“No.” Zoe smiled, but I knew her smiles. She was struggling to keep it together. “I’m something far cooler than that.”
Daemon scoffed under his breath. “I’m an alien. She’s not as cool as I am.”
That earned him distrustful stares, but goodness, Daemon could lay the charm on. That easy grin of his, the one that flashed just the hint of dimples, seemed to be working on even the kids. Half of them lost the wary stare and instead looked curious.
Man, I said to Luc. He’s good.
Yeah, he is.
“Go with them,” Nate urged, sending me a nervous glance. “I’ve got to get Tabby.”
It took a little bit for Nate to convince them, especially the older kids, and all the while, unease blossomed in the pit of my stomach. Nate was like their unofficial leader. I didn’t expect him to let any of these kids out of his sight.
Something’s up, I sent to Luc, telling him what I knew. He wants these kids out of here. Can you pick up anything from him?
I’ve been listening the whole time, Luc replied. He’s scared. He just keeps repeating over and over “I can do this,” and he’s thinking about Tabby.
The unease grew. Nothing else?
He’s too afraid. It’s clouding his thoughts. Luc was silent for a moment. I can go deeper. Don’t know if you know that, but I could push beyond the fear, but he’ll feel that. I’ll do it, but if he freaks out—
I hadn’t known he could do that, and I wondered if it was something he didn’t do often, because I’d never felt him tinkering around in my head.
Picking up on surface thoughts isn’t hard, he told me, proving he’d done just that. But if someone is afraid, feeling heightened emotions, or using shields, then you have to get through that.
Don’t risk it. If he feels it and freaks out, it will scare the kids. I scanned the darkness ahead once more. We just need to prepare for anything.
We are, came his response.
Eventually, Zoe and Emery had control of the kids, with the help of Jamal and Nia. Nate had to reassure them again that he was coming, and then I had to, because I was the only face they barely recognized. Then Zoe and Emery were leading them back out the way we’d come in.
“They’ll be okay with them?” Nate asked the moment they were out of earshot.
I faced him. “What’s going on, Nate?”
“What?” he said.
As Daemon and Luc exchanged a look, I stepped forward, keeping my voice low. “You’ve given me the impression that you wouldn’t let those kids out of your sight and you just handed them over like it was nothing?”
Nate’s one good eye darted from me to Luc and then to the others. “I just need to get Tabby. She’s—”
“Shit,” Luc muttered, and I felt the charge hit the air the second before the veins under his eyes filled with white light.
Stumbling back a step, Nate almost toppled over. “You said he wasn’t a Luxen.”
“He’s not,” I said.
“I’m something very, very different.” Luc took a step toward the boy. “So, you’re going to want to think before you do what you’re about to do next.”
“What’s going on?” Daemon asked.
“He’s about to lead us right into a trap,” Luc said, and my heart skipped a beat. “Isn’t that right?”
“Nate,” I whispered, my chest seizing in the painful grip of disappointment.
“I…” Nate’s face crumbled. “I’m sorry. Evie, I’m sorry. I didn’t have a choice. He has Tabby. He has my little sister.”40“Your sister?” I exclaimed. I hadn’t known he had a sister. “You never told me you had a sister.” I stepped toward him—
Nate flinched as if I’d raised my hand. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. You’ve been so nice, but Tabby—she’s the only family I’ve got left. You met her. She was the one who loves—”
“Creamed corn,” I interrupted, recalling the first time he’d been at the house. “That little girl who grabbed the can is your sister.”
“Yes. I didn’t even think he knew she was my sister. She must’ve slipped up and said something. I’m sorry, but he’s got my sister, and he’ll hurt her.” Nate dropped to his knees, clasping his hands together. “I’m sorry. I should’ve told you everything when I saw you, but I’m scared. I didn’t want to do this, but he’ll hurt her. I know he will.”
Luc moved, and Nate swung his head toward him. He knelt so they were eye level. “I can read your mind, so it’s best to continue being honest. I’ll know when you’re lying.”
Nate gaped at Luc, and it was obvious that he’d never known that was possible. Anger flashed through me, directed at both Nate and Morton, but I wrapped my hand around Nate’s arm, tugging him to his feet. “Tell us everything.”
His lower lip trembled. “You’re going to hate me.”