Page 12

It worked the same way for the Arum outside the range of the beta quartz that made up the Seneca Rocks. It was why living here was peaceful. Daemon’s kind was protected, but every once in a while, an Arum stumbled too close. Contact was made, and then the Arum brought in his buddies.

Three of them had already been taken out. This should be the last one.

As Daemon zipped through the trees at a blinding speed, he wondered what the hell his brother was doing. On Saturdays, they usually spent the day watching all the Ghost Investigator episodes TiVoed that week.

But Dawson had bailed on him.

Oh, yeah, he had a clue where he was. Chilling with the human—

The blast of dark energy hit him square in the chest, sending him flying backward like a ball that had just been knocked out of the park. He smacked into a tree hard enough that it groaned and shook as he slid down to the mossy bed of the woods.

God. Dammit.

Sheer grit got him off the ground. Immeasurable stupidity had him bum-rushing the thick shadow coming at him like a souped-up bulldozer.

The Arum switched into his human form at the last moment, losing the vulnerability. All decked out in leather pants…and nothing else. Nice. Just what Daemon wanted to do—wrestle with a half-naked dude.

Okay, so the Arum wanted to play hard? Well, it was his lucky day. Taking on his human form, Daemon swung his arm forward, hitting the Arum with a damn good uppercut. The thing grunted and threw a meaty arm at Daemon’s head.

He ducked under the arm, shooting up behind the Arum. Leaning back, Daemon planted his foot in the Arum’s spine. Funny thing about taking human form was that skin bled and bones broke. Both of their kinds would have to flip back to their real form to heal, and then they’d be at their weakest. Hopefully this Arum would be stupid enough to fall for it. Daemon had a blade dying to make friends.

But the Arum wasn’t.

It whipped around, rearing back with one hand. Dark energy shot forth, narrowly missing Daemon as he darted to the side.

You’re going to be tasssty, the Arum taunted.

“If I had a dollar every time I heard that.” Daemon threw his hand out. A streak of light hit a thick branch, breaking it off. He raced forward, catching the massive limb and holding it like a bat. He smiled. “Batter up, mofo.”

The Arum hissed—literally hissed at him. What. The. Hell.

He came at Daemon like a train, and Daemon swung. The crack shook his entire body, and the sickening thud pleased him in ways he should be worried about.

But the Arum didn’t go down.

Pulling into himself like someone had shoved a vacuum into his back, the Arum retreated into a small black ball and shot off through the trees, running like a pansy.

Daemon started to give chase, but he knew from experience when an Arum ran, there was no capturing him. Tossing the splintered limb aside, he pivoted around, ignoring the raw pain shooting through his hip. Once he was at home, he would change and heal. Until then, he would deal with the bruises and aches.

But once he got back to his house and took care of that, all he was going to do was just chill. Like everyone else in this damn world did.

God, Dawson had never felt this way before. Every part of his body burned as he tasted her kiss and familiarized himself with the way she felt beneath him. Intense white light seared his eyes. The breathy, little feminine sounds she was making were music to his ears, a beautiful melody of sighs.

And then his song stopped.

Beth’s hand jerked off his shoulder, and she gasped against his mouth. “Oh my God…”

He lifted his head and opened his eyes. Oh, hell… All he saw was white glow that bathed Beth’s face, reflected off the walls, covered the entire bed…

Oh, holy shit.

Dawson sprang off the bed, but his feet never touched the floor beside it. He hovered, staring down at himself. He was glowing.

Like in full motherfreaking alien mode up in her house, in her bedroom.

Bethany skittered across the bed and pressed against the headboard. Her eyes were wide as she stared at him, her mouth working but no words coming out.

Shock suspended time. Everything seemed surreal to him. He wasn’t in Bethany’s bedroom. He hadn’t exposed what he truly was. And this girl—this beautiful human he was falling for wasn’t staring at him like he was king freak.

Grasping the edge of her comforter, she shook her head back and forth. Like she was having trouble processing what she was seeing, which was understandable.

Dawson was glowing like a star.

His heart was racing so fast he could feel it in his fingertips. Partly due to the whole kissing thing and partly because he was still in his true form. And she was glowing faintly, like someone had dipped a paintbrush into white paint and shaded her edges. Of course, Bethany couldn’t see it. No human could. The trace surrounding her was a reaction of the high EMF surrounding him when he was in his real skin.

Crap—she was glowing.

Bethany blinked slowly, her fingers easing off the blanket. “Dawson?”

Do something, he ordered himself. But his control had slipped, and he couldn’t pull it back. Light radiated from him, filling every inch of the room.

She rose to her knees little by little. He was certain he could see her heart pounding through her sweater, could smell her fear. She was seconds from bolting from the room, screaming. Bethany inched across the bed, making her way toward him.

Dawson drifted back, wanting to say something, but in his true form, he didn’t speak like a human. Luxen used…different paths.

At the edge of the bed, she peered up at him. In her brown eyes, he could see his reflection, and he hated what he saw.

“Dawson,” she whispered, clasping her hands under her chin. “Is that you?”

Yes, he said. But she couldn’t hear him.

When the silence stretched, became unbearable, she swung her legs off the bed and stood. Instead of running for the door like any sane person would, she reached out, bringing her fingers within inches of touching his light.

Dawson jerked back.

Bethany yanked her hand to her chest. “What…what are you?”

God, wasn’t that a loaded question? The whole telling part seemed a moot point now, but how could he explain what happened? Hey, honey, I’m an alien and apparently I just doused you with some radioactive loving! Wanna catch a movie? Yeah, not cool.

So many things were rushing through his thoughts. He’d exposed his kind—his family, putting them in danger, risking Beth. There was no stopping her if she decided to scream alien or giant light bug.

But he needed to rein it in. Her parents were downstairs, and he had a feeling the longer he stayed in this form, the stronger her trace would be.

Moving to the far side of the room, away from Beth, he willed his out-of-control emotions to stabilize. It was hard as hell, but eventually he managed to take his human form, and the room was cast in shadows again.

Everything except Beth—there was a soft halo around her.

“I’m sorry,” he croaked.

Bethany’s legs seemed to collapse beneath her. She plopped down on the bed, shaking her head again. “What are you?”

Leaning against the wall, he closed his eyes. There was no point in lying now or keeping secrets. The damage was done. All he could hope was that he could convince her not to go public with this.

“I’m an alien.” The words sounded thick and foreign to his ears, and he barked a laugh. “I’m a Luxen.”

She pulled up her knees, tucking them against her chest. “An alien? Like in Close Encounters of the Third Kind?” She laughed then, and it carried a sort of hysterical edge to it. When the sound trickled off, her head snapped toward him. “That’s why you like that dumb movie Cocoon so much. This…this isn’t real. It can’t be. Oh my God, I’m crazy… Schizophrenia.”

Dawson swallowed. “You’re not crazy, Bethany. I’m sorry. You weren’t supposed to know, and I don’t even know how…how this happened.”

“What? You don’t normally light up when you kiss girls? Because that could get real awkward, right?” She clapped her hand over her mouth. “Sorry. Oh, God, I don’t know…alien?”

Hearing the confusion in her voice tore through him, and he wanted to somehow make it better, but how? At least he didn’t sense any fear in her anymore. Amazing.

He took a tentative step forward, and when she didn’t move, he was reassured. “Maybe it will help if I start over?”

She nodded slowly.

Taking a deep breath, he sat before her and tilted his head back, meeting her eyes. What he was about to do was unheard of. The rules he was about to break were astronomical. An image of his brother and sister formed in his head, and his chest squeezed. He knew if this went badly, it went badly for them, too.

And it would also go badly for Bethany.

Chapter 11

All Bethany could do was stare at Dawson. That was pretty much all she was capable of. Alien? The logical part of her brain kept spewing things like, This is just a hallucination or a dream. Or, This is the onset of a mental disease. Maybe Dawson never existed, but then again, that didn’t make sense. Pretty sure she’d seen other people interacting with him. Unless her hallucinations were on such an epic level she believed she’d seen people—

“Bethany.” His quiet voice intruded.

Her heart turned over heavily. “This is real, right?”

His face contorted as if he were in pain. “Yes, it’s real.”

Crazy people probably did things like this all the time. Asked their imaginary alien friends if they were real, and of course, they’d say yes.

She placed her hands against her cheeks and then ran them through her tangled hair. Did crazy people also make out with their hallucinations? Because that was probably the only upside to all of this.

Dawson placed his hand on her knee. “I can’t even begin to understand what you’re going through. I really can’t, but I promise you that this is real and you’re not crazy.” He squeezed her leg. “And I’m so sorry for making you feel this way and for you finding out like this.”

“Don’t apologize.” Her voice sounded hoarse. “It’s just…a lot to comprehend. I mean, I never really thought about aliens. Like, okay, maybe they do exist somewhere out there, but…yeah, I don’t know if I really did believe. And you can’t be an alien.”

She laughed again and then winced. It sounded like a whole lot of crazy. “I just saw you…glow, but it was more than just glowing. You were light, right? A human form of light—arms and legs made out of light.”

Dawson nodded. “We’re called Luxen. In our true forms we are nothing more than light, but…it’s not like you think. You can touch us—we have form and shape.”

“Form and shape,” she mumbled.

“Yes.” He lowered his lashes, and in that instant, he seemed terribly young and vulnerable. “We’re from a planet called Lux. Well, it was once called that. It doesn’t exist anymore. Destroyed. But that’s neither here nor there. We’ve been here for hundreds, if not thousands of years, on and off.”