“I know what I’m capable of.”
“Really?” he questioned. The tips of his cheeks flushed with fury. “If I’d been surrounded by human officers, would you have been able to take them down? And live with yourself after that?”
Anxiety blossomed in my stomach, its smoky tendrils wrapping themselves around me. When I was alone and it was quiet, the fact I’d been so willing to take a human life was all I thought about. “I’m prepared to do that.” My voice came out a whisper.
He took a step back, shaking his head. “Dammit, Kat, I don’t want you to experience that.” Raw emotion filled his expression. “Killing isn’t hard. It’s what comes afterward—the guilt. I don’t want you to deal with that. Don’t you understand? I don’t want you to have this kind of life.”
“But I already have this kind of life. All the hoping, wishing, and good intentions in the world aren’t going to change that.”
The truth appeared to infuriate him more. “That issue aside, what you promised Dawson was freaking unbelievable.”
“What?” My arms dropped to my sides.
“Help him find Beth? How in the hell are we supposed to do that?”
I shifted from one foot to the other. “I don’t know, but we’ll figure something out.”
“Oh, that’s good, Kat. We don’t know how to find her but we’ll help. Awesome plan.”
Heat rushed up my spine. Oh, this was grand. “You’re such a hypocrite! You told me yesterday we’d find out what Will was up to, but you have no idea how. The same thing with Daedalus!” He opened his mouth, but I knew I had him. “And you couldn’t lie to Dawson when he asked what you’d do if they had me. You’re not the only one who gets to make brash and stupid decisions.”
His mouth snapped shut. “That’s not the point.”
I cocked a brow. “Lame argument.”
Daemon shot forward, his voice harsh. “You had no right to make those kinds of promises to my brother. He’s not your family.”
I flinched, taking a step back. Being smacked would’ve felt better. The way I saw it, at least I talked Dawson off the cliff. Sure, promising to help find Beth wasn’t ideal, but it was better than him running off like a crackhead.
I tried to rein in my anger and disappointment, because I understood where a lot of his fury was coming from. Daemon didn’t want me to get hurt, and he was worried about his brother, but his inherent, near-obsessive need to be protective didn’t excuse his douchebaggery.
“Dawson is my problem, because he’s your problem,” I said. “We’re in this together.”
Daemon’s eyes met mine. “Not on everything, Kat. Sorry. That’s just the way it is.”
The back of my throat burned, and I blinked several times, refusing to shed tears even though my chest ached so badly. “If we’re not together on everything, then how can we really be together?” My voice cracked. “Because I don’t see how that’s possible.”
His eyes widened. “Kat—”
I shook my head, knowing where this conversation was heading. Unless he was willing to see me as something other than a fragile piece of china, we were doomed.
Walking away from Daemon was the hardest thing I’d done. Made worse by the fact he didn’t try to stop me, because that wasn’t his style, but deep down, in a place that spoke only the truth, I hadn’t expected him to. But I wanted him to. I needed him to.
And he didn’t.
As expected, school resumed on Monday, and there was nothing worse than returning after an unexpected break and having all the teachers buzzing to make up for lost time. Add in the fact that Daemon and I hadn’t made up after our major blowout yet and, well, Mondays always sucked.
I dropped into my seat, pulling out my massive trig textbook.
Carissa eyed me over the rim of her burnt-orange glasses. New ones. Again. “You look absolutely thrilled to be back.”
“Whee,” I said unenthusiastically.
Sympathy marked her expression. “How…how is Dee? I’ve tried calling her a couple of times, but she hasn’t returned any of my calls.”
“Or mine,” Lesa added, sitting down in front of Carissa.
Lesa and Carissa had no idea that Adam hadn’t really died in a car accident, and we had to keep them in the dark. “She’s really not talking to anyone right now.” Well, besides Andrew, which was so bizarre I couldn’t even think about it.
Carissa sighed. “I wish they had the funeral for him here. I would’ve loved to pay my respects, you know?”
Apparently Luxen didn’t do funerals. So we’d made up some excuse about the funeral being out of town and only family could visit.
“It just sucks,” she said, glancing at Lesa. “I thought maybe we could go to the movies after school this week. Take her mind off it.”
I nodded. I liked the sound of that but doubted we’d get very far with her. It was also time to put Plan A into motion—which was reintroducing Dawson to society. Even though I was on his brother’s poo-poo list, Dawson had stopped by yesterday and explained that Matthew was on board. Probably wouldn’t happen until the middle of the week, but it was a go.
“She may not be able to do anything this week, though,” I said.
“Why?” Curiosity sparkled in Lesa’s dark eyes. Loved the girl, but she was such a gossip whore. Which was exactly what I needed.
If people expected Dawson’s return, it wouldn’t be such a surprise when it did happen. Lesa would make sure word got out.
“You guys are not going to believe this, but…Dawson’s come home.”
Carissa turned several degrees paler, and Lesa shouted something that sounded an awful lot like what the duck. I’d kept my voice low, but their reactions garnered a lot of attention. “Yeah, apparently he’s alive. Ran away and finally decided to come home.”
“No way,” Carissa breathed, her eyes going wide behind her glasses. “I can’t believe this. I mean, it’s great news but everyone thought…well, you know.”
Lesa was just as shell-shocked. “Everyone thought he was dead.”
I forced a casual shrug. “Well, he’s not.”
“Wow.” Lesa pushed a section of tight curls out of her face. “I can’t even process this. My brain has just shut down. A first.”
Carissa asked the one question that was probably going to be on everyone’s mind. “Did Beth come back?”
Keeping my face blank, I shook my head. “Apparently they ran off together, but Dawson wanted to come home. She didn’t. He doesn’t know where she is.”
Carissa stared at me while Lesa kept fiddling with her hair. “That’s…so weird.” She paused, turning her attention to her notebook. A strange look, one I couldn’t decipher, crept across her face, but then again, this was really WTF news. “Maybe she went to Nevada. Wasn’t that where she’s from? Her parents moved back there, I think.”
“Maybe,” I murmured, wondering what the hell we were supposed to do if we did free Beth. Wasn’t like we could keep her here. Sure, she was eighteen now and legally an adult, but her family was in a different time zone.
Warmth spread over my neck, and I looked to the front of the class. A few seconds later, Daemon strolled in. My stomach tightened, and I forced myself not to look down. If I was arguing that I was capable of handling bad things, I couldn’t hide from my boyfriend when we had a fight.
Daemon arched a single brow as he passed by, taking his seat behind me. Before my friends could verbally attack Daemon with all their Dawson-related questions, I twisted in my seat.
“Hey,” I said, and then I flushed, because there was nothing lamer than hey.
He seemed to think the same thing and showed it as one side of his lip curled up into a trademark Daemon smirk. Sexy? Yes. Infuriating? Oh, yes. I wondered what he would say. Would he yell at me for talking to Dawson yesterday? Apologize? Because if he apologized, I’d probably crawl into his lap right there in class. Or would he go with the ever-faithful “talk in private” comment? While Daemon loved an audience, I knew what he showed the world wasn’t really him, and if he were going to open himself up, vulnerable to the core, he wouldn’t want people watching.
“I like your hair like that,” he said.
My brows rose. Okay. Not what I was expecting. Lifting my arms, I smoothed my hands down the sides of my hair. The only thing I’d done differently was part it down the middle. Nothing amazing. “Um, thanks…?”
The smirk remained on his face as we continued to stare at each other, and as the seconds passed, the more irritated I grew. Seriously?
“Anything else you want to say?” I asked.
He leaned forward, sliding his elbows across the desk. Our faces were inches apart. “Is there anything you want me to say?”
I took a deep breath. “Lots of things…”
Thick lashes lowered, and his voice was rich as satin. “I bet.”
He thought I was flirting? Then he spoke again. “There’s something I’d like you to say. How about ‘I’m sorry for Saturday’?”
I wanted to clock him. Of all the arrogant nerve, I swear. Instead of being snarky, I shot him an annoyed look and turned around. I ignored him for the rest of class and even left without saying a word to him.
Of course, he was two steps behind me in the hallway. My entire back tingled under his scrutiny, and if I didn’t know better, I’d think he was amused by all of this.
Morning classes dragged. Bio was weird, since the seat beside me was now empty. Lesa noticed it with a frown. “I haven’t seen Blake since Christmas break ended.”
I shrugged, studiously staring at the projector screen Matthew was pulling down. “I have no clue.”
“You guys were like BFFs forevah, and you have no idea where he’s been?” Doubt clouded her tone.
Her suspicions were totally understandable. Petersburg was like the Bermuda Triangle for teenagers. Many came. Some were never seen again while others resurfaced from the rabbit hole. In that moment, I found myself wanting to spill the beans like I did every so often. Keeping so many secrets was killer.
“I don’t know. He mentioned something about visiting fam back in California. Maybe he decided to stay.” God, I was getting frighteningly good at lying. “Petersburg is kind of boring.”
“No doubt.” She paused. “But he didn’t tell you if he was coming back or not?”
I bit my lip. “Well, since Daemon and I are kind of seeing each other now, Blake and I haven’t really talked.”
“Ha.” Her face transformed with a knowing grin. “Daemon seems like the RAWR type. He so wouldn’t be cool with another guy being super friendly.”
A flush crept over my cheeks. “Ah, he’s okay with guy friends…” Just not ones who kill his friends. I rubbed my brow, sighing. “Anyway, how’s Chad?”