Page 20

As Dawson gave her a brief rundown, she drove home, her hands shaking the entire way.

It was close to eight when Dawson got off the phone with Bethany. He roamed his bedroom, restless. Something had been off about her. He’d asked to the point of annoyance if she was okay. Each time she said yes, but he sensed something.

Half an hour later, his phone rang. Hoping it was Bethany, he snatched it off his bed, but frowned when he looked at the caller ID. “Adam?”

“Hey, got a sec?”

He sat. “Sure.”

There was a pause. “Man, I hate to tell you this, but Andrew came home earlier, and I heard him talking to Ash.”

Unease built inside Dawson. “About what?”

“Apparently, he ran into your girl. I think he may have said some crap to her,” Adam said, sighing. “I just thought I’d let you know.”

Dawson was on his feet without realizing, struggling not to slip into his true form and fry his phone. Again. So angry he could barely speak, he thanked Adam for the heads up and dialed Beth. It took a few tries to get her to ’fess up, and when he did, he saw red.

Andrew had basically threatened her.

Dawson reassured Bethany everything was cool, but when he hung up the phone, he didn’t even bother grabbing his car keys.

He was about to go apeshit.

Flipping into his true form, he went out the front door and to the woods, taking the back way to the Thompsons’ house. They lived on the other side of Petersburg, which was a whopping dozen or so miles that took him about thirty seconds to cross. He stopped at the paved driveway, an unheard-of luxury for homes this far off the beaten track.

Dawson had always hated the Thompson house. It was out in the middle of nowhere, as big as a goddamned mansion, and had the warmth of a mausoleum.

Adam answered the door, cringing when he saw Dawson’s harsh expression. “Uh, this isn’t going to be a happy visit, is it?”

“Are your nosy, pain-in-my-ass siblings still home?”

Adam nodded and stepped aside. “They’re in the movie room.”

Knowing the way, he slid past Adam and stalked through the massive foyer, the dining room no one in his or her right mind used, and into a den. Adam was right behind him, not saying a word.

Dawson waved his hand, opening the door to the theater. Light spilled into the dark room, casting yellowish light between the recliners. They were watching an old episode of 90210. Lame didn’t even do that justice.

Andrew turned around, scowling when he saw Dawson. “Unless you’ve come to apologize for being such an ass to me, I don’t want any of what you’re selling.”

His sister held a nail file over her fingers. “Somehow I doubt that’s why he’s here, Andy.”

“Yeah, you’d be correct on that.” Dawson’s hands formed fists at his sides. “I want you two to listen, because I swear this will be the last time I say this. I want both of you to leave Bethany alone. Don’t talk to her. Don’t approach her. Hell, don’t even consider thinking about her.”

Andrew raised himself fluidly, his blue eyes starting to glow like diamonds. “Or what?”

The back of Dawson’s neck started to burn. Screw the whole telling him part. He shed his human form in an instant and shot down the narrow aisle, slamming into a still-human Andrew. Over the roar in his ears, he heard Ash’s surprised shriek. The force of his impact took them both all the way to the screen and when they hit, it ripped right over the dickhead’s face.

Wrapping his hand around Andrew’s throat, he rose off the ground, dragging the struggling boy with him. Andrew had switched forms, but he couldn’t break Dawson’s hold. Dawson took him all the way to the vaulted ceiling, pinning him there.

Or what? Dawson spoke directly into Andrew’s thoughts, driving the point home. You threaten Bethany again, in any way, and I’ll make sure you can’t talk again. To anyone. Ever. Do you understand me?

“Dawson!” Ash yelled from below. “What are you doing? Stop! Do something, Adam!”

Adam’s laugh followed. “Someone needed to put Andrew in his place. I always figured it would be Daemon. Who knew.”

Energy crackled up Dawson’s arm. He was this close to letting it go and knocking Andrew into next week. The flare of his light caused Andrew to shrink away from him. Do you understand me?

Andrew hesitated, but then he nodded.

Good, because this isn’t happening again. Then he dropped Andrew.

Andrew hit the floor of the theater, flipping into his human form. He lifted his head, shooting Dawson a murderous look, but amazingly, he kept his mouth shut.

Coming back down to the floor, he turned on Ash. And that includes you. Stay away from her. Better yet, I’d love it if you stayed away from my brother.

Her mouth dropped open. “Why?”

You wanna know why? He can do so much better than you. Still furious, he struggled to bring back his human form, and when he did, his voice was frigid. “If any of you want to treat humans like they’re not good enough for us to be near, then go back to the damn colony. You’ll fit in perfectly there.”

Turning from a stunned Ash to Adam, he took a deep breath. “Sorry, man. You’re cool.”

Adam shrugged. “Don’t worry. We’re totally cool.”

Dawson nodded and headed toward the den. “I’ll see my way out.”

The thing is, every Luxen feared Daemon’s notorious temper. His brother was like a lit fuse, ready to explode at any minute, but what they didn’t know was that it was another thing Dawson shared with Daemon. When push came to shove, and it involved someone he cared about, he could be just as mean.

Chapter 16

After that, Adam and Ash backed off, way off. And things…ah, they were great. School was almost out, and he and Bethany honestly couldn’t get enough of each other. Daemon said he was whipped a few days ago, but Dawson didn’t care. Thinking about her brought a smile to his face. And being with her completed him in a way he’d never thought possible. With Bethany, he didn’t think of himself as something separate from the thousands of people around him.

He just was…himself.

Dee even started hanging out with them the times he’d brought Bethany to their house. Daemon was never there when she was, and he really hadn’t warmed up to her yet, but when they joined him for lunch, he kept it cool.

It killed him that Daemon still hadn’t accepted their relationship. And he knew it bothered Bethany, too, because she didn’t want to be the cause of any of their problems, but it wasn’t like they weren’t trying. It was on Daemon. He’d come around only when he wanted to.

And right now, he knew where Daemon was. With Ash. They were back together again. As much as that bothered him, he kept his mouth shut. The whole throwing stones in glass houses stuff sucked.

There was a knock on the front door. Smiling, Dawson swung his legs off the couch and went to answer.

Bethany stood there, hair pulled back in a high ponytail. His gaze drifted over her, and damn, he had more reasons to love warm weather. She was wearing shorts that showed off her legs and a hoodie over her tank top.

She stuck out one foot. “These are the only sneakers I have. You think they’ll work?”

Without saying a word, he wrapped his arms around her waist, lifting her off her feet with ease. “You’ll look cute up there.”

She laughed. “Dawson—”

Lowering her slowly against his chest, he grinned as her cheeks flushed. Her whiskey-colored eyes heated seconds before he kissed her. When he settled her on her feet again, she swayed a little.

“That’s the kind of greeting I like,” she said, touching her lips.

His eyes followed her movements to those pink lips. There was green paint on her pinkie, and seeing that, his heart expanded. As he wrapped his hand around the one on her mouth, he realized he was absolutely crazy about her. Pulling her into the living room, he kept going until the backs of his legs hit the couch and he sat. Bethany climbed into his lap and wrapped her arms around his neck.

Dawson stopped breathing as he tilted his head back, and she lowered her mouth to his. The kiss was deep and scorching, endless. Not breaking contact, she unzipped her hoodie and he pushed it off her shoulders. Running his fingers up her bare arms, he grinned against her mouth when she shivered.

He could feel the cells in his body striving to change as he slipped his fingers under the hem of her shirt, going up and up until she was making soft little sounds. The rush of sensations firing through him drowned out everything else. When she started moving against him, his hands dropped to her hips, his fingers digging into the denim of her shorts.

Thank God no one was home, because they would’ve gotten an eyeful.

And that snapped him out of the haze. He clasped her cheeks, his thumb stroking along her jaw. “We…we have to stop…or I won’t be able to.”

For a second, it seemed like Bethany didn’t get it, and then her face turned cherry red. “Oh.”

“Yeah,” he murmured, his eyes dropping to her swollen lips. God, she was beautiful to him—perfect.

Bethany shuddered. “We don’t have to stop, you know? I’m…I’m ready.”

He almost lost his hold then. The images her words brought forth tested what self-control he had. Wanting nothing more than to carry her upstairs and show her just how much she got to him, he wanted their first time to be special. Dinner, a movie, maybe some flowers and candles—not doing it on the couch or on his unmade bed in his messy bedroom that had socks and God knows what else strewn across the floor.

“Later,” he promised, meaning it.

She snuggled in, resting her cheek on his shoulder. “Soon?”

“Very soon…”

Several minutes passed and then she said, ““So…back to the shoes. They’ll work, right?”

“They’re perfect for where I’m taking you.” They were going hiking again. Two weekends ago, he’d taken her on the trails, but today, he wanted to show her one of his favorite lookout spots. They were supposed to go last weekend, but it had rained for days, saturating the ground.

Bethany climbed off him. It was time to get this show on the road, because if he didn’t, his best intentions were going to fly right out the window. He grabbed two bottles of water from the fridge, and they headed to his car.

They drove about a mile down the road, turning onto a little-known access road to the Seneca Rocks. Park Rangers steered clear of this part. Mainly because it led to the colony deep within the forests surrounded the Rocks. And tourists were forbidden. Signs warning against trespassing were everywhere.

Parking about two miles from the entrance, they hoofed it for about forty minutes. Bethany laughed and chattered the whole way. Several times they stopped so she could take pictures of the scenery she wanted to paint later.

When they reached the base of the mountains, Bethany swallowed hard. The slope running up the side to the little outcropping that gave a decent view was for beginners, no gear necessary, so Dawson wasn’t worried.

“Are you sure I can climb this without killing myself?” she asked, shielding her eyes with her hand.