Page 9

“That…has to be nice,” he said.

“It is.” She twirled the straw around, knocking the ice cubes against the glass. “She cooks more now, since Dad is gone most of the week and her brother is staying with us. Food is her coping mechanism.”

Remembering what she’d said about the man, he felt for her. Luxen didn’t get sick. Like, ever. “How is he doing?”

“Better. He just looks…worse than how he feels, I think.” A half smile appeared as she watched the ice cubes dance. “I feel bad, because I don’t know what to say to him. Like I barely know him and he’s going through this…life-altering event, and whatever I say just sounds lame.”

“I’m sure he appreciates you just being there.”

“You think?” Hope sparkled in her tone.

“Yeah, I do.” Wanting to reassure her, he reached across the table and placed his hand over her free one.

A shock passed through their hands, and Bethany let out a startled gasp. Looking up, her other hand holding the straw jerked as their eyes met. The glass tipped toward her; the contents ready to make a run for it.

Letting go of her hand, he caught the glass just as it started to fall. A bit of liquid sloshed over the rim as he settled the glass. “Careful,” he murmured.

Bethany stared at him, mouth open.


She blinked. “I…I just didn’t see your arm move. One second you were holding my hand and the next you caught my glass.”

Oh. Shit. Sometimes, Dawson just didn’t stop to think. A human probably couldn’t have stopped the glass from kamikaze-ing into her lap. Forcing a grin, he played it off. “I have hella quick reflexes.”

“I can see that,” she murmured, grabbing a napkin and swiping up the mess. “You should play sports…or something.”

Ha. Yeah, that wouldn’t happen. He’d demolish the humans even if he held back. Luckily for him, Bethany seemed to accept his answer and their conversation slipped into the easy chatter that kept them going for hours on the phone. When the pizza arrived, they both dug in. He laughed as she dipped her breadstick in the pizza sauce. It was something both he and Dee did.

And thinking his sister’s name must’ve spooked her up, because the chimes went off and he felt a familiar presence. Eyes glued to the front of the diner, he almost toppled out of the booth when his suspicions were confirmed.

Dee was here. And she wasn’t alone. Adam was with her.

Beth’s brows puckered as she saw his expression. Glancing over her shoulder, she pursed her lips. “That has to be your sister…with your, uh, nice friend.”

Please don’t come back here. Please don’t come back here. “That’s Dee, but that’s not Andrew. That’s his brother, Adam.”

Her head whipped back toward him. “Twins?”

“Triplets like us.” His gaze bounced back to the front of the diner. Aaaaaand his prayers went unanswered. Dee’s gaze locked with his and her eyes went so wide you’d think she was staring at the president of the United States. She made a beeline straight for them, Adam in tow. The string of curses he had going inside his head would’ve made Daemon proud. “I am so sorry. I swear I didn’t invite them.”

Beth’s head cocked to the side. “It’s okay. Don’t worry.”

He wasn’t so much worried about how Dee and Adam would behave. They were totally Team Human, but his sister…God love her, but she was a bit much to take in sometimes.

Dee stopped in front of the table, her forest-green eyes bouncing from Dawson to Bethany. “What a complete surprise to find you here. I had no idea you were coming. If you’d said something, you know, like a decent brother would have, Adam and I could’ve come with. Except now we’re like total stalkers, because you were here first.”

Dee took a deep breath. “And you have company. So we’re totally busting up in your…date? Is it a date or just like two friends hanging out?”

Dawson’s mouth worked but nothing came out as he glanced at Bethany, who kept looking between the two of them, her lips twitching as if she were trying not to smile.

“Ah, lack of answer totally means a date.” Dee grinned as she tossed her hair over her shoulder. Then she swung on Bethany and did another verbal aerobic feat. “So you’re the girl who Dawson stays up talking to half the night? He thinks I don’t know, but I do. Anyway, your name must be Bethany Williams? We haven’t met yet.” She shoved her slender hand out. “I’m Dee.”

Bethany shook her hand. “Nice to meet you…and yeah, I guess I am that girl.”

His sister shook Beth’s hand, which actually shook her entire body, good God. “You’re really pretty. And I can already tell you’re nice, which is good, because Dawson is my favorite brother, and if—”

“Whoa there, girl, slow it down.” Adam placed his hand on Dee’s shoulder. His sympathetic gaze met Dawson’s. “We were just picking up some food.”

Dawson let out a breath of relief.

“Oh, that’s too bad.” Bethany actually sounded sincere. Wow. Most people would’ve collapsed from exhaustion by now. “We could’ve shared a table.”

Dee’s smile was the size of a Volkswagen bus. “I was right! You are nice.” She turned to her brother, brows arching. “Actually, you’re probably too nice for him.”

“Dee,” Adam muttered.

Dawson grinned. “I thought I was your favorite brother.”

“You are. When I want you to be.” She twirled back to Bethany. “Well, we shall leave you guys to your…?”

There was no way out of this one, and Dawson didn’t want to hide what he was doing. Saying the word wouldn’t start a bunch of crap, but considering how everyone already had their suspicions…oh, what the hell.

“It’s a date,” Dawson said. And then he wanted to scream it.

Bethany blushed.

Adam grabbed Dee’s hand, pulling her back toward the counter. He glanced over his shoulder, mouthing, Sorry.

“Well…” Dawson let out a loud sigh, wondering who would stroll through the door next. Daemon? Dear God. “That would be my sister.”

Bethany placed her cheek in her palm and grinned. Her eyes danced. “I like her.”

“Her mouth…is bionic.”

She giggled. “She seems really sweet.”

“And hyper.”

Smacking his arm lightly, she leaned back. “And Adam is way nicer than his brother.”

“A rabid hyena is nicer than Andrew,” he retorted. “When we were kids, he locked me in an old chest once. Left me there for hours.”

“What? Geez, that’s terrible.” There was a pause. “So, back to the fact that there are two sets of triplets in a town the size of a gnat. Odd, right?”

She had no idea. There was a truckload of triplets around this town, but they stayed in the Luxen community deep inside the forest surrounding Seneca Rocks, rarely seen by the human populace. Only one or two of the siblings worked out in the human world. There was safety in numbers and the Elders liked to keep everyone under their thumbs. At least that’s what Daemon believed.

“Our families have been friends for years. When we moved here, so did they.” It was the closest thing to the truth.

Genuine interest flickered in her eyes. She asked about Daemon next. Describing his older brother to Bethany was about as easy as trying to avoid stepping on a landmine in the middle of a war. They were there for over two hours, which gained them a lot of impatient stares from the staff, who probably wanted to free up the table.

When it finally came time to leave, Dawson realized, once again, that he felt reluctant at the thought of their parting. He hung by her car, twirling his keys around a finger. “I had a really good time.”

“I did, too.” Her cheeks were ruddy in the wind. Pretty. She met his eyes, and then her gaze jumped away. “We should do it again.”

“I plan on it.” Dawson wanted to kiss her. Right then. Right there. But instead, he held back and gave her a lame-ass hug like a good guy. “See you tomorrow?”

Dumb question, since they had school tomorrow.

Bethany nodded and then stretched up on the tips of her toes, placing her hand on his chest for support. Stepping into his body, she wrapped one arm around the small of his back. He didn’t dare move. She pressed her lips against his cheek. “Talk to you tonight?”

He lowered his head, inhaling the clean scent of her hair. Being this close to her, he felt like he was in his true form, and he opened his eyes just to make sure he hadn’t flipped his glow switch.

“Of course,” he murmured, running his hand up her arm, fingers brushing the small hand pressed against his chest. A shiver rolled through her body and into his, causing him to tense up. “What are we doing tonight, again?”

She laughed, slipping free from his embrace. “You’re calling me.”

Dawson took a step toward her, chin lowering. The way her flush deepened had him wanting to touch her again. “Yeah, that’s right.”

“Good.” She kept backing up, until she was on the other side of her car, opening the door. “Because I really don’t think I can go to sleep without hearing your voice now.”

Dawson’s thoughts scattered. All he could do was stand there and watch her drive away. And only when he was sure she couldn’t see him, he let his lips split into a smile so wide it’d put Dee’s to shame.

Turning on his heel, he started toward his Jetta and then came to a sudden stop. The small hairs on the back of his neck rose, and it had nothing to do with the wind.

Someone was watching him.

Dawson scanned the parking lot in the waning light. The place was crowded, full of trucks and other obscenely large vehicles. One stood out.

A black Expedition with heavily tinted windows was parked toward the back, engine running.

Anger rose in him so quickly he almost lost his hold. And wouldn’t his stalkers like that? A Luxen doing the Full Monty right in front of humans. Freaking DOD. Dawson was accustomed to them checking in, which really meant stalking them. Today was really no different. Except they had seen him with Bethany, and as he pivoted around and headed back to his car, it took everything in him not to walk over to that truck and light their asses up.

Three days later and Bethany was still floating from Sunday. Corny as hell, but she was floating like there were clouds on her feet. Arriving late to her locker before lunch, she stood in the empty hall, switching out books. The grin on her face was inked on, going nowhere. Her manic happiness had a name and—

“Hey there,” Dawson said, his breath warming her ear.

Squeaking, she spun and dropped her book. Clasping a hand over her chest, she stared at Dawson wide-eyed. “How…how in the world? I didn’t even hear you.”

He picked up the book and handed it over, then leaned against the locker beside her, giving a lopsided shrug. “I’m quiet.”