Aww. My shoulders slumped. That was sweet and kind of sad, all things considered. “Did you . . .” Wondering if I was pushing too hard, I dampened my lips. “Did you love her, Luc?”

His eyes closed, and that beautiful face was stricken. Utterly broken wide open as he reopened his eyes and said, “With every breath I take.”

The knot in my throat expanded, and I suddenly wanted to cry. He said take and not took. Even though she was gone, he was still in love with her. That was beautiful in the way only heartbreak could be.

Luc turned away from my pictures. Shadows clung to his gaze. “None of that matters now. You can’t go back. The past is the past. Nadia is . . . She’s gone. And so is the Daedalus, and soon there will be one less Origin to deal with.”

Pressure clamped down on my chest. “And it has to be you?”

“It has to be.” He let his head fall back. “Sometimes I wonder if everything we went through changed anything in the long run.”

“What do you mean?”

Luc didn’t answer, but he didn’t move back, either. Our faces were only several inches apart. Neither of us said anything.

A long moment passed, and I pulled back, running my hands down my face. Leaning against the headboard, I yawned. “My brain feels like it’s going to implode.”

“We wouldn’t want that to happen. It would be messy.”

I peeked over the tips of my fingers. “So, what are we going to do?”

He smoothed his hand over the comforter. “‘We’?”

“About psycho Origin guy?”

Drawing his bottom lip in between his teeth, he grinned a little. “We aren’t going to do anything. I will find him. I will take care of it.”

“And I’m just supposed to sit around and twiddle my thumbs?”

“Yeah.” He paused, his hand stilling. “Or you could sit around and read a book about Vikings claiming some fair maiden.”

“Shut up,” I grumbled. “I have to do something, Luc.”

He lay down on his back, resting his hands on his stomach. “What can you do, Peaches? Not trying to be jerk, but you can’t fight an Origin. You’re . . . you’re damn lucky you’re sitting here.”

My stomach took a tumble. “I know that, but there has to be something.”

He turned his head toward me. “That’s why you have the Taser. Just in case. But other than that, you’re going to stay as safe as possible.”

My eyes narrowed even as my heart started to kick around in my chest as the fear began to take hold again. I didn’t want to think about that Origin, even though I had to.

One side of his lips tipped up. “Deal with it.”

“You’re annoying.”

“It’s a special talent of mine.”

I cleared my throat as I peeked over at him. He was watching me from his super-comfy position on my bed. “So, the whole not glowing thing? Is that something I should be worried about?”

A shadow flickered over Luc’s face. “Honestly?”

My stomach dipped. “Honestly.”

“I don’t know. You’re human. You should have a trace.” He shifted onto his side, propping his chin up with his fist. “Maybe you’re an angel.”

I blinked. “Come again?”

His grin crept across his face. “Because it’s like you fell from heaven.”

The tips of my ears burned. “Did you . . . seriously just say that out loud?”

“I did.” He chuckled. “And I have more.”


“Yep. Get ready for them. No woman or man can resist these,” he said, biting down on that lip. A moment passed. “Life without you is like a broken pencil. Pointless.”

I had no words.

“Struck speechless. Can’t blame you. How about this one? Good thing I have my library card, because I’m so checking you out.”

“Oh my God.” I laughed. “That’s terrible.”

“As bad as this? You know what’s on the menu?”

A smile tugged at my lips. “What?”

“Me ’n’ u,” he replied.

I rolled my eyes.

“Did you just come out of the oven?” he asked.

“Oh God.”

“Because you’re hot.”

“Please stop.”

“Well, here I am. What are you other two wishes?” he replied.

I shook my head.

“I’m lost.”

“Yeah, you are,” I muttered.

He flicked my calf. “Can you give me directions to your heart?”

I shot him a withering look.

“You remind me of peaches. Sweet—”

“Don’t even finish that sentence.” I held up my hand. “I think it’s time that you leave.”

“I can’t.”

“What do you mean you can’t?”

“Because you’ve swept me off my feet.”

Letting out a reluctant laugh, I nudged his leg with my foot. I knew what he was doing. Distracting me from thinking things that were likely going to haunt my sleep tonight. “You seriously need to leave before I staple your mouth shut.”

“Okay. I’ll stop, but I’m staying until your mom gets home. Deal with it.”

I started to protest, but then I thought about Heidi and Emery. Anxiety buzzed under my skin. “You think that guy is going to come here?”

“I don’t want to take the chance.” His eyes met mine. “I shouldn’t have taken the chance in the first place. I’m not doing it again.”

“If my mom catches you here—”

“I’ll be gone the moment she walks into this house,” he assured me. “She won’t even know I’m here.”

“I have the Taser,” I reminded him, nodding at the nightstand.

“I know, but I’m really hoping to prevent you from having to use it.”

Letting Luc stay here wasn’t particularly wise, but neither was ignoring a credible threat, and truth was, I . . . I really didn’t want him to leave. Especially since that guy had gotten in here twice.

The fear I’d been trying to suppress all evening tore through me once more. My next breath went nowhere. Keep it together. I was safe. For now. And I could deal with this. After all, I’d dealt with the invasion. I’d survived that.

Luc’s hand curved over mine, causing me to jerk. My eyes flew to his. “You know,” he said, his gaze searching mine, “it’s okay to be afraid.”

A knot formed in the back of my throat. “Is it, really?”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know.” I lifted a shoulder. “Being afraid clouds your thinking. It gets in the way. It makes you weak.”

“Sometimes. And sometimes it clears your thoughts and makes you stronger and quicker.” His fingers slipped under mine and then he was holding my hand.

Flutters picked up in my chest, like a nest of butterflies stirring. I tried to stamp down the feeling, but it was there. I averted my gaze.

“Okay,” I said finally.

Luc let go of me, then sat up and extended his hand. The TV remote flew from the desk to his palm. I really wished I had that talent.

I stayed quiet as Luc got himself situated, which somehow ended up with us shoulder to shoulder at the head of the bed. He turned on the TV. “I wonder if there are any Arnold Schwarzenegger movies on.”

Slowly, I turned my head to him.

“What?” he asked.

“That’s random.”

“He’s just so quotable,” he reasoned, flipping through the channels.

I really couldn’t respond to that and I really couldn’t believe I was sitting here, next to Luc in bed while he searched for old Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.

Life was strange.

And I had a feeling it was about to get stranger.


When I woke several hours later, I was staring at the TV. Confusion swept through me. There was some kind of infomercial playing, but I couldn’t figure out what it was since the volume was low.

The soft light from the TV cast flickering shadows throughout the bedroom. It was still nighttime, and I. . . .