Halfway there, I caught a flash of white light out of the corner of my eye, deep within the wooden tree line crowding the highway. Then it came again—white tinged with red.

Slamming on the brakes, I swerved to the right as the back end of the SUV fishtailed until it came to an uneven stop along the shoulder. Pulse pounding, I flipped on the hazard lights and threw open the door. I bolted across the two-lane highway, half slipping until my feet hit the other shoulder and I gained traction. Tapping into the Source and whatever existed inside me, I picked up speed, running so fast that my feet barely touched the ground.

Low-hanging branches snagged at my hair. Sheets of snow fell as I dipped around a thick tree, disrupting once pristine land. To my left, there was a blur of brown racing away from me. Most likely a deer or, knowing my luck, a chupacabra.

A whitish-blue light flared up ahead, like a bolt of horizontal lightning. Definitely power of Luxen origin but not Daemon’s—his was reddish. It had to be Dawson or…

I raced around a cluster of large rocks, kicking up snow as murderous icicles fell from elms, shattering into the ground around me. Flying through the maze of trees, I hung a sharp right—

There they were, two Luxen in full glowworm mode and they were… What the hell? I skidded to a stop, gulping in air.

One was taller, pure white with edges dipped in red. The other was a slender, slower form with a bluish glow. The bigger one, which I knew was Daemon, had the other in what looked like a headlock. A glowing, human-shaped headlock I may’ve seen used in the WWE before.

I’d officially seen everything.

Assuming the other one was Dawson, Daemon’s brother was pretty scrappy, breaking loose and pushing Daemon back a foot. But Daemon wrapped his arms around the center of the light, raised it up in the air and body slamming it so hard that more icicles fell from the trees crowding us.

Dawson’s light pulsed and streaks of blue light rebounded off the trees, shooting back at the two, narrowly avoiding them. He tried to roll Daemon—at least that’s what it looked like—but Daemon had the upper hand.

I folded my arms, shivering. “You have got to be kidding me.”

The two alien hotheads froze, and I really wanted to walk up and kick them both. A second later, their lights flickered out. Daemon’s still-incandescent eyes met mine.

“I thought I told you to go home and stay there,” he said, voice thin with warning.

“And the last time I checked, you don’t get to tell me to go home and stay.” I took a step forward, ignoring the way his eyes brightened. “Look, I was worried. I thought I’d come and help.”

His lips pulled back. “And how would you have helped?”

“I think I did. I got you two idiots to stop fighting.”

He stared at me a moment longer and his look promised lots of trouble later. Maybe punishable trouble. Ah, scratch that. His look didn’t promise anything of the fun kind.

“Let me up, brother.”

Daemon looked down. “I don’t know. You’re probably going to run and make me chase you again.”

“You can’t stop me,” Dawson said, voice creepily apathetic.

Muscles bulged under Daemon’s sweater. “I can and I will. I’m not letting you do this to yourself. She—”

“She’s what? Not worth it?”

“She wouldn’t want you to do this,” Daemon seethed. “If the situation were flipped, you wouldn’t want her doing this.”

Dawson reared up, managing to get enough space between them so he could stand. On their feet, they shared wary stances. “If they had Katy—”

“Don’t go there.” Daemon’s hands curled into powerful fists.

His brother was unaffected. “If they had her, you’d be doing the same thing. Don’t lie.”

Daemon opened his mouth but said nothing. We all knew what he’d do and no one would stop him. And knowing that, how could we ever stop Dawson? We couldn’t.

I knew the exact moment that Daemon realized this, because he stepped back and thrust both hands through his windblown hair. Torn between doing what was right and what needed to be done.

Stepping forward, I swore I could feel the weight Daemon carried as if it were my own. “We can’t stop you. You’re right.”

Dawson jerked toward me, eyes a brilliant green. “Then let me go.”

“But we can’t do that, either.” I dared a peek at Daemon. Nothing could be gained from his expression. “Dee and your brother have spent the last year believing you were dead. That killed them. You have no idea.”

“You have no idea what I went through.” He lowered his gaze. “Okay, maybe you do a little. What was done to you is being done a thousand times over to Beth. I can’t just forget about her, even though I love my brother and sister.”

I heard Daemon’s sharp intake. It was the first time since Dawson’s return that he admitted any feelings for his family. I took it and ran with it. “And they know that. I know that. No one expects you to forget about Beth, but running off and getting yourself captured isn’t helping anyone.”

Wow. When did I become the voice of reason?

“What are the alternatives?” Dawson asked. His head tilted to the side—a mannerism so like his brother.

Here was the problem. Dawson wouldn’t stop. Deep down, Daemon knew and understood why and would do the same thing. It was hypocritical to the umpteenth degree to demand someone else do otherwise. There had to be a compromise.

And there was one. “Let us help you.”

“What?” Daemon demanded.

I ignored him. “You know rushing the DOD isn’t going to work. We need to find out where Beth is, if they are even keeping her here, and we need a plan to get to her. A really well-thought-out plan with low failure potential.”

Both brothers stared at me. I held my breath. This was it. There was no way Daemon could keep watch over his brother forever. And it wasn’t fair to assume that he could.

Dawson turned away, back straight. Several seconds passed as the wind whipped through the trees, spinning snow. “I can’t stand the idea of them having her. It hurts to breathe just thinking about it.”

“I know,” I whispered.

Moonlight sliced through the branches, carving Daemon’s face in a harsh light. He had gone quiet, but anger rolled off him. Did he really think he could keep going after Dawson? If so, then he was insane.

Finally Dawson nodded. “Okay.”

Sweet relief flooded me, making my legs feel weak. “But you have to promise to give us time.” Everything came down to time we had no ownership of. “You can’t get impatient and run off. You have to swear.”

He faced me and a shudder rolled through him, taking the fight out of him. As he stood there, tension uncoiled, and his arms fell to his sides limply. “I swear. Help me and I swear.”

“It’s a deal.”

There was a moment of silence, like the wilderness was soaking up his promise and my deal, committing it to memory. And then the three of us headed back to the SUV, the atmosphere silent and strained. My fingers were like Popsicles as I handed the keys over to Daemon.

Dawson climbed into the back, resting his head against the seat, eyes closed. I kept glancing at Daemon, expecting him to say something, anything, but he was focused on the road, his silence a ticking time bomb.

I peeked over the back of the seat. Behind thin slits, he was watching Daemon. “Hey. Dawson…?”

His gaze slid to mine. “Yeah?”

“Do you want to go back to school?” School would keep him busy while we figured out how in the hell to get to Beth. And it matched Daemon’s plan of pretending like we’d pulled one on the DOD while enabling us to keep an eye on Dawson just in case he reneged on his promise. “I mean, I’m sure you can. You could tell everyone you ran away. It happens.”

“People think he’s dead,” Daemon said.

“I’m sure some runaways all across the nation are believed to be dead and aren’t,” I reasoned.

Dawson appeared to consider that. “What do I tell them about Beth?”

“That’s a good question.” Challenge dripped from Daemon’s voice.

I stopped chewing on my finger. “That you both ran away, and you decided to come home. She didn’t.”

Leaning forward, Dawson rested his chin in the palms of his hands. “Better than sitting around thinking about everything.”

Damn straight. He’d go crazy if he did.

“He’d have to get registered for classes,” Daemon said, fingers tapping off the steering wheel. “I’ll talk to Matthew. See what we can do to get it taken care of.”

Thrilled Daemon was finally getting behind this, I settled back and smiled. Crisis averted. Now only if I could fix everything else so easily.

Dee was waiting on the front porch when we pulled into the driveway, Andrew standing sentry beside her. Dawson slid out of the backseat and approached his sister. Words were exchanged, too low for me to hear, and then they embraced each other.

That was an amazing kind of love. Different from what my parents had shared but still strong and unbreakable. No matter what crazy hell they put each other through.

“I thought I told you to go home.”

I hadn’t realized I was smiling until it faded at the sound of Daemon’s voice. I looked at him and felt my heart drop. Yeah, here was the trouble promised earlier. “I had to help.”

He looked out the windshield. “What would you have done if it wasn’t Dawson you came upon, but me fighting the DOD or whatever the hell the other group is?”

“Daedalus,” I said. “And if it were them, I would’ve still helped.”

“Yeah, and that’s what I have a problem with.” He got out of the SUV, leaving me staring at him.

Drawing in a frustrated breath, I climbed out. He was leaning against the bumper, arms folded over his chest. He didn’t look at me when I stopped beside him. “I know you’re upset because you worry about me, but I’m not going to be the girl who sits at home and waits for the hero to wipe out the villains.”

“This isn’t a book,” he snapped.

“Well, duh—”

“No. You don’t get it.” He turned to me, furious. “This isn’t a paranormal fantasy or whatever the hell it is you read. There is no set plot or clear idea of where any of this is going. The enemies aren’t obvious. There are no guaranteed happy endings and you—” He lowered his head so we were eye level. “You are not a superhero, no matter what the hell you can do.”

Wow. He’d really been stalking my blog. But not the point. “I know this isn’t a book, Daemon. I’m not stupid.”

“You’re not?” He laughed without humor. “Because being smart isn’t rushing off after me.”

“The same could be said about you!” My anger now matched his. “You ran off after Dawson without knowing what you were getting into.”

“No shit. But I can control the Source without trying. I know what I’m capable of. You don’t.”