Taking the rest of the mail from me, he kissed my cheek. “Wouldn’t that be nice? But I think you’ve exhausted your mom’s allowance for laptops.”

“Neither was my fault.” I’d been hiding my recently destroyed laptop from her. She’d go postal if she found it.

“True.” He held open the door for a little old lady and then let me shimmy past. “But I bet you go to bed every night dreaming and thinking about a shiny new laptop.”

A warm breeze blew a strand of hair across my face as I stopped at my car. “Besides dreaming about you?”

“In between dreaming about me,” he corrected, placing my mail on the backseat. “What’s the first thing you’d do if you got a new laptop?”

Letting him take the keys from me, I went to the passenger side and thought about it. “I don’t know. I’d probably hug it and promise it that I’d never let anything bad happen to it.”

He laughed again, eyes twinkling. “Okay, other than that?”

“Make a vlog thanking the laptop gods for bestowing one upon me.” I sighed then, because that would be the only way I’d get one. “I need to get a job.”

“What you need to do is apply for college.”

“You haven’t,” I pointed out.

He cast me a sidelong glance. “I’ve been waiting on you.”

“Colorado,” I said, and when he nodded, my mom’s horrified expression loomed in my head. “Mom would freak.”

“I think she’d be happy with the fact that you’re going to college.”

He had a point, but the whole college thing seemed up in the air at this point. I had no idea what next week would hold for us, let alone a few months down the road. But I had good grades and I had looked into scholarships for next year’s spring enrollment.

In Colorado…and I knew Daemon had seen the pamphlet from the university. The prospect of going away to college with Daemon like normal teenagers was appealing. The problem was that getting my hopes up and not being able to do something like that would suck too much.

My house was silent and a little warm. I opened a window in the living room while Daemon helped himself to a glass of milk. When I walked into the kitchen, he was running the back of his hand over his mouth, his hair a mess of waves and eyes as green as spring grass. The movement pulled his shirt taut over his biceps and chest.

I bit back a sigh. Milk did a body good.

His smile was just as wicked. Putting the glass on the counter, he moved so fast I didn’t see him until he was standing in front of me, taking my cheeks in his hands. I loved that he was able to be real around me. I used to think the freaky alien speed thing was to annoy me, but it was just his natural state. Slowing down to human speed actually caused him to use more energy.

But then he kissed me, and he tasted of milk and something richer, lush and smooth. I didn’t realize he was guiding me backward and that we were at the bottom of the stairs until he lifted me up without breaking the kiss.

I thought the whole thing with Blake would ruin this afternoon, but I had underestimated the magnetism of Daemon and his kisses. I wrapped my legs around his waist, reveling in the feel of his muscles under my hands.

He didn’t stop at the top of the stairs but kept going and kissing and my heart was pounding. Turning, he gently kicked my door open and then my heart was doing the skipping thing, because we were in my bedroom and there was no one around to interrupt us. Nervous excitement enveloped me.

Daemon lifted his head. A lopsided grin appeared on his lips and I slid down, breathing fast. I watched in a daze as he moved back and sat on the edge of my bed, his fingers slowly letting go of mine, trailing across my palm. I felt the tingles all the way up my arm.

Then he looked at my desk.

My gaze followed his and I blinked, thinking a mirage had appeared in my bedroom, because I couldn’t be seeing what I was.

Resting on my desk was a MacBook Air in a cherry red sleeve.

“I…” I didn’t know what to say. My brain emptied. Were we in the right house? I took in the familiar surroundings and decided that we were.

I took a step toward the desk and stopped. “Is that for me?”

A slow, beautiful smile crept across his face, filling his eyes. “Well, it is on your desk, so…”

My heart stuttered. “But I don’t understand.”

“See, there’s this place called an Apple Store and I went there, picked one out. They didn’t have any stock.” He paused as if to make sure I was following him, and all I could do was stare. “So I ordered one. Meanwhile, I ordered a sleeve. I did take some liberties, since I prefer red.”

“But why?”

He laughed softly. “Man, I wish you could see your face.”

I clasped my hands over my cheeks. “Why?”

“You didn’t have one and I know how much blogging and that stuff means to you. Using the school computer isn’t doing it for you.” He shrugged. “And we really didn’t do the Valentine’s thing. So…here we are.”

It hit me then that he’d been planning this all day. “When did you put it here?”

“This morning, after you left for school.”

I took a deep breath. I was about five seconds from full fan-girl mode. “And you got this for me? A MacBook Air? Those things cost a lot of money.”

“Thank the taxpayers. Their money funds the DOD who then turns over the money to us.” He laughed at my expression. “And I save money. I have a small fortune stashed.”

“Daemon, it’s too much.”

“It’s yours.”

My gaze was drawn back to the Mac like it was my own personal mecca. How many times since I could spell laptop had I dreamt of a MacBook?

I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. “I can’t believe you did this.”

He shrugged again. “You deserve it.”

Something deep inside me snapped. I tackled Daemon, and he laughed, sweeping his arms around my waist. “Thank you. Thank you,” I said over and over again, in between raining quick kisses all over his face.

He tipped his head back on the comforter, laughing. “Wow. You’re pretty strong when you’re excited.”

I sat up, grinning down at him. His face blurred a little. “I can’t believe you did this.”

Smugness filled his expression. “You had no idea, did you?”

“No, but that’s why you kept bringing up the blog stuff.” I smacked his chest playfully. “You are…”

He folded his arms under his head. “I’m what?”

“Amazing.” I leaned forward, kissing him. “You’re amazing.”

“That’s what I’ve been saying for years.”

I laughed against his mouth. “Seriously, though, you shouldn’t have.”

“I wanted to.”

I didn’t know what to say, other than scream from the top of my lungs. Getting a MacBook was like Christmas and Halloween rolled into one.

He lowered his lashes. “It’s okay. I know what you want to do. Go play.”

“You sure?” My fingers itched to explore.


Squealing, I kissed him again and then rolled off, diving for the laptop. Carrying the super-lightweight book to my bed, I sat beside Daemon and placed it in my lap. Over the next hour, I familiarized myself with the programs and went through several phases of feeling extraordinarily cool and smart for having a Mac Book Air.

Daemon leaned over my shoulder, pointing out certain features. “There’s the webcam.”

I squeaked and then grinned when our faces appeared on the screen. “You should do your first vlog right now,” he said.

Giddy, I hit record and shrieked, “I have a MacBook Air!”

Daemon laughed as he buried his head in my hair. “You dork.”

I hit the stop button and noticed the time. Powering down the laptop, I placed it beside us and threw my arms around him once more. “Thank you.”

He pulled me down and reached up, tucking the hair behind my ear. His hand lingered. “I like it when you’re happy, and if I can do something small, then I will.”

“Something small?” Shock heightened my tone. “That’s not something small. That had to have cost—”

“It doesn’t matter. You’re happy. I’m happy.”

My chest swelled. “I love you. You know that, right?”

A cocky grin appeared. “I know.”

I waited. Nothing. Rolling my eyes, I sat up on the other side of him and kicked off my shoes. Glancing out the bedroom window, I saw nothing but beautiful blue skies. It was nice enough for flip-flops. Flip-flops!

“You’re never going to say it, are you?”

“Say what?” The bed shifted as he sat up, placing his hands on my hips.

I looked over my shoulder. Thick lashes shielded his eyes. “You know what.”

“Hmm?” He slid his hands up my sides, distracting as usual.

It might bother some girls that their boyfriends never said the four-letter word. With any other guy, it might’ve bothered me, too, to be honest, but with Daemon, well, those words would never be easy for him to say, even though he had no problem showing it.

And I was okay with it. Didn’t mean I wouldn’t tease him about it, though.

He pressed a kiss to my cheek and slid off the bed. “I’m glad you like it.”

“I love it.”

Daemon raised an eyebrow.

“Seriously, I do love it. I can’t thank you enough.”

Now he waggled that brow. “I’m sure you can.”

I stood and pushed him lightly as I scanned my bedroom floor for my flip-flops. I hadn’t really looked for anything since the night Carissa had been here. I was still finding stuff they’d put away in odd places. Dipping down, I lifted up the edge of my polka-dotted comforter and peered into the no-man’s-land under my bed.

Several loose sheets of notebook paper cluttered the floor. Rolled socks were everywhere. One sneaker was near the top, next to a couple of magazines. The other sneaker was nowhere to be found and appeared to have run off with half the socks, since none of them looked like a match.

The flip-flops were halfway in the middle. I lay down and stretched, smacking at the floor.

“What are you doing?” Daemon asked.

“Trying to get my flip-flops.”

“Is it really that hard?”

Ignoring him, I concentrated on the shoes and willed them toward me. A second later, one hit my hand and when the second pair hit, something warm and smooth-feeling bounced off my palm.

“What the…?”

Tossing the flip-flops aside, I felt around until my hand landed on the object. I wiggled out from under the bed and sat up, opening my palm.

“Oh my God,” I said.

“What?” Daemon knelt beside me and sucked in a sharp breath. “Is that what I think it is?”

Resting in my palm was a shiny black stone with red streaked through the center, like a vibrant red flame. It must’ve been Carissa’s and although the bracelet portion wasn’t attached and must’ve been destroyed along with her body, this survived.