“Taken what into consideration?” Luc asked.
“Love.” A brief chuckle followed that one word as Eaton leaned back against the couch. “No matter what they do, they never take love into consideration. It’s like none of them have ever experienced its power.”
“You have?” I asked, not knowing much about the man.
“He has.” Luc’s hand moved in a slow slide, traveling up the length of my spine. “He was married once. Had a son.”
I had a bad feeling none of that had ended with a happily ever after.
Eaton’s smile was more of a grimace. “Why am I not surprised you know that even though I haven’t spoken about Amy and Brent to Daemon or Archer?”
Luc didn’t respond as his palm made another pass down my back. He didn’t need to.
General Eaton didn’t appear to need the answer either as his rheumy gaze met mine. I was sure that when he’d been younger, those blue eyes were as brilliant as the summer sky. “Sylvia healed him.”
I’d already suspected as much, but hearing it confirmed knotted up my insides. Sylvia … would, God, she would always be Mother, no matter what she’d done. I couldn’t change the way I saw her or how I thought about her, but she had lied so much, and those lies hid terrible things and ugly truths.
She had been so convincing when she told me about what my “father” and the Daedalus had been involved in—so convincing, so seemingly horrified by how the Daedalus had begun to exploit the Luxen in the pursuit of using the alien DNA to create weapons of destruction and by what Dasher had attempted to do to Luc.
How could she be that skilled of a liar? Convincing me wasn’t an Olympic-level feat, as I hadn’t known any better at the time, but to lie to my face like that?
“I listened in on their thoughts but didn’t pick up on any of this.” Anger vibrated in Luc’s voice. “I knew they were using deflection, thinking about inane crap, but to be able to block all of this?” Bronze waves toppled over his forehead as he shook his head. “I should’ve known something else had to be going on there.”
“It’s not often you’ve had to go up against those who knew exactly how to be prepared when it came to an Origin’s ability to read minds,” Eaton reasoned. “They knew how to deflect your ability, because they had a hand in creating the Origins. It wasn’t a failure on your part.”
My heart pounded against my ribs as I opened my mouth, about to tell Luc that this truly wasn’t his fault. I thought about when April had attacked Heidi. It took nothing for me to see Emery cradling Heidi against her as the Luxen had slipped from her human skin to her true form, a beautiful human-shaped light so intense that it had hurt my eyes to look upon her. Even though Emery hadn’t been as skilled as other Luxen when it came to healing humans, she’d saved Heidi’s life by placing her hands on her and summoning the Source.
You do not get between a Luxen and who they love, no matter what.
That’s what Luc had said when Emery had taken Heidi, and within hours, there’d been nothing but a faint scar where April had put her hand through Heidi, destroying tissue, muscles, and organs.
So either my mom was skilled at healing, or she still loved that man.
The world seemed to shift under my feet. Feeling sick, like I might actually projectile vomit all over the floor, I took a step back. I needed distance from Eaton’s words—from further evidence of the fact I never really knew my mother and I would never know what about her, if anything, was ever real.
Because she, too, was now gone, taking with her all her lies and whatever, if any, truths.
Luc’s hand was a warm presence along the center of my back, stopping my retreat. His hand was just there, not holding me in place, but even if it weren’t there, I wouldn’t have bounced out of the room like a rubber ball.
Denial was a luxury I could no longer afford.
I needed to deal with this, and it didn’t matter how much it hurt to realize that everything about her had been a lie. Yes, my mother could’ve had a change of heart at some point after I’d been returned to her with no memory of being Nadia or any of the training I’d obviously received. That much could be true—could be real. She had died making sure I escaped before the Daedalus could capture me, but none of that changed what she’d done, and I had to face that.
I had to deal with that.
Swallowing hard, I lifted my chin and squared my shoulders. I could do this. I’d already dealt with so much—the kind of stuff that would send most to the nearest corner where they’d do nothing but stare at empty space. I’d accepted that there had been a real Evie Dasher who’d died in a car accident. I’d processed that my actual name was Nadia Holliday and then realized that I was neither Nadia nor Evie but a mixture of both and someone completely different. I’d handled the truth that Sylvia and Jason Dasher weren’t my parents. I’d survived an attack by an Origin who had one hell of a grudge/obsession with Luc. I’d stumbled across dead classmates, and it had been me—as a stealth assassin and sort of unaware of what I was doing, but whatever—that had taken out April. I was working on the knowledge that I was capable of doing some real harm and that there was someone out there that could seize control of me.