Lowering my head, I placed a soft kiss to Daemon’s lips and swore in that moment, we would walk out of this. It wasn’t just Daemon promising me. It wouldn’t just be in his hands to fix.

It would be us—together.

His arm suddenly snaked around my waist, and he tugged me against him. One startling green eye opened. “Hey there,” he murmured.

“I didn’t mean to wake you.”

The corner of his mouth tipped up. “You didn’t.”

“You’ve been awake a while?” When his smile spread, I shook my head. “So you just laid there and let me stare at you like a creeper?”

“Pretty much, Kitten. I figured I’d let you get your fill, but then you kissed me and, well, I like to be a bit more involved in that.” Both eyes opened, and as always, staring into them had an exhilarating quality to it. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m okay. I feel great, actually.” Settling down beside him, I wiggled my head onto his arm, and his hand curled back, tangling in my hair. “How about you? I know that had to have taken a lot out of you.”

“You shouldn’t be worried about me. What they—”

“I know what they did. I know why they did it.” I tipped my chin down as I slid a hand between us. He stiffened as the back of my knuckles brushed over his stomach. “I’m not going to lie. It hurt like hell. When they were doing it, I wanted… You don’t even want to know what I wanted, but I’m okay because of you. But I hate what they made you do.”

His breath grazed my forehead, and there was a long stretch of silence. “You amaze me,” was all he said.


“What?” I looked up. “Daemon, I am not amazing. You are. The things you can do? What you have done for me? You—”

He placed a finger on my lips, silencing me. “After what you went through, you’re more concerned about me? Yeah, you amaze me, Kitten, you really do.”

I felt a grin pulling at my lips, and it kind of felt strange to want to smile after everything. “Well, how about this? We’re both amazing.”

“I like that.” He lowered his mouth to mine, and the kiss was sweet and tender, just as consuming as the other ones because it offered a promise—a promise of more, of a future. “You know, I haven’t told you this enough, and I should tell you every chance I get, but I love you.”

I sucked in a sharp gasp. Hearing him say those words never failed to affect me deeply. “I know you do, even if you don’t say it all the time.” I reached up and ran the tips of my fingers over the curve of his cheek. “I love you.”

Daemon’s eyes drifted shut, and his body tensed. He seemed to draw those words into him.

“How tired are you?” I asked after a couple of moments of staring at him like a goober.

His arm tightened around me. “Pretty tired.”

“Would it help to go into your true form?”

He gave a lopsided shrug. “Probably.”

“Then do it.”

“Aren’t you bossy?”

“Shut up and take your true form so you feel better. How about that for bossy?”

He laughed softly. “I love it.”

I started to point out that he was getting mighty comfortable with that L-word, but he shifted ever so slightly and brought his lips to mine once more. This kiss was deeper, starved and urgent. Eyes closed, I could still see the white light as he started to change. I gasped in surprise, getting lost in the warmth and the intimacy of the moment. When he pulled back, I could barely open my eyes, he was so bright.

“Better?” I asked out loud, voice thick with emotion.

His hand found mine. It was strange seeing those light-encased fingers thread through mine, curling around them. I was better the moment you woke up.

Chapter 16


Daedalus wasted no time once they were confident I had mad healing skills. As soon as they thought I was rested, they brought me into a room on the med floor. There was nothing in the white-walled space except two plastic chairs facing each other.

I turned to Nancy, brows raised. “Nice decorating you got going on here.”

She ignored it. “Sit.”

“What if I prefer to stand?”

“I really don’t care.” She turned to where a camera was perched in the corner and nodded. Then she faced me. “You know what is expected of you. We’re starting out with one of our new recruits. He’s twenty-one and in otherwise good health.”

“Except for the fatal injury you’re about to inflict on him?”

Nancy shot me a bland look.

“And he signed up for this?”

“That he did. You’d be surprised by how many people are willing to risk their lives to become something great.”

I was more surprised by the level of stupidity of some people. To sign up for a mutation that had a success rate of less than one percent didn’t seem very bright to me, but what did I know?

She handed over a wide cuff. “This is a piece of opal. I’m sure you’re well aware of what it does. It will enhance in the healing and ensure that you’re not going to be exhausted.”

I took the silver cuff and stared at the black stone with the red marking in the center. “You’re literally handing me a piece of opal, knowing it counteracts the onyx.”

She gave me a pointed look. “You also know that we have soldiers armed with those nasty little weapons I told you about. That outweighs you having opal.”

Slipping it around my wrist, I welcomed the jolt of energy. I glanced up at Nancy, finding her watching me like I was her prized bull. I had a feeling that even if I ran from room to room, zapping people to death, she wouldn’t bring the big guns out. Not unless I did something crazy insane.

I was just too special.

And I was pissed off, too. She could’ve given me the piece of opal when I had needed to heal Kat. One of these days I was going to do serious harm to this woman.

The bright-eyed, bushy-tailed soldier marched into the room, and without further instructions copped a squat on one of the chairs. The kid looked on the young side of twenty-one, and while I tried to have no feelings about any of this, a niggle of guilt rose.

Not because I planned on screwing this up or anything. Why would I? If I didn’t successfully bring a hybrid into this world, then eventually they’d turn their evil, sadistic eyes on Kat.

So, yeah, I was rocking the whole “there needs to be a ‘true want’ to heal the person,” but I still had no idea if it would work. If it didn’t, homeboy here would either live out the rest of his life as a boring old human being or would self-destruct in a few days.

For his sake and Kat’s, I hoped he was welcomed into the world of happy hybrids.

“How are we doing this?” I asked Nancy.

She motioned for one of the two guards who’d come into the room with Patient Zero. One of them stepped forward, brandishing a nasty-looking knife, the kind that Michael Myers would run around with in Halloween.

“Oh jeez,” I muttered, folding my arms. This was going to get messy.

Patient Too Stupid to Live handled the knife with confidence. Before he could do anything with it, the door opened and Kat walked in, Archer right on her heels.

My arms fell to my sides as unease exploded into alarm. “What is she doing here?”

Nancy smiled tightly. “We thought you could use the motivation.”

Understanding lit me up like a firecracker. Their kind of motivation was a warning. They knew damn well that we were aware of what happened to Bethany when Dawson failed. I watched Kat shake off Archer’s hand and stomp over to the corner. She stayed there.

I focused on Nancy, staring her down until she finally, after several moments, broke eye contact. “Get on with it, then,” I said.

She nodded at Patient Most Likely to Die, who, without saying a damn word, took a deep breath and slammed that serial-killer knife right into his stomach with a wheezy grunt. He then yanked the knife out, letting it fall from his grasp. A guard shot forward, grabbing it.

“Holy shit,” I said, eyes going wide. Patient Zero had balls.

Kat winced and looked away as blood spilled from the fresh wound. “That…that was disturbing.”

He probably had less than two minutes to live if blood kept pounding out of his rapidly paling body like that. He was clutching his stomach, doubled over. A metallic scent filled the air.

“Do it,” Nancy said, shifting her weight as eagerness filled her gaze.

Shaking my head in macabre fascination, I knelt by the guy and placed my hands on his stomach. Blood immediately covered my hands. I didn’t have a light stomach, but, damn, I could see the dude’s intestines. What kind of magic Kool-Aid was this kid drinking to willingly do this to himself? Christ.

I let my human form fade out, and whitish-red light swallowed the guy and most of the room. Concentrating on the wound, I pictured the jagged edges healing shut, stopping the blood loss. I honestly didn’t have a freaking clue when it came to healing. It was something that sort of happened on its own. I pictured the wound, and sometimes snapshots of the energies would flicker through my head with no thought of my own. What I did focus on was the light filtering through the veins…and Kat.

I glanced up as I took a breath. An expression of rapture had settled on Nancy’s face, that of a mother who caught her first glimpse of her child. I sought out Kat, and there she was. She had a look of awe on her beautiful face as she stared back at me.

My heart skipped, and I turned back to the guy I was healing. I’m doing this for her, I told him. You better hope it was enough, for your sake.

The guy’s head jerked up. Color had already returned to his cheeks.

With the opal, I didn’t feel a bit drained like I normally would after such a massive healing.

I let go and stood, drifting back a step. Staying in my true form long enough for the man to stand on shaky legs, I glanced over at Kat once more. One hand was pressed to her chin. Beside her, Archer looked a bit unnerved by the whole thing. Something occurred to me then.

Slipping back into my human form, I turned to Nancy, who was staring at Patient Zero with so much awe and hope it was actually sickening. “Why can’t they make hybrids?” I asked. “The origins can heal. Why can’t they?”

Nancy barely looked at me as she motioned at the camera. “They can heal just about any wound, but they cannot cure disease or mutate. We do not know why, but it is their only limitation.” Guiding the guy back into the seat, she handled him with surprising gentleness. “How are you feeling, Largent?”

After taking several deep breaths, Largent cleared his throat. “A little sore, but otherwise I feel good—great.” He smiled as he glanced between Nancy and me. “Did it work?”

“Well, you’re alive,” I said drily. “That’s a good start.”

The door opened, and Dr. Roth rushed in, stethoscope thumping over his chest. He spared me a glance. “Amazing. I was watching through the monitors. Truly remarkable.”

“Yeah. Yeah.” I started toward Kat, but Nancy’s sharp voice rang out, like claws on a chalkboard.

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