I stared at the man. “What are you saying?”

He met my gaze. “The Luxen weren’t the victims in their war. They were the cause of it.”


“How did you get out?” Dawson asked.

It had taken everything for me not to slam my fist into his face. I had calmed down enough that bringing the house down on its foundation was unlikely to occur. Still a possibility, though.

“Better question is how many did I lay out to get here?” I tensed, waiting. Dawson blocked the doorway. “Don’t fight me on any of this, brother. You won’t be able to stop me, and you know it.”

He held my gaze for a moment, then swore as he stepped aside. I slid past him, my eyes going to the staircase.

“Dee’s asleep,” he said, running a hand through his hair. “Daemon—”

“Where’s Beth?”

“Here,” came a soft voice from the dining room.

I turned around and, hell, it was like the girl materialized out of smoke and shadows. I’d forgotten how much of a tiny thing she was. Slim and elfin, with lots of brown hair and a pointy, stubborn little chin. She was a lot paler than I remembered.


“Hey there.” My beef wasn’t with her. I glanced back at my brother. “You think it’s wise to have her here?”

He went to her side, draping his arm over her shoulders. “We planned on leaving. Matthew was going to set us up in Pennsylvania, near South Mountain.”

I nodded. The mountain was rocking a decent amount of quartzite but no Luxen community that we knew of.

“But we didn’t want to leave right now,” Beth added quietly, her eyes darting around the room, not settling on anything in particular. She was dressed in one of Dawson’s T-shirts and a pair of Dee’s sweats. Both swallowed her whole. “It didn’t seem right. Someone should be here with Dee.”

“But it’s not really safe for you two,” I pointed out. “Matthew could stay with Dee.”

“We’re fine.” Dawson bent his head, pressing a kiss against Beth’s forehead before pinning me with a serious look. “You shouldn’t be out of the colony. We had you there to keep you safe. If the police see you or the—”

“The police aren’t going to see me.” That concern made sense. Since Kat and I were both presumed missing, or that we’d run away, my reappearance would raise a lot of questions. “Neither will Kat’s mom.”

He didn’t look convinced. “You’re not worried about the DOD?”

I said nothing.

He shook his head. “Shit.”

Beside him, Beth shifted her slight weight from one foot to the next. “You’re going after her, aren’t you?”

“The hell he is,” my brother cut in, and when I said nothing, he strung together so many curse words I was actually impressed. “Dammit, Daemon, out of everyone, I know what you’re feeling, but what you’re doing is insane. And seriously, how did you get out of the cabin?”

Striding forward, I brushed past him and headed for the kitchen. It was strange being back in here. Everything was the same—gray granite countertops, white appliances, the god-awful country decorations Dee had thrown up on the walls, and the heavy oak kitchen table.

I stared at the table. Like a mirage, Kat appeared, sitting on the edge. Deep pain sliced across my chest. God, I missed her, and it killed me not knowing what was really happening to her or what they were doing.

Then again, I had a good idea. I knew enough from what they’d done to Dawson and Beth, and that made me physically ill.

“Daemon?” He had followed me.

I turned from the table. “We don’t need to have this conversation, and I’m not in the mood to state the obvious. You know what I’m doing. It’s why you put me in the colony.”

“I don’t even understand how you got out. There was onyx all over that place.”

Each colony had cabins meant to keep Luxen who’d become dangerous to our kind or to humans and that the Elders didn’t want to take them to the human police.

“If there’s a will, there’s a way.” I smiled when his eyes narrowed.


“I’m here to get a few things, and then I’m gone.” I opened up the fridge and grabbed a bottle of water. Taking a swig, I faced him. We were the same height, so we met eye to eye. “I mean it. Don’t push me on this.”

He flinched, but his green eyes met mine. “There’s nothing I can say that’s going to change your mind?”


He stepped back, rubbing his hand down his jaw. Behind him, Beth sat in the chair, her arms wrapped around her waist, her gaze going everywhere except toward us.

Dawson leaned against the counter. “You going to make me beat you into submission?”

Beth’s head jerked up, and I laughed. “I’d like to see you try, little brother.”

“Little brother,” he scoffed, but a faint smile pulled at his lips. Relief was evident on Beth’s face. “By how many seconds?” he asked.

“Enough.” I tossed the water bottle in the garbage.

Several moments passed, and then he said, “I’ll help you.”

“Hell no.” I folded my arms. “I don’t want your help. I don’t want any of you taking part in this.”

Determination set his jaw. “Bull. You helped us. It’s too dangerous to do it on your own. So if you’re going to be stubborn and ignore the fact that you kept me on a leash, which you are, I’m not going to let you do this by yourself.”

“I’m sorry I held you back. Now, knowing exactly how you felt, I would’ve stormed that damn place the very same night you came home. But I’m not going to let you help. Look at what happened when we were in this all together. I can’t be worried about you guys. I want you and Dee as far away as possible from this.”


“I’m not going to argue with you.” I placed my hands on his shoulders and squeezed. “I know you want to help. I appreciate that. But if you really want to help, don’t try to stop me.”

Dawson closed his eyes, his features pinching as his chest rose sharply. “Letting you do this by yourself isn’t right. You wouldn’t let me.”

“I know. I’m going to be okay. I’m always okay.” I leaned in, resting my forehead against his. As I clasped the sides of his face, I kept my voice low. “You just got Beth back, and running off with me isn’t right. She needs you. You need her, and I need…”

“You need Katy.” He opened his eyes, and for the first time since the shit went down at Mount Weather, there was understanding in his gaze. “I get that. I do.”

“She needs you, too,” Beth whispered.

Dawson and I broke apart. He turned to her. She was still sitting at the table, her hands opening and closing in her lap in quick, repetitive movements.

“What did you say, babe?” he asked.

“Kat needs him.” Her lashes lifted, and although her gaze was fixed on us, she wasn’t looking at us, not really. “They’ll tell her things at first. They’ll trick her, but the things they’ll do…”

It felt like all the oxygen was sucked out of the room.

Dawson was by her side immediately, kneeling so that she had to look at him. He took her hand in his and brought it to his lips. “It’s okay, Beth.”

She followed his movements almost obsessively, but there was a strange sheen gathering in her eyes, as if she were slipping further away. The hair on the back of my neck rose, and I stepped forward.

“She won’t be at Mount Weather,” Beth said, her stare drifting over Dawson’s shoulder. “They’ll take her far away and make her do things.”

“Do what?” The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them.

Dawson shot me a look over his shoulder, but I ignored it. “You don’t have to talk about this, babe. All right?”

A long moment passed before she said anything. “When I saw him with you, I knew, but you all seemed like you knew, too. He’s bad news. He was there, too, with me.”

My hands curled into fists as I remembered Beth’s reaction to seeing him, but we had shut her up. “Blake?”

She nodded slowly. “All of them are bad. They don’t mean to be.” Her focus drifted to Dawson, and she whispered, “I don’t mean to be.”

“Oh, baby, you’re not bad.” He placed a hand on her cheek. “You’re not bad at all.”

Her lower lip trembled. “I’ve done terrible things. You have no idea. I’ve ki—”

“It doesn’t matter.” He went down on his knees. “None of that matters.”

A shudder rolled through her, and then she looked up, her eyes locking on mine. “Don’t let them do those things to Katy. They’ll change her.”

I couldn’t move or breathe.

Her face crumpled. “They’ve changed me. I close my eyes, and I see their faces—all of them. I can’t get them out no matter what I do. They’re inside of me.”

Good God…

“Look at me, Beth.” Dawson guided her face back to his. “You’re here with me. You’re not there anymore. You know that, right? Keep looking at me. Nothing’s inside of you.”

She shook her head vigorously. “No. You don’t understand. You—”

Backing off, I let my brother handle this. He talked to her in low, soothing tones, but when she quieted, she stared forward, shaking her head side-to-side slowly, her eyes wide and mouth open. She didn’t blink, didn’t even seem to acknowledge him or me.

Nobody’s home, I realized.

As Dawson talked her through whatever was afflicting her, horror—real, true horror—turned my insides cold. The pain that was in my brother’s eyes as he smoothed her hair back from her pale face ate me up. At that moment, he looked like he wanted nothing more than to trade places with her.

I gripped the counter behind me, unable to look away.

I could easily see myself doing the same thing. Except it wouldn’t be Beth I’d be holding in my arms and coaxing back to reality—it would be Kat.

I was only in my bedroom long enough to change into fresh clothing. Being in there was a blessing and a curse. For some reason it made me feel closer to Kat. Maybe it was because of what we’d shared in my bed and all the moments before then. It also tore me up, because she wasn’t in my arms and she wasn’t safe.

I didn’t know if she’d ever truly be safe again.

As I pulled the clean shirt over my head, I sensed my sister before she spoke. Blowing out a low breath, I turned and found her standing in my doorway, dressed in bubblegum pink pajamas I’d given her for Christmas last year.

She looked as shitty as I felt. “Daemon—”

“If you’re going to start in on how I need to wait and think this through, you can save it.” I sat down on the bed, dragging a hand through my hair. “It’s not going to change what I want.”

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