Like he'd turned off my bitch switch, all I could do was stare at him. There was a feeling in my gut that told me I already knew this stuff but hadn't wanted to acknowledge it. God, he was such a jerk, but my anger eased off, lessening and leaving uncertainty in its wake.

"What happened?" I asked.

He was staring over my shoulder, focused on the trees behind me. "Dawson met Bethany, and I swear to you, it was like love at first sight.

Everything for him became about her.

Matthew - Mr. Garrison - warned him. I warned him that it wasn't going to work. There was no way we can have a relationship with a human." Pressing his lips together, he took a moment.

"You don't know how hard it is, Kat. We have to hide what we are all the time, and even among our own kind, we have to be careful. There are many rules. The DOD and Luxen don't like the idea of us messing with humans." He paused, shaking his head. "It's as if they think we're animals, beneath them."

"But you're not animals," I said. They were definitely not like us, but they weren't beneath us.

"Do you know anytime we apply for something, it's tracked by the DOD?" He glanced at me, eyes troubled. Angry. "Driver's license, they know. If we apply for college, they see it. Marriage license to a human? Forget it.

We even have a registration we have to go through if we want to move." I blinked. "Can they do that?"

He laughed humorlessly. "This is your planet, not ours. You even said it. And they keep us in place by funding our lives. We have random check-ins, so we can't hide or anything.

Once they know we're here, that's it." Not sure what to say, I remained quiet. Everything about their life seemed controlled, chronicled. It was frightening and sad.


"And that's not all. We're expected to find another Luxen, and to stay there." Alarm trickled through my system. Was he obligated to Ash? It seemed the wrong time to ask. And it seemed even more wrong that I wanted to ask. "That doesn't seem fair."

"It's not." Daemon sat up in one fluid motion, dropping his arms over his bent knees.

"It's easy to feel human. I know I'm not, but I want the same things that all humans want." He stopped, shaking his head. "Anyway, something happened between Dawson and Bethany. I don't know what. He never said. They went out hiking one Saturday and he came back late, his clothing torn and covered with blood. They were closer than ever. If Matt and the Thompsons didn't have their suspicions before, they did then. That following weekend, Dawson and Bethany went out to the movies. They never came back." I squeezed my eyes shut.

"The DOD found him the next day in Moorefield, his body dumped in a field like garbage." His voice was low, rough. "I didn't get to say good-bye. They took his body before I could even see him, because of the risk of exposure. When we die or get hurt, we resort back to our true form." I ached for that - for him and Dee. "Are you sure he's...dead then, if you've never seen his body?"

"I know an Arum got him. Drained him of his abilities and killed him. If he were still alive, he would've found a way to contact us. Both his and Bethany's bodies were taken away before anyone could see. Her parents will never know what happened to her. And all we know is that he had to have done something that left a trace on her, enabling the Arum to find him. That's the only way. They can't sense us here. He had to have done something major." My chest squeezed. I couldn't imagine what he and Dee had to have felt. My father's death had been expected. It hurt - it had felt like his sickness and eventual death was killing me - but he hadn't been murdered.

"I'm sorry," I whispered. "I know there's nothing I can say. I'm just so sorry." He shifted slightly, lifting his head to the sky. In a second, the mask he wore slipped down. And there was the real Daemon. Still a total badass, but there was pain in him, a vulnerability in the lines of his face that I doubted anyone ever got to see. And suddenly, I felt like I was intruding, witnessing this moment. For it to be me, of all people, to see beneath the layers of attitude didn't seem right.

It should've been someone he cared about, someone important to him.

"I...I miss the idiot," he said raggedly.

My heart clenched. The pain in his voice pricked at me. Not thinking, I turned and reached over, wrapping my arms around his all too stiff body. I hugged him, squeezing him as tightly as I could. And then I let him go before he overreacted and threw me off the rock.

Daemon still didn't move. He stared at me, eyes wide, like he'd never been hugged before.

Maybe the Luxen didn't believe in hugs.

I lowered my gaze. "I miss my dad, too. It doesn't get any easier."

His breath expelled harshly. "Dee said he was sick but not what was wrong with him. I'm sorry...for you loss. Sickness isn't something we're accustomed to. What was it?" I told him about my dad's cancer, which was surprisingly easy. And then I told him about better things - things my dad and I shared before he got sick. How I used to garden with him and we'd spend Saturday mornings during the spring searching for new plants and flowers.

And he shared memories of Dawson. The first time they hiked the Seneca Rocks. And the time that Dawson had morphed into someone else and couldn't figure out how to change back.

We stayed there, somehow finding a peace in talking about them until the sun started to fade and the rock lost its warmth. And it was just me and him, in the dusk, staring at the stars filling the sky.

I was reluctant to leave, not because the water would be cold, but because I knew -  I knew - that this little piece of the world we created, where we weren't arguing or hating one another, wouldn't last. It seemed that Daemon...needed someone to talk to, and I happened to be here. I asked the right questions.

And it was the same for me. He was here. At least, that's what I was telling myself, because I knew tomorrow would be no different than the week before.

We had to go back to the real world. And Daemon wishing he'd never met me.

Neither of us spoke until we were on my porch. The light was on in the living room, so when I did speak, I kept my voice low. "What happens now?"

Daemon's hands were fists at his side as he looked away, not answering.

I started to turn, but in the time that it took for me to blink my eyes, Daemon was already gone.

"You didn't do anything for Labor Day?" Lesa pointed at Carissa behind her. "You live a life as exciting as Carissa."

Carissa rolled her eyes as she straightened her glasses. "Not all of us have parents who whisk us away for a quick weekend in North Carolina. We aren't as cool as you." It wasn't like I could tell them I did have an exciting weekend, one involving almost getting hit by a truck and proving the existence of extraterrestrial life forms, so I shrugged and scribbled in my notebook. "Just hung out at home."

"I can see why." Lesa tipped her chin toward the front of the classroom. "I would too if I lived next to that."

"You should've been born as a man," Carissa remarked, and I hid a smile. Those two were a riot; one as oppressed as the other was ballsy. I always felt like I was watching an insane tennis match between the angel on my left shoulder and the devil on my right.

But I didn't need to look up to see they were talking about Daemon. Last night I'd barely slept. Only thing I was certain come Tuesday morning, I wouldn't act like anything was different. I ignored him, which was what I did before I found out he was from far, far away.

And it worked right up until he sat behind me and I felt his pen poking against my back.

Slowly, I set my pen down and casually turned around. "Yes?"

Sooty lashes lowered, but not before I saw the sparkle in his eyes. "My house. After school."

Lesa's audible intake of breath was sort of embarrassing.

I knew I had to hang out with Daemon until the damn trace thing faded, but I didn't take well to being ordered around. "I have plans." His head moved an inch to the side. "Excuse me?"

A small, evil part of me reveled in his surprise. "I said I have plans." A second of silence passed, and then he smiled. It wasn't as devastating as I expected, but pretty damn close. "You don't have plans."

"How would you know?"

"I do."

"Well, you're wrong." He wasn't. I didn't have any plans.

His gaze slid to the girls. "Is she hanging out with either of you after school?" Carissa opened her mouth, but Lesa cut her off. "Nope."

Some friends. "Maybe I wasn't hanging out with them."

Daemon tipped his desk forward, closing the space between us. "Besides them and Dee, what other friends do you have?"

I cut him a death look. "I have other friends."

"Yeah, name one."

Dammit. He called my bluff. "Fine.


He gave me a sexy smirk and settled back in his seat, tapping his pen on his desk. Sending him one more look of pure hatred, I turned back around. Yeah, nothing had changed.

Daemon followed me home after school.

Literally. He tailed me in his new Infiniti SUV.

My old Camry, with its leaky exhaust and loud muffler, was no match for the speeds he wanted to go.

I'd brake-checked him several times.

He'd blown his horn.

It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

As soon as I stepped outside of my car, he was right in front of the driver's side. "Jesus!" I rubbed my chest. "Would you please stop doing that?"

"Why?" He leaned his head down. "You know about us now."

"Yeah, but that doesn't mean you can't walk like a normal human being. What if my mom saw you?"

He grinned. "I'd charm her into believing she was seeing things."

I shoved past him. "I'm having dinner with my mom."

Daemon popped in front of me, causing me to shriek. I swung at him, but he moved to the side. "God! I think you like to do that to piss me off."

"Who? Me?" His eyes were wide with innocence. "What time is dinner?"

"Six." I stomped up the steps. "And you are not invited."

"Like I want to eat dinner with you," he retorted.

I flipped him off without looking back.

"You have until 6:30 to be next door, or I'm coming after you."

"Yeah. Yeah." I went inside without looking back.

Mom was standing by the window in the living room, holding a picture frame she was dusting. It was her favorite picture of us. She'd stopped a random teenager and asked him to take our picture while we'd been at the beach.

One smile from her and the kid couldn't help but obey. I remembered being embarrassed she'd stopped the boy. I looked sullen next to her, put out and frustrated. I hated that picture.

"How long have you been standing there?"

"Just long enough to see you give Daemon the middle finger."

"He deserved it," I grumbled, dropping my backpack on the floor. "I'm going over there after dinner."

She wrinkled her nose. "Do I even want to know?"

I sighed. "Not in a million years."

When I did show up next door, at 6:34, it sounded like World War III had erupted in the house. I'd let myself in since no one answered the damn door.

"I can't believe you ate all the ice cream, Daemon!"

I cringed and stopped inside the dining room. There was no way I was going into that kitchen.

"I didn't eat all of it."

"Oh, so it ate itself?" Dee shrieked so loudly I thought I heard the rafters in the ceiling shake.

"Did the spoon eat it? Oh wait, I know. The carton ate it."

"Actually, I think the freezer ate it," Daemon responded dryly.

I grinned when I heard what sounded like the empty container hitting what suspiciously sounded like flesh.

Turning, I went back into the living room and piddled around until I heard footfalls behind me.

Daemon lounged against the frame of the door that led from the dining room to the living room. I slowly took him in. His hair carelessly disheveled and the faint light from the lamp bouncing over high cheekbones. His lips curved into a half smile, and even in the simple shirt and jeans, he looked...well, beyond words.

He took up the whole room, and he wasn't even in it.

One brow rose as he waited. "Kat?" Mentally kicking myself, I looked away.

"Did you get hit by an ice cream carton?"


"Damn. And I missed that."

"I'm sure Dee would love to do a replay for you."

I smiled a little at that.

"Oh, you think this is funny." Dee burst into the living room, car keys in hand. "I should be making you go to the store and get me Rocky Road, but because I like Katy and value her well-being, I'm going to get it myself." That would mean I'd be left alone...Oh hell to the no.

"Can't Daemon go?"

Daemon smiled at me.

"No. If the Arum comes around, he's only going to see your trace." Dee grabbed her purse.

"You need to be with Daemon. He's stronger than me."

My shoulders fell. "Can't I go next door?"

"You do realize your trace can be seen from the outside?" Daemon pushed out of the doorway. "It's your funeral, though."

"Daemon," Dee snapped. "This is all your fault. My ice cream is not your ice cream."

"Ice cream must be very important," I said.

"It is my life." Dee swung her purse at Daemon but missed. "And you took it from me." Daemon rolled his eyes. "Just get going and come right back."

"Yes, sir!" She saluted him. "You guys want anything?"

I shook my head.

Daemon did the blinking out and reappearing thing. He was now beside Dee and pulled her in for a quick hug. "Be careful." There was no doubt in my mind that Daemon loved and cherished his sister. He'd gladly give his life for her. The way he was always looking out for her was more than admirable. There wasn't a good enough word for it. And it made me wish I had a sibling.

"As always." She smiled, gave me a quick wave, and darted out the door.

"Wow. Remind me never to eat her ice cream."

"If you do, even I wouldn't be able to save you." He flashed a sardonic grin. "So, Kitten, if I'm going to be your babysitter for the evening, what's in it for me?"

My eyes immediately narrowed. "First off, I didn't ask you to babysit me. And you made me come over here. And don't call me Kitten." Daemon tipped his head back and laughed.

The sound sent shivers through me, reminding me of waking up with him, my head in his lap.

"Aren't you feisty tonight?"

"You ain't seen nothing yet."

Still chuckling, he turned toward the kitchen. "I can believe that. Never a dull moment when you're around." He paused. "Are you coming or not?"

I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.

"Going where?"

He pushed open the kitchen door. "I'm hungry."

"Didn't you just eat all of the ice cream?"

"Yeah, still hungry."

"Good Lord, aliens can eat." I stayed put.

Daemon glanced over his broad shoulder. "I have this strong inclination that I need to keep an eye on you. Where I go you go." He waited for me to move, and when I didn't, his smile turned devilish. "Or I can forcibly move you." I was pretty sure I didn't want to know how he planned to do that. "All right, let's go." I shuffled past him and plopped down in a seat at the table.

Daemon grabbed a plate of leftover chicken.

"Want some?"

I shook my head. Unlike them, I didn't eat ten square meals a day.

He was quiet as he moved around the kitchen. Since the night on the rock, we hadn't been at each other's throats. It wasn't like we were getting along, but it seemed like an undeclared truce existed. I had no idea what to do with him since we weren't trying to tick each other off.

Resting my cheek on my palm, I had a hard time pulling my eyes off him. He was broad and tall, but he moved like a dancer. Each step was smooth and supple. Even the simplest movement looked like a form of art.

Then there was his face.

At that moment, he peered up from his plate.

"So how are you holding up?"

I tore my eyes from him and focused on the plate of food that was already half eaten. How long had I been staring at him? This was getting ridiculous. Did the trace turn me into a walking hormone? "I'm doing okay." He took a bite of chicken and chewed slowly. "You are. You've accepted all of this. I'm surprised."

"What did you think I'd do?"

Daemon shrugged. "With humans, the possibilities are endless."

I bit my lip. "Do you think that we are somehow weaker than you because we're human?"

"It's not that I think you're weaker, I know you are." He eyed me over his glass of milk.

"I'm not trying to be obnoxious by saying that.

You are weaker than us."

"Maybe physically but not mentally or...morally," I countered.

"Morally?" He sounded confused.

"Yeah, like, I'm not going to tell the world about you guys to get money. And if I was captured by an Arum, I wouldn't bring them back to you all."

"Wouldn't you?"

Offended, I leaned back and folded my arms. "No. I wouldn't."

"Even if your life was threatened?" Disbelief colored his tone.

Shaking my head, I laughed. "Just because I'm human doesn't mean I'm a coward or unethical. I'd never do anything that would put Dee in danger. Why would my life be more valuable than hers? Now yours...debatable. But not Dee." He stared at me for several seconds, then went back to his food. If I was expecting an apology I wasn't going to get one. Big surprise there.

"So how long will it take for this trace to fade?" My eyes went right back to him. Very annoying.

Daemon's eyes were intent and bright, the green hue seeming to burn through me. He took a long, healthy drink.

I swallowed, my throat dry.

"Probably a week or two, maybe less," he said, squinting. "It's already starting to fade." It was weird that he was talking about this light around me that I couldn't see. "What do I look like? A giant light bulb or something?" He chuckled, shaking his head. "It's a soft white glow that's around your body, kind of like a halo."

"Oh, well that's not too bad. Are you done?" When he nodded, I grabbed his plate out of habit. Not to throw it at him, but mainly out of something to do. "At least I don't look like a Christmas tree."

"You look like the star atop the tree." His breath stirred the hair around my cheek.

Gasping, I turned around.

Daemon stood directly behind me. Our bodies separated only by a foot or two. Placing my hands on the edge of the counter, I dragged in a deep breath. "I hate it when you do that alien super-speed thing." Smiling, he cocked his head to the side. "Kitten, what are we going to get into?"

A thousand images flashed. Thank God reading thoughts wasn't one of his alien powers.

Such a strange thickness invaded the air around me, and this overwhelming yearning from deep inside sprung to life.

"Why not hand me over to the DOD?" I blurted out.

Daemon took a step back, surprised.


I wished I hadn't gone there, but I did, and there was no coming back from it. "Wouldn't everything have been easier for you if you handed me over to the DOD? Then you wouldn't have to worry about Dee or anything." Daemon stood in silence. The color of his eyes went up a notch, becoming brighter. I wanted to take a step back, but there was nowhere to go.

Voice low, he said, "I don't know, Kitten."

"You don't know? You risk everything and you don't know why?"

"That's what I said."

I stared at him, bewildered by the fact that he'd put everything on the line and seemed to have no idea why. That was crazy to me.

Absurd. Admittedly, it was unnerving, because it could mean many things.

Things I didn't dare acknowledge.

His arms quickly shot out, landing heavily against the counter. Bands of muscle created a very successful trap, pinning me in place without even touching. He lowered his head and dark waves spilled over his eyes. "Okay. I do know why." At first I had no idea what he was talking about. "You do?"

Daemon nodded. "You wouldn't survive a day without us."

"You don't know that."

"Oh, I know." He tilted his head to the side.

"Do you know how many Arum I have faced?

Hundreds. And there have been times I barely escaped. A human doesn't stand a chance against them or the DOD."

"Fine. Whatever. Can you move?" Standing his ground, Daemon smiled. God, he was exasperating. I could either stand here, stare at him like an idiot, or I could move past him. I opted for the latter. My plan was to muscle my way around him as quickly as possible.

Not that I got very far.

He was like a brick wall only a freight train could knock out of the way. He grinned wider, entertained by my lack of progress. "Asshole," I muttered.

Daemon laughed. "You have such a mouth on you. Do you kiss boys with that thing?" My cheeks heated. "Do you kiss Ash with yours?"

"Ash?" His smile disappeared and his eyes were suddenly hooded, less clear. "You would like to know that, wouldn't you?" An unreasonable spark of jealousy flared in me, but I pushed it aside. I smirked. "No, thank you."

Daemon leaned in even more. His spicy and earthy scent surrounded me. "You aren't a very good liar, Kitten. Your cheeks get red whenever you lie."

Do they? Aw, hell. I tried pushing past him again, but he reached out, taking ahold of my arm. It wasn't a tight grip, but I still felt it down to my bone. His hand hummed. Tingles were sharp and startling, yet pleasant. I didn't want to look at him but I didn't seem capable of stopping myself.

We were too close and there was too much tension between us. His gaze burned as it latched onto mine. He lowered his head, and I forgot how to breathe. Fascinated, I watched his lips slowly curved into a smile. It was hard to pay attention to his words when he spoke, but they somehow made it through the strange fog clouding my brain.

"I have a strange idea that I should test this out."

"Test what?" My eyes dropped to his lips. I felt myself sway.

"I think you would like to know." He moved closer, his hand sliding up my arm and resting carefully at the nape of my neck. "You have beautiful hair."


"Nothing." His fingers spread along the back of my neck, slowly weaving themselves through strands of loose hair.

His deft fingers moved against the base of my skull. My lips parted, and I waited.

He dropped his hand and reached out again as I stood there, eager - maybe too eager - to discover if he felt the same unexpected ache. If he was any bit as affected as I was.

Instead, Daemon plucked up a bottled water off the counter.

I slumped against the counter. What the holy hell.

His eyes danced with laughter as he turned back to the table. "What was it that you were asking, Kitten?"

"Stop calling me that."

He took a drink. "Did Dee pick up a movie or something?"

I nodded. "Yeah, she mentioned it earlier in class."

"Well, come on. Let's go watch a movie." I pushed away from the counter and followed behind him. I lingered by the door as he held the DVD up and frowned. "Whose idea was this?"

I shrugged and then watched his brows rise as he read the blurb on the back. "Whatever," he muttered.

Clearing my throat, I took one step into the room "Look, Daemon, you don't have to sit and watch a movie with me. If you have other things you want to do, I'm sure I will be fine." He glanced up from the movie and then shrugged. "I have nothing to do."

"Okay." I was still unsure. Imagining him enjoying a movie night with me was more farfetched than the idea of aliens living among humans.

I dragged myself across the room and sat on the couch as he fiddled with the movie. After sliding the disc in, he approached the couch and sat down on the far end. Then the television came on, and I would swear he'd left the remote by the T.V. It was probably a good thing I didn't have his power. I'd be beyond lazy.

He glanced at me, and I immediately faced the television.

"If you fall asleep during this movie, you'll owe me."

I turned to him with a frown. "Why?" Daemon spared me a wolfish smile. "Just watch the movie."

I made a face, but remained quiet. Daemon shifted. The couch dipped and the distance between us grew smaller. I held my breath until I had to come up for air. He didn't seem to notice as the open credits rolled over the screen.

I stared at his profile and wondered for the hundredth time what he could be thinking and, like always, I came up empty. Out of frustration, I turned back to the movie and decided the strange pull I felt for him had to be my imagination. It couldn't be anything more.

Tense and unused to what I was feeling, I counted the minutes until Dee returned.

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