“Uh, no. He’s, well, he’s something different. He’s what they call an origin—he’s a kid of a Luxen and a hybrid.”

After that sunk in, she shrugged. “So? I’m an alien. I’m not judgmental.”

I smiled at that, glad she was showing interest in a guy after Adam. “Well, there’s one more thing. I’d be careful of what you think around him.”


“The origins have some freaky abilities,” I explained, watching her eyes widen into saucers. “He can read your mind without you even knowing.”

Dee’s face went from pale to bright cherry. “Oh God.”


She smacked her hands over her face. “Well, the whole time we were downstairs, I was so picturing him naked.”

After changing into an old terry-cloth tube dress that passed the show-no-scars test, I joined Dee and everyone downstairs. A massive dinner of extravagant levels followed, consisting of juicy fruits I didn’t even know existed, tangy and sweet meats, and a salad that filled the biggest bowl I’d ever seen. I ate more than I’d thought humanly possible, even some of the grilled meat off Daemon’s plate. Bethany had joined us, and she had hugged me the moment we crossed paths. Other than looking utterly worn out, she seemed fine, and her appetite rivaled my own.

Daemon nudged his plate over to me with his finger. “You’re going to eat Lyla out of house and home.”

Shrugging, I picked up another cube from his shish kebab and popped it into my mouth. “It’s been so long since I had food that wasn’t bland and served on a plastic tray.”


He winced, and I immediately regretted saying that. “I—”

“Eat as much as you want,” he said, glancing away. A muscle began to pulse in his jaw.

Then he piled more skewers on my plate, plus a handful of grapes and roasted pork loin, so much food that if I ate all of it, they’d have to roll me out of there. My gaze flicked away, meeting Dawson’s. He looked…he just looked sad.

I reached under the table and placed my hand on Daemon’s knee, giving it a squeeze. His head swiveled toward me, a deep brown curl falling across his forehead. I smiled for him, and it seemed to go a long way, because he relaxed once more.

And I ate as much food as I could stomach, knowing that it did something for Daemon. What it did exactly, I wasn’t sure, but by the end of the dinner, he was being his usual charming and douchey self.

Our group moved outside after dinner. Daemon stretched out his happy ass on one of the white-cushioned lounge chairs, and I sat by his legs. The talk was light, what everyone needed. Luc and Paris joined us, as did Archer. Even Ash and Andrew weren’t their normal antisocial selves.

Well, they really didn’t talk to me, but they chimed in whenever Daemon or Dawson or Matthew made a comment. I didn’t say much, mainly because I was busy paying attention to Bethany and Dawson.

They were just too adorable.

Sharing a chair, Beth sat in Dawson’s lap, her cheek nestled under his chin. He continuously moved his hand up and down her back. Every so often, he’d murmur something in her ear, and she’d smile or laugh quietly.

When I wasn’t watching them, I was keeping track of Dee.

Throughout the evening, she crept closer…and closer to where Archer sat chatting with Lyla. I was counting the minutes until Daemon noticed.

It took twenty.

“Dee,” he called out. “Why don’t you go get me a drink?”

His sister froze halfway between the patio table and the fire pit. Her luminous eyes narrowed. “What?”

“I’m thirsty. I think you should be a nice sister and get a drink for your poor brother.”

Twisting at my waist, I shot Daemon a dirty look. He raised his brows at me and folded his hands behind his head. I turned back to Dee. “Don’t you dare get him a drink.”

“Wasn’t planning on it,” she replied. “He’s got two legs.”

Daemon wasn’t deterred. “Then why don’t you come over here and spend time with me?”

I rolled my eyes.

“I don’t think there’s room for me on that lounge.” She folded her arms. “And as I much as I love you two, I don’t want to get that close.”

By that point, Daemon had successfully captured everyone’s attention. “I’ll make room for my sister,” he cajoled.

“Uh huh.” She spun around and stalked over to the patio. Pulling out a chair, she plopped down next to Archer and shoved out her hand. “I don’t think we’ve been officially introduced.”

Archer glanced down at her slender hand, then at Daemon for the tiniest second, and then he took her hand. “We haven’t.”

Six feet and a lot of inches of alien stiffened behind me. Oh dear.

“I’m Dee Black. I’m the sister of the douchebag known as Daemon.” She smiled brightly. “But you probably already know that.”

“That he’s a douchebag or that he’s your brother?” Archer asked innocently. “The answer is yes to both.”

I choked on my laugh.

Heat rolled off Daemon. “Am I also the brother who’s going to kick your ass if you don’t let go of my sister’s hand? The answer is yes to that, too.”

Dawson snickered from his chair.

I found myself smiling. Some things never changed. The overprotective side of Daemon was still an overbearing ass.

“Ignore him,” Dee said. “He has poor social skills.”

“I can vouch for that,” I threw out.

Daemon knocked his foot off my hip, and I glanced back at him. He winked and said in a low voice, “That is so not happening.”

Archer still hadn’t let go of Dee’s hand as he talked with her, and I wondered if he was doing that to goad Daemon or if he just wanted to hold her hand. Daemon opened his mouth to say something jerkish.

I grabbed his ankle. “Leave them alone.”

“No can do.”

Sliding my fingers under the hem of his jeans, I met his stare. “Please?”

His eyes narrowed into incandescent green slits.

“Pretty please?”

“Is there sugar on top?”


“There has to be, and there better be a lot of sugar.” He sat up fluidly and moved so that his knees were on either side of my hips. He wrapped his arms around my waist, resting his chin on my shoulder. I turned my cheek toward his. A shiver skated over my skin as his lips brushed my chin. “I needs lots of sugar,” he added. “What say you?”

“Leave them alone and maybe,” I replied, more than a little breathless at the prospect.

“Hmm…” He tugged me back into the V of his legs. “You drive a hard bargain.”

Something really dirty popped into my head, and I flushed.

Daemon leaned back, head tilting to the side. “What are you thinking, Kitten?”

“Nothing,” I said, biting my lip.

He didn’t look convinced. “Are you having impure thoughts about me? Gasp.”

“Impure thoughts?” I giggled. “I wouldn’t go that far.”

Daemon’s lips brushed the lobe of my ear, and another shiver made its way down my spine. “I’d go that far and then some.”

Shaking my head, I realized Daemon was thoroughly distracted from who Dee was talking to. She owed me. Not that being in Daemon’s arms and feeling the length of him was a chore or anything. Not when his fingers started toying with the hem of my dress, the back of his hand lazily brushing my thighs.

Dawson and Beth were the first ones to call it a night. They shuffled past us, Beth sending me a smile and a soft “good night.” Matthew and Lyla were next, though they seemed to go in different directions. I couldn’t let myself entertain any other idea there. That would just be gross, because Matthew had been my teacher.

Night broke and everyone else headed inside, including Archer and Dee. As they entered the sunroom, Daemon craned his neck so far I thought his head would fall off, which was pointless because they both were going upstairs.

I decided to keep that observation to myself lest he go tearing after them.

Only Daemon and I remained in the courtyard, staring up at the star-ridden sky. As soon as we were alone, I crawled into his lap, tucking my head under his chin. Every so often he placed a kiss against my forehead, my cheek…my nose, and every time he did, he erased another minute of the time spent with Daedalus. His kisses really did have the power to change lives. Not that I’d admit that. His ego was ginormous as it was.

We weren’t talking, because I think there was so much to say and, at the same time, there was nothing to be said. We were out of Area 51, and for that very second we were safe, but our future was unknown. Daedalus was searching for us, and we couldn’t stay there forever. It was too close to Area 51, and with this kind of sizeable population there were too many prying eyes from people who would begin to ask questions. Luc had the LH-11, and we had no idea what it was truly capable of or why Luc wanted something so volatile. There were the hybrids and Luxen back at the facility and those kids…those freaky kids.

I had no idea what was going to happen from here on out, and even thinking about it scared the ever-loving crap out of me. Tomorrow wasn’t guaranteed. Neither were the next couple of hours. My breath caught with that realization, and I stiffened. The next minute was unknown to us, and it might not even come.

Daemon’s arms tightened around me. “What are you thinking, Kitten?”

I considered lying, but at that moment, I didn’t want to be strong. I didn’t want to pretend like we had everything under control, because we didn’t. “I’m scared.”

He tugged me back against his chest and pressed his cheek against mine. The stubble tickled and, in spite of everything, I grinned. “You’d be insane not to be scared.”

I closed my eyes, sliding my cheek against his. I was probably going to end up with carpet burn, but it would be worth it. “Are you scared?”

Daemon chuckled softly. “Me, seriously? No.”

“You’re too awesome for that?”

He kissed the sensitive spot under my ear, sending a wake of shivers through me. “You’re learning. I’m proud of you.”

I laughed.

Daemon stilled, like he seemed to do whenever I laughed, and then he squeezed me until I squeaked. “Sorry,” he murmured, rubbing his nose against my neck as he loosened his hold. “I lied.”

“About what? You being proud of me?” I teased.

“No. I’m always in awe of you, Kitten.”

My heart did a little trippy-trip dance as I opened my eyes.

He let out a shuddering breath. “I was terrified the whole time they had you and I didn’t know where you were. I was scared out of my mind that I would never see you again or get to hold you. And when I did see you? I was afraid I’d never hear you laugh again or see your beautiful smile. So, yeah, I lied. I was terrified. I’m still lying.”


“I’m scared shitless that I’ll never be able to make this up to you. That I’ll never be able to give you back your life and—”

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