The Field was about two miles outside of Petersburg, heading in the opposite direction of my house. It was literally a gargantuan harvested cornfield. Enormous bales of hay covered the landscape as far as I could see, lit in orange and red. I couldn't help but think the combination of dried hay and fire wouldn't end well.

Someone tapped a keg.

Correction: the combination of hay, fire, and cheap beer couldn't end well.

Simon had kept his hands to himself the whole way here, so I was feeling pretty good about my decision with the exception of the above foreseeable problem. He led me through the trampled cornstalks toward the fire.

"The girls are over there." He pointed to the other side of the fire where several girls were clustered together, sharing red plastic cups.

"You should go say hi. Mingle a little." I nodded, having no intention of going there.

"I'll get us a drink." He leaned in, squeezing my shoulders before heading off. The moment he reached the keg, he gave some other burly dude a high five and let out a loud, "Hoo-ray!" Quite a crowd was gathering around the fire, pushing back to the surrounding woods.

Someone had pulled a truck up, turned on the radio, and left the doors open, making it nearly impossible to hear anything. Clutching the shawl around my shoulders, I moved along the edges, looking for a familiar face. Relieved, I saw Dee standing with the Thompson triplets. Beside them, Carissa and Lesa shared a blanket.

Daemon was nowhere to be seen.

"Dee!" I called, weaving out of the way of a girl teetering in high heels. "Dee!" She turned, and then seconds later, she waved her hand wildly. I took a step in her direction, and Simon appeared out of nowhere, two cups in hand.

"Oh my God," I said, stepping back. "You scared me."


Simon laughed, handing me a cup. "I don't see how. I was calling your name."

"Sorry." I took the drink, wrinkling my nose at the distinct smell. Taking a sip, I learned it didn't taste much better than it smelled. "It's kind of hard to hear with all the noise."

"I know. And we haven't had a chance to talk at all." Simon draped his arm over my shoulder, stumbling a little. "And that sucks.

I've wanted to talk to you all night. Did you like the corsage?"

"It's beautiful. Thank you again." It was pretty, a combination of pink and red roses. "Did you get it in town?"

He nodded and then downed the contents of his cup as we moved away from the truck. "My mom works at a local florist shop. She made it."

"Wow. That's pretty cool." I plucked at it, careful not to spill any beer on it. "Does your dad work in town?"

"Nope, he commutes into Virginia." He tossed the cup to the side and pulled out the flask. "He's a lawyer," he boasted, unscrewing the lid with one hand. "Handles personal injury claims. His brother is a doctor in town, though."

"My mom - she's a nurse and works in Virginia, too." All of his movements were pulling on the shawl. It was halfway off my shoulders. "Do you know where you're going to college yet?" I asked, struggling for something to say. Friendly hands aside, he was sort of nice.

"Going to WVU with the buds." He frowned at my own untouched drink. "You don't drink?"

"Oh, no, I do." I took a sip to prove it. He smiled and looked off, talking about which of his friends were planning on going to Marshall instead of WVU. When he wasn't looking, I dumped half the cup out.

Simon kept on asking questions, interrupted every few minutes when one of his friends would swing by. I dumped most of my drink out, which earned me several refills. Simon told me to stand wherever we were as he hustled back and forth between the keg. By my third pretend cup, Simon was probably thinking I was a lush but at least he was getting a great workout.

Before I knew it, we were a good distance away from the bonfire, among the first cropping of trees. Each step became more difficult. Partly due to the uneven ground and my heels, and even the slightest bit of Simon's weight was hard to support.

Simon straightened and pulled his arm off my shoulders, taking the shawl along with him.

It fluttered somewhere behind me, quickly blending in with the shadowy ground and thick undergrowth.

"Crap," I said, turning around, squinting.

"What?" he slurred a little.

"My shawl - I dropped it." I took a couple steps back toward the fire.

"Mmm, you look better without," he said.

"That dress - dayum."

I shot him an annoyed look over my shoulder before returning to staring at...everything that looked black. "Yeah, well, it belongs to my mom, and she'll kill me if I lose it."

"We'll find it. Don't worry about it now." Suddenly, his arm was around my waist, pulling me back. Startled, I dropped the cup of beer and let out a nervous laugh as I twisted out of his grasp. "I think I need to find it now."

"Can't it wait?" Simon took a step closer to me, and I took one back. He was standing in front of me, and I realized I was trapped between him and a tree. "We were talking, and there's this thing I'd wanted to do." I glanced over at the bonfire. It seemed too far away now.


He placed a massive hand on my shoulder, and his grip was tight. The feeling that crept over me was more than just the ick factor. It was something else. It was more powerful, leaving a strange taste on the roof of my mouth, like when the Arum had spoken to me outside the library.

He leaned in, pulling me forward at the same time, dipping his head.

I froze for a second, and that was all it took.

His mouth was on mine, tasting of beer and breath mints. He made a sound and pushed forward. My back was against a tree before I could shove him back, and he still kept pushing forward, kissing my tightly sealed lips. I couldn't breathe. Placing my hands on his chest, I pushed until I was able to wrench my mouth free.

"Whoa there, Simon, that's too much," I said, dragging in air. I tried to wiggle myself free, but he was unmovable.

"Aw come on, it's not too much." His hand worked its way between me and the tree, until it was against my back, holding me in place.

I pushed again against his chest, angry. "I didn't come here for this!"

Simon laughed. "Everyone comes here for this. Look, we're both drinking, both having fun.

There's nothing wrong with that. I won't even tell anyone if you don't want me to. Everybody knows you did it with Daemon over the summer."

"What?" I screeched. "Simon, let me - " His sloppy, wet lips cut off my words. His tongue slipped into my mouth, and I wanted to puke. My heart rate tripled, and in an instant, I wished I'd listened to Daemon, that I had taken him up on his offer to go home, because this was out of my league.

I managed to get my head free. "Simon, stop!"

And then Simon did stop. I sagged against the tree, dazed and breathless. There was the sound of someone hitting the ground and then a wounded cry.

Someone was bending over a sprawled Simon, reaching down and picking him up by the scruff of his neck. "Do you have a problem understanding simple English?" I recognized that deep baritone. It was the same voice Daemon had used the day I'd been gardening. Deadly quiet, dangerously low. He was breathing heavily as he stared at the cowering boy.

"Man, I'm sorry," Simon slurred, grasping Daemon's wrist. "I thought she - "

"You thought what?" Daemon lifted him onto his feet. "That no meant yes?"

"No! Yes! I thought - "

Daemon raised his hand, and Simon just...just stopped. Arms raised, hands splayed out in midair in front of his face. Blood that had been trickling out of his nose, stopped on his open mouth. Eyes wide and unblinking. A look of fear and drunken confusion was frozen on his face.

Daemon had frozen Simon. Literally.

I stepped forward. "Daemon, what...what did you do?"

He didn't look at me, his eyes trained on Simon. "It was either this or I'd kill him." There was no doubt in my mind that he was capable of killing him. I poked Simon's arm. It felt real, but stiff. Like a corpse. I swallowed. "Is he alive?"

"Should he be?" he asked.

A look passed between us, heavy with understanding and regret.

Daemon's jaw tensed. "He's fine. Right now, it's like he's sleeping." Simon looked like a statue, a drunk and pervy statue. "God, what a mess." I backed up, wrapping my arms around myself. "How long will he stay like this?"

"As long as I want," he replied. "I could leave him out here. Let the deer piss on him and the crows crap on him."

"You can' that, you know that?


Daemon shrugged.

"You need to turn him back, but first, I'd like to do something."

Daemon cocked a brow in curiosity.

Dragging in a deep breath, which still tasted like cheap beer, mints, and Simon's tongue, I kicked him straight between the legs. Simon didn't react, but he'd feel it later.

"Whoa." Daemon let out a strangled half laugh. "Maybe I should've killed him." He frowned when he saw the expression on my face. He turned back to Simon and waved his hand.

The boy doubled over, cupping his hands between his legs. "Shit."

Daemon pushed Simon back. "Get the fuck out of my face, and I swear if you so much as look at her again, it will be the last thing you do."

Simon was three shades whiter as he wiped his hand over his bloodied nose. His eyes darted from me to Daemon. "Katy, I'm sorry - "

"Get. Out. Of. Here," Daemon bit out, taking a threatening step forward.

Simon spun around and took off, stumbling and limping over bushes. Dead silence fell between us. Even the music seemed to have become muted. Daemon turned around slowly and stalked off. I stood there, shivering.

Daemon was going to leave me here.

I didn't blame him. He warned me several times, and I hadn't listened. Tears of anger and frustration burned my eyes.

But then he returned, clutching my shawl in his hands. He handed it to me, cursing under his breath. Hands shaking, I took the shawl from him and saw that his eyes were glowing. How long had they been like that? I could feel his eyes on me, heavy and intense.

"I know," I whispered, clutching the shawl to the front of my torn dress. "Please don't say it."

"Say what? That I told you so?" He sounded disgusted. "Even I'm not that much of an ass.

Are you okay?"

I nodded and drew in a deep breath. "Thank you."

Daemon cursed again and then he was moving closer, dropping something warm that smelled like him over my shoulders. "Here," he said gruffly. "Put this on. It will...cover up everything."

I looked down. The lacy shawl did nothing to hide the ripped bodice of my dress. Flushing, I slipped my arms into his tux jacket. Tears were clogging my throat now. I was angry at Simon -

at myself - and embarrassed. Once I had the jacket on, I hugged it and the shawl close.

Daemon was never going to let me live this one down. Right now he might not be throwing it in my face, but there was always tomorrow.

Daemon's fingers brushed over my cheek, tucking a strand of hair that had fallen loose behind my ear. "Come on," he whispered.

I lifted up my head. There was an unexpected softness in his eyes. I swallowed the lump in my throat. Now he'd be nice?

"I'm taking you home."

This time it wasn't an arrogant command or assumption. It was just simple words. I nodded.

After the disaster that happened and the fact I figured I had another trace on me, I wasn't going to argue. Then it struck me. "Wait." He looked like he was ready to come through on his earlier threat and throw me over his shoulders. "Kat."

"Won't Simon have a trace on him, like me?"

If the thought had crossed his mind, it didn't look like it bothered him. "He does."

"But - "

Daemon was in my face in the blink of an eye. "It's not my problem right now." Then he took my arm. His grasp wasn't tight, but it was firm. We didn't talk as he led me through the brisk night air toward his SUV

parked near the main road. Several of the cars we passed were fogged up. Some were even moving. Every time I glanced at him, his eyes were narrowed and jaw clenched.

Guilt chewed through my insides like acid.

What if the Arum were still around, and they saw the trace on Simon? Yeah, he was borderline date rapist, but what would the Arum do to him? We couldn't leave him out there, roaming around with a trace on him.

He let go of my arm and opened the passenger door of his SUV. I got in, wiggling the clutch's strap off my wrist and placing it beside me. I watched him head around the car, texting on his phone.

Daemon climbed into the driver's seat, passing me a sheltered look. "I let Dee know I was taking you home. When I got here, she said she saw you but couldn't find you." Nodding, I started yanking on the seatbelt, but it wouldn't move. All my frustration rose up, and I pulled on it hard. "Dammit!" Daemon leaned over me and pried my fingers off. In such a small space, there wasn't much room to move around and before I could protest, he was already tugging on the seatbelt.

His jaw grazed my cheek and then his lips followed. There were quick touches, all accidental, but I found it hard to breathe nonetheless.

Daemon got the seatbelt unstuck and as he brought it across my stomach, the back of his knuckles grazed over the front of my dress. I jerked in the seat.

He lifted his head, startled. And I was just as surprised. Our mouths were nearly touching. His breath was warm and sweet. Intoxicating. His gaze dropped to my lips, and my heart started doing all kinds of crazy stuff in my chest.

Neither of us moved for what seemed like an eternity.

And then he clicked it in and returned to his seat, breathing raggedly. He clutched the steering wheel for several strained minutes while I tried to remember how important it was to take normal breaths and not gulps of air.

Without saying a word, he pulled out onto the road. There was a thick, strained silence in the car. The ride home was near torturous. I wanted to thank him again and ask about what he planned to do with Simon, but I had a feeling it wouldn't go over well.

I ended up resting my head back against the seat, feigning sleep.

"Kat?" he said, about halfway home.

I pretended I didn't hear him. Childish, I know, but I didn't know what to say. He was a complete mystery to me. Every action was in contradiction of another action. I could feel his eyes on me, and it was hard to ignore that. Just as hard as it was to ignore whatever it was between us.

"Shit!" Daemon exploded, slamming on the brakes.

My eyes snapped open, shocked to find a man in the middle of the road. The SUV skidded to a halt, throwing me forward and then the seatbelt painfully biting into my shoulder and yanking me back. Then the car simply turned off, engine, lights - everything.

Daemon spoke in a language that was soft and musical. I'd heard it before, when the Arum had attacked at the library.

I recognized the man in front of our car. He wore the same dark jeans, sunglasses, and leather jacket I'd seen the day outside the dress shop. And then another man appeared, nearly identical to him. I couldn't even see where he came from. He was like a shadow, slipping out from the trees. Then a third appeared, joining the other to stand behind the first guy. They didn't move.

"Daemon," I whispered, my heart leaping into my throat. "Who are they?" A fierce light, blinding white, lit up in his eyes. "Arum."

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