“Don’t ask me that. Please? Because I don’t know and I don’t have the brain space to even think about that.” Or the lady cojones to answer it honestly. “What happened last night, well, it happened. It’s not going to happen again. It’s done with.”

“Huh,” she said again.

My gaze slide over to her. “What?”

She lifted a shoulder. “Nothing.” There was a pause. “So what are you going to do now?”

I glared at the ceiling. “I’m going to go home.”


Somehow my car had made its way to Foretoken, and Zoe rode with me to my house Saturday morning. “How will you get home?” I asked as my car sat idling in the driveway. Then it struck me. “You’re going to run, aren’t you?”

“I can run really fast,” Zoe replied.

“Not in gym class last year,” I pointed out. She always lagged behind when we had to do sprints and other annoying things at a God-awful early time in the morning.

Zoe laughed. “It takes more energy and effort to slow myself down than it does to go at normal speeds for me.” She looked over at me, and she had those contacts back in. “Are you ready to go in there?”

“No? Yes?” I glanced at the front of the house and then pried my fingers off the steering wheel. “I don’t know what to say to her.”

Zoe followed my gaze. “She’s probably thinking the same thing.”

“And you’ve . . . you’ve never talked to her about me?” I knew that Zoe had never been around her, but that didn’t mean they hadn’t had conversations.

She shook her head. “Sylvia doesn’t know what I am. If she did, I’m sure she wouldn’t have been supportive of our friendship.”

“Because she’d be worried you’d tell me the truth or I’d figure it out?” Anger flashed, brimming to the surface.

“Yes, but I’m sure it’s not for malicious reasons, Evie. What happened to you, what’s been done, isn’t normal.”

I snorted. “Oh really?”

She ignored my sarcasm. “Sometimes the truth is hidden as a form of protection.”

Even if that was the reason to hide the truth, it didn’t make dealing with the fallout any easier, but it wasn’t like I could sit out here forever. “I’m going to go in.”

“That’s good,” she agreed. “I’ll text you later. Okay? Grayson’s going to take over.”

My brows lifted. “You mean, watching me?”

She nodded. “That Origin is still out there. We’re not taking any chances with you. I would stay, but Luc doesn’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Why?” I frowned.

“Because he’s worried that if something were to happen, you would get involved out of fear for me,” she explained. “He’s not worried about that when it comes to Grayson.”

I almost laughed, but dammit, Luc was right. Again. I was really beginning to hate that. “Why isn’t Luc watching me?”

“Well, maybe it has to do with the fact that you told him to stay away from you?” she surmised. “Then again, he sure wasn’t staying away from you last night, with his shirt—”

“Stop,” I whined, shaking my head.

“I think he just knows he needs to give you space. Real space.”

“That . . . that would be smart.” I sighed. I looked over at Zoe, and then I admitted something important. “I don’t . . . I don’t hate him, either.”

A soft smile curled the corners of her lips. “I know.” She glanced at the door. “You’d better get in there.”

“Yeah.” No more delaying.

“Good luck.”

We said good-bye, and it was time for me to get out of the car and face, well, whatever was waiting for me. I slung my bag over my shoulder as I walked to the front door and found it unlocked. Taking a deep breath, I headed inside.

I saw her immediately.

She rose from the couch, her face pale and drawn. I saw then that she wore the contacts. Her eyes were once more like mine.

But that was an illusion. Her eyes had never been like mine.

She’d never been like me.

Her shoulders tensed as her gaze roamed over me like she was checking to make sure I was all in one piece. “I’ve been worried sick.”

If this had happened last week, she’d probably have strangled me for running out the house and not coming home until a day later. But now? I could tell she was resisting the urge, and maybe that emboldened me not to immediately apologize and beg for forgiveness like I normally would.

So I just stood there, holding on to my bag.

She dragged her gaze away and then slowly sat back down. She leaned forward, picking something up. “I know you saw the pictures.”

I glanced at the office door. The glass was cleaned up and the French doors were closed. Inching closer, I dropped my bag on the other side of the couch and then sat down. There were so many questions, but I asked what I felt was the most important one. “Who was she?”

She looked down at the photo, and it was the one that the three of them were in. A long moment passed. “Evelyn was Jason’s daughter from a previous relationship.”

A ripple of shock made its way through me. Part of me had accepted that all of this was the truth. That my real name was Nadia and that my life was hers . . . but hearing this, that Evelyn Dasher had been someone else, made it feel like I was hearing it for the first time all over again.

“Jason and I could never have biological children. I’m a . . . Luxen and he was human,” she continued. “Evelyn’s mother had died. Heart disease. Looking back, I can see now that was one of the reasons why Jason became so obsessed with finding treatments for diseases like that and cancer. He was in love with her long after she passed. I didn’t realize that at first.” She pressed her lips together. “Evelyn died in a car accident three years before the invasion. Jason had been driving. It was a freak accident. He only had minor injuries, but she . . . died at the scene.”

I clasped my knees and squeezed tight. “And you all just replaced her with me?”

“That wasn’t what we intended.” She placed the picture on the ottoman, image down as if that somehow erased it being there. “But I’m not going to lie now. That’s what happened. That was all me—”

“Because you killed Jason.”

If she was surprised I knew that, she didn’t show it. “Luc was honoring our deal. He was leaving, and Jason couldn’t allow that. Jason always had to win.” Her lips thinned. “He pulled out a weapon and was going to shoot Luc in the back. Not with a normal gun. It would’ve killed him.”

“And you decided to kill your husband to protect someone you don’t even like?”

Her gaze lifted to mine. “Did Luc talk to you about the Daedalus?”

I nodded.

“Everything he said about the Daedalus is true . . . and there’s more, worse than what even he has knowledge of. You may not believe me, but I swear I had no part in the horrific things they were doing.”

I wanted to believe her, but how could I?

“I live like a human, but I am a Luxen. I could never knowingly take part in those horrific experiments and the—” She cut herself off, shaking her head. “Our marriage was rocky before Evelyn died, but when I learned about the Origins and hybrids, it was basically over between us.” Her gaze hardened. “Killing him was no hardship.”

I sucked in a sharp breath. Damn.

“That may sound harsh, but you did not know him.”

That hurt more than she intended. I closed my eyes. I had no idea how to respond to that. It took a moment for me to find my voice. “Why did you give me her name?”

“I’ve asked myself that same question a million times.” Her voice was hoarse, and when I opened my eyes again, I saw tears building in hers. “I think . . . I think I just missed her.”

I started to stand but found that I couldn’t. What was I supposed to think? How should I feel about that?

Was I even real?