I wasn’t sure what woke me. The howling wind from the first hardcore blizzard of the year had calmed last night and my room was quiet. Peaceful. I rolled onto my side and blinked.
Eyes the color of dew-covered leaves stared into mine. Eyes eerily familiar but lackluster compared to the ones I loved.
Clenching the blanket to my chest, I sat up slowly and pushed the tangled hair out of my face. Maybe I was still asleep, because I really had no idea why Dawson, the twin brother of the boy I was madly, deeply, and quite possibly insanely in love with was perched on the edge of my bed.
“Um, is…is everything okay?” I cleared my throat, but the words came out raspy, like I was trying to sound sexy and, in my opinion, failing miserably. All the screaming I’d done while Mr. Michaels, my mom’s psycho boyfriend, had me locked in the cage in the warehouse was still reflected in my voice a week later.
Dawson lowered his gaze. Thick, sooty lashes fanned the tips of high, angular cheeks that were paler than they should be. If I’d learned anything, Dawson was damaged goods.
I glanced at the clock. It was close to six in the morning. “How did you get in here?”
“I let myself in. Your mom’s not home.”
With anyone else, that would’ve creeped the hell out of me, but I wasn’t afraid of Dawson. “She’s snowed in at Winchester.”
He nodded. “I couldn’t sleep. I haven’t slept.”
“No. And Dee and Daemon are affected by it.” He just stared at me, as if willing me to understand what he couldn’t put into words.
The triplets—hell, everyone—was coiled tight, waiting for the Department of Defense to show up as the days ticked by since Dawson escaped their Lux prison. Dee was still trying to process her boyfriend Adam’s death and her beloved brother’s reappearance. Daemon was trying to be there for his brother and to keep an eye on them. And though storm troopers hadn’t busted up in our houses yet, none of us were relaxed.
Everything was too easy, which usually didn’t bode well.
Sometimes…sometimes I felt like a trap had been set, and we’d galloped right into it.
“What have you been doing?” I asked.
“Walking,” he said, glancing out the window. “I never thought I’d be back here.”
The stuff that Dawson had been put through and made to do was too horrific to even think about. A deep ache filled my chest. I tried not to think about it, because when I did, I thought of Daemon being in that same position, and I couldn’t bear it.
But Dawson… He needed someone. I reached up, wrapping my fingers around the familiar weight of the obsidian necklace. “Do you want to talk about it?”
He shook his head again, shaggy wisps of hair partially obscuring his eyes. It was longer than Daemon’s—curlier—and probably needed a trim. Dawson and Daemon were identical, but right now, they looked nothing alike, and it was more than the hair. “You remind me of her—Beth.”
I had no idea what to say to that. If he loved her half as much as I loved Daemon… “You know she’s alive. I’ve seen her.”
Dawson’s gaze met mine. A wealth of sadness and secrets were held in its depths. “I know, but she’s not the same.” He paused, lowering his head. The same section of hair that always fell on Daemon’s forehead toppled onto his. “You…love my brother?”
My chest hurt at the desolation in his voice, as if he never expected to love again, couldn’t really even believe in it anymore. “Yes.”
I jerked back, losing my grip on the blanket as it fell lower. “Why would you apologize?”
Dawson lifted his head, letting out a weary sigh. Then, moving faster than I thought he was capable of, his fingers brushed over my skin—over the faint pink marks that circled both wrists from fighting against the manacles.
I hated those blemishes, prayed for the day when they completely faded. Every time I saw them, I remembered the pain the onyx had caused as it pressed into my flesh. My ruined voice was hard enough to explain to my mom, not to mention Dawson’s sudden reappearance. The look on her face when she’d seen Dawson with Daemon before the snowstorm was sort of comical, though she seemed happy that the “runaway brother” had returned home. But these babies I had to hide with long-sleeved shirts. That worked during the colder months, but I had no idea how I’d hide these in the summer.
“Beth had those kinds of marks when I saw her,” Dawson said quietly, pulling his hand back. “She got really good at escaping, but they always caught her, and she always had these marks. Usually around her neck, though.”
Nausea rose, and I swallowed. Around her neck? I couldn’t… “Did…did you get to see Beth often?” I knew they’d allowed at least one visit between them while imprisoned in the DOD facility.
“I don’t know. Time was messed up for me. I kept track in the beginning, using the humans they brought to me. I’d heal them and usually if they…lived, I could count the days until everything fell apart. Four days.” He went back to staring out the window. Through curtains that had been drawn back, all I could see was the night sky and snow-covered branches. “They hated when everything fell apart.”
I could imagine. The DOD—or Daedalus, a group supposedly within the DOD—had made it their mission to use Luxens to successfully mutate humans. Sometimes it worked.
Sometimes it didn’t.