Chapter Eight

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My heart skipped a beat and cotton-wool dryness invaded my mouth. I'd only heard that voice a handful of times in my life, but it was as familiar to me as if I'd known it forever. 

"Luke," I said.  

He stepped towards me and his face broke into a smile. Moonlight glinted in his eyes. "What are you doing here?" 

"I..." My voice trailed off when I realised I couldn't think of a good lie.  

Luke looked me up and down, and suddenly I felt self-conscious. Luke had said he liked me before Riley smothered my face with makeup, but I was probably looking at my very worst now, with flyaway hair and a flushed, sweaty face. I cringed and looked at my feet.  

"I've been for a run," I mumbled, trying to tell him why I was here and explain my dishevelled appearance in one go. 

"At this time of night?" Luke sounded surprised rather than sceptical.  

I shrugged. "What are you doing here?" 

Luke cleared his throat, something akin to sheepishness flashing across his face. "I was waiting for you," he admitted. 

"But you didn't know I would be here." 

"I hoped." He shrugged and it was a lot more graceful than mine. 

Something warm flickered inside me. "You hoped I'd come back?" 

Luke nodded and his smile was softer this time, gentler. It was as if that smile was for me and me alone, and I felt self-conscious all over again. It wasn't something I was unfamiliar with - my scars were more than enough to incite self-consciousness - but what Luke did to me felt different. He made me feel...girly. That was something I'd never felt before. Standing in front of him, I was acutely aware of every part of my body, all the little things I'd never known I liked or didn't like. I wondered what Luke would make of my scars if he ever saw them. His beautiful face would probably twist with disgust, same as everyone else's. There was a reason I hid them from the world.  

An owl shrieked, the sound splitting the still night, and despite myself I jumped, glancing over my shoulder. I felt safer out in the open, but I still half-expected to see a dark shape slink out of the woods and come after me. 

"Are you okay?" Luke said, noticing my sudden tension. 

"'s just...I thought something was chasing me earlier," I admitted. 

Luke looked past me to the woods and his face darkened. "Something or someone?" 

I wasn't sure how to answer that. Now I was out of the woods and away from the treacherous shadows that hid everything and nothing, I didn't want to admit how scared I had been. "It was nothing, probably just my imagination," I said after a moment. 

Luke nodded slowly, but his eyes were still narrowed as he scanned the trees. 

Another moment passed and I struggled to think of something to say. It wasn't awkward as such, but it felt like the space between us was charged with tension. Luke was the one that broke the silence. 

"So," he said, turning his gaze back on me. The moonlight was back in his eyes, adding a silvery sheen to their storm-cloud grey. "Since you weren't followed here by a pitchfork-wielding mob, I'm guessing you haven't told anyone about me?" 

The knowing tone in his voice led me to understand he wasn't talking about the kids I went to college with. "What makes you think there's anyone to tell?" I said.  

"Educated guess," Luke replied. "You're what, sixteen, seventeen?" 


"Hunters your age don't usually work alone." 

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