He arched his brow. “Why, yes, it’s this small thing that has all these cool apps on it—”
“Then why didn’t you have it on you today?” I interrupted.
Leaning down, his lips grazed my cheek as he spoke, sending shivers through me. Not fair. “Going in and out of my true form all day kind of kills the electronics.”
Oh. Well, I hadn’t thought of that. “You should’ve checked in, though. I thought…”
“You thought what?”
I gave him a Do I really need to explain it? look.
The twinkling in Daemon’s eyes faded. Placing his hands on my cheeks, he brought his lips to mine, kissing me sweetly. When he spoke, he kept his voice low. “Kitten, nothing’s going to happen to me. I’m the last person you need to worry about.”
I closed my eyes, breathing in his warmth. “See, that’s possibly the stupidest thing you’ve ever said.”
“For real? I say a lot of stupid things.”
“I know. So that’s saying something.” I took a breath. “I’m not trying to act like one of those obsessive girlfriends, but things…things are different with us.”
There was a pause, and then his lips stretched into a smile. “You’re right.”
Hell froze over. Pigs were flying. “Come again?”
“You’re right. I should’ve checked in at some point. I’m sorry.”
The world was flat. I didn’t know what to say. According to Daemon, he was right about 99 percent of the time. Wow.
“You’re speechless.” He chuckled. “I like that. And I also like you all feisty. Want to hit me again?”
I laughed. “You’re a—”
Opening the door behind me, Mom cleared her throat and said, “I don’t know what it is with you two and porches, but come in; it’s freezing out there.”
Cheeks flaming an unholy red, I couldn’t do anything to stop Daemon. He let go, sauntered inside, and immediately started charming my mom until she was nothing but a gooey puddle in the middle of the foyer.
He loved her new haircut. She got one? I guessed her hair did look different. Like she’d washed it or something. Daemon told her that her diamond earrings were beautiful. The rug below the steps was really nice. And that leftover scent of mystery dinner—’cause I still hadn’t figured out what she fed me—smelled divine. He admired nurses worldwide, and by that point, I couldn’t keep my eye rolls to a minimum.
Daemon was ridiculous.
I grabbed his arm and started pulling him to the steps. “Okay, well, this has been nice…”
Mom folded her arms. “Katy, what did I tell you about the bedroom?”
And here I thought my face couldn’t get any redder. “Mom…” I tugged on Daemon’s arm. He didn’t move.
Her expression remained the same.
I sighed. “Mom, it’s not like we’re going to have sex with you home.”
“Well, honey, it’s good to know that you only have sex when I’m not home.”
Daemon coughed as he fought a smile. “We can stay—”
Shooting him a death glare, I managed to get him to come up a step. “Mo-om.” Whininess ensued.
Finally, she relented. “Keep the door open.”
I beamed. “Thanks!” Then I pivoted around, dragging Daemon to my bedroom before he turned my mom into a fangirl. Pushing him inside, I shook my head at him. “You’re terrible.”
“And you’re naughty.” He backed up, grinning. “Thought she said leave the door open.”
“It is.” I gestured behind me. “It’s cracked. That’s open.”
“Technicalities,” he said, sitting down on the bed as he raised one arm, curling his fingers at me. A wicked gleam deepened the green hue of his eyes. “Come on…come closer.”
I stood my ground. “I didn’t get you up here to indulge in wild monkey lust.”
“Crap.” He dropped his hand to his lap.
Forcing myself not to laugh, because it only encouraged him, I decided to cut to the chase. “We need to talk.” I crept closer to the bed, making sure my voice was low. “Will’s been talking to my mom.”
His eyes narrowed. “Details.”
I sat beside him, tucking my legs against my chest. As I told him what my mom had said, the muscle in his jaw started ticking like a heartbeat. The news didn’t sit well and there was no way for any of us to find out if the mutation had held or what he was up to, short of asking Will, and yeah right on that.
“He can’t come back,” I said, rubbing my temples, where a throbbing seemed to be in tune with the muscle in Daemon’s jaw. “If the mutation didn’t hold, he knows you’ll kill him. And if it did…”
“He has the upper hand,” Daemon admitted.
I flopped onto my back. “God, this is a mess—a freaking mess of epic proportions.” It was like we were damned if we did from every corner. “If he comes back, I can’t let him near my mom. I have to tell her the truth.”
Daemon was silent as he shifted on the bed until he was leaning against the headboard. “I don’t want you to tell her.”
I frowned as I tipped my head to the side, meeting his stare. “I need to tell her. She’s in danger.”
“She’s in danger if you tell her.” He folded his arms. “I understand why you want to and need to, but if she knows the truth, she’s in danger.”
Part of me got that. Any human who knew the truth was at risk. “But keeping her in the dark is worse, Daemon.” I sat up and twisted toward him, resting on my knees. “Will is a psycho. What if he comes back and picks up where he left off?” Bile rose in my throat. “I can’t let that happen.”
Daemon ran a hand through his hair, the gesture stretching the thin material of his long-sleeved shirt over his bicep. He exhaled long and hard. “First we need to find out if Will actually has intentions of coming back.”
Irritation spiked. “And how do you propose we do that?”
“That I haven’t figured out.” Daemon flashed a weak grin. “But I will.”
I sat up, frustrated. Logically, we had time. Not an endless supply—days or a week if we were lucky—but there was time. I just didn’t like the idea of keeping her in the dark.
“What were you doing all day? Chasing Dawson?” I asked, letting the topic drop for now. When he nodded, I felt for him. “What was he doing?”
“He was just roaming around, but he was trying to shake me. I know he wanted to get back to that office building and if I hadn’t followed him, he would’ve. The only reason I feel safe leaving him alone right now is because Dee has him cornered.” He paused, looking away. His shoulders stiffened as if a terrible weight had settled on them. “Dawson… He’s going to get himself captured again.”
Color me surprised when Daemon swung by early Saturday evening and wanted to go out. Like, brave snow-slick roads and do something normal. A date. As if we had the luxury of doing such a thing. And I couldn’t help but remember what he had said to me when I’d been in his bed and so ready to give him the go-ahead.
He’d wanted to do things right. Dates. Movies.
Dee was currently on Dawson-babysitting duty, and Daemon felt confident enough to leave her with him.
I dug out a pair of dark denim jeans and a red turtleneck. Taking a few extra minutes with my makeup, I then bounced down the stairs. It took me about a half an hour to weasel Daemon away from my mom.
Maybe I wouldn’t have to worry about her and Will. Maybe I needed to worry about her and Daemon. Cougar.
Once inside the comfy interior of Dolly, his SUV, he kicked on the heat and slid me a grin. “Okay. There are some rules about our date.”
My brows rose. “There are?”
“Yep.” He eased Dolly around and started down the driveway, careful to avoid the thick patches of black ice. “Rule number one is we don’t talk about anything DOD related.”
“Okay.” I bit down on my lip.
He glanced at me sideways, as if he knew I was fighting a stupid love-struck grin. “Rule number two is that we don’t talk about Dawson or Will. And number three, we focus on my awesomeness.”
Okay. No fighting my grin. It spread ear to ear. “I think I can deal with these rules.”
“You better, because there is punishment for breaking the rules.”
“And what kind of punishment would that be?”
He chuckled. “Probably the sort of punishment you’d enjoy.”
Warmth infused my cheeks and veins. I chose not to respond to that statement. Instead, I reached for the radio station at the same time Daemon did. Our fingers brushed and static raced down my arm, spreading to his flesh. I jerked back, and he laughed again, but the sound was husky and made the roomy SUV seem way too small.
Daemon settled on a rock station but kept the volume low. The trip to town was uneventful but fun…because nothing crazy happened. He picked out an Italian restaurant, and we were seated at a small table lit by flickering candles. I glanced around. None of the other tables had candles. They were covered with cheesy red-and-white-checkered mats.
But our wooden table was bare except for those candles and two wineglasses filled with water. Even the napkins looked like real linen.
Considering the possibilities as we were seated, my heart did a flip-flop. “Did you…?”
He propped his elbows on the table and leaned forward. Soft shadows danced over his face, highlighting the arch of his cheekbones and the curve of his lips. “Did I do what?”
“Arrange this?” I waved at the candles.
Daemon shrugged. “Maybe…”
I tucked my hair back, smiling. “Thank you. It’s very…”
I laughed. “Romantic—it’s very romantic. And awesome, too.”
“As long as you think it is awesome, then it was worth it.” He glanced up as the waitress arrived at our table. Her nametag read Rhonda.
When she turned to take Daemon’s order, her eyes glazed over—a common side effect of being around Mr. Awesome, I was learning. “And what about you, sweetie?”
“Spaghetti with meat sauce,” I said, closing the menu and handing it over.
Rhonda glanced at Daemon, and I think she might have sighed. “I’ll bring your breadsticks out immediately.”
After we were alone, I grinned at my date. “I think we’re going to get extra meatballs.”
He laughed. “Hey, I’m good for some things.”
“You’re good for a lot of things.” The moment that left my mouth, I blushed. Whoa. That could be perceived in many ways.
Surprisingly, Daemon let it slide and started teasing me about a book he’d seen in my bedroom. It was a romance novel. Typical barrel-chested alpha male cover model with sixteen-pack abs. By the time our heaping pile of breadsticks arrived, I’d almost convinced him that he’d be a perfect cover model for one of those books.