Okay. He had a point, but it wasn’t like I could tell him anything. I could see me now. Guess what? You ever watch Clash of the Titans or read any Greek fables? Well, those gods are real and yeah, I’m sort of a descendant of them. Kind of like the stepchild no one wants to claim. Oh, and I hadn’t even been around mortals until three years ago. Can we still be friends?
Not going to happen.
So I shrugged and said, “There’s really isn’t anything to tell. I’m pretty boring.”
Matt sighed. “I don’t even know where you’re from.”
“I moved here from Texas. I’ve told you that.” Strands of hair kept escaping my hand, blowing across my face and over his shoulder. I needed a haircut. “It’s not a big secret.”
“But were you born there?”
I looked away, watching the ocean. The sea was so dark it looked purple and unfriendly. I pulled my gaze away and stared down the shore. Two figures walked along, clearly male. “No,” I said finally.
“Then where were you born?”
I fought the soft touch of annoyance as I focused on the guys near the shore, hunkered down as the wind picked up, pelting them with a fine sheen of cold water. A storm was coming.
“Alex?” Matt climbed to his feet, shaking his head. “See? You can’t even tell me where you were born. What’s up with that?”
My mom thought that the less people knew about us the better. She was incredibly paranoid, believing if anybody knew too much then the Covenant would find us. Was that such a bad thing? I kind of wanted them to find us, to put an end to this craziness.
Growing frustrated, Matt dragged his fingers through his hair. “I think I’m just going to head back to the group.”
I watched him turn around before I scrambled to my feet. “Wait.”
He turned around, brows raised.
I took a shallow breath, then another. “I was born on this stupid island no one has ever heard of. It’s off the coast of North Carolina.”
Surprise flickered across his features and he took a step toward me. “What island?”
“Seriously, you wouldn’t have heard of it.” I folded my arms over my chest as goosebumps crawled over my skin. “It’s near Bald Head Island.”
A wide smile spread across his face, and I knew the skin around his eyes was crinkling like they did whenever he was exceptionally happy about something. “Was that so hard?”
“Yes.” I pouted and then smiled, because Matt had the kind of smile that was infectious, a smile that reminded me of the best friend I hadn’t seen in years. Maybe that’s why I was drawn to Matt. My own grin started to fade as I wondered what my former partner in mayhem was doing right now.
Matt dropped his hands on my arms, slowly uncrossing them. “Wanna head back?” He nodded down the beach, at the group of kids clustered around the bonfire. “Or stay here…?”
He’d left the offer open, but I knew what he meant. Stay here and kiss some more, forget some more. It didn’t sound like a bad idea. I swayed toward him. Over his shoulder, I spotted the two guys again. They were almost on us and I sighed, now recognizing them.
“We have company.” I stepped back.
Matt glanced over his shoulder at the two guys. “Great. It’s Ren and Stimpy.”
I giggled at the accurate description. During the few times I’d actually met the gruesome twosome, I refused to learn their real names. Ren was tall and lanky, his dark brown hair so full of hair gel it could be labeled a dangerous weapon in most states. Stimpy was the shorter and wider of the two, shaved bald and built like a locomotive. The two were known for causing trouble wherever they went, especially Stimpy and his questionable weightlifting program. They were two years older than us, having graduated from Matt’s high school before I even stepped foot in Florida. But they still hung out with the younger crowd, no doubt scoping out impressionable girls. There’d been some bad rumors about those two.
Even in the pale moonlight I could tell their skin was a healthy shade of orange. Their overly broad smiles were obscenely white. The shorter one whispered something and they fist bumped each other.
Not unexpectedly, I didn’t like them.
“Hey!” Ren called out as the two’s swagger slowed down. “What’s up, Matt, my man?”
Matt shoved his hands in the pockets of his cargo shorts. “Nothing much—you?”
Ren glanced at Stimpy, then back to Matt. Ren’s neon pink polo shirt looked painted on his scrawny frame, at least three sizes too small. “We’re just chillin’. Gonna head out to the clubs later.” Ren looked at me for the first time, his eyes drifting over my dress and down my legs.
I puked a little in my mouth.
“I’ve seen you around a few times,” Ren said, bobbing his head to and fro. I wondered if it was some kind of weird mating dance. “What’s your name, sweetness?”
“Her name’s Alex,” answered Stimpy in all his shifty eyed glory. “It’s a guy’s name.”
I stifled my groan. “My mom wanted a boy.”
Ren looked confused.
“Actually it’s short for Alexandria,” Matt explained. “She just likes to be called Alex.”
I grinned at Matt, but he was watching the two guys closely. A muscle feathered along his jaw.
“Thanks for the clarification, bud.” Stimpy crossed his massive arms, eyeballing Matt.
Catching Stimpy’s look, I shifted closer to Matt.
Ren, still staring at my legs, made a sound that was a cross between a grunt and a moan. “Damn girl. Is your daddy a thief?”
“What?” I’d never actually met my dad. Maybe he was. All I knew was that he’d been mortal. Hopefully, he’d been nothing like these two ass-hats.
Ren flexed his nonexistent muscles, smiling. “Well, then who stole those diamonds and put them in your eyes?”
“Wow.” I blinked and turned to Matt. “Why don’t you ever say such romantic stuff like that to me, Matt? I’m hurt.”
Matt didn’t grin like I expected. His gaze kept bouncing between the two, and I could see his hands balling into fists inside his pockets. There was a certain edge to his eyes, to the way his lips were drawn into a tight line. My amusement vanished in an instant. He was… scared?
I reached for Matt’s arm. “Come on, let’s head back.”
“Wait.” Stimpy clapped Matt on the shoulder with enough force to cause Matt to stumble backward a few inches. “Kind of rude of you guys to just run off.”
A rush of warm air crawled up my spine and spread over my skin. My muscles tensed with anticipation. “Don’t touch him,” I warned softly.
Out of surprise, Stimpy dropped his hand and stared at me. Then he smiled. “She’s a bossy one.”
“Alex,” Matt hissed, staring at me with wide eyes. “It’s okay. Don’t make a big deal out of it.”
He hadn’t seen me make a big deal yet.
“The ‘tude must come with the name.” Ren laughed. “Why don’t we go party? I know a bouncer down at Zero who can get us in. We all can have a good time.” Then he grabbed for me.
Ren may have meant to do it playfully, but it was seriously the wrong move. I still had a serious issue with being touched when I didn’t want to be. I caught his arm. “Was your mom a gardener?” I asked innocently.
“What?” Ren’s mouth hung open slightly.
“Because a face like yours belongs planted on the ground.” I twisted his arm back. Shock flickered over his features. There was a second when our gazes locked, and I could tell he wasn’t sure how I’d gained the upper hand so quickly.
It had been three years since I’d seriously fought anyone, but unused muscles woke up and my brain sort of clicked off. I dipped under the arm I held, bringing it along with me as I clipped his knee with my foot.
The next second Ren ate sand.
Staring down at the guy sprawled spread-eagle in the sand, I realized I kind of missed fighting, especially the rush of adrenaline and the “Damn, I rock” feeling that came along with taking someone down. But then again, fighting mortals was nothing like fighting my own kind or the things I’d once trained to kill. This had been effortless. If he’d been another half-blood, I might’ve been the one with a mouthful of sand looking pretty damn lame.
“Jesus,” Matt whispered, jumping back.
I looked up, expecting to see a shock and awe kind of look from him. Maybe even a thumbs up. Nothing, I got nothing from him. At the Covenant, I would’ve been applauded. But I kept forgetting I wasn’t at the Covenant anymore.
Stimpy’s dumbstruck gaze swung from his pal to me and quickly turned to fury. “You act like a man? You better be able to take it like a man, you bitch.”
“Oh.” I smiled as I faced him fully. “It’s on like Donkey Kong.”
Having the obvious body mass thing going for him, Stimpy rushed me. But he hadn’t been trained to fight from the age of seven and he didn’t have my literally god-given strength and speed. He swung a meaty fist toward my face and I spun around, kicking out and planting my bare foot in his stomach. Stimpy doubled over, throwing out his hands as he tried to capture my arms. I stepped into him, grabbing his upper arms and yanking him down as I brought my leg up. His jaw bounced off my knee and I let go, watching him fall into the sand with a grunt.
Ren stumbled to his feet, spitting out sand. He swayed and then took a swing at me. It was way off, and I could have easily dodged it. Hell, I could’ve stood still and he wouldn’t have made contact, but I was on a roll now.
I caught his fist, sliding my hand down his arm. “Hitting girls isn’t nice.” I turned around, using his body weight to knock him off balance. He went over my shoulder, face first into the sand once more.
Stimpy climbed to his feet and staggered to his fallen friend. “Come on, man. Get up.”
“Need help?” I offered with a sweet smile.
Both guys scrambled down the beach, looking over their shoulders like they expected me to jump on their backs. I watched them until they disappeared around the cove, smiling to myself.
I turned back to Matt, the wind blowing my hair around me. I felt alive for the first time in… well, years. I can still kick ass. After all this time, I can still do it. My excitement and confidence dried up and shriveled away the moment I got a good look at Matt’s face.
He looked horrified. “How…?” He cleared his throat. “Why did you do that?”
“Why?” I repeated, confused. “It seems pretty clear to me. Those guys are dicks.”
“Yes, they’re dicks. Everyone knows that, but you didn’t have to lay the smackdown on them.” Matt stared at me, eyes wide. “I just… I just can’t believe you did that.”
“They were bothering you!” I planted my hands on my hips, past caring about the wind smacking my hair in my face. “Why are you acting like I’m some kind of freak?”
“All they did is touch me, Alex.”