Page 15

He’d left a little while ago, just before supper. They hadn’t kissed again. Explaining that he wanted to wait until the trace faded before he attempted it, their time together had been Disney Channel–approved. But they had cuddled a lot, and that had been just as good as kissing, in her book. Just being next to him, with his arms around her, made her heart race, her nerve endings firing left and right.

Amazingly, the entire time she’d been with him, she really hadn’t thought about what he was. Sure, now that he was gone, she couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Dawson was an alien.

The whole town was populated with them, apparently. It was all so…out of this world.

Bethany smirked.

She placed the brush back on the little table butted up against her dresser and stood. Moving to the window, she brushed the thick curtain aside. Dusk had turned the bare trees gray. Leaning her flushed forehead against the cool windowpane, she closed her eyes.

The room—everything—felt cold without him there. It had to be the heat he threw off. Or it was just him and how he made her feel. Girly melodrama, but it was true.

Pushing away from the window, she resisted the urge to text or call him. But she was worried for him. Tonight he was telling Daemon that she knew. If he didn’t, Daemon would apparently see this trace around her tomorrow. Better to have his brother spaz out in the privacy of their home instead of in the middle of English class.

She seriously hoped Daemon didn’t kill Dawson. She’d grown fond of the boy.

Trying not to obsess over it, she forced herself out of the room, away from the phone. Downstairs, her mom was in the kitchen. Big surprise there. Dad sat at the table, looking over documents while Phillip turned his mac ’n’ cheese into finger food. She steered clear of him and went into the living room.

Her dad highlighted a portion of the document. “Look who finally came out of her room to join the living.”

Bethany made a face. “Ha. Ha.”

At the stove, her mom turned around, a baking sheet full of cookies in hand. “Honey, can you check on your uncle and see if he wants something to eat or drink?”

“Sure.” She turned around and headed into the living room.

Uncle Will was sitting on the couch stiffly, looking exhausted. The days leading up to his treatment were always the worst. From what Bethany gathered, the steroids given along with his medicine wore off fast.

“I heard your mother,” he said before she could utter a word. His voice was weak and raspy. “If I’m thirsty, I know where the fridge is.”

Bethany focused on the TV. One of the Godfather movies was on. “I can get you—”

“I’m fine.” He waved his hand. It looked paper-thin and white. “Sit down. I never really get to talk to you.”

Chatting with her uncle was the last thing she wanted to do, and she felt terrible for that. But she never knew what to say. Uncle Will liked to pretend he wasn’t knocking on death’s door, and Bethany sucked at making small talk. Avoiding his sickness was like ignoring a giant ape climbing the walls and throwing bananas.

She sat in the recliner, tucking her legs under her as she frantically searched for something to say. Luckily, Uncle Will started off the conversation.

“So, how long have you been seeing that boy?”

Her mouth dropped open. Okay, so maybe she wasn’t that lucky. After Dawson had left, her parents had interrogated her about him. Again. “We’re…just friends.”

“Is that so? I haven’t…” His words ended in a body-racking cough. Impossible as it seemed, he was even whiter. When the episode ended, he closed his eyes and cleared his throat. “I haven’t really seen him with any other girls. His…his family sticks together.”

Oh, boy, Uncle Will had no idea. “Yeah, they seem really close.”

“Good kids, I guess. Never really get in trouble.” He fiddled with the patchwork quilt draped over his legs. Their outline was thin. “Can’t tell them apart, though. Which one was here?”

It was funny to her—how no one could tell Dawson and Daemon apart. “It was Dawson.”

He nodded. “Ah, Dawson…good choice.”

She frowned. “Do you know him?”

He shook his head. “Not really, but he seems the friendlier of the two…whenever I’ve seen them in town. Have you been to his house? Met his parents?”

Her frown deepened as she stared at the screen. Of course, her uncle was pulling the protective role, but it made her uncomfortable to be questioned about Dawson. An immediate, almost irrational urge to protect him and their secret rushed to the surface.

“They work a lot out of town, but I hear them on the phone sometimes.”

“Hmm.” Will picked up the remote, signaling the end of the conversation. Thank God.

Blessed silence ensued, and when she couldn’t sit there any longer, she excused herself and went back upstairs.

And, of course, went straight to her phone.

She wasn’t the praying type, and praying that one brother didn’t murder the other seemed wrong on a lot of levels, but she may have said a teeny prayer.

Dawson felt like he was preparing to go in front of a firing squad. And he kind of was.

He backed away from the farmhouse, shoving his hands into his pockets. Unbeknownst to Bethany, he hadn’t really left yet. Just parked the car at his house and came back. A light flipped on in Bethany’s bedroom. He wanted to wait to see if he caught a glimpse of her, but that turned him from just keeping an eye on her into a complete stalker.

Bethany was safe in her house right now. There were no Arum lurking in the shadows and the glow was so faint that they may not even sense it. So there was no reason for him to camp outside her house.

And he needed to go home and talk to Daemon.

Turning around, he moved deeper into the forest, and when he was sure no one could see his light, he switched into his true form and took off, dreading what was about to go down.

Two minutes later, he was pulling up in his driveway, letting his light fade until he looked like any other human. Dragging his feet, he opened the front door.

The foyer was dark, and as he stopped, he frowned. Music thumped through the house. The lyrics Whoomp, there it is! blasted from the speakers. He knew before he entered the living room that Daemon was listening to one of those TV channels that played nothing but music.

Sprawled across the couch, with his arms behind his head, Daemon moved his bare feet in perfect sync with the song.

Dawson’s brows arched up. “‘Whoomp There It Is’?”

“What?” He tilted his head toward Dawson, grinning. “I like the song.”

“You have such questionable musical taste.”

“Don’t hate.” He sat up in one fluid motion, dropping his feet onto the floor. “Where have you been all day?”

“Where’s Dee?” he asked instead of answering the question.

Daemon waved his hand, and the channels flipped rapidly. “In her bedroom.”

“Oh.” The likelihood of Daemon killing him with their sister home was slim. Good news.


Sighing, he sat on the arm of the chair. “I need to tell you something, but you have to promise me that you won’t flip out.”

Daemon slowly turned his head to him, eyes narrowing. The TV stopped on a golden oldies station. “Chantilly Lace” started playing. “Whenever anyone starts a conversation off like that, I’m pretty sure I am going to flip out.”

Ah, good point. “It has to do with Beth.”

His brother’s face went blank.

“I went to see her yesterday, at her house,” he continued. “And something happened.”

There was still no response from his brother. A quiet Daemon was a Daemon about to explode. “I don’t know how it happened or why, but it did. We were kissing…and I lost hold on my human form.”

Daemon sucked in a sharp breath and started to stand but stopped. “Jesus…”

“It left a faint trace on her.” And here comes the bad part. “And she knows the truth.”

Like a switch being thrown, Daemon was up and in his face in a split second. “Are you serious?”

Dawson met his brother’s hard stare. “I don’t think I’d joke about something like this.”

“And I didn’t think you’d be so damn careless, Dawson!” Daemon flickered out and reappeared on the other side of the room, his spine rigid and shoulders tense. “Dammit!”

“I didn’t mean for it to happen.” Dawson took total ownership for his mistake, but there was always something about Daemon that made him feel like a kid standing before an angry parent. “Lighting her up with a trace was the last thing I wanted to do, but it wasn’t like I couldn’t tell her afterward. She completely understands that no one can know. She won’t say—”

“And you believe her?”

“Yes. I do.”

Daemon’s eyes flared. “And just because you believe her, the rest of us are supposed to be okay with this?”

“I know it’s a lot to ask, but Bethany would never tell anyone.”

Daemon barked out a cold laugh. “God, you’re stupid, bro, really stupid.”

A red-hot wave traveled up his spine. “I’m not stupid.”

“I beg to differ,” his brother growled.

Dawson’s hands opened and closed at his sides. “I get that you’re disappointed with me marking Bethany, and her knowing the truth is a gross atrocity to you, but it wasn’t like I meant to do this.”

“I know you didn’t mean to, but that doesn’t change the fact that it did happen.” Daemon leaned against the wall, tilting his chin up. Tension radiated from him, and Dawson knew that he was trying to come up with a way to fix this. That’s what Daemon did. He fixed things.

Daemon made a low sound in the back of his throat. “So, you kissed her and this happened?”

“Yeah, awkward, I know.”

One side of his lips twitched. “And the trace is faint?” When Dawson assured him, Daemon lowered his chin. “Okay. You need to stay away from her.”


“Maybe you didn’t understand the English I was just speaking.” Daemon’s eyes flared with anger. “You need to stay away from her.”

That was the smartest thing to do—what he should do. Leave Bethany alone. But a sour taste filled his mouth. Imagining himself never talking to her again or touching her made his skin feel like it was too tight.

“What if I can’t?” he asked, looking away when Daemon scowled.

His brother swore. “Are you kidding me? It’s not hard. You. Stay. Away. From. Her.”

As if it were that easy. Daemon didn’t get it. “But she’s glowing right now. Nothing serious, but there’s an Arum around, and she’s not safe.”

“You probably should have thought about that before you Lite-Brited her ass.”

Dawson swung toward his brother, eyes narrowing. Anger caused his body heat to rocket. “So? Is that it? You just don’t care if she gets hurt?”