"Honey, are you sure you're feeling okay?" Mom hovered over the couch, frowning. She'd been at it all day since I'd woken up. "Do you need anything? Some chicken soup. Hugs?


I laughed. "Mom, I'm fine."

"You sure?" she asked, pulling the afghan over my shoulders. "Did something happen at the dance?"

"No. Nothing happened." Nothing if I didn't count the billion text messages Simon had sent me, apologizing for how he'd acted, and the attack of the killer aliens afterward. Nope.

Nothing at all. "I'm okay." I was tired after spending most of Saturday in a house full of arguing aliens. Two of them didn't trust me. One of them thought I was going to be the death of Daemon. Adam didn't seem to hate me, but he wasn't overly friendly. I'd snuck out before the pizza they ordered arrived. Ash had been right.

They were a family. All of them, and I didn't fit.

When Mom left for work, I snuggled down and tried watching a movie on Syfy, but it turned out to be about an alien invasion. Their aliens weren't beings of light, but giant insects that ate humans.

I turned the channel.

It was pouring outside - so hard I could barely hear anything over it. I knew Daemon would be nearby, especially until they figured out how to get me to exert enough energy to fade the trace. All of their suggestions involved the outdoors and extreme physical exertion, which wasn't happening today.

The sound of rain was lulling. After awhile, my eyes were too heavy to keep open. As I was about to doze off, a knock on the door jarred me.


I threw the afghan off and padded over to the door. Doubting the Arum would knock, I opened the door. Daemon stood there, barely wet even though rain fell in sheets behind him.

There were a few darker dots of gray across the shoulders of his long-sleeved shirt. I bet he used super-alien speed. Who needed an umbrella?

And why in the hell was he in jogging pants?

"What's up?"

"Are you going to invite me in?" he asked.

Pressing my lips together, I stepped aside and let him in. He moved past me, scanning the rooms. "What are you looking for?"

"Your mom's not home, right?"

I shut the door. "Her car's not outside." His eyes narrowed. "We need to work on fading your trace."

"It's pouring outside." I moved past him, grabbing the remote to turn the TV off. Daemon beat me to it. The thing switched off before I pressed the button. "Show-off," I muttered.

"Been called worse." He frowned and then laughed. "What are you wearing?" I glanced down, cheeks flaming. One thing I wasn't wearing was a bra. Christ, how could I forget? "Shut up."

He laughed again. "What are they? Keebler elves?"

"No! They're Santa's elves. I love these pajama bottoms. My dad got them for me." His smug grin faded a little. "You wear them because they remind you of him?" I nodded.

He didn't say anything. Instead, he shoved his hands into the front pockets of his jeans.

"My people believe that when we pass on, our essence is what lights the stars in the universe.

Seems stupid to believe in something like that, but when I look at the sky at night I like to think that at least two of the stars out there are my parents. And one is Dawson."

"That's not stupid at all." I paused, surprised by how touching that belief actually was. Wasn't it the same as ours, believing our loved ones were in heaven watching over us? "Maybe one of them is my dad." His eyes met mine then flitted away. "Well, anyway, the elves are sexy." And a serious, deep moment effectively smashed into nothing. "Did you guys come up with another way to fade the trace?"

"Not really."

"You're planning on making me work out, aren't you?"

"Yeah, that's one of the ways of doing it." I sat on the couch, quickly growing irritated.

"Well, there isn't much we can do today."

"You have a problem going out in the rain?"

"When it's almost the end of October and cold, yes I do." I plucked up the afghan and placed it in my lap. "I'm not going out there and running today."

Daemon sighed. "We can't wait around, Kat. Baruck is still out there and the longer we wait, the more dangerous it is." I knew he had a point, but still, running around in the cold ass rain? "What about Simon?

Did you ever tell the others about him?"

"Andrew is keeping an eye on him. Since he had a game yesterday, it faded most of his trace.

It's very faint now. Which proves that this idea is going to work."

I snuck a peek at him. Instead of seeing the stoic expression, I saw the one from yesterday morning. The look in his eyes before he realized he was in bed with me. My body warmed.

Stupid, stupid hormones.

He reached behind him and pulled out the obsidian blade. "This is another reason why I stopped over."

The obsidian was shiny, glossy black as he laid it on the coffee table. It wasn't glowing a mottled red like it had been when near the Arum.

"I want you to keep this with you, just in case. Put it in your backpack, purse, or whatever you carry."

I stared at it a moment. "Seriously?" Daemon avoided my eyes. "Yeah, even if we manage to get the trace to fade, keep this on you until we finish off Baruck."

"But don't you need it more than I do?


"Don't worry about us."

Harder said than done. I stared at the obsidian, wondering how in the world I was supposed to stash this thing in my bag. "Do you think Baruck is still here?"

"He's still around, yes," he stated. "The beta quartz throws our presence off, but he knows we're here. He knows I'm here."

"Do you think he's going to come after you?" For some reason, my stomach got tipsy at that thought.

"I killed two of his brothers and gave you the means of killing the third." He was totally at ease discussing the fact that there was a deranged alien out to kill him. He had balls. I liked that about him. "Arum are vengeful creatures, Kitten. He won't stop until he has me.

And he will use you to find me, especially since you came back. They've been on Earth long enough to recognize what that can mean. That you would be a weakness to me."

"I'm not a weakness. I can handle myself." He didn't respond, but the intensity in his gaze seared me to the core. My confidence crumbled piece by piece. To him I was a weakness, and maybe even Dee believed that.

The rest of the Luxen sure did.

But I killed an Arum...while his back was to me. Not like I'd been ninja stealth.

"Enough talking. We have stuff to do now," he said, glancing around. "I don't know what we can do in here that will make a damn bit of difference. Maybe jumping jacks?" Jumping jacks without a bra was so not going to happen. Ignoring him, I opened up my laptop on the coffee table and checked out my last post. I filmed an "In My Mailbox" after I'd gotten back yesterday, needing the comfort of books and my blog to remind me what "normal" felt like again. It was short since I only had two books. And I looked like crap. What had possessed me to wear pigtails?

"What are you looking at?" he asked.

"Nothing." I went to close the lid, but it wouldn't budge. "Stop using your freaking object thing on my laptop. You're going to break it."

He cocked an amused brow and sat beside me. I still couldn't close it. And the mouse wouldn't move. I couldn't even shut down the damn website. Leaning forward, Daemon tilted his head to the side. "Is that you?"

"What does it look like?" I hissed.

A slow smile crept over his face. "You film yourself?"

I took a deep and slow breath. "You make it sound like I'm doing a live perv show or something."

Daemon made a sound in the back of his throat. "Is that what you're doing?"

"That was a stupid question. Can I please close it now?"

"I want to watch it."

"No!" The idea of him watching me geek out over the books I'd bought in the last week horrified me. There was no way he'd understand.

Daemon cast me a sidelong glance. My eyes narrowed as I turned back to the screen. The little arrow moved over the page and clicked on the play button.

"I hate you and your freaky alien powers," I muttered.

A few seconds later, the video started and there I was, in all my book nerd glory, shoving cover after cover in front of my crappy webcam.

A few bookmarks showed. And I even worked in a totally cool Diet Pepsi product placement.

Thank God I wasn't singing in this video.

I sat there, arms folded, and waited for the inevitable slew of smartass comments. Never in my life did I hate Daemon more than at that moment. No one I knew in real life paid attention to my blog. Books were a passion I shared with virtual friends. Not Daemon. It wigged me out knowing he was watching this.

The video ended. Voice low, he said,

"You're even glowing in the video." Mouth clamped shut, I nodded. And I waited.

"You really have a thing for books." When I didn't respond, he closed the laptop without touching it. "It's cute."

My head whipped around to him. "Cute?"

"Yeah, it's cute. Your excitement," he said, shrugging. "It was cute."

I think my jaw hit the carpet.

"But as cute as you are in pigtails, that's not going to do anything to fade the trace on you." He stood and stretched. Of course his shirt had to ride up, drawing my eyes. "We need to get this trace off you." I was still stunned over the fact he hadn't made fun of me, rendered speechless by it, shocked to the core. He just earned a few bonus points.

"The sooner we get the trace off you, the less time we have to spend together." And there went the points. "You know, if you hate the idea of being around me, why doesn't one of the others come over here and do this? I actually prefer any of them to you, even Ash."

"You're not their problem." His eyes locked with mine. "You're my problem." My laugh was harsh. "I'm not your problem."

"But you are," he reasoned gamely. "If I had managed to convince Dee not to get so close to you, none of this would've happened."

I rolled my eyes. "Well, I don't know what to tell you. There isn't much we can do in here that's going to make a difference, so we might as well count today as a loss and spare each other the pain of breathing the same air." He shot me a bland look.

"Oh, yeah, that's right. You don't need to breathe oxygen. My bad." I shot to my feet, itching for him to be out of my house. "Can't you just come back when it stops raining?"

"No." Daemon leaned against the wall, folding his arms. "I want to get this over with.

Worrying over you and the Arum isn't fun, Kitten. We need to do something about this now.

There are things we can do." My hands curled into fists. "Like what?"

"Well, the jumping jacks for...an hour or so should do it." His gaze dropped. Something flickered in his eyes. "You may want to change first."

The urge to cover myself was strong, but I resisted. I wasn't going to cower from him. "I'm not doing jumping jacks for an hour."

"Then you could run around the house, up and down the stairs." He paused, his smug grin turning wicked as his eyes met mine. "We could always have sex. I hear that uses up a lot of energy."

My mouth dropped open. Part of me wanted to laugh in his face. There was a part of me offended that he would suggest something so ridiculous, but there was another part that liked the idea. Which was so, so wrong it wasn't even funny.

Daemon waited.

"That will never happen in a million years, buddy." I took a step forward, raising my pointer finger at him. "Not even if you were the last -

wait, I can't even say last human on the face of this Earth."

"Kitten," he murmured lazily. A clear warning in his eyes.

I ignored it. "Not even if you were the last thing that looked like a human on the face of this Earth. Got that? Capiche?"

He tilted his head to the side, and several locks of hair slid over his forehead. Daemon smiled, a wealth of danger in the tilt to his mouth, but I was on a roll now.

"I'm not even attracted to you." Lie. Ding!

Ding! Lie. "Not even a little bit. You're - " Daemon was in front of me in a flash, not an inch from my face. "I'm what?"

"Ignorant," I said, taking a step back.

"And?" He matched my step.

"Arrogant. Controlling." I took another step back, but he was still in my personal space and then some. "And you're...you're a jerk."

"Oh, I'm sure you can do better than that, Kitten." His voice was low as he inched me backward. I barely heard him over the pounding rain and the thundering of my heart. "Because I seriously doubt you're not attracted to me." I forced a laugh. "I'm totally not attracted to you." Another step forward on Daemon's side, and my back was against the wall. "You're lying."

"And you're overconfident." I inhaled, but all I smelled was him, and that did funny things to my stomach. "You know, the whole arrogant thing I mentioned. Not attractive." Daemon placed his hands on each side of my head and leaned in. A lamp was on one side of me, and the T.V. on the other. I was trapped.

And when he spoke, his breath danced over my lips. "Every time you lie, your cheeks turn red."

"Nuh-uh." Not the most eloquent thing I'd ever said, but it was the best I could come up with.

His hands slid down the wall, stopping beside my hips. "I bet you think about me all the time. Nonstop."

"You're insane." I pressed back against the wall, breathless.

"You probably even dream about me." His gaze lowered to my mouth. I felt my lips part. "I bet you even write my name in your notebooks, over and over again, with a little heart drawn around it." I laughed. "In your dreams, Daemon.

You're the last person I think - " Daemon kissed me.

There wasn't a moment of hesitation. His mouth was on mine, and I stopped breathing. He shuddered and there was a sound from the back of his throat, half growl, half moan. Little shivers of pleasure and panic shot through me as he deepened the kiss, parting my lips. I stopped thinking. I pushed off the wall, sealing the tiny space between us, pressing against him, digging my fingers into his hair. It was soft, silky.

Nothing else about him felt that way. I sparked alive, my heart swelled to the point of near bursting. The rush of sensations crawling across my body was maddening. Scary. Thrilling.

His hands were on my hips, and he lifted me up as if I were made of air. My legs wrapped around his waist, and we moved to the right, knocking into a floor lamp. It toppled over, but I didn't spare it another thought. A light popped somewhere in the house. The TV turned on, then off, back on. Our lips remained sealed. It was like we couldn't get enough of each other. We were devouring one another, drowning in each other.

We'd been building up to this for months, and oh my God was it worth the wait. And I wanted more.

Lowering my hands, I tugged at his shirt, but it was stuck under my legs. I wiggled down until my feet were on the floor. Then I got a hold of his shirt and yanked it up. He broke apart long enough to pull it over his head and toss it aside.

His hands slid around my head, pulling me back to his mouth. There was a cracking sound in the house. A fissure of electricity shot through the room. Something smoked. But I didn't care.

We were moving backward. His hands were moving down, under my shirt, his fingers skimming over my skin, sending a rush of blood to every part of my body. And my hands went down. His stomach was hard, dipped and rippled in all the right places.

And then my shirt joined his on the floor.

Skin against skin. His hummed, brimming full of power. I ran my fingers down his chest, to the button on his jeans. The back of my legs hit the couch and we went down, a tangle of legs and hands moving, exploring. Our hips were molded together and we moved against one another. I think I whispered his name, and then his arms tightened around me, crushing me against his chest and his hands slipped between my legs.

And I was swimming in raw sensations.

"So beautiful," he murmured against my swollen lips. And then he was kissing me again.

The deep kind of kisses that left little room for thought. There was only feeling and wanting.

That was all. I wrapped my legs around his hips, pulling him closer, telling him what I wanted with my soft moans.

Our kisses slowed, becoming tender and infinitely more. It was like we were getting to know each other on an intimate level. I was breathless and dazed, unprepared for all of this, but my body ached for more than just kisses and touching - for more of him. And I knew he did, too. His powerful body shook like mine. It was easy to get lost in him, lost in this connection between us. The world - the universe - ceased to exist.

And then Daemon stilled, his breath coming out in rough gasps as he pulled back, lifting his head. My eyes opened slowly, dazed. His pupils were white, glowing from within.

Daemon took a deep breath. An eternity seemed to pass as he stared down at me, his eyes wide, and then he pieced himself back together.

The light went out. His jaw hardened. A mask slipped over his face. The arrogant half smile I disliked so much tipped up one corner of his swollen lips. "You're barely glowing now."

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