Holy crap, how was I just now realizing that?

Whenever Brandon and I saw each other, even after the very first date, it was always a kiss and then he’d start talking about the football game he had coming up or I would ask about his classes.

None of those moments had counted, not for me and not for him.

They counted for Heidi and Emery, though.

They hugged, and when they pulled back, Heidi’s normally pale face was flushed and there was a pinker tint under Emery’s deeper-hued skin.

Ugh. They were so cute.

I wish I hadn’t left my camera in the car. Taking a picture of them together would’ve been perfect.

“I’m really sorry about what happened,” Emery said, tucking her dark hair behind her ear. Up close, her green eyes were the muted color of moss. “It’s unbelievable.”

“It really is,” Heidi agreed. “I was just telling Evie that I used to hang out with Colleen in grade school. We weren’t close over the last . . . well, in forever, but it’s still so sad.”

“Did you know her?” Emery asked me.

I shook my head. “We never really talked beyond the basics.”

Emery’s gaze flickered to the window and she drew in a shallow breath. “So, not to change the subject or anything.” She focused on me. “Please don’t be mad at me.”

My brows rose as I glanced at Heidi. “Why would I be mad?”

“I didn’t come alone,” she said, and muscles I didn’t even know I had clenched in my stomach. “Well, I tried to. It didn’t work out that well.”

“What do you . . . ?” Heidi’s eyes widened as her gaze focused on something or someone behind me. “Oh my word.”

I didn’t have to look behind me to know. On a cellular level, I just knew, and my heart started throwing itself around in my chest. My pulse picked up as a shadow fell over our table. I knew it wasn’t our waitress, and I had no idea how I felt.

But I did look.

Slowly, I lifted my head and looked to my right, and there stood Luc, his bronze hair a mess of waves and curls. He was wearing silver aviator sunglasses, the kind with lenses so reflective, I could see my own wide-eyed stare in them. My gaze was drawn to the clean, hard lines of his jaw and then lower, over the broad width of his shoulders, and then to his chest.


My mouth gaped open.

“Like my shirt?” he asked, dropping into the space beside me.

“It’s . . . nice.”

“I think so.” He threw his arm over the back of our booth. “Kent got it for me.” The ever-present half grin faded. “Sucks about what happened at your school, to that girl.”

“Yeah, it does.” I shot a look across the table, and saw that Heidi sort of resembled a fish out of water. “You know the girl who was at Foretoken when she disappeared?” I blurted out before I had a chance to stop myself. Luc and I had briefly talked about her when he found me near the lake. “I talked to her that night.”

One single brow rose above the sunglasses. “I didn’t know you talked to her.” He looked over at Emery, and for some reason, I got the distinct feeling that not a single part of that it had been news to him. “What has happened to her is unfortunate to hear.”

Way unfortunate.

His head cocked to the side as he leaned forward, extending his arm toward Heidi. The gesture caused his shoulder to press into mine, and I scooted toward the window, earning some space. His grin returned, tipping up on one side. “I don’t think we’ve actually met. I’m Luc.”

“I know.” She shook his hand. “I’m—”

“Heidi,” he answered for her. “It’s nice to meet you. Emery has nothing but wonderful things to say about you.”

Flushing once more, she glanced over at the other girl. “Is that so?”

“Just telling the truth,” Emery replied with a shrug. “Luc heard I was coming to meet you guys.”

“And I invited myself along.” He returned to his normal sprawl. “I had to do it.”

“Really?” Heidi replied.

Luc nodded as he finally pushed the sunglasses up. “I knew Evie would be disappointed if I didn’t show.”

A strangled-sounding laugh burst out of Heidi as my head whipped around toward Luc so fast, I thought I was going to give myself whiplash. “What?” I demanded. Luc looked at me, and whatever I was about to say died on the tip of my tongue. “Your eyes!” I gasped in a whisper.

He dipped his chin, and somehow the little distance that I’d gained was lost. “Contacts,” he whispered, winking. “Special ones. And yes, they really mess up the RAC drones.”

My mouth dropped open for a second time. “That’s a thing?”

“There are a lot of things that are a thing,” he replied, and I blinked hard. He looked away. “Well, hello there.”

For a moment I didn’t know who he was talking to, but then I saw the waitress.

“What can I get you all to drink?”

The girls got waters, and Luc ordered a Coke. I started to order one of the sweet teas, because I knew they made it the way I liked, with tons of sugar, but I ordered a Coke.

“A Coke?” Heidi asked, sounding as surprised as I felt. “Don’t you normally order Pepsi?”

I did, but I wanted . . . I wanted a Coke for some reason. Not exactly a big deal. I shrugged. “I guess I want a Coke.”

“The last time I accidentally brought you a Coke, you threatened to stop being my friend.”

I laughed. I had threatened that.

The waitress shuffled off, and I was back to staring at Heidi, desperately wondering how I had ended up eating breakfast with Luc.

It was weird.

It felt like eons ago that I’d seen him at the park, and I hadn’t even begun to process the bizarre conversation with him or what had happened over the weekend, and now he was sitting right here.

The drinks arrived quickly and we placed our orders. Of course, I ordered the tower of waffles and a side of extra-crispy bacon. I grabbed my Coke, gulping down the sugary goodness.

“Thirsty?” Luc eyed me closely.

Feeling my cheeks heat, I put my glass down and shot back, “You’re good at pointing out the obvious, aren’t you?”

Luc’s lips curved into a grin. “That’s my superpower.”

“Nice,” I replied dryly.

Heidi cleared her throat as her gaze flickered to Luc. “So, how did you and Emery meet? I never heard about that.”

“Well, that’s kind of a sad story.” Luc’s finger tapped along the back of the booth.

Emery toyed with the edge of her fork. “My family didn’t . . . survive the invasion.”

“Oh my God, I’m sorry to hear that.” I glanced over at Heidi, and that part didn’t seem like it was news to her.

“Thank you,” Emery murmured, and then lifted her gaze, looking at Luc. “Things were kind of a mess afterward. You know how everything was. I ended up on the streets and Luc took me in.”

Surprise flickered through me. “He took you in?”

Luc nodded, those fingers still tapping behind my shoulder. “I’m charitable like that.”

“He did the same for Kent,” Emery added, her fingers stilling over her fork. “He’d lost his family too and had no place to go until he found Luc.”

That piece of information was unexpected, because my impression of Luc was not charitable, but more important, Luc and Emery looked roughly the same age. How in the world would Luc be in the position to take anyone in when he was fifteen?

Unless he was lying about his age.

“Emery is my age,” Luc replied, and my entire body jolted. “And I was more than capable of helping her out.”

My eyes narrowed on his profile. Seriously. It was like he was inside my head, because I knew damn well I didn’t ask that question out loud. Wait. Could he be?

No. I’d never heard that any Luxen could do that.

A half smile appeared as his gaze slid to mine. Our stares connected, and the effect was instantaneous. Everything around us faded, and there was just us, and this . . . this sensation of falling. I couldn’t look away as this feeling surfaced, rushing to the top.