The Rising (Darkness Rising #3)

After this, he'd probably be going to zoos, climbing the enclosure, saying, 'Here, watch this...' Famous last words, as yet another unfit human is removed from the gene pool.

As she did, someone else poked his head in. Rafe.
"Maya?" He looked at the other two, then me. "Can we talk?"
"Rather not."

He lowered his voice. "Please?"
I said. "Just not tonight. Okay?"
He nodded and retreated.
"Sorry about that," I said when he was gone. "Inconveniently timed relationship angst."
Chloe looked from me to the now-empty doorway. "You and Rafe? Oh, I thought..." She trailed off and shook her head. "Never mind. So you were saying—"
"I thought you were with Daniel,"
Derek cut in.
Chloe gave him a look as I inwardly flinched.

Canada?" Ash said. "You didn't say it was in Canada.
"I said Ontario." (Maya)
"I thought you meant Ontario, California."
"Seriously?" Tori said,rolling her eyes. "A helicopter to California? You may be hot,but your sister clearly inherited all the brains in the family."
"Did she call me hot?" Ash whispered to me, looking more annoyed than he ever did when someone called him a jerk.
"She hasn't been on a date in six months", Derek rumbled behind us. "No offense, but as long as aren't related to her, you're fair game. Hell, even--"
Tori spun on him. "I didn't know."
"Um, wait a sec," Corey said. "So Ash is hot and I'm seriously cute? Is there a difference?"
"Yes," Hayley said, and propelled him through the line.

Dad!" he shouted, loud enough to make my ears ring. "Dad! You need to get down here!" (Derek)
Chloe held open the door and whispered to me, "I could say he's not always like this, but I'd be lying.

Even when I encountered racism outside Salmon Creek, it usually rolled off me. The worst of it often came from rednecks whipping past in rusted pickups. I looked at them and I looked at me-class leader, track star, straight-A student- and their slurs about dirty Indians and drunk Indians and dumb Indians were laughable.

Mom says crap like that comes from people who´ve accomplished so little in lifethat they feel the need to lift themselves above someone, anyone. So they pick skin color or religion or sexual orientation and say, "Well, I might not be much, but at least I´m not a ..." I´d look at those guys, and see the truth of her words.

He's having a vision," I said. "That's what happens." (Maya)
"Attractive, I know," Corey said between gritted teeth. "And now I get new witnesses to my humiliation. Wonderful."
"We're used to it," Chloe said. "Derek used to do that when he Changed. Only worse."
"Thank you for sharing," Derek muttered.
She grinned. "You're welcome.

"Are you sure about that?" Corey muttered once the were gone. "Chloe is nice enough, but that Derek? Real charmer. If anyone busts through that door, he's liable to throw us to them as cannon fodder."
I wasn't sure I disagreed.

"Get out of here," I said, barely able to open my jaw enough to get the words out.
Rafe looked surprised at first but seeing my face, that melted away and his own face hardened. He turned to Nicole.
"What'd you do?" he said.
"Wh-what did I do?" she squeaked. Her blue eyes rounded and she flinched, like a whipped puppy seeing a raised hand. "I-I don't understand."
"What's going on here?"
Hayley said.
"She..." I clenched my fists tighter and my face started to throb, as if I was about to shift. I took a deep breath and tried to find clam so I could explain.
"I-I don't understand," Nicole said again, tears welling up.
"Oh, stuff the theatrics," Sam said. She turned to the others. "Nicole killed Serena."

"I don't doubt tall, dark, and seriously cute had a vision, but I'm still going to wait for Kit's call on this one."
"Did she just call me cute?"
Corey said.
Hayley turned on Tori. "Did you just flirt with my boyfriend?"
Corey said.
"Are you coming?" I asked Corey. "Or staying to flirt back?"
"Bossy, isn't she?" Tori said.
"Yeah, I think it's hot," Corey said with a grin.

"I don't know. I spent most of my life moving around. My dad and I had just settled in one place when all this happened. I..." She shrugged. "I guess I'm hoping it doesn't last much longer. I want a home." She glanced over her shoulder. "I know you do, too, even if you don't like to admit it."
I thought she was talking to me. Then Derek stepped into the doorway.
"He wasn't eavesdropping," she said to me. "He just doesn't like me being alone with strangers in the house." She aimed a pointed look his way. "Even if I end up rescuing him from danger as often as he rescues me."

"I don't suppose you remember where you left your clothing," Daniel murmured to me.
Chloe gave a soft laugh. "That's always the problem, isn't it? Okay then. You two go find that. We'll meet you here. Hopefully everyone will be in human form." A wry smile. "Though I'll warn you, he's not a whole lot more pleasant that way. At least as a wolf, he can't talk."
The wolf growled, but she only laughed and gave him a pat, then tugged him away as we went to retrieve my clothing.

I looked over at the others. "Anyone have tree-climbing issues?"
Obviously Ash and I didn't. Daniel, Hayley, and Corey said they'd be fine. Chloe hoped she would—she had gymnastics training. Mr. Bae joked that it would be his first time in a couple of decades. Derek said nothing.
"It looks like I'll be the guy doing the distracting. I'm not trusting a tree branch to hold me."
"You're not playing decoy,"
Chloe said. She turned to us. "I'm sorry. I know that sounds like a cop-out, but he really can't. The last time we were in a fight against the St. Clouds, the orders were to tranq all of us except Derek. For him, it was shoot to kill. They don't trust werewolves."
"I think they've calmed down,"
Derek said. "They've been watching us for months and haven't tried to assassinate me yet."
Chloe put her hands on her hips. "And that's your definition of acceptance? Not going out of their way to kill you?"

I love you. I'm not sure if it's the way you want me to. I think it might be. But I know that I love you. I absolutely love you.

I'm going to need to save you."
"Excuse me? No one needs-"
"I'm saving you, so shut up and be grateful.

I'm sick of this. It's like being twelve again, dealing with all this damned drama. I like her. Does she like me? What if she doesn't like me?

I need to get ready. Ash? Touch the food and I won't take you for a driving lesson tomorrow. Dad? Touch it and I'll make you take him for a driving lesson tomorrow."

Dad backed away from the counter. Ash scowled. I laughed and continued upstairs.

"Okay, what'd I do?" he asked.
"Nothing. I'm just tired."
"Uh-uh. I suspected I was getting the cold shoulder earlier, but with everything going on, I wasn't sure. Now I'm sure. You're giving me the look."
"What look?"
"The Maya's-pissed-with-Corey look. Fifty percent disappointment, thirty percent disapproval, twenty percent exasperation. I've done something you're not happy about."

I hesitated, then blurted, "Rafe told me what you said about Daniel."
He frowned. "You're going to need to be a little more specific."
"In Salmon Creek, when Rafe and I started getting together. You told him to back off because Daniel..."
I glanced at the open door and lowered my voice. "Because Daniel likes me."

Is that a no?" I said.
"No. I mean.." He struggled for the smile again. "I'm just waiting for the punch line. Something about making it date so I need to pay. Or you expecting flowers. Or.." He trailed off.
"There isn't a punch line," I said.
I rose onto my knees and inched over, in front of him. Then I stopped about a foot away.
"No punch line, Daniel," I said. "I'm asking if you'll go out with me."
He didn't answer. Just reched out, his hand sliding between my hair and face, pulling me toward him and..
And he kissed me.
His lips touched mine, tentatively, still unsure, and I eased closer, my arms going around his neck. He kissed me for real then, a long kiss that I felt in the bottom of my soul, a click, some deep part of me saying, "Yes, this is it."
Even when the kiss broke off, it didn't end. It was like coming to the surface for a quick gasp of air, then plunging back down again, finding that sweet spot again, and holding onto it for as long as we could. Finally it tapered off, and we were lying on the picnic blanket, side by side, his hand on my hip, kissing slower now, with more breaks for air. until I said, "We should have done that sooner."
He smiled, a lazy half smile, and he just looked at me for a moment, our gazes locked, lying there in drowsy happiness, before he said, "I think now's just fine." And he kissed me again, slower and softer now, as we rested there, eyes half closed.
"So, about Saturday, did you ask me?" he said after a minute, "Because I'm pretty sure that means yo're paying."
"Nope. You were imaging it. Considering how you eat, the meal bill is all yours. But I will spring for the movie. And bring you flowers."
He chuckled. "Will you?"
"Yep, a dozen pink roses, which you'll have to carry all night or risk offending me."
"And what happens if I offend you?"
"You don't get any more of this."
I leaned in and kissed him again. And we stayed out there, on the blanket, as the sun fell, talking and kissing mostly, just being together. We had a long road ahead of us, and I knew it wasn't going to be easy. But I had everything I wanted-everything I needed-and I'd get through it just fine. We all would.

Nicole crumpled—just let her legs give way and fell to the floor, hunched and sobbing. Hayley looked at me. Even Rafe did. Uncertain looks from both of them. I had to admit, Nicole was a good actor. If I hadn't seen her switch from "sweet Nicole" to "raving lunatic Nicole" in a heartbeat at the campsite, I might have believed her myself.

She hasn't been on a date in six months,' Derek rumbled behind us. 'No offense, but as long as you aren't related to her, you're fair game. Hell, even-'
Tori spun on him. 'I didn't know.

She's my friend."
"Good for you."
"Just my luck," I said. "Finally meet my twin brother and, turns out, he's an ass.

That depends. Are you going to call me an ass again?"
"That depends. Are you going to act like one?" -Ashton and Maya

The door cracked open. "Decent?" Rafe asked.
"Damn." He pushed it open.
"If you're hoping to see something, the trick is to not knock first."
"That would be wrong," he said as he walked in. "The trick is to hope you say 'no, but come in anyway.'"

Umm, correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't you suppose to be dead? Currently being chased by two Cabals? You're waltzing around Vancouver, eating in restaurants?" (Ash)
"Hell no," Corey said. "I never waltz. I do the fox-trot sometimes though.

Was it a camp?" Daniel asked.
Sean nodded. "A naturist camp."
"Maya will feel right at home", Corey said from his spot on a wooden lawn chair.
Daniel sputtered a laugh and Sean tried to hide his.
"Naturist, not naturalist," I said. "It means nudist."
Corey leaped up and spun. "You mean old, naked butts sat on those chairs?

We'll meet you here. Hopefully everyone will be in human form." A wry smile. "Though I'll warn you, he's not a whole lot more pleasant that way. At least as a wolf, he can't talk.

We ran to the others—it was clear Derek wasn't accepting a leisurely stroll. I took the lead so this huge guy wouldn't come barreling down on them. That wasn't the way anyone needed to wake up. It was still chaos. Derek barked orders. Chloe tried to calm him. When he didn't listen, I snapped that he wasn't helping matters. He snapped back. Ash jumped to my defense, snarling like an alley cat. Daniel intervened to mediate. Derek turned on him. Corey rushed to Daniel's side, fists ready. Rafe braced to join in if a fight broke out.
It was fun.

When Derek hesitated, Chloe said, "If you leave, either I go with you and take the same risk or stay here, with strangers. Without you."
He scowled at her.
"Yes, it's a low blow," she said. "But I'll use whatever works right now."

When I finished, Dr. Fellows said, "And this was a vision you had Corey?"
"Are you sure?"

She lowered her voice. "Is it possible that Derek... influenced this vision of yours?"
"What? No."
"Absolutely not,"
I said. "Derek's the one who cut it short. Accidentally, but still. And if by influence, you mean 'talked us into telling a lie to get everyone out tonight,' then I don't appreciate the insinuation, Dr. Fellows."
Her brows shot up to meet her hairline. Tori smirked and leaned back onto her pillow.
"Well, Maya, I don't know you yet, so you'll forgive me if I question you."
"I don't blame you. You don't know us. But you do know Derek and, sorry, but persuasion doesn't seem to be the guy's strong suit."
"She has a point, Lauren,"
Tori said.
Dr. Fellows shot her a look, which Tori met with a cool gaze.
"Also," Tori said, "I really think you'd know your niece better than that. I wouldn't put it past Derek to lie to get us out of here, but no way would Chloe let him pull others into the scheme."

Yeah yeah," h said. "I waited. She was decent. Although technically, she's still naked."
"You're sch a perv," she turned on to me. "Okay, kitty. Lead on. We'll try to keep up."
"Yeah,good luck with that," Rafe said. "If she runs, we're history.