The Burning Shadow (Origin, #2)

Zoe was obviously worried that I was holding things against her, but I really wasn’t. Things were weird, but she was still my friend—one of my best friends, and I wasn’t going to let how our friendship started destroy what we made of it.

Plus, almost dying made me realize how pointless grudges were while driving home the whole you-never-know-if-you’ll-have-a-tomorrow kind of thing. Unless holding a grudge involved April. With her, I was going to cuddle and feed and water that grudge.

Zoe cocked her head. “You got into it with April this morning?”

“Oh. Yeah. That.” Shaking out my arm, I pulled my English textbook out and shoved it onto the shelf.

Zoe looked like she was going to hit me again, so I leaned away. “You had all morning to mention you got into it with April. I just heard some girl I’m not even convinced goes to school here talking about it while I was in the bathroom.”

I grinned. “It wasn’t a big deal. She tried to talk to me, and I wasn’t having it.”

Zoe caught my locker door as it started to close on its own. The orange and tan bangles around her slim wrist clattered softly. “Not a big deal? I need to know exactly what you said to her that apparently caused her to throw her poster at Brandon.”

My brows shot up. “She did that?”

She nodded. “Yep.”

An evil little giggle rose in the back of my throat. I told her what I’d said to April as I grabbed my history textbook and shut the door. “I guess I got under her skin.”

“Sounds like it. God, she’s the worst.”

I nodded as we edged around a slow-moving younger student. “So, what did you do yesterday?”

“Nothing much. Just watched this really sad documentary about coma patients.”

Zoe watched the weirdest things.

“What about you?” she asked.

“Luc came over,” I said in a low voice. “Mom made him grilled cheese and tomato soup.”

“Wow.” She nudged my side. “That’s awesome.”


“It wasn’t?”

“At first it was. He and I sort of hung out for a while first and talked.” I could feel my stupid cheeks warming. “But things went south between them pretty fast. They argued and it got ugly. Both ended up apologizing.”

“Even Luc?” She sounded surprised.

“Yep. I guess things are okay now, but they’re never going to be fans of each other.”

“Really can’t blame them,” Zoe said. “They have a…”

“Messed-up history? Yeah.” We entered the cafeteria. It smelled like burned pizza. “But I think it’s big that they both apologized. I think they’re going to try the best they can.”

“I would’ve loved to have been a fly on the wall when you yelled at both of them,” Zoe said as we went through the line. “You’re scary when you get mad.”

I laughed at that, because when I got mad, all I could do was yell. If Zoe or Luc got mad, they could burn down entire houses with a flick of their wrists. The idea of Zoe thinking I was scary was laughable.

After I loaded my plate up with what I thought might be roast beef but sort of looked like stew, Zoe grabbed a pizza, and I tried not to puke over her poor life choice.

James was already at the table, munching from a bag of chips. His size was super-intimidating to most, but he was a big cuddly teddy bear who hated confrontation … and Foretoken. Couldn’t quite blame him considering the one and only time he’d been there, he’d met the meanest Luxen ever.



The Luxen had basically told James he’d reminded him of one of the victims in the old movie Hostel, and how creepy was that?

As soon as we sat down, James demanded, “So, what is the best Taken movie? One. Two. Or three?”

I stared at him.

“There are three of them?” Zoe asked.

His mouth gaped, and a chip fell out, causing me to giggle. “How do you not know there are three of them?”

“I haven’t seen any of them,” I admitted.

He blinked at me. “If I were wearing pearls, I’d be clutching them right now.”

Heidi dropped into the seat next to James, her crimson-colored waves brushing against cheeks that were way paler than normal. Immediately, my stomach twisted as instinct blared a warning.

Zoe must’ve picked up on it. “What’s wrong?”

“Do you guys know Ryan Hoar?” she asked, and my stomach sank. The last couple of weeks, when someone asked that, good news did not follow.

Chip halfway to his mouth, James looked over at Heidi. “Yeah, he’s in my art class. Why?”

“I don’t know who that is,” Zoe said.

“He’s kind of tall and skinny. Usually changes his hair color a lot. I think the last time I saw it, it was green,” Heidi explained, and that sounded vaguely familiar.

“Actually, it was blue on Friday,” James corrected. “I haven’t seen him yet. Art is my last class.”

“You’re not going to see him,” Heidi said, placing her hands on the table. “I just heard from his cousin that he died over the weekend.”

“What?” James dropped the bag of chips. “He was at Coop’s party Friday night.”

Immediately, I thought of Micah. It couldn’t be, could it? Micah was dead, but that didn’t mean he hadn’t done it before Luc ended it. “Was he … killed?”

“No.” Heidi shook her head. “He caught the flu or something and died from that.”

“The flu?” James repeated as if he couldn’t quite believe what he’d heard. “Like the sneezing and coughing flu?”

Heidi nodded. “Yeah.”

“Wow,” I murmured, unable to think of anyone I knew that had actually died from the flu.

Zoe stared down at her plate. “That’s sad.”

“Yeah,” Heidi agreed.

James said nothing as he sat back, hands falling to his lap. A hush fell over us, and just like that, I learned … or I remembered that a natural death, an unexpected one, was just as heavy as an unnatural one.

And death was a constant companion, with or without dangerous aliens.


“Touch it.”

“Nope,” I said, focusing on the open textbook as I lay curled on my side. I’d been at Luc’s apartment for about an hour, and I needed to study because I had a feeling I was going to have a quiz in history, but within that hour’s time, I’d probably managed to read about one paragraph.

If that.

Not only was Luc incredibly distracting, I kept thinking about Ryan. I didn’t know him at all, but he still lingered in my thoughts. To die from the flu at such a young age? That was scary—scary and sad, and I could almost hear my mom’s voice in the back of my head, lecturing about the importance of flu shots.

The school had already suffered too many losses.

“Come on, Evie, touch it,” Luc cajoled, and I fought the way my lips twitched in response to his deep voice as I traced idle circles along the soft blanket.

“No, thank you.”

“I’m far more interesting than whatever you’re reading.”

That statement was annoyingly true. Reading about the Gettysburg Address, something I was confident was covered every single year in school, wasn’t exactly edge-of-your-seat reading.

“Touch it,” he persisted. “Just a little. You know you want to, Peaches.”

I lost the battle to ignore him and my gaze flicked from the textbook to the long, lean body stretched out beside me. He smiled, and a flutter picked up in my chest. That smile of his was as dangerous as the Source.

“Touch it.” Luc let his head fall to the side.

I shouldn’t be touching any part of Luc, because things with him had a tendency to spin spectacularly out of control in the best and worst possible way.

“Peaches,” he murmured.

“What do you…?” I trailed off as I saw what he wanted me to touch.

The tip of one finger glowed bright white like a mini lightbulb. I sucked in a shallow breath, torn between wanting to pull away and inch closer. “Are you ET?”

Luc chuckled. “I’m way hotter than ET.”

“That’s not saying much, you realize that, right? ET is like this lumpy thing made of Play-Doh,” I said, staring at his finger. What I saw was no light. It was the Source, a power not from this Earth but brought here by the aliens. Only the Luxen, hybrids, and Origins could harness the energy to varying degrees. Some could heal with it. Some could move objects. All could kill with it.

And Luc was adeptly skilled at all uses of the Source.

“Why do you want me to touch it?” I asked.

“It’s a surprise, Peaches,” he said. “Because I know you missed me while you were at school.”

“I didn’t miss you while I was at school.”

“You shouldn’t tell lies, Peaches.”

I shot him a look, but the truth was, he did randomly pop up in my thoughts throughout the day, and it was always followed by a dipping motion in my stomach. I had no idea what that meant, if it was something good or bad, but it was weird. I’d spent a decent amount of time with him, so how could I miss him already? I used to go entire weekends without seeing my ex, Brandon, and not really miss him. Actually, if I was being honest, I hadn’t missed him at all.

“Okay,” I said after a moment. “I did miss you.”

“A lot.”

“A little,” I corrected, fighting a grin as I stared at the white glow in his finger and then lifted my gaze to those stunning eyes. “Why do you want me to touch it?”

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