Those little figurines always creeped me out. Like, little kid angels were kind of wrong.
The angel theme continued in paintings that adorned the walls. Two chubby thinking angels that also looked like children. A much more serious one of the archangel Michael battling demons hung above the television. Several smaller paintings of guardian angels watching over children and happy couples dotted the walls.
My lips pursed as I eyed the framed photos of Labrador retrievers with furry angel wings sitting on the end tables.
There were a lot of angels but no photos of who’d lived here. My gaze crawled over the walls, finding the outline of where pictures must’ve hung at one time.
I wondered if Dee had done that to prepare the house for Luc and me or if a team of people had gone through the habitable homes, removing the traces of those who’d lived there before to make it easier for others to take their places.
Either way, I couldn’t help but think that if I’d been a part of that team, I would’ve probably taken some of those angel paintings down and stored them where they wouldn’t be staring at the person moving in.
I knew why I was staring at the apparent angel obsession on display. I was trying not to freak out over what Zoe had said. There was no reason to worry. Luc wasn’t going to do it again.
“Are you going to tell me what Eaton had to tell you and Luc?” Zoe asked. “Actually, on second thought, I’m not sure my brain can handle much more.”
“Well, get ready for your brain to implode,” I said, and then I told her what Eaton had told us. She was just as shocked and disturbed to learn that Dasher was alive and all the rest that I shared.
“God.” Dropping the carrot, she plopped her elbows on the table. “Just when you think the Daedalus can’t get any worse, they show up just to prove you wrong.”
“I know,” I murmured, hating the heaviness that settled over me. “I wish Heidi was here right now. She’d probably string together insults from five different countries in her anger—”
“And it would make us laugh, because not only would she probably pronounce them wrong but she’d be so serious about it, too.” Zoe smiled.
“Like when she called my ex a shitboot in Swedish?” I said, laughing. “God, I really do miss her. I hope she and Emery are okay.”
“They’ll be here soon,” Zoe assured me. “Emery is smart. Both of them are. They’ll be okay. It’ll just take them a bit to get here.”
I nodded, dropping my hands to my lap. “I know.” I couldn’t let myself think anything else.
The humor faded as Zoe’s lips thinned, and I knew she had returned to thinking about what I’d shared. “Eaton might believe it all started somewhere good, but I don’t believe that for one second. He wasn’t on the inside like Luc and me.”
I was more inclined to believe Zoe’s perception.
“World domination.” She balled her hands into tight fists before slowly unclenching them. “Sounds stupid and cliché, like a plot of an Avengers movie, but it’s not when you really think about it.”
I nodded. “You know I wouldn’t have believed any of this stuff—that our government was capable of this. And I like to think, pre-Luc, I wasn’t all that naïve, but I wouldn’t have believed it.”
“You weren’t naïve,” she agreed. “And you also weren’t on the Luxen-hating bandwagon even though you’d believed your father had died in the war, killed by one of them.”
Anger and disgust slithered like a viper through me. I hated that I’d wasted even a minute feeling guilty over not remembering what my father’s voice sounded like.
“I think it’s just hard to really accept that people you trust—people you need to trust, who are supposed to be looking out for the health and wealth of their community—can be so evil,” I said finally. “Even when you see evidence of it and know that people are capable of anything.”
“It’s just different when you see it happening with your own eyes. I think there’s a part of our psyche, the human part of us, that automatically wants to believe the best in people and in situations. Maybe because it’s easier or less scary. Maybe it’s even a survival tool. I don’t know,” Zoe said. “But the thing is, there are groups of people out there who believe the one percent control the world. Like some sort of shadow government is behind the wheel, and in a way, they’re right. The public doesn’t know the Daedalus exist, and that that organization has their hands in everything, but they haven’t been able to stretch their reach to seize absolute control on a global level, not to a point where the impact on ordinary people’s lives is no longer hidden and easy to overlook. To do that, they’ll need to get rid of anyone who can fight back and then move on to humans they find undesirable. They could reshape the law, the government, and society to what most benefits them.”