But in broad daylight?

Thinking I’d better get him off the roof before any neighbors noticed, I rose from the bed and went to the window. Excitement bubbled inside me and so did something . . . something far more sharp, more powerful. I drew the curtains back and saw him perched there, rocking those silver aviator sunglasses.

Luc was holding a Coke.

Fighting the urge to grin, I unlocked the window and pushed it open. “Why didn’t you just come to the front door?”

He lifted a shoulder. “I like knocking on windows better.”

“Uh-huh.” I stepped aside, giving him room. He landed in front of me. Closing the window behind him, I ignored the flutter of anticipation low in my stomach.

He took off his sunglasses, placing them on the dresser, and then he handed me the Coke.

“Thanks.” It was nicely chilled. I put it on the dresser. I started to say something, but my gaze met his, and the ability to speak dive-bombed out the window he’d just climbed through.

It was the way he was staring at me, his features stark and gaze intense. Like he was seeing right into me.

Luc stepped toward me and then stopped. His voice came out raspy when he said, “Can I? Can I just touch you?”

My breath hitched, and I nodded.

He moved, careful and slow, touching my face with just the tips of his fingers first. His hands flattened and slipped down the sides of my neck, sending an acute shiver through me. Those hands made their way to my shoulders as he stepped in even closer, his thigh brushing mine. Breathing in his scent, I closed my eyes as one hand slid to my back. Luc curled his other arm around my shoulders, tugging me toward him. His warmth breath danced over my temple as we stood chest to chest, my hands touching his sides. We were so close that I felt it when he shuddered. Neither of us moved or spoke for several long moments. We just held each other, and then I felt his lips press against my temple before he pulled away.

“How are you feeling?” he asked, stepping back and shoving his hands into the pockets of his jeans.

“Okay.” I cleared my throat, feeling a little unbalanced. “How about you?”

He looked away, and I got hung up in staring at his profile, at the way the muscle flexed when his jaw clenched. “A hundred percent.”

I still couldn’t believe that he was standing here, that he was okay. I pressed my lips together, wondering why he’d left this morning without saying anything. It felt like after what had happened, he would’ve stayed.

His gaze found mine. “All you have to do is ask, Peaches.”

My eyes narrowed. “Stop reading my thoughts.”

“You’re making it hard.”

I moved backward and sat on the bed. Warmth invaded my cheeks. “I thought . . . I was just wondering if you were okay.”

“Were you worried?”

I started to lie but stopped. “Yes.”

“You don’t need to worry about me.” He sat beside me. “I left because I didn’t know if you’d want me to be here.”

My stomach churned. Couldn’t blame him for thinking that. We hadn’t had a chance to talk after . . . well, what had gone down between us.

“Is that not what you want?” he asked.

There were moments where I had no idea what I wanted when it came to Luc, but I’d be lying to myself if I said I didn’t want to see him.

Looking over at him, my gaze met his. “I . . . I don’t need space,” I whispered, feeling my cheeks heat. “From you.”

His gaze searched mine in that intense way of his, and then one side of his lips kicked up. “That’s good.”



Shifting, I clasped my hands and looked away.

“Thank you,” he said quietly.

“Why?” My gaze flew back to his. “Why are you thanking me?”

His head tilted to the side. “If it weren’t for you, I most likely wouldn’t be sitting here, Peaches. If you had run, like I’d told you, I think . . . I think this would’ve had a very different outcome. When you went after him, you bought me the time I needed to heal.” He paused. “You saved my life.”

At a lost for words, I struggled to find what to say. “I guess I owed you, didn’t I?”

A faint smile crept along his lips. “I guess I’m glad you didn’t listen to me.”

“You’re welcome.” Our gazes snagged, and a long moment passed. A shiver curled along the nape of my neck. “So, um, we really didn’t get a chance to talk afterward, but Micah . . . ? It was him—one of those kids. I’m . . . I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine what you must be—”

“Thinking?” he cut in. “I don’t know what I’m thinking, but I know I’ve tried to . . . forget about them. About Micah. That’s wrong, isn’t it?”

My brows knitted and I shook my head. “I don’t think so.”

“Really?” He sounded surprised.


Luc sighed heavily. “I can’t . . . I don’t even know what to say about that—about him. There was part of me that had thought of him when you told me what he’d said to you in the school parking lot, but I didn’t know about the growth hormones. Now some things make sense. You know, how violent and out-there their moods were. I don’t know if knowing that they truly weren’t at fault for how dangerous they were would’ve changed anything or not.”

“I don’t understand why he did this,” I admitted quietly. “What he said didn’t make any sense. It’s, like, why go through all of this and then for what? To challenge you? Taunt you? Get you to pay attention to him? Did you understand any of this?”

“Yes. No.” He flopped onto his back and stretched his arms out. The hem of his shirt rose, and a sliver of taut skin appeared. “I mean, I don’t even know if he knew what he was doing. Like a damn sociopath. Do they really know why they are the way they are? Obviously, he had—”

“Issues? Lots of issues?”

Luc grinned, but his smile faded quickly. “I did let him escape, because, I told you—I thought he was okay. That out of all of them, he was going to make it. I was wrong. I got played. Looking back, I wonder if he was always behind the others, you know, manipulating them? I don’t know.” He paused. “But I did look for him, Peaches. Afterward. It wasn’t like I forgot about him.”

“I know,” I whispered, thinking about what Micah had accused him of. “I wouldn’t think that you hadn’t.”

He was quiet as he closed his eyes. “Did you hear him? At the end? He said he knew he wouldn’t win a fight with me. It was like he . . .” He lifted his hands and then dragged his palms down his face. “Jesus.”

I thought about what Micah had said to me about Luc. That he needed Luc to do something for him. Did he really want Luc to kill him? If so, why fight Luc and not just let him kill him? None of it made sense.

But I didn’t need to be able to read minds to see that this was eating away at Luc. Heart squeezing, I reached over and lightly touched his arm. There was a snap of static, transferring from his skin to mine. His eyes opened again and he looked over at me. “Whatever his motivations were, none of it was your fault, Luc.”

“Yeah,” he murmured.

“I’m serious. You did everything—”

“Did I, though?” He laughed, but the sound was harsh. “What I should’ve done was made sure he never left that facility.”


“If I had, those girls would be alive. That family—”

“He said he didn’t kill that family, or Andy.”

His brows knitted. “And you believe him?”

“Why would he lie? I mean, he was pretty open about everything else he did.” I couldn’t stop the memories from roaring to the forefront of my mind. I started to pull away.

Luc caught my hand. “I’m so damn sorry this happened to you,” he said. His voice roughened. “When I saw you sitting against that tree—saw what he’d done to you? I wanted to—Well, I ultimately did what I wanted to do. I never, ever want you to experience anything like that again.”