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Chapter One

If Levi mentioned my sex life with Toby one more time I was going to slap him.

“I don’t see how it changes anything. You already knew I wasn’t a virgin.”

“I thought you’d been with a human. That’s different. Human men don’t count. I assumed I was your first Pteron.” The serious expression on his face made me want to laugh despite my anger.

“That’s ridiculous.” I tied the laces on my running shoes. I was antsy from spending so much time inside and was excited that Hailey was coming by Levi’s house to meet me for a run.

“It was nothing like it is with us, right? Just tell me that.”

I let out a deep breath. “How many human girls were you with before me?”


“Yeah, I thought so. Does that mean what we have isn’t special? Different?”

“Of course not.” He sat down next to me, leaving no space between us. “Those girls meant nothing. You mean everything.”

“Exactly.” I decided not to berate him about the disrespectful way he treated women before me. “You may not have been my first Pteron, but you’re my favorite.” I kissed him on the cheek. I was trying to pretend it didn’t weird me out, but I was going crazy. How was it possible for me to have been with two different Pterons? I wasn’t even nineteen yet.

His shoulder brushed against mine. “Have we had sex more times than you guys did?”

“What?” I shot up and away from him. “No. No. No. We are not talking about this anymore. Say it again and you can forget about us having sex any time in the near future. Got it?”

He put up his hands in mock defense. “Fine. I just don’t like it.”

“You’ve made your feelings abundantly clear.” I turned to walk out of his bedroom to wait for Hailey. I didn’t make it through the doorway.

His arms wrapped around my waist and pulled me back against him. “How long do you have before Hailey gets here?” He kissed my earlobe before trailing a line of kisses down my neck.

“Not enough time.” I spun out of his arms. “I wouldn’t want to cut your amazing skills short.”

He laughed. “Just wait until tonight, Al. I’ll show you amazing.”

“I can hardly wait.” I leaned up and kissed him. I should have known it wouldn’t be just a quick little kiss. He wasn’t having any of that. He had me pinned against the wall within seconds. My hands were tangled in his hair almost as quickly.

That was exactly how Hailey found us. “I’d tell you to get a room, but I guess you already have one.”

Levi reluctantly backed up. “Impeccable timing as always, Hailey.”

She shrugged. “What can I say? I have the touch.”

“That you do. Let’s get out of here.” I ran a finger down Levi’s bare arm. “Don’t get too bored without me.”

“I probably will. See you girls later.” He waved.

We stopped on the porch to stretch before taking off running down the block. We cut over to St. Charles Avenue to run the street car line. Hailey had to try hard to run slow enough for me to keep pace. If you want an inferiority complex, spend all of your time with paranormal creatures.

“Do you know what you’re wearing tonight?” Hailey asked.

“I’m going to wear that red strapless dress I picked out with you a few months ago.” We were going to a paranormal New Year’s Eve party. I figured a short, sexy dress worked no matter what kind of party it was. I wasn’t thrilled about going, considering how worried I was about Jess, but the deeper I could get into Society events, the better chance I had at finding out how to get her back.

Hailey laughed. “Trying to make Levi’s night, huh?”

“Why not? Maybe it will make him shut his mouth about Toby.”

“It’s crazy though, isn’t it?” She sped up again, forcing me to push myself harder to keep up.

I watched her red ponytail bobbing in front of me. “Definitely. I just wish I knew how it was possible. It can’t be a coincidence.”

“You think there’s more to it? Like what, you’re a Pteron magnet or something?”

“A Pteron magnet? Those exist?” I barely got the words out. I was already out of breath.

“Of course not.” Hailey turned, running backwards. “I thought you’ve been training with the guys.”

I stuck my tongue out at her. It was childish, but she deserved it. “Sorry, we aren’t all as fast as you.”

“I’m only running at half speed.”

“Remind me again why we’re friends?” I finally gave up. I stopped and bent over, clutching my knees.

“Because you love me.” She stopped too.

“Do you love me enough to carry me home?”

“No, but he does.”

I didn’t need to turn around to know that Levi was behind us. “Normally I’d get mad at you for following us, but right now I don’t care.”

I turned and let him pull me into a hug—a sweaty hug. I was the only one who was sweaty. He was perfectly dry in his black running shirt and gray shorts. He always looked good in gym clothes.

“Do you really need me to carry you?” His tone was hopeful.

“It’s tempting, but I’m going to keep going. Think you can walk next to me or something? That would probably be the right pace.”

Hailey sighed. “I can try again. I really did try.”

I smiled. “It’s okay, Hail. Go on ahead.”

“See you guys in a few.” She disappeared down the street.

I gave myself another few seconds to recover. “Ready, favorite Pteron of mine?”

“Always.” Levi didn’t actually walk, it was more like a jog. It probably took effort to go so slow, but he didn’t seem to mind. I’d only been back from Vermont a few days, and I don’t think he wanted to let me out of his sight. A week before it would have annoyed me. But after learning about Jess’s kidnapping, I didn’t mind the extra protection.

“Did Jared find out anything else?” With Bryant locked up in The Society equivalent of a prison, Jared had moved up the chain. Although he wouldn’t be a full-fledged security officer until after graduation, he was in on all of the decision making.

“Not really. She’s still being kept in that house, but she’s unharmed. I promise you, she’s going to be okay. If we thought otherwise, we’d go in and get her. It’s just not worth tipping the Blackwells off about our inside man yet. We need to find out more before you and your friends are safe.”