My cheeks felt damp. Tears coursed down them. My hands slipped off Luc’s chest to the ground. Under my palms were several thick pieces of bark. Sharp pieces. The same that had impaled Luc over and over, possibly killing him. My fingers curled around one of them.

“I didn’t want to do any of this.” The Origin’s voice sounded like lightning. “Not really.”

I never thought I could kill someone.

Maybe who I was before could’ve. I didn’t know, but it was something I never thought I was capable of purposefully doing.

Not until that moment.

I twisted and lifted my gaze. The Origin stood there, this thing that was some kind of creation that had gone horribly wrong. “You didn’t have to do any of this.”

He tilted his head to the side and frowned. “What do you know? You remember nothing.”

He was right. I remembered nothing, but I knew enough.

I didn’t give myself time to think about what I was doing. I launched to my feet, cocking my arm back. Surprise flickered across his face, and then that was all I let my brain register as I brought my arm forward with every ounce of strength I had in me, jabbing the piece of bark deep into his eye.

His scream was cut off as I jerked my arm back and slammed the bark into his other eye, ignoring the sound and feel. He went down on his knees, and I followed him as I started to pull the bark out, but it snapped off, embedded deep.

He shifted under me, a solid, heated mass. Bright light surrounded me and then went through me. Throwing my head back, I screamed as a deep, intense throbbing pain lit up the center of my chest. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. The pain and light swallowed me.

And then I was flying—spinning through the air. I caught brief glimpses of the sky and trees. When I hit the ground, it jolted every bone, but I barely . . . I barely felt it.

I tried to sit up, but I couldn’t move more than turning my head, and when that happened, it sort of just flopped to the side.

Something . . . something felt wet inside me, like I was drowning from the inside.

The sky erupted in a bright, intense light, and I thought I heard the Origin screaming. The air crackled and spat fire. Shapes took form and blurred as I blinked, trying to clear my vision, but there was a whiteness clinging to the corners. Day turned to night. A roaring sound deafened me as the entire world seemed to bend to the power charging every square inch. The light flared and pulsed. The air . . . The air smelled weird.

Then I saw Luc.

He slammed the Origin into the ground, through it. Dirt spewed into the air, a thick, musty-smelling cloud. Luc lifted him once more before driving the Origin deeper into the hard soil.

“Why?” Luc demanded, clutching the Origin’s throat as he lifted him out of the pit his body had made. Arms flopped limp and useless at his sides. “Why all of this, Micah?”

The name. I remembered Luc mentioning his name when he told me about the kids.

Micah coughed out a broken, bloody-sounding laugh. “Because I knew I couldn’t beat you. You’d do what I couldn’t.”

A horrifying moment ticked by and then Luc dropped him as if he were burned. “What?”

Half disappearing into the ground, Micah let out a groan. “You have no idea what is coming. Everything is over. Everything. I’m not going to be here for that. There’ll come a time when you’re . . .” His voice dropped, and I couldn’t hear what he said until his voice rose once more. “They’re already here.”

I saw Luc’s response.

He stared down at Micah, aghast. A heartbeat passed and then half his arm disappeared into the ground Micah had fallen into. There was a flash of intense light, and I knew . . . I knew Micah was no more.

Relief . . . bittersweet relief swept through me, and I closed my eyes. My heart felt sluggish, and there was a bone-deep cold settling into me.

“Peaches. Open your eyes.” Hands cupped my cheeks. Strong hands. Warm and alive. My eyes fluttered open again.

“How . . . how are you still alive after that?” I’d seen him—seen all the blood. How was he kneeling above me? “How?”

“Wasn’t my time.” His gaze roamed over me as he gathered me into his arms, pulling me to his chest. “Peaches, what did you do? Look at you.”

“I . . . I jabbed his eyeballs out.”

A choked sound left him as he folded one arm around my waist. “I saw that. Not going to forget that for a long time.”

My mouth felt weird, like my tongue was swollen. “I don’t . . . I don’t feel right.”

Luc lowered his forehead to mine as his hand slipped from my cheek, down to the center of my chest. “I’m going to make you feel better, okay?”

I thought I said okay. I wasn’t sure. The world was a whirling kaleidoscope of pain and heat . . . and Luc. There was a distinct impression of being here before, of him holding me as my body gave out, but then that fragment faded.

“I told you to run.” His voice was hoarse as heat flared from his palm, washing over me. I recognized the feeling, welcoming it as it beat back the coldness. The heat spread, working its way through tissue and bone. “Why didn’t you run? Peaches? Talk to me.”

It took a lot to focus on him. “I thought . . . I thought you were dying. I couldn’t let that happen. I wanted . . .”

Something wet danced off my cheek, and I didn’t know if they were my tears or his. “You wanted what?”

My head was heavy. “I wanted to know if . . . if I was part of . . . your good memories.”

Luc shuddered as he bent, curling his body around mine. His warmth was everywhere, filling every cell and part of me. “Yes,” he said, his lips moving against mine as he spoke. “You were all my good memories.”


As I lay in my bed late Sunday morning, I sent a text back to Heidi, letting her know that I wouldn’t be joining her and Emery later. I just wasn’t feeling up to peopling at the moment, especially since I knew Heidi had a lot of questions.

Not that I could blame her, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to talk about everything.

I didn’t have clear memories of returning home last night. I knew Luc had healed me out in the woods, repairing whatever damage Micah had delivered, and I had a vague memory of Luc carrying me back home and finding the house full of . . . well, aliens and people who weren’t quite people. There’d been brief glimpses of Mom sitting up, with Zoe beside her. I saw Daemon and I thought I’d seen Archer with a pale, quiet Grayson.

However, I clearly remembered waking up in the middle of the night and finding Luc lying next to me, resting on his side, facing me, and asleep. He’d been holding my hand. Or I’d been holding his. I wasn’t sure.

I had no idea if Mom knew he’d been in there, but he’d been gone when I woke this morning, feeling out of it.

But I worried. No matter how awesome he said he was, I knew he’d been in bad shape last night. Luc was powerful—possibly the most powerful creature I’d ever seen, but Micah had done a lot of damage to him.

He’d almost killed him.

He’d almost killed me.

There were still some sore spots—like if I twisted too quickly, there was a flare of pain—but the heavy exhaustion I’d felt since waking was finally lifting. I felt like I’d just recovered from the flu. I had no idea why it felt that way for me after being healed. Luc claimed that humans usually recovered quickly, feeling better than before after being healed.

I wondered if it had something to do with what I’d been given before . . . I was Evie. If that somehow effected how I felt after being healed and if it would prevent me from mutating, because I’d been really hurt last night.

So, I had a lot of questions.

Glancing over at my closed bedroom door, I wondered what . . . Mom was doing. Other than Mom checking in on me this morning, she was giving me space. I knew she’d already called someone to take care of the window Grayson had literally been thrown through. It had been the upstairs hallway window. Work needed to be done downstairs, too.

A soft tapping drew my attention to the bedroom window, and my heart did a weird little jump. There was only one person who would be tapping on my bedroom window.