His back was never to me.
Folding an arm over my waist, I stared at the outline of his body. I didn’t think he was mad. Irritated I’d brought up Nancy Husher? Perhaps. But I knew that whatever had him turning away from me had nothing to do with me.
Despite what Luc claimed, he wasn’t as apathetic to Nancy as he wanted to be. And who could blame him? No one. I wished there were something I could say other than what I already had. Then he could understand that it was okay to still be furious and sad over what this woman had done to him and others, just as it was okay that he was glad she was dead.
That he’d been the one to ensure it.
What disturbed me was that Luc wouldn’t let himself feel any of that, and that wasn’t something I could change in a few hours or one night. But what I could do was what I wanted to be able to do. I could just be there for him, even if he didn’t know why or didn’t want it.
Lying down beside him, I rolled onto my side and wiggled toward him until my chest was pressed against his back. I threw an arm around his waist. Luc didn’t move or respond, but I held him tightly. “I love you,” I whispered against the warm skin of his back. I fell asleep like that, with not an inch separating us.
Sometime later, I awoke long enough to feel Luc threading his fingers through mine.* * *A few hours after dawn, I found myself standing in an abandoned packing warehouse on the outskirts of Houston. Faint sunlight filtered through the dirt-caked window and inches of dust-covered workbenches.
I looked up at the high ceiling, guessing it was made of steel and plaster. In other words, things that would probably hurt if or when they came down on my head.
Standing several feet in front of me, Luc followed my gaze. He was back to normal this morning, as if we hadn’t talked about Nancy Husher last night. Part of me was relieved, but I was also worried he’d just shoved all those messy feelings back into the vault that was Luc. If I knew anything, that wasn’t healthy, not even for an all-powerful Origin.
“Are you sure it’s a good idea that we’re doing this inside?” I asked.
“I figured it would be better if we did this without prying eyes,” Luc explained.
A laugh as dry as the high school cafeteria meat loaf came from the corner. “Good luck with no one noticing the building collapsing on our heads.”
My jaw locked. “Does he have to be here?”
Luc slid a long look in the direction of said corner, to where Grayson lounged on some kind of large cable spool. “Why are you here?”
The icy-blond Luxen grinned. Like all Luxen, with his sapphire-colored eyes and chiseled features, he was blessed with great DNA, but he always seemed the most inhuman of all the Luxen I’d met.
Probably because those near symmetric features lacked any touch of humanity.
“I’m here for moral support,” he advised.
I rolled my eyes. “More likely he’s here to make sure I don’t kill you.”
Luc grinned. “You’re not going to kill me, Peaches.”
“What if I kill Grayson?” I paused. “Accidentally?”
Grayson arched a brow as he reached into his pocket, pulling out a sour apple Blow Pop.
“That would make me sad,” Luc replied. “Gray is useful.”
“About as useful as a wooden frying pan,” I muttered as Grayson unwrapped his lollipop.
Luc chuckled. “All right. I figured it was best to start simple.”
“Simple sounds good.”
I drew in a deep, long breath.
“Ignore him,” Luc ordered.
“Easier said than done.”
“Easy or hard, you need to learn how to also ignore external influences. When you get out there and use the Source, not everyone is going to be quiet and peaceful,” Luc stated. “Most likely, a whole lot of crap will be going on. You will not have the luxury of concentration then, and you won’t have it here.”
“So that’s why he’s here? To be an annoying distraction? That makes sense.” I smiled at Grayson. “Thank you.”
Grayson’s eyes narrowed.
Snark point one for me.
Luc shot another pointed look in Grayson’s direction, one that went largely ignored. “We know that the Source is triggered in you if you’re mortally threatened or experience a high level of emotions. How you use the Source during those times is something that only the most skilled of us would be able to do. To harness it, turn it into a weapon, or to use it to shape or mold other physical objects is something extremely difficult to do.”
“Too bad she doesn’t know how she does that.”
Snark point one to Grayson.
“But what that tells me is that you’re more than capable of doing the simplest thing with the Source,” Luc continued as if Grayson hadn’t spoken. “I’ve been thinking about what would be easiest for you to try first.”