“Mom?” I whispered, unsure if I was seeing what I was seeing.

“Evie, I need you to get up.” Her voice was surprisingly flat and calm. “Now.”

I’d never moved faster in my life. Backing up, I bumped into the gray ottoman as Mom quickly stepped around me. I expected her to go to the door, but she moved to where I’d been sitting. She yanked one of the pillows off the back of the couch and then pulled a cushion up.

Mom took out a gun—a freaking shotgun—from underneath the couch cushion. My mouth dropped open. I knew we had guns in the house. Mom was in the military. Duh. But hidden under a couch cushion where I sat and napped and ate cheesy puffs?

“Stand behind me,” she ordered.

“Oh my God, Mom!” I stared at her. “I’ve been sitting on a shotgun this entire time? Do you know how dangerous that is? I can’t—”

The deadbolt unlocked, the click echoing like thunder. I took another step back. How . . . how was that possible? No one could unlock the deadbolt from the outside. That could only be unlocked from inside.

Mom lifted the shotgun, aiming straight at the door. “Evelyn,” she barked out. “Get behind me now.”

I darted around the couch, moving to stand behind her. On second thought, I whipped around and grabbed a candleholder—the new wooden gray-and-white one I’d wanted to take pictures of later. Not sure exactly what I was going to do with said candleholder, but gripping it like a baseball bat sure made me feel better. “If someone is breaking in, shouldn’t we call the police? I mean, that seems like the nonviolent way of dealing with this, and the police can help—”

The front door then swung open and someone tall and broad stepped inside, their features and form blurred out by the sun for a moment. Then the door swung close, slamming shut without anyone touching it, and the glow from the sun was gone.

I almost dropped the candleholder.

It was him.

Luc stood in my foyer, smiling like my mother wasn’t aiming a shotgun at his face—his pretty face. He didn’t glance at me. Not once as he inclined his head. “Hey, Sylvia. Long time no see.”

My heart pounded erratically as my gaze bounced between the two. He knew my mom? Where I lived?

Mom lifted her chin. “Hello, Luc.”


For a moment I didn’t think I moved or breathed as I stared at Mom, dressed in a robe and fuzzy kitten slippers, holding a damn shotgun, and Luc, wearing a shirt that read DILL WITH IT, and there was a pickle underneath the words, wearing . . . sunglasses?

Yep. Sunglasses.

I was still gripping my candleholder. “You know him, Mom?”

That half grin appeared on Luc’s face. “Sylvia and I go way back, don’t we?”


The shotgun in Mom’s hands didn’t shake once. “What are you doing here?”

“I was in the neighborhood. Thought I’d stop by for lunch.” He took a step forward. “Was hoping I’d get a home-cooked meal.”

What the what?

“Move any closer, and we all will find out what kind of lasting damage a twelve-gauge slug does to your head,” Mom warned.

My eyes widened. Oh my word, Mom was a badass—a scary badass.

However, it appeared Luc didn’t realize that yet. “That’s not really neighborly. Actually, it’s quite rude. Is that how you normally greet guests?”

“You know better than to come here, Luc.” Mom had said his name again, confirming that I hadn’t been hearing things earlier. She knew him. “And you know damn well you’re not a guest.”

Especially considering guests don’t normally let themselves in.

Peeking over Mom’s shoulder, my gaze met Luc’s. The breath I took halted as his smile deepened. There was a . . . wicked quality about that smile, a secretive twist.

I couldn’t believe I’d kissed him.

Well, I hadn’t kissed him. I was devoid of responsibility when it came to that. He’d kissed me and he’d also tried to kidnap me. I gripped the candleholder tighter.

“You know how I feel when it comes to following rules,” Luc replied. “And you should also know how I feel about having a gun pointed at my head.”

“I don’t care how you feel about that,” Mom spat back.

“Really?” Luc lifted his hand, opening his fingers. Mom gasped as her shoulders jerked. The shotgun ripped away from her grip and flew across the room. Luc snatched it out of the air.

“Holy crap,” I whispered.

Still smiling, as if he were beyond pleased with himself, he wrapped his other hand around the barrel of the shotgun. “Do you know how many people are killed by guns?” He paused as he raised his brows. The scent of burnt ozone filled the air. “That’s not a rhetorical question. I’m honestly curious.”

Mom lowered her arms and her hands formed fists. “One short of how many are killed, I’m thinking.”

He smirked. “I personally don’t have a problem with guns. Not that I have any use for them. I really just don’t like them pointed at me.”

The sharp tang of burning metal caused my eyes to water. Luc opened his hands and the disfigured shotgun fell, clattering off the floor.

The barrel was melted in the center.

“Holy crap,” I repeated, taking yet another step back.

Luc leaned to the side, eyeing where I stood behind my mom. “A . . . candleholder?” He laughed, and it sounded like a genuine laugh. “Really?”

Mom stepped to the side, blocking him from my view. “Don’t come near her. Don’t even look at her.”

“Well, it’s a little too late for that,” Luc replied dryly, and my stomach sunk. He wouldn’t. “I’ve looked at her.” Another pause. “I’ve definitely been near her. Like, really close. You could say, we were so close, there wasn’t any space between us.”

Oh my God.

I didn’t stop to think what about what I was doing. Cocking my arm back, I threw that candleholder like I was winging a blade. It spun across the room, heading straight for his head.

Luc caught the candleholder as a look of shock splashed across his face.

Mom gasped as she spun, facing me. “Evie, don’t.”

I froze, hands at my sides. Considering my mom had pulled a shotgun on him, I figured she’d be proud of me tapping into my inner commando and throwing a candleholder at him.

Apparently not.

“Did you seriously just do that?” Luc demanded, staring at the candleholder for a moment and then throwing it onto the couch, where it harmlessly bounced and then thudded off the floor. He pinned me with a dark stare. “You could get yourself killed doing things like that.”

The robe whirled around Mom’s legs as she spun on a kitten slipper. She threw her arm out as if she could ward Luc off with just her hand.

Luc’s features sharpened as his purple stare shifted to Mom. Something about him looked primal, then, almost animalistic. Pure power flowed from him, filling every nook and cranny in the room. Static charged the air, raising the hair on my arms.

Was he going to go full Luxen? I’d never seen that in person, only on the television. A morbid sense of fascination filled me.

“Really?” Luc said, his voice soft with deadly warning.

My heart lurched in my chest, and then Mom lowered her hand. She seemed to draw in a deep, heavy breath. A tense moment passed. “What do you want, Luc?”

I didn’t expect him to answer. I honestly expected him to go nuclear like a Luxen could, but he seemed to pull the rippling power back in, sealing it up and stashing it away. “I’m here to do you a solid, Sylvia, because I’m helpful like that.”

Mom waited, every part of her body screaming that she was on high alert.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out something thin and rectangular. I had no idea what it was, and there was a good chance I was close to passing out, because my heart was pumping so fast, I felt dizzy. He tossed it into the air.

With impressive reflexes, Mom caught whatever it was. Her chin dipped. A second later she whirled on me. “What is this, Evelyn?”

“Oh no,” Luc murmured. “The full name just came out. Someone is in trouble.”