He looked up at me through his lashes as he moved both arms to the back of the couch. “I know a lot of things.”

“Okay. You just took creepy to a creeptastic level of unknown proportions.” It was time to find Heidi and get the hell out of here.

Luc chuckled again, and the sound would’ve been nice, attractive even, coming from anyone else. “I’ve been told that a time or two in my life.”

“Why am I not surprised? Don’t answer that question,” I said when he opened his mouth. “Can I have my ID back?”

He shifted suddenly, dropping his feet to the floor. Without warning, our faces were inches apart. As close as we were, it was hard not to get a little lost in the beauty of his features. And as close as we were, it was also hard not to get really freaked out. “What if I told you a truth? Would you tell me one in return?”

I clamped my mouth shut so hard, my jaw ached.

“You were right earlier. I’m not twenty-one,” he said, the gleam in his eyes now dancing. “I’m eighteen.” There was a short pause. “Almost nineteen. My birthday is December twenty-fourth. I’m a Christmas miracle. Now it’s your turn.”

“You’re creepy,” I replied. “That’s a truth I will tell.”

Luc was silent for a moment and then he laughed—laughed long and hard, surprising me. “Now, that is not how you play this game, Evie.”

I sucked in another sharp breath.

Suddenly the overhead lights came on, flooding the entire club in a harsh white glare. I squinted, momentarily confused. The music cut off, causing shouts of dismay. Those on the stage froze. People on the dance floor slowed and then stopped, exchanging bewildered looks as they panted.

“Damn.” Luc sighed. “This is going to be inconvenient.”

Someone darted past the alcove, heading toward the bar area. Forgetting about the stupid ID, I twisted in my seat and watched the guy disappear down a narrow hall.

“Hell.” Luc shot to his feet as fast as a strike of lightning. And holy canola oil, he was tall, and if I had been standing, he would have towered over my five-foot-five-inch frame. “Here we go again.” Sounding bored, he looked to Grayson. “You know what to do. Move them out.”

Grayson slipped his phone into his pocket and stood. Then he was gone, moving so fast he was nothing but a blur. If he’d been wearing a Disabler, he wouldn’t have been able to move like that.

“You’re coming with me,” Luc announced.

“What?” I squeaked. “I’m not going anywhere with you. Like, I wouldn’t even walk from here to the dance floor with you.”

“Well, that’s kind of offensive, but we’re about to be raided and not in the fun way.”

There was a fun way of getting raided?

Luc reached down, wrapping his hand around mine. A charge of static passed through me again, duller than before. He pulled me the rest of the way up. “And hey, you’re underage. Don’t think you want to get busted, right?”

I didn’t, but that didn’t mean I was going anywhere with him. “I need to find Heidi. She’s—”

“She’s with Emery.” Luc pulled me around the low glass table. “She’ll be fine.”

“And I’m supposed to trust you?”

He looked over his shoulder at me. “I didn’t ask you to trust me.”

That was about as reassuring as a loaded gun pointed at my head, but the door up front burst open and the RAC—Retinal Alien Check—drones entered the club.

A shudder rocked me.

I hated those drones.

They hovered about five feet off the floor, all black with the exception of a white light in the center of the top. RAC drones became a thing about two years ago. There was something about Luxen pupils that the RAC registered as nonhuman. Mom once tried to explain the science behind it, but I’d checked out when she’d gotten to the part about rods and cones doing something with infrared light. All I knew was that it picked up on alien DNA.

And if they were here, that meant they were searching for unregistered Luxen—aliens like Luc and Grayson, ones without Disablers.

Those drones weren’t here alone. Pouring into the group like a horde of white insects were the Alien Response Task Force—ART—officers, and they were decked out to take care of business. Dressed in all white, their faces shielded by shiny helmets. Two had normal-looking assault rifles. Another two carried the heavier, thicker version—a rifle that was an electronic pulse weapon. One hit with that and a Luxen was done for.

Luc pulled me between the couch and a chair, tugging me toward the bar. I started to dig my feet in, because I’d rather be busted being underage in a club than get caught with a potentially unregistered alien.

That wasn’t a fine.

That was immediate jail time for harboring and abetting and a ton of other fancy criminal words. I tried to pull my hand free as Luc started dragging me along. “Let go!”

“Everyone, down!” one of the officers shouted.

Chaos erupted.

People ran in every direction, scattering like roaches when the lights were flipped on. Bodies crashed into me. I yelped as my heels slipped on the wet floor. I lost my footing. Fear exploded like buckshot, shooting out darts of panic. I started to fall.

“Oh no, you don’t.” Luc’s grip on my hand tightened, and he yanked me up. One heel came off my foot and then the other as he dashed behind the bar, pulling me along with him.

My bare feet slipped in pools of liquid I didn’t even want to think about. A guy vaulted over the bar, landing in a crouch. Another came over, slipping on the spilled drinks. He went down, smacking into the floor, immediately followed by yet another person falling right behind him.

Everything was happening too fast.

A rapid firing—pop, pop, pop—commenced. Screams rose over the commotion, and my heart leapt in my throat as I tried to see over the stage. What was happening? I couldn’t see, and I had no idea where Heidi was in this mess.

Luc dipped down, sliding under the bar and blocking people from entering. I followed as several bottles flew off the wall. Glass and liquid exploded, flying everywhere.

“Such a damn mess,” Luc muttered, his jaw locked in disgust.

The mess was the last thing I was worried about as we suddenly raced down a dark hallway, blowing past others who were scrambling to get out of the way. Cutting to the right, he pushed open a door.

A black void enveloped us as the door swung shut behind me. Terror rose as I threw up my free hand. “I can’t—I can’t see anything.”

“You’re fine.”

Luc charged ahead, walking at a fast clip I struggled to keep up with. There was a distinctive smell of laundry detergent. He reached another door and we slipped through it just as the door behind us exploded open.

“Stop!” a man yelled.

My heart was going to launch itself out of my chest. We darted into a dimly lit hallway. Luc twisted suddenly, grabbing me around the waist. I shrieked as he lifted me up.

“You’re too slow,” he complained.

Luc picked up speed, moving so fast the hall was nothing but a blur of hair and walls. He hung a sharp left and then I was sliding off him, down his side. I staggered back as he placed a hand on what appeared to be just a wall. A second later a door appeared, sliding open.

“What the . . . ?” I stared in shock. There were hidden rooms here? Why would they have hidden rooms? Only serial killers had hidden rooms!

Luc shushed me—he actually shushed me as he yanked me forward. I skidded into the dark room. He let go, and I stumbled, bumping into the wall. I whipped around. This wasn’t a room. It was the size of a closet! Barely big enough for one person, and he was sliding the hidden door to the right until the tiny sliver of light disappeared, pitching us into darkness.

Holy crapola . . .

I pressed against the wall. My pulse pounded so fast, it felt like an ocean roaring in my ears as I strained to see anything in the small space. There was nothing but darkness and Luc.

And Luc was practically on top of me.

His back was against my front, and no amount of trying to climb into the wall was going to help me put space between us. The piney scent from earlier was definitely coming from him. It was all I could smell. How in the world did I end up here? What series of really bad life choices had I made that led me to this very moment?