What surrounded him was the Source, a pure energy that was at the very core of the Luxen, making them so dangerous, so fascinating. The breathtaking power could give life, and it could end it in a nanosecond.
More times than I cared to admit, I’d found myself staring at him in a sort of astonished fixation, attempting to figure out what it was about the lines and angles of his face or how his features were pieced together that made him so beautiful. Everyone got a little lost staring at him when they first saw them, so I didn’t feel too shallow. Male. Female. Young. Old. Those interested. Those not. All were affected to some degree, and right now, when he no longer hid what he was, there was a wildness to his beauty, primitive and raw.
Luc was as lethal as he was awe-inspiring, and I loved him—I was in love with him, and I knew deep down that I’d felt the same when I’d been Nadia. Everything about him fit everything about me, and what I felt for him now had nothing to do with his appearance or because there were residual emotions left behind from a different life. It was because of him. Love took root with his cheesy, horrible pickup lines and silly gifts that really weren’t gifts at all. Love grew each time he looked at me like I was the most precious and cherished being in the entire universe. Love spread with his enduring patience that came with no ties or stimulations. He was there for me, always had been, with no expectation that I would feel anything for him. And I fell in love with him all over again when I realized that when he sincerely believed I’d never return to him, he still hadn’t stopped loving me.
Until Luc, I didn’t even know it was possible to love this deeply, this endlessly, and it was equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. The mere idea of losing him …
A shudder took me even as I reminded myself that very few things could gain an upper hand on Luc. I’d seen what Luc was capable of firsthand. Turning human and Luxen alike to nothing more than scattered ashes with just a touch. Tossing people like Frisbees with just a wave of his hand. Human or not, people didn’t just fear Luc’s strength. They respected it. He wasn’t the alpha. He was the omega, and I didn’t doubt for a second that one of the only reasons the world wasn’t already under the control of the Daedalus was because Luc had turned on his creators.
But now one of them was somehow alive—the one who had made sure my life as Nadia, my life with Luc, had ended.
“I saw it.” Luc’s voice was thick and ragged with absolute power churning inside him. “I saw it with my own two, fully functioning eyes. Sylvia shot Jason Dasher.”
“Just like you believed the Daedalus was truly gone?” the general countered, facing us. He was an older man, maybe in his sixties, with silver hair cropped close to his skull and a face lined with experience. A man who’d spent his life serving his country and should be enjoying his days in blissful retirement in someplace like Arizona or Florida. Instead, he was here, in what was now referred to as Zone 3, hidden among humans the government had decided weren’t worth the stress of evacuating, unregistered Luxen, humans that Luxen had mutated—known as hybrids—and other Origins who’d escape the Daedalus.
“That with the destruction of the Origin Project, the Daedalus was simply no more?” Eaton said, referencing the program responsible for the creation of the Origins.
Luc went utterly still, and my skin pebbled in response. “Do you think I’m foolish?”
General Eaton’s jaw flexed.
“Or naïve?” Luc’s voice was soft now, scarily so, and when he spoke again, I really hoped that Eaton answered and did so wisely. “Well, do you?”
“No,” Eaton clipped out. “I don’t think that.”
“Good to hear that. I’d hate to have to change your mind.” Luc had moved forward a foot or two or three, and I hadn’t even seen him move. “I never believed they were completely eradicated, nor did I think their goals would end with them. Humans will always want to be on the top of the food chain, and they will never stop seeking power.”
The way Luc said humans made it clear that even though the mother he’d never met was human, he didn’t view himself as one, and a last name hadn’t changed that.
The gnawing ache in my stomach pulsed as he said, “But every facility I could find is nothing but ash now, along with a vast number of those who ran the Daedalus. I knew the Daedalus was still alive and well the moment that girl that Evie went to school with did the impossible and we found those serums at her house.”