well as you think you do,” he shot back. “I didn’t care enough about others to not set things in motion that led to Kat being tortured and Paris being killed. I didn’t care enough to give you back your phone and let you be. The moment I decided I couldn’t—that I wouldn’t—walk away from you again, everything that has happened since then has happened because of that.”

I gaped at him. “You have no idea what would’ve happened if you hadn’t made that decision.”

“I know Kent would still be alive. Or in the very least, his friends wouldn’t have had to watch him die like that. I know that Clyde would’ve lived to see another day, because my head would’ve been in the game and I would’ve gotten him and Chas out before we were raided,” he argued. “There are more examples, but most importantly, you would never know the amount of blood that drips from my hands from what I’ve done to ensure that you’re standing here, right in front of me.”

My breath stuttered. “You do realize all of what you just said also puts all that death, all that blood, on me?”

“No. It doesn’t. It never has touched you, because you never made those choices. I did.”

“That’s not true!” I took a deep breath. “You didn’t set out to hurt them, or did you?”

“That doesn’t change that it happened. It doesn’t change that there has to be something wrong with me,” he spat out, stunning me. “Do you know what I did all last night? All this morning? I walked and walked, trying to understand what they did to me to make me this way. To make me not care about anyone else—to make it okay for me to do the things I’ve done. Things that have hurt people. Things that have gotten people killed,” he said, his hands opening. “Because there are more moments than not where I don’t even feel remotely human. That if not for what I feel for you, I would be a monster. But I am one.” He drew back a step, his eyes glittering. “I have to be one, because I sleep damn good at night, Evie. Those wounds I’ve inflicted and the deaths I’ve caused weigh on me, but they haven’t changed me. I’d do it all over again. I would.”

Oh my God.

Cracks spread across my heart; the tears crowding my eyes not for me but for him. How could he think any of this about himself?

The worst part was this wasn’t something that just sprang up overnight. What Daemon had said had only pulled the trigger on the loaded gun that had always been there.

Shame burned my skin as I eased my fingers open. He was selfish? Maybe he was, but so was I, and my selfishness was rooted in self-preservation while his stemmed from my preservation. My own immaturity was a shock to my system, and I was well aware of how immature I could be at any given moment, but this was beyond that. It was as if I’d dipped my head under scalding water.

This was the cause of those quiet moments when he looked as if he were caught in some kind of personal nightmare he couldn’t wake from. This was what he couldn’t hide in his eyes even if his features became an unreadable mask. I’d been so wrapped up in my own problems, my own baggage, I didn’t take the time to really check out his, because if I had, I would’ve seen this.

Suddenly, I thought I really understood what Grayson had meant when he’d said Luc couldn’t always be unstoppable. I’d thought he’d meant physically, but he was talking about something far more important. I just hadn’t seen it. Grayson had, though.

Hindsight had such perfect vision, didn’t it?

“I’m sorry,” I whispered.

“You’re sorry?” He shook his head in disbelief. “What do you have to apologize for?”

“Everything?”

He jerked as if someone had landed a blow, and my body was moving without me even realizing it. I went to him, and when he reared back, moved to put space between us, I wouldn’t allow it. I placed my hands on his cheeks, stopping him. I didn’t use the Source. I didn’t need to. Luc always stopped for me.

I stared up into his eyes as I flattened my palms against his cheeks. “There is nothing wrong with you.”

His pupils shone like bright stars. “Evie—”

“You have done monstrous things, but so has Daemon. So has his brother and half the people we know. So have I.” Dampness clung to my lashes. I stepped into him, until the heat of his body beat against mine. “You do care. I’ve seen the weight you carry, but I should’ve really seen it.”

Luc trembled as his hands folded around my wrists. He could do anything with his strength. Push me away. Hold me back. But the way he held my wrists felt as if he were holding me there. “I want to believe you. You have no idea.” His voice was thick with raw emotion. “But sometimes I think I was more of a success than Nancy Husher ever realized.”


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance
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