“Interesting,” Luc murmured, his jaw setting in a hard line.

Paris glanced at him, and I didn’t understand the look they exchanged.

“Neither does Daedalus,” Archer said. “It’s right under their noses. Perfect hiding spot.”

“This is insane.” I shook my head as we passed more houses decked out in quartz, each home getting larger. “How did I not know about this? Do you know someone in here, Luc?”

He shook his head. “Not really. I have some…friends in Arizona, but we need to make a pit stop here first. Let it die down for a few days so the highway won’t be such a danger traveling.”

“So we’re going to Arizona next?” Kat asked, glancing between Luc and me.

Luc shrugged. “It’s an offer on the table. That’s where Archer is heading to hide out for a while, but it’s up to you guys. You can take my offer of hospitality or shove it up my rear.”

Kat frowned.

“Makes no difference to me,” he added.

She shook her head a little. “I don’t get why you all would risk so much to keep helping us.”

Good question.


Luc looked over his shoulder. “We have the same enemy, and we’re stronger in numbers. Just like in the horror movies.”

I started picking up on other Luxen who had to be in the houses or behind the tall walls circling most of the backyards. I really couldn’t believe this—an entire community supposedly unseen by Daedalus and protected from Arum by man-made quartz deposits.

Huh. Mind blown.

We’d finally reached another wall and the gate opened before us. The house, if you could call the monstrous thing a house, loomed ahead like a mirage.

“This is where we’re going?” Kat asked. A look of awe crossed her expression. “It’s a palace.”

That brought a smile to my face.

The place really was absurd. Had to be way more than seven thousand square feet, maybe more, rising three stories, with a sky dome over the middle section and a wing flanking each side. Like the rest of the houses, it was white sandstone with quartz embedded deep into the structure. It, too, had a tall wall blocking whatever existed behind the home.

Paris followed the driveway, stopping halfway through the circle in front of the wide steps. In the middle of the circle was a marble statue. Of a dolphin. Weird.

“All right, kids, we’re here!” Luc threw open the passenger door and bounded up the steps. On the porch, he turned back to the Hummer. “I’m not getting any younger here.”

Taking a deep breath, I grabbed Kat’s hand. “You ready?”

“Yes.” She gave me a little smile. “I want to see what it looks like inside.”

I laughed. “Absurd opulence is what I’m betting on.”

“Same here,” Archer muttered, stepping out.

We climbed down and walked around the Hummer. She took the tote this time, sticking the alien doll in it so its head popped out of the top. Giving her hand a squeeze, I headed up the steps while I prepared myself for God knows what. The way Luc was smiling had me wary. He looked like he—

The feeling that swept down my spine was warming and familiar but totally impossible. So was the startling jump in energy that caused me to drop Kat’s hand. No way.

I took a step back from the door.

Kat turned, concern pinching her face. “What is it? What’s going on?”

Words failed me as I stared at the door. All I could do was shake my head once. Part of me was elated, while the other half was horrified by what I was sensing—and I hoped it was my imagination.

Moving to my side, Kat placed her hands on my upper arm. “What’s—?”

The red-painted door opened, and, as a figure stepped out of the shadowy recesses, my suspicions were confirmed.

“We came all this way to rush in and save your ass, but then you end up saving your own ass before we could do anything.” Dee popped her hands on her hips, and her chin was tipped up stubbornly. “Way to steal our thunder and glory, Daemon.”

Luc clapped his hands together. “Surprise!”

Chapter 22


Daemon was absolutely dumbfounded into silence. So was I. The only two people who weren’t gawking at Dee were Luc and Paris. Even Archer had the open-mouth thing going on, but I think that had less to do with what their appearance meant to Daemon than it did with how beautiful she was.

And Dee was out of this world, extraordinarily beautiful. With her glossy black curls cascading around her exotic face and with those emerald eyes, she was stunning. A more delicate, feminine version of Daemon and Dawson. She stopped humans, aliens, hybrids, and apparently origins in their tracks.

Archer looked like he just saw baby Jesus in a manager or something.

Dee dashed out the door, tears streaming down her rosy cheeks. I stepped back in the nick of time. She launched herself at Daemon from several feet away. He caught her as she wrapped her arms around his neck.

“Jesus,” he said, his words muffled by all of her hair. “What are you doing here?”

“What do you think?” she responded, voice thick. “We had to do something. You just beat us to it as usual, you punk.”

I clasped my hands over my chest, close to tears, as another form appeared in the doorway and drifted out. Sucking in a soft breath, I couldn’t believe how…how different Dawson looked. Filled out and his hair trimmed up, with the gaunt pull to his face gone and the dark shadows under his eyes erased, he was the spitting image of his brother.

Daemon lifted his head, as if he sensed the arrival. His mouth worked, but there weren’t any words. None of us could’ve expected to see them here. Like me, Daemon probably figured he might never see his siblings again.

Dawson crossed the porch and dropped his arms around his sister and brother. Their three heads were bent together. Daemon had one hand fisted around the back of Dee’s shirt and the other around Dawson’s.

“It’s true,” Dawson said, grinning. “What the hell, brother? Always got to one-up me, huh?”

Daemon grabbed the back of his brother’s neck and pressed his forehead against his. “You idiot,” he said, letting out a choked laugh. “You should know better. I’ve always got things covered.”

“Yeah, and wait—I’m pissed at you!” Dee pulled back and hit Daemon in the chest hard. “You could’ve gotten yourself killed doing what you did! You jerk-face, douchebag, imbecile.” She hit him again.

Archer winced and muttered, “Damn, that girl…that girl can hit.”

“Hey!” Laughing, Daemon grabbed her hand. “Knock it off. I obviously didn’t get myself killed.”

“I worried, you ass!” Dee pushed her curls out of her face and inhaled deeply. “But I forgive you, because you’re in one piece and apparently no worse for wear, and you’re here, but if you ever do anything that—”

“Okay,” Dawson said, dropping an arm around his sister’s neck, spinning her. “I think he gets the point. We’ve all got the point.”

Dee broke free as her eyes skipped over Paris and Luc. She didn’t pay them much attention, but her gaze bounced over Archer, then went right back before moving on. I had stayed out of the reunion, remaining by one of the pillars. I didn’t think Dee even noticed me until that moment.

In the blink of an eye, she practically knocked me over. I’d forgotten what her hugs were like. For someone who had a ballet dancer’s body, she was ridiculously strong. And her hugs…well, it had been so long since I’d been on the receiving end of one of her bear squeezes.

I was slow to respond, more taken off guard than anything else, but then I dropped the tote and threw my arms around her. Tears welled up, and I squeezed my eyes shut. The part of my being that had felt achy over what happened with Dee warmed, and that warmth spilled over.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, tears clogging her voice. “I’m so, so sorry.”

“For what?”

She still hadn’t let go, and I didn’t mind. “For everything—for not seeing your side of things, for being so caught up in my grief and anger that I totally abandoned you. For never telling you that I missed you before…”

Before it was too late was what she was going to say.

Blinking back tears, I smiled against her shoulder. “You have nothing to apologize for, Dee. I mean it. None of that…” Well, it did matter. Adam’s death mattered. “It’s okay now.”

She held me tighter and whispered, “Is it? Because I’ve been so worried about you and Daemon and what could’ve…”

My body roiled into nervous knots, and I willed the sudden rise of dread to go away. It wasn’t welcome here, not in this happy moment. “It’s okay.”

“I’ve missed you.”

A few tears snuck out. “I’ve missed you, too.”

“Okay. Okay. I think you’re starting to cut off her air supply.” Dawson tugged on Dee’s arm. “And I think Daemon is starting to get jealous.”

“Pfft. It’s my turn with Katy,” she replied, but she let go.

And then Dawson replaced his sister. He hugged me, nothing as fierce as Dee’s but still powerful. “Thank you,” he said quietly, and I knew those two words encompassed so much. “I hope you know how thankful I am for everything you’ve done.”

Unsure if I could speak, I nodded.

“Okay. Now I am getting jealous,” Daemon said, and Paris laughed.

Dawson gave me a quick squeeze. “I’m forever in your debt.”

I wanted to tell him that wasn’t necessary. Helping him get Bethany was something I’d do all over again, even knowing that Blake had set us up. After being in Daedalus’s grips, now more than ever I understood how important it had been to get her out. The only thing I would’ve changed was where I was standing in that damn tunnel in Mount Weather.

He stepped aside as his brother swooped in, picking up the tote and circling his arm around my waist. Dawson cocked his head to the side. “What is up with the alien doll?”

“Daemon thought it would remind me of him,” I told Dawson.

“Tell him what you named it,” Daemon said, and then he dropped a kiss atop my head.

My heart jumped, and my cheeks flushed. “I named it DB.”

Dee peered at the alien toy over Dawson’s shoulder. “It kind of does look like you, Daemon.”

“Ha. Ha.” I tugged the doll out of the bag and held it close. For some reason, I loved the stupid thing.

“Everyone want to head in?” Luc rocked back on the heels of his Converse sneakers. “I’m starving.”

Dee spun around so that she was on my other side as we headed in. She stole a peek at Archer, who walked in behind us. If I noticed that, so did Daemon. And whatever Dee was thinking right now, most likely Archer was eavesdropping in on.

I so needed to give her a heads-up on that.

Plus the fact that Archer was, well, he was really different from all of us.

The temperature was a good thirty degrees cooler inside the brightly lit foyer, even with the glass sky dome allowing the sunlight inside. Quartz was embedded in the tile floor, making everything so sparkly. There were large, leafy plants positioned at the corners, which made my fingers itchy to dig into soil.

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