Obsidian, p.18
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       Obsidian, p.18

         Part #1 of Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
 
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Chapter 18

 

  "Katy, you've been so quiet today. What's on your mind?"

  I winced, wishing my mother wasn't so good at reading me. "I'm just tired. " I forced a smile for her benefit.

  "Are you sure that all?"

  Guilt ate at me. I rarely spent time with my mother, and I wished I hadn't been distracted.

  "I'm sorry, Mom. I guess I am a little out of it today. "

  She started washing our dinner dishes.

  "How are things with Daemon and Dee?" We'd made it all day without talking about them. "They're doing great. I think I may go watch a movie with them later. " She smiled. "Are you going with both of them?"

  I narrowed my eyes. "Mom, please. "

  "Honey, I'm your mother. I do have a right to ask. "

  "I'm not sure, really. I don't even know if we are going. It was just an idea. " I grabbed an apple out of the fruit bowl and took a bite.

  "What are you doing with your evening, Mom?" She tried to look nonchalant. "I'm going out and having coffee with Mr. Michaels tonight. "

  "Mr. Michaels? And who is he?" I asked between bites. "Wait. Is he that fine-looking doctor at the hospital?"

  "Yes, the one and only. "

  "Is this a date?" I leaned against the counter, grinning around the apple. "Go Mom. " My mother blushed - actually blushed. "It's just coffee. Not a date. "

  That explained why she kept picking out dresses today, going as far as making me choose at least two of the pretty things from her closet.

  "Well, I hope you have fun on your not a date, but sounds like a date. " Smiling, she chattered on about her evening plans and then about a patient she had yesterday. Before she left to get ready, she brought me a couple of dresses she'd found in the back of her closet. "Well, if you go out tonight, why don't you wear one of these?

  You'll look pretty in them. They always looked too young for me to wear. " My nose scrunched.

  "Mom, I'm not the one who has a date tonight. " She scoffed. "I don't either. "

  "Whatever!" I yelled as she raced up the stairs.

  It didn't take her long to get ready and leave.

  Since it wasn't technically a date, she was meeting him at a little diner in town. I hoped she had a good time; she deserved to have fun. Since Dad had passed away, I don't think she had even looked twice at a guy. Which meant Mr.

  Michaels must be special.

  Other than Dee mentioning that we should get together, there hadn't been any plans for the night. I knew Daemon was keeping an eye on me from next door all day, but I'd refused to let him hover at my house. They'd told me the Arum were stronger at night and preferred to attack then. I felt pretty safe during the day. I'd wanted to spend a normal day of reading and blogging and hanging out with my mom.

  But it was strange going about normal stuff after such a huge secret. I felt like they should be out stopping accidents, curing world hunger, and saving kittens caught in trees.

  Tossing the apple core in the garbage, I fiddled with the ring on my finger as I looked over the dresses on the table. I wouldn't be wearing them on a date anytime soon.

  A sharp knock on the back door jarred me out of my thoughts. I went to the door and Daemon stood there. Even dressed in casual jeans and a plain white shirt that strained against his upper body, he looked utterly magnificent. It was unsettling. And what was even more unnerving was the way he stood there and stared at me. His brilliant jade gaze was intense and consuming.

  "Hey?" I said.

  He nodded, giving me no clue what kind of mood he was in.

  Oh b oy. "Um, do you want to come in?" He shook his head. "No, I thought maybe we could go do something. "

  "Do something?"

  Amusement flashed in his eyes. "Yeah.

  Unless you have a review to post or a garden that needs tending. "

  "Ha. Ha. " I started to shut the door in his face.

  He threw his hand out, easily stopping it without touching it. "Okay. Let me try that again. Would you like to do something with me?"

  Not really, but I was curious. And a part of me was beginning to understand why Daemon was so standoffish. Maybe - just maybe - we could do this without wanting to kill one another. "Where did you have in mind?" Daemon pushed away from the house and shrugged. "Let's go to the lake. "

  "I'll check the road before I cross this time. " I followed him, avoiding his amused look. I shoved my hands in the pockets of my shorts and decided to not beat around the bush.

  "You're not taking me out in the woods because you changed your mind and decided your secret is not safe with me, are you?" Daemon busted out laughing. "You're very paranoid. " I snorted. "Okay, that is coming from an alien who apparently can toss me into the sky without touching me. "

  "You haven't locked yourself in any rooms or rocked in any corners, right?" I rolled my eyes and began walking again.

  "No Daemon, but thanks for making sure I'm mentally sound and all. "

  "Hey. " He threw up his hands. "I need to make sure you aren't going to lose it and potentially tell the entire town what we are. "

  "I don't think you need to worry about that for several reasons," I replied dryly.

  Daemon gave me a pointed look. "You know how many people we've been close to? I mean, really close to?"

  I made a face. It wasn't hard to imagine what he meant. Oddly, I found myself not liking those images.

  His chuckle was deep and throaty. "Then one little girl goes and exposes us. Can you see how hard that is for me to. . . trust?"

  "I'm not a little girl, but if I could go back in time and do it all over I wouldn't have stepped out in front of that truck. "

  "Well that is good to know," he responded.

  "But I don't regret finding out the truth. It explains so much. Wait, can you go back in time?" I asked seriously. The possibility hadn't crossed my mind before but now I honestly wondered.

  Daemon sighed and shook his head. "We can manipulate time, yes. But it's not something we'd do, and only going forward. At least I've never heard of anyone being able to bend time to the past. " My eyes felt like they were going to pop out. "Jesus, you guys make Superman look lame. "

  He smiled as he dipped his head down to avoid a low-hanging branch. "Well, I'm not telling you what our kryptonite is. "

  "Can I ask you a question?" I asked after a couple of moments of us walking along the leaf-covered trail. When he nodded, I took a deep breath. "The Bethany girl that disappeared - she was involved with Dawson, right?" He cut me a sharp sidelong glance. "Yes. "

  "And she found out about you guys?" Several seconds passed before he answered.

  "Yes. "

  I glanced at him again. His face was stoic as he stared straight ahead. "And that's why she disappeared?"

  Again, there was a gap of silence. "Yes. " Okay. He was only going to give me one-word answers. Nice. "Did she tell someone? I mean, why did she. . . have to disappear?" Daemon sighed heavily. "It's complicated, Kat. "

  Complicated meant a lot of things. "Is she. . . dead?"

  He didn't answer.

  I stopped, digging an odd-shaped pebble out of my sandal. "You're just not going to tell me?" He grinned at me with infuriating ease.

  "So why did you want to come out here?" I shook the rock out and put my sandal back on.

  "Because it's fun for you to be all evasive?"

  "Well, it is amusing to watch your cheeks get all pink when you're frustrated. " I glared at him.

  Daemon smirked and started walking again.

  We didn't say anything until we reached the lake. He went to the edge and glanced back to where I stopped a few feet behind him. "Besides the twisted fact that I like watching you get all bent out of shape, I figured you'd have more questions. " Well, it was sick he liked pissing me off. Even sicker was the fact I liked watching him get all pissy, too. "I do. "

  "Some I won't answer. Some I will. " Daemon paused, looking thoughtful. "Might as well get all your questi
ons out of the way. Then we don't have a reason to bring any of this up again, but you're going to have to work for those questions. " Never bring up the fact that they were aliens? Ha. Okay. "What do I have to do?"

  "Meet me on the rock. " He turned back to the lake and kicked off his shoes.

  "What? I'm not wearing a bathing suit. "

  "So?" He turned around, grinning. "You could almost strip down - "

  "Not going to happen. " I folded my arms.

  "Figured," he replied. "Haven't you ever gone swimming in your clothes before?" Yes. Who hadn't? But it wasn't even that warm. "Why do we have to go swimming for me to ask questions?"

  Daemon stared at me a moment, then his lashes lowered, fanning his cheeks. "It's not for you, but for me. It seems like a normal thing to do. " The tips of his cheekbones turned pink in the sun. "The day we went swimming?"

  "Yes," I said, taking a step forward.

  He looked up, his eyes meeting mine. The green churned slowly, giving an appearance of vulnerability. "Did you have fun?"

  "When you weren't being a jerk and if I ignore the fact that you were bribed into it, then yes. "

  A smile pulled at his lips as he looked away.

  "I had more fun that day than I can remember. I know it sounds stupid, but - "

  "It's not stupid. " My heart lurched. At once, I sort of understood him better. Underneath it all, I think he wanted to be normal. "Okay. Let's do this. Just don't go underwater for five minutes. " Daemon laughed. "Deal. " I kicked off my sandals while he tugged off his shirt. I tried not to stare at him, especially since he was watching me like he expected me to change my mind. Tossing him a quick grin, I stepped up to the water's edge and dipped my toes in. "Oh my god, the water is cold!" He winked at me. "Watch this. " His eyes took on that eerie glow, his whole body vibrating and breaking apart into a fiery ball of light. . . that flew up into the sky and dove straight in, lighting the lake like a pool light. He zipped around and around the rocks in the center, at least a dozen times in as many seconds. Show-off.

  "Alien powers?" I asked, teeth chattering.

  Water ran off his hair as he leaned over the edge of the rock, extending a hand. "Come in, it's a little warmer now. "

  Gritting my teeth in preparation for the icy water, I was shocked to discover its temperature wasn't too bad. It wasn't warm, but it wasn't icy cold anymore. Stepping all the way in now, I waded out to the rocks. "Any other cool talents?"

  "I can make it so that you can't even see me. "

  I took his hand, and he pulled me out into the water and onto the rock, wet clothes and all.

  He let go, scooting back. Shivering, I welcomed the warmth of the sun-baked rock. "How can you do things without me seeing?" Leaning back on his elbows, he looked unaffected by the cold swim. "We're made of light. We can manipulate the different spectrums around us, using them.

  It's like we're fracturing the light, if that makes any sense. "

  "Not really. " I needed to pay more attention in science class.

  "You've seen me turn into my natural state, right?" When I nodded, he went on. "And I sort of vibrate until I break apart into tiny particles of light. Well, I can selectively eliminate the light, which allows us to be transparent. " I pulled my knees to my chest. "That's kind of amazing, Daemon. "

  He smiled up at me, flashing a dimple in one cheek before he laid back on the rock, folding his hands behind his head. "I know you have questions. Ask them. "

  I had so many questions I wasn't sure which one to start with. "Do you guys believe in God?"

  "He seems like a cool guy. "

  I blinked, not sure whether to laugh at that or not. "Did you guys have a God?"

  "I remember there was something like a church, but that's all. The elders don't talk about any religion," he said. "Then again, we don't see any elders. "

  "What do you mean by 'elders'?"

  "The same thing you'd mean. An old person. "

  I made a face at him.

  He grinned. "Next question?"

  "Why are you such an ass?" The words came out before I could think twice.

  "Everyone has to excel at something, right?"

  "Well, you're doing a great job. " His eyes opened, meeting mine for a second before closing. "You do dislike me, don't you?" I hesitated. "I don't dislike you, Daemon.

  You're hard to. . . like. It's hard to figure you out. "

  "So are you," he said, eyes closed, face relaxed. "You've accepted the impossible.

  You're kind to my sister and to me - even though I admit I've been a jerk to you. You could've run right out of the house yesterday and told the world about us, but you didn't. And you don't put up with any of my crap," he added with a soft laugh. "I like that about you. " Whoa.

  Wait. "You like me?"

  "Next question?" he said.

  "Are you guys allowed to date people -

  humans?"

  He shrugged. "Allowed is a strange word.

  Does it happen? Yes. Is it advised? No. So we can, but what would be the point? Not like we can have a lasting relationship when we have to hide what we are. "

  "So, you guys are like us in other, uh, departments?"

  Daemon sat up, arching a brow. "Come again?"

  I felt my cheeks flush. "You know, like sex?

  I mean, you guys are all glowy and stuff. I don't see how certain stuff would work. " Daemon's lips curled into a half smile, and that was the only warning he gave. Moving unbelievably fast, I was on my back and he was above me in a flash. "Are you asking if I'm attracted to human girls?" he asked. Dark, wet waves of hair fell forward. Tiny droplets of water fell off the ends, splashing against my cheek. "Or are you asking if I'm attracted to you?" Using his hands, he lowered himself slowly. There wasn't an inch of space between our bodies. Air fled my lungs at the contact of his body against mine. He was male and ripped in all the places I was soft. Being this close to him was startling, causing an array of sensations to zing through me. I shivered. Not from the cold, but from how warm and wonderful he felt.

  I could feel every breath he took, and when he shifted his hips, my eyes went wide and I gasped.

  Oh yeah, certain stuff was definitely working.

  Daemon rolled off me, onto his back beside me. "Next question?" he asked, voice deep and thick.

  I didn't move. I stared wide-eyed at the blue skies. "You could've just told me, you know?" I looked at him. "You didn't have to show me. "

  "And what fun would there be in telling you?" He turned his head toward me. "Next question, Kitten?"

  "Why do you call me that?"

  "You remind me of a little fuzzy kitten, all claws and no bite. "

  "Okay, that makes no sense. "

  He shrugged.

  I searched my scattered thoughts for another question. I had so many, but he'd totally blown my train of thought to smithereens. "Do you think there are more Arum around?" Only the barest hint of emotion flitted across his face. He tipped his head back, studying me.

  "They are always around. "

  "And they're hunting you?"

  "It's the only thing they care about. " He returned to staring at the sky. "Without our powers, they are like. . . humans, but vicious and immoral. They're into ultimate destruction and whatever. "

  I swallowed hard. "Have you. . . fought a lot of them?"

  "Yep. " He eased onto his side, using his hand to support his head. A lock of hair fell over his eye. "I've lost count of how many I've faced and killed. And with you lit up like you are, more will come. " My fingers itched to brush that strand of hair back. "Then why did you stop the truck?"

  "Would you have preferred I let it pancake you?"

  I didn't even bother responding to that.

  "Why did you?"

  A muscle popped in his jaw as his gaze drifted over my upturned face. "Honestly?"

  "Yes. "

  "Will it get me bonus points?" he asked softly.

  Holding my breath, I reached
up and brushed back the strand of hair. My fingers barely grazed his skin, but he sucked in a sharp breath and closed his eyes. I pulled my hand away, not sure why I'd done that. "Depends on how you answer the question. " Daemon's eyes opened. The pupils were white, strangely beautiful. He eased down on his back again, his arm against mine. "Next question?" I clasped my hands together, over my stomach. "Why does using your powers leave a trace?"

  "Humans are like glow-in-the-dark T-shirts to us. When we use our abilities around you, you can't help but absorb our light. Eventually, the glow will fade, but the more we do, the more energy we use, the brighter the trace. Dee blurring out doesn't leave much of anything.

  The truck incident and when I scared the bear, that leaves a visible mark. Something more powerful, like healing someone, leaves a longer trace. A faint one, nothing big so I'm told, but it lingers longer for some reason.

  "I should've been more careful around you," he continued. "When I scared the bear I used a blast of light, which is kind of like a laser. It left a large enough trace on you for the Arum to see you. "

  "You mean the night I was attacked?" I whispered, my voice hoarse.

  "Yes. " He dragged a hand down his face.

  "Arum don't come here a lot, because they don't think any Luxen are here. The beta quartz in the Rocks throws off our energy signature, hides us.

  That's one of the reasons why there are a lot of us here. But there must have been one coming through. He saw your trace and knew there had to be one of us nearby. It was my fault. "

  "It wasn't your fault. You weren't the one who attacked me. "

  "But I basically led him to you," he said, voice tight.

  At first I couldn't speak. There was this horrible punched-in-the-gut type of feeling that spread to the tips of my fingers and down to my toes. I felt the blood drain out my face so fast it left me dizzy.

  Suddenly, what that man had said made sense. Where are they? He'd been looking for them. "Where is he now? Is he still around? Is he going to come back? What - "

  Daemon's hand found mine and squeezed.

  "Kitten, calm down. You're going to have a heart attack. "

  My eyes dropped to our hands. He didn't pull his away. "I'm not going to have a heart attack. "

  "Are you sure?"

  "Yes. " I rolled my eyes.

  "He isn't a problem anymore," he said after a few seconds.

  "You. . . you killed him?"

  "Yeah, I kind of did. "

  "You kind of did? I didn't know there was any 'kind of' in killing someone. "

  "Okay, yes, I did kill him. " There wasn't a single ounce of doubt or remorse in his voice, like killing someone didn't even faze him. I should be afraid, very afraid of him. Daemon sighed. "We're enemies, Kitten. He would've killed me and my family after absorbing our abilities if I didn't stop him. Not only that, he would've brought more here. Others like us would've been in danger. You would've been in danger. "

  "What about the truck? I'm glowing brighter now. " I ignored the clenching in my stomach.

  "Will there be another?"

  "Hopefully there are none nearby. If not, the traces on you should fade. You'll be safe. " He was guiding his thumb across my hand in a silent alphabet. It was sort of soothing, comforting. "And if not?"

  "Then I'll kill them, too. " He didn't hesitate.

  "For awhile, you're going to need to stay around me, until the trace fades. "

  "Dee said something like that. " I bit my lip.

  "So you don't want me to stay away from you guys anymore?"

  "It doesn't matter what I want. " He glanced down at his hand. "But if I had my way, you wouldn't be anywhere near us. " I sucked in a sharp breath, pulling my hand free. "Gee, don't be honest or anything. "

  "You don't understand," Daemon replied.

  "Right now, you can lead an Arum right to my sister. And I have to protect her. She's all I have left. And I have to protect the others here. I'm the strongest. That is what I do. And while you're carrying the trace on you, I don't want you going anywhere with Dee if I'm not with you. " Sitting up, I glanced toward the shore. "I think it's time I head back. "

  His fingers wrapped around my arm. The skin tingled. "Right now, you can't be out there by yourself. I need to be with you until the trace fades. "

  "I don't need you to play babysitter. " My jaw ached from how hard I was clenching it. The whole staying away from Dee pissed me off, but I understood. Doesn't mean his words didn't hurt. "I'll stay away from Dee until it fades. "

  "You're still not getting it. " His grip didn't tighten, but I had a feeling he wanted to shake the crap out of me even though I knew he never would. "If an Arum gets ahold of you, they aren't going to kill you. The one at the library -

  he was playing with you. He was going to get you to the point that you'd beg for your life and then force you to take him back to one of us. " I swallowed. "Daemon - "

  "You don't have a choice. Right now, you're a huge risk with the trace. You are a danger to my sister. I will not let anything happen to her. "

  His love for his sister was admirable, but did nothing to stop the flow of anger rushing through my veins. "And then after the trace fades? Then what?"

  "I prefer that you'd stay the hell away from all of us, but I doubt that's going to happen. And my sister does care for you. " He let go of my arm and leaned back, resting on his elbows. "As long as you don't end up with another trace, then I don't have a problem with you being friends with her. " My hands balled into fists. "I'm so grateful to have your approval. " His little half smile didn't reach his eyes.

  His smiles rarely did. "I've already lost one sibling because of how he felt for a human. I'm not going to lose another. "

  Anger was still simmering in me, but his words caught my attention. "You're talking about your brother and Bethany. " There was a pause and then, "My brother fell in love with a human. . . and now they're both dead. "

 
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