“To help them?” I asked hopefully.
He looked over his shoulder at me. “Yes, to help them. They have to be barely getting by in that city.”
“I know, but if they are as scared as I think they are, they’re going to hide, Luc, and considering that they’ve moved unseen in the community, they know how to hide.”
“True.” He returned to the window. “It’s a bit concerning that they’ve snuck past the guards that patrol the walls and the city outskirts, but I’m not surprised. Getting past the wall is one thing, but the city limits is a big space. Anyway, we can’t have them running off and hiding. I’m actually surprised.”
“That you didn’t try to follow him.”
“I thought about it,” I admitted. “But I knew it was too much of a risk. If he saw me, he’d never come back, and I want to be able to help him—help them. I can’t even begin to understand how those kids have survived four years in that city.”
“I can’t, either.” He turned to me. “But following him presents a whole different risk, Peaches. You don’t know anything about this kid, and while I’m not inclined to think it’s some sort of trap related to why we’re here, that doesn’t mean where that kid is heading is remotely safe.”
“I know that, and it’s not like I think I can really take care of myself out there. Being able to kick butt and protect myself isn’t exactly cool if it means losing complete control.” I crossed my ankles. “But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to help him. I hope he comes back.”
Luc was quiet, and I thought I knew where his mind was heading.
“I know you’re suspicious. You have every reason to be, but this was just a hungry, scared kid, and I didn’t get the impression that there were any adults. If there were, wouldn’t they have been the ones looking for food?”
“You’d think.” Luc sighed as he returned to the island. “I’m not going to say anything to anyone, but you’ve got to promise me you’ll tell me the moment you see him again.”
“That’s graymail, by the way.”
“What?” He leaned against the island.
“Nothing.” I laughed quietly. “I will. I promise.” I knocked my shoulder against his. “I’m kind of surprised you didn’t already know about the kid.”
“I told you, Peaches. I don’t read your mind if I can help it. You weren’t being loud.”
“I feel proud.”
I rested my cheek against his shoulder. “Do you think he will come back?”
“I think so.”
“Because after meeting you, I don’t see how anyone could stay away.”11After the most organic dinner I’d ever consumed and the quickest, coldest shower in my entire life, I sat on the bed, wearing one of Luc’s borrowed shirts as I tried to comb all the tangles out of my hair in the bedroom lit by several candles and lanterns. While Luc showered, I thought about something else Kat and Dee had told me, something that had taken a back seat after their warning and Nate’s appearance.
Luc was like a fireproof safe, and I wanted to crack the lock on him. He was always about me, focused on what I was going through or how I was feeling. It was like a full-time job for him, and that wasn’t fair. I wanted him to be able to lean on me like I—
Coherent thoughts took a mini vacay when Luc exited the bathroom, a pair of sweats hanging indecently low on his hips as he rubbed a towel over his hair.
“Peaches,” Luc murmured as he lowered the towel. “You’re going to make me blush.”
I was definitely blushing as I got back to combing out my hair. “I don’t know how you can last so long in the cold water.”
“Skill.” He tossed the towel to the hook on the bathroom door. He had to have used the Source to have made that work. “You know, if you’d like to take a warm bath next time, I could make that happen.”
Lowering the comb, I looked over at him and all I saw was a steaming bath. “How?”
“We could run the water, and then I heat it up with the Source.”
I stared at him. “Why are you just now suggesting that?”
“Didn’t really think of it until now.” Soft shadows danced over his face and shoulders as he prowled toward the bed. “The shower would be too tricky. I imagine once you start working with the Source, you’ll be able to heat up your own baths.”
My gaze shifted to the bathroom, and dreams of hot baths danced like sugarplums in my mind. If I asked Luc to heat a bath, he’d do it right now, so I knew he’d do it for me tomorrow. The request was already forming on the tip of my tongue.