Page 6

Bethany drifted through the rest of her classes, nervous and excited and wound up like the tight ball of rubber bands that Simon Cutters always held in his hand throughout chemistry. After he’d tossed it in the air for about the fiftieth time, she wanted to grab it and throw it through the fogged-over windows in their classroom.

In gym, she kept staring at Dawson, who was at another ping-pong table playing against Carissa, a quiet girl with the coolest horn-rimmed glasses Bethany had ever seen. Her gaze went right back to him.

Damn, he made plain white T-shirts a thing to worship.

With every sweep of the paddle, the shirt stretched over taut muscles. Did he run? Work out a lot? Teenage boys usually didn’t sport that kind of a hard body.

Dawson smacked the ball toward Carissa again. She missed it, and in that tiny space of time while she hunted it down, he glanced over at Bethany and smiled.

Her heart skipped right out of her chest. Bad, oh so bad.

A plastic yellow ball zinged past her face, almost kissing her cheek.

Kimmy, her partner, popped her hands on her hips. “You’re not even paying attention.”

She winced, because she wasn’t paying attention at all. “Sorry,” she mumbled, turning around and searching the floor for the damn ball. It was all the way over by the bleachers. “I’ll get it.”

Kimmy sighed, studying her manicured nails. “Yeah, not like I was planning to in the first place.”

Ignoring her, Bethany stalked over to the ball. The whole gawking thing was already getting out of hand, and she had a feeling it was going to get worse. Even now she was fighting the mad urge to look over her shoulder to see if he was watching her. It felt like he was. Do not do it. The muscles in her neck cramped. Absolutely not. Her fingers twitched around the paddle. She bent and—

A golden hand reached the ball before she could. Startled, she took a step back as her gaze drifted up…and up. Where in the hell had he come from? It was the blond from the hallway yesterday—the model-perfect boy with wavy hair that kept falling into crystalline blue eyes. If she remembered correctly, he had been at least four tables over, and there was a good five feet in between each one. She hadn’t even seen him move, and it wasn’t like you could miss something that gorgeous walking around.

Or maybe she just had a bad case of Dawson on the brain.

“Um, thanks for getting…” Her words trailed off as her eyes met his. The coldness in his stare chilled her. He did nothing to hide his dislike. It practically rolled off him and crawled over her skin like a dozen spiders.

“What’s your name?” he demanded.

Bethany blinked. The sound of his voice matched his eyes. Frigid. Hard. Full of snobbish loathing. Back in her old school, she’d been on the receiving end of that kind of a stare more than a few times, especially after she and Daniel had broken up. He’d been the popular one…

The boy smirked. “You have a name, right? Or can you not understand English?”

A hot flush shot over her cheeks, turning them cherry red, she was sure. Her mouth opened but nothing came out. Confrontation wasn’t her thing and this was a confrontation. Okay, so she had no problem getting into it with her mom over things, but with other people? Yeah, she stared at him like she was a mute.

He stepped closer to her, and even though it made her feel crazy for thinking it, she could have sworn that waves of heat blew off of him like he was some kind of electric radiator. Sweat dotted her brow. “I said, what is your name?”

“Her name isn’t any of your business,” a smooth, deep voice cut in.

Dawson stood beside her, but he was glowering at the other boy. He cocked his head to the side. “Give her back the ball, Andrew.”

The temperature in the gym skyrocketed. Kids were starting to stare.

Andrew’s lips curved into a half grin.

“Or do you have a problem understanding English?” Dawson asked. There was a smile on his face, but the way his muscles were tensing up, he was a second away from taking the ball from the other kid.

All of this over a ping-pong ball? How completely bizarre. She cleared her throat and extended her hand. “My name is Bethany. Now can I please have my ball back?”

“That wasn’t so hard, was it?” Andrew’s eyes never left Dawson’s. “We’re going to have to talk soon.”

“Or not,” Dawson replied.

Andrew dropped the ball in her outstretched hand with an arched brow. Then he pivoted around, stalking off toward his table.

“Wow,” she mumbled, unsure of what to make of all of this.

Dawson cleared his throat. “He’s a bit…ah, yeah, Andrew’s just an ass of the highest order. Don’t pay attention to him.”

Bethany nodded and glanced down at her palm, sucking in a sharp breath. Holy smokes…

The ping-pong ball had been melted into an irregular circle.

Chapter 5

Weirded out to the max by Andrew’s hostility toward her and the microwaved ping-pong ball, Bethany took her time cleaning up and changing after gym. Something was going down between the two guys, like they were communicating through epic death glares. It reminded her of the way Dawson and his twin had acted that morning. Like their epic death stares were something else entirely.

Shaking her head, she pulled the band out of her hair and ran her brush through it, then she tossed the brush in her bag and turned around, letting out a little yelp.

Kimmy stood behind her, slender arms crossed over her chest. Lips so glossed they looked like an oil slick.

“God, you scared me.” Bethany picked up her bag, slipping it over her shoulder, and waited for Kimmy to say something. Anything. And she waited some more. Silence. Oookay. “Did you need something? ’Cuz I’m running late.”

“Late to what?” she asked.

Bethany glared at her. As if her comings and goings were any of Barbie’s business. Don’t think so. She stepped around her. “See you later.”

“Wait.” Kimmy darted in front of her, blocking both doors. “Is it true Dawson asked you out?” She didn’t wait for an answer. “Because I heard him ask you during class earlier and my friend Kelly said he asked you to do something today, too.”

If she’d heard him in class, why was she asking now?

“Look, let me give you a piece of advice.” She smiled, a poor attempt at being gracious, as if she were talking to a dear friend. It was so, so fake. “Dawson is a total player. Been through the entire school and then some. So has his brother, and they like to mess with people. Pretending to be each other, if you get my drift.”

Disappointment spiked. Memories of her relationship with Daniel surfaced and flickered through her mind. Old wounds were lanced open, and she blurted out, “Why are you telling me this?”

Kimmy gave her an are you for real look. “You’re the new girl. Why else do you think he’s so interested in you?” Her gaze traveled over Bethany’s jeans and sweater like she seriously couldn’t figure it out. “I’m just trying to do my good deed of the day and warn you. That boy…well, he’s been around.”

With that, Kimmy turned on her heel and strutted off.

“What the hell?” Bethany said out loud, her voice echoing in the empty room. Was everyone in the school always this friendly? Geez.

Taking a deep breath, she left the locker room, telling herself not to read too much into what Kimmy had said. It could be jealousy. It could be pure girl bitchiness.

Or it could be true, whispered an evil, nasty voice. Why would she be surprised if it was? She wouldn’t. Both of the brothers were hotness incarnate. She’d be stupid to believe that Dawson didn’t have an acre of ex-girlfriends. Pushing open the door with more of a punch than anything necessary, she wondered if she should cancel on him. The last thing she needed was to be a notch on his belt, no matter how fine that belt was. And the fact that she was already pissy about the idea spoke volumes.

She was way into him.

And he was waiting for her in the hall, leaning against a trophy case, hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans. He must’ve showered, because locks of dark hair curled over his forehead. The V-neck sweater clung to his shoulders.

Her heart did a pitter-patter in her chest at the sight of him. She stopped short, clutching the strap on her bag. “Hey.”

He didn’t smile or grin, only watched her with intense eyes. “I wanted to apologize for my friend.”

That douche was his friend? “It’s not your fault, but maybe—”

“Yeah, it kind of is.” Pushing off the locker, he ran his hand through his hair. “I know that doesn’t make sense, but I’m just sorry he was such a tool to you. And I hope you didn’t change your mind about grabbing something to eat. Not that I’d blame you if you did.”

Now she was confused. Yes, she was changing her mind, but not because of Andrew. And she honestly couldn’t figure out why his friend’s behavior was his problem. But the sincerity in Dawson’s voice and eyes got to her. Player or not, he felt bad when he had no reason to.

Dawson nodded slowly, as if her lack of answer had been one. “All right, I guess it is what it is.”

Her mouth snapped open but nothing came out. Why did this keep happening around the boys in West Virginia?

Standing there before him, she stared, wanting to tell him that it was okay and that she still, against all common sense, wanted to grab something to eat with him. Wanted to hang out and be friends…maybe even more than friends.

But she didn’t say anything.

Giving her a faint smile, he stepped forward. “Do you have a piece of paper and a pen?”

“Uh, sure.” She dug the items out of her bag and handed them over. He immediately started to scribble something. “Dawson, I really—”

“It’s okay. Here,” he said, handing her the paper and pen back. “That’s my number. Call me anytime, if you want. And again, I’m sorry.”

She glanced at the piece of notebook paper, surprised to see that his handwriting was as fluid and graceful as his movements. When she looked up, Dawson was already gone.

Dawson was pissed. He wanted to go over to the asshat’s house and drive his car through it. The fact he liked his Jetta was the only thing that stopped him from giving them a new doorway. Well, and Adam, the good twin, as he’d come to refer to him, was a pretty cool guy. So was Ash, when she wasn’t with Daemon.

Andrew had a problem with Bethany only because he’d seen Dawson checking her out in gym, and of course, he was one nosy son of a brat. Out of all the Luxen who lived outside of the community, Andrew was the only one who seemed better suited for living among their kind.

Halfway to his house, Dawson’s phone beeped. Hoping it was Bethany and feeling like a fool for doing so, he leaned back and pulled out the slim iPhone from his front pocket.

And of course it was from his darling brother. Message was short and to the point.

Come home now.

Part of him wanted to say screw it and go anywhere but home, but he’d have to go there sometime. However, he did slow down to a near crawl, ticking off the row of trucks with bumper stickers like Real Women Love Ford and Trucks Do It Better.