Page 2 om clucked over me until I got up and took a shower. Changing into a long sleep shirt took an absurd amount of time. The room did a Tilt-a-Whirl on me as I climbed under the covers, and I squeezed my eyes shut and waited for Mom to return.
I dug out my keys with my free hand. “Obviously I had to go to the post office. ” I pushed open the door and dropped the pile on the table inside the foyer. Of course, he was right behind me, not waiting for an invite.
“Your mail could’ve waited. ” Daemon followed me into the kitchen. “What is it? Just books?”
Grabbing the OJ from the fridge, I sighed. People who didn’t heart books didn’t understand. “Yeah, it was just books. ”
“I know there probably aren’t any Arum around right now, but you can never be too careful, and you have a trace on you that will lead them right to our doorsteps. Right now, that’s more important than your books. ”
Nah, books were more important than the Arum. I poured myself a glass, too tired to get into it with Daemon. We hadn’t mastered the art of polite conversation yet. “Drink?”
He sighed. “Sure. Milk?”
I gestured at the fridge. “Help yourself. ”
“You offered. You’re not going to get it for me?”
“I offered orange juice,” I replied, taking my glass to the table. “You picked milk. And keep it down. My mom’s asleep. ”
Muttering under his breath, he grabbed a glass of milk. As he sat beside me, I realized he was wearing black sweats, which reminded me of the last time he’d been in my house dressed like that. We’d gotten into it. Our argument had turned into a steamy make-out session straight from one of those cheesy romance novels I read. The encounter still kept me up late at night. Not that I’d ever admit it.
It was so hot, Daemon’s alien mojo had blown most of the lightbulbs in the house and had fried my laptop. I really missed my laptop and my blog. Mom promised me a new computer for my birthday. Two more weeks…
I fiddled with my glass, not looking up. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Depends,” he replied smoothly.
“Do you…feel anything around me?”
“Other than what I felt this morning when I saw how good you looked in those jeans?”
“Daemon. ” I sighed, trying to disregard the girl in me that screamed, HE NOTICED ME! “I’m being serious. ”
His long fingers idly traced circles on the wooden table. “The back of my neck gets all warm and tingly. Is that what you’re talking about?”
I peeked up. A half smile played across his lips. “Yeah, you feel it, too?”
“Whenever we’re near. ”
“It doesn’t bother you?”
“Does it bother you?”
I wasn’t sure what to say. The tingling wasn’t painful or anything, just weird. But what it symbolized did bother me—the damn connection we knew nothing about. Even our hearts were beating the same.
“It could be a…side effect of the healing. ” Daemon watched me over the rim of his glass. I bet he’d look hot with a milk mustache. “Are you feeling well?” he asked.
Not really. “Why?”
“You look like crap. ”
Any other time his comment would’ve started a war in this house, but I just set my half-empty glass down. “I think I’m coming down with something. ”
His brows furrowed. The concept of being sick was foreign to Daemon. The Luxen didn’t get sick. Like, ever. “What’s wrong with you?”
“I don’t know. I probably got alien cooties. ”
Daemon snorted. “Doubtful. I can’t afford for you to be sick. We need to get you outside and try to work your trace off. Until then, you’re a—”
“If you say I’m a weakness, I will hurt you. ” Anger pushed down the nausea in my stomach. “I think I proved that I’m not, especially when I led Baruck away from your house and I killed him. ” I struggled to keep my voice low. “Just because I’m human doesn’t mean I’m weak. ”
He sat back, brows inching up his forehead. “I was going to say that until then, you’re at risk. ”
“Oh. ” My cheeks flushed. Whoops. “Well, then, I’m still not weak. ”
One second Daemon was sitting at the table and the next he was beside me, kneeling down. He had to look up slightly to see my face. “I know you’re not weak. You’ve proven yourself. And what you did this weekend, tapping into our powers? I still can’t figure out how that happened, but you’re not weak. Ever. ”
Whoa. It was hard to stick to my resolve of not caving to the ridiculous notion of us being together when he was actually…nice, and when he stared at me like I was the last piece of chocolate in the whole world.
Which made me think of that damn chocolate chip cookie in his mouth.
The side of his lips twitched as if he knew what I was thinking and was fighting a smile. Not that little smirk of his, but a real smile. And suddenly he was standing, towering over me. “Now I need you to prove you’re not weak. Get off your butt and let’s work off some of that trace. ”
I groaned. “Daemon, I’m really not feeling well. ”
“And I’m not saying that to be difficult. I feel like hurling. ”
He folded his muscular arms, stretching his Under Armour shirt across his chest. “It’s not safe for you to be running around when you look like a damn lighthouse. As long as you carry the trace, you can’t do anything. Go anywhere. ”
I pushed up from the table, ignoring the rolling in my stomach. “I’ll get changed. ”
Surprise widened his eyes as he stepped back. “Caving in so easily?”
“Caving in?” I laughed without feeling. “I just want you out of my face. ”
Daemon chuckled deeply. “Keep telling yourself that, Kitten. ”
“Keep using your ego steroids. ”
In a blink of an eye, he was in front of me, blocking my exit. Then he prowled forward, head lowered and eyes full of intent. I backed up until my hands found the edge of the kitchen table.
“What?” I demanded.
Placing his hands on either side of my hips, he bent forward. His breath was warm against my cheek and our eyes locked. He moved a fraction of an inch closer, and his lips brushed my chin. A strangled gasp escaped the back of my throat, and I swayed toward him.
A heartbeat later, Daemon pulled back, chuckling smugly. “Yeah…not my ego, Kitten. Go get ready. ”
Giving him the finger, I left the kitchen and went upstairs. My skin still felt clammy and gross and it had nothing to do with what happened, but I changed into a pair of sweats and a thermal. Running was the last thing I wanted to do. Not like I expected Daemon to care I wasn’t feeling well.
He only cared about himself and his sister.
That’s not true, whispered an insidious, annoying voice in my head. But maybe that voice was correct. He had healed me when he could’ve left me to die and I had heard his thoughts, heard him begging me not to leave him.
Either way, I had to swallow the urge to puke and go for a fun jog. Some sixth sense knew this wasn’t going to end well.
I lasted twenty minutes.
With the uneven terrain of the woods, the brisk November wind, and the boy next to me, I couldn’t do it. Leaving him halfway to the lake, I speed walked all the way back to the house. Daemon called out to me a couple of times, but I ignored him. Within a minute of reaching my bathroom, I threw up—the clutching-the-toilet, on-my-knees, tears-streaming-down-my-face kind of hurling. It was so bad I woke up Mom.
She hurried into the bathroom, pulling my hair back. “How long have you been feeling sick, honey? A few hours, all day, or just now?”
Mom—ever the nurse. “On and off all day,” I moaned, resting my head against the tub.
Tsking under her breath, she placed her hand against my forehead. “Honey, you’re burning up. ” She grabbed a towel and ran it under the tap. “I should probably call in to work—”
“No, I’m okay. ” I took the towel from her, pressing it against my forehead. The coolness was wonderful. “It’s just the flu. And I feel better already. ”
“Here’s your phone and some water. ” She placed both on the table and sat beside me. “Open up. ” Prying one eye open, I saw a thermometer shoved at my face. I obediently opened my mouth. “Depending on how high your temperature is, we will determine if I’m staying home,” she told me. “It’s probably just the flu, but…”
“Mmm,” I groaned.
She gave me a bland look and waited until the thing beeped. “One hundred and one. I want you to take this. ” Pausing, she handed me two pills. I downed them, no questions asked. “The temp isn’t that bad, but I want you to stay in bed and rest. I’ll call and check on you before ten, okay?”
I nodded and then snuggled down. Sleep was all I needed. She folded up another damp cloth and placed it over my forehead. I closed my eyes, almost certain I was approaching stage one of a zombie infection.
A weird fog entered my brain. I slept, waking up once to check in with Mom, and then again past midnight. The night shirt was damp, clinging to my feverish skin. I went to push the blankets off and noticed they were across the room, covering my cluttered computer desk.
Cold sweat dotted my forehead as I sat up. My thumping heart echoed in my head, heavy and erratic. Two beats at once, it seemed. My skin felt stretched tight over my muscles—hot and prickly. I stood, and the room spun.
I was so hot, burning up from the inside. My insides felt as if they’d melted into goo. My thoughts ran into one another, a never-ending train of nonsense. All I knew was that I needed to cool down.
The door to the hallway swung open, beckoning me. I didn’t know where I was going, but I stumbled down the hall and then downstairs. The front door was like a beacon, promising relief. It would be cold outside. Then I would be cold.
But it wasn’t enough.
I stood on the porch, the wind blowing my damp shirt and hair back. Stars lined the night sky, intensely bright. I lowered my gaze and the trees lining the road shifted colors. Yellow. Gold. Red. Then they turned a muted shade of brown.
I was dreaming, I realized.
In a daze, I stepped off the porch. Pieces of gravel poked at my feet, but I kept walking, the moonlight leading the way. Several times the world felt like it turned upside down, but I pushed on.
It didn’t take me long to reach the lake. Under the pale light, the onyx-colored water rippled. I moved forward, stopping when my toes sunk through loose dirt. Prickling heat scorched my skin as I stood there. Burning. Sweltering.
Slowly, I turned. Wind whipped around me as I stared at the apparition. Moonlight sliced his face in shadows, reflecting in his wide, bright eyes. He couldn’t be real.
“What are you doing, Kitten?” Daemon asked.
He seemed fuzzy. Daemon was never fuzzy. Fast and blurry sometimes, yes, but never fuzzy. “I…I need to cool down. ”