Dasher spotted us immediately. “Stop!” he screeched. “This isn’t going to work. You can’t leave!” He pushed past the guards, literally shoving them out of the way. He was absolutely frazzled, probably knowing that Nancy’s golden boy was within steps of freedom. “You won’t get away!”

Daemon whipped around. “You have no idea how badly I’ve wanted to do this.”

Dasher opened his mouth, and Daemon threw his arm out. The unseen push of the Source lifted Dasher off his feet and sent him flying into the air like a rag doll. He cracked into the wall of the hangar and fell forward. Daemon started toward him.

“No!” yelled Archer. “We don’t have time for this.”

He was right. As much as I wanted to see Dasher taken out, one more second and we’d be overrun. Tugging on Daemon, I pulled him toward the darkening opening of the hangar. “Daemon,” I pleaded. “We need to go!”

“That man’s been touched by God, I swear.” Daemon turned, a muscle jumping in his jaw.

The sound of boots pounding on pavement echoed like thunder around us as Archer moved to the front. “Get down.”

Daemon’s arms went around my waist as we bent down, and he curled his body over mine in a near-crushing embrace. Through the thin slit between his arms, I saw Archer place his hands on the back of a Humvee. I didn’t know how he did it, but the six-thousand-pound vehicle lifted into the air and was thrown like a Frisbee.

“Good God,” I said.

The Humvee crashed into the others. Like a hulking domino, it created a rolling chain reaction, destroying nearly the entire fleet and sending soldiers fleeing.

Daemon sprang up, bringing me with him. He tore the silver cuff off his wrist and slid it onto mine. Almost immediately, a jolt of energy went through me. Layers of exhaustion lifted off, my lungs expanded, and my muscles flexed. It was like taking several shots of pure caffeine. The Source roared to life, a warm spring bubbling through my veins.


“Don’t shoot!” screamed Nancy, barreling out from the side hangar. “Don’t shoot to kill! We need them alive!”

Daemon’s hand tightened on mine, and then we were running with Archer. Each step took us closer to the outside. My speed picked up, as did theirs.

And then we were outside, under the deep blue sky. I looked up for a second and saw stars poking through, glimmering like a thousand diamonds, and I wanted to cry, because we were out.

We were out.

Chapter 19


We were out.

But we weren’t free yet.

Not all the vehicles were out of order. They were after us, on land and in the sky. We were moving fast, though. Wearing the opal, Kat could almost pick up my kind of speed, but with the chopping of helicopter blades quickly approaching about ten miles out, Archer broke apart from us, heading to the west.

I’ll create a diversion, he said. Remember. Ash Springs.

Then he was off, a blur that disappeared into the horizon. There wasn’t an opportunity to ask what he was doing or to stop him. A few seconds later, there was a pulse of light, and then another spaced out a mile apart. I didn’t look back to see if the spotlights from the helicopter had veered off our course, taking the bait. I didn’t think about what would happen to him if he were caught. I couldn’t afford to think or worry about anything other than getting Kat somewhere safe, even if it was just for the night.

We raced across the desert, our feet stirring up the scent of sage. There was nothing for miles, and then we came across a herd of free-roaming cattle. Then nothing again as we kept close to the highway.

The farther and longer we went, concern piled on top of itself. Even with the opal, I knew Kat couldn’t keep up for much longer, not for eighty miles. Hybrids tired quickly, even with the enhancer. Unlike us, where it actually took more energy to slow down, she was going to crash. Hell, eighty miles would wear me out, but Kat… For her I’d run a million miles. And I knew she’d do the same for me, but she couldn’t. It wasn’t in her DNA.

There was no time to stop and ask her how she was doing, but her heart rate was through the roof, and each ragged breath she took expelled immediately.

The trickle of fear that had been in my veins grew with each step and each rapid beat of my heart. This could kill her, or at the least do some serious damage.

I spared a brief glance at the night sky. Nothing but stars, and no lights in the distance. We still had another thirty or so miles to go, and it would be too much of a risk for me to take my true form and speed up the process. Light streaking across the desert at night would be way too obvious and give all those UFO enthusiasts something to talk about.

Slowing down unexpectedly, I had to slip an arm around Kat’s waist to keep her from falling. She was breathing heavily as she looked up at me, the skin around her mouth pale and pinched.

“Why…why are we stopping?”

“You can’t go on much longer, Kitten.”

She shook her head, but her hair stayed plastered to her cheeks. “I can—I can do this.”

“I know you want to, but this is too much. I’ll take the opal and carry you.”

“No. No way—”

“Kat. Please.” My voice broke on the last word, and her eyes widened. “Please let me do this.”

Her hands shook as she brushed the sweat-soaked hair away from her face. That stubborn little chin raised a notch, but she took off the opal cuff. “I hate…the idea of being carried.”

She handed over the cuff, and I slipped it on, getting a little zap from it. I also took the gun from her, slipping it in the waistband of my pants. “How about you get on my back? So in a way you’re not being carried—you’re riding me.” I paused and then winked.

Kat stared.

“What?” I laughed, and her eyes immediately narrowed. “You should see yourself right now. Like a kitten—that’s what I keep telling you. Your hackles are raised.”

Her eyes rolled as she shuffled behind me. “You should conserve your energy and stop talking.”


“You’ll get over it.” She placed her hands on my shoulders. “Besides, you could be knocked down a peg or two.”

I crouched, hooking my arms under the backs of her knees. With a little hop, she slid her arms around my neck and wrapped her legs to my sides. “Baby, I’m so far up the ladder there aren’t any pegs under me to be knocked down.”

“Wow,” she said. “That’s a new one.”

“You loved it.” Tightening my grip on her, I let the Source tap into the opal and blend with it. “Hold on, Kitten. I’m going to start to glow just a little, and we’re going to go fast.”

“I like when you glow. It’s like having my own personal flashlight.”

I grinned. “Glad I can be of assistance.”

She patted my chest. “Giddy up.”

Feeling much better about this, I kicked off the ground and picked up the kind of speed I couldn’t while running alongside Kat. Her weight was nothing, which was concerning all by itself. I needed to get the girl some steak and burgers stat.

When I saw we were approaching city lights, I veered closer to the highway, searching out a sign, and there it was. Ash Springs—ten miles out.

“Almost there, Kitten.”

I had slowed down enough that she was able to wiggle free. “I can run the rest of the way.”

Wanting to argue but knowing that if I did, it would only delay getting somewhere to hunker down, I kept my mouth shut. I also knew it was more than that. Kat wanted to prove, not just to me but to herself, that she was an asset not a hindrance. That need to show she could stand on equal ground with me and the other Luxen had been what drove her to trust Blake. I took off the opal and handed it back to her. “Let’s do this, then.”

She nodded. “Thank you.”

I took her smaller hand in mine, and we ran the rest of the way to Ash Springs. The whole trip took us about twenty or so minutes, but those minutes felt like a lifetime. Depending on how Daedalus was searching for us, we had a good two-hour lead on them, more if they followed Archer.

Once we hit the outskirts of Ash Springs, we slowed to a walk, keeping off the sidewalks and away from the lampposts. The town was small—Petersburg small. Signs everywhere pointed to one of the many natural hot springs.

“I bet I smell like day-old funk.” Kat stared longingly at a sign for one of the hot springs. “I’d love a bath right about now.”

Both of us were covered in a fine layer of dust from the desert. “You do smell kind of ripe.”

She shot me a dirty look. “Thanks.”

Chuckling under my breath, I squeezed her hand. “You smell like a ripe blossom about to bloom.”

“Oh, whatever. Now you’re just being dumb.”

I led her around a hedge shaped like…hell, I had no idea what it was supposed to be. An elephant crossed with a giraffe? “What things would you do for a bath?” I turned, lifting her over a fallen branch. “Nasty, bad things?”

“I have a feeling you’re going to turn this into a perverted conversation.”

“What? I would never do such a thing. You have such a twisted brain, Kitten. I’m aghast at your suggestion.”

She shook her head. “I’m sorry that I’ve tainted your innocence and virtue.”

I cracked a grin as we stopped at an intersection. Up ahead were several glowing signs for hotels. The streets were empty, and I wondered what time it was. Not a single motorist had gone by.

“I think I’d shank someone for a shower,” Kat said as we crossed the street. “Including you.”

I let out a surprised laugh. “You couldn’t take me.”

“Do not doubt my need to get this funk off me— Hey.” She stopped, pointing down a side road. “Is that it?”

There was a sign in the distance. The S was a dim red, which made it look like The prings Motel. “I think so. Let’s check it out.”

Hurrying down the narrow side road and past dark storefronts, we hit the parking lot. It was definitely off the beaten track and…

“Oh boy,” Kat said, slipping her hand free. “I think this is one of those motels that charge by the hour, and people come to overdose in them.”

She had a point. It was ranch-style, one level, and shaped like a U with the lobby in the middle and a wooden deck wrapping around the entrances to the motel rooms. Lighting was dim in and around the building, and the parking lot had a few cars in it—the kind of cars that were a day away from hitting the junkyard.

“Well, now we know what kind of places Archer likes to visit,” I said, eyes narrowing on the yellow light seeping out onto the wooden planks in front of the lobby.

“He hasn’t been to many places.” She shifted from one foot to the other. “He hasn’t even eaten at Olive Garden, so I doubt he’s a connoisseur of hotels.”

“No Olive Garden?”

She shook her head.

“Man, we’ve got to get that boy some endless breadsticks and salad. Travesty,” I murmured. “You talked a lot to him?”

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