I stilled. Probably even stopped breathing.

“From there, I tried to keep an eye on you. If not me, then Grayson.” He didn’t look at me. “Or Emery. I know you probably hate hearing that, but I was worried whoever was around was going to come after you. I was right, and obviously I didn’t do a good enough job at keeping an eye on you. He still got to you. More than once.”

I didn’t even know what to think as I stared at the hard cut of his profile. He’d been watching me? Had people watching me? Part of me wanted to be pissed off. A huge part, because that was just freaking creepy. “Did you guys set off the motion detector before?”

He raised a brow as he glanced over at me. “I didn’t, but I’m pretty sure Grayson did.”

“So, that’s why you’ve been hanging out with me? The same reason Emery and Heidi—”

“No, that is not the reason why I’ve been hanging out with you.” His gaze met mine. “I could keep watch and you’d never know I was there.”

“Well, that’s creepy.”

“You’re mad.”

“I’m—I don’t know. I mean, yeah. I think anyone would be freaked out by the idea that people have been watching over them.”


“But I kind of get it. Okay. I do get it. It’s still creepy.” I looked away. “But I also may be a target of a psychotic Origin, so there’s that.”

“There is that.”

A long moment passed before I spoke again. “Do you think he’s out for revenge?”

“I think its something like that. I think now he’s just messing with me.”

“Why? If he hates you because of what you had to do with the other Origins, then why doesn’t he come for you?” I asked. “Why go after other people?”

“Like I said, to mess with me.” His throat worked on a swallow. “I think with high levels of intelligences also comes the high level of sociopathic tendencies. Sometimes I think with each batch of Origin, they were getting closer and closer to creating the perfect serial killer and not human.”

I gaped at him. “Wow.”

He slid a look at me. “Anyway, I brought you something. A gift.”

My brows rose as he shifted and reached into his pocket, pulling out an object that was small and black, and kind of reminded me of the pedi thing I used in the shower.

“Wait. Is that a Taser?”

“It’s a stun gun.”

I frowned as I resisted making grabby fingers at it. “Aren’t they the same thing?”

“Actually, no. A Taser can be used from a distance and close contact. A stun gun only works at close contact. Kind of surprised not every human is outfitted with one of these.” He lifted a shoulder. “Cartridges are inside, and its ready to be used. All you have to do is press this against the skin and hit the button,” he explained. “It will take a human down for a bit, but it will incapacitate a Luxen, hybrid, or Origin for a couple of minutes, if not longer if they’re weakened or wounded.” He offered it to me. “Use it wisely.”

“As in not against you?” I took it, surprised by how lightweight it felt.

Luc smirked. “See that button? When you slide it up, the light will turn red. That means it’s ready to go. Then you just push the button.”

Because I had to, I did just that. The little light flipped red and then I pushed down. Electricity crackled between the prongs. “Cool.”

Luc was leaning back, nodding slowly.

Grinning, I placed it on the nightstand. “Thank you.”

One shoulder lifted. “I don’t plan for you ever to have to use it. Until we find the Origin who came after you today, you’re going to be stuck with one of us.”


“That’s not up for discussion, Peaches.”

“Don’t call me that,” I snapped. “How can you always be watching me? That’s not even feasible.”

A faint smile curved up his lips, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “I’m not going to let him hurt you again.”


He blinked. “You’re asking me why?”

“Yeah, why do you care? I mean, you barely know me, Luc. Why do you—”

“Not want to see you hurt or dead? Gee, I don’t know. Maybe because I’m a decent Origin?”

“So, you protect all helpless humans you come across?”

“Not all of them,” he said slowly. “Only the special ones.”


He sighed as his gaze returned to the pictures. “Only you would ask a question like that.”

“Only you would answer the question all evasively,” I shot back

“Because I know how much you love it,” he replied. “I know the sight of me probably disgusts you at this point, but you’re going to have to deal with me being around for a little longer, like it or not.”

“Wait. What? Why would you say that?” I asked, genuinely confused. “That you would disgust me?”

“I don’t?” His gaze inched back to mine. “I just told you that I killed a bunch—”

“I know what you told me,” I cut in, not wanting him to have to say those words again. “And I don’t want to say to that. The only thing I can think of is that it’s not fair that those kids were raised to become something like that. It’s not fair that people who tried to take care of them turned into victims. And it’s sure as hell not fair that you had to be put in a situation where you had to do something like that.”

Surprise widened his eyes. “You really think that? That I had to do that?”

“What else could you have done, Luc? I wasn’t there. I didn’t know these kids, and I . . . don’t know you all that well, but I think I know you would’ve done that only when it was your last option.”

“It was.” His voice was low. Hoarse.

“I’m sorry.” When he opened his mouth to speak again, I rushed on. “I’m sorry for all of you. For those kids and for you—I’m just sorry, and . . .” Anger flowed over me in a powerful wave. “And I hate that my mother—and my father—had a role in this. You have no idea how hard it is for me not to say something to my mom. I have so many things I want to say to her.”

Luc was quiet, oddly so.

Wanting to offer some level of comfort, I reached out. I hesitated with my hand a few inches from him, but then I placed my hand on his upper arm. Luc jerked as if my touch had scalded him, but he didn’t pull away. “I don’t know what you must be feeling or felt when you had to do that.”

He folded his hand over mine. “Someone who obviously has a problem with me broke your arm today, and you’re wanting to make me feel better?”

I lifted a shoulder as I slipped my hand out from under his. “I guess so.”

Luc opened his mouth as if he wanted to say something, but then he looked away.

I followed his gaze. Something occurred to me. “You never had any of that, did you?”

“Had what?”

I leaned a little closer to him. “Friends you went to parties with. Dressing up for Halloween. Sleeping in for no reason. Changing your Facebook profile pic three times in an hour just because you could? Pictures? Memories?”

“Memories? I have memories. Some of them are . . . actually beautiful,” he confessed. “Those memories came after my time with the Daedalus.”

At once, I knew who he was talking about. “Your friend? What was her name? Nadia?”

His shoulders tensed.

“You miss her, don’t you?”

Luc laughed, but it was without humor. “With every single breath I take.”

Wow. My heart squeezed in my chest as curiosity filled me. “Were you two together?” The question sounded ridiculous, because if my father was involved in her death, that had to be more than four years ago. Luc would’ve only been fourteen and she would’ve been thirteen. Then again, I’d seen some super-intimate young ’uns before.

“Like, together?” He laughed again, and once more, there was little softness to the sound. “I never would’ve been that lucky.”