A chill skated down my spine. “What are you talking about?”

She was quiet so long, I started to get really freaked out, and that was saying something, considering there were shotguns under cushions and random Luxen roaming into the house, unlocking doors. “There are things you don’t know—things that the general public has no idea about.”

“Like the Luxen being able to unlock doors with their mind?”

Her lips twitched. “Bigger than that, hon.”

I thought that was pretty big.

After placing the candleholder on the ottoman, she angled her body toward mine. “There are times when decisions are made for the better good, and sometimes that involves omitting details—”

“You mean lying?” I suggested.

Her lips pursed. “I know where you’re going to take this, but lying about going to the club is not the same thing as lying to protect someone, and in this case, the entire world.”

My brows lifted. A lie was a lie, but arguing that point wasn’t important. “That sounds . . . serious.”

“It is. Serious enough that people have died to keep certain details unknown.” Stretching over, she placed her hand on my knee. “There are things I’m not allowed to discuss because of my job—because of what Jason used to do and be part of, but . . .” She exhaled heavily. “But if I don’t tell you, then I know he will, and I’d rather it come from me.”

“He?” I straightened. “You mean Luc? I have no intentions of ever seeing him again. Ever. Like, never, ever going to happen.”

Mom pulled her hand back and she looked like she was about to say something but had changed her mind. A moment passed and then she said, “The Luxen have been here for a very long time. For decades.”

I blinked once and then twice. “What?”

She nodded. “As you know, their world was destroyed. That part was true, but they didn’t come here decades ago to invade us. They came to basically recolonize—to live out their lives peacefully among us. The governments all around the world knew of their existence, and they worked hard to assimilate them—pass them off as humans—and it worked. It worked rather well until the invasion.”

“Wait. I am so confused.” I pushed up from the chair. “You’re telling me that the Luxen have been here forever and no one knew?”

“That’s what I’m saying,” she answered.

“How in the world did they keep it a secret?”

She arched a delicate brow. “Honey, you’d be amazed at what has been kept secret and has nothing to do with aliens from outer space.”

“Like what?” I immediately asked. “What about the assassination of JFK? Oh—what about Roswell? Was that really—”

“Let’s just focus on this, okay?”

I sighed, but I refocused. “I just don’t get how they could keep something like that hidden for so long. It doesn’t seem possible.”

“It didn’t always work. People found out. There were issues, I’m sure,” she said, dropping her hands to her knees. “The knowledge of other intelligent life-forms was—still is—powerful and dangerous. When it was first known that they were here, the decision was made to keep it quiet until it was deemed that society could handle such knowledge. Unfortunately, time wasn’t on anyone’s side. The invading Luxen came before anyone was confident that society could handle the news that we most definitely are not alone in the universe.”

This was utterly unbelievable.

“Many of the Luxen who are here, the ones who registered and are following our laws, are the ones who weren’t part of the invasion. Very few of the invading Luxen survived. Those who did left our planet, and it’s speculated that only very few remained after the failed invasion.”

Confusion swept over me as I started pacing in front of the ottoman. “If some of the Luxen had been here and living normal, nice lives, why did the others invade then? They could’ve been—What did you call it?”


“Yeah, that. They could’ve been assimilated right along with the rest of them. Why did they do what they did?”

Mom tucked a strand of her hair back. “Because the others wanted to take over. They wanted this world for their own. Those Luxen hadn’t come into contact with humans until they came here, and they viewed humans as something lesser.”

Then did that mean Luc had been one of the invading Luxen? Because he definitely wasn’t registered. But that wasn’t the important thing. Anger rose, crowding out the confusion. “This makes no sense.” I threw up my hands. “If people knew about the Luxen, then they could’ve been prepared for an invasion. All of the technology we have now—the Disablers, the weapons? We could’ve already had all of that. Fewer people would’ve died.”

“Hindsight is usually twenty-twenty.”

I gaped at her. “That’s your response?”

The corners of her lips turned down. “Honey, I’m not the one who made those decisions.”

I was still wearing a path in the throw rug in front of the ottoman as I crossed my arms. “But you knew about it?”


And she hadn’t alerted the world to the fact that crazy-powerful aliens were already living among us? I stopped, facing her. “How did you know, though? You work with gross viruses and—”

“I used to work for the Daedalus. It was a specialized group within the military, sanctioned by the government, that worked on . . . assimilating the Luxen. The department is—Well, it no longer exists.”

My mouth formed the word. “The dao-what?”

A faint smile appeared. “Daedalus. It’s from Greek mythology. He was an inventor and the father of Icarus.”

“Icarus?” I vaguely remembered that name. “Didn’t he fly too close to the sun and his wings melted or something?”

Mom nodded. “Daedalus had built those wings for his son.”

“That’s a weird name for a department in the government.”

“It was more of a code name. That’s how I met Jason. He also worked there.”

I walked back to the chair, then sat down and listened, really listened, because Mom so rarely spoke about Dad.

Mom’s gaze flickered away, settling on the television. “That’s how your father knew Luc. That’s how I met him, when Luc was younger.”

“So . . . he wasn’t one of the invading Luxen? He’d been here?” For some reason, I hoped that was the case. I didn’t want to think of Luc as a homicidal alien hell-bent on killing us, even though he kind of came off as one.

Her expression tightened and then smoothed out. “He was not part of the invasion.”

That made me feel a little better, knowing I hadn’t been kissed by a killer alien from outer space. It was the small things that made one’s crappy life choices easier to deal with.

I shook my head. “So did you guys help Luc assimilate? Or his parents?”

Mom didn’t respond for a long moment. “Something like that.”

That wasn’t much of answer. In fact, it was so evasive, I knew there was more to it.

She tipped her head back as her shoulders stiffened. “Jason . . .” She dampened her lips. “Jason wasn’t a good man.”

My breath caught. “I don’t understand. Dad was—He was a hero.” There was actually a statue of him in the capital! Well, not really a statue of him. It was a weird monolith-looking thing, but still. “He was awarded the Medal of Honor.”

Her eyes yet drifted shut. “Honey, awards aren’t a true reflection of a person. There have been many, many people highly awarded and acclaimed throughout history who were, in the end, very bad people. Oftentimes people who were so convinced that they were doing the right thing, they were able to overlook all the terrible things they were doing in pursuit of the greater good.”

“But . . .” I trailed off as my heart banged around in my chest. I didn’t know what to do with that piece of knowledge. I had never been close to Dad. Not really. He had never been home, but . . . “But you’ve told me he was a good man. You told me all the important—”