Home > Oblivion (Lux #1.5)(9)

Oblivion (Lux #1.5)(9)
Jennifer L. Armentrout

She was attracted to me, even right now, when I’d backed her clear across the yard, and yet she was still attracted to me. And that kicked off something in me that I didn’t want to look too closely at.

My lips curled up and I lowered my voice. “You’re kind of dirty, Kitten.”

She blinked slowly, as if in a daze. “What did you say?”

“Dirty.” I let that word hang between us and then added, “You’re covered in dirt. What did you think I meant?”

“Nothing.” The flush in her cheeks said otherwise. “I’m gardening. You get dirty when you do that.”

I resisted a laugh at her poor attempt to explain herself, but she still wasn’t cowering in fear, and that was really kind of hot. “There are a lot more fun ways to get…dirty.” I caught myself. Where in the hell did that come from? Yeah, I needed to correct that. “Not that I’d ever show you. ”

That… interesting flush spread down her throat. “I’d rather roll around in manure than anything you might sleep in.”

So fucking doubtful.

Part of me wanted to call her on that right here. Lower my head to hers and taste that smart little mouth. I was willing to bet an arm she wouldn’t push me away, but the momentary satisfaction wasn’t worth it. With one last look, I pivoted around, and as I passed Dee, I yelled out, “You need to call Matthew. Like, now, and not five minutes from now.”

That was a lie, but like most lies, it would get the job done.

Chapter 4

My house became a war zone over the next couple of days.

Dee and I argued nonstop about the girl next door, and the words were just wasted time on my end, because she ultimately did what she wanted, no matter how brutally honest I got about the kind of risks befriending her posed.

The only reason I didn’t lose my last nerve was the fact that Dee would be leaving Monday, spending a week with the colony, something the damn Elders required at least once a year so that we did not forget what we were or where we came from or some kind of bullshit like that. Maybe the week away would wake her up.

Doubtful.

Then on Friday, some of my favorite damn shirts—one of them a Ghost Investigators —had turned up missing. I had a strong suspicion the pile of ashes in the kitchen sink I’d discovered later that day had been what was left of my shirts.

Damn Dee.

Fed up with the situation, I’d gone over to the Thompsons’, and Ash had been more than willing to help work off some of the frustration. But it hadn’t worked, and when I’d come home in the early hours of Saturday morning, I found myself sitting out on the hood of my SUV, staring at nothing really, with only the stars and the rustling of nearby critters for company.

The idea of even hooking up with Ash had been empty and boring, and nothing happened. Not even a touch. Things like that with Ash had been a take-it-or-leave-it kind of deal for a while, but empty?

Dropping my head, I rubbed at the back of my neck. I could do another patrol, but Matthew was out there and so was Adam. No Arum had been sighted. Yet.

At least my head was quiet at the moment. Except when my head was quiet, I started thinking about what the hell all of us were going to do. When summer ended, we were entering our senior year and all of us—Dee, the Thompsons—would be graduating next spring. What in the hell were we going to do then?

Dee didn’t talk about it a lot, not to me at least, but I had a feeling she wanted to leave. Go to college far away from here, and I could sympathize with that. I wanted to get the hell out of here myself, but unlike the teenagers who shared classes with us, it wasn’t an easy decision. We’d have to get permission from the DOD. They’d have to approve the relocation, and even if they did, we’d need to find someplace safe, near beta quartz, and it wasn’t like there was a wide selection of that available.

And the colony—Ethan—didn’t want us to leave at all. He wasn’t even happy with us living outside the damn place. He’d be a problem. All the Elders were focused on was the younger generation hooking up and producing more Luxen babies, born and raised on Earth, and yeah, that wasn’t in my game plan.

“Hell,” I muttered, dropping my hand and lifting my head.

In the quiet moments, I also thought about Dawson, and those thoughts always cycled back to how he could have felt so strongly for a human, had fallen in love with one, knowing what it risked. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. So many countless, sleepless nights I’d tried to figure it out. In the end, Dawson had given two shits about the danger he posed to his family, but if he truly loved the girl—Bethany—wouldn’t he have stayed away from her? The Luxen Elders or the government did not tolerate mixing of our two kinds, and then there was the Arum aspect.

Had love made him that damn selfish? Didn’t he realize I’d be lost if anything happened to him?

The stars I stared at held no answers, and as I slowly lowered my gaze, I found myself staring at the bedroom window of the house next door, my new problem. There was a part of me that had accepted there was nothing I was going to be able to do to stop Dee and her from getting closer, but I couldn’t just let it go.

I had done exactly that when Dawson had asked me to.

Yeah, these were two different scenarios, but the likelihood of ending the same was high, so I couldn’t just walk away from this. I would be keeping an eye on that girl, a very close one.

Monday morning, I woke up before Dee and made her breakfast of W.E.B.—waffles, eggs, and bacon. Even though she was pissed at me, I didn’t like the idea of her leaving for a week on those kinds of terms.

And no one, not even my sister, could resist my breakfast skills.

It worked.

At first, I think she was suspicious of my intent, eyeing me warily, but when I didn’t mention the girl next door, she was all smiles and hugs from that point on. I followed her outside, carrying her luggage even though she could carry the thing with a pinkie. I popped it in the back of her Volkswagen. The colony could be accessed from the woods, but she would drive the handful of miles and enter through one of the nearly invisible roads leading in. The local humans thought the little village was just full of nature nuts who preferred to live off the grid.

Humans saw what they wanted to see, never what was really right in front of them.

“You sure you don’t want me to come with you?” I asked.

Smiling, she shook her head as she walked around the car. “That’s the fifth time you’ve asked.”

“The third.”

“Whatever.” She laughed. “You know if one of the Elders or Ethan saw you, you won’t be getting out of there in the foreseeable future. I’ll be okay.”

I didn’t like the idea of it, but I nodded. “Text me when you get there.”

“They’d better not try to take my cell phone like they did last time. I’ll cut them.” Dee turned to me and smiled before climbing in behind the wheel. “Can you do me a favor while I’m gone?”

“Hmm?”

Her expression turned serious. “Try to talk to Katy if you see her.”

I arched a brow.

“Actually, how about you make a point to see her, without being a jerk to her so you don’t ruin my chances of having one normal friend who is not obligated to like me because we’re both freaking aliens. I really like her and it would be great if my friend didn’t hate my brother,” she continued, and I wasn’t sure how to feel over the fact that the girl hated me.

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