“But you and everyone who came here to help are unique,” I told her, meaning it. “You didn’t stick your head in the sand because it didn’t involve you. A lot of people I know, a lot of humans, would’ve done that.”
“Thank you, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that there was a self-serving angle to my altruism,” she replied. “It afforded a perfect way to fly under the radar.”
Zoe laughed. “Yeah, you could’ve flown under the radar by leaving the U.S. like many of the Luxen did.”
I blinked. That was the first I’d heard of that. “They did?”
Cekiah laughed, the sound rich and throaty. “Many fled to Canada when they pulled out of the ARP agreement, along with several of the European countries. I considered it,” she admitted, and the humor dancing in her eyes faded into shadows. “But the nightmares—they were real. I wouldn’t have been able to live myself.”
“And it won’t matter how far anyone goes,” Zoe said, “if the Daedalus succeeds.”
“True.” Cekiah stepped forward. If she was surprised to hear about the Daedalus, she didn’t show it. “I saw you two outside and wanted to say hello, but I won’t keep either of you much longer.” Finally pulling her gaze from mine, she looked pointedly at Zoe. “You, however, had better carve out some time so we can properly catch up.”
“Of course,” Zoe murmured, and it was evident she was pleased to hear the request.
Those powerful tawny eyes flicked back to me. “I need to be blunt with you.”
Zoe stiffened, but I held myself still, unbelievably so. I had a sinking feeling I knew what was coming.
“Luc spoke with me about who you are, who you really are,” she said, and Zoe’s attention snapped to the older Luxen. “He stopped by with Daemon earlier. He told me what I needed to know, and he did so while requesting that the knowledge of what you are stays with me. Luc asked that I not share it, not yet, with the remaining council.”
My heart started to thump. I didn’t want the people here to know. If they were to find out, their looks of suspicion and distrust would no longer come from a place of wariness but from fear. Hell, they could even demand that I leave, and I didn’t even want to think of Luc’s response to that. Nor did I want to face a reality where I’d be out there, trying to get my abilities under control when I could be found by either the SOL or the Daedalus.
“Cekiah,” Zoe started.
“Let me finish.” Cekiah silenced Zoe with those three words. “My instinct isn’t to lie to those who feel a bone-deep responsibility to those here, and Luc knows that. I don’t know you, and I don’t say this to be unkind, but I have a feeling you don’t know yourself, either.”
I flinched at the all-too-true words.
“I only know what Luc has assured me, and all anyone has to do is look at Luc when he speaks of you to know he cares only about your safety,” she continued. “His request didn’t make me remotely happy. However, as Luc was quick to remind me, I owed him my silence.”
How many people owed Luc favors? Seriously. Still, relief swept through me.
“As I told him, if I for one second believe that you will endanger anyone here, I don’t care what I owe Luc, I will not hold my silence.”
Heart pounding, I lifted my chin. “That is more than understandable. I wouldn’t expect you to.”
I thought I saw respect and maybe even a little bit of relief flicker across her face, but her words were still a blade when she spoke. “For your sake and the sake of all others, I do hope we don’t end up regretting our hospitality and generosity.”9Cradling the jar of peanut butter I’d discovered in the pantry, I paced the living room, spoon in hand.
The restless energy was back, making it nearly impossible for me to sit. I had tried that already, having rooted around in the bookcases until I found an ancient copy of A Dance with Dragons, but I couldn’t focus. Maybe it was the quiet? That was a part of my inability to concentrate, but it was also the warning Cekiah had rightfully given me before we’d parted ways and that Luc still hadn’t returned. Maybe Daemon was pushing back, not wanting to stay quiet like Cekiah, and Luc was having to convince him.
I hoped they weren’t trying to kill each other.
All of that probably explained why I felt like the Energizer Bunny on crack, but I was starving like I hadn’t indulged in gluttony only a few hours ago.
I glanced at the door for the fiftieth time as if I could will Luc forward, which was kind of sad, but I was bored and I couldn’t sit still and I already ate half a jar of peanut butter and I was …