“We’ll be fine with the onyx shields.” He tossed the rock back into the pile. “Each of us can withstand it long enough.”
“But it’s not being sprayed in your faces,” Dee protested, eyes wide. “You’re just handling it.”
Blake inched closer. “It was never sprayed in my face. All I did was handle it over and over again. It’s the only logical explanation.”
“No. It’s not.” She let go of her hair and faced her brothers. “Handling onyx and having a tolerance is one thing. Having it sprayed in your face is totally different.”
Dee had a point, but it was all we could do.
Dawson smiled for her and it was always strange to me when he did smile, because it was so rare to see a real one, and it transformed his face. “We’re going to be okay, Dee. I promise.”
“And the lasers—you have the lasers to watch out for,” Andrew threw in, grimacing.”
“No doubt,” Blake said. “But they shouldn’t be an issue. The emergency doors are activated only when the alarm goes off and if everything goes smoothly, we’ll be fine.”
“That’s a big if,” Dee muttered.
Heck ya, it was a huge if, but we were in this to the end. Just looking at Dawson reaffirmed why we were about to put our lives on the line again. Because I knew beyond a doubt, if it were Daemon locked in Mount Weather, I’d take as many risks as there were to free him.
Part of Dawson was missing and the other half was Beth. None of us could expect him to walk away from this. And all of us would go to the end of the earth for the ones we loved.
After another grueling session with the onyx, we called it a night and gimped back to the houses. Matthew and the Thompsons left, as did Blake. Dee went inside while the three of us lingered and finally Dawson disappeared somewhere around the side of the house.
Daemon took my hand and sat on the third step up, pulling me down between his legs, so that my back was against his chest. “You feeling okay?”
“Yes,” I said. It was the same question he asked every, single time after practice. And yeah, I sort of loved him for that. “You?”
“You don’t need to worry about me.”
I rolled my eyes, but leaned back, liking the feel of his chest and the way his arms circled me. He dipped his head, pressing his lips against my pulse. I could tell where his mind was going and I was on board that train.
Dawson reappeared, the fading sun casting a halo around him. That train came to a crashing halt. He shoved his hands into his jeans and rocked back on heels, not saying a word.
Daemon sighed and straightened. “What is it?”
“Nothing,” he said, eyes squinting at the rapidly darkening sky. “I was just thinking.”
We waited quietly, because we both knew that Dawson couldn’t be rushed. He’d say whatever it was he wanted to say when he was ready. Again, I found myself wondering what he was like before all this terrible stuff had happened to him.
Finally, Dawson said, “You guys don’t need to do this on Sunday.”
Daemon’s arms fell away. “What?”
“You guys shouldn’t have to do this. Dee’s right. It’s too much of a risk. We don’t know if we really are going to be able to walk past those onyx shields. Who knows what Blake’s deal is really? This doesn’t involve you all.”
Dawson looked at us then, expression full of sincerity. “You shouldn’t be doing this. Let Blake and I go in. It’s our risks to take.”
Daemon fell silent for several moments. “You’re my brother, Dawson, so whatever risk is yours, it is mine.”
I smiled, tipping my head back. “And whatever risk is Daemon’s, is mine.”
“That I don’t agree with, but you get what we’re saying?” Daemon placed his hands on my shoulders. “We’re in this together, for the good and the downright crappy.”
Dawson’s lashes lowered. “I don’t want to see either of you two get hurt. I don’t think I could live with that.”
“We’re not going to get hurt,” Daemon said, so strongly that there was no doubt in my mind that he believed this to be true. His hands landed on my shoulders, gently rubbing the tensed muscles. “All of us are going to walk out of there, along with Beth and Chris.”
Pulling his hands out of his pocket, Dawson thrust them through his hair. “Thank you.” His lips twitched as he lowered his hands. “You know, I’m going… I’m going to have to leave afterward? Maybe… I can finish out the semester, but Beth and I will have to leave.”
Daemon’s hands stilled and I felt his heart trip over itself, but then his hands started up again. “I know, brother. We’ll make sure that Beth is hidden until you’re ready to leave. It’s going to suck, but… but I know what you have to do.”
His brother nodded. “We’ll stay in touch.”
“Of course,” Daemon said.
Lowering my gaze, I bit my lip. Man, I sort of wanted to start balling. Their family shouldn’t be split up again. All of this because of what they were and none of them brought this on themselves. It wasn’t fair.
Worst of all, it didn’t seem like there was anything we could do about it.
Thursday evening, after another skin-numbing training session, Daemon and I caved to our mad sugar need by hitting up the local fast-food joint—sweet tea for the win. Instead of going in, he lowered the latch on the back of his SUV and we chilled out.
The skies were clear and the glimmering stars started to fill up the heavens. Whenever I looked at the stars, I thought of Daemon and his kind.
He elbowed me playfully. “What are you thinking?”
I grinned around the straw. “Sometimes I forget what you are, but then I see those stars, and I remember.”
“Do you forget what you are?”
Laughing, I lowered my cup. “Yeah, I guess I do.”