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The road winding up to his house was silent and empty, like every house that shared the same street. But his driveway was packed. Great. Climbing out of the car, he slammed the door shut.
A crew of Luxen was waiting for him inside. His brother and sister, Adam, Andrew, and Ash, and even Matthew, their unofficial guardian, was there.
Dawson leaned against the door, folding his arms. "Is this an intervention? I can't wait to hear your letters."
Daemon's eyes flashed white light. "Tell me it's not true."
"Not sure what 'it' is."
Sprawled on the couch beside Ash, Andrew arched a brow. "You wanted to go all glow bright on me and beat me down in gym class over a girl. A. Human. Girl."
Dawson smirked. "I want to beat you down every day, Andrew. Today was no exception."
Andrew flipped him off. "Hardy har har, shit-"
"Don't," Daemon snapped, turning on Andrew so quickly that the blond had to see his life flash before his eyes. "Don't even think about calling my brother a name."
Holding up his hands, Andrew said, "Whatever, man. All I'm saying is that your bro wanted to go Chuck Norris on my ass over a human girl today."
Dawson sort of wished he had. "Need I remind you that you melted a ping-pong ball with your hand?"
Reason stepped forward in the form of Matthew. "Is that true, Andrew?"
Andrew rolled his eyes. "It was just a ping-pong ball."
A frown creased Matthew's face. "Wait. This is all over a ping-pong ball?"
"No," Andrew said at the same time Dawson replied with a, "Yes."
"I'm getting a headache." Adam sighed. "Already."
So was Dawson. And it had a name. He glared at Andrew. "This isn't about anything. I don't know why we had to call a Captain Planet meeting for this."
His brother folded his arms, mirroring his stance. "Is this about Bethany?"
"Yes!" exclaimed Andrew.
"Who's Bethany?" Ash asked, sounding bored, but her voice was shrewd. No doubt she was worried about competition for Daemon.
"She's a girl-"
"A girl?" Dee pulled her nose out of a magazine. "What about a girl? Is she nice? Do I know her?"
Oh, for the love of all things holy. Dawson groaned. "Bethany is a girl from school. And I don't see what the big deal is. We've just talked."
Dee looked crestfallen. "So I don't know her?"
"No." His patience was running thin. "I don't think you have any classes with her."
"But she's human?" Dee glanced around the room, brows arching. "So, I'm with Dawson on this one. What's the big deal? It's not like we're not allowed to…" Her cheeks suddenly matched the color of a tomato. "I don't get it," she finished.
"It's true there are no rules stopping any of us from having…relations, but it is not wise." Matthew looked like he did when he'd tried to explain the mechanics of sex several years ago. It had been horrifying for all of them. "The DOD does frown upon it, and there really isn't much of a point."
"Too dangerous for the humans," Daemon said, unfolding his arms. He sat on the arm of the recliner where Dee was sitting. "If the DOD even suspected that we let the alien out of the bag, the human goes bye-bye. Not to mention the risk of lighting her up."
Dawson rolled his eyes. "Yeah, because I plan on turning every human I meet into a disco ball just for the fun of it."
His brother's brows lowered in a clear warning.
He sighed. "Anyway, it's not a big deal."
"Did you threaten Andrew over her?" Matthew asked, looking like he seriously hoped Dawson didn't. Well, then, he'd keep his mouth shut, because he wasn't going to like the answer. "Dawson?"
Andrew shot him a bland look. "I would go with yes."
Man, he wanted to beat Andrew down.
"What did you say?" Daemon asked him, and Dee watched on in interest.
"Fine," Dawson grumbled. "I told him that if he talked to Bethany again, I was going to shove a certain body part into his mouth."
Daemon strung together an atrocity of F-bombs. Quite imaginative, too, and even Matthew looked impressed. When he was finished, he said, "You threatened one of your own over a human girl?"
There went the F-bombs again. "Add that to the way you've been staring at her, and we've got a problem."
"How has he been staring at her?" Dee asked, sounding ridiculously innocent. All the guys groaned. "What?" she demanded.
"He stares at her like she's…" There was an odd pause, almost like Daemon really didn't know how to phrase it, as if he'd never stared at a girl that way before-and he hadn't. "Like she's the finest cut of steak and he's starving."
Dawson's brows shot up. Was that how he stared at Beth? Like she was steak?
"You never look at me like that." Ash pouted.
Daemon stared at her. Definitely not like that.
"Whatever," Dawson said. "Other than the fact that I will now think of steak every time I see Bethany, there isn't anything going on. I like her. She's cool. So what? You guys have nothing to worry about."
His brother frowned as he glanced at Andrew. "What did you say to the girl?"
Andrew said nothing.
"He kept demanding her name like a freak." Dawson sighed, so over this conversation.
"Well, to me, it sounds like normal human hating." Adam glared at his twin. "You got everyone riled up for no reason…as always. It isn't a big deal."
It wasn't a big deal to them, but to him? Dawson wished it wasn't. His shoulders slumped as he started toward the stairs, done with this conversation. Whatever had been between him and Bethany was finished before it even got started. Looking over his shoulder, he tried to ignore the crushing weight settling on his chest. "There's nothing to worry about. Thanks to Andrew, she doesn't want anything to do with me."
Andrew looked proud.
"So, yeah, there's nothing to worry about."
Bethany stared at the crumpled piece of paper that held Dawson's number. Past ten, it was late, probably too late to be calling his house if his parents were anything like hers. And she really shouldn't be calling him, especially if what Kimmy said were true.
But when did she start taking the word of a complete stranger?
When she should've listened to the girl who'd told her Daniel was cheating on her, that's when. Bethany hadn't listened and ended up finding him in the library of all places with another girl, his hands where they shouldn't have been, and making like he was tying a cherry stem with his tongue.
On the Friday before Homecoming.
She glanced at the piece of paper for the zillionth time and then at her phone. Should I? Could I? Would I? Her gaze darted to her easel.
Even in the dark, Dawson stared back at her. The curve of his strong jaw, the broad cheekbones, the nose and lips that were slightly tilted, were all him. But the eyes were all wrong. No amount of mixing paints had captured the right color of green.
Her gaze swung back to the piece of paper.
She decided she'd just enter the number into her phone and that was all. What her finger did next, by pushing send on her cell, was completely out of her control.
As her heart did jumping jacks in her chest, she listened to the phone ring once…then twice.
"Hello?" A deep voice came through the line.
Crap. Bethany hadn't meant to call him. Really, she hadn't. She took no ownership for her finger. And she also found herself mute. Again.
A door shut on the other end of the phone. "Bethany?"
She blinked. "How…how did you know it was me? I didn't give you my number."
The relieved-sounding laugh had her smiling. "I don't give my number out a lot. So you're the only unknown number who should have it."
Surprise caused her to jerk straight up in bed, her legs tangling with the comforter. "You don't?"
"I don't what?"
"Give your phone number out a lot?" And boy was that a nice way to start off the conversation. Yeesh.
"Ah, no, I don't." Bedsprings groaned, and her entire body went haywire at the sudden vision of him in bed. She so needed to get off the phone, but he continued. "Actually, I can't remember the last time I gave a girl my digits."
Part of her wanted to believe him, but she wasn't that stupid. "Um, I'm going to be honest here."
"Good. I want you to be honest."
She closed her eyes. "I have a hard time believing you don't give your number to girls."
"I don't." More creaking, like he was settling down. "But that doesn't mean I haven't gotten their numbers."
Something like a red-hot poker went through her eyes. It. Could. Not. Be. Jealousy. "Is there a difference?"
"Most def," he said. "Giving someone my number means she can get in touch with me whenever she wants. For the most part, I'm not down with that. Having someone else's number is totally different. Get what I'm saying?"
A second passed. Yep, she did. Meaning he only gave his number to people he really wanted to call him. Not just anyone. And somehow she'd fallen into this privileged group. "Oh, okay. Um, thanks?"
Dawson laughed. "Anyway, I'm really glad you called. I wasn't expecting this."
Neither was she.
"I thought after everything with Andrew…"
"Your friend's weirdness has nothing to do with you." Deciding to be honest, she took a deep breath. "Actually, I still wanted to go grab something to eat with you after school today." Because I'm an idiot. "And I was sort of disappointed when you walked off." Because I'm really an idiot. "So, yep, that's all I have to say."
Silence stretched out between them, and Bethany was immediately regretting opening her big mouth. "Okay. Maybe I misread-"
"No. No!" he said quickly. "I'm just surprised. I thought… It doesn't matter. You still want to grab something to eat Sunday?"
"Yes." Her voice came out a breathless whisper, as if she'd just run up a flight of stairs…or worked as a sex phone operator. How embarrassing.
"What about tomorrow?"
Bethany laughed. "You…you can't wait until Sunday?"
"Hell no. It's hard to get to know you when we only have a few minutes before class to talk." He stopped and man, oh man, his voice dropped low enough to send a shiver through her. "And I really want to get to know you."
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