The Brightest Night (Origin 3) - Page 55

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As Luc spoke, his voice didn’t change inflection. Absent of emotion, he sounded as if he were reciting a speech, but against my palm, I felt the tiny spasm of the muscle along his jaw. “The only thing she cared about was the Origins, and don’t mistake the word cared for any semblance of human emotion. The forced procreations and mutations? They were her idea when the Daedalus either failed to convince others of their pure intentions or when they started to run out of willing Luxen and hybrids. There was nothing that woman would not do. Kidnap people? Murder loved ones? Use innocent people to control those she needed? There was no line she would not cross, and she was just as obsessed with Daemon as she was with me, thinking that if she no longer had me to tote around as the shining example of a success, she needed the strongest Luxen to either breed future Origin or to mutate willing soldiers who bought into her cause—lock, stock, and barrel.”

Although I already knew that, horror still rolled through me.

“She was consumed with creating the perfect species, and she came pretty damn close to it.”

“With you?” I asked. “Or with the group Micah belonged to?”

“She believed I was perfect up until I escaped. It was then when she and the others began working on the Prometheus serum. If I had stayed, she would’ve never created Micah and—”

“If you’d stayed, you would’ve never freed Zoe and countless others. If you’d stayed, the world would probably be even worse off,” I interrupted, needing him to know that there wasn’t a single thing Nancy or the Daedalus did that was his fault. “If you’d stayed, we would’ve never met.”

His jaw flexed against my palm once more, and then his lashes lifted. I couldn’t make out his eyes. “She was the only mother I ever knew.”

Swallowing words of sympathy I knew he wouldn’t want to hear, I lifted my hand and kissed his stubborn jaw.

“Do you know there was a short period of time where I actually thought she was my mother?” Sandpaper coated his voice as he looked away, causing my hand to slip. “Before I could hone my ability to read minds, I didn’t know any better. I thought that woman was my mother.”

“I’m sorry,” I whispered, because if anyone knew how that felt, I did, and I knew there was little anyone could say in response to something like that. “How did you find out?”

“Archer.” He worked his head side to side as if he were working out a kink. “A few years older than I was, he was the only Origin left from the previous batch. Back then, we only knew what we only knew. The Daedalus was our home, for better or for worse.”

I couldn’t even imagine that.

“Even as a small child, I knew I was treated differently from the others. Given far more privileges. Better dinners and snacks. Candies. I was allowed to watch TV, and Nancy would often allow me to stay with her while she worked late in the labs. Jealousy drove Archer to reveal the truth. It was a … shock.”

“I’m sure it was.” I ran my thumb over his chest, above his heart. “I know it was.”

“You would,” he said softly. “But it was also eye-opening, and the only thing that matters now, when it comes to that woman, is that she’s dead. And not like Jason Dasher dead, but a hundred percent dead. It was a joint effort between Archer and me, but that woman is not coming back.” His gaze shifted back to mine. “She’s nothing but ash, fertilizing a patch of ground somewhere in Montana, and I cannot find a single ounce of regret in me for doing it. Does that disturb you?”

“No,” I said without a second of hesitation. “The ground deserves better than to be covered with her ashes, and I’m glad she’s no longer here. She sounds like a monster, worse than Dasher.”

“She was, but she’s gone and has absolutely no impact on my life today. That’s why I don’t talk about her. There’s no reason to give her any space in my mind or anyone’s, especially Kat’s and Daemon’s. She doesn’t deserve that.”

“I can agree with that, but—”

“No impact, Evie. I refused to allow that,” he cut me off. “I hope that tells you enough about her.”

“It does.” For now. There was way more than what he was sharing, but even I knew when to stop pushing.

“Good.” Luc shifted off me and onto his side of the bed, the one closest to the door. Always that side. “We should get to sleep. If we’re going to start working with the Source, you’re going to need all the rest you can get.”

“Okay.” Sitting up, I scooted over, tucking my legs under the covers as the flames from the candles flickered and then went out. The lanterns followed. I looked over at Luc. His back was to me.

Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Origin Romance