“They shouldn’t be allowed to go to school with us. They’re not human. They’re aliens!” April continued.

“They shouldn’t be here!” shouted one of the guys standing with her. He rattled his sign as if that helped get the point across. “They don’t belong!”

Pink splashed across the face of one of the younger Luxen. She dipped her chin, letting her brown hair fall forward.

April’s eyes gleamed as she shook her arms. “No more Luxen! No more fear! Come on. Say it with me! No more Luxen! No more fear!”

Those with her picked up the chant. Someone behind us stood, yelling the same. I turned in my seat as Heidi cursed. “Where are the teachers? Jesus!”

“No more Luxen! No more fear!” The chants rose from several other tables. Students lumbered to their feet, climbing onto their seats. Their fists pumped the air, reminding me of those dancing at Foretoken.

Not everyone was chanting.

Others stayed quiet, exchanging awkward looks. I shifted toward Zoe. “This is so wrong.”

Zoe lips pursed. “I cannot believe I was ever nice to her.”

“You and me both.” Anxious energy rose from the pit of my stomach. I should do something. We needed do something. I looked away from Heidi’s pale face and shifted toward Zoe. “We need—”

“That’s enough! Everyone, get off the chairs and shut up!” Coach Saunders, the phys ed teacher, stalked down the middle of the cafeteria. “Right now.”

April’s chin jutted out stubbornly. “You can’t stop me. It’s my right to protest. That’s what being a human means.”

James slowly turned around. “I don’t think April knows what the whole right to protest thing means.”

“He can’t stop us,” April told those around her. “Come on! No more Luxen! No more fear! No—”

“Your right to protest doesn’t extend to the middle of cafeteria, Ms. Collins.” Coach Saunders snatched a poster out of a boy’s hand and tossed it aside. “Get down now and, all of you—every single one of you, get to Principle Newman’s office.”

A few of April’s minions stopped right then and there, but April kept shouting her lame chant until a female teacher showed up and practically yanked her right off the chair. That didn’t quiet April down. She was still yelling as she was escorted out of the cafeteria.

“Wow.” James slowly faced us. “Doesn’t she make you feel all warm and fuzzy?”

Heidi snorted.

“She makes me feel things, all right.” Zoe stabbed her lettuce with a fork. “But more like cold and prickly.”

The table where the Luxen usually sat was now empty.

As I glanced over my shoulder, I saw that some of the shouting students were still standing, their gazes fastened on the doorway, where you could hear April’s distant chants.

They looked . . . woke.

Like they’d just experienced something enlightening and found a righteous path laid out before them. A reason. A cause. A purpose. They were nodding as they looked among one another, faces I’d recognized and saw nearly every day for the last four years. Nice girls. Smart guys. Clever people.

I saw my ex, Brandon.

He was standing by the windows, his floppy brown hair golden in the sunlight. His warm, friendly smile was gone, replaced by a thin, hard line. He was slowly nodding too, as if he were answering April’s call.

He yanked his chair back, climbed up onto it, and then jumped onto the table. “No more Luxen! No more fear!” He thrust his fist into the air. “No more Luxen!”

* * *

I yawned loudly as I switched out my textbooks at the end of the day. I needed to grab my chem book, since I had a feeling there was going to be a quiz tomorrow.

“You doing anything later?” James asked. He was lounging against the locker next to mine, staring down the hall. Part of me wondered if he knew he was staring at the girls’ bathroom.

“I think I’m just going to go home and sleep. Today has been exhausting.” I started to close my locker. “So I’m thinking about napping the evening away.”

“Want company?”

My entire body jerked. That question had so not come from James, but from a now-familiar voice. My breath caught, and I slowly turned to my left.

Luc stood there.

Wearing one of those slouchy knit beanies. Dove gray. He looked good in it. Really good, even though it had to be seventy outside and he was wearing a short-sleeve shirt.

I blinked hard, thinking he had to be a mirage, because he couldn’t be here. But he was still there, standing in the hallway of my school.

One side of his lips kicked up. “Hey, Peaches.”

Knocked out of my stupor, I shut the locker door. “What are you doing here?”

“Recon.” He was wearing those damn contacts.


“Yeah.” The other side of his lips tipped up. “Thinking about enrolling in good ole Centennial High.”

I gaped at him. He couldn’t be serious.

“Who’s this, Evie?” James asked.

“Luc.” He answered, leaning around me and extending a hand before I could say a thing. “And you’re James.”

James’s gaze flicked to Luc and then back up. His shoulders tensed, and he didn’t take Luc’s hand.

Luc arched a brow.

Oh dear.

“You’re the friend who let her roam around the club when she went to get her phone.” Luc tilted his head to the side. “You’re a good friend.”

“All right,” I said as I gripped Luc’s arm. A charge of electricity, much more benign than before, passed through my palm. “Glad you two have formally met. Can you excuse us?” I asked James. “I’ve got to talk to him.”

His jaw worked. “You going to be okay with this guy?”

Luc laughed, and it was a sound of warning. “That’s an interesting question coming from—”

“I’m fine.” My grip tightened on Luc’s arm.

“Ow,” he murmured, even though I know it didn’t hurt him.

“He might not be,” I finished. “Seriously. I’ll text you later. Okay?”

James didn’t look like he was going to back off, but after a moment he nodded. “Text me.”

“I will.” I smiled and then pulled on Luc’s arm, tugging him away from James and my locker. I waited until we were halfway down the stairs before I let go of his arm. “Seriously. What are you doing here, Luc?”

“I kinda like the arm-grabbing thing,” he replied, shoving his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “Very dominant of you. Maybe I’m the submissive type in, you know, the—”

“Shut up,” I hissed. “Why are you here?”

“How can I shut up and answer your question at the same time?”

I shot him a death glare. “Luc.”

“I was in the neighborhood.” He opened the door and then held it as I walked outside. Pretty sure he let it swing closed in someone’s face. “Thought I’d stop by and say hi.”

I had no idea what to respond to that, so I dug out my sunglasses and slipped them on. “You’re not seriously thinking about enrolling, are you?” I didn’t even know if that was possible or not.

Luc snorted as he fell in step with me. “No. I would be so bored out of my mind, I’d probably set the entire school on fire.”


“Just being honest.” He squinted as he glanced over at me. “There really is nothing new I could learn in school.”

“Really? You know everything?” Gravel crunched under my feet as we neared the area where Amanda’s car had been idling. I focused on Luc, not wanting to think about her sitting in that car.

“Pretty much.”

The desire to prove that wasn’t correct got the better of me. “Okay. Who was the twelfth president of the United States?”

“Zachary Taylor,” he answered immediately. “And he wasn’t president very long. He died of a very upset stomach. Side note, there’s still much debate over what exactly caused his death.”