Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница

were concerned.”

A hysterical laugh crept up my throat. I was sure he would be.

Later that day, after Mom had left for work, I stood beside the

lake, staring at a pile of glittering onyx.

Matthew and Daemon hadn’t said much since we arrived, and even

Blake was abnormally quiet. They all knew what had happened last night

with Carissa. Daemon had spoken to Blake earlier in the day; the

entire conversation had gone down between the two without fists being

thrown and I’d missed it. Apparently Blake had never witnessed an

unstable hybrid with his own eyes. He’d only heard about Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница them.

But Dawson had.

He’d seen people who’d been brought to him, had been normal Joes

before the mutation and then snapped days later. Violent outbursts

were common right before they went into self-destruction mode. All of

them had been given the serum I’d been given. Without it, according to

Blake, the mutation could hold, but it was rare and in most cases, the

mutations faded.

Since I arrived at the lake, Dawson had stayed close to my side

while Daemon and Matthew handled the onyx carefully.

“I had to do it once,” Dawson said quietly, focused on the

overcast sky.

“Do what Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница?”

“Watch a hybrid die like that.” He took a breath, squinting. “The

guy just went crazy, and no one could stop him. He took out one of the

officers and then there was a flash of light. Sort of like spontaneous

combustion, because when the light faded, he was gone. Nothing was

left. It happened so fast, he couldn’t have felt a thing.”

I remembered how Carissa was shaking, and I knew she had to feel

that. Feeling nauseous, I focused on Daemon. The onyx was in a hole,

and he knelt in front of it, talking quietly to Matthew. I was glad

the rest Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница of the group wasn’t there.

“Did the people they brought to you know why they were there?” I


“Some did, like they signed up for it. Others were sedated. They

didn’t have a clue. I think they were homeless people.”

That was sickening. Unable to stay still, I headed toward the bank

of the lake. The water wasn’t frozen over anymore, but it was still

and calm. Completely at odds with how I felt inside.

Dawson followed. “Carissa was a good person. She didn’t deserve

this. Do we even know why they chose her?”

I shook Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница my head. I’d spent a good part of the day thinking about

everything. Even if Carissa had known about the Luxen and had been

healed by one, Daedalus was involved. I knew it. But the hows and whys

were the mysteries. As was the stone I’d seen around her wrist.

“Did you ever see anything on the hybrids there? Like a weird

black stone that looked like it had fire inside it?”

His brows knitted. “None of mine made it except Beth. They didn’t

have anything like that on them. I never saw the others.”

Terrible… It was just terrible.

I swallowed thickly Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница, but my throat felt tight. A soft breeze

stirred the lake, and a wave rippled from one bank to the next. Like a

shock wave…

“Guys?” Daemon called, and we turned. “Are you ready?”

Were we ready to step into the house of pain? Uh, no. But we

walked over to them. Daemon stood, holding a circular piece of onyx in

his gloved hand.

He turned to Blake. “This is your show.”

Blake took a deep breath and nodded. “I think the first thing to

test out is if I do have a tolerance to onyx. If I do, then that gives

us a starting Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница point, right? At least then we know that we can build up

a tolerance.”

Across from him, Daemon glanced down at the onyx he held and

shrugged. Without preamble, he shot forward, placing the onyx against

Blake’s cheek.

My jaw hit the ground.

Matthew stepped back. “God.”

Beside me, Dawson laughed under his breath.

But nothing happened for several moments. Finally, Blake knocked

the onyx away, his nostrils flaring. “What the hell?”

Disappointed, Daemon tossed the rock in the pile. “Well,

apparently you have a tolerance to onyx and here I was hoping you


I clamped my hand over my Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница mouth, stifling a giggle. He was such an

asshole, and I loved him.

Blake stared. “What if I didn’t have a tolerance to it? Good God,

I kind of wanted to prepare myself for that.”

“I know.” Daemon smirked.

Matthew shook his head. “Okay, back on track, boys. How do you

suggest doing this?”

Stalking over to the pile of onyx, Blake picked one up. There was

a slight ripple of unease this time, but he held on. “I suggest Daemon

goes first. We hold it to the skin until you drop. No longer.”

“Oh, dear Lord,” I muttered.

Daemon took off his Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница gloves and held out his arms. “Bring it.”

There wasn’t a moment of hesitation. Blake stepped forward and

pressed that onyx against Daemon’s palm. Immediately, his face

contorted and he appeared to try to step back, but the onyx held him

in place. A tremor started in his arm and traveled through his body.

Dawson and I both stepped forward. Neither of us could help it.

Standing here, watching the pain harshen his beautiful face, was too

much. Panic shot through me.

But then Blake pulled back and Daemon dropped to his knees,

slamming his hands onto the ground before Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница him. “Crap…”

I rushed forward, touching his shoulders. “Are you okay?”

“He’s fine,” Blake said, placing the onyx on the ground. His right

hand shook as our eyes met. “It started to burn. There must be a limit

to my tolerance…”

Daemon stood unsteadily, and I followed. “I’m okay.” Then he said

to his brother, who was eyeballing Blake like he wanted to toss him

through a window, “I’m fine, Dawson.”

“How do we know this will work?” Matthew demanded. “Touching onyx

is completely different than being sprayed all over with it.”

“I’ve walked out of those doors before and nothing happened Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница. And

it’s not like they’ve sprayed onyx in my face before. This has to be


I remembered how he said everything he touched had been encased in

the shiny jewel. “Okay. Let’s do this.”

Daemon opened his mouth, but I cut him off with a glare. He wasn’t

going to talk me out of this.

Picking up a glove, Blake handled the onyx differently now. He

didn’t come to me but to Matthew. The same thing happened with the

older Luxen. He was on his knees, gasping for air, and then it was

Dawson’s turn.

It took a little Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница longer for him, which made sense. He’d been

exposed to the spray like me and had been tortured by the stuff off

and on. But after about ten seconds, he went down and his brother

massacred the English language.

Then it was my turn.

Squaring my shoulders, I nodded. I was ready for this, wasn’t I?

Heck no. Who was I fooling? This was going to hurt .

Blake winced and moved forward, but Daemon stopped him. Using the

glove, he took the onyx from him and stood in front of me.

“No,” I said. “I don’t want you to do Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница this.”

The determined set to his jaw infuriated me. “I’m not letting him

do it.”

“Then let someone else do it.” There was no way he could be the

one who placed the onyx on me. “Please.” Daemon shook his head, and I

wanted to punch him. “This isn’t right.”

“It’s either me or no one.”

And then I understood. He was trying to get his way. Taking a

breath, I met him head-on. “Do it.”

Surprise flickered in his bottle-green eyes and then anger

deepened them. “I hate this,” he said, loudly enough for only me to

hear Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница.

“I do, too.” Anxiety climbed up my throat. “Just do it.”

He didn’t look away, but I could tell he wanted to. Whatever pain

I knew I was about to feel would be symbiotic. He would feel it-not

the physical, but the anguish would travel to him, as if it were his

own. It was the same when Daemon was in pain.

I closed my eyes, thinking that would help him. It seemed to,

because maybe ten seconds later, I felt the coolness of the onyx

against my hand and the roughness of his glove. Nothing happened

immediately, but then it did Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница.

A rapidly growing burn traveled across my hand and then shot up my

arm. A thousand tiny pricks of pain radiated across my body. I bit

down on my lip, stifling my scream. It didn’t take long after that

before I hit the ground, gulping in air as I waited for the burn to

ease off.

My body shuddered. “All right… Okay… Not too bad.”

“Bull,” Daemon said, hauling me onto my feet. “Kat-”

I tugged free, taking more deep breaths. “Really, I’m okay. We

need to keep going.”

Daemon looked like he wanted to toss me over his shoulder Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница and run

off like a caveman, but we moved on. Over and over again, each of us

touched the onyx, holding on until our body refused to cooperate. None

of us increased in time, but we were just getting started.

“It’s like getting hit with a Taser,” Matthew said as he dropped a

sheet of plywood over the onyx, then placed two heavy rocks on the

board. It was late and all of us were twitchy. Even Blake. “Not that

I’ve ever been Tased, but I image that’s how it feels.”

I wondered if there’d be any long-term effects from this. Like

messed Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница-up heart rhythms or post-traumatic stress. The one good thing

that came out of this was that between the mind-blowing pain and

watching other people succumb to it, I really hadn’t been capable of

thinking about anything else.

As we finished up and began to limp back to the house, Blake

slowed down until he was beside me. “I’m sorry,” he said.

I said nothing.

He shoved his hands into his jeans. “I liked Carissa. I wish…”

“If wishes were fishes, we’d all throw nets, right? Isn’t that

what they say?” Bitterness sharpened my tone.

“Yeah, that’s Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница what they say.” He paused. “Things are gonna get

crazy at school.”

“Why do you care? You’re going to leave as soon as you get Chris.

You’ll just be another one of those kids who vanished into thin air.”

He stopped, head cocked to the side. “I would stay if I could. I

can’t, though.”

Frowning, I glanced ahead. Daemon had slowed down, no doubt doing

his best not to physically put more distance between Blake and me. For

a second, I considered asking Blake about the stone. He’d have to

know, since he worked for Daedalus-still Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница did. But it was too tricky.

Blake claimed to be playing double agent. Key word: claimed .

I wrapped my arms around my waist. Overhead, the branches cracked

against one another like a low, steady drum.

“I would stay,” he said again, placing a hand on my shoulder. “I-”

Daemon was there in an instant, prying Blake’s fingers off my

shoulder. “Don’t touch her.”

Blake paled as he pulled his hand free and stepped back. “Dude, I

wasn’t doing anything. Overprotective much?”

Implanting himself in between us, Daemon said, “I thought we had

an understanding. You’re here because we don’t Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница have a choice. You’re

still alive because she is better than me. You’re not here to comfort

her. Got that?”

Blake’s jaw popped. “Whatever. I’ll see you guys later.”

I watched Blake stalk past Matthew and Dawson. “That was a little


“I don’t like him touching you,” he growled. His eyes started

doing that glowing-orb thing. “I don’t like him even being in the same

time zone as you. I don’t trust him.”

Rising up, I kissed Daemon’s cheek. “No one trusts him, but you

can’t threaten him every five seconds.”

“Yes, I can.”

I laughed Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница and stepped in, wrapping my arms around his waist. Under

my cheek, his heart beat steadily. His hands slid down my back as his

head bent close to mine. “Do you really want to do more days like

this?” he asked. “An endless stretch of days filled with pain?”

It wasn’t on the top of my to-do list. “It serves a pretty good

distraction, and I need that right now.”

I expected him to argue, but he didn’t. Instead, he kissed the top

of my head. We stood like that for a little while. When we pulled

apart, Dawson and Matthew were Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница gone. Moonlight started to peek through

the branches. Holding hands, we walked back to our houses, and he went

to his to clean up.

My house was dark and silent, and as I stood at the base of the

stairs, I struggled to breathe. I couldn’t be afraid of my bedroom.

That was just stupid. I placed my hand on the banister and took one


Muscles locked up.

It was just a bedroom. I couldn’t sleep on the couch forever, and

I couldn’t run in and out of my bedroom as if an Arum were chasing me Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница.

Each step up was a fight when my natural response was to turn and

run in the opposite direction, but I continued until I stood in the

doorway, my hands clasped under my chin.

Daemon and Dee had cleaned up everything like they said. My bed

was made. Clothing put away and all the papers were stacked on my

desk. My destroyed laptop was gone. And there was a neat little

circular rug over the spot Carissa had stood. It was a muted, soft

brown. Daemon knew I wasn’t big on flashy color, not like Dee. Other

than that, the room looked normal.

Holding my breath, I forced Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница myself to go in. I moved around,

picking up books and placing them back in the order I had them in,

keeping my mind blank. Sometime later, I changed into an old shirt and

knee-high socks, then I tunneled under the blankets and rolled onto my


Beyond my bedroom window, scattered stars broke up the dark blue

of the sky. One fell, leaving a short stream of light behind as it

crashed to Earth. Curling my fingers around the blanket, I wondered if

it were a falling star or something else. All the Luxen were here,

weren’t they?

I forced Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница my eyes closed and focused on tomorrow. After school,

Daemon and I were heading to Martinsburg in an attempt to find Luc.

The group thought we were just getting away for the night. Hopefully

after our visit, we’d know a little more about what happened to


I slept fitfully that night. It had to be late when I felt Daemon

settle in beside me, his arm firmly around my waist. Half asleep, I

decided he needed to be more careful. If my mom caught him in my bed

again, things would get ugly. But I was content in his arms and

settled back Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница against him, lulled to sleep by his warm breath along the

back of my neck.

“I love you,” I think I said. It may have been a dream, but his

arm tightened and his leg slid around mine. Maybe this was just a

dream, because there was a surreal quality to it. Even if it was, it

was enough.

Armentrout, Jennifer L.

Opal ( A Lux Novel)

Chapter 27

Lesa practically tackled me the moment I stepped into school the

following day. I hadn’t even made it to my locker. Grabbing my arm,

she tugged me into the alcove near the trophy case.

I Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница knew from the moment I saw her that somehow she knew something

bad had happened. Her face was pale, eyes shadowed, and her lower lip

trembled. I’d never seen her so upset.

“What’s wrong?” I forced my voice even.

Her fingers bit into my arm. “Carissa’s missing.”

I felt the blood drain from my face and croaked out a, “What?”

Eyes shiny, she nodded. “She had the flu, right? And apparently

she got really sick in the last couple of days, running a high

temperature. Her mom and dad took her to the hospital. They thought

she had meningitis or something.”

She let Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница out a shuddering breath. “I didn’t know anything until her

parents called me this morning asking if I’d seen or talked to her.

And I was like, ‘No. Why? She’s been too sick to get on the phone and

all.’ And they told me she disappeared a couple of nights ago from the

hospital room. Her parents have been looking for her and the police

wouldn’t file a missing person’s report until she was gone for

forty-eight hours.”

The horror that whiplashed through me wasn’t faked. I said a few

things and I really didn Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница’t know what. Lesa wasn’t processing anything


“They think she walked out of the hospital-that she was that sick

and she’s probably out there somewhere, lost and confused.” Her voice

trembled. “How could no one see and stop her?”

“I don’t know,” I whispered.

Lesa circled her arms around herself. “This isn’t happening, is

it? It can’t be. Not Carissa.”

My heart felt like it was cracking. Most times I wanted to tell

the truth and confide in Lesa, but this was one of those moments when

nothing in this world could have made me want to be the Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница bearer of this


There wasn’t anything I could say, but I wrapped my arms around

her and held on until the first bell rang. We headed straight to class

without our textbooks. It didn’t matter. News of Carissa’s

disappearance had begun to spread, and no one was paying attention in


Kimmy announced at the end of class that the police were

organizing a search party after school. She and Carissa hadn’t been

friends, but that wasn’t important, I realized. Too many kids had

disappeared, and it was touching everyone’s lives. I glanced over my

shoulder at Daemon and he Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница gave me a reassuring smile. It did little to

soothe me. I was a bundle of nerves. When class ended, Lesa waited for


“I think I’m going home,” she said, blinking rapidly. “I don’t… I

just can’t be here right now.”

“Do you want me to go with you?” I asked, not wanting to leave her

alone if she felt she needed someone.

Lesa shook her head. “No. But thank you.”

I gave her a quick hug and then watched her hurry from class, my

heart heavy.

Daemon said nothing as he pressed a kiss to my temple. He knew

there wasn’t Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница anything to say. “Do you think we have time to join the

search party before we leave?” I asked.

Both of us knew it was pointless, but it seemed a dishonor to her

memory to not give her this respect. Or was it wrong to do it knowing

what really happened? I didn’t know.

Daemon didn’t seem to know, either, but he agreed. “Of course.”

I wanted to leave the school, too. Especially since everyone was

talking about Carissa and finding her. People were in high hopes that

she would be found, because it seemed impossible that she’d end up

like Simon.

Guilt Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница and anger warred inside me, and throughout the day, I tipped

into each side. Sitting in class seemed pointless when so many things

hung in the balance. These people-these kids-had no idea what was

going on around them. They lived in this blissful bubble of ignorance

and not even the disappearances burst it. Only tiny holes were pricked

by each disappearance and I was waiting for everyone to finally pop.

At lunch, for the first time, we all sat together. Even Blake

joined us. My lack of appetite had nothing to do with the mystery food

occupying my plate.

“Are you Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница guys going to the search party?” Andrew asked.

I nodded. “But we’re still doing our own thing afterward.”

Blake scowled. “I really think you guys should wait.”

“Why?” I asked before Daemon could snap his head off his


“You need to be working on building up a tolerance, not date

night.” Across from him, Ash nodded in agreement. “That’s not what’s

important right now.”

Daemon looked at him. “Shut up.”

Cheeks flushing, Blake leaned on the table. “We need every day

that we can get if we have any hopes of doing this soon.”

A muscle flexed in Daemon’s jaw. “One Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница day isn’t going to change

anything. You guys can still practice or not. I don’t care.”

Blake started to protest, but Dawson stepped in. “Let them go.

They need this. We’ll be fine.”

I picked up my fork, feeling my cheeks flame. Everyone thought I

needed to get away, take some downtime, and I didn’t want them feeling

sorry for or worrying about me. But tonight wasn’t date night. What

Daemon and I had to do was going to be as tricky as playing with onyx.

As if he sensed my dark thoughts, he twisted Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница beside me and his

hand found mine under the table. He squeezed and for some reason I

felt like crying. I was turning into such a wuss and it was all his


I might have dreamed him up last night, because in the light of

morning, he’d been gone and the pillow beside me didn’t carry that

scent I could place anywhere. But I liked to think it was real. That I

hadn’t dreamt him holding me close, his warm hands on my hips or his

lips trailing down my neck.

If I had imagined that… Oh boy, my dreams were realistic. I

couldn Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница’t ask him, because that would be way too embarrassing, not to

mention Daemon’s ego did not need to be stroked by the knowledge I was

dreaming about him.

Thinking about his reaction to that, which would bring a whole lot

of smugness to the table, I grinned a little. Daemon caught sight of

it and my heart skipped a beat, because his heart had jumped first.

Sometimes the whole bizarro alien connection thing had its perks.

Like it told me that I affected Daemon just as much as he affected me,

and on days like this, I needed whatever pick-me-upper Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница there was.

Armentrout, Jennifer L.

Opal ( A Lux Novel)

Chapter 28

The search party was just like the ones I’d seen on TV and in

movies. People milled through fields in a direct, horizontal line

behind the policemen and their search dogs. Everything was a clue to

the inexperienced-a disturbed pile of leaves; a torn, old piece of

clothing; faded footprints.

It was a sad affair.

Mainly because there was so much hope-hope that Carissa would be

found, that she would be okay if not a little worse for wear, and

everything would go back to normal. She wouldn’t be the Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница latest missing

person’s case, because her situation was different. She seemingly

walked out of a hospital.

However, I had a hard time believing that.

Will had been an implant in the local medical center, and I didn’t

have to be an investigator to figure out that he wasn’t the only one.

My guess was Carissa had help leaving that hospital.

Daemon and I left after five, heading back to our houses. I went

inside to get changed for our “date night.” I wasn’t going all out

like I did last time. I settled on a pair of skinny jeans, heels, and

an Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница Lesa-approved skintight sweater that flashed a little bit of


Mom was in the kitchen making an omelet. My eyes bugged as I

tugged the hem of my sweater down. She glanced over her shoulder,

tossing the eggs and missing most of the frying pan.

She took Hell’s Kitchen to a new extreme.

“Are you going out tonight with Daemon?”

“Yeah,” I said, grabbing a paper towel. I scooped up the eggs

before the burnt smell could reach my gag reflex. “We’re going to do

dinner and then a movie.”

“Remember your curfew. It’s a school night.”

“I know.” I Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница threw the towel away and held onto my sweater with one

hand. “Did you hear about Carissa?”

Mom nodded. “I wasn’t working at Grant when she was admitted or

for the last two days, but the hospital is crawling with police and

the heads are doing their own investigations.”

She’d been pulling her shifts in Winchester. “So, they think she

really just walked out of there?”

“From what I hear, she was being treated for meningitis and that

can come along with a high fever. People do strange things when they

are that sick. It’s why I was so worried about Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница you when you got sick

in November.” She turned off the stove. “But there is no excuse for

what happened. Someone should’ve stopped the poor girl. Those

night-shift nurses will have a lot of explaining to do. Without meds,

Carissa…” She clamped up, focusing on dumping the eggs onto her plate.

A few pieces splattered across the floor. I sighed. “Honey, they’ll

find Carissa.”

No, they won’t , I wanted to rage.

“She couldn’t have gone far,” Mom continued as I picked up the

yellow clumps stuffed with peppers and onions. “And those nurses won’t

allow something as Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница careless as this to happen again.”

I doubted it was an act of carelessness. They probably turned

their cheek or helped. The desire to get even or at least walk into

that hospital and smack a bunch of people in their faces was almost

too hard to ignore.

Saying good-bye to Mom and promising not to stay out past curfew,

I kissed her cheek and then grabbed my sweater jacket and purse.

Daemon was alone next door. Everyone was down by the lake, either

putting themselves through untold pain or watching it.

He swaggered up to me, his eyes dropping right to the tiny flash

of Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница skin…and something moved over his face. “I like this better than

the other outfit.”

“Really?” I felt exposed when he looked at me like he was staring

at a piece of art commissioned just for him. “I thought you liked the


“I do, but this…?” He tugged on my belt loop and made a deep sound

in the back of his throat. “I really like this.”

A dizzying warmth swept through me, making my knees weak.

Shaking his head, he dropped his hand and pulled his keys out of

his pocket. “We need to get going. You hungry? You Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница didn’t eat any


It took me a moment to collect myself. “I could do a Happy Meal.”

He laughed as we headed outside. “A Happy Meal?”

“What’s wrong with that?” I tugged my sweater coat on. “It’s


“It’s the toy, isn’t it?”

I grinned as I stopped at the passenger side. “The boys get better


Daemon turned suddenly, placing his hands on my hips and lifting

me against him. Startled, I dropped my purse as I groped his arms.


He silenced me with a kiss that reached a deep place inside that

both thrilled and frightened Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница me. When he kissed me, it was like he was

reaching for my soul.

Funny thing was, he already had that and my heart in his hands.

Slowly, he let me slide down him and placed me on my feet. Dazed,

I stared up at him. “What was that for?”

“You smiled.” His fingers trailed along my cheek, then down my

throat. He buttoned up my sweater quickly. “You haven’t been smiling

much. I missed it, so I decided to reward you for doing it.”

“Reward me?” I laughed. “God, only you would think kissing someone

is a reward.”

“You know it Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница is. My lips change lives, baby.” Daemon bent,

grabbing my purse off the ground. “Ready?”

Taking the purse, I hopped into his car on wobbly knees. Once

beside me, he revved the engine, and we were heading into town,

stopping by the local fast-food joint so I could get my Happy Meal.

He got me a boy one, too.

His dinner included three hamburgers and two orders of fries. I

had no idea where those calories went. To his ego, maybe? It seemed

likely after that last comment about his lips. I was hungry more often

after the mutation, but not like Daemon Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница.

On the way to Martinsburg, we started out with a game of I Spy,

but Daemon cheated and I didn’t want to play anymore.

Документ Jennifer L. Armentrout 16 страница