A story?

That was not what I’d come here for. I wanted to know what he knew about my mom—about what secrets she could possibly be keeping. But the moment I stepped inside the slightly chilly room and Luc flipped on an overhead light, I wasn’t thinking about what he could know.

This was not the kind of dingy apartment I was expecting.

My wide gaze traveled across the long length of the room. With the exception of two doors, which I guessed led to a bathroom and maybe a closet, the large space was entirely open. There was a huge living room with one of those deep moon-pit-style couches seated in front of shuttered, floor-length windows. A massive TV sat across from it, perched on a metal-and-glass stand. Floors were hardwood throughout, and flowed into a bedroom. The bed—oh my—the bed was on a raised platform. Two long wooden dressers butted up one side of the room, next to a clean desk. Only a laptop sat on the surface.

Looking around, I saw nothing personal. No pictures. No posters. The walls were all bare. Luc brushed past me as I stepped in farther and spied a guitar in the corner, by the TV.

Luc played the guitar?

I peeked at him. He was walking into the kitchen area, one long-fingered hand trailing over what appeared to be a slab of slate countertop. Did he play the guitar shirtless?

I rolled my eyes. I did not need to know the answer to that question. “This is your place?”

“Yep.” He walked to a stainless-steel fridge.

I shook my head. “How is that possible? How do you own this—own the club? You’re only eighteen and I didn’t think Luxen could own property?”

“They can’t, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t found a way around those laws. My name isn’t on any documentation, but all of this is mine.”

“You mean it belonged to your parents?”

He laughed under his breath. “I don’t have parents.”

I frowned. Luxen totally had parents, but then I figured out what that must’ve meant. Luc’s parents were dead, either before the invasion or during. Maybe they had—

“They didn’t leave me money, either,” he cut in, and my eyes narrowed. “I knew a guy once who had been really good with money. His name was Paris. Learned a lot from him.”

Paris? What an odd name. Sounded familiar. Wait. That was a real person in history, right? “Where is Paris now?”


“Oh. I’m . . . I’m sorry.”

His back was stiff as he lifted a hand, thrusting his fingers through his hair. “Do you know? Wait. Of course you don’t.” He laughed, dropping his hand as he twisted. “Paris was like a father to me. He was a good man, and I . . . I got him killed. That’s not an exaggeration. I involved him in something—something reckless, before the invasion, and he died for it.”

I didn’t know what to say to that.

“I’ll get back to that part. You want to know why I keep saying I’m not a Luxen? It’s because I’m not.”

I cocked my head to the side and folded my arms. “Why do you keep saying that?”

“Because it’s the truth.” He faced me, and I sort of wished he’d kept his back to me. “I’m an Origin.”

I blinked once and then twice. “You’re a what?”

One side of his lips kicked up. “An Origin. The offspring of a Luxen and a mutated human.”

Several moments passed as I stared at him. “A mutated human?” A hoarse laugh escaped me. “You know what, I think I just need to find Kent and—Holy crap.”

Luc was suddenly right there, towering over me. He wasn’t touching me, but he was close enough that I could feel the heat radiating from his bare skin. “I have no reason to lie to you. None. You need to understand that I have absolutely nothing to gain.” His gaze met mine. “And everything to lose by telling you what the vast majority of the world doesn’t know.”

I swallowed as I held his stare. “What do you have to lose?”

A long moment passed before he answered. “Everything.”

My heart lurched in my chest. “Then why would you risk everything by telling me anything?”

“Good question.” His head tilted slightly. “But you want to the truth and I’m feeling chatty. The question is: Are you willing to listen?”

Part of me want to find my bag and get the hell out of here, but I did want the truth and I could decide when this was all over if he was lying or not. I nodded. “I’m willing to listen.”

“Perfect.” He turned, and in a blink of an eye, he was in front of the fridge, door open. He grabbed two Cokes. “There’s a lot the public doesn’t know.”

Our fingers brushed as I took the Coke he offered me. I thought about what my mom had said about the public not knowing everything. My grip on the can tightened. “Does it have to do with the group my father worked in? The Daedalus?”

A wry twist of his lips appeared as he nodded. “Why don’t you take a seat?”

Exhaling roughly, I looked around and decided the couch was the safest place. I walked over and sat on the edge. It was a wide and deep couch, and if I scooted all the way back, I’d have to roll out of it.

“Your mother told you that the Luxen had been here for a while, right? And that the Daedalus worked on assimilating them into society, hiding them. That’s not all they did.” Luc strode past me, placing his unopened can on the end table. “You see, the Luxen are hard to kill, something the world learned during the invasion.”

Shivering, I twisted and watched him.

“It’s not just because they’re powerful, able to tap into what they call the Source and utilize it as a weapon.” Luc stopped by a dresser, yanking a drawer open. “It’s also because they can use it to heal themselves, which is what Chas did when he returned to his true form. But the really interesting thing is what they can do to humans with that power.”

“Kill them?” I asked, popping open the can.

He chuckled as he pulled out a long-sleeve black shirt. Thank God. “They can heal humans.”

My hand jerked, and carbonated goodness seeped over my fingers. “What?”

As he pulled the shirt over his head, I looked away before I got caught up in watching all those muscles start doing weird and interesting things. “Luxen can heal anything from minor scrapes to near-fatal gunshot wounds. Of course, they have to want to do that, and most never did before the invasion, because their way of life—their safety—harbored on the fact that humans didn’t know they existed. Running around and healing people with their hands is going to draw attention. People who did know the truth ended up disappearing. Even now. People who know the truth go missing. The truth is dangerous.”

A shudder worked its way through me. And now I was going to know the truth.

Tugging the hem of his shirt down, he faced me. The shirt only helped a little. “And healing humans can have strange side effects. If they healed a human multiple times or if it was a massive job, like legit saving someone’s life, it could change the human.”

I took a sip of the soda as Luc made his way back to the couch. “Mutate them?”

“Yep.” He sat down next to me. “In some cases, not all, the human would take on some of the Luxen’s characteristics, able to use the Source. They would be stronger and they wouldn’t get sick.”

I mouthed that word. Hybrid. It sounded like something straight out of a science-fiction novel. “But those hybrids are still . . . human, right?”

“Yes? No?” He shrugged. “I guess that’s up for debate, but what isn’t is that everything changed once the Daedalus realized the Luxen didn’t get sick and that they could heal humans. Groups like the Daedalus started out with the best of intentions. They studied the Luxen, seeing if they could use their genetics to cure human diseases, everything from”—exhaling roughly, he looked away—“the common cold to certain cancers. The Daedalus knew the key to eradicating diseases was in Luxen DNA. They developed treatments and serums derived from Luxen DNA. Some of them worked.” Another terse pause. “Some of them didn’t.”