When I awoke the following morning, the sun had crested the mountains surrounding the valley. I really wasn't on my side of the bed anymore. Hell, I wasn't on the bed. Half of my body was sprawled across Daemon's chest. Our legs were tangled together under the comforter.

One of his arms was around my waist like a band of steel. My hand was on his stomach. I could feel his heart beating under my cheek, steady and strong.

I lay there, my breath in my throat.

There was something intimate about being wrapped around one another in a bed. Like lovers.

A sweet, hot fire washed over my skin, and I squeezed my eyes shut. Every inch of me was hyper-aware of him. Of how my body fit against his, the way his thighs were pressed against mine, the hardness of his stomach under my hand.

My hormones kicked in with the power of a dropkick to the stomach. Heated lightning zipped through my veins. For a moment, I pretended. Not that we weren't two different species, because I didn't see him that way, but that we actually liked one another.

And then he shifted and rolled. I was on my back, and he was still on the move. His face burrowed into the space between my neck and shoulder, nuzzling. Sweet baby Jesus...Warm breath danced over my skin, sending shivers down my body. His arm was heavy against my stomach, his leg between mine, pushing up and up. Scorched air fled my lungs.

Daemon murmured in a language I couldn't understand. Whatever it was, it sounded beautiful and soft. Magical. Unearthly.

I could've woken him up but for some reason I didn't. The thrill of him touching me was far stronger than anything else.

His hand was on the edge of the borrowed shirt, his long fingers on the strip of exposed flesh between the hem of the shirt and the band of the worn pajama bottoms. And his hand inched up under the shirt, across my stomach, where it dipped slightly. My pulse went into cardiac territory. The tips of his fingers brushed my ribs. His body moved, his knee pressed against me.

I gasped.


Daemon stilled. No one moved. The clock on the wall ticked.

And I cringed.

He lifted his head. Eyes like pools of liquid grass stared at me in confusion. They quickly cleared, though, turning sharp and hard within seconds.

"Good morning?" I squeaked.

Using his powerful arms, he lifted himself up. His eyes never left mine. Daemon seemed to drag in a deep breath. I wasn't sure if he let it out. Something passed between us, unspoken and heavy. His eyes narrowed. I had the funny feeling that he was sizing up the situation and somehow I was to blame for his sleepy - albeit really, really nice - fondling.

Like any of this was my fault.

Without saying a word, he disappeared above me. The door opened and slammed shut behind him without my even catching a glimpse of him.

I stayed there, staring at the ceiling, heart pounding. Cheeks flushed, my body way, way too hot. Not sure of how much time passed, but the door opened again, at normal human speed.

Dee popped her head in, her eyes wide. "Did you two...?"

Funny that out of everything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours, that was the first question she asked.

"No," I said, barely recognizing my own voice. I cleared my throat. "I mean, we slept together, but not slept, slept together." I rolled over, burying my face into a pillow.

It smelled like him - crisp and warm. Like autumn leaves. I groaned.

I was sure that if someone had told me I'd find myself sitting in a room with half a dozen aliens on a Saturday afternoon, I would've told them to get off the drugs. Yet, here I was, sitting in a recliner in the Black household, legs tucked under me but ready to run for the door if necessary.

Daemon was perched on the arm of the recliner, arms folded over his chest. The very chest I'd woken up on. A flush crept up my throat. We hadn't spoken. Not a single word, which was okay by me.

But his current position had been duly noted by everyone. Dee looked oddly smug. A deep, unforgiving scowl had settled on Ash's and Andrew's faces, but the fact I was here overshadowed any reason why Daemon could be playing guard dog.

Mr. Garrison had come up short. "What is she doing here?"

"She's lit up like a freaking disco ball," Ash said accusingly. "I could probably see her from Virginia."

Somehow, she made the whole glowing thing sound like I was covered in boils instead of light. I glared at her openly.

"She was with me last night when the Arum attacked," Daemon responded calmly. "You know that. Things got a little...explosive. There was no way I could cover what happened." Mr. Garrison ran a hand through his brown hair. "Daemon, of all people, I expected you to know better, to be more careful."

"What the hell was I supposed to do exactly? Knock her out before the Arum attacked?"

Ash arched a brow. The look on her face said it wasn't such a bad idea.

"Katy has known about us since the beginning of school," Daemon said. "And trust me when I say I did everything possible to keep her from knowing."

One of the Thompson boys sucked in a sharp breath. "She's known this entire time?

How could you allow this, Daemon? All of our lives have been in the hands of some human?" Dee rolled her eyes. "Obviously she hasn't said a word, Andrew. Chill out."

"Chill out?" Andrew's scowl matched Ash's perfectly. And now I knew which one was Andrew, I could tell them apart. Andrew had an earring in the left ear. Adam, who was quiet, did not. "She's a stupid - "

"Be careful with what you say next." Daemon's voice was low but carried. "Because what you don't know and what you can't possibly understand will get a bolt of light in your face."

My eyes widened, as did pretty much everyone's in the room. Ash swallowed thickly and turned her cheek, letting her blonde hair cover her face.

"Daemon," Mr. Garrison said, stepping forward. "Threatening one of your own for her?

I didn't expect this from you." His shoulders stiffened. "It's not like that." I took a deep breath. "I'm not going to tell anyone about you guys. I know the risks to you and to me if I did. You all don't have anything to worry about."

"And who are you for us to trust?" Mr.

Garrison asked, his eyes narrowed on me.

"Don't get me wrong. I'm sure you're a great girl. You're smart and you seem to have your head on straight, but this is life or death for us.

Our freedom. Trusting a human is not something we can afford."

"She saved my life last night," Daemon said.

Andrew laughed. "Oh, come on, Daemon.

The Arum must've knocked you around. There is no way a human could've saved any of our lives."

"What is it with you?" I snapped, unable to stop myself. "You act like we're incapable of doing anything. Sure, you guys are whatever, but that doesn't mean we're single-celled organisms."

A choked laugh came from Adam.

"She did save my life." Daemon stood, drawing everyone's attention. "There were three Arum that attacked, the brethren of one I killed.

I was able to destroy one, but the two overpowered me. They had me down and had already begun reaching for my powers. I was a goner."

"Daemon," Dee said, paling. "You didn't tell us any of this."

Mr. Garrison still looked doubtful. "I don't see how she could've helped. She's a human.

The Arum are powerful, amoral, and vicious.

How can one girl stand against them?"

"I'd given her the obsidian blade I carry and told her to run."

"You gave her the blade when you could've used it?" Ash sounded stunned. "Why?" Her eyes darted to me. "You don't even like her."

"That may be the case, but I wasn't going to let her die because I don't like her." I flinched. Dayum. An ache started in my chest, like a burning coal, even though I didn't care.

"But you could've been hurt," Ash protested. Fear thickened her voice. "You could've been killed because you gave your best defense to her."

Daemon sighed, sitting back down on the arm of the recliner. "I have other ways to defend myself. She did not. She didn't run like I told her. Instead she came back and she killed the Arum who was about to end me." Reluctant pride shone in my bio teacher's eyes. "That is...admirable."

I rolled my eyes, starting to get a headache.

"It was a hell of a lot more than admirable," Dee interjected, staring at me. "She didn't have to do that. That has to account for more than being admirable."

"It's courageous," Adam said quietly, staring at the throw rug. "It is what any of us would've done."

"But that doesn't change the fact that she knows about us," Andrew shot back, casting his twin a scornful look. "And we are forbidden from telling any human."

"We didn't tell her," Dee said, stirring restlessly. "It kind of happened."

"Oh, like it happened last time." Andrew rolled his eyes as he turned to Mr. Garrison.

"This is unbelievable."

Mr. Garrison shook his head. "After Labor Day weekend, you told me that something occurred but you took care of it."

"What happened?" Ash asked, obvious this was the first she'd heard of anything. "You're talking about the first time she was glowing?" I was like a glowworm, apparently.

"What happened?" asked Adam, sounding curious.

"I walked out in front of a truck." I waited for the inevitable "duh" look, which I got.

Ash stared at Daemon, her blue eyes growing to the size of saucers. "You stopped the truck?"

He nodded.

A crestfallen look appeared on her face as she looked away. "Obviously that couldn't be explained away. She's known since then?" I figured this wasn't the time to mention that I had my suspicions before then.

"She didn't freak out," Dee said. She listened to us, understood why it's important, and that's it. Until last night, what we are hasn't even been an issue."

"But you lied to me - both of you." Mr.

Garrison leaned against the wall, in a space between their TV and an overstocked bookcase.

"How am I to trust you now?"

A dull, stabbing pain flared behind my eyes.

"Look, I understand the risk. More than any of you in the room," Daemon said, rubbing his chest where the Arum had shoved his shadowy hand. "But what is done is done. We need to move forward."

"As in contacting the DOD?" Andrew asked. "I'm sure they'd know what to do with her."

"I'd like to see you try that, Andrew. Really I would, because even after last night, and I'm not yet fully charged, I could still kick your ass." Mr. Garrison cleared his throat. "Daemon, threats aren't necessary."

"Aren't they?" Daemon asked.

A heavy silence fell in the room. I think Adam was on our side, but it was clear that Andrew and Ash weren't. When Mr. Garrison finally spoke, I had a hard time meeting his gaze.

"I don't think this is wise," he said. "Not with what...with what happened before, but I'm not going to turn you over. Not unless you give me reason to. And maybe you won't. I don't know. Humans are such...fickle creatures. What we are, what we can do, has to be protected at all costs. I think you understand that." He paused, clearing his throat. "You're safe, but we aren't." Andrew and Ash looked less than thrilled by Mr.

Garrison's decision, but they didn't push it.

Other than exchanging looks with one another, they moved on to how to deal with the last Arum.

"He won't wait. They're not known for being patient," Mr. Garrison said, sitting down on the couch. "I could contact the other Luxen, but I'm not sure if that would be smart. Where we may be more confident in her, they won't be."

"And there's the problem that she's a megawatt light bulb right now," Ash added. "It doesn't even matter if we don't say anything.

The moment she goes anywhere in town, they are going to know that something big happened again." I scowled at her. "Well, I don't know what I'm supposed to do about that."

"Any suggestions?" Daemon said. "Because the sooner she's not carrying a trace, the better all of this is going to be."

Yeah, because I bet he was looking forward to babysitting me again.

"Who cares?" Andrew said, rolling his eyes.

"We have the Arum issue to worry about. He's gonna see her no matter where we put her. All of us, right now, are in danger. Any of us near her are in danger. We can't wait around. We have to find the last Arum." Dee shook her head. "If we can get the trace off her, then that will buy us time to find him. Getting rid of the trace should be the first priority."

"I say we drive her out to the middle of nowhere and leave her ass there," Andrew muttered.

"Thanks," I said, rubbing my temples.

"You're so very helpful with all of this." He smiled at me. "Hey, just offering my suggestions."

"Shut up, Andrew," Daemon said.

Andrew rolled his eyes.

"Once we get the trace off her, she'd be safe," Dee insisted and tucked her hair back, face pinched. "The Arum don't mess with humans, really. Sarah...she'd been in the wrong place at the wrong time." They launched into another discussion about what was more important: locking me up somewhere, which didn't make sense because my light could be seen through anything, or trying to figure out a way to make the trace fade other than killing me.

And I seriously think Andrew believed that was a valid consideration. Asshole.

"I have an idea," Adam said. Everyone looked at him. "The light around her is a byproduct of us using our power, right? And our power is concentrated energy. And we get weaker when we use our powers and use more energy." Mr. Garrison blinked, his eyes sparking with interest. "I think I'm following you."

"I'm not," I muttered.

"Our powers fade the more we use them, the more energy we exert." Adam turned to Daemon. "It should work the same with our traces, because the trace is just residual energy we are leaving on someone. We get her to exert her own energy; it should fade what's around her. Maybe not completely, but get it down to levels that aren't going to draw every Arum on Earth to us." That hardly made any sense to me, but Mr. Garrison was nodding. "It should work." Daemon scratched his chest, his expression doubtful. "And how are we going to get her to exert energy."

Andrew grinned from across the room. "We could take her out to a field and chase her around in our cars. That sounds fun."

"Oh, fuc - "

Daemon's laugh cut me off. "I don't think that's a good idea. Funny, but not a good idea.

Humans are fragile."

"How about I shove my fragile foot up your ass," I said, irritated. My head was pounding, and I didn't find a single one of them funny. I pushed Daemon off the arm of the chair and stood. "I'm getting a drink. Let me know when guys come up with anything that won't potentially kill me in the process." Their conversation continued as I hurried from the room. I wasn't thirsty. I just had to get out of there, away from them. My nerves felt shot.

Entering the kitchen, I ran my hands through my hair. Blissful silence eased some of the pounding in my head. I squeezed my eyes shut until small spots danced behind my closed lids.

"I figured you'd be hiding in the kitchen." I yelped at the sound of Ash's quiet voice.

"Sorry," she said, leaning against the counter. "I didn't mean to scare you." Not sure if I believed that. "Okay." Up close, Ash was the kind of beautiful that made me wish I could drop twenty pounds and run to the nearest makeup department. She knew it, too. There was a confidence in the tilt of her chin. "This must be a lot for you to handle, learning everything and then facing what you did last night." I eyed her warily. Even though she wasn't trying to snap my head off, I wasn't going to relax. "It's been different." A faint smile crossed her pouty lips. "What did that TV show say? 'The truth is out there.'"

"X-Files," I told her. "I've wanted to watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind ever since I found out. Seems like the most realistic of all the alien movies."

Another small smile and then she looked up, meeting my eyes. "I'm not going to pretend we're ever going to be best friends or that I trust you. I don't. You did dump spaghetti on my head." I winced at that, but she went on. "And yeah, maybe I was being a bitch, but you don't understand. They are all I have. I'll do anything to keep them safe."

"I would never do anything to put them in danger."

She moved closer, and I fought every instinct to back up. I held my ground. "But you already have. How many times has Daemon intervened on your behalf, run the risk of exposing what we are and what we can do? You being here is putting each of us at risk." Anger tore through me like a fire. "I'm not doing anything. And last night - "

"Last night you saved Daemon's life. Great.

Good for you." She tucked her uber-straight hair behind her ear. "Of course, Daemon's life wouldn't have needed saving if you hadn't led the Arum straight to him. And what you think you have with Daemon, you don't." Oh, for the love of babies everywhere. "I don't think I have anything with Daemon."

"You like Daemon, don't you?"

Smirking, I grabbed a water bottle off the counter. "Not really."

Ash cocked her head to the side. "He likes you."

My heart didn't do a stupid little leap in my chest. "He doesn't like me. You even said so yourself."

"I was wrong." She folded her slender arms as she studied me intently. "He's curious about you. You're different. New. Shiny. Boys - even our kind - like shiny new toys." I took a long drink of the water. "Well, this is one toy he has no intention of playing with." When he was awake that is. "And really, the Arum..."

"The Arum will end up killing him." Her tone didn't change one bit. It remained flat, emotionless. "Because of you, little human. He will get himself killed protecting you."

Most Popular