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
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
“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
“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
Across from him, Daemon glanced down at the onyx he held and
shrugged. Without preamble, he shot forward, placing the onyx against
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
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
“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
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
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,
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
Armentrout, Jennifer L.
Opal ( A Lux Novel)
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
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
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
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)
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
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.