“That’s not possible.” I lifted my gaze.

But it wasn’t impossible, was it? Luc had said that as an Origin, he could do this. He’d also said Luxen could heal humans. Scratches. Bumps. Bruises. Wounds. I let go of my shirt.

Luc had healed me.


“I just don’t like him,” James was saying as we walked into school Thursday morning. “And it has nothing to do with what he is.”

That was good to hear, since James had no idea what Luc really was. “He doesn’t make good first impressions.”

“No kidding?” He snorted as we neared my locker. “I know you say you’re not involved with him—”

“And I’m not,” I told him for the umpteenth time. That was the truth. Luc and I were barely friends. I decided that was probably a good thing—a great thing. Really. Something about him left me . . . unnerved and confused, and I didn’t like it. At all.

Luc was an unknown variable, and that made me feel like a mess. And I didn’t need any messy stuff right now. Not when the world felt like it was on the verge of imploding again.

James nudged my arm. “You know, I’m just concerned.”

“Why?” Right now I thought there were a lot more important things to be concerned with. Like who’d wiped out an entire family yesterday, and was it related to what had happened to Colleen and Amanda?

And Luc’s reaction to it? It was like he knew something. What, I had no idea, and I hadn’t heard from him since he’d literally disappeared from my house.

“I don’t know,” he said as I opened my locker door and grabbed my books. “Ever since you went to that club with Heidi, you’ve been different. And don’t ask me how. It’s just a feeling.”

It was too early in the morning for these kinds of deep thoughts. “I’m the same Evie as before . . . and before that . . . and before that, too.”

James was quiet for a moment. “Well, that looks like it’s going to be a problem.”

At first I didn’t know what he was talking about, but I followed his gaze and saw that he was checking out one of the younger Luxen boys. He was at a locker several feet away, by himself. I thought maybe his name was David . . . or Danny. Something like that. The metal band around his wrist gleamed in the light as he gripped the edge of the locker door. He was alone, but he wasn’t going unnoticed.

Two older guys were standing across from him, by one of the glass cases full of really crappy senior art projects that had been completed last year. I recognized the guys as part of April’s protesting pack, which was out in front of the school again.

Except for these two.

They were eyeing the younger boy like a pack of hyenas sizing up a baby gazelle for dinner. Not good.

“You know,” I said. “I tried talking to April about what she’s doing.”

“I bet that went well.”

I bit down on my lip as I closed my locker door. The young Luxen was obviously aware of the guys. His knuckles seemed to be bleached white, and it appeared as if he were stalling, probably hoping they’d leave first.

The two guys didn’t look like they were going anywhere.

Nervous energy buzzed through my veins. I could just walk away. I didn’t know the boy. A horrible voice whispered, Why get involved? It had nothing to do with me . . . but didn’t it?

Straightening the strap on my bag, I made up my mind. “Do you know those two guys?” I asked, jerking my chin in their direction. “Are they jerks?”

James nodded. “Yeah, they’re dicks.”

“So, they’re probably not eyeballing the boy because they like his shirt and want to know where he got it so they can buy one?”


I drew in a deep breath. “I’m going to see if he needs someone to walk with him to class. I mean, I’m not going to say it like that, because that would sound weird and awkward, but you know, I’m just going to . . . be there.”

James pushed away from the locker beside me. “I’ll join you.”

Thankful I wasn’t going at this alone, I walked toward the young Luxen. His head jerked up and swung in my direction before I got within a foot of him. His shoulders were stiff as wariness crept into deep ocean-blue eyes.

“Hi,” I blurted out. “I don’t think we’ve ever met. My name is Evie, and this is James.”

The Luxen glanced at James, and then those startling blue eyes centered on me. “Daniel—I’m Daniel.”

Aha! I almost had his name correct. “You’re a sophomore?”

He nodded as James angled his body, blocking Daniel from the other guys. “Yeah. You guys are . . . seniors?”

“Yep,” I chirped a bit too happily. “Do you have class on the second floor? James and I do.”

“I do.” He closed his locker door. A moment passed. “Why are you guys talking to me?”

I blinked at the blunt question.

“You’ve never talked to me before, and I’ve seen you guys every day at your locker since the start of school.”

“Well, is there any better time than now to start talking?” James dropped a hand on the smaller boy’s shoulder. “Since we’re heading upstairs, we’ll keep you company.”

“Uh-huh.” Daniel’s gaze dropped to James’s hand, and then he arched a brow. I honestly thought he was going to tell us to take a hike, which would be a really bad thing, because the two hyena boys were looking like they were working up the nerve to say or do something. “I know why you guys are doing this.”

Prepared to deny the truth until I ran out of oxygen, I opened my mouth, but James said, “Then you know it’s probably a smart idea to let us walk you upstairs. Because that’s Andy and Leo standing over there. Let me give you a quick character breakdown for you. They’re both linebackers on the football team. They have a tendency to accidentally knock students down, and they have one-half of a fully working brain between the two of them.”

Daniel’s lips twitched. “And let me guess, they’re not fans of the Luxen?”

“I’m going to say that would be a reasonable assumption.” James patted his shoulder and then dropped his hand. “So, what class do you have?”


“Then let’s go.” I stepped around so I was on his other side. “I can’t be late. I have this phobia of walking into class after the bell rings. Freaks me out when everyone stares at me as I take my seat and the teacher gives me that disappointed, annoyed stare.”

Daniel didn’t respond as he swung his backpack over his shoulder, but he started walking, and we followed him, caging him in from either side. As the three of us made our way to the second floor, gazes followed and silence fell, broken only by hushed whispers. Tension cloaked the stairwell, as suffocating as a heavy blanket. James appeared to be immune to it, because he talked about some investment TV show he’d been watching at night. Or maybe he was trying to distract Daniel or himself.

Maybe he was trying to distract me, because the tips of my ears were burning, and every time I looked around us, I saw gazes turn from wary to outright hostile.

“He shouldn’t be here,” someone said in a whisper that carried, and then another said, “You know one of them killed Colleen and Amanda.” Someone else responded, but I couldn’t make out what was said.

“They killed that family,” another said, louder.

Daniel’s cheeks began to turn pink.

My stomach sank as those words settled into me. If it all was hard for me to hear and to see, I couldn’t even imagine what it felt like for Daniel. There could be a hundred people like James willing to serve as a barrier for Daniel, for the other Luxen, but no one could be there every day, in every class.

Deep down I knew that whispered words were going to turn into actions, and things would escalate. Fear would turn to hatred, and that was a deadly combination. The school was a powder keg, and it wasn’t a matter of if it would blow.

It was only a matter of when.

* * *

Walking to my car after class, I kept expecting Luc to pop up out of nowhere, but as I glanced over my shoulder and scanned the parking lot, I didn’t see him.