Faster than any human eye could track, I moved soundlessly among the trees in my true form, racing over the thick grass and the dewy, moss-covered rocks. I was nothing more than a blur of light, speeding along the tree line. Being an alien from a planet thirteen billion light years away was pretty much made of awesome.
I easily passed one of those damn energy efficient cars that was coasting up the main road past my house.
How in the hell was that thing pulling a U-Haul trailer?
Not like that was important.
I slowed down and slipped into my human form, keeping to the thick shadows cast by the oak trees as the car went by the empty house at the start of the access road, and then grinded to a halt in front of the house next to mine.
“Shit. Neighbors,” I muttered as the driver’s car door opened and a middle-age woman stepped out. I watched as she bent down and spoke to someone else in the car.
She laughed and then ordered, “Get out of the car.”
Whoever was with her didn’t listen, and the woman eventually closed the car door. She all but bounced up the porch steps and unlocked the front door.
How could this be happening? The house was meant to stay vacant—any house around here was supposed to remain empty of humans . This road was the freaking gate to the Luxen colony at the base of Seneca Rocks, and it wasn’t like this house went up for sale and those suited assholes didn’t realize it.
This could not be happening.
Energy crackled over my skin, humming, and the urge to slip back into my true form was hard to ignore. And that pissed me off. Home was the only place that I—that we could be ourselves without fear of discovery, and those assholes—the Department of Defense, the D-O-fucking-D—knew it.
My fingers curled into my palms.
Vaughn and Lane, my own personal government-issued babysitters, had to have been aware of this. It must’ve slipped their damn minds when they checked in on us last week.
The passenger door of the Prius creaked open, drawing my attention. At first, I couldn’t see who got out, but then she walked around the front of the car, coming completely into view.
“Oh shit,” I muttered again.
It was a girl.
From what I could see, she was close to my age, maybe a year younger, and as she turned in a slow circle, staring at the forest that crept onto the lawn around the two houses, she looked like she expected a rabid mountain lion to pounce on her.
Her steps were tentative as she neared the porch, as if she was still debating if she really wanted to walk into the house. The woman, who I was guessing was her mom based on the similar dark hair, had left the front door open. The girl stopped at the bottom of the steps.
I sized her up as I drifted silently through the trees. She appeared of average height. Actually, everything about her seemed average—her dark brown hair, pulled back from her face in a messy knot; her pale, roundish face; her average weight—definitely not one of those skinny girls I hated—and her… Okay. Not all of her appeared average. My gaze was hung up on her legs and other areas.
Damn, they were nice legs.
The girl turned around, facing the forest as her arms folded along her waist, just below her chest.
Okay. Two areas in particular were not average.
She scanned the line of trees and her gaze stopped—stopped right where I was standing. My hands opened at my sides, but I didn’t move, didn’t dare force my lungs to take a breath. She stared right at me.
But there was no way she could see me. I was too hidden among the shadows.
A handful of seconds passed before she unfolded her arms and turned, slowly heading into the house, leaving the door wide open behind her.
My head cocked to the side at the sound of her voice, which was also…average. No real discernible accent or indication of where they came from.
Wherever it was, they must have no sense of personal safety, since neither of them thought to close the door behind them. Then again, around these parts, most humans believed they were completely safe. After all, the town of Ketterman, located just outside of Petersburg, West Virginia, wasn’t even incorporated. Deputies spent more time chasing after roaming cattle and breaking up field parties than handling any real crime.
Even though humans did have a nasty habit of going missing around here.
The smirk twisting my lips faded as an image of Dawson formed in my thoughts. Not just humans…
When I thought of my brother, anger bubbled inside me, rushing to the surface like a volcano about to erupt. He was gone—dead because of a human girl. And now there was another damn one moving in next door.
We had to…simulate humans, blend among them, and even act like them, but being close to them always ended in disaster.
Always ended in someone missing or dead.
I had no idea how long I stood there, staring at the house, but the girl eventually appeared again. Pulled out of my thoughts, I straightened as she walked to the back of the U-Haul. She dug a key out of her pocket and then opened the metal door.
And tried some more.
She struggled with the lock and then with the lever for what had to be the longest amount of time in history. Her cheeks were flushed, lips pursed. She looked like she was seconds from kicking the back of the U-Haul. Good God, how long did it take one person to open a trailer door? She made it a marathon event. I was half tempted to make myself known and walk my ass over there and open the damn door for her.
Finally, after an eternity, she opened the trailer and pulled down the ramp. She disappeared in and reappeared moments later with a box. I watched her carry it in and then return again. Back up the ramp, she stumbled down it this time, carrying a box that had to weigh more than her by the strained look on her face.