I slid my fingers through his hair, tugging when he lifted his head. I started to protest, but he was kissing his way down my throat, over the edge of my cardigan, down the little buttons shaped like flowers, and lower still, until I couldn’t keep ahold of his head. Or really keep track of where he was heading.

Daemon sat back on his haunches, going for my boots. He tugged one off, pitching it over his shoulder. It bounced off the wall with a soft thud. “What are these made of? Rabbit skin?”

“What?” I giggled. “No. They’re faux sheepskin.”

“They’re so soft.” He got the other one off and that too hit the wall. My socks were next. He kissed the top of my foot, and I jerked. “Not as soft as this, though.” Grinning, he lifted his head. “Love the tights, by the way.”

“Yeah?” My gaze fixed on the ceiling, but I really wasn’t seeing a damn thing. Not when his hands moved up my calves. “Is it…because they’re red?”

“That.” I felt his cheek on my knee, and my hands fluttered to the bed. “And because they’re so thin. And hot, but you already know that.”

Hot? I felt hot. His hands traveled up my outer thighs, under the denim skirt, pushing the material up and up. I bit down on my lip, hard enough that a metallic taste sprung into my mouth. The material really was thin, a fragile almost nonexistent barrier between his skin and mine. I could feel every touch, and even the slightest was like a thousand volts of electricity.

“Kitten…”

“Hmm?” I fisted the covers.

“Just making sure you’re still with me.” He kissed the side of my leg, right above my knee. “Don’t want you falling asleep or anything.”

Like sleep was possible. Ever.

His eyes flared. “You know what. Give me two minutes. That’s all I need.”

“Whatever,” I said. “What are you going to do with the leftover eighteen minutes?”

“Snuggle.”

I started to laugh, but his fingers found the band along the top of my tights, and he pulled them down, cursing when they got tangled at my feet.

“Need help?” I offered, voice shaking.

“Got it,” he muttered, balling them up. They too went flying somewhere.

Things were going further than they had before. I was nervous, but I didn’t want to stop. I was too curious, and I trusted him irrevocably. And then there was nothing separating his hands from my skin or his lips and I stopped thinking, wasn’t capable of forming any coherent thought. There was just him and the crazy rush of sensations he pulled forth, drew from me like an artist rendering some kind of masterpiece. Then I wasn’t even me anymore, because my body couldn’t shake that much. Like a balloon being pulled down and then released, I was floating and there was a soft whitish glow slipping over the walls that wasn’t coming off Daemon.

When I came back down, Daemon’s eyes were brilliant diamonds. He looked sort of awed, which I found strange, because he awed me.

“You glowed a little,” he said, rising up. “I’ve only seen you do that once.”

I knew the night, but I didn’t want to think about that right now. I was happy where I was floating. It was good—great, even, and I really couldn’t talk. My brain was mush. I had no idea that could be like that. Heck, I was shocked it even happened. I felt like I needed to say thank you or something.

The smile he gave me was part male pride and arrogance, like he knew he’d scrambled my brain. He stretched out beside me, tugging me close to him. He lowered his head, kissing me softly, deeply.

“Wasn’t even two minutes,” he said. “Told you.”

My heart was somewhere in my throat. “You were right.”

“Always.”

Chapter 17

Sometime later, I tried to stretch and when I spoke, my voice was muffled against his chest. “I can’t move.”

His laugh rumbled through me as he loosened his embrace. “This is how we snuggle.”

“I really should head next door soon.” I yawned, not wanting to leave. I was so relaxed I couldn’t feel my toes. “Mom will be home soon.”

“Do you have to leave now?”

I shook my head. We had maybe an hour. I wanted to make her dinner, so another thirty or forty minutes tops. Daemon placed a finger on my chin and lifted it. “What?” I asked.

His eyes searched mine. “I wanted to talk before you leave.”

Anxiety blossomed low. “About what?”

“Sunday,” he said, and my anxiety turned darker. “I know you feel like you got us into this, but you know you didn’t, right?”

“Daemon…” I so knew where this conversation was heading. “We are at this point because of the decisions I—”

“We,” he corrected gently. “Decisions we made.”

“If I hadn’t trained with Blake and had listened to you, we wouldn’t be here. Adam would be alive. Dee wouldn’t hate my guts. Will wouldn’t be running around doing God knows what.” I squeezed my eyes shut. “I could go on and on. You get my drift.”

“And if you hadn’t made any of those decisions, we wouldn’t have Dawson back. It was kind of a stupid-smart move.”

I laughed drily. “There’s that.”

“You can’t carry this guilt with you, Kat.” The bed moved as he rose up on one elbow. “You’ll end up like me.”

I peeked at him. “What? An extremely tall and douchey alien?”


He smiled. “The jerky part, yes. I blamed myself for what happened to Dawson. It changed me. I’m still not back to where I was before everything happened. Don’t do that to yourself.”

Harder said than done, but I nodded. Last thing I wanted was for Daemon to worry about the possibility of my future therapy bills. And it was time to get to what I knew he wanted. “You don’t want me going Sunday.”

Daemon took a deep breath. “Hear me out, okay?” When I nodded, he continued. “I know you want to help, and I know you can. I’ve seen what you’re capable of. You can be pretty scary when mad.”

He has no idea, I thought wryly.

“But…if things go south, I don’t want you involved.” His gaze held mine. “I want you to be somewhere safe.”

I knew where he was coming from and I wanted to reassure him, but staying behind wasn’t something I could do. “I don’t want you involved, Daemon. I want you somewhere safe, but I’m not asking you to stay out of it.”

His brows knitted. “That’s different.”

I sat up, smoothing out my sweater. “How’s that different? And if you say it’s because you’re a guy, I’m going to hurt you.”

“Come on, Kitten.”

My eyes narrowed.

He sighed. “It’s more than that. It’s because I have experience. That simple. You don’t.”

“Okay, you have a point, but I’ve also been inside a cage. With that intimate knowledge, I have more reason than you not to get caught.”

“And that’s more of a reason why I don’t want you doing this.” His eyes flared an intense green. A sure sign he was seconds from tapping into his protective-fueled temper. “You have no idea what went through my head when I saw you in that cage—when I hear how your voice still rasps when you get excited or upset. You screamed until there—”

“I don’t need a reminder,” I snapped, and then cursed under my breath. I tried to rein in my own temper. I put my hand on his arm. “One of the things I love about you is how protective you are, but it also drives me crazy. You can’t protect me forever.”

His look said he could and would try.

I exhaled roughly. “I need to do this—I need to help Dawson and Beth.”

“And Blake?” he asked.

“What?” I stared at him. “Where did that come from?”

“I don’t know.” He moved his arm away from me. “It doesn’t matter. Can—”

“Wait. It does matter. Why would I want to help Blake after what he pulled? He killed Adam! I wanted him dead. You were the one who was, like, turning over a new leaf or something.”

The moment those words left my mouth, I regretted them. His expression went on lockdown.

“I’m sorry,” I said, meaning it. “I know why you didn’t want to…do away with Blake, but I have to do this. It’ll help me get past what I caused. Like making amends or something.”

“You don’t—”

“I do.”

Daemon turned his cheek, jaw clenching. “Can you do this for me? Please?”

My chest ached, because when Daemon said please, which was rare, I knew how much something bothered him. “I can’t.”

Seconds passed and his shoulders tensed. “This is stupid. You shouldn’t be doing this. All I’m going to worry about is you getting hurt.”

“See? That’s the problem! You can’t always be worried about my getting hurt.”

His brow arched. “You’re always getting hurt.”

My mouth dropped open. “I am not!”

He laughed. “Yeah, try that again.”

I pushed at him, but he was a wall of immovable muscle. Infuriated, I scrambled over him, even more furious when I saw the humored glint in his eyes. “God, you tick me off.”

“Well, at least I got you—”

“Don’t even finish that statement!” I snatched up my socks and tights. Rolling them on, I hobbled on one foot. “Ugh, I hate you sometimes.”

He sat up in one fluid motion. “Not too long ago, you were really, really loving me.”

“Shut up.” I moved on to the other leg. “I’m going with you guys on Sunday. That’s it. End of discussion.”

Daemon stood. “I don’t want you going.”

I wiggled up my tights, glaring at him. “You don’t get to say what I can and can’t do, Daemon.” I grabbed one of my boots, wondering how it got all the way over there. “I’m not a frail, helpless heroine in need of your rescue.”

“This isn’t a book, Kat.”

I yanked on my other boot. “No, really? Crap. I was hoping you skipped to the end and would tell me what happens. I actually love spoilers.”

Spinning around, I left and went downstairs. Of course, he was a step behind me, one giant shadow. We made it outside when he stopped me.

“After everything that went down with Blake, you said you wouldn’t doubt me,” he said. “That you would trust my decisions, but you’re doing it again. Not listening to me or common sense. And when this blows up in your face again, what am I supposed to do then?”

I gasped, backing up. “That’s… That was a low blow.”

He placed his hands on his hips. “It’s the truth.”

Tears stung my eyes, and it took a couple of seconds to get the next words out. “I know all of this is coming from a good place, but I don’t need a friendly reminder of how badly I screwed up. I totally know. And I’m trying to fix that.”