I thought about messaging Zoe and seeing what she was up to, because I didn’t want to go home. Mom probably wouldn’t be there for hours. She’d been working super-late every day this week, something to do with foreign officials visiting.

Pushing my hair back as the wind picked it up, I cut between two absurdly large trucks, making a mental note yet again to get to school in a timelier manner. Walking this far sucked, which meant I probably needed to walk more. I slipped out between the trucks just as someone stepped in front of me.

“Whoa.” Jerking to a halt, I stopped myself a second before I face-planted into a chest. A hand gripped my arm, steadying me as I looked up. It was a guy—that guy. It took me a moment to recognize him and those dark sunglasses. He was the guy who’d helped me pick up my spilled notebooks. “Hey.”

He smiled as he let go of my arm. “This is becoming a habit—meeting in the parking lot.”

“It is.” I lifted the strap of my bag, settling it in on my shoulder. “I should really pay more attention to where I’m walking. Sorry about that.”

“You should, but then I wouldn’t benefit from your lack of paying attention.” His tone was light, teasing even.

The corners of my lips curved up as I wondered who this guy was. “I don’t think . . . we’ve met before. I mean, outside of me dropping my stuff all over the ground.”

His head tilted slightly. “Oh, but we’ve definitely met before.”

“Oh.” Embarrassed, I felt my cheeks heat. “Do we have a class together? I’m sorry. As you can tell, I’m not really observant.”

If Luc were here to hear me admit that, he’d be doubled over in laughter.

The smile on the guy’s face grew as he shook his head. “We don’t have class together.”

My grin faltered.

“I don’t go to this school,” he added, placing his hand on the fender of the truck he stood next to. “And I’m not from . . . around here.”

Confusion filled me as I stared up at the guy. “Then I don’t remember how we’ve met.”

“I’m beginning to see that. Understand that.” He paused. “Which is very interesting to me. I can’t figure it out.”

I had no idea what this guy was talking about, but I honestly didn’t want to find out. A chill powered down my spine as primal instinct sparked alive. Something about this conversation, this guy, wasn’t right.

“Well, it’s nice seeing you again.” I stepped to the side, deciding I needed to listen to whatever inside me was saying it was time to end this conversation. “But I have to get going—”

“Don’t run off just yet.” With his other hand, he reached up and lowered his sunglasses. “Not before I tell you want we have in common.”

Surprise rocked me as I saw his eyes. They were the same startling shade of violet as Luc’s, and just like Luc’s, the black line of his irises were fuzzy. “You’re . . .”

One side of his lips kicked up. That dimple in his right cheek appeared. “An Origin?” His voice dropped low. “Yes. That is what I am.”

Luc had made it sound like there weren’t many Origins in existence, but there was definitely one standing in front of me.

“Luc would be correct. There aren’t many of us left.”

I gasped, realizing he was reading my mind.

“And you know what? Luc could tell you exactly why there aren’t many Origins left.” Metal dented under the hand resting on the truck. The paint immediately smoked and peeled back. My eyes widened. “Don’t,” he murmured, straightening his sunglasses with his other. “Don’t draw unnecessary attention, Evie.”

My heart thundered. Why, oh why, didn’t we have retinal checks at the entrances of the parking lot? Then again, Luc had those contacts, and I had a feeling this Origin would’ve found a way around them.

“Because if you draw attention to us, then I’m going to have to make a scene,” he continued. “And I’ve already made quite a few scenes. I think you’ve witnessed at least one of them.”

The next breath caught in my throat as I realized what he was talking about. “You . . . you’re responsible for what happened to Amanda? Colleen?”

“Well, I wouldn’t say I was a hundred percent responsible.” The easy grin remained fixed “But I’m not solely responsible.”

I tried to draw in a shallow breath, but it did nothing to ease the pressure clamping down on my chest as I glanced around. People were near their cars, but no one was looking at us. Why would they? From a distance, he just looked like some normal guy, especially with the sunglasses on.

“Evie,” he said my name so softly. “Are you paying attention to me?”

“Yes.” My gaze shot back to his.

“Good. Now ask me who else is responsible.”

My heart was tripping all over itself as I forced the words out. “Who else is responsible?”

“Good girl.” He took a slow, measured step forward. The paint on the truck rolled back, hanging limply in the wake of his touch. “Luc is. He’s about eighty percent responsible.”


“So are you,” he cut me off. “After all, I thought I was grabbing you that night at the club. I mean, I’d only seen you from a distance, talking to Luc, and that girl was wearing the same color dress. She was a blonde. Honest mistake. Kind of worked in my favor, though, especially when I grabbed another blonde. That was on purpose. You know, just to do it.”

Horror froze every muscle in my middle as what he said sunk in. I thought about what Heidi had said about both of them being blondes. It had been a pattern, a terrifying pattern.

“Because I got to see you up close and personal in this very parking lot. I knew you weren’t that second girl.” The easy tone of his remained level. “But she knew you.”

A horn blew in the distance, causing me to jump.

“It was so easy to find you.”

Luc’s warning came back to me with a vengeance. Do you know how easy it was to find you? Christ. He hadn’t been joking around.

“I don’t understand—”

“Neither do I. Well, some parts of this little story,” he said. “I don’t understand you. Yet. But I’m figuring it out. Going to your house helped.”

Oh my God. He was the one in my house that night—

“Yes,” he intruded into my panicked thoughts. “More than once, actually. You should really set that alarm system. I mean, what good is having one when you don’t use it? Then again . . .” He laughed, a sound so at odds with what he was saying. “It wouldn’t have stopped me. I was so close, I left my mark behind.”

Horror gave way to nausea as understanding filled me. I stumbled back a step. “You scratched me?”

“Well, yeah, and I was choking you.” His smile spread to both sides of his mouth. “Just a little.”

“Just a little?” Bile climbed up my throat. Terror turned my blood cold as my heart ended up somewhere in my throat. My hand closed into a fist. I’d been so close—

“To dying? Yeah, but not as close as you have been before. Don’t—” His voice rose and his tone sharpened. “Come any closer.”

I thought he was talking to me at first, but I wasn’t trying to get near him. Then my gaze shot behind him. Standing between the bed of the truck was Emery. Behind her was . . . Connor. What was Emery doing here? I didn’t see Heidi. And why was she with Connor?

“You two come any closer, I will have to do something that would be considered inappropriate,” the Origin said, never looking behind him. Not once. “Something that would make Luc very upset, and you guys don’t want that. Right? You know what happens when Luc is . . . disappointed.”

“I don’t know who you are and I don’t even care at the moment, but it seems like you know Luc and what happens when he’s angry. You do not want to get on his bad side,” Emery warned as the wind picked up, tossing the longer hair across her face. “Trust me on this.”