I sighed. “A lot of stuff has gone on with her—Adam and with Dawson coming home.”

Lesa jumped on that. “Isn’t that the strangest thing, though?”

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t you think it’s weird? You didn’t live here then, but Beth and Dawson were like the Romeo and Juliet of West Virginia. I can’t believe he hasn’t heard from her.”

Unease slid down my spine. “I don’t know. What do you think?”

Lesa looked away, chewing on her bottom lip. “It’s just weird. Like Dawson is way different now. He’s all sullen and broody.”

I struggled for something to say. “Well, he probably still cares for her and is upset about things not working out, and he misses Adam. You know, there’s a lot going on there.”

“I guess.” She looked at me sideways. “Some people have been talking.”

Instincts flared. “Talking about what?”

“Well, it’s mostly been the usual suspects—Kimmy and them. But so many strange things have happened around here.” She pushed to her feet and yanked her curls into a messy ponytail. “First, Beth and Dawson just drop off the face of the Earth. Then Sarah Butler dropped dead last summer.”

Ice coated my skin. Sarah Butler had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. The night I’d been attacked by the Arum, Daemon had showed up and chased him off. Out of anger, the Arum had killed the girl.

Lesa started to pace. “And then Simon Cutters disappeared. No one has heard from him. Adam dies in a freak car accident, and then Dawson pops up out of nowhere, minus the supposed love of his life.”

“It’s weird,” I said slowly, “but totally coincidental.”

“Is it?” Her dark eyes gleamed. She shook her head. “Some of the kids—Simon’s friends—think something’s happened to him.”

Oh, no. “Like what?”

“That he was killed.” She sat beside me, her voice low as if people were listening. “And that Adam had something to do with it.”

“What?” Okay, I was so not expecting that.

She nodded. “They don’t think Adam’s really dead. No funeral that anyone could go to and all. They think he ran off before the police could figure out he did something to Simon.”

I stared. “Trust me, Adam’s dead. He’s really dead.”

Lesa’s lips pursed. “I believe you.”

I didn’t think she did. “Why do they think Adam had something to do with Simon?”

“Well…some people know that Simon tried something on you. And Daemon beat the crap out of him. Maybe he tried something on Dee and Adam snapped.”

I laughed, more out of shock. “Adam wouldn’t have snapped. He wasn’t like that.”

“That’s what I think, but others…” She leaned back. “Anyway, enough about this crap—you’re going to look hot tomorrow night.”

The conversation eventually went back to studying, but I had this icy feeling in the pit of my stomach, a piercing sensation. Like when you did something bad and knew you were about to get caught.

If people were starting to pay attention to all the weird stuff around here, how long would it take them to follow the clues back to the source of everything? Back to Daemon, his family, his kind, and to me?

Chapter 14

Martinsburg wasn’t really a town, but it couldn’t be called a city, either, at least not by Gainesville standards. It was on the cusp of growth, about an hour from the nation’s capital. It rested right off the interstate, nestled between two mountains—a gateway to larger cities like Hagerstown and Baltimore. The south side of the town was heavily developed—shopping centers, restaurants I’d give my favorite book for Petersburg to have, and office buildings. There was even a Starbucks, and dammit if it didn’t suck to have to drive past that. We were running late.

The whole trip started off badly, which didn’t speak well for how the night would progress.

First off, Blake and Daemon had gotten into it before we even made it out of Petersburg. Something about the quickest way to get to the eastern panhandle of the state. Blake said to go south. Daemon said to go north. Epic argument ensued.

Daemon ended up winning, because he was driving, which made Blake pout in the backseat. Then we hit a snow squall around Deep Creek, slowing us down, and Blake had felt the need to point out that the southern roads were probably clear.

Also, the amount of obsidian I was decked out in and the lack of clothing had me all kinds of twitchy. I went with Lesa’s choice in attire, much to Daemon’s happiness. If he made one more comment about the length of my skirt, I was going to hurt him.

And if Blake did, Daemon was going to maim him.

I kept expecting a fleet of Arum to arrive out of the middle of nowhere and knock our vehicle off the road, but so far, the obsidian necklace, bracelet, and knife strapped inside my boot—for crying out loud—had stayed cool.

By the time we arrived in Martinsburg, I wanted to jump from the moving vehicle. As we neared the Falling Waters exit, Daemon asked, “Which one?”

Blake popped forward, dropping his elbows on the backs of our seats. “One more exit—Spring Mills. You’re going to take a left off the exit, like you’re heading back to Hedgesville or Back Creek.”

Back Creek? I shook my head. We’d gone farther into civilization, but the names of some of these towns begged to differ.

About two miles off the exit, Blake said, “See the old gas station up ahead—the pumps?”

Daemon’s eyes narrowed. “Yeah.”

“Turn there.”

I leaned forward to get a better view. Tall weeds surrounded old, worn-out pumps. There was a building—mostly a shack—behind them. “The club is in a gas station?”

Blake laughed. “No. Just drive around the building. Stay on the dirt road.”

Muttering about getting Dolly dirty, Daemon followed Blake’s sketchy directions. The dirt road was more like a path cleared by thousands of tires. This was so shady I wanted to demand we turn around.

The farther we went, the scarier the scenery got. Thick trees crowded the path, broken up by rundown buildings with boarded-up windows and empty black spaces where doors once stood.

“I don’t know about this,” I admitted. “I think I’ve seen all of this in Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”

Daemon snorted. The SUV bumped over the uneven terrain, and then there were cars. Everywhere. Cars parked in haphazard lines, beside trees, crammed across a field. Beyond the endless rows of vehicles was a squat, square-shaped building with no outdoor lighting.

“Okay. I think I actually saw this in Hostel—One and Two.”

“You’ll be fine,” Blake said. “The place is hidden so it stays off the grid, not because they kidnap and kill unsuspecting tourists.”

I totally reserved the right to disagree on that.

Daemon parked as far away as he could, obviously more afraid of getting dings in Dolly’s sides than us being eaten by Bigfoot.

A guy stumbled out from among a pack of cars. Moonlight glinted off his spiked collar and green Mohawk.

Or getting eaten by a goth kid.

I opened the door and climbed out, hugging my peacoat close. “What kind of place is this?”

“A very different kind of place,” was Blake’s answer. He slammed his door shut, and Daemon about snapped off his head. Rolling his eyes, Blake stepped around me. “You’ll have to lose the jacket.”

“What?” I glared at him. “It’s freezing out. See my breath?”

“You’re not going to freeze in the seconds it takes us to walk to the door. They’re not going to let you in.”

I felt like stomping my feet as I looked at Daemon helplessly. Like Blake, he was dressed in dark jeans and a shirt. Yep. That’s all. Apparently, these people didn’t care about the male dress code.

“I don’t get it,” I whined. My jacket was my saving grace. It was bad enough that the torn tights did nothing to hide my legs. “So not fair.”

Daemon sauntered up to me, placing his hands on mine. A lock of wavy hair fell into his eyes. “We don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. I mean it.”

“If she doesn’t, then this was one huge time waster.”

“Shut up,” Daemon growled over his shoulder and then to me, “I’m serious. Tell me now, and we’ll go home. There’s got to be another way.”

But there wasn’t another way. Blake, God forgive me, was right. I was wasting time. Shaking my head, I stepped back and started unbuttoning my jacket. “I’m fine. Pulling on big girl undies and all that jazz.”

Daemon watched quietly as I stripped away what felt like armor. My jacket off, he sucked in a low breath as I tossed it on the passenger seat. As cold as it was, my entire body somehow managed to feel like it was on fire.

“Yeah,” he muttered, stepping in front of me like a shield. “I’m not so sure about this.”

Over his shoulder, Blake’s brows shut up. “Wow.”

Daemon whipped around, arm flying out, but Blake darted to the left, narrowly missing Daemon’s hand. Whitish-red sparks flew, lighting up the dark lot like firecrackers.

I crossed my arms over my bare midsection, exposed by the cropped sweater and the low-rise skirt. I felt naked, which was stupid, because I wore bathing suits. Shaking my head, I stepped around Daemon. “Let’s get in there.”

Blake’s eyes drifted over me quickly enough to avoid certain death from the irritated alien behind me. My hand itched to smack his eyeballs out of the back of his head.

Our walk to the steel door at the corner of the building was quick. There were no windows or anything, but as we drew closer, the heavy beat of music could be felt outside.

“So do we knock—?”

Out of the shadows, a huge mother of a dude appeared. Arms like tree trunks were shown off by the torn overalls he wore. No shirt, because it was, like, a hundred degrees out here or something. The guy’s hair was spiked into three sections across the center of his otherwise shaved skull. They were purple.

I liked purple.

I swallowed nervously.

Studs glinted all over his face: nose, lips, and eyebrows. Two thick bolts pierced his earlobes. He said nothing as he stopped in front of us, his dark eyes roaming over the guys and then stopping on me.

I took a step back, bumping into Daemon, who placed a hand on my shoulder.

“See something you like?” Daemon asked.

The dude was big—pro wrestler big—and he smirked like he was sizing Daemon up for dinner. And I knew Daemon was probably doing the same thing. The likelihood of us getting out of here without a massive brawl was slim.

Blake intervened. “We’re here to party. That’s all.”

Pro Wrestler said nothing for a second and then reached for the door. Eyes fastened on Daemon, he opened the door and music blared. He gave a mocking bow. “Welcome to The Harbinger. Have fun.”

The Harbinger? What a…lovely, reassuring name for a club.