For some reason, my nose was stinging. So were my eyes.
“I didn’t pick it up from your thoughts. Not at first. You gave us your real name, and Paris was able to check out who you were a few days after you showed up. He learned that your father was dead,” he told me, his gaze never wavering from mine. “He suspected that you’d done it. He also suspected you had a good reason. When you first came to us, you were jumpy. If either of us reached for you or if we raised our voices, you’d flinch and often keep yourself at least an arm’s distance from us. You had a lot of faded bruises that looked like someone had made a habit of grabbing your arms. Hard.” His eyes were as hard as granite. “Neither of us ever judged you. If anything, the discovery meant you fit with us way better than we could’ve guessed, as disturbing as that was.”
A choked laugh escaped my lips, and I looked away, blinking back tears.
“You had nightmares the first year. You’d wake up screaming about blood,” he continued, his voice so very quiet. “One of those nights, I picked up bits and pieces. I just never let you know.”
Lips trembling, I pressed them together until I was sure I could speak. “I think Sylvia and Jason realized he was abusive. She said if they’d known, they would’ve come for me sooner.”
“And if that garbage human being had still been alive when Paris looked into you, he wouldn’t have been afterward.”
Even though I couldn’t remember Paris, if he was anything like Luc, I didn’t doubt that for one second. “I just … I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about that.” My palms felt sweaty as I rubbed them against the blanket. “I don’t really feel anything other than, cool, my actual father has a name. I should be angry that he was a monster who hit his child—and I am, but it’s like I’m angry for someone else, if that makes sense? Maybe if I remembered, things would be different. I don’t know.”
The bed shifted, and then Luc said, “Look at me.”
Drawing in a shallow breath, I did just that. The moment our gazes connected, they held.
“If you end up remembering more down the road, you go through what you need to go through. We’ll go through it together, but there is nothing wrong with feeling nothing. Just like there’s nothing wrong with how you feel about Sylvia. You feel what you need to feel, whether that’s feeling nothing or everything.”
The next breath I took scorched my lungs, and I nodded. Or at least I thought I did. “I love you,” I whispered. “You know that right? I love you.”
He leaned in, touching his forehead to mine. “I know, but if you feel the need to remind me often, I have no problem with that.”
I smiled, and I realized the heavy, sticky feeling was easing off. I knew it could come back, possibly bringing with it ugly memories, but if or when it did, I would face them.
“I think I need to fess up to something,” I said, drawing back until I could see Luc’s face. “I heard you when I was sleeping, on and off.”
I nodded. “I heard you say even Grayson missed me. I know that was a lie.”
His lashes swept down as one side of his lips tipped up. “I would never lie about such a thing.”
“I also heard some really lame pickup lines.”
“My pickup lines are never lame, Peaches.”
In my chest, my heart started pounding. “I also heard you say that if I woke up and didn’t remember who I was, that you had enough love in you for me that it would be enough. That you’d still love me.”
Those lashes lifted, and the intensity in his gaze stole my next breath. “You have to have known that.”
“I did,” I whispered. “I do.”
“But what you don’t know is that wasn’t the first time I said those words to you.”
“No.” He placed the tips of his fingers to my cheek. “I told you that I love you, that I would always love you, no matter what, once before.” His throat worked on a swallow, and when he spoke, his voice was thick. “I told you that the only time I ever said goodbye to you.”
His face blurred. “And what did I say?”
“You said, ‘I know.’”18Hours later, after the sun had gone down and after Luc and I talked over everything Dr. Hemenway had said, while we ate what felt like a week’s worth of veggies and cheese, Zoe showed up. Like Luc, I saw a deep violet, transparent aura tinged with white all around her before she rushed forward, all but tackling me where I sat under the covers. There were hugs.