“What?” I murmured, wondering how long he’d been there.
“Why are you lying in the backyard, under a tree, cradling a jar of peanut butter to your chest?”
“Huh?” My brows snapped together as I looked down, and hell if I wasn’t cradling the jar. “I fell asleep with it.”
“I feel like I need to be a better boyfriend if you’re turning to peanut butter for support.”
I let my head fall back against the grass. “You could never compete with peanut butter.”
“That sounds like a challenge.” One side of his lips kicked up.
Beyond the leaves, the sky was orange over Luc’s shoulder. Dusk. “I must’ve napped the afternoon away. I’m probably covered in ticks.”
He dragged the tips of his fingers along my cheekbone as he nodded.
“Great,” I sighed, cuddling the peanut butter.
“I can check you over. Actually, I would be more than happy to do so. I’m just going to need you to undress. Completely. I can also help with that.”
“I bet you can.” I laughed even as I shivered at the possibility. I refused to believe the attraction that sparked and burned whenever we were around each other could be engineered by a secretive government agency, no matter how many mad scientists they had on their payroll.
Those fingers skated down my throat. “I’m just being helpful. Wouldn’t want to miss a spot and you end up with Rocky Mountain spotted fever.”
“Can I even get Rocky Mountain spotted fever?”
“Probably not. I also don’t think there are ticks in this grass.” He drew his finger along the collar of my shirt. “But we can pretend. I can assure you it would be a lot of fun.”
“You don’t need to convince me of what I already know.” Muscles feeling incredibly loose, I yawned. Loudly. Right in Luc’s face. I flushed, looking away. “Sorry.”
Luc chuckled. “Sleepy, huh?”
“Yeah.” And I really was. There was a good chance I could easily fall back to sleep now. “It’s a peanut butter coma.”
“I ate nearly an entire jar of peanut butter.” I turned my head to him. “Actually, I ate all the peanut better. Sorry.”
His gaze flickered over my face. “You know, I don’t like peanut butter.”
I had to be hallucinating. “Come again?”
“I mean, I’ll eat it if I have to, but just not a fan of it.”
“How? How is that possible?” I demanded. “Peanut butter is life.”
He simply gave me a half shrug.
“I don’t think we can be friends any longer,” I said even as I gave into my urge and reached up to run my fingers through his hair. Soft like silk. He turned his head, kissing my palm before I lowered it.
“Good thing we’re not friends, Peaches.” His gaze dipped to my mouth, the heaviness and intensity in his hooded stare sending a fire sweeping over my skin.
“On second thought, this is actually perfect. This means we won’t ever fight over the peanut butter.”
“See? You and I go together like cheese and bread.” His grin was brief. “Sorry everything took so long today.”
“No need to apologize.”
Amusement danced across his features. “Doubtful. I bet you were beside yourself with loneliness and need.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. No way would I admit how lonely I’d been.
The grin that appeared left me wondering if he knew what I was thinking. Probably.
“I spent some time with Zoe. She took me around the zone. Then Dee came over. Kat wanted to see me.”
“How’d that go?”
“Good.” I purposely didn’t think about what Kat had said. Luc may know what they’d do if I proved a threat, but knowing and realizing I knew were two very different things.
His head tilted slightly. “Just good?”
“Yep. They have a lot of baby stuff,” I went on. “And books. So many books.”
“Kat is a huge reader. Back when she was living outside of here, she used to have a book blog. Katy’s Krazy Obsession or something. Daemon used to stalk the hell out of it.”
I grinned, picturing the dark-haired Luxen scrolling endlessly through posts and pictures of book hauls. The grin faded when I thought about what else I needed to talk to him about.
Luc plucked a blade of grass from my hair. “I didn’t think it would take so long.”
“I heard you had company in the form of Archer and you made a pit stop to talk to Cekiah.”
Whether Luc was surprised that I knew about that or not, his expression didn’t give it away. “Yes. She’s sort of the unofficial leader around here, and I knew Daemon wouldn’t keep what happened from her. Cekiah’s a good woman.”
“Who owes you a favor?”
“There is that.”
“What did you do for her?”
“A gentleman would never share.”
I lifted my brows. “Good thing you’re not a gentleman.”
“True.” Returning to trace the collar of my shirt, he leaned closer. With every pass, he worked the loose neckline farther down. “I helped her locate her missing siblings.”