Page 4

And his distraction had a name.

Bethany Williams.

In his human form, he rubbed the heels of his palms down his face and groaned. There was no reason why he’d spent the last three hours thinking about her. Ha. Three hours? Try the last ten hours.

A blur shot through the room, and before Dawson could lower his hands, Dee flopped down on the bed beside him, her eyes wide.

Dee was probably the only real love of his and Daemon’s lives. Both of them would rain down hell on anyone who messed with their sister. She was their treasure. At home, the females of their race had been cherished. Something the human males didn’t seem to do.

Full of energy and a natural love of just being around others, Dee was like a cyclone that blew through people’s lives. She was also his best friend. They had a bond, one that ran deeper than what they shared with Daemon. Dawson never knew why it was like that. There was this wall around his brother that even they couldn’t really break through. Growing up, it had always been Dee and Dawson.

Dee’s hand fluttered around her as she spoke. “I was outside, and it looked as if a light show was going on in your bedroom. Daemon said you were probably mas—”

And Dee also knew no boundaries.

“Ah, no, please don’t finish that sentence.” He lowered his hands, eyes narrowing at his sister. “Don’t ever finish that sentence.”

She rolled her eyes as she tucked her legs under her. “So, what were you doing?”

“I was thinking.”

Her delicate brows arched. “Thinking caused the light show? Wow. That’s kind of sad, Dawson.”

He grinned. “I know, right?”

She nudged his leg. “Yeah, and you’re not telling me the truth.”

“And yeah, it’s late. Shouldn’t you be asleep?”

Her evergreen eyes rolled. “When did you become Dad? It’s bad enough that Daemon is all parental on us. Not you, too.”

Daemon was parental. He was only a few minutes older than them, but he made sure those few minutes counted.

And the last thing Dawson wanted to do was talk about Bethany with Dee. Talking about Bethany with any of them would be an unnecessary complication at this point. Luxen weren’t forbidden to date humans per say, but the DOD wasn’t down for it and what was the point? Hooking up was one thing, but a relationship? It wasn’t like Dawson could be upfront with what he was. If he did, the DOD would make sure the human disappeared, and who wanted that on his conscience? Then there was the big question. How could you be in a serious relationship with someone and hide who you were?

Not to mention the fact that no one knew if humans and Luxen could even…mate. Offspring were unheard of.

“Why were you outside?” he asked instead.

Her shoulders deflated immediately. “Ash was here.”

Oh, no.

“So, she and Daemon aren’t seeing each other. Again.” Their relationship was like a soap opera for sixteen-year-olds. Granted, the Luxen matured a lot faster than humans, but Dawson couldn’t figure the two out. “And she was outside, yelling at him. Can’t believe you didn’t hear.”

That’s because he was so wrapped up in thinking about Bethany. “Why was she yelling?”

“I don’t know. Daemon probably was looking at another girl or something.” She sighed. “Or he didn’t want to hang out. You never know with her. I sometimes wish they’d break up and stay apart.”

“You just don’t like Ash.”

“It’s not that I dislike her.” Dee pushed off the bed and shot across the room, appearing beside his window. “I just think she’s a bitch.”

Dawson choked on his laugh. “Yeah, you don’t dislike her at all.”

She spun around, hands planted on her hips. “She’s not right for Daemon. And he’s not right for her.”

Sitting up, Dawson swung his legs off the bed and stood. Close to midnight and he felt like he could go for a run. It was going to be a long night. “Who is right for Daemon?”

“Someone who’s not needy, for starters,” she said, skipping over to the bed. “And someone who really cares about him. You know Ash chases after him because it’s expected. Not because she really loves him.”

Dawson’s eyes narrowed into a shrewd stare. “Does this have more to do with you and Adam than Daemon and Ash?”

Her lips puckered. “Not at all.”

“Uh huh.” Sympathy for his sister and brother unfurled, and he started pacing. The Elders didn’t control who they were mated with, but they made suggestions, which were more like expectations. Their race was thinning out and needed repopulating. He got that. Didn’t mean he had to agree with it.

But for right now, Dawson had lucked out. There weren’t any other females in his age group here, but one day he knew another Luxen female would be brought in. Or he would be forced to go to her.

And leave his family behind.

He ran his hands through his hair, already knowing he was probably going to be an outcast one day. He’d deny the Elders’ wishes, plain and simple. Just like he knew Daemon would eventually, because he would never end up with a Luxen like Ash.

But Dee? He glanced at her, feeling anger stir. Dee would be with Adam, whether she loved him or not, and that killed him. His sister deserved better.

All of them deserved better.

Dawson had barely slept, but he was up and jonesing to get to school, even though the March sun had broken through the heavy clouds, already melting the remnants of snow. It would be a great morning to cut class and go out on one of the many trails, but not today…

On his third bowl of Count Chocula, he leaned against the counter and dug in. “Good morning, bro,” he said, watching Daemon shuffle into the kitchen.

Daemon grumbled something as he ambled toward the pantry. Grabbing a Pop-Tart, he unwrapped and devoured the pastry without toasting it. His gaze flicked up, meeting Dawson’s. “What?”

“Nothing,” Dawson said, swallowing another mouthful. “Gonna be an awesome day.”

Eyes narrowing, his brother asked pointedly, “Why are you so chirpy this morning?”

“I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to be chirpy.”

Dee zipped into the kitchen, her light fading out and revealing a cascade of dark, wavy hair falling over her slender shoulders. She grabbed the jug of milk and went for the Froot Loops. All of them were eating the breakfast of champions.

“Good morning!” She whipped a bowl out of the cupboard.

Daemon arched a brow. “That’s chirpy.”

“And I sound nothing like that,” Dawson replied. “Just saying.”

A frown creased Dee’s brow. “What am I missing?”

“Your brother is all excitable this morning,” Daemon said. “For school. There’s something inherently wrong with that.”

Dawson smirked. “There’s something inherently wrong with the fact that Dee and I have to stand here and talk to you while you’re in your boxers.”

“True that,” Dee murmured, making a gagging motion with her finger.

“Whatever.” Daemon stretched, flashing a lazy grin. “Don’t be jealous I’m the better-looking brother.”

Rolling his eyes, Dawson didn’t even bother pointing out the fact that there wasn’t a single thing different about them. Well, other than the fact that Dawson had a way better attitude. Instead of dumping the bowl and spoon like he normally did, he washed and dried them, setting them aside. Pivoting around, he darted his eyes back and forth between his siblings.

They stared openmouthed at him.

“What?” he demanded.

“Did you just…clean a dish?” Dee backed away slowly, blinking. She glanced at Daemon. “The world is going to end. And I’m still a vir—”

“No!” both the brothers yelled in unison.

Daemon looked like he was actually going to vomit. “Jesus, don’t ever finish that statement. Actually, don’t ever change that. Thank you.”

Her mouth dropped open. “You expect me to never have—”

“This isn’t a conversation I want to start my morning with.” Dawson grabbed his book bag off the kitchen table. “I’m so leaving for school before this gets more detailed.”

“And why aren’t you dressed yet?” Dee demanded, her full attention concentrated on Daemon. “You’re going to be late.”

“I’m always late.”

“Punctuality makes perfect.”

Daemon’s sigh traveled through the whole downstairs. “It’s practice makes perfect, sis.”

“Same thing.”

There was a pause. “You’re right. Totally the same thing.”

As Dawson reached the front door, he heard Dee say, “You know you’re my favorite brother, right?”

Dawson smiled.

A deep chuckle came from the kitchen, and then, “I heard you telling Dawson that two days ago. I guess that means today you want to ride with me.”

“Maybe.” She drew out the word.

Closing the door behind him, Dawson stepped outside and headed toward his car. It didn’t take long for Dawson to get to school. Quicker if he lost his human skin but also hard to explain. Since he was early, he listened to music in his Jetta. Then he filed into school, tapped his foot through homeroom, all but bum-rushed the English room, and took his seat, avoiding Kimmy’s all-too-happy smiles.

Twenty seconds in, Dawson realized he wasn’t breathing. Like, not breathing at all. Luxen didn’t need oxygen, but they went through the mechanics to keep up appearances. Looking around frantically, he was relieved to see that no one seemed to notice.

Jesus. He could see the headlines now. Aliens Among Us. Run!

But when Bethany came into class, her dark hair pulled back into a low ponytail, showing off her graceful neck, he may have stopped breathing again. A thousand charming words strung together in his head in a nanosecond, but he averted his eyes to his empty notebook. Notes? Who really took notes in class? Dawson wanted to see if she would talk to him first.

God, he was like a teenage girl. He was so screwed.

Bethany slid around in her chair, pulling one leg up against her chest. She twirled a pen in her right hand. “Hey, Dawson.”

She. Spoke. To. Him. First. It was like winning the lottery, getting laid, and climbing the highest cliff all rolled into one. But he needed to play it cool, because he was trending into lame-o land at a quick pace.

Lifting his chin, he smiled. “You decided to come back for day two. Brave girl.”

“I’m adventurous. What can I say?”

How adventurous? “After I saw the way you handled the paddle yesterday in gym, I can imagine.”

Her cheeks flushed, and it made her all the more pretty. “I’m like a professional ping-pong player. I got skills.”

Without realizing it, he was leaning forward. Only a few inches separated their faces. God, how he loved the fact she didn’t pull away or act coy. She stared back, meeting him head-on.

Words came right out of his mouth. “What are you doing this weekend?”