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Sitting in class was the last place I wanted to be on a normal day, but it was nearly killing me to be here. I wanted to be home with Dee. There wasn’t much I could do for her. Words were never good for grief, but I hated that I couldn’t be there for her. I also wanted to be with Kat. Yeah, she was in the same building as me, but it wasn’t the same. I wanted her close by. I had no idea what the shape was that the teacher drew on the chalkboard. The only thing I really saw was how amazing Kat had looked in my bed—how amazing she had felt and tasted. I could still feel her without even trying. It was insane. Mind-blowing. Stretching my legs out, I still couldn’t believe I’d stopped. Do it the right way? Man, I was going to need a training bra soon. But stopping had felt right. We’d gone through a lot of crap and emotions. Honestly, I didn’t want our first time to be marred by grief and leftover anger. Might not have felt like it would’ve been in the moment and maybe it wouldn’t have, but I hadn’t wanted to risk it. When class finally ended, I made it out into the hallway and pulled my cell out of my pocket. I frowned as I stepped around a cluster of classmates. There was a missed text from Kat that had come in around forty minutes ago. Annoyed that I missed it, I clicked on the text. Mom N accident. Going 2 hospital. I came to a complete stop, stomach sinking. Where did her Mom work last night? I racked my brain for an answer. Winchester. Roads were still slick in many areas and covered in snow in others. Stepping out of the hallway traffic, I quickly called Kat. It rang and rang. No answer. Leaving a short message, I fought the urge to rush out of the school and find Kat. The problem was I didn’t know what hospital she would’ve gone to. It could be anywhere between here and Winchester. I’d have to wait until she got back to me. Patience was a virtue I didn’t believe in. Before I headed into my next class, I checked in on Dee. She was as expected. Not good. Sitting through history class was a test in true control. When lunch arrived and I still hadn’t heard from Kat after trying her again and sending a text, I couldn’t stay at the school any longer. On the way out, I tried her once more. Still no answer and a sense of unease built in my gut like pools of acid. Cell service was spotty anywhere in town and the whole way into Virginia, but she would’ve made it to Winchester by now and Kat… she would’ve returned my calls, especially after everything.
I stopped over at the Thompsons’ house before going home. Sorrow clung to the walls like mold. Spending time with them, I found myself at a loss when it came to what I could say or do. A rare moment in my life, but death was a void that even I couldn’t fully understand. Here one moment and gone the next. Death was that quick. There’d be a private funeral within the community. Adam’s body would be cremated, as was the tradition, and then there’d be nothing. There was already nothing but memories. Heavy with those thoughts, I headed to our empty house, where I paced back and forth like a lunatic. Several hours had passed and with no word from Kat, I started to feel desperate. What if her mom had passed away and she was too distraught to call? What if she had gotten into an accident on the way to the hospital? Her car was still in the driveway next door, so that meant Mr. Michaels mostly likely picked her up. I was halfway to where I left my phone on the coffee table, about to start calling every hospital I could think of when it rang. There was a dip in my stomach as I shot through the room, picking it up. “Kat?” I answered. There was a stretch of silence and then, “No. This isn’t Kat.” Concern exploded. “Mr. Michaels? Where’s Kat? Is she okay? What—?” “She’s not… really okay, Daemon.” I reached out, planting my hand on the wall, legs suddenly weak. That off-kilter sensation was the same thing I felt before the officers had told me about Dawson. I knew Kat had to be alive, but… “Daemon?” I took a deep breath. “What happened to her?” “Nothing irreversible at this point.” Wait. What? I pushed off the wall, my whole world centering on what Mr. Michaels was saying. “What do you mean by that, Will?” There was a pause. “Kat is okay. Sort of. Well, she’s definitely not having a lot of fun right now.” Fury rose like a heat wave. My fingers curled around the cell; grinding the plastic and metal. I didn’t know why he’d done something to Kat. I didn’t care. All I knew was that I would kill him for this. “You son—” “Now, let’s not waste time. You can fix this, Daemon. Are you listening? You don’t want to miss this.” “Oh, I’m listening. I’m also taking notes.” Mr. Michaels laughed dryly. “Come to the warehouse. You know exactly which one—and Daemon? I’d hurry if I were you.”
The bastard hung up before I could respond. For a second, I stood there staring at the phone. My skin tingled and I felt myself lose control of my human form. Tossing the phone aside, I shot toward the door and was halfway down the driveway before I spun back around, heading for Dolly. I didn’t know what was going on with Kat or if she was hurt and how badly. I would need to bring the car, which would slow me down. I broke about ten different speed laws as I raced out of town, toward the warehouse where those two officers had cornered Kat. My mind was blank during the drive. I couldn’t let myself think about anything. I had to keep my cool. I couldn’t let my head go down that road—the one where she was hurt, because after Blake and Adam, I wasn’t sure how I’d deal. I’d probably lose my shit and expose my entire race. The sky was a deep blue and cloudless as I pulled into the back of the warehouse. Parking Dolly, I flew out of the car and around the building. The first door I came to was unlocked, which had me on high alert. Dim lighting in the ceiling cast yellow light over a metal desk and chairs. The stale smell of cigarettes lingered, but there was nothing else. From memory, I darted to the right and up the stairs. There was no time to prepare myself, to really even think about what might be waiting for me. I hit the second floor landing and pushed the double doors open. The door slammed off cement walls. What I saw almost brought me to my knees. Disregarding where Will stood, my eyes locked on Kat. She was in a cage—a cage. Like some kind of rabid animal, chained up. So many emotions rushed me I almost lost complete hold of my human form. Rage and desperation warred with just a flicker of relief. There was Kat. She was in one piece— Kat made the slightest movement toward me and her body spasmed. Her mouth dropped open in a silent scream. Cold fear whipped through me as I shot forward and gripped the bars. Sharp red-hot pain laced my palms and I jerked back. “What is this?” I glanced down at my palms and then at where the metal circled her wrists. I was going to be sick, for the first time in my life. “Onyx mixed with ruby and hematite,” Will answered. “A nice combination that doesn’t sit well with the Luxen or hybrids.” I looked at Will. “I will kill you.” “No, I don’t think you will.” Will moved a few steps back, though. “Onyx covers every entrance to this building, so I know you can’t pull in any power or use the light. I also have the keys to that cage and those handcuffs. And only I can touch any part of that.” “Maybe not now, but I will,” I growled low in my throat. You can believe that.” That was a promise I would keep.
“And you can believe that I’ll be ready for that day.” Will arched an eyebrow at Kat. “She’s been in there for a while. I think you understand what that means. Shall we move this along?” Turning away from him, I approached the other side of the pen and knelt. Kat turned her head toward me. Pressure clamped down on my chest. Dear God, seeing her like this ripped me into shreds. “I’m going to get you out of there, Kitten. I swear to you.” “As sweet as your declaration is, the only way you’ll get her out of there is to do as I say, and we only have…” He checked his Rolex. “About thirty minutes before the next round of officers arrive, and while I have every intention of letting you both go, they won’t.” I lifted my head, seconds from planting my fist in his face. “What do you want?” “I want you to mutate me.” I stared at Will, wondering if he’d lost his damn mind. I laughed. “Are you insane?” Will’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t need to explain everything to you. She knows. She can fill you in. I want you to change me.” He reached over the cage, wrapping his fingers around the bundle of chains. “I want to become what she is.” “I can’t just twitch my nose and make it happen.” “I know how it works.” He sneered. “I have to be wounded. You have to heal me, and the rest I can take care of.” I shook my head. “What is the rest?” Once again, Will looked at Kat and smiled. “Katy can fill you in on that.” “You’ll fill me in right now,” I snarled, losing whatever control I had. “Or not.” Will yanked on the chains, and Kat buckled. Her scream was just a whimper, but it cut through me like a rusted knife. I shot up. “Stop it Let the chains go.” “But you haven’t even heard what I’m offering.” He yanked on the chains. Kat’s back bowed completely off the dirty floor of the pen. Her lashes swept down and her face took on a fine sheen of sweat. Horror roared through me like a tempest. I moved to the front of the cage, hands closing into useless fists. “Let the chains go. Please.” Will released the chains, and she slumped against the pen. “This is my deal. Mutate me, and I’ll give you the key to the cage, but I’m not stupid, Daemon.” “You’re not?” I snickered. The older man’s lip twitched. “I need to make sure you don’t come after me as soon as I leave here, which I know you will once she’s removed from that cage.” “Am I that predictable? I may have to change up my game.”
Will let out an exasperated breath. “When I leave here, you will not follow me. We have less than twenty minutes to do this, and then you’ll have only thirty minutes, give or take a few, to go to the address I’ve given to Katy.” I glanced at Kat. “Is this a scavenger hunt? I so do love them.” “Possibly.” Will slowly approached me, pulling out a gun. “You’ll have a choice to make after you let her out of the cage. You can come after me or you can get the one thing you’ve always wanted.” “What? A tattoo of your face on my ass?” Will’s cheeks flushed with anger. “Your brother.” My heart stopped and every muscle in my body clenched up as I took a step back. “What?” “I’ve paid a lot of money to get him in a position where he could’ve ‘escaped.’ Besides, I doubt they’ll really be searching for him.” Will smiled. “He’s proven to be quite useless. But you—you, on the other hand, are stronger. You’ll succeed where he’s failed time and time again.” “Failed…at what?” Kat croaked. My head swung toward her, my eyes narrowing. Her voice… it sounded raw and painful. For that alone I wanted to wipe the floor with Will’s entrails. “They’ve been forcing him to mutate humans,” he explained. “It hasn’t been working. He’s not as strong as you, Daemon. You are different.” I drew in a breath. Will was offering something I couldn’t turn down—my brother, my blood. There was still a huge part of me that just wanted to rip into him. “I’d prefer to hunt you down and break every bone in your body for what you’ve done. Rip your flesh off your body slowly and then feed it to you for hurting Kat. But my brother means more than vengeance.” Will paled. “I was hoping that would be your decision.” I’m sure he had. Murder was in my eyes. “You know, you have to be hurt for this to work.” Will nodded, aiming the gun at his leg. “I know.” Hell, I was disappointed. Shooting him would make me feel a smidgen better. “I was so hoping I was going to get to inflict the damage.” “Yeah, I don’t think so.” I could only watch as Will closed his eyes and shot himself in the leg. It was the craziest thing I’d seen. He didn’t even groan as the bullet tore through his flesh. I stepped forward, wrapping my hands around Will’s arm, tipping my chin down to hide my satisfied smile. Will thought he had all of this figured out. He was so wrong I would love to be there to witness it.
I healed Will and in that second for the wound sealed up, I sent him an extra special message that only he could hear. You think this will be the last of me? You’re wrong. I will haunt every step you take for hurting her. That’s a check my foot is going to cash in your ass. Will jerked back. His eyes held mine for a moment and I recognized the fear in his gaze. I smiled. Unnerved, he lurched to the cage and unlatched the cage door. He slipped the manacles off her wrists. “I suggest you don’t tell your mother about this. After all, it would kill her.” He smiled, and I wanted to punch it off his face. “Behave, Katy.” Then Will was out of the cage and gone. “Daemon…” “I’m here.” Carefully entering the cage, I helped her out. “I’ve got you, Kitten. It’s over.” I knew we were on a timeline, but I cradled her against my chest, smoothing my hands along her damp cheeks. Healing warmth radiated from my touch, seeping into her. I moved back from the cage, holding her so close I was sure I was never going to let her go again. She gently brushed my hands away once she was standing on her own. Her voice was throaty and low when she spoke. “I’m all right.” An almost inhuman sound came from me and I clutched her cheeks, bringing her mouth to mine. The kiss tasted of desperation and relief. When I pulled away, she was gasping for air. “What did you do?” she asked. I pressed his forehead against hers. Our lips brushed as I spoke. “For the mutation to work, both parties have to be willing, Kitten. Remember what Matthew said? I wasn’t entirely into it, if you get my drift. And not to mention, he needed to be dying or close to it. The mutation probably won’t work. At least not to the extent he thinks.” She laughed; the sound rasping. “Evil genius.” “You betcha,” I replied, my gaze roaming over her as I threaded my fingers through hers. “You sure you’re okay? Your voice…” “Yeah,” she whispered. “I’ll be okay.” I kissed her again, pouring everything I felt for her into it. I wanted to erase the harsh memory of her time here. I wanted to shield her from ever experiencing something like this again. My hands dropped to her waist and I held her against me, letting her feel just how badly I wanted her, so there was no doubt that she was it for me. She was mine. I was hers. A truth that would never change. I sighed against her mouth. “Now let’s go get my brother.”
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