I followed behind her, wincing as she went straight to the raided fridge. Mom threw open the door and then stepped back, looking over her shoulder. Wisps of blond hair sneaked out of her bun.
Her delicately arched brows lowered and her perky little nose wrinkled. “Katy…?”
“Sorry.” I shrugged. “I was snowed in. And I got hungry. A lot.”
“I can tell.” She closed the door. “It’s okay. I’ll run to the store later. The roads aren’t bad now.” She paused, rubbing her brow. “Well, some look like you’d need a snowmobile to get down, but I can make it into town.”
Which meant there’d be school on Monday. Boo. “I can go with.”
“That would be nice, honey. As long as you plan not to put stuff in the cart and then throw a fit when I take it out.”
I gave her a bland look. “I’m not two.”
Her saucy smile was cut off by her yawn. “I’ve barely had any down time. Most of the nurses couldn’t make it in. I covered the ER, prenatal ward, and my favorite,” she said, grabbing a bottle of water, “the detox floor.”
“That blows.” I trailed behind her again, feeling incredibly Mommy needy.
“You have no idea.” She took a sip, stopping at the base of the stairs. “I’ve been bled on, peed on, and thrown up on. In that order and sometimes not.”
“Ew,” I said. Mental note: nursing was now placed with school administration in the Not Going To Happen Possible Job list.
“Oh!” She started up the stairs, twisting halfway around and teetering on the edge of the step. Oh, dear. “Before I forget, I’m changing shifts next week. Instead of working at Grant on the weekends, it will be Winchester. Busier in the city and more action on the weekends than doing the shift around here, and Will works weekends anyway, so it works out better.”
Which also meant more time away— What? My heart stuttered and there was this falling, spinning-down feeling. “What did you say?”
Mom frowned. “Honey, your voice… I really want to look at your throat. Okay? Or we can get Will to take a look. I’m sure he won’t mind.”
I was frozen. “Have…have you heard from Will?”
“Yes, we’ve talked while he’s been out west attending an Internal Med conference.” She smiled slowly. “Are you okay?”
No. I was not okay.
“Here,” she said. “Come upstairs, and I’ll take a look at your throat with the scope—”
“When…when did you talk to Will?”
Confusion flickered across my mom’s pretty face. “A couple of days ago. Honey, your voice—”
“Nothing’s wrong with my voice!” It cracked halfway through, of course, and Mom stared at me like I was telling her I was considering making her a grandma. This was my chance to tell her the truth.
I went up a step and stopped. All the words—the truth—got tangled up somewhere between my vocal chords and my lips. I hadn’t cleared telling my mom the truth with anyone—or at least given any of them a heads-up. And would she believe me? Worst yet, Mom… She loved Will. I knew she did.
Stomach twisting into raw knots, I forced the panic out of my voice. “When is Will coming home?”
She watched me closely, her lips pressing into a pinched line. “Not for another week, but Katy… Are you sure that’s what you wanted to say?”
Was he really coming back? And if he was talking to Mom, did that mean he’d gone through the mutation successfully and Daemon and I were now linked to him? Or had it faded?
I needed to talk to Daemon. Now.
My mouth was so dry I couldn’t swallow. “Yes. Sorry. I have to go…”
“Go where?” she asked.
“See Daemon.” I backpedaled, heading for my boots.
“Katy.” She waited until I stopped. “Will told me.”
Ice drenched my veins as I turned around slowly. “Told you what?”
“He told me about you and Daemon—that you two had decided to start seeing each other.” She paused and got that Mom look. The one that said, I’m so disappointed in you. “He said you mentioned it and honey, I just wish you would’ve told me instead. Finding out through someone else about my daughter’s boyfriend isn’t how I wanted to learn.”
My jaw hit the floor.
She said something else, and I think I nodded. Honestly, she could’ve been telling me that Thor and Loki had a battle royale down the street. I wasn’t hearing her anymore. What was Will up to?
When Mom finally gave up on trying to hold a conversation with me, I hurried to my boots and hauled butt to Daemon’s house. When the door swung open, I already knew it wasn’t Daemon answering. I hadn’t experienced the freaky alien connection thing, the warmth on the back of my neck whenever he was near.
But Andrew’s blazing ocean-colored eyes weren’t what I was expecting.
“You,” he said, contempt lacing his tone.
I blinked. “Me?”
He folded his arms. “Yeah, you—as in Katy, the little human-alien-hybrid baby.”
“Um, okay. I need to see Daemon.” I started to step in, but he moved quickly, blocking me. “Andrew.”
“Daemon’s not here.” He smiled, and there wasn’t an ounce of warmth in it.
Folding my arms, I refused to back down. Andrew never liked me. I don’t even think he liked people in general. Or puppies. Or bacon. “And where is he?”
Andrew stepped out, shutting the door behind him. He was so close that the toes of his boots touched mine. “Daemon took off this morning. I assume he’s following Rain Man.”
Fury flashed through me. “There’s nothing wrong with Dawson.”
“Is that so?” Andrew cocked an eyebrow. “I think he’s said three coherent sentences a day and that’s about it.”
My hands curled into fists against my sides. A soft breeze picked up my hair, stirring the strands around my shoulders. I so wanted to hit him. “He’s been going through God knows what. Have some compassion, ass. Anyway, I don’t know why I’m talking to you. Where’s Dee?”
The smirk faded from his face, replaced by cold, hard hatred. “Dee is here.”
I waited for a little more detail. “Yeah, I figured that much.” When there was still no response, I was two seconds from showing him what a little human-alien-hybrid baby could do. “Why are you here?”
“Because I was invited.” He leaned down, close enough to kiss, and I had no other option but to take a step back. He followed. “And you’re not.”
Ouch. Okay, that stung. Before I knew it, my back hit the railing and I was trapped. There was nowhere for me to go, and Andrew wasn’t budging. I felt the Source, the pure energy that the Luxen—and now I—could harness building inside me, spreading over my skin like static electricity.
I could make Andrew move.
Andrew must’ve seen something in my eyes because he sneered. “Don’t even think about pulling that crap with me, because you push? I’ll push right back. There won’t be any lost sleep over it.”
Fighting my body’s response to lay it on him was the hardest thing. My human side and the other side, whatever it was, wanted to tap into that power and use it—exploit it. It was like an unused muscle flexing. I remembered the dizzying rush of power, and the release.
A part of me, a teeny, tiny part of me liked it, and that scared the crap out of me.
Good for Andrew, because the fear coiling tightly inside had knocked the wind right out from underneath me. “Why do you hate me?” I asked.
Andrew cocked his head to the side. “It’s the same thing as it was with Beth. Everything was fine, and then she came around. We lost Dawson and you know damn well we haven’t gotten him back, not really. And now it’s happening with Daemon, except this time around, we lost Adam in the mess. He’s gone.”
For the first time, something other than arrogant disdain peered through his crystalized eyes. Pain—the kind of suffering I was well familiar with. The same shattered, hopeless look I’d worn after my dad passed away from cancer.
“He’s not going to be the only one we lose,” Andrew continued, voice hoarse. “You know that, but do you care? No. Humans are ultimately the most selfish life-form there is. And don’t try to pretend you’re any better. If you were, you would’ve stayed away from Dee in the beginning. You would’ve never gotten attacked, and Daemon would’ve never had to heal you. None of this would’ve happened. It’s your fault. It’s on your head.”
Yeah, the rest of my day sort of sucked. I was worried about what Dawson had done that required Daemon to chase after him all day and feared the DOD was waiting to bring us all in. On top of that, I was freaking out over whatever Will had up his sleeve, and after that conversation with Andrew, I felt like I needed to crawl under my blankets.
And I did for about an hour. My self-pity always had a time limit because I usually got annoyed with myself.
Pulling my head out of my rear, I cracked open my laptop and started doing some reviews. Since I’d been snowed in and Daemon had mostly been busy with Dawson, I’d gotten four books read. Not my all-time high score, but pretty good considering I’d been slacking like a mofo on the reviews.
It always felt good typing up a review on a book I enjoyed and I went all out, finding bizarre pictures to emphasize the wow factor. I preferred ones with cute kittens and llamas. And Dean Winchester. Hitting ‘publish post’ cracked a smile.
One down, three more to go.
I spent the rest of the day spewing out reviews and then stalking a few of my favorite bloggers. One of them had a header on their blog I’d do terrible things for. I was never that good at web design, which explained my less than stellar background.
After a quick run to the grocery store with Mom and dinner, I was about to start a manhunt for Daemon when I felt a warm tingle along the back of my neck.
I shot from the kitchen, nearly barreling through a startled Mom. I whipped open the door an instant after Daemon knocked and then threw myself—literally—into his not-so-waiting arms.
Unprepared for my attack, he stumbled back a step. But then he laughed deeply against the top of my head and wrapped his arms around me. I held on, squeezing the hell out of his shoulders, and we were so tightly pressed against each other that I could feel his heart picking up as fast as mine.
“Kitten,” he murmured. “You know how much I like it when you say hi this way.”
Head buried in the space between his neck and shoulder, which smelled like spice and male, I murmured something unintelligible.
Daemon lifted me clear off my feet. “You’ve been worried, haven’t you?”
“Mmm-hmm.” Then I remembered how much I’d been worried all freaking day. I broke free and smacked his chest. Very, very hard.
“Ouch!” He grinned, though, as he rubbed his chest. “What was that for?”
I folded my arms and tried to keep my voice low. “Have you heard of a cell phone?”