Read an Excerpt
A Lux Novel
By Jennifer L. Armentrout, Liz Pelletier
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2012 Jennifer L. Armentrout
All rights reserved.
Students filed into class, yawning and still trying to rub the sleep out of their eyes. Melted snow dripped off their parkas and pooled on the scuffed floor. Dawson stretched out his long legs, propping them on the empty seat in front of him. Idly scratching his jaw, he watched the front of the room as Lesa strolled in, making a face at Kimmy, who looked horrified by what the snow had done to her hair.
"It's just snow," Lesa said, rolling her eyes. "It's not going to hurt you."
Kimmy smoothed her hands over her blond hair. "Sugar melts."
"Yeah, and shit floats." Lesa took her seat, yanking out last night's English homework.
A deep, low chuckle came from behind, and Dawson grinned. The girl cracked him up.
Kimmy flipped her off as she flounced to her seat, her eyes trained on him like she was planning her next meal. Dawson gave her a tight smile back, though he knew he should've just ignored her. To Kimmy, any attention appeared to be good attention, especially since she had broken up with Simon.
Or had Simon broken up with her?
Hell if he knew or really cared, but he didn't have it in him to completely ignore her. Placing a zebra-print bag on her desk, Kimmy continued to smile at him for another good ten seconds before looking away.
He shook out his shoulders, positive he'd just been visually molested — and so not in a good way.
The laugh came again, and then in a voice low enough only for him to hear, "Playa. Playa ..."
Stretching his arms back, he smacked at his brother's face as he grinned. "Shut up, Daemon."
His brother knocked his hands out of his face. "Don't hate the game ..."
Dawson shook his head, still half smiling. A lot of people, mostly humans, didn't get Daemon like he and his sister did. Very few made him laugh like Daemon did. And even fewer pissed him off as much. But if Dawson ever needed anything or if there was an Arum nearby, Daemon was the man.
Or Luxen. Whatever.
A portly older man strolled into class, clutching a stack of papers that signaled their quizzes had been graded. A chorus of groans traveled through the room, with the exception of Daemon and him. They knew they totally aced it without even trying.
Dawson picked up his pen, rolling it between long fingers and sighing. Tuesday was already shaping up to be another long day of boring classes. He'd rather be outside, hiking in the woods despite the snow and brutal cold. His aversion to school wasn't as bad as Daemon's, though. Some days were worse than others, but Dawson found his classmates made the experience more tolerable. He was like his sister in that way, a people person hidden in an alien body.
Seconds before the bell rang, a girl hurried into class, clutching a yellow slip of paper in her hand. Immediately, he knew the chick wasn't from around here. The fact she was in a sweater and not a heavy jacket when it was below thirty outside sort of gave it away. His gaze roamed down her legs — really nice, long, and curvy — to her thin flats.
Yep, she wasn't from around here.
Handing over the paper to the teacher, she lifted her slightly sharp chin and gazed across the room.
Dawson's feet hit the floor with an audible thump.
Holy crap, she was ... she was beautiful.
And he knew beautiful. Their race had won the genetic roulette when they adopted human forms, but the way this girl's elfin features were pieced together was absolute perfection. Chocolate-colored hair slid over her shoulders as she kept scanning the room. Her skin held a healthy glow from being out in the sun a lot — recently, too, from the vibrancy of it. Finely groomed eyebrows set off tilted eyes framed with heavy lashes. Warm brown eyes connected with his, then his shoulder, and then she blinked several times as if trying to clear her vision.
That kind of look happened a lot when people saw Daemon and him together for the first time. They were identical, after all. Black wavy hair, same swimmer's build, both of them well over six feet. They shared the same features: broad cheekbones, full mouths, and extraordinarily bright green eyes. Other than their own kind, no one could tell them apart. Something both boys loved using to their advantage.
Dawson grinded his molars until his jaw ached.
For the first time, he wished there wasn't a carbon-copy image of him. That someone would look at him — really see him and not the mirror image right beside him. And that was a completely unexpected reaction.
But then her gaze found his again and she smiled.
The pen slipped from his suddenly limp fingers, rolled across the desk, and clattered onto the floor. Heat swept across his cheeks, but his own lips responded, and there was nothing fake or forced about his reaction.
Daemon snickered as he leaned over, smacking down on the pen with his sneaker. Embarrassed to the nth degree, Dawson swiped his pen from under his brother's shoe.
Mr. Patterson said something to her, drawing her attention, and she laughed. Feeling that husky sound all the way to his toes, he sat straighter in his seat. A prickly feeling spread over his skin.
As the tardy bell rang, she headed straight for the seat in front of him. Screw hiking in the snow. This was so not going to be another boring Tuesday.
She started digging around in her bag, searching for a pen, he guessed. Part of him knew it was a perfect excuse to break the ice. He could just offer her a pen, say hello, and go from there. But he was frozen in his seat, torn between wanting to lean forward to see what kind of perfume she was wearing and not wanting to look like a total creep.
He kept his ass planted firmly in the chair.
And ... stared at the chocolate strands of her hair where they curled over the back of her seat.
Dawson scratched his neck, shoulders twitching. What was her name? And why in the hell did he care so much? This wasn't the first time he was attracted to a human girl. Hell, many of their kind hooked up with them, since males outnumbered their females two to one. He had. Even his usually superior-complex-ridden brother had when he wasn't with his on-and-off-again girlfriend, but still ...
Glancing over her shoulder, the girl swept up her lashes, and she locked eyes with him.
Strangest thing happened then. Dawson felt the years peel away. Years of moving, of making and losing friends. Of seeing those of his kind he had grown to care for die at the hands of the Arum or the DOD. Years of trying to fit in with humans but never really becoming one of them. All of it just ... slipped away.
Dazed by the sudden lifting of weight, all he could do was stare. Stare like a freaking idiot. But she stared right back.
The new girl shifted her gaze, but those warm, whiskey-colored eyes came right back to his. Her lips tipped up at the corners in a small smile, and then she faced the front of the class again.
Daemon cleared his throat and shifted his desk. His brother demanded in a low voice, "What are you thinking?"
Most of the time, Daemon knew what he was thinking. Same with Dee. They were triplets, closer than most of the Luxen. But right now, Dawson knew without a doubt that Daemon had no clue what he was thinking. 'Cuz if he did, he would've fallen out of his chair.
Dawson let out a breath. "Nothing — I'm not thinking anything."
"Yeah," his brother said, sitting back. "That's what I thought."
* * *
After the bell rang, Bethany Williams gathered up her bag and headed into the hallway without hanging around. Being the new kid sucked. There were no friends to chat with or walk to the next class with. Strangers surrounded her, which was just perfect considering she was living in a strange house and she was seeing a lot of her uncle, who was also a complete stranger to her.
And she needed to find her next class. Glancing down at her schedule, her eyes narrowed at the faded printout. Room 20 ... 3? Or was it room 208? Great. West Virginia was where printers went to die.
Shouldering her bag, she dodged around a group of girls huddled across from her English class. No stretch of the imagination to think they were waiting on the incredibly hot duo in her class to come out. Good God, she'd lived in Nevada her whole life and never once saw anyone who looked like that, let alone two of them.
Who knew West Virginia was hiding such hotness?
And those eyes, they were ... wow. A vibrant, untarnished green that reminded her of fresh spring grass. Those peepers were something else.
If she'd known this before, she would've begged her parents to move here a hell of a lot sooner just for the eye candy. Shame snapped on the heels of that thought. Her family was here because her uncle was sick, because it was the right thing to do, and not —
"Hey, hold up."
The unfamiliar deep timbre of a boy's voice rolled down her spine, and she slowed, glancing over her shoulder. She came to an abrupt stop.
It was half of the incredibly hot duo. Calling to her, right? Because he was looking straight at her with those eyes, grinning with lips that were full on the bottom, almost too perfect.
She suddenly had a mad desire to start painting his face with the new oil colors her mom had bought her. Snapping out of it, she forced her mouth to work.
"Hi," she squeaked. Hot, really hot ...
The boy grinned, and her chest did a little flutter. "I wanted to introduce myself," he said, catching up to her. "My name is Dawson Black. I'm the —"
"You were the twin sitting behind me in English."
Surprise flooded his face. "How'd you know? Most can't tell us apart."
"Your smile." Flushing, she wanted to hit herself. Your smile? Wow. She glanced down at her schedule quickly, realizing she had to go to the second floor. "I mean, the other one didn't smile at all, like, the entire class."
He chuckled at that. "Yeah, he's worried that smiling will give him premature wrinkles."
Bethany laughed. Funny and cute? Me likey. "And you're not worried?"
"Oh, no, I plan on aging gracefully. Looking forward to it." His grin was easy, lighting up eyes that couldn't be real. They had to be contacts. He continued. "Cocoon is my favorite movie, actually."
"Cocoon?" She busted out laughing, and his grin tipped higher. "I think that's my great-great-great grandmother's favorite movie."
"I think I might like your great-great-great grandmother. She's got good taste." Leaning around her, he opened one side of the heavy double doors. Students veered out of his way as if he was a self-contained wrecking ball. "You can't go wrong with it. Eternal youth. Aliens. Shiny things in the pool."
"Pod people?" she added, dipping under his outstretched arm — a nice, well-defined arm that stretched the material of his sweater. Cheeks flushing, she quickly averted her eyes and headed up the stairs. "So, you're big on the golden oldies?"
She felt him shrug beside her. In the wide stairwell that smelled faintly of mold and gym socks, he remained right by her side, leaving a small space for people to get around them.
Dawson looked over her shoulder as they rounded the landing. "What class do you have next?"
Holding up the schedule, she wrinkled her nose. "Uh ... history in room ..."
He grabbed the paper from her hand, quickly scanning it. "Room 208. And it's your lucky day."
Since a guy like him was chatting with her, she was going to have to agree. "Why is that?"
"Two things," he said, handing the schedule back to her. "We have art and then last period — gym — together. Or it could just be my lucky day."
Unbelievably hot. Funny. And knew all the right things to say? Score. He held the second door open for her, and she added "gentleman" to the list. Biting her lip, she searched for something to say.
Finally, she asked, "What class do you have next?"
"Science on the first floor."
Her brows shot up as she glanced around. As expected, people were definitely staring. Mostly girls. "Then why are you on the second floor?"
"Because I wanted to be." He said it so matter-of-factly that she had the impression he made a habit of doing whatever he wanted on a regular basis.
His eyes met hers and held them. Something in his stare made her feel hyperaware of herself — of everything around her. In a sudden moment of clarity, she knew her mom would take one look at a guy like Dawson and send her off to an all girls' school. Boys like him usually left a trail of broken hearts as long as the Mississippi behind them. And she should be running into her class — which couldn't be too far away now — as fast as she could, because the last thing Bethany wanted was another broken heart.
But she was just standing there, not moving. Neither of them was. This ... this was intense. More so than the first time she kissed a boy. The kicker was they weren't even touching. She didn't even know him.
Needing space, she stepped to the side and swallowed. Yep, space was a good idea. But his concentrated stare still reached her from behind thick lashes.
Without breaking eye contact, he motioned toward a door over his shoulder. "That's room 208."
Okay. Say something or nod, you idiot. Definitely not making a good impression here. What eventually came out of her mouth was sort of horrifying. "Are your eyes real?"
Aw, hell, awkward much?
Dawson blinked, as if the question surprised him. How could it? People had to ask him that all the time. She'd never seen eyes like the twins'. "Yeah," he drawled. "They're real."
"Oh ... well, they're really pretty." Heat swept across her cheeks. "I mean, they're beautiful." Beautiful? She needed to stop talking now.
His grin went right back to full wattage. She liked it. "Thank you." He cocked his head to the side. "So ... you're going to leave me hanging?"
Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a tall blond boy who looked as if he'd stepped off the pages of a teen magazine. He caught sight of Dawson and stopped abruptly, causing another guy to barrel into his back. With a half grin, the tall boy apologized but never took his eyes off Dawson. And they were blue, like cornflower blue. None of her paints could even hope to capture the intensity of the color. Just like she was equally sure they would never be able to do justice to Dawson's eyes, either.
"Huh?" she said, focusing on Dawson.
"Your name? You never told me what your name is."
"Elizabeth, but everyone calls me Bethany."
"Elizabeth." He repeated her name as if he were tasting the sound. "Does Bethany come with a last name?"
Heat crept up her neck as she gripped the strap on her bag. "Williams — my last name is Williams."
"Well, Bethany Williams, this is where I have to leave you." Goodness, he sounded genuinely dismayed. "For now."
"No need." As he backed away from her, his eyes glimmered under the light. Dazzling. "We'll see each other soon. I'm sure of it."CHAPTER 2
All the roads just outside of Petersburg looked the same to Bethany. Three times she missed the turnoff for her new home — an old farmhouse that had been converted into a livable space. The road was narrow, marked only by a minuscule white post, and surrounded by trees. Being used to suburban America, she was way out of her element. Even the GPS in her car had run screaming several miles back.
And thank God for snow chains. Her sedan would never make the trek up or down the gravel road to the old farmhouse otherwise. But the place was beautiful — the snow-capped mountains, thick elm trees, and rolling white hills. Her fingers itched to put it on canvas.
Just like her fingers were itching to do something else. Something she really shouldn't do. Painting a boy's face was obsessive on a stalkerish level, and good God, if her mom snuck through her paintings again? She'd have a stroke.
Freezing drizzle smacked Bethany's face when she hopped out of the car and nearly busted her ass on the slick driveway as she skirted around her uncle's Porsche. Doctors made good money. Childish giggles and the aroma of sugar cookies greeted Bethany as she dropped her messenger bag inside the door. She shook off the frozen rain and took one step forward.
"Bethany?" Her mom's voice rang out like an alarm — a damn carpet alarm. "Take off those shoes!"
Excerpted from Shadows by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Liz Pelletier. Copyright © 2012 Jennifer L. Armentrout. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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