I could be at home, snapping pretty pictures with my phone or separating knee-high socks from the crew-cut ones—

Something slammed out in the hallway. I jumped, knocking into Luc. I reached out, my hands landing on his back. He shifted suddenly, and every muscle in my body locked up. My hands were suddenly flattened against his chest, and that wasn’t just a chest. Those were pecs—pecs as hard as the wall behind me.

I started to yank my hands away, but even in the complete darkness, he caught them, keeping them right where they were. I started to protest, but whatever I was about to say died on the tip of my tongue as I felt his breath skate over my forehead.

We were close, way too close.

“They have to be back here,” a disgruntled voice boomed from the hall. Static crackled over a radio. “I’ve checked the other rooms.”

My breath caught. What would happen if they came in here? Would they shoot first and ask questions later?

A heartbeat passed, and then the hair around my ear stirred as Luc whispered, “I hope you’re not claustrophobic.”

I turned my head, tensing as my nose grazed his cheek. “It’s a little late for that.”

“True.” He shifted again, and I felt his leg brush mine. I shivered. “We just need to play it cool in here for a little bit and then they’ll be gone.”

A little bit? We’d already been in here for far too long, but I could hear the guy out there, pacing back and forth. “Does this happen often?”

“About once a week.”

“Lovely,” I muttered, and I thought maybe he chuckled under his breath. I was going to smack Heidi for coming here, to a club that got raided once a week. “What are you guys doing here to get raided?”

“Why do you think we have to be doing something?”

“Because you’re getting raided,” I whispered-yelled back.

Luc’s fingers moved, and I felt his thumb smooth over mine, sending another acute shiver through me. “Do you really think they need a reason to come in here, search for people? To hurt people?”

I knew who “they” were without asking. The ART team answered to our government. “Are you registered?”

“I already told you.” His breath now coasted over my cheek. “I’m not a Luxen.” There was another pause. “You . . . you smell.”

“Excuse me?”

“You smell like . . . peaches.”

“It’s my lotion.” I closed my hands into fists as frustration mingled with fear and something . . . something heavy. “I don’t want to talk to you anymore.”

“Good.” There was a pause. “I can think of a lot more interesting things to do in a tiny, dark space that would pass the time.”

My muscles locked up. “You try something and you will regret it.”

Now I heard him chuckle quietly. “Calm down.”

“Don’t tell me to calm down,” I snapped, so furious I wanted nothing more than to scream. “I’m not who those men are looking for. I have no reason to stay quiet.”

“Oh, you do.” His thumb glided over my palm.

“Stop that.”

“Stop what?” His low voice dripped innocence as his thumb dragged over the center of my hand again.

“That.” With my heart thumping, I tried again to free my hands. “And come to think of it, how do you—”

The shrill ring of a phone silenced me.

Where was that—Oh no.

It was my phone, ringing from my wristlet.

“Well, that’s truly inconvenient timing.” Luc sighed, dropping my hands.

I felt around until I was able to open the wristlet and pull my phone out. I quickly silenced it, but it was too late.

A shout from the hallway sent a bolt of fear through me as I felt . . .

Luc’s cool hand suddenly curve around the nape of my neck. What the—

His nose suddenly touched mine and when he spoke, I could feel his words on my lips. “When I open this door, you’re going to run to your left. There’s a bathroom. Inside said bathroom is a window you can climb out of. Do it fast.”

A fist or a boot slammed into the hidden door.

“Are you kidding me?” I demanded, in disbelief. “We could’ve just run outside through the bathroom?”

He slid his hand off my neck. “But then we wouldn’t have had these precious moments alone.”

My mouth dropped open. “You are—”

Luc kissed me.

One moment I was a heartbeat away from cursing him out with an impressive display of f-bombs, and then his mouth was just there, on mine. His head tilted just the slightest. I drew in a startled breath and my fingers spasmed. The phone slipped out of my hand, thudding softly on the floor. Just the tip of his tongue touched mine, sending little shivers of pleasure and bitter panic through me, and then he shifted his head, slightly pulling back.

“A Luxen didn’t kiss you, Evie.” His lips brushed mine. “But neither did a human.”

“What?” I said breathlessly, my heart lodged somewhere in my throat.

Luc’s hand slipped off my neck, and I fell back against the wall. He pivoted. “Get ready.”

My thoughts were completely scattered. Oh God, I wasn’t ready for this. “But—”

Luc slid the hidden door open. The light from outside was blinding, and it took a terse second for my eyes to adjust. The first thing I saw was one of those EMP guns pointed directly at Luc. He stepped forward, throwing his hand out.

He caught the officer in the chest, grabbing a fistful of white material. Lifting the man up off his feet, Luc tossed the officer across the hall. The man slammed into the wall, cracking the plaster. He fell forward onto the floor, out cold.

“Holy crap.” I stared down at the prone man. That kind of strength . . .

Static crackled from a radio hooked to the man’s chest, and a voice echoed from it. Backup was coming.

“Go,” Luc ordered, his pupils constricting and churning with inner white light, a sure sign that a Luxen was about to slip into their true form. “I’ll see you later.”


Heidi flopped onto her back, sprawling across the center of her bed. “That was wild. We so need to go again.”

Sitting on the floor of her bedroom, I stared up at her. “No. No, we do not need to go again. Ever. Again.”

She laughed, and I shook my head as I dragged my hands down my freshly scrubbed face. Climbing through that bathroom window in a dress and dropping down into an alley had not left me in pristine condition. The first thing I’d done when we got back to Heidi’s place was shower, rinsing off the grime from the bottom of my feet. I’d also smelled like I’d robbed a liquor store and then rolled around in all the alcohol I’d stolen.

It had been Heidi calling me while Luc and I were hiding in our own Room of Requirement. She’d gotten outside somehow and was panicked, but she had been smart and gone straight to her car, where I found her waiting for me.

“We were almost busted. Could you imagine what my mom would’ve done? She would’ve flipped,” I said from behind my hands. “Not only that, I was so worried you’d been trampled to death or something.”

“Girl, I freaked out too. I had no idea where you were until Emery said you were with Luc.”


If I never heard his name again, I’d die happy. Not only was he an unbelievable jerk, he had kissed me—actually kissed me.

A Luxen didn’t kiss you, Evie. But neither did a human.

What was that supposed to mean? There were only Luxen and humans. Unless he considered himself in a league of his own, which wouldn’t be surprising. After just a short time with him, I knew there were very few beings in this universe who had an ego as massive as his.

“I cannot believe you were hiding with him in a hall closet or whatever,” she went on. On the drive back to her place, I’d filled her in on most of what had happened. “I can’t believe you didn’t take advantage of that.”

I made a face against my hands. I hadn’t told Heidi that Luc had kissed me. I probably wouldn’t even tell Zoe, because both she and Heidi would have questions, tons of questions. Ones I couldn’t answer, because when he’d kissed me, I . . . I didn’t even know what I felt. Panic? Yes. Pleasure? Oh God, yes, I’d felt that, too, and that made no sense. I was not attracted to any guy, no matter their species, if they were a jerk who thought they could just randomly kiss someone.