“Well . . .” Kent took my empty can. “I’m just a lowly human, but apparently if she doesn’t see your trace, then that might not be a good thing.”

I focused on Emery. “Why?”

Emery lifted her hands. “Because every human who’s ever been healed always has a trace on them.”

“Well, I’m human, so—Wait, but Luc—”

“Luc is an Origin,” Kent confirmed. “But it works the same way. Origins leave a trace behind.”

My gaze swung to him. “Then what does that mean?”

Kent lifted a shoulder as he stood. “I have no idea. Anyway, I have to go.” He patted my head, easily moving out of reach when I swatted at his hand. “People to see. Stuff.”

I glared at him, super-annoyed. “Well, that was a lot of help when it comes to clearing things up for me.”

He winked at me. “Obviously, you understand how important it is to keep this quiet. If not . . .”

“Yeah, you’ll go after everyone I know and love?” I shot back.

Kent winked. “That’s my girl.” He walked out the room, throwing up a peace sign.

I turned to Emery. “God, why does everyone have to be so annoying?”

Emery gave me a sympathetic smile. “I know all of this sounds made-up.”

It did.

“But it’s the truth,” she continued. “Look, I’m going to go check on a few things. I’m sorry about what happened to you today. We’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.” She started to get up.

Emery didn’t get very far, though.

Catching her hand, Heidi pulled her back down for a kiss. Not exactly a quick one either. The tips of my ears were burning by the time they broke up and Emery sashayed out of the room.

“You really, really like her, don’t you?” I asked.

Heidi laughed softly. “I do. You know, I knew what she was the first night I met her. It never mattered to me. At all.”

There was a lot I wanted to talk about, but the really important one won out. “Why didn’t you tell me what Emery was?”

Heidi dragged her palms over her knees as her gaze fell to the carpet. “I didn’t think you’d . . . approve.”


She glanced at me. “Really. You haven’t . . .”

I haven’t what? I’d never been anti-Luxen. Then again, I’d never been really vocal either way in the past. I’d mostly been . . . quiet. Staying quiet was just as bad as being against them, and I had to get real with myself and take ownership for why she would’ve thought that. Because deep down, I had said things in passing that would’ve made her think that.

But when I looked at Luc or Emery, it was hard to see them other than how they presented themselves. It was hard to remember why I was scared of them, even when I’d seen Luc go all badass on the Luxen.

But here I was, obviously not afraid of Luc or Emery.

“I don’t care that she’s a Luxen.” And that was the truth. I held her gaze, grinding my teeth as the pain from my arm heightened. “It’s risky, though.”

“I know,” Heidi replied, voice low. “But it’s worth the risk. She’s worth it.”

“You’re worth it. I’m sorry,” I said, meaning it. “I really like Emery, and I don’t think it’s wrong. I really don’t.” Saying those words made me realize it was the truth. “I just worry if someone were to find out—”

“Like I said, it’s a risk we’re both willing to take. We’re careful. Usually when we’re out, she’s wearing contacts. Very few people know what Emery is.”

“Okay.” I was still worried though.

Heidi smiled a little. “What about you and Luc?”

I frowned. “What about him?”

She lifted a brow. “You were out for a few moments, but he was upset about how hurt you were, and from what I gather from Emery, Luc is never not chill. He pretty much operates on calm and calmer.”

I didn’t know how to respond to that. Mainly because I had no idea what I thought when it came to Luc. I was all over the place.

Heidi leaned into me, throwing an arm over my shoulder. “Things are kind of really bizarre now, aren’t they?”

I laughed dryly. “My mind is blown.” I made a poofing sound. “And then I’m not glowing?”

“It’s probably a good thing.”

“Yeah.” I dragged my hands over my knees. Staring at her profile, I began to wonder why exactly she sounded more nervous about that than she did about me having a trace. I was human. So, why wasn’t I glowing?

* * *

About an hour later Emery and a very reluctant Grayson drove me back to my car. They followed me home. Emery stayed, and a few minutes later Heidi showed up. By then there was just an occasional twinge of pain in my arm.

Mom wasn’t home, and I figured that for once her ever-increasing late nights were a blessing. The girls stayed until the sun set. They didn’t say it, but I knew they were there because of what had happened.

Once they left, I went to my bedroom and sat staring at my laptop screen. I’d actually Googled Arum. What I learned was that arum was actually an arrow-shaped plant that sometimes had berries.

Definitely nothing about aliens.

And that wasn’t at all helpful.

I went several pages deep on the search, and stuff really just got weird at that point. I didn’t know what I was expecting to find. An in-depth explanation of the different types of aliens? If there really were aliens called Arum and the government didn’t want us to know about them, then there wouldn’t be anything for me to find, so I had no idea what I was doing.

I closed my laptop, pushed it to the edge of the bed, and then I . . . I just sat there, staring at the corkboard of photos above my desk. They were pictures of my friends and me. Halloween. Christmas. Random shots. Some from this past summer, but summer felt like a lifetime ago.

Luc had been right.

Everything had changed.

And now there was a guy out there—a superpowerful Origin who had a major problem with Luc and had used me to get to him.

I almost couldn’t believe any of it happened, that it was happening. Some creepy guy had come after me, had killed because—

I sucked in a sharp breath as I closed my eyes, lowering my head to my hands. Was this guy going to come back? A chill curled down my spine as a terrible sense of foreboding washed over me. He’d been in my house, in this room while I slept—while my mother slept down the hall.

He’d . . . touched me and I’d had no idea. He’d choked me, and I’d thought it was a dream. What was stopping him from getting in here again? I knew that if he wanted to kill me, he could. I’d seen what Luc was capable of, and if this Origin was half as powerful, I didn’t stand a chance.

Icy terror pooled in my stomach. And what about Luc? Would he be safe? He was strong and fast, but . . .

Dropping my hands, I opened my eyes again and exhaled raggedly. I could sit here all night and worry about the Origin, but it wasn’t the only concern. My throat constricted. I knew so much now, things I had to keep secret. Staying quiet wasn’t going to be easy, but who would believe me? No one.

My gaze drifted to my bedroom door.

Did my mom know about the Arum and healing?

The moment that question entered my thoughts, I squirmed with unease, because of course she did. I knew she did. She worked for the Daedalus, but she conveniently left out the whole part about healing humans and a whole other alien race when she’d told me about it.

What else was she keeping secret?

I snatched a thick bobby pin off my nightstand and gathered up my hair, twisting it into a bun and then shoving the bobby pin in. I started to grab my laptop again when a text came through.

Are you awake?

It was that unknown number again, and my lips parted on a soft inhale. It was Luc. One of these days I just might add him as a contact. I sent a quick yes back to him.


I jolted. Incoming? What the hell did that mean? I lifted my head, clutching my phone—

A rapping came from my bedroom window.

“No way,” I whispered, eyes wide.