To disappear was what he needed, because if the forced mutation worked on any level, he’d need some time off. “Do you think he’ll come back?”
Running the back of his knuckles down my cheek, he said, “He’d be crazy.”
Not really, I thought, closing my eyes. Daemon hadn’t wanted to heal Will but his hand had been forced. The healing hadn’t been on the level required to change a human at the cellular scale. And Will’s wound hadn’t been fatal, so either the mutation would stick or it would fade away. And if it faded, Will would be back. I would bet on it. Although he conspired against the DOD for his own gain, the fact he knew it had been Daemon who mutated me was valuable to the DOD, so they’d be forced to take him back. He was a problem—a huge one.
So we were waiting… Waiting for both shoes to drop at once.
I opened my eyes, finding Daemon hadn’t taken his off me. “About Dawson…”
“I don’t know what to do,” he admitted, trailing the back of his knuckles down my throat, over the swell of my chest. My breath caught. “He won’t talk to me, and he barely talks to Dee. Most of the time, he’s locked up in his bedroom or out wandering in the woods. I follow him, and he knows.” Daemon’s hand found its way to my hip and stayed. “But he—”
“He needs time, right?” I kissed the tip of his nose and pulled back. “He’s been through a lot, Daemon.”
His fingers tightened. “I know. Anyway…” Daemon shifted so fast, I didn’t realize what he was doing until he’d rolled me onto my back and hovered above me, hands braced on either side of my face. “I’ve been remiss in my duties.”
And just like that, everything that was going on, all our worries, fears, and unanswered questions, simply faded into nothing. Daemon had that kind of effect. I stared up at him, finding it hard to breathe. I wasn’t 100 percent on what his “duties” were, but I had a very vivid imagination.
“I haven’t spent a lot of time with you.” He pressed his lips against my right temple and then my left. “But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about you.”
My heart leaped into my throat. “I know you’ve been occupied.”
“Do you?” His lips drifted over the arch of my brow. When I nodded, he shifted, supporting most of his weight on one elbow. He caught my chin with his free hand, tipping my head back. His eyes searched mine. “How are you dealing?”
Using every ounce of self-control I had, I focused on what he was saying. “I’m dealing. You don’t need to worry about me.”
He looked doubtful. “Your voice…”
I winced and uselessly cleared my throat again. “It’s getting much better.”
His eyes darkened as he ran his thumb along my jaw. “Not enough, but it’s growing on me.”
I smiled. “It is?”
Daemon nodded and brought his lips to mine. The kiss was sweet and soft, and I felt it in every part of me. “It’s kind of sexy.” His mouth was on mine again, taking it deeper and longer. “The whole raspy thing, but I wish—”
“Don’t.” I placed my hands on his smooth cheeks. “I’m okay. And we have enough things to worry about without my vocal chords. In the big scheme of things, they’re nowhere near the top of the list.”
He arched a brow and wow, I did sound kind of uber-mature. I giggled at his expression, ruining my newly discovered maturity. “I have missed you,” I admitted.
“I know. You can’t live without me.”
“I wouldn’t go that far.”
“Just admit it.”
“There you go. That ego of yours getting in the way,” I teased.
His lips found the underside of my jaw. “Of what?”
“The perfect package.”
He snorted. “Let me tell you, I have the perfect—”
“Don’t be gross.” I shivered, though, because when he kissed the hollow of my throat, there was nothing flawed about that.
I would never tell him this, but beside the…pricklier side of him that reared its ugly head from time to time, he was the closest thing to perfect I’d ever met.
With a knowing chuckle that had me squirming, he slid his hand down my arm, over my waist, and caught my thigh, hooking my leg around his hip. “You have such a dirty mind. I was going to say I’m perfect in all the ways that count.”
Laughing, I wrapped my arms around his neck. “Sure you were. Completely innocent, you are.”
“Oh, I’ve never claimed to be that nice.” The lower part of his body sank into mine, and I sucked in a sharp breath. “I’m more—”
“Naughty?” I pressed my face into his neck and inhaled deeply. He always had this outdoorsy scent, like fresh leaves and spice. “Yeah, I know, but you’re nice under the naughty. That’s why I love you.”
A shudder rolled through him, and then Daemon froze. A stuttered heartbeat passed and he rolled onto his side, wrapping his arms around me tightly. So tightly I had to wiggle a little to lift my head.
“It’s okay.” Voice thick, he kissed my forehead. “I’m okay. It’s…early still. No school or Mom coming home, yelling your full name. Just for a little while we can pretend that crazy doesn’t wait for us. We can sleep in, like normal teenagers.”
Like normal teenagers. “I like the sound of that.”
“Me, three,” I murmured, snuggling against him until we were practically one. I could feel his heart beating in tandem with mine. Perfect. This was what we needed—quiet moments of being normal. Where it was just Daemon and me—
The window overlooking the front yard blew apart as something large and white crashed through it, sending chunks of glass and snow shooting onto the floor.
My startled scream was cut off as Daemon rolled, springing to his feet as he slipped into his true Luxen form, becoming a human shape of light that shone so brightly I could only stare at him for a few precious seconds.
Holy crap, Daemon’s voice said, filtering through my own thoughts.
Since Daemon hadn’t gone ape wild on someone, I scrambled to my knees and peered over the edge of the bed.
“Holy crap,” I said out loud.
Our precious moment of being normal ended with a body lying on my bedroom floor.
I stared down at the dead man, dressed like he was prepared to join the rebel alliance on the Hoth system. My thoughts were a little hazy at first, which was why it took me a few seconds to realize, dressed like that, he’d really blend in with the snow. Except for all the red streaming from his head…
My already pounding heartbeat skyrocketed. “Daemon…?”
He pivoted, slipping back into his human form as he wrapped an arm around my waist, pulling me back from the carnage.
“He’s a-an Officer,” I stuttered, smacking at his arms to get free. “He’s with the—”
Dawson suddenly stood in the doorway, his eyes glowing much like Daemon’s were. Two bright white lights, like polished diamonds. “He was sneaking around outside by the tree line.”
Daemon’s arm loosened. “You…you did this?”
His brother’s gaze flickered to the body. It—because I couldn’t really think of it as a human being—lay in a twisted, unnatural heap. “He was watching the house—taking pictures.” Dawson held up what looked like a melted camera. “I stopped him.”
Yeah, Dawson had stopped him right through my bedroom window.
Letting go of me, Daemon made his way over to it. He knelt and pulled back the insulated white down jacket. There was a charred spot on the chest that smoked. The smell of burned flesh wafted into the air.
I climbed off the bed, pressing my hand to my mouth just in case I started to hurl. I’d seen Daemon hit a human with the Source—their power based in light—before. Nothing but ashes had remained, but it had a hole burned through its chest.
“Your aim is off, brother.” Daemon let go of the jacket, the thick cords of muscles in his back bunched with tension. “The window?”
Dawson’s eyes drifted to the window. “I’ve been out of practice.”
My mouth dropped open. Out of practice? Instead of incinerating it, he’d knocked it into the air and through my window. Not to mention he’d killed it. No, I wouldn’t think of that.
“My mom’s gonna kill me,” I said, feeling numb. “She’s really going to kill me.”
A broken window—of all the things to focus on, but it was something, something other than it lying on my floor.
Daemon stood slowly, eyes sheltered and jaw set like stone. He didn’t take his gaze off his brother, his expression a blank mask. I turned to Dawson, our gazes colliding, and for the first time, I was scared of him.
After a quick change and bathroom visit, I stood in the living room, surrounded by aliens for the first time in days. A perk of being made of light, I guessed—the ability to go just about anywhere in a blink of an eye.
Since Adam’s death, everyone had pretty much given me a wide berth, so I was unsure what was about to go down. Probably a lynching. I knew I’d want one for whoever had been responsible for the death of someone I loved.
Hands shoved into his pockets, Dawson pressed his forehead against the window by where the Christmas tree had once stood, his back to the room. He’d said nothing since the bat signal had been sent out and the aliens had come a-running.
Dee sat perched on the couch, her eyes fixed on her brother’s back. She looked wired, her cheeks flushed with anger. I think it bothered her being in this house. Or just being near me. We hadn’t had a chance to really talk after…everything.
My gaze slid to the other occupants. The evil wonder twins, Ash and Andrew, were seated beside Dee, their gazes locked onto the spot where their brother, Adam, had last stood…and died.
Part of me hated being in the living room since it reminded me of what had happened when Blake finally fessed up to his true purpose. When I had to come in here, which wasn’t often since I moved all my books out of the living room, I looked right at the spot to the left of the throw carpet under the coffee table. The pine floors were bare and shiny now, but I could still see the pool of bluish liquid that I’d mopped up along with Matthew on New Year’s Eve.
I wrapped my arms around my waist to try to suppress the shudder.
Two sets of footfalls came down the steps, and I turned, finding Daemon and his guardian, Matthew. Earlier, they’d gotten rid of…it, incinerating it outside, deep in the woods, after doing a quick run of the area.
Walking to my side, Daemon tugged on the edge of my hoodie. “It’s been taken care of.”
Matthew and Daemon had gone upstairs no more than ten minutes ago with a tarp, a hammer, and a bunch of nails. “Thank you.”
He nodded as his gaze slid to his brother. “Did anyone find a vehicle?”
“There was an Expedition near the access road,” Andrew said, blinking. “I torched it.”