Nice history lesson, but what was the point? Why would the DOD name an organization overseeing human mutation after some dude—?

Then it struck me.

Daedalus created all kinds of things that bettered man, and the whole godlike-abilities angle was kind of like humans who were mutated by the Luxen. It was a leap in logic, but come on, the government would be so full of themselves they’d name their organization after a Greek legend.

Closing the laptop, I stood and found myself grabbing my jacket and going outside. I really didn’t know why. Who knew if there were more Officers sneaking around? My overactive imagination formed the image of a sniper hiding in the tree and a red dot appearing on my forehead. Nice.

Sighing, I dug out a pair of gloves from the pockets of my jacket and high-stepped it through the mounds of snow. Needing some form of physical exercise to keep my brain from going into overdrive, I started rolling a ball of snow across the front yard. Everything had changed in a matter of months and then again in a matter of seconds. Going from shy, book-nerd Katy to something impossible; someone who had changed on more than a cellular level. I no longer saw the world in black and white and deep down I knew I didn’t operate on basic social norms anymore.

Like thy shalt not kill or whatever.

I hadn’t killed Brian Vaughn, the Officer who had been paid off by Will to turn me over to him instead of the Daedalus as I could be used as leverage to ensure that Daemon mutated him instead of killing him outright, but I had wanted to and I would have if Daemon hadn’t beaten me to it.

I’d been totally okay with the idea of killing someone.

For some reason, killing the two evil aliens, the Arum, hadn’t affected me as much as the idea of being totally kosher with killing a human did. Not sure what that said about me, because like Daemon had said once before, a life was a life, but I didn’t know how to process adding the words ‘okay with killing’ to the bio section on my book blog.

My cotton gloves were soaked by the time I finished with the first ball and moved on to rolling the second lump of snow. This whole physical-exertion thing wasn’t doing anything other than causing my cheeks to burn in the frosty, snow-scented air. Fail.

When I was done, my snowman had three sections, but no arms or face. It kind of mirrored how I felt inside. I had most of the body parts but was missing vital pieces to make me real.

I really didn’t know who I was anymore.

Stepping back, I ran the sleeve of my arm over my forehead and let out a ragged breath. Muscles burned and skin ached, but I stood there until the moon peeked out behind thick clouds, sending a slice of silvery light over my incomplete creation.

There’d been a dead body in my bedroom this morning.

I sat down in the middle of my front yard, right in a pile of cold snow. A dead body—another dead body, just like Vaughn’s dead body that had fallen near the driveway, just like Adam’s dead body that had lain in the living room. Another thought I’d tried to ignore wormed its way through my defenses. Adam had died trying to protect me.

Wet, cold air stung my eyes.

If I had been honest with Dee, telling her from the start about what really happened in the clearing that night we fought Baruck and about everything thereafter, she and Adam would have been more cautious about bum-rushing my house. They would’ve known about Blake and how he was like me, capable of fighting back on a souped-up alien level.

Blake.

I should’ve listened to Daemon. Instead, I wanted to prove myself. I wanted to believe that Blake had good intentions when Daemon had sensed something off about the boy. I should’ve known when Blake had thrown a knife at my head and left me alone with an Arum that there was something very demented about him.

Except was Blake demented? I didn’t think so. He’d been desperate. Frantic to keep his friend Chris alive and trapped by what he’d become. Blake would’ve done anything to protect Chris. Not because his life was joined with the Luxen, but because he cared for his friend. Maybe that’s why I hadn’t killed him, because even in those moments where everything was pure chaos, I saw a part of me in Blake.

I’d been okay with the idea of killing his uncle to protect my friends.

And Blake had killed my friend to protect his.

Who was right? Was anyone?

I was so caught up in my thoughts, I didn’t pay much attention to the warmth skipping across my neck. I jumped when I heard Daemon’s voice.

“Kitten, what are you doing?”

I twisted around and lifted my head. He stood behind me, dressed in a thin sweater and jeans. His eyes glimmered under thick lashes.

“I was making a snowman.”

His gaze drifted beyond me. “I see. It’s missing some stuff.”

“Yeah,” I said morosely.

Daemon frowned. “That doesn’t tell me why you’re sitting in the snow. Your jeans have to be soaked.” There was a pause and damn if that frown didn’t turn upside down. “Wait. That means I’d probably get a better look at your butt, then.”

I laughed. Leave it to Daemon to always take things down a level or two.

He glided forward as if the snow moved out of the way for him and sat beside me, crossing his legs. Neither of us said anything for a moment, and then he leaned over, pushing me with his shoulder.

“What are you really doing out here?” he asked.

I’d never been able to hide anything from him, but I really wasn’t ready to go there with him yet. “What’s going on with Dawson? Has he run off yet?”

Daemon looked like he was going to push the subject for a moment but then just nodded. “Not yet, because I followed him around today like a babysitter. I’m thinking about putting a bell on him.”

I laughed softly. “I doubt he’ll appreciate that.”


“I don’t care.” A little bit of anger flashed in his voice. “Running off after Beth isn’t going to end well. We all know that.”

No doubt. “Daemon, do you…”

“What?”

It was hard to put into words what I thought, because once I said them, they became real. “Why haven’t they come after Dawson? They have to know he’s here. It would be the first place he’d come back to if he had escaped. And they’ve obviously been watching.” I gestured back at my house. “Why haven’t they come for him? For us?”

Daemon glanced at the snowman, silent for several heartbeats. “I don’t know. Well, I have my suspicions.”

I swallowed past the lump of fear growing in my throat. “What are they?”

“You really want to hear them?” When I nodded, he went back to staring at the snowman. “I think the DOD was aware of Will’s plans, knew he was going to arrange for Dawson to be released. And they let it happen.”

I drew in a shallow breath as I picked up a handful of snow. “That’s what I think.”

He glanced at me, eyes hidden behind his lashes. “But the big question is why.”

“It can’t be good.” I let most of the snow slip through my gloved fingers. “It’s a trap. Has to be.”

“We’ll be ready,” he said after a few seconds. “Don’t worry, Kat.”

“I’m not worried.” Such a lie, but it seemed like the right thing to say. “We need to stay ahead of them somehow.”

“True.” Daemon stretched out his long legs. The underside of his jeans was a darker blue now. “You know how we stay under the humans’ radar?”

“By pissing them off and alienating yourselves?” I gave him a cheeky grin.

“Ha. Ha. No. We pretend. We constantly pretend like we’re not different, that nothing’s happening.”

“I’m not following.”

He flopped onto his back, his dark hair splashing against the white. “If we pretend like we’ve gotten away with Dawson being released, that we don’t think anything’s suspicious or that we know they’re aware of our abilities, then it may buy us time to figure out what they’re doing.”

I watched him throw his arms out to his sides. “You think they’ll slip up then?”

“Don’t know. I wouldn’t put money on it, but it kind of gives us the edge. It’s the best we have right now.”

The best we had kind of sucked.

Grinning as if he didn’t have a care in the world, he started sliding his arms through the snow, along with his legs, moving them like windshield wipers. Really nice-looking windshield wipers.

I started to laugh, but it got stuck in my throat as my heart swelled. Never in my life did I think Daemon would be into the snow-angel-making business. And for some reason, that made me all warm and fuzzy.

“You should try it,” he coaxed, eyes closed. “It gives you perspective.”

I doubted it could give me perspective on anything, but I lay down beside him and followed suit. “So I Googled Daedalus.”

“Yeah? What did you find out?”

I told him about the myth and my suspicions, which Daemon smirked at. “It wouldn’t surprise me—the ego behind that.”

“You’d know,” I said.

“Hardy har-har.”

I grinned. “How is this giving me perspective, by the way?”

He chuckled. “Wait for a couple more seconds.”

I did and when he stopped and sat, he reached over, grasping my hand, and pulled me up with him. We brushed the snow off of each other—Daemon taking a little longer than necessary on certain areas. Finished, we turned to our snow angels.

Mine was much smaller and less even than his, like I was top heavy. His was perfect—show-off. I folded my arms around me. “Waiting for the epiphany to happen.”

“There isn’t one.” He dropped a heavy arm over my shoulder, leaned in, and pressed a kiss against my cheek. His lips were so, so warm. “But it was fun, wasn’t it? Now…” He steered me back to the snowman. “Let’s finish with your snowman. It can’t be incomplete. Not with me here.”

My heart tripped up. There were so many times I wondered if Daemon could read minds. He could be amazingly spot-on when he wanted. I tilted my head back against his shoulder, wondering how he’d gone from douchebag extraordinaire to this…this guy who still infuriated me but also constantly surprised and amazed me.

To this guy I’d fallen madly in love with.

Chapter 4

When the plows came out, clearing a path through town and down the back roads, Matthew got a glass repair company here in the nick of time. They’d left minutes before Mom arrived home on Friday, looking like she’d ate, slept, and saved lives in her polka-dot scrubs.

She threw her arms around me, nearly taking me to the floor. “Baby, I’ve missed you!”

I hugged her back just as tightly. “Same here. I…” I let go, blinking back tears. Looking away, I cleared my throat. “Have you actually showered in the last week?”

“No.” She tried to hug me again, but I jumped back. She laughed but I caught a flash of sadness in her eyes just before she turned toward the kitchen. “Just kidding.. There’re showers at the hospital, honey. I’m clean. I swear!”