Home > The Darkest Star (Origin #1)(10)

The Darkest Star (Origin #1)(10)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

He jerked his chin toward the bar, and I turned. The two people who’d been standing there had moved farther into the light, and I immediately recognized one of them. The dark-haired Luxen. His name was Connor. No idea what his last name was. Surprise flickered through me. “Yeah. We do.”

“Wonder what he’s doing here?”

Before I could answer, Grayson appeared from across the club, walking from where the shadows clung to the walls as if he had been conjured out of thin air. I stiffened, wondering if the Luxen had that kind of ability and we just didn’t know about it.

“Oh hell,” James muttered, apparently realizing in that moment that Grayson was a Luxen and wasn’t wearing a Disabler.

A smirk tipped up the corner of Grayson’s mouth as he stopped in front of our table. He passed a dismissive glance over James, and then those ultra-bright blue eyes landed on me. “I’m told that you’re looking for your phone?”

“Yes. It’s a slim black—”

“I know what a phone looks like,” he replied. “I don’t have it.”

“Okay.” I didn’t think he did. “I just need to check a room. I dropped it in there and—”

“You can’t check the room.”

Irritation swelled. “Why not?”

He simply shook his head.

“Look, I’m not trying to be a pain, but I really just need to find my phone. That’s all. So, if you’d—”

“Your phone isn’t in that room,” he cut me off.

I frowned. “How would you know?”

“Because I know what room you’re talking about, and there’s no phone in there.”

“But—”

“I do know where your phone is.” Grayson focused on James like I imagined a lion did when it spotted a limping three-legged gazelle. “Do you like horror movies?” he asked James, pulling what appeared to be a Blow Pop out of the pocket of his jeans.

James looked over at me nervously. “Yeah, uh, I guess so?”

The Luxen’s smile was like a razor as he unwrapped the lollipop. It was green—sour apple. “My favorite is an older movie. Hostel. There’s this young, witless guy who basically stumbles into a den of freaks who take great pleasure in torturing and murdering people.” He shoved the Blow Pop into his mouth and spoke around the thin white stick. “Have you seen that one?”

James lifted his brows. “I’ve . . . Yeah, I’ve seen it.”

“You kind of remind me of that guy. You know. The young, witless one.”

Well, that was super-creepy.

Grayson’s gaze slid to mine. “Luc has your phone. It’s his new treasured possession.”

Dammit. “Can you get it from Luc?”

“Nope.”

The urge to scream hit me hard. I had no other choice. “Then I want to see Luc.”

He tilted his head to the side. “Luc is unavailable.”

“Then make him available.” My hand tightened around the edge of the table.

Grayson’s smirk turned into a full-blown smile. “Obviously, you don’t know Luc if you think I can simply make him available.”

“I don’t care if I know him or not; I’m not leaving here without my phone.”

James looked a little pale. “Maybe we can buy you a new one.”

Buy me a new phone? With what? Monopoly money? I didn’t even have any of that.

“That would be wise,” Grayson commented.

“No.” I glanced down the hall Clyde had disappeared into. “If you won’t go get Luc, then I will.”

The older Luxen tilted his head to the side. “Is that so?”

“Evie,” James said. “I really think we should leave.”

Grayson smile reminded me of barbwire. “For once, I actually agree with a human.”

This was ridiculous. All I was asking for was my phone, not the secrets to the alien race. Angry, I twisted toward James. “Stay here. I’ll be right back.”

“Stop,” Grayson called out flatly. “Don’t.” There was a pause. “Definitely don’t take the door at the end, on your right, to the stairwell.”

I halted.

“Or go onto the second floor,” he continued in the same monotone voice. “Luc would be very unhappy about that.”

What in the world? I looked over my shoulder at him and saw that he was now sitting across from a very, very uncomfortable-looking James. I had no idea why he’d possibly tell me where Luc would be if Luc was so unavailable, but it didn’t matter.

I hurried down the hall, passing several doors. Two led to bathrooms, and another one had an EMPLOYEES ONLY plaque on the door, but half the words had Xs over them, leaving the word ploy behind, which was . . . notably odd.

Really odd.

I scanned the narrow hall and found the door to the staircase. I threw it open and started up the flight of steps, not giving myself time to think about what I was doing. And maybe that was stupid.

Or maybe it was brave.

I could see my mom doing something like this. Definitely my dad, and they were brave. Obviously. So maybe sometimes it took a little stupidity to be brave.

Rounding the landing to the second floor, I entered the dimly lit hallway and saw several windowless doors. It kind of reminded me of an apartment building. Except, there were no peepholes.

Sighing in frustration, I bit down on my lower lip. Luc could be in any number of these rooms and there were a lot. I was literally going to have to check each one. Or I could just start screaming his name until he came out.

I walked down the hall, my steps slowing when I heard what sounded like whispers coming from the right. I stopped and saw that one of the doors was cracked open.

I went to it, placing my hand on the cool surface. Pushing it all the way open, I stepped inside and saw nothing. The room inside was pitch black, as if heavy curtains had been hung, blocking out all possible light.

“Hello?” I called out.

Thump.

I jumped as something moved or fell over in the room. Scanning the darkness, I tried to see something—anything—but it was useless. My ears strained to hear another sound, but there was nothing. It was quite possibly a good time to get the hell out of this room.

I took a step back.

Air stirred around me, lifting the hair around my face. My breath caught as instinct flared to life. I so wasn’t alone in this room. I moved to get the hell out—

A hand gripped my arm, jerking me forward. A scream rose, abruptly cut off as I was shoved. Hard. My back hit the wall, knocking the breath out of me and shooting pain up my spine, where it exploded along the base of my skull.

Before I could move or make a sound, the same hand—a cold hand—closed around my throat, tight enough just to let the tiniest bit of air wheeze in. My hands flailed until I found it—his arm in the darkness. Digging my fingers in, I tried to pry the hand away from my throat as adrenaline pumped through my veins. My heart slammed against my ribs as bitter tendrils of panic burrowed deep into my stomach.

Oh God. Oh God—

I felt him lean in. I felt his breath ghost over my cheek as I was lifted up onto my toes. I felt his words all the way to the marrow. “You shouldn’t be here.”

6

“Who are you?” the man demanded.

I opened my mouth to respond, but since he was half strangling me, I couldn’t get a single word out.

“Why are you here?” he demanded, and his grip tightened. My feet left the floor, forcing out a raspy gasp. Fear dug in with razor-sharp claws.

In the darkness, two bright white pinpricks of light appeared, casting a luminous glow. Pupils. They were pupils. This man was so not human. My fingernails scraped over his skin. Oh God, I was going to be choked to death all over a damn phone—

The door swung open. “Let go of her now.”

At the sound of the familiar voice, the hand around my throat disappeared. I fell forward, throwing my arms out into the empty space around me. A scream built in my throat—

An arm circled my waist. For a second I was hanging in the air, arms and legs flailing by a steely arm. Without warning, I was suddenly upright, on my feet, my back pressed against a very solid chest—Luc’s chest. I inhaled sharply, surrounded by that all-too-familiar woodsy scent of his.

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