Page 22

“Are you okay?”

“Yes,” she said, staring at him. Dark smudges had already bloomed under his eyes. What he did had worn him out. “But I can walk.”

“I’d rather carry you.”

She smiled. “I’m not going to fall again. I promise.”

Dawson didn’t find the joke funny, not that she blamed him. It took a little convincing that she could walk before he set her down, but he didn’t let go of her hand or take his eyes off her the whole way back to the car.

The drive to his house was quick and quiet. When he killed the engine in front of the house, he faced her. “Bethany…”

In that instant, she remembered what she’d heard. Him saying he loved her over and over again. A knot formed in her throat, and her eyes burned. “Thank you,” she whispered hoarsely. “For whatever you did. Thank you and I love you.”

Dawson leaned back in his seat, smiling weakly. “I wish—”

“I know. I heard you. And that’s all that matters.”

He kissed her gently, as if he were afraid he’d hurt her. “I’m going to drive you and your car home, then come back to my house.”

“I’m really okay.” She glanced down at herself. Her shorts were torn and her hoodie was bloodied. She was a mess. Thank God her parents had taken Phillip to a puppet show in Cumberland and Uncle Will would most likely be in bed when she got there.

Outside of the car, he pulled her into a fierce hug that she didn’t want to end. He smoothed back her hair, kissed her until she thought she’d stopped breathing again.

“You’re glowing,” he murmured against her temple.

“How badly?”

“You’re bright but beautiful.” There was a pause when he kissed her forehead. “Brighter than I’ve seen. I’ll feel better getting you home and checking out the area first, okay?”

Oh, no. Her heart sank. All the ground they’d made with the others would be lost. “Your family and friends—”

“I’ll take care of it. Don’t worry.”

It was hard not to worry, but right now, her brain was spinning with everything. Once inside her car, he got behind the steering wheel and smiled at her. He looked so tired; his hair was a mess of black waves and his shirt was covered in her…her blood. She swallowed thickly, forcing her gaze forward.

Standing on the porch was Daemon. By the brutal look on his face, there was no doubt that he’d seen them—seen her trace.

Bethany’s house was dark and silent when she walked in. All she wanted to do was shower all the blood and grime off and sleep for a year. Dawson was coming back over, and she was going to sneak him in. A first for her, but she knew he honestly needed to be near her right now. Dawson was rattled, still shaky over what happened.

So was she.

In the kitchen, she grabbed a bottle of water and downed it in one gulp. The memory of falling haunted her steps as she threw the plastic in the trash. She’d fallen and the impact—oh, God—the pain had been so intense but brief. Final.

And then there had been nothing.

Bethany wasn’t sure how long that nothing had lasted, but the next thing she’d heard was Dawson telling her to please wake up and that he loved her. At first, she’d been confused. Had she fallen asleep? But then it hit her.

And she was still reeling from it.

Had she been knocked unconscious? If the blood was any indication, she’d been seriously injured. The big question was—had she been knocking on death’s door or had she died?

Bethany shuddered.

Somehow, Dawson had healed her—fixed everything that had been damaged in the fall. What he had done was awe-inspiring and beyond comprehension. And their hearts—they’d been beating in perfect sync. She didn’t know how she knew, but she did. It had to be some kind of weird byproduct of what he’d done. Very weird, but nothing she was afraid of. How could she be?

Dawson loved her.

And that kind of love… It was amazing.

Still thirsty, she grabbed another bottle of water and headed for the stairs. Without any warning, the kitchen light came on.

Uncle Will stood in the doorway, his eyes blinking against the light. “Bethany, what—oh my God, are you okay?”

Crap. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

He shuffled to her as fast as he could. Over the last couple of weeks, he had been getting better, stronger. Brown hair peppered with gray covered his head now. Soon, he’d be living back in his own home again.

“My God, Beth, you’re covered in blood.” He put a shaky hand on her shoulder, eyeing her like any doctor would, searching for visible injuries. “What the hell happened?”

Think fast, Beth, think fast. “Dawson and I went hiking, and he cut himself on a jagged rock. He bled…a lot.”

Uncle Will’s eyes widened. “Did he bleed all over you?”

“Pretty much, but he’s okay.” She went past him, heart pounding. “Everything’s fine, though, so there’s nothing to worry about.”


“I’m pretty tired, though.” God, she needed to get away and clean herself up. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

Not waiting for a response, she dashed up the stairs and closed her door behind her. Crap, her uncle would probably say something to her parents and they’d flip. But there weren’t any visible injuries. Maybe she’d be able to convince them it wasn’t as bad as it seemed to Uncle Will.

Not maybe. She would.

Dawson’s secret relied upon Bethany convincing her family everything was fine.

Chapter 18

Dawson was so wiped out he could barely stand. He plopped down at the kitchen table, resting his head on his hand. A steady throbbing had taken up residency between his temples. He needed to shower and then get his butt over to Bethany’s. What he wanted was to hold her, to reassure himself that she was very much alive.

But first he was in for a major bitching session.

Daemon glared at him from across the table. “What the hell happened? And don’t you dare say nothing. She’s glowing like a freaking sun.”

What could he say? He didn’t have a clue. No way could he explain what he had done, and until he understood it better, he wasn’t going to tell anyone. Not even Dee.

“I’m still waiting,” Daemon said.

Dawson pried one eye open. “I was showing off, being stupid. I wasn’t thinking.”

His brother’s mouth dropped open. Disbelief filled his expression. “You have to be the—”

“Stupidest guy around, I know.”

“That doesn’t explain why both of you look like you jumped off a mountain.”

Dawson flinched. “Bethany fell…and skinned up her hands. It looks worse than it is.”

Daemon’s gaze surveyed him. “No doubt.”

Dawson sighed. “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry,” Daemon growled. “Sorry really doesn’t fix this, bro. That other Arum—he’s still out there. And now you’ve gone and lit up your girl’s ass like the Fourth of freakin’ July. Again. You’re going to get that girl killed.”

Whoa, that stung like a bitch. “Is the other Arum really out there, Daemon?” He lifted his head, weary. “We haven’t seen him or any other Arum in months. He’s gone.”

“We don’t know that.”

Very true, but he was too tired to argue. “I’ll keep her away from here until it fades.” If it ever faded, because he wasn’t sure it would. “I’ll take care of this.”

Anger blew off Daemon. “You know, I’ve been crazy to let you keep fooling around with this human, hoping you’d eventually come to your damn senses, but obviously I should’ve stepped in a lot sooner.”

“I’m not fooling around with her.” Dawson sat back in his chair, meeting his brother’s furious glare. “I love her. And I’m not leaving her because you don’t approve. So get over it.”


“No. You don’t get it. My life isn’t yours—it doesn’t belong to the Luxen and it doesn’t belong to the DOD.” Fury fueled his energy now. “And giving her up is like giving up a piece of me. Is that what you want?”

Daemon’s fists thumped on the table. “Dawson, I—”

“She makes me happy. And shouldn’t that make you happy? For me? And without her…yeah, I don’t need to finish that thought.”

Daemon looked away, lips thin. “Of course I want to see you happy. I want nothing more than you and Dee to be happy, but bro, this is a human girl.”

“She knows the truth about us.”

“I wish you’d stop saying that.”

“Why?” Dawson ran his fingers through his hair. “I can stop saying it, but it doesn’t change anything.”

A dry, bitter laugh came from his brother. And then what came next rhymed with suck and ended with duck. “And what happens when you break up?”

“We aren’t breaking up.”

“Oh, Jesus, Dawson, you’re both sixteen. Come on.”

Dawson flew to his feet. “You don’t get it. You know what—it doesn’t matter. I love her and that’s not changing. Either you can support me like a brother should or you can stay the hell out of my face.”

Daemon lifted his head, his eyes wide and pupils white. Shock stole a lot of the color from his skin, and Dawson had never seen the look on his brother’s face. As if Dawson had walked up and shoved a blade deep into his own brother’s back.

“So, it’s going to be like that?” Daemon asked.

Dawson hated his next words, but he had to say them. “Yeah, it’s going to be like that.”

Standing, Daemon pushed back his chair and went over to the window. Several moments passed in silence, and then he laughed roughly. “God, I hope I never fall in love.”

A little bit surprised by that statement, Dawson watched his twin. “Do you really want that?”

“Hell yeah,” Daemon replied. “Look at how stupid it’s made you.”

Dawson smiled in spite of everything. “I know that’s probably an insult, but I’m going to take it as a compliment.”

“You would.” Daemon faced him and leaned against the counter. “I don’t like this. I’ve never liked this, but…but you’re right. You’ve been right.”

Hell just froze over.

A small, wry grin appeared on Daemon’s face. “I can’t tell you who to date. Hell, no one can tell any of us who to love.”

Man, he stopped breathing. “What are you saying?”

“Not that you need my permission, because you pretty much do whatever you want, but I’ll support you.” He rubbed his eyes. “And you’re going to need it when the rest see how bright she is.”

Struck dumb by Daemon’s submission, Dawson crossed the room and did something he hadn’t done in a long time. He hugged him. “Thank you, Daemon. I mean it, thank you.”