Obsession - Page 34

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Even for a hybrid, because their human DNA is now encased in wavelengths of light.” I paused, glancing at Serena.

She looked absolutely dumbfounded.

I smiled. “It enhances their ability to refract light and also to reflect. For example, if a Luxen is wearing a piece of opal, they can use it to mirror things around them, like a one-way window.”

Her brows pinched. “So they could become invisible in a way, since they’d be mirroring what’s around them?”

“Correct. They can also move faster and create stronger blasts of energy.”

She let out a low whistle.

“Okay. Assuming that I totally understand the whole alien gemstone stuff, I don’t get how a piece of opal works on the Arum. You’re not like the Luxen.”

I opened my mouth, but closed it. Eyes narrowing on the road, I realized I wanted to lie to her. To make up some cockamamie tale about how it worked for the Arum instead of telling her that when we drained the Luxen, in most cases, we killed them. I never lied about it before, but I never had a reason to lie.

And now it seemed that I did have a reason, but I couldn’t bring myself to lie to her. My hands tightened on the steering wheel.

“Opal can enhance an Arum’s abilities, too.

Making us faster and stronger, but we have to do something first. We have to feed on a Luxen or a hybrid. When we do that, we take in their essence.

That part reacts to the opal.”

She nodded slowly, looking away. “The whole incubuslike thing?”

“Yeah,” I said, clearing my throat. “Opal can also maintain our energy levels.”

There was a pregnant pause and then I felt her eyes on me again. “With opal, we don’t have to feed that much,” I said, feeling itchy. All the talk of feeding was making me hungry.

“The DOD outfits their Arum with the opal. Helps keep us better under control when we aren’t running amuck, draining unsuspecting Luxen.”

“That’s good, I guess.”

She stretched out her legs, then tipped her head back.

I didn’t have to look at her to tell that she was anxious. “Do you kill the Luxen when you feed off them?” she asked.

“Not always, but most Arum do because they want to kill them. But we can feed without killing.”

“And you’re going to have to feed for this opal to work, aren’t you?”

“If I don’t feed soon, I won’t be safe. Around anyone.”

I glanced at Serena. Her face was pale but her gaze steady. I didn’t lie. “So yes, I will need to feed.”

Chapter 22

I will need to feed.

I wasn’t sure how to really deal with that. How he said it, so dead-on and unapologetic, was unnerving. And he hadn’t clarified if he would kill or not. The whole feeding thing was hard to swallow.

It was like sitting next to a vampire or something.

He’d already fed from me before—twice—but he hadn’t since I’d asked him not to do it again. He stopped himself, and I believed he could stop himself again.

I just hoped I didn’t turn into the biggest idiot ever for believing that.

As we traveled the rest of the afternoon, he explained we were going to this club where he’d be able to find this guy named Luc. He didn’t say anything more about him, and I figured that Luc was another Arum, hopefully a friendly one like Dex.

Eventually the rolling hills and thick wooded areas cleared from the interstate, and the road became more congested as we neared the town of Martinsburg at dusk.

We entered through the south, passing a mall and several restaurants, which woke my stomach up. I was hungry but too wired to really consider eating. A couple of miles later, Hunter took the Spring Mills exit and hung a right, heading toward a town named Back Creek. With names like that, this should be fun.

Two miles off the exit, Hunter slowed down as an old, abandoned gas station came into view. My brow rose as I took in the overgrown weeds.

The road wasn’t much better, really a hodgepodge of potholes and gravel.

“Are you sure the club is back here?”

I asked, peering out the window.

Dust plumed into the air, cloudy like fog.

“Yes. No one goes back here.”

“I can imagine,”

I muttered.

Passing several run-down buildings with boarded-up windows, I was convinced we’d taken a wrong turn somewhere, but before I could point that out, the trees cleared and a makeshift parking lot overflowing with cars came into view.

“Christ,” I said, shaking my head.

A sea of cars were parked around the building, and not piece of crap vehicles, either. Brand-new trucks, Hummers that could mow down entire villages, BMWs, and Jaguars parked side by side. It was like the nicer part of a used-car dealership.

Hunter grinned at me.

“Looks can be deceiving.”

“No doubt,” I said as Hunter parked the car.

“I want you to stay close to me in here, okay?”

Hunter killed the engine. “I sense others of my kind and a few Luxen. They shouldn’t bother us, but you never know.”

My brows rose. “Luxen and Arum together?”

“Stranger things have been known to happen, and strange shit always happens here. This is a no-kill zone.”

I should’ve been relieved by that. Hunter started to open the door, but I grasped his arm. “Wait a second.

What happens after you get the opal and do your thing here?”

“We leave.”

I shot him a bland look.

“I figured we weren’t camping out here. What are we going to do?”

Hunter looked away, his profile stoic. “We’re going to head south, to just outside of Atlanta.

It should be safe there.”

“Safe from what?” I asked, my fingers digging into my knees. “I need—”

“Can we talk about this afterward?” he interrupted, his eyes sheltered.

I wanted to protest, but this really wasn’t the moment.

Relenting, I climbed out of the car and followed Hunter through the maze of cars. The one thing I noticed, which was weird as hell, was I didn’t hear any sounds coming from the club or anything around us.

It was unnaturally quiet.

A shiver crept over my shoulders and I folded my arms. Hunter slowed until I was beside him. He didn’t say anything about my slow progress, and having a good idea I was about to get another shock of my life in this club, I was slowing down.

“Remember,”

Hunter said, placing his hand on my lower back. “Stay close to me inside here. Okay?”

I nodded. “Gotcha.”

We stopped at a steel-gray door.

Two seconds later, the door opened and a huge mammoth of a man stepped out, wearing blue jean overalls and nothing else.

My eyes widened. The man’s arms were the size of tree trunks and he was looking at us like he wasn’t happy in the least bit to see us.

Hunter shifted ever so slightly, blocking me. “I need to see Luc. It’s an emergency.”

Overalls folded his muscular arms. “Everyone says it’s an emergency when they come a- knocking. Rarely is.”

“This is.”

“Yeah.” Overalls drew the word out. “That’s what they all say, and ain’t like Luc has a lot free time, ya know?”

I’d been around Hunter long enough to recognize when he was starting to lose his patience.

His shoulders tensed, spine stiffened. And then he smiled. Only one side of his lips curved up.

Oh no.

“How about this?” Hunter started, and I cringed inwardly. “I know he’s listening in right now.” He paused, flicked the black wire behind Overall’s ears.

Huh. Hadn’t even noticed that, but there it was, a slim, black earpiece. “The little fuck owes me. And we know how he is with favors. So unless he wants me to rip through everyone in there, including your big ass, and hang y’alls entrails from the rafters, he’s going to make time for me.”

Oh dear.

I turned to Hunter slowly, wondering if he ever heard of the saying YOU CATCH MORE BEARS WITH HONEY because, Jesus, he just sprayed Overalls in the face with battery acid.

Expecting Overalls to tell us to hit the road or come to some kind of blows, I nearly fell over when the big man revealed a toothy smile.

“He’s waiting for you, Hunter.” Overalls stepped aside, holding the door open, and we brushed past him. I saw him check out Hunter. “I love when they get all bossy.”

A smile raced across my face, but it froze as we stepped out of the narrow black hallway. “Holy…”

I’d never seen anything like this, not in real life. It’s not like I didn’t know they existed. I just never visited them. Clubs like this were more up Mel’s alley.

Multicolored strobe lights pulsed over the teeming crowd of dancers. Cages hung from the ceiling.

Scantily clad women danced in them, swaying their hips to the heavy beat of the music. And when I say scantily, I mean the only parts of their bodies I didn’t see were their nipples and hoohah.

Dim lights hid more than revealed the outskirts of the club. I could tell there were tables, and maybe even couches, but that was all.

The whole atmosphere was otherworldly.

Hunter’s hand found mine as he guided me through the throngs of people. He parted the crowd like a freight train.

Women stopped dancing to stare at him. So did some of the men, and not all the stares were lascivious.

Some were downright hostile. Were they Luxen? Humans who knew what he was or other Arum? I couldn’t tell in the flashing lights.

There was a strange clove scent to the air, and with the dizzying lights, loud music, and the low-level fog that seemed to creep along the floor, swirling up our legs, I felt like I was walking in a dream.

A tall, dark mass stepped out of the cluster of people, blocking our path. The guy looked to be around my age, hair thick and dark, spiked up. Skin pale and eyes heavily lined in kohl, his lips curved in a tight half-smile as his light blue eyes flickered from Hunter to me.

Didn’t take an alien expert to figure out he was an Arum.

Hunter didn’t stop, shouldering the younger Arum out of the way. “I don’t have time for this.”

Looking over my shoulder, I expected the other Arum to do or say something, but his grin spread as he slipped back into the dancers crowding the floor. I shivered at the weirdness of it all.

We skirted a bar and hit a narrow, empty hallway.

At the end, there was a door with a sign that said FREAKS ONLY. Nice.

Hunter knocked with his free hand and a heartbeat passed. The door opened, revealing an extraordinarily tall and good-looking man.

And boy was he all kinds of golden.

Golden skin.

Golden hair. Golden shirt.

Incredibly unreal blue eyes widened just the slightest as the man’s lips curved down. “And here I was having a good night…”

Hunter smirked. “Nice to see you, too, Paris.”

Paris? All I could think of was Orlando Bloom and Brad Pitt.

The man opened the door. “You know the rules.”

We stepped into an office. There was a couch and desk and nothing else but a closed door leading to where, I didn’t know, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. The door we came through shut behind us, cutting off all sound.


Tags: Jennifer L. Armentrout Romance
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