Page 19


Chapter 15

After school on Tuesday, Dawson headed home instead of going straight to Bethany’s house, where he wanted to be. Bethany had promised to get the groceries after dinner as a part of her chores that week, so she’d be pretty busy that evening.

It was that time of the month.

Once a month, he had to check in with the DOD. Every Luxen was required, even more so since he lived outside the colony. And it could be worse. Being summoned by the Elders usually consisted of one, if not both, of the brothers getting their rears chewed out for some reason or another, made to feel guilty for “being like a human,” and getting pestered about when they’d mate. In other words, would Daemon marry Ash at eighteen and would Dawson find another female Luxen of the same age?

The DOD would just ask the same old questions.

Yeah, fun would be had by all. He so didn’t need to do this right now.

A black Ford Expedition was already parked in front of his house when he pulled into the driveway. Counting the ways this was going to suck, he climbed out of his Jetta and headed inside.

The suits—two of them—were in the living room, sitting on the couch. Both were middle-age males and bore the same empty expression. Their postures were stiff, though, probably because Daemon leaned against the wall, glaring at them as if he wished to do something terrible to their bodies.

Dawson recognized one of them—he’d been coming to them since they’d moved to West Virginia, but the other was new.

Dee looked up from where she was perched on the edge of her chair. Relief flickered in her shining eyes. Usually that meant things were not going well between Daemon and the DOD, and Dawson would play peacemaker.

Crossing his arms, Dawson said, “Well, this looks like a happy meeting of the minds.”

Daemon’s pointed gaze slid toward him. “Sounds about right.”

Officer Lane cleared his throat. “How have you been, Dawson?” A wave of revulsion and distrust accompanied his greeting. Lane pretended—barely—to like the Luxen. All of them knew better.

“Good,” Dawson said. “You?”

“Officer Vaughn and I are doing great.” Lane clapped his hands together, while the other left his hanging by his hips, near the gun Dawson knew they carried. Funny. Like a bullet would be faster than them. “We’ve been talking to Daemon here, and he’s been…very helpful.”

Dawson almost laughed. Not likely, and if Daemon’s stance was anything to go by, whatever questions he’d been asked didn’t sit well with him. Unease trickled through Dawson’s veins. Had they found out about Bethany and her faint trace? That couldn’t be the case. The DOD didn’t know it could be left on humans, and no one, not even Andrew, would relay that kind of information.

Vaughn glanced at his partner before he spoke. “There has been some unusual activity over the last month or so—an increase in EM fields in this area. Your brother appears to have no knowledge of how this could be happening.”

Since the government thought Arum were just psycho Luxen, it wasn’t like they could tell them they’d been hunting or fighting. If the DOD ever discovered that the Arum hunted the Luxen for their abilities, then it was game over. Back to New Mexico, back to living in underground housing, treated like freaks and lab rats.

Dawson shrugged. “Well, we’ve been doing a lot of running in our true forms. Maybe that’s it?”

Vaughn’s lips twisted. “As far as our records indicate, being in your alien form would not cause such a disruption.” The man said alien as if he’d swallowed something nasty. “We find that hard to believe, after looking over the last six months of field reports from around here.”

The DOD needed a hobby, something other than monitoring them.

Dee crossed her legs. “Officers, my brothers do like their physical activity. Sometimes they get a little out of hand. See, they like to play a Luxen form of football.”

“And what would that be?” Lane smiled, because everyone smiled at Dee.

She grinned. “Imagine the football being more of a ball of pure energy. They like to toss that at each other. Maybe that’s what’s registering.”

“Really?” Lane shook his head, eyes widening. “That would be interesting to see.”

“You’re always welcome to join in,” Daemon said with a smirk. “Although I doubt you’d enjoy it.”

Vaughn’s face flushed. “You have a smart mouth, Daemon.”

“Better than a dumb one,” Dawson replied. “At least, that’s what I like to say.”

Daemon chuckled softly. “Well, boys, this has been fun, but if there isn’t anything else, you know where the door is.”

Used to Daemon, Officer Lane stood, but Vaughn remained seated and said, “Why has your…family chosen to stay outside the colony?”

“We enjoy taking part in the human world,” Dee said cheerfully, quick to answer. God only knew how Daemon would’ve responded. “You know, being contributing members of society and whatnot. It’s the same reason why any Luxen chooses to branch out.”

Dawson had trouble keeping his expression straight. For real. The truth was that living in the colony was no better than living in one of the DOD’s facilities they used to “prepare” the Luxen for assimilation. If not worse, even.

Vaughn looked doubtful, but Officer Lane managed to get him up and toward the door. Before they left, though, they reminded the three of them they needed to check in by the end of April for mandatory registration. The DOD kept count religiously of how many lived inside and out of the colony.

Dee slumped in her chair as Dawson closed the door. “I hate when they come by,” she said, scrunching up her face. “They act as if we’ve done something wrong.”

“That new one really is a fan favorite, isn’t he?” Dawson sat on the arm of his sister’s chair. “God, what a dick.”

“He hasn’t been the worst,” Daemon said. And God, wasn’t that the truth. At least Vaughn tried to hide his animosity. “Good save, Dee. Football?” He laughed. “Almost makes me want to try that out.”

Dawson winced. “Yeah, you talk Andrew into doing that with you. I pass.”

“Do you think they’ll ever find out about the Arum?” Dee sat up, dropping her elbows on her knees. “Realize that we aren’t the same?” Fear roughened her voice.

Dawson leaned down, wrapping his arm around his sister’s slender shoulders, and winked. “Nah, they’re not as bright as we are.”

“It’s not ignorance,” Daemon said, eyes trained on the window. “They’re too prideful to consider they don’t know everything there is to know about us. As long as humans believe they’re the most intelligent and strongest life-form on this planet, the better it is for us.”

Bethany wanted to kick herself for agreeing to do the groceries as a part of her chores. Washing dishes by hand would’ve been better than searching down every last item on Mom’s list, especially the ones she couldn’t even pronounce from the organic section.

Pushing the overloaded cart to the mile-long checkout lanes, she wondered how Dawson’s meeting went. A trickle of unease slithered through her veins. She hated the idea of the DOD checking in on them like that, the intrusive questions they had to be answering and the unfairness of how they were monitored.

To her, the Luxen weren’t any different. And she seriously doubted most humans would be afraid of them. The Luxen were just like them.

Once done with checking out and bugging out at how much the food cost, she wheeled her load to the parking lot.

When she’d first arrived, the lot had been crowded, so she’d gotten stuck in the nosebleed section at the back. Heavy, thick trees crowded over the parking lot, and she kept waiting for a deer to dart out and tackle her as she loaded the groceries.


She whipped around, and her heart tumbled unsteadily. One of the Thompson twins stood behind her, so close she caught the scent of his citrus aftershave.

Taking a step back, she knocked into the bumper. “I…I didn’t know you were there.”

The twin’s expression was blank as he cocked his head. “We can be very quiet when we want.”

No shit. Reaching behind her, she pulled the trunk down, still unsure which one stood before her. Usually, she knew by the way they acted. But now…she had no idea.

“Are you shopping?” she asked, clenching her car keys. The sky was already darkening and so close to the woods, very little light got through. She felt cut off.

“Ah, I’m not really shopping.”

Her eyes darted around the parking lot. “I really—”

One second he was there, and then he was right in her face, towering over her. In an instant, she knew which one stood before her.

Andrew smiled coldly. “But I do have a list. And you’re on it.”

No joke, her heart was pounding. Fear coated her mouth, forming a knot in her throat, making it hard for her to breathe. But she refused to shrink away, to run or scream. Inherently, she knew that’s what he wanted. To scare her.

His smile tipped higher. “You know, my sister and I can’t understand what Dawson sees in you. You’re just a silly little human.” His arm shot out so fast it was a blur, picked up a strand of her hair. “And you’re really not even that pretty.”

Oh…oh, that stung more than it should have. Tears burned her eyes as she fought to keep her voice level. “I guess it’s a good thing, then. A relationship between us would never work.”

His eyes narrowed. “And why is that?”

“Because I’m allergic to assholes.”

Andrew did a cough/laugh as he looked to the side. “You think you’re funny. Want to know what’s funny?”

“No. Not really.” She started to turn, but his hands slammed into the trunk. Metal crunched and gave. She was trapped.

“It’s funny that you think anything is going to work or last with you and Dawson.” He laughed again, the sound cold and grating. “So what? You know our secret. Congrats. Here’s a cookie. But you know what? All it takes is one anonymous call into the DOD and then bye-bye Beth.”

She gasped. “You wouldn’t…?”

He pushed off the car and stepped back. “Yeah, even I’m not that much of an ass. Dawson pisses me off, but I’d never do that to him. But if we know, then the rest will know eventually, Bethany. And they barely have any bonds with us.” He rocked back on his heels. “You guys keep this up, one or both of you is going to end up hurt.”

In a blink of an eye, he was gone. Bethany slowly turned around, seeing the empty parking lot. In a daze, she climbed into the car. Her cell phone went off, the screen flashing Dawson’s name.

“Hey,” she croaked.

“You okay?”

Her immediate instinct was to tell him what had happened, but God knew he’d flip out. So she forced herself to pretend she was calm. “How was the meeting?”