Daemon made a sound in the back of his throat and pulled me into his arms, blankets and all. The tears came, they kept coming, and he rocked me, holding me close. And it didn’t seem right or fair that he’d comfort me. He didn’t know how easy it had been for me to throw that switch, to become someone else. I wasn’t the same girl. Not the Katy who had changed him and inspired him to be different.
I wasn’t her.
I struggled to pull free, but he held on and I hated that—hated that he didn’t see what I saw. “I’m a monster. I’m like Blake.”
“What?” Disbelief thickened his tone. “You are nothing like him, Kat. How can you say that?”
Tears streaked down my cheeks. “But I am. Blake—he killed because he was desperate. How is what I did any different? It’s not!”
He shook his head. “It’s not the same.”
I dragged in air by the lungful. “I’d do it again. I swear I would. If anyone threatened my mom or you, I would. And I knew that after everything that had happened with Blake and Adam. That’s not how people react—it’s not right.”
“There’s nothing wrong with protecting those you love,” he argued. “Do you think I’ve enjoyed killing those I have? I haven’t. But I wouldn’t go back and change those things.”
I wiped at my cheeks as my shoulders shook. “Daemon, it’s different.”
“How is it?” He grasped my face in his hands, forcing me to look at him through tear-soaked lashes. “Remember when I took out those two DOD officers at the warehouse? I hated that I did it, but I had no other choice. If they reported back that they’d seen us, it would all be over and I wasn’t going to let them take you.”
His fingers chased after the tears and he dipped his head, catching my gaze when I tried to look away. “And I hated what I have done—I hated every time I’ve taken a life, Arum or human, but sometimes, there is no other choice. You don’t accept it. You don’t become okay with it, but you do come to understand it.”
I grasped his wrists. They were so thick that my fingers barely met. “But what…what if I was okay with it?”
“You’re not okay with it, Kat.” His belief in that statement, in me, rang true in his voice, and I couldn’t understand that blind faith. “I know you’re not.”
“How can you be so sure?” I whispered.
Daemon smiled a little. Not a full breathtaking kind of smile, but it still reached down into me, wrapping around my heart. “I know you’re good inside. You’re warmth and light and everything I don’t deserve, but you—you believe that I deserve you. Knowing all that I have done in my past to other people and to you, you still believe I deserve you.”
“And that’s because you’re good inside—you’ve always been and will be.” His hands slipped down my throat, to curve around my shoulders. “There is nothing you can say or do that will change that. So grieve what you had to do. Mourn it, but never, ever blame yourself for things that are beyond your control.”
I didn’t know what to say.
His smile slipped into that smug half grin that infuriated and thrilled me. “Now get the rest of that crap out of your head, because you’re so much better than that; you’re more than that.”
His words, well, they may not have washed away everything and they may not have changed the part in me that wasn’t as perfect as he thought, but they wrapped around me like a soft down comforter. They were enough for that moment to…to understand what I had done and that was important, that was enough. There weren’t any words for how much I appreciated what he said and what he had done. A thank-you wasn’t enough.
Still shaking, my hands balled up into those tiny knots, I leaned forward and pressed my lips against his. His fingers tightened around my shoulders as his chest rose sharply. I tasted my own salty tears on his lips and as the kiss deepened, I tasted my own fear.
But there was more.
There was our love—there was our hope that we’d walk out of this with a future. There was our acceptance of each other—the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. There was so much pent-up longing. So much emotion that it packed a sucker punch straight to my soul and his, I knew it, because I could feel his heart rate picking up. Mine matched his—made for his. All of that was in a simple kiss and it was too much, not enough, and just perfect.
I pulled back, drawing in a sharp breath. Our eyes locked. A wealth of emotion shone in his brilliant green eyes. He cupped my cheek with one hand tenderly, and he spoke in his lovely language. It sounded like three lyrical words—a short, beautiful verse.
“What did you say?” I asked, my fingers loosening around the cover.
His smile was secretive and then his lips were on mine again and my eyes drifted shut. I let go of the blanket, felt it slip away, pool around my hips, and I felt Daemon stop breathing for a moment.
He guided me back, and I wrapped my arms around him. We kissed for what felt like an eternity and that wasn’t long enough. I could keep going, never stop, because in that moment, we created a world where nothing else existed. We lost ourselves in each other for a while and time, it sped and crept by in the same instance. We kissed until I was breathless, pausing only to explore each other. We were warm and flushed, twisting against each other. My body arched against his and when I moaned, he stilled.
He lifted his head but said nothing. Stared for so long and so hard that every point in my body seemed stretched too far. My chest squeezed. I reached up, placing my trembling hand on his cheek.
His head dipped against my cheek, and his voice was rough and raw. “Tell me to stop and I will.”
I wasn’t going to. Not now. Not after everything. There was nothing to deny anymore, and my answer was to kiss him, and without words, he understood.
He settled over me, not touching, not quite. The electricity between us snapped and pulled. A wild feeling pulsed through me. I lifted my hands, sinking them into his hair, pulling him closer. I swept my lips over his, and his body trembled. His fiery eyes drifted shut as my thumb moved on his bottom lip. My hands were on the move, slipping over the thick cords in his neck and back, around his chest and down. Lower, over the hard planes of his stomach. He sucked in a sharp breath.
The edges of his body started to glow, casting the room in a soft light. Heat rolled off his body. Daemon’s eyes snapped open and he sat up, pulling me into his lap. His eyes were no longer green, just orbs of pure light. My heart tripped over itself. A fire started in my stomach, spreading through me like a wave of lava.
His hands trembled on my hips and the sudden onslaught of fresh, unbridled power washed over me. It was like touching fire or being hit by a thousand volts of electricity. It was exhilarating.
I’d never been more excited, more ready.
When his lips met mine, a thousand emotions erupted in me. His taste was delicious and addictive. I pressed against him, our kisses deepening until I was swimming in heady sensations that beat against every pore in my body. Everywhere we touched my skin came alive. His lips trailed a fiery path from mine to the column of my throat. All around us, his light flickered, like a thousand stars lining the walls, fading in and out.
Our hands were everywhere. His fingers were on my stomach, moving up, between my ribs. There seemed to be something slower about this. Each touch was measured and precise. Breathing became difficult as our explorations grew. This was definitely not his first time at any of this, but he didn’t rush and he shook as much as I did.
His jeans ended up somewhere on his floor and our bodies were flush. Hands delving lower and lower. Daemon took his time even when I was pushing him to go faster. He slowed it down, made it last for what felt like forever…until neither of us could wait any longer. I remembered what Dee had said about her first time. There was no awkwardness here. Most things were expected. Daemon had protection and there was discomfort…at first. Okay. It hurt, but Daemon… He made it better. And then we were moving against each other.
Being this way with him was like tapping into the Source but more powerful. The roller-coaster feeling was there, but different and deeper, and he was right there with me. It was more than perfect and beautiful.
After what felt like hours later and honestly could’ve been, Daemon kissed me softly, deeply. “Are you okay?”
My bones felt like mush in a totally good way. “I’m perfect.” And then I yawned, right in his face. How romantic.
Daemon busted into laughter, and I turned my cheek into the pillow, trying to hide. He didn’t let me, though. As if I expected anything less. He rolled onto his side, pulling me against him, tilting my head toward his.
His eyes searched mine. “Thank you.”
“For what?” I loved the feel of his arms around me and how I fit against him, hard against soft.
He trailed his fingers over my arm, and I was amazed by how he could make me shiver. “For everything,” he said.
Elation swelled inside my chest, and as we lay in each other’s arms, our breaths coming out ragged, our bodies tangled together, we still couldn’t get enough of each other. We kissed. We talked. We lived.
When I left Daemon’s house early Sunday morning, he stayed with me until he heard my mom’s car pull up the driveway. Then he did that freaky, super speed alien thing and got out without being seen. But while he’d lay there in bed beside me, apparent that he didn’t want to leave me alone after what happened with Will, I never felt safer in my life. Sex had nothing to do with that, but when he came back in the afternoon and we left to get lunch for us and my mom, every small look and brush of our skin meant something infinitely more—a tender and knowing quality that had been there before, but was emphasized.
I didn’t look any different. Part of me thought it would be posted on my forehead or something and I was half afraid that my mom would somehow guess and then we’d have that mortifying birds and the bees’ conversation again, but she didn’t.
Life went on and for a little while. It was the same… a little better in some areas, but over the next week, Daemon and I had very little time together. No one talked about Will with the exception of asking if I was okay. Even Andrew had asked and sounded genuine. Other than that, it was like that event never happened. There was a really good chance that Daemon had something to do with that.
Our practices had increased with Dawson, Matthew, and Blake, and they also included the rest of our crew. Everyone knew their plan. Everyone also knew that we wouldn’t get another chance after Sunday if we failed.
We were already pushing our luck.
Blake stood apart from the group. He’d been that way since I’d confronted him about his creepy, stalkerish behavior… Thank God. “The time frame is still the same. We have fifteen minutes to get in and get out with them.”
“And if anything goes wrong?” Dee asked, nervously twirling her hair around her faded fingers.
Daemon picked up a piece of Onyx. All of us at this point could handle it for about a minute and twenty seconds. And with the tiny piece of opal, it didn’t even bother Daemon and I.