“Kat, I’m not trying to be a dick.”

“I know, it just comes easily to you.” Headlights peeked through the fog, coming up the road. My voice was hoarse when I spoke next. “I’ve got to go. Mom’s home.”

I hurried down the steps and across the gravel and hard, frozen ground. Before I reached my own porch, Daemon appeared. Stopping short, I sputtered, “I hate when you do that.”

“Think about what I said, Kat.” His gaze flickered over my shoulder. Mom’s car was almost here. “You have nothing to prove.”

“I don’t?”

Daemon said no, but it didn’t seem like it when he said he expected everything to blow up in my face again.



Tossing and turning, my brain wouldn’t shut down. I replayed everything that had gone down from the point I’d stopped the branch in front of Blake to the moment I found Simon’s bloodied watch in his truck. How many times had there been signs that he was more than what he said he was? Too many. And how many times had Daemon stepped in and tried to talk me out of training with Blake? Too many.

I flipped onto my back, squeezing my eyes shut.

And what had he meant about Blake? Did he really think I wanted to help him and for what purpose? The last thing I wanted to do was breathe the same air as Blake. There was no way Daemon could be jealous. No. No. No. I’d have to spin kick him in the face if that was the case. And then cry, because if he doubted me…

I couldn’t even think about that.

Only one good thing had come from the mess—Dawson. But everything else was… Well, it was the reason I couldn’t sit back and twiddle my thumbs.

I turned onto my side, punched my pillow, and forced my eyes to stay closed.

At the crack of dawn, I drifted off for what felt like seconds to only face the sun creeping through my bedroom window a minute later. Pulling myself out of bed, I showered and changed.

A dull ache had taken up residency behind my eyes. By the time I got to school and grabbed my books out of my locker, it hadn’t faded like I’d hoped. I shuffled into trig and checked my phone for the first time since last night.

No messages.

I dropped the phone back into my bag and rested my chin in my hands. Lesa was the first one in.

Her nose wrinkled when she spotted me. “Ew. You look terrible.”

“Thanks,” I muttered.

“You’re welcome. Carissa has the bird flu or something. Hope you don’t have it.”

I almost laughed. Since Daemon had healed me, I hadn’t even sneezed once. And according to Will, once mutated, you couldn’t get sick, which was why he had tried to force Daemon to mutate him.

“Maybe,” I said.

“Probably that club you went to.” She shivered.

Warmth danced along my neck, and I averted my eyes like a wuss as Daemon took his seat behind me. I knew he was staring at me. He didn’t say anything for about sixty-two seconds. I counted them.

He poked me in the back with his trusty pen.

I twisted around, keeping my face blank. “Hey.”

A single brow arched. “You look well-rested.”

He, on the other hand, looked like he normally did. Freaking perfect. “Got tons of sleep last night. You?”

Daemon popped the pen behind his ear and leaned forward. “I slept for about an hour. I think.”

I lowered my gaze. I wasn’t happy that last night sucked for him, too, but at least it meant he was thinking about it. I started to ask, but he shook his head. “What?” I said.

“I haven’t changed my mind, Kitten. I was hoping you had.”

“No,” I said, and the bell rang. One last meaningful look, and I turned around. Lesa shot me a weird expression, and I shrugged. Wasn’t like I could explain why we were only exchanging a few syllables today. That would be an entertaining conversation.

When the bell rang, I debated on making a run for the door but reconsidered when two denim-clad legs filled my peripheral vision. I couldn’t stop the tumbling my stomach did, even when I was angry with him.

I was such a loser.

Daemon didn’t say anything as we left or when we parted ways, and after each class he appeared out of freaking nowhere. The same happened before bio, and he walked with me up the stairs, eyes scanning over the heads of the students.

“What are you doing?” I asked, finally tired of the silence.

He shrugged his broad shoulders. “Just thought I’d do the gentlemanly thing and walk you to your classes.”

“Uh-huh.”

There was no response, so I peeked at him. His eyes were narrowed and his lips pinched like he’d just eaten something sour. I went up on my tiptoes and bit back a curse. Blake was leaning against the wall next to the door, head tilted toward us, a cocky smile on his face.

“I dislike him so very much,” Daemon muttered.

Blake pushed off the wall and swaggered over to us. “You guys look chipper for a Friday.”

Daemon tapped a textbook on his thigh. “Do you have a reason to be standing here?”

“This is my class.” He jerked his chin toward the open door. “With Katy.”

Heat blew off Daemon as he took a step forward, staring down his nose at Blake. “You just love to push it, don’t you?”

Blake swallowed nervously. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Daemon laughed, and it sent shivers down my spine. Sometimes I forgot how dangerous he could be. “Please. I may be a lot of things—a lot of really bad things, Biff, but stupid and blind aren’t two of them.”

“All right,” I said, keeping my voice low. People were staring. “Time to play nice.”

“I have to agree.” Blake glanced around. “But this isn’t a playground.”


Daemon arched a brow. “You don’t wanna play, Barf, because we can do that nifty freeze thing and play, right here and now.”

Oh, for the love of backwoods babies everywhere, this wasn’t necessary. I wrapped my fingers around Daemon’s tense arm. “Come on,” I whispered.

A second stretched out and static jumped from his arm to mine. Slowly, he looked at me and then he bent down, planting his lips on mine. The kiss was unexpected—deep and forceful. Stunned, I just stood there as he pulled back, nipping at my bottom lip.

“Tasty, Kitten.” Then he spun, planted his right hand on Blake’s shoulder, knocking him back into a locker. “See you around,” he said, smirking.

“Jesus,” Blake muttered, straightening. “He has anger management problems.”

The faces gaping at us blurred.

Clearing his throat, Blake slid past me. “You should really head in.”

I nodded, but when the warning bell rang, I was still standing there, my fingers placed against my lips.

Chapter 18

By lunch, Daemon’s mood was somewhere between brooding and evil. He had half the student body frightened to death of crossing his path or breathing in the same air as him. I couldn’t fathom what had his undies in a bunch. It couldn’t be our argument carrying over this badly.

When he got up to grab his third helping of milk, Lesa sat back and let out a low whistle. “What is his deal?”

“I don’t know,” I said, pushing a lump of meat around my plate. “It must be his time of the month.”

Chad barked out a laugh. “Yeah, not going there.”

Lesa grinned at her boyfriend. “If you know what’s wise for you, you won’t.”

“What’s wise?” Daemon asked as he sat down.

“Nothing,” the three of us said at the same time.

He frowned.

The rest of the afternoon went by way too fast and every so often the bottom of my stomach would drop. One more day—Saturday—and we were going to try the impossible. Break into Mount Weather and rescue Beth and Chris. What were we going to do with them if we succeeded? Not if—when we did, I quickly corrected myself.

On the way out, my cell vibrated. A quick check left a bitter taste in my mouth. I wished Blake would lose my phone number.

We need to talk.

Gritting my teeth, I texted back: Y

The response was immediate: Abt Sunday.

“Who put that scary look on your face?” Daemon asked, out of the blue.

Squealing, I jumped. “Good God, where did you come from?”

He grinned, which would’ve been a good thing considering his mood all day, but it only made me wary. “I’m quiet like a cat.”

I sighed, showing him my phone. “Blake. He wants to talk about Sunday.”

Daemon growled. “Why is he texting you?”

“Probably because he knows you want to do him bodily harm.”

“And you don’t?”

I shook my head. “He’s obviously less afraid of me.”

“Maybe we need to change that?” He dropped an arm over my shoulders, tucking me against his side as we headed out into the bitter February wind. “Tell him we’ll talk tomorrow.”

My body warmed against his. “Where?”

“My house,” he replied with that evil smile. “If he has balls, he’ll be there.”

I made a yuck face but texted it back to Blake. “Why not tonight?”

Daemon’s lips pursed. “We need some quality time alone.”

Quality time like yesterday’s quality time? Because I could so get behind that, but we really needed to talk a few things through. Before I could broach that topic, Blake responded and tomorrow evening was a go.

“Did you drive by yourself today?” I asked.

He shook his head, eyes fixed on a stand of trees. “Came in with Dee. Was hoping we could do something normal. Like an afternoon matinee.”

Half of me did a happy dance. The other more responsible part put on the schoolteacher’s glasses and broke out the ruler. Annoying adult Katy won. “That sounds great, but don’t you think we need to talk about last night?”

“About my giving nature?”

My cheeks flamed. “Um, no… After that.”

There was a flicker of a smile. “Yeah, I kind of knew that. Make you a deal. We’ll do the movies, and then we’ll talk, okay?”

It was a good deal, so I agreed. And honestly, I loved getting to do normal things with Daemon—like going out. It was a rarity. He let me pick the movie, and I went with a rom-com. Surprisingly, he didn’t complain. Might’ve had something to do with the huge bucket of popcorn we were stuffing our faces with in between the buttery kisses.

It was all so divinely normal.



Divinely normal ended the moment we got to his house and he stepped out of his car, eyes narrowing. All the lights were on. Dee wasn’t about conserving energy, it appeared.

“Kat, I think you should go home.”

“Huh?” I closed the car door, frowning. “I thought we were going to talk? And eat ice cream—you promised ice cream.”

He chuckled under his breath. “I know, but I have company.”

I planted myself in front of the porch steps. “What kind of company?”

“The Luxen kind,” he said, placing his hands on my shoulders. His eerily bright green eyes met mine. “Elders.”