Bright light pushed through the windows, piercing the darkness that I'd been so comfortable in. I groaned and pushed my head into the soft pillow. My mouth was dry and my head throbbed viciously. I didn't want to wake up yet. I couldn't remember exactly why I thought it was best I stay asleep as long as possible, but I knew there must be a good reason.

My muscles ached as I rolled over and pried my eyes open. Two vibrant green eyes stared intently into mine. I choked on a scream and jumped in surprise. In my shock, my legs tangled in the light blanket and I stumbled out of the bed.

"Holy mother..." I croaked.

Dee caught me, holding me upright while I untangled my legs. "Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."

I pushed at the blanket until it settled in a messy puddle at my feet. My legs were bare.

And the oversized shirt was so not mine. My cheeks flushed when I remembered Daemon tossing the shirt into the room. It had his scent, a lush mix of spice and the outdoors.

"What are you doing here, Dee?" The tips of her cheeks flushed as she sat down on the chaise lounge across from the large bed. "I was watching you sleep." I made a face. "Okay, that's creepy." She looked even more embarrassed. "It wasn't like I was watching you, watching you. It was more like waiting for you to wake up." She pushed at her tousled hair. "I wanted to talk to you. I needed to talk to you." I sat on the bed.

Dee did look tired, almost as if she hadn't slept all night. There were dark smudges under her eyes and her arms hung lifelessly at her sides.

"Still, it was a little unexpected." I paused. "And still creepy." Dee rubbed at her eyes. "I wanted to talk to you..." She trailed off.

"Okay, I...need a moment."

She nodded and leaned her head back against the pale cushions, closing her eyes. After a quick look around their guest room, I headed to the bathroom. I found my toothbrush, plus other personal things on their sink I'd picked up from my house when Daemon had brought me back.


I turned on the water until it was drowning out all the sound around me. I finished brushing my teeth and started to wash my face. One look in the mirror told me I didn't look any more rested than Dee did. I looked like hell. My hair was a tangled mess. There was a red line that etched across my cheek like a fine scratch. I cupped my hands under the hot water, splashing my face. The scratch stung.

Funny how a little spark of pain unleashed something more powerful than the fleeting ache it caused. Memories of last night crashed through me. I remembered everything.

And felt dizzy.

"Oh my God." I gripped the cool marble of the sink until my knuckles throbbed. "My best friend's an alien."

Spinning around, I threw open the door. Dee stood on the other side, her hands folded behind her back. "You're an alien."

She nodded slowly.

I stared at her. Maybe I should've felt fear or more confusion, but that wasn't what burned inside me. Curiosity. Intrigue. I stepped forward.

"Do it."

"Do what?"

"The alien light bulb thing," I said.

Dee's lips spread into a wide smile. "You're not afraid of me?"

I shook my head. How could I be afraid of Dee? "No. I mean, I'm a little blown away by everything, but you're a freaking alien. That's kind of cool. Bizarre, but definitely on the cool side of things." Her lip trembled. Tears turned her eyes into shimmering jewels. "You don't hate me? I like you, and I don't want you to hate me or be scared of me."

"I don't hate you."

Dee popped forward, moving faster than my human eyes could register. She gave me a surprisingly strong hug and pulled back, sniffling. "I was so worried all night, especially since Daemon refused to let me talk to you. All I could think was I'd lost my best friend." She was still the same Dee, alien or not. "You haven't lost me. I'm not going anywhere." A second later she about squeezed the life out of me. "Okay. I'm starving. Get changed and I'll make us breakfast."

She disappeared out of the room in a blink of an eye. That would take some getting used to.

I grabbed the change of clothes I'd nabbed last night after telling my mom I was staying over at Dee's house. I quickly changed, then headed downstairs.

Dee was already making breakfast and chatting on her cell phone. The clang of pots and the soft lure of running water muted most of what she was saying. Snapping the phone closed, she spun around.

Then she was in front of me, pulling me to the kitchen table. "When everything happened last night, all I could think is that you must believe we're a bunch of freaks."

"Well..." I started. "You sure aren't normal."

She giggled. "Yes, but normal is so boring sometimes."

I cringed at her choice of words and went to pull out the chair. It moved before I could touch it, sliding back several inches. Startled, I glanced up. "You?"

Dee grinned.

"Well, that was handy." I sat slowly, hoping it didn't get moving again. "So you're as fast as light?"

"I think we might be a little faster." She popped over to the stove. She placed her hand over the skillet. It immediately started crackling under her palm. Over her shoulder, she grinned.

The stove wasn't turned on, but the scent of cooked bacon filled the air.

I leaned forward. "How are you doing that?"

"Heat," she said. "It's faster this way. Takes me seconds to fry up pig."

And it really was only minutes when she handed me a plate of eggs and bacon. Between the moving super-fast and the microwave hand, I was starting to get a bad case of alien envy.

"So what did Daemon tell you last night?" She sat down, a mountain of eggs on her plate.

"He showed me some of your cool alien tricks." The food smelled delicious and I was starving. "Thank you for the breakfast, by the way."

"You're welcome." She pulled her hair up into a messy knot. "You have no idea how hard it's been pretending to be something we're not.

It's one of the reasons why we don't have a lot of close friends that are...human. That's why Daemon's all 'Human equals no friend' or whatever." I toyed with my fork while she devoured half her plate in seconds. "Well, now you don't have to pretend anymore." Her eyes lifted, sparkling. "Want to know something cool?"

Coming from her, I could only imagine what it was going to be. "Yeah."

"We can see things that humans can't. Like the energy you all put off around you. I think new age people call them auras or whatever. It represents their energy, or some could call it life force. It changes when their emotions change, if they are feeling sick." My fork stopped halfway to my mouth. "Can you see mine now?" She shook her head. "You have a trace around you right now. I can't see your energy, but it was a pale pink when I met you, which seems normal. It used to get really red when you'd talk to Daemon." Red probably represented anger. Or lust.

"I'm not good at reading it though. Some powers come more easily to others, but Matthew rocks at reading energies."

"What?" I set my fork back down. "Our biology teacher is an alien? Holy crap...all I can think of is that movie The Faculty." But it made sense, the way he'd acted when he saw Daemon and me together, the strange looks in class.

Dee choked on her orange juice. "We don't snatch bodies."

I hoped not. "Wow. So you guys have like normal jobs."

"Yep." Jumping from her chair, she glanced at the door. "Want to see what I'm good at?" When I nodded, she moved back from the table and closed her eyes. The air around her seemed to hum softly. A second later she went from teenage girl to a form made out of light, and then a wolf.

"Um," I cleared my throat. "I think I've discovered how the legend of werewolves got started."

She padded over to me and nudged my hand with her warm nose. Unsure of what I should do, I patted her on the top of her furry head. The wolf let out a bark that sounded more like a giggle and then backed off. A few seconds later, it was Dee again.

"And that's not all. Look." She shook her arms. "Don't freak out."

"Okay." I clenched my glass of OJ.

Closing her eyes, her body faded into the light and then she became someone totally different. Light brown hair fell past her shoulders and her face was a bit paler. Eyebrows arched over large, doe eyes, and her rosy-colored lips formed a half smile. She was shorter, a little more normal looking.

"Me?" I squeaked. I was staring at me.

"Hey," Dee-as-me said. "Can you tell us apart?"

Heart pounding, I started to stand but didn't make it. My mouth moved but no words came out. "This is...weird." I squinted. "Does my nose really look like that? Turn around." She did. I shrugged. "My butt doesn't look bad." The exact replica of me laughed and then faded out.

For a moment I could see the outline of a body, but I could see the fridge through the center. A second later she was Dee. She sat down again. "I can look like anyone except for my brother. I mean, I can look like him, but that would be gross." She shuddered. "All of us can shift, but I can hold the form for like forever. Most of us can only mimic for a few minutes tops." Her chest swelled with pride.

"Have you guys ever done that? Been someone else around me?"

She shook her head. "Daemon would have a shit fit if he knew I'd done that. It doesn't leave a huge trace on you, but you're all kinds of lit up right now, so it doesn't matter."

"So Daemon can do that too? Morphing into a kangaroo if he wanted to?"

Dee laughed. "Daemon can do about anything. He's one of the most powerful of us.

Most of us can do one or two things easily - the rest is a struggle. Everything is easy for him."

"He's just so awesome," I muttered.

"Once he actually moved the house a little bit," Dee said, nose wrinkled. "He totally broke the foundation."

Sweet Jesus...

I took a sip of my juice. "And the government doesn't know you can do any of that?"

"No. At least, we don't think they do," Dee said. "We've always hidden our abilities. We know that it would scare humans to know we can do things. And we also know that people would take advantage of that. So we try not to risk exposure." I let that soak in as I took another drink. My brain felt like it was two seconds from blowing up. "So why did you guys come here? Daemon said something happened to your home."

"Yeah, something happened all right." Dee picked up the dishes and headed to the sink. Her back was rigid as she cleaned the dishes. "Our planet was destroyed by the Arum."

"The Arum?" Then I got it. "Dark? Right?

Are those the people that are out to like steal your abilities?"

"Yes." She glanced over her shoulder, nodding. "They're our enemies. Pretty much the only enemies of the Luxen besides humans, if they decided to stop being kosher with us being here, I guess. The Arum are like us - only opposite, coming from our sister planet. They destroyed our home. My mom used to tell me a bedtime story that when the universe was formed it was filled with the purest light, shining so brightly it made the shadows envious. The Arum are the children of the shadows, jealous and determined to suffocate all light in the universe, not realizing for one to exist so must the other. Many Luxen feel that every time an Arum is killed, a light in the universe fades away. It's the only thing I remember about Mom."

"And your parents died in this war?" I asked, then immediately regretted doing so. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked that." Dee stopped washing the dishes. "No, it's okay. You should know, but it shouldn't scare you."

I didn't know how their parents' deaths could scare me, but I had begun to feel alarmed by what I might find out.

"There are Arum here. The government thinks they're Luxen. We have to keep it that way or there's a chance the DOD could learn of our powers through the Arum." Dee faced me, placing her hands on the edge of the sink. "And now, you're like a beacon to them." Appetite gone, I pushed my plate away. "Is there any way to get the trace off?"

"It will fade over time." Dee forced a smile.

"Until then it would be good to stick around us, especially Daemon."

Goodie goodie gumdrops. But it could be worse. "Okay, so it fades...eventually. I can deal with that if that's my only problem."

"It's not," she said. "We need to make sure the government doesn't know that you know the truth. Their job is to make sure we don't expose ourselves. Can you imagine if the human population knew we existed?" Images of rioting and looting flickered in my head, which was how we reacted to everything we didn't understand.

"And they will do anything to make sure we stay secret." Dee's eyes locked onto mine. "You can never tell anyone, Katy."

"I wouldn't. I would never do that." The words rushed from me. "I would never betray any of you like that." And I meant it. Dee was like a sister to me. And Daemon was...well, he was whatever, but I would never betray them.

Not after they trusted me with something so amazing. "I won't tell anyone." Dee knelt beside me and she placed her hand on mine. "I trust you, but we can't let the DOD find out about you, because if they ever did, then you'd disappear."

Most Popular