The sergeant cleared his throat. “We have work to do.”

Insanely fast, Daemon was sitting up, and somehow he’d maneuvered his body so that I was behind him. “Work on what?” he asked, threading his fingers together between his knees. “And I don’t believe I’ve had the honor of meeting you.”

“That’s Sergeant Dasher,” I explained, trying to move so I wasn’t behind him. He shifted, blocking me once more.

“Is that so?” Daemon’s voice became low and dangerous, and my stomach sank. “I think I’ve seen you before.”

“I don’t think you have,” Dasher responded evenly.

“Oh, he has.” Nancy gestured at me. “I showed him the video of the first day Katy was here and your meeting with her.”

I closed my eyes and muttered a curse. Daemon was so gonna kill him.

“Yeah, I’ve seen that.” Each word was punctuated with what I knew was a death glare. I pried an eye open. Dasher didn’t look completely unfazed. The lines around his mouth were tense. “I’ve tucked those images away in a very special place,” Daemon finished.

I placed a hand on his back. “What work do we have to do?”

“We need to run some joint tests, and then we’ll go from there,” answered Dasher.

My muscles locked up, an action duly noted by Daemon. More stress tests? I couldn’t foresee that going well with Daemon involved.


“It’s nothing too complicated or intensive.” Nancy stepped aside, motioning to the door. “Please. The sooner we get started, the quicker it is over.”

Daemon didn’t move.

Nancy eyed us calmly. “Do I need to remind you of what you promised, Daemon?”

I shot him a sharp look. “Promised what?”

Before he could respond, Nancy did. “He promised to do whatever we asked without causing trouble if we brought him to you.”

“What?” I stared at him. When he didn’t say anything, I almost wanted to hit him. God only knew what they’d make him do. Taking a deep breath, I scooted around him and stood. A second later, he was on his feet and in front of me. Tucking my hair back, I slid my sneakers on.

We didn’t say anything as we stepped out into the hall. I glanced at Archer, but he was closely watching Daemon. I must not have been the DEFCON threat anymore. When we stopped in front of the elevator, I felt Daemon’s hand wrap around mine, and a little of the tautness eased out of my shoulders. How many times had I stepped into these elevators? I’d lost count, but this time was different.

Daemon was here.

They led us to the med floor and took us into a room that accommodated two patients. Dr. Roth was waiting for us, his expression eager as he hooked both of us up to a blood pressure meter.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to run tests on someone like you,” he said to Daemon, voice high-pitched.

Daemon arched a brow. “Another fanboy. I have them everywhere.”

I muttered, “Only you would see that as a good thing.”

He shot me a grin.

Color heightened the doctor’s cheeks. “It’s not often we get a powerful Luxen like you. We had thought that Dawson would be the one, but…”

Daemon’s face turned dark. “You worked with my brother?”

Uh oh.

Eyes widening, Dr. Roth glanced at where Nancy and Sergeant Dasher stood. He cleared his throat as he unwrapped the cuffs. “Their blood pressure is identical. Perfect. One-twenty over eighty.”

Nancy scribbled it down on a clipboard that I swore just appeared in her hands. I shifted in the chair, bringing my focus back to Daemon. He was eyeballing the doctor like he wanted to beat information out of him.

Dr. Roth checked our pulses next. Resting pulse was in the fifties, which was apparently a good thing, because Roth was practically humming. “Katy’s rate was in the high sixties each time before, blood pressure well into the high levels. It appears that with his presence, her rates are optimizing, matching his. This is good.”

“Why is it good?” I asked.

He pulled out a stethoscope. “It’s a good indication that the mutation is on a perfect, cellular level.”

“Or an indication that I’m pretty damn awesome,” Daemon suggested coolly.

That earned a small smile from the doctor, and my anxiety notched up. One would think that Daemon being his normal cocky, arrogant self was a good thing, but I’d learned that his smartass responses could mean he was seconds from exploding.

“Hearts beating in perfect sync. Very good,” Roth murmured, turning to Dasher. “She passed the stress test, correct? No outward signs of destabilization?”

“She did perfectly, as we’d hoped.”

I sucked in a sharp breath, pressing my hand to my stomach. I’d done as they expected? Did that mean they expected me to kill Blake? I couldn’t even consider that.

Daemon glanced at me. His eyes narrowed. “What exactly are these stress tests?”

My mouth opened, but I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want him to know what had happened—what I’d done. I turned to Dasher, and his expression was guarded. I prayed that the man had common sense. If he told Daemon about the fighting, it was likely that Daemon would go postal.

“The stress testing is run of the mill,” he explained. “I’m sure Katy can tell you that.”

Yeah, totally run of the mill, if getting your ass kicked and murder were ordinary things; but in a twisted way, I appreciated the lie. “Yeah, completely run of the mill.”

Doubt crossed Daemon’s features as he turned back to the doctor. “Were these stress tests the same kind of things Dawson did?”

No one answered, which was answer enough. Daemon was very still, but his stare was sharp, and his mouth pressed into a hard line. He then reached over and took my hand in his, the gentle grasp so at odds with his demeanor.

“So we can move on to the more important phase of our work today.” Dr. Roth walked over to a cart full of utensils. “One of the most remarkable things about our extraterrestrial friends is their ability to heal not only themselves but others. We believe that unlocking that ability will provide us with the necessary information to replicate the function to heal others suffering from various diseases.”

The doctor picked up something, but his hand hid it as he turned back to us. “The whole purpose of this next exercise, Daemon, is to see how fast you can heal. We need to be able to see this before we can move on.”

The anxiety that had been riding me exploded like a cannonball. This could only be leading to one thing.

“Do tell?” Daemon asked in a low voice.

Roth visibly swallowed as he approached us, and I noticed that Archer and another guard were also closing ranks. “We need you to heal Katy,” he said.

The hand around mine tightened, and Daemon leaned forward. “Heal her from what exactly? Because I’m a little confused. I’ve already taken care of those bruises—which, by the way, I would love to know how she got them.”

My pulse kicked up as I took in my surroundings. The black dots were everywhere, and I had a feeling we were about to get reacquainted with the loving embrace of onyx.

“It won’t be anything serious,” the doctor explained gently. “Just a minor scratch that she will barely feel. Then I’m going to do some blood work and monitor your vitals. That is all.”

Suddenly all I could think about was Dawson and Bethany, of all the things they had done to Bethany to force Dawson to heal others. Nausea rolled, and I felt dizzy. Dasher hadn’t acted like getting Daemon here was a priority, but now that he was, we were going to see all the sides of Daedalus. And how could they start rolling in other people to heal until they knew the true extent of his abilities?

“No.” Daemon was seething. “You’re not going to hurt her.”

“You promised,” Nancy said. “Do I need to continuously remind you of that?”

“I didn’t agree to you hurting her,” he replied, the pupils of his eyes starting to glow.

Archer moved in closer. The other guard moved to the wall, near a very unfriendly looking button. Stuff was about to hit the fan, and when Dr. Roth showed what was in his hand, Daemon shot to his feet, letting go of mine and moving in front of me.

“Not going to happen, buddy,” he said, hands closing into fists.

Light glinted off the steel scalpel Roth held. The good doctor took a wise step back. “I promise she will barely feel it. I’m a doctor. I know how to make a clean cut.”

The muscles in Daemon’s back locked up. “No.”

Nancy made a sound of impatience as she lowered the clipboard. “This can be easy or this can become very difficult.”

His head swung in her direction. “Difficult for you or me?”

“For you and for Katy.” She took a step forward, either very brave or very stupid. “We could always restrain you. Or we could do this and get it over with. The choice is yours.”

Daemon looked like he was going to call their bluff, and I knew that they would go through with it. If he or I put up a fight, they’d fill this room with onyx, restrain him until they did whatever they wanted to me, and then release him. Either way, this was going to happen. The decision was ours—to go the clean or messy route.

I stood on legs that felt weak. “Daemon.”

He looked over his shoulder at me. “No.”

Forcing a smile that felt weird, I shrugged. “It’s going to happen either way. Trust me.” Pain flickered across his face at the last two words. “If we do this, then it’s over. You agreed to this.”

“I did not agree to this.”

“I know…but you’re here, and…” And this was why I didn’t want him here. Turning to the doctor, I held out my hand. “He’s not going to let anyone do this. I’m going to have to do it myself.”

Daemon stared at me incredulously. The doctor turned to Nancy, who nodded. It was obvious that her position, whatever it was, usurped the sergeant’s.

“Go ahead,” Nancy said. “I trust that Katy knows what will happen if she decides to use that knife in a very bad manner.”

I shot the woman a hateful look as the cool instrument landed in my palm. Mustering up my courage, I turned to Daemon. He was still staring at me like I was insane. “Ready?”

“No.” His chest rose in a deep breath, and a very rare thing happened. Helplessness had crept into his eyes, turning them a mossy shade of green. “Kat…”

“We have to.”

Our eyes locked, and then he extended his hand. “I’ll do it.”

I stiffened. “No way.”

“Give it to me, Kat.”

There were several reasons why I wasn’t giving him the scalpel. Mainly because I didn’t want him to feel guilty about it, and I was also afraid he’d turn it into a projectile. I shifted slightly, opening my left hand. I’d never cut myself before, at least on purpose. My heart was pounding crazy fast and my stomach was jumping. The edge of the scalpel was wicked sharp, so I assumed it wouldn’t take much pressure to do the deed.

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