I hated to even think about it, but he kind of had a point there.

He sat up with startling speed and rose from the bed. He stood before me. His hair was a tumbled mess, his chest and stomach bare, those jeans unbuttoned. “I can’t do what I want to do to you, with you, when you don’t even know who you are.”


Luc was right.

And Luc was wrong.

I realized that about fifteen minutes after he walked out of his apartment. Without his shirt.

After flopping onto my back again, I stared up at the exposed beams in the ceiling, wondering what the hell had just happened between Luc and me. I couldn’t believe I’d kissed him. I couldn’t believe he’d kissed me back. That we ended up where we did, on this bed, and so close to—

Smacking my hands over my face, I groaned. If Luc hadn’t stopped, I wouldn’t have either. I would’ve gone as far as we could’ve. I would’ve dived headfirst without thinking about any of the many, many consequences.

Like, for example, I didn’t have condoms on me, because of my nonexistent sex life. Did he have them? Could I even get pregnant? Get an STD? Like that was exactly what I needed in my life at the moment.

Why in the world was I even thinking about that now, way after the fact?

Because I was dumb.

I dropped my hands to the bed.

My entire body cringed. God knew, with everything going on right now, my head was so not in the right place. I got that. I did. But having him realize that, having him say that was absolutely mortifying and infuriating.

If I was going to make a mistake, I was damn well entitled to make that mistake.

And yeah, that sounded ridiculous, even to me.

Do what I want to do to you, with you . . .

I sucked in a sharp breath as I shivered. What did that even mean? Who was I kidding? I knew exactly what that meant and what that statement was leading to. What did it matter? It didn’t. What did was the fact that I was now going to have face him sooner rather than later, knowing he’d seen me shirtless.


I rolled onto my side. The bed smelled like him.

Double ugh.

I had no idea how much time passed as I lay there, my knees drawn up and my skin chilled by the cool air. It had to have been hours, but at some point, I realized there was something else Luc had been right about.

I didn’t know who I was. Not at all. I wasn’t the Nadia who Luc remembered. And who I thought I was, was a lie. I had to deal with that, because I couldn’t spend another day driving around without facing the truth. I was Nadia. I was also Evie. And I had no idea what that meant for me.

But what I did know was that I had to go home in the morning and face her, and begin to make sense of who I was.

It was way after midnight by the time I fell into a fitful sleep, waking to a clap of thunder that rattled the entire building. Startled, I flipped onto my side and opened my eyes.

Zoe stood by the bed.

Gasping, I jerked into a sitting position. “Holy crap, Zoe. What the hell?”

“Sorry.” She smiled, clasping her hands together. I looked away and then refocused. She was wearing that hot-pink jumper, the one April had said made her look like a toddler. She so did not look like a toddler. “I wasn’t standing here watching you. I swear.”

“Really?” I pulled my legs up as I blinked rapidly. Gloomy light filtered in through the window, and rain pattered off the glass.

“I actually just came into the room to wake you up, but it thundered and, well, bad timing.” Zoe bit down on her lower lip and then laughed. “But your face was absolutely priceless.”

“Ugh.” I rubbed at my throbbing temples. “Why are you in here?”

What I didn’t ask was where Luc was, because I hadn’t seen him since he left and I had no idea if he’d come back after I’d fallen asleep. It was possible.

She knocked a bunch of tight curls out of her face. “I wanted to talk you.”

I glanced at the clock. It was too early for this conversation, but I didn’t say that to her. I thought about what Luc had said last night. About what Zoe was and how her knowing the truth about me didn’t change our friendship.

I so wanted to that to be true.

Leaning against the headboard, I exhaled raggedly. “I . . . I don’t even know you.”

Her expression pinched. “You do know me, Evie. I know it may not seem like that right now, but who I am to you . . . is who I am. That hasn’t changed.”

“Really?” I cast a quick gaze around Luc’s apartment, my attention snagging on the beautiful acoustic guitar by a dresser. A black pick was tucked between strings, as if someone had been playing it recently.

Had Luc returned, and I had no idea? I shook my head. That was so not important. I refocused. “Your uncle?”

She tugged a hair tie off her wrist. “He’s not really my uncle.”

I’d figured as much. “He’s like you?”

“He’s an older Luxen. He doesn’t want anything to do with what . . . Well, he just wants to live a normal life. So he does.”

I pulled my legs up under the comforter. “And your parents? I’m assuming they didn’t die in a freak plane accident. You don’t know your parents, right? Just like Luc?”

She pulled her tight curls into a low ponytail. “I never knew my parents.”

“And Luc—” I shook my head. “How did you know him? You obviously weren’t one of those kids.”

“No, but I met Luc a few years before the invasion.” As she ran her fingers along the top of the dresser, a far-off look crept into her face. “I was being kept in a facility, along with a handful of other Origin. Luc just showed up one night and he freed us. That’s how I met him.”

Knots formed in my stomach. “You were kept in a facility?”

Nodding, she picked up what appeared to be a small wooden camel. “Since I was born, up until I was about ten years old.”

Despite being irritated with Zoe, with everything, sympathy and horror for her rose inside me. “What was that like?”

She shrugged as she placed the camel back down. “There was schooling and training, classes focused on controlling our abilities and ordinary things, you know—math, language, whatever. All of it was normal to me—to all of us, because we didn’t know what was outside the compound. Hell, we didn’t even know where the compound was. When you grow up in something like that, you don’t . . . you don’t question things. Things were the way they were because that was how they were. You know? We weren’t treated badly. At least that’s what we thought.”

Zoe moved to the large window that overlooked the street below. “It still amazes me. The whole thing. Like how all the basic human rights can be stripped away, but because you have a bed, a room, and food on your plate, you don’t even realize you have no rights. And that was the truth. We were just subjects—experiments. None of us had any rights. We couldn’t leave if we wanted to. The older . . . subjects couldn’t have relationships with one another. Our Internet was monitored and restricted. We ate what was provided, even if we didn’t like the way it tasted. We woke up when they told us, and the same when it was time to go to bed.”

“God,” I whispered.

A winsome smile appeared. “We were property of the United States and didn’t even realize it. Not until the entire wall of the west wing blew the hell up.”

I jolted. “What?”

“Luc took down the entire wall . . . and nearly all of the staff. Just him, and he was only about eleven years old at the time.”

My mouth dropped open as I pictured an eleven-year-old Luc running around, blowing up a building with his magic fingers. “How in the world is that even possible?”

Zoe was staring out the window. “Luc is different.”

“Ain’t that the truth?” I muttered.

She faced me, her expression serious. “He isn’t like the rest of us—like most of us. I’ve heard . . . Well, I know there were others like him. Those kids? But Luc is—God, I hate saying this out loud, but he is the most powerful of all the Origins.”

My eyes widened. Most powerful? That was, well, kind of impressive and kind of scary. Especially since I’d threatened to hit him on multiple occasions.