A hundred thoughts raced through my head.

How long had he been under? Where had I seen him last? How long would it take for me to get help? I didn't like Daemon, and yeah, I might have briefly considered the idea of drowning him, but I didn't really wish the guy dead.

"Oh my God," I whispered. "This can't be happening."

I couldn't afford to think anymore. I had to do something. Just as I took a small step to dive into the water, the surface heaved and Daemon burst from the water. Surprise and relief rushed through me, followed by the intense urge to vomit. And then hit him.

He levered himself onto the rock, the muscles of his arms popping from the strain.

"Are you okay? You look a little freaked out." Snapping out of it, I grabbed his slippery shoulders in an effort to assure my queasy stomach he was alive and not brain damaged from lack of oxygen. "Are you okay? What happened?" Then I smacked his arm. Hard.

"Don't you ever do that again!" Daemon threw his hands up. "Whoa there, what is your problem?"

"You were under the water for so long. I thought you drowned! Why would you do that?

Why would you scare me like that?" I hopped to my feet, dragging in a deep breath. "You were under the water forever." He frowned. "I wasn't down there that long. I was swimming."

"No, Daemon, you were down there a long time. It was at least ten minutes! I looked for you, called for you. I...I thought you were dead."


He climbed to his feet. "It couldn't have been ten minutes. That's not possible. No one can hold their breath that long." I swallowed. "You apparently can." Daemon's eyes searched mine. "You were really worried, weren't you?"

"No shit! What part of ' I thought you drowned' don't you under-stand?" I was shaking.

"Kat, I came up. You must not have seen me. I went right back down."

He was lying. I knew it in every bone in my body. Was he just able to hold his breath for an extremely long time? But if that was the case, why wouldn't he say so?

"Does this happen often?" he asked.

My gaze snapped back to his. "Does what?"

"Imagining things." He waved his hand. "Or do you have a horrible issue with telling time."

"I wasn't imagining anything! And I know how to tell time, you jerk."

"Then I don't know what to tell you." He stepped forward, which wasn't very far on the rock. "I'm not the one imagining that I was underwater for ten minutes when it was like two minutes tops. You know, maybe I'll buy you a watch the next time I'm in town, when I have my keys back." For some stupid reason, one I would probably never know, I'd forgotten the reason why we were here. Somewhere between seeing him half naked and then thinking he was dead, I'd lost my mind.

"Well, make sure you tell Dee we had a wonderful time so that you can get your stupid keys back," I said, meeting his eyes. "Then we won't need a replay of today." The smug smile was plastered across his face. "That's on you, Kitten. I'm sure she'll call you later and ask."

"You'll have your keys. I'm ready - " My foot slipped over the wet rock. Thrown off balance, my arms flailed in the air.

Moving lightning fast, his hand shot out and grabbed mine, pulling me forward. The next thing I knew I was against his warm, wet chest and his arm was around my waist.

"Careful there, Kitten. Dee would be pissed at me if you end up cracking your head open and drowning."

Understandable. She'd probably think he did it on purpose. I started to respond but couldn't.

There wasn't much separating our skin in terms of clothing. My blood was pumping way too fast. It had to be the whole almost-drowning incident.

A strange edginess swamped me as we stared at each other, the slight wind brushed along wet skin that wasn't pressed against one another, making the parts plastered together seem even hotter.

Neither of us spoke.

His chest rose and fell, the deep bottle-green of his eyes shifting by degrees. It was a powerful, almost electric feeling that coursed through me - answering something in him?

Well, that was strange, foolish, and illogical.

He hated me.

Then Daemon released my waist and stepped back. He cleared his throat, his voice thick. "I think it's time we head back." I nodded, disappointed and not even sure why I was disappointed. His mood swings made me feel as if I were on one of those crappy tilt-a-whirls that wouldn't end, but there...there was just something about him.

We didn't speak as we dried off and dressed.

We started back home silently. It seemed neither of us had anything to say, which was actually nice. I liked him better when he'd lost the ability to speak.

But when we reached the driveway, he cursed under his breath. It felt like a blast of arctic air had swept between us. I followed his troubled gaze. There was a strange car in his driveway, one of those expensive Audis that cost my mom's salary. I wondered if it was his parents, and if this was going to turn into Katmageddon round two.

Daemon's jaw flexed. "Kat, I - " A door opened and closed, banging off the side of the house. A man in his late twenties, early thirties stepped out onto the porch. His light brown hair didn't match Daemon's and Dee's dark waves. Whoever he was, he was handsome and dressed nicely.

And he also looked pissed.

The man came down the steps two at a time.

He didn't even look at me. Not once. "What's going on here?"

"Absolutely nothing." Daemon folded his arms. "Since my sister is not home, I'm curious as to why you're in my house?" Okay. Definitely not family.

"I let myself in," he replied. "I didn't realize that would be a problem."

"It is now, Matthew."

Matthew. I recognized the name from the phone call Dee had to take. Finally, the man's steely gaze zeroed in on me. His eyes widened slightly. They were a bright, startling blue. His lip curled as he looked me up and down. Not in a checking me out kind of way, either, but like he was sizing me up. "Of all people, I'd think you'd know better, Daemon." Oh hell, here we go again. I was beginning to wonder if I was flying a freak flag. The air was rife with tension, and all because of me. It didn't make any sense.

I didn't even know this guy.

Daemon's eyes narrowed. "Matthew, if you value the ability to walk, I wouldn't go there." Weirded out to the max, I stepped to the side. "I think I should go."

"I'm thinking Matthew should go," Daemon said, stepping in front of me, "unless he has another purpose other than sticking his nose where it doesn't belong."

Even Daemon couldn't block the revulsion in the man's stare. "I'm sorry," I said, voice wavering, "but I don't know what's going on here. We were just swimming."

Matthew's gaze swung on Daemon, who squared his shoulders. "It's not what you're thinking. Give me some credit. Dee hid my keys, forced me take her out to get them back." A hot flush swept through me. Did he really need to tell some dude I was a pity date?

And then the man laughed. "So this is Dee's little friend."

"That would be me," I said, crossing my arms.

"I thought you had this under control." He gestured toward me, sounding as if I were a homicidal clown standing next to Daemon.

"That you'd make your sister understand."

"Yeah, well, why don't you try to make her understand," Daemon retorted. "So far, I'm not having much luck."

Matthew's lips thinned. "Both of you should know better."

A crack of thunder startled me as they stared down at one another. Lightning streaked overhead, momentarily blinding. Once the light receded, dark, tumultuous clouds rolled in.

Energy crackled around me, flashing across my skin.

Then Matthew turned away, casting another dark look in my direction before heading inside Daemon's house. The moment the door slammed shut behind him, the clouds parted. I stared at Daemon, mouth hanging open.

"What...what just happened?" I asked.

He was already walking into the house, the door smacking off the frame once again like a shot in a canyon. I stood there, not sure what happened. I looked up at the clear sky. No trace of the violent storm. I'd seen that happen a hundred times in Florida, but what occurred seemed way too freakish. And thinking back to the lake, I wasn't sure what had happened, but I knew Daemon had been underwater far too long.

I also knew there was something not normal about him.

About all of them.

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