I’m not sure what woke me, but as I blinked my eyes open I found myself staring into a pair of bright green eyes. I smiled. “Hey,” I murmured.

One side of his full lips tipped up. “Hey there, sleeping beauty…”

Over his shoulder, the sky had deepened to a denim blue. “Did you kiss me awake?”

“I did.” Daemon was propped on his side, using his arm to support his head. He placed his hand on my stomach and my chest fluttered in response. “Told you, my lips have mystical powers.”

My shoulders moved in a silent laugh. “How long have you been here?”

“Not long.” His eyes searched mine. “I found Blake sulking around the woods. He didn’t want to leave while you were out here.”

I rolled my eyes.

“As much as it bothers me, I’m glad he didn’t.”

“Wow. Pigs are flying.” When he narrowed his eyes, I lifted my hand, running my fingers through the soft waves that fell over his forehead. His eyes drifted shut and my breath caught. “How’s Dawson?”

“Calmed down. How’s Kitten?”

“Sleepy.”

“And?”

Slowly, I trailed my fingers down the side of his face, along his broad cheek and down the hard line of his jaw. He turned into my palm, pressing his lips to it. “Happy you’re here.”

His fingers made quick work of the light cardigan I was wearing, separating the thin flaps of material. His knuckles brushed against the tank top I had on underneath. “And?”

“And glad I didn’t get eaten by a bear or coyote.”

He arched a brow. “What?”

I grinned. “Apparently they’re a problem around here.”

Daemon shook his head. “Back to talking about me.”

Instead of telling him, I showed. As Daemon would say, it was the book lover in me. Showing was so much better than telling. My fingers smoothed over his bottom lip and then I moved my hand to his chest. I lifted my head and he met me halfway.

The kiss started off tentative and smooth. Silky kisses created a yearning that was becoming all too familiar. The sensation of his lips against mine, the knowledge of what I wanted, sparked deep inside us and our hearts picked up together, beating heavily and fast. I let myself fall into that kiss, drown in it, become it. The swelling wave of feelings was hard to process. At once both exhilarating and frightening. I was ready, had been ready, and yet I knew I was scared, because like Daemon had said before: humans were afraid of the unknown. And Daemon and I had been hovering on the verge of the unknown for a while.

He pressed down until I was flat on my back, and he was above me, his weight perfect and crazy. His hand slid up, bunching the material, his fingers grazing. The touch was too much and not enough. My chest rose and fell rapidly as his leg moved over mine, between mine. When he broke away, I gasped for air, for control I was quickly losing.

“I need to stop,” he said roughly, eyes closing tightly, lashes fanning the tips of his cheeks. “Like, right now.”

I threaded my fingers through the curls at the back of his neck, hoping he didn’t notice how badly my hand shook. “Yeah, we should.”

He nodded, but then he lowered his head and kissed me again. Good to see he had the same amount of willpower as I did, which was zilch. My hands slid down his back, digging into the shirt he wore, finding their way under it, splaying across his warm skin. I curled my leg around his. We were close, so close that even if our hearts hadn’t beat in tandem before, it wouldn’t have mattered, because they would’ve found each other and joined now.

Our breaths were coming fast. This was insane. Perfect. His hand crept under my shirt, moving up and up, and every part of me wanted to press the stop button on the world and then hit repeat so I could feel this way over and over again.

Daemon stiffened.

“Oh, dear God and baby Jesus in the manger, my eyes!” Dee shrieked. “My eyes!”

My own eyes snapped open. Daemon lifted his head, eyes luminous. Then I realized my hands were still up his shirt. I yanked them out.

“Oh my God,” I whispered, mortified.

Daemon said something that burned my ears. “Dee, you didn’t see anything.” And then he added much lower, “Because you have impeccable timing.”

“You were on…her and your mouths were doing this.” I could just imagine her hand signals at that point. She went on. “And that’s more than I want to see. Like, ever.”

I pushed at Daemon’s chest, and he rolled off. I sat up and twisted around, keeping my head low so my hair could hide my burning cheeks. I caught sight of Dee and even though you’d think she’d caught us buck naked in the act, instead of making out, she was grinning.

“What do you want, Dee?” Daemon said.

She huffed, pressing her hands on her hips. “Well, I don’t want anything from you. I wanted to talk to Katy.”

My head jerked up, embarrassment be damned. “You do?”

“Ash and I were going to this new little shop in Moorefield Saturday afternoon. They sell vintage dresses. For prom,” she added as I continued to stare at her.

“Prom?” I didn’t get it.

“Yeah, prom’s at the end of the month.” She glanced at her brother, her cheeks turning rosy. “Most of the dresses are going to be gone. And I don’t know if the place has anything, but Ash heard about it and you know how she is with clothes, so she’s in the know. Like, a couple of days ago, she found this really cute cropped sweater that—”


“Dee,” Daemon said, a small grin tugging his lips.

“What? I’m not talking to you.” She faced me, exasperated. “Anyway, would you like to go with us? Or have you already gotten a dress? Because if you have gotten a dress, then I guess the trip is pointless, but you could still—”

“No. I haven’t gotten a dress.” I couldn’t believe she was asking me to do something with her. I was stunned and hopeful and stunned some more.

“Good!” She grinned. “Then we can go on Saturday. I thought about asking Lesa if she wanted to go…”

I had to be dreaming. She wanted to ask Lesa, too? What did I miss? I glanced at Daemon as his sister chattered on and he grinned. “Wait,” I said. “I wasn’t planning on prom.”

“What?” Dee’s mouth dropped open. “It’s senior prom.”

“I know, but with everything going on…I haven’t really thought about it.” A lie, because you couldn’t step anywhere at school and not see flyers and banners about it.

Dee’s incredulous expression grew. “It’s senior prom.”

“But…” I tucked my hair back and glanced at Daemon. “You haven’t even asked me to go.”

He smiled. “I didn’t think I needed to ask. I assumed we would go.”

“Well, you know what they say about people who assume,” Dee said, rocking back on the balls of her feet.

He ignored her, his grin fading. “What, Kitten?”

I blinked. “How can we go to prom with everything going on? We’re so close to having enough tolerance to go back to Mount Weather and—”

“And prom is on a Saturday,” he said, pulling my hand away from my hair. “So let’s say that in two weeks when we’re ready to go, it will be Sunday.”

Dee shot forward, hobbling from one foot to the other like her feet were playing hot potato. “And it’s only a few hours. You guys can halt the self-mutilation for a few hours.”

The problem wasn’t the time or really even the onyx. It didn’t seem right to go to prom after everything, after Carissa…

Daemon slipped his arm around me as he leaned, his voice low as he spoke. “It’s not wrong, Kat. You deserve this.”

I closed my eyes. “Why should we get to celebrate when she can’t?”

He rested his cheek against mine. “We’re still here and we deserve to be, to do normal things every once in a while.”

Did we?

“It’s not your fault,” he whispered, and then kissed my temple. He pulled back, eyes searching mine. “Will you go to prom with me, Kat?”

Dee shifted some more. “You should really say yes, so we can go dress shopping and so I don’t have to witness a really awkward moment of you turning down my brother. Even though he deserves to be knocked down a peg or two.”

I laughed, glancing at her. Dee gave me a tentative smile, and that hope was springing back. “Okay.” I took a deep breath. “I’ll go to prom—only because I don’t want this conversation to get awkward.”

Daemon tweaked my nose. “I’ll take what I can get for as long as I can get it.”

A cloud passed over the sun and seemed to halt. The temperature dropped significantly.

My smile started to falter as a chill snaked down my spine. This was a happy moment—a good moment. There was hope for Dee’s and my relationship. And prom was a big deal. Daemon in a tux and all would be a pretty awesome sight. We were going to be normal teenagers for the night, but the shadow over us had somehow slipped inside me.

“What is it?” Daemon asked, concerned.

“Nothing,” I said, but it was something. I just didn’t know what.

Chapter 30

One of the first things I did the next day was invite Lesa. I was thrilled when she perked up and agreed. It made me feel a lot better about my decision to go. Like Carissa’s best friend approved and that went a long way.

Like me, she was a tad wary of going shopping with Ash, and a glimmer of her old personality shone through when she started making cracks.

“I bet she’ll get something ridiculously tight and short and make the rest of us feel like unattractive Oompa Loompas.” She sighed pitifully. “No. Scratch that. She’ll probably just go to the dress store and parade in front of the mirror naked.”

I laughed. “No doubt, but I’m happy Dee invited us.”

“Me, too,” she said seriously. “I miss her, especially after… Yeah, I just miss her.”

My smile was a bit wobbly. Whenever Carissa came up in conversation, I never knew how to handle it. Luckily, for today, we were interrupted by Daemon, who decided to tug on my ponytail like a six-year-old.

He sat behind me and then poked me in the back with his trusty pen.

I rolled my eyes at Lesa and then turned around. “You and that damn pen.”

“You love it.” He leaned over his desk, tapping it off my chin. “Anyway, I thought I could catch a ride home with you after school. That thing we’ve got to do later was delayed for about an hour. And your mom’s already at Winchester by then, right?”

A low hum of excitement thrummed through my veins. I knew where he was going with this. No Mom. An hour or so of time alone and without interruption—hopefully.

I couldn’t stop my dreamy sigh. “That would be perfect.”

“Thought so.” He took his pen and sat back, eyeing me. “Can’t wait.”

Oxygen fled my brain while blood rushed everywhere. Feeling a bit out of it, I nodded and turned around. The look on Lesa’s face told me she so overheard the conversation.