“Why?” I barked out a short, harsh laugh. “You’re being an ass.”

“Because I acknowledged that you were so obviously checking me out and you reacted like I accused you of drinking the blood of babies on the Sabbath?”

My nose wrinkled and my gaze dipped. I had no idea what his skin felt like, but I imagined it was like silk stretched over steel. Dammit. I needed to stop—

He stepped in, and my back straightened. “Let’s start over. Completely. You’ll pretend that the mere idea of being attracted to me doesn’t freak you out, and I’ll pretend that you’re not thinking about how I’d feel under your fingers. Hmm? Sound like a plan?”

My jaw hit the floor as the heat splashed down my throat. I stepped forward, pointing a finger at him. “I am not thinking that.”

His grin spread. “Stubborn and a terrible liar. I guess some things never change.”

“You haven’t known me long enough to know that I’m a crap liar.”

Turning away, he ran a hand over one of the tables. “I know you just as well as you know yourself.”

“Whatever.” Irritation flared. “You know what I know? I know that you like to say crap that makes no sense just to hear yourself talk.”

Luc chuckled in a deep, would’ve-been-nice kind of way if it had been coming from anyone else. “Hell, you do know me.”

“I have to agree,” came a voice from me. I turned, spying Kent. I had no idea where he’d come from, but he was carrying a bottle of water. “That sounds exactly like the Luc I know.”

“You’re not supposed to agree with her.” Luc reached the bar area. “Bro code, dude. Bro code.”

Kent winked as he walked past me. “She came alone.”

I’d just picked my jaw off the floor to have it fall again. “You were checking me out to see if I came alone?”

“Of course we did,” Luc said. “We’re not stupid.”

I gaped at him. “You told me to come here. Why would you think I brought someone with me?”

“Because you did last time,” he explained. “And I have a feeling you don’t even quite know why you did come.”

I snapped my mouth shut.

Luc started walking again. “So we were just making sure there weren’t any surprises.”

Kent moved closer to me. “I don’t think we’ve formally met. You’re Evie. I’m Kent. I like long walks in dark cemeteries and I want to have a pet llama before I die.”

I blinked. “A llama?”

“He’s a bit obsessed with llamas,” Luc chimed in.

“Hell yeah. Who wouldn’t be? I mean, they’re like God got confused, you know? He already made horses and sheep, and decided, let’s mix that together, and voilà—you get a llama,” Kent explained. “Freaking ah-mazing. Have you ever met a llama?”

“No,” I murmured.

“That’s a shame. Anyway, we’ll be taking this.” Before I could react, he’d slipped my backpack off my arm. He smiled when I spun toward him. “Only until you’re ready to leave.”

“Are you serious?” I demanded. “What do you think I’m hiding in there? A bomb?”

“We can never be too careful,” Luc called from the hall. “And you did threaten to call the police once.”

I whipped back around, finding him waiting for us. “I told you I wouldn’t have actually done that! And I thought we were starting over and pretending to actually like each other.”

“We’re selectively pretending certain things didn’t happen.”

“God,” I groaned as disappointment trickled into my veins. It was obvious he didn’t trust me completely, and I didn’t know why that bothered me, but it did. Which was stupid, because it wasn’t like I trusted him either. “I thought we . . .” I thought we were past all that. Man, that was such a stupid thought, I couldn’t even begin to explain.

His gaze sharpened. “We what?”

I drew in a deep breath. “I do not like you.”

Luc bowed in my direction, sending a shock of hair over his forehead.

“Don’t be mad at him. You can never be too safe nowadays. I mean, have you seen the news? Just the other day, a known Luxen community center in Denver was bombed.”

I hadn’t heard that.

“Someone walked right in, put a backpack down, walked out, and blew up a bunch of innocent people, including humans. So, we’re careful.” Kent hitched my bag over his shoulder. “But I won’t let your bag out of my sight.” He brought it around to his chest and hugged it close. “It’ll be my new best friend.”

My gaze flickered over him and his Mohawk. The hair had to be standing up a good seven inches. “Okay.”

“I thought we could chat upstairs, where it’s more comfortable,” Luc intervened. “You coming?”

This was how I figured most horror films started out, but in for a penny, in for a pound . . .

So I sighed my annoyance and trekked after Luc. He held the door to the stairwell open for me. I walked through and started up the stairs.

Luc easily caught up with me, and Kent was right behind him. Trying to shake the nervousness, I trailed my hand along the railing.

Miraculously, they were quiet as we rounded the second floor. Luc kept walking, continuing up several flights of stairs, and I vaguely wondered if it would kill them to have an elevator.

Not even out of breath while I was seconds from dying, Luc opened the door to the sixth floor. This hallway looked like the one on the second except it was wider and had fewer doors.

“I’m gonna make myself scarce with your bag.” Kent walked past us, whistling what sounded like a Christmas song under his breath, and opened one of the doors down the hall. “You two kids, behave yourselves! Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

My eyes widened. As Kent disappeared into a room down the hall, Luc said, “Kent is . . . Well, he’s different, but he kind of grows on you.”

“Yeah.” Legs burning, I forced one foot in front of the other until Luc stopped outside a windowless wooden door. My heart flip-flopped in my chest. “How’s Chas?”

“Better. He’ll be back to hundred percent by tomorrow.”

“He’s lucky,” I said, and Luc looked over at me. “I mean, if he were human—”

“He wouldn’t have survived the attack,” he finished for me. “And if he wore a Disabler, he wouldn’t have been able to heal himself.”

I worried my bottom lip, looking down. “Is this . . . your room?”

“More like my apartment.”

His apartment. Right. Not like he had just a bedroom in his parents’ house. For all I knew, he had been hatched from an egg somewhere.

Luc lifted an arm, brushing his hair from his face. My gaze followed the movement of all the skin and muscles. He dropped his arm as he faced me.

Our gazes connected, and I found I couldn’t look away. There was something entrancing about his stare, and for a long moment neither of us spoke. A weird edginess surfaced, the same I felt when I’d been here on Saturday, and it seeped into the hall and settled over my skin like smoke. It was like being near an electric storm. I half expected the overhead lights to dim or explode.

He lowered his gaze, breaking the connection. His voice was low. “I’m glad you came.”

I blinked. “You are?”

A moment passed. Dark, impossibly thick lashes lifted. Amethyst eyes latched on to my eyes once more. “Yeah. I didn’t think you would.”

I crossed my arms and shifted my weight from one foot to the next. “Would you blame me if I hadn’t?”

“No.” A wry grin formed.

Warmth hit my cheeks. “You were right earlier. I’m not even sure why I’m here.”

The grin spread as he turned, pressing his finger against a pad. Fingerprint read and processed, the lock unclicked. High tech right there. “I know why.”

My stomach tumbled a little. “Why?”

Luc opened the door. “Because I’m going to tell you a story.”