The castle appeared again. Right over the trees, out of nowhere. One minute, a perfect evening sky. A blink later and those towers again. Lily clenched her eyes shut. I’m not crazy. I don’t see anything.
“Lily, you okay?” Ian asked.
Lily opened her eyes and attempted a casual smile. “I’m great.”
Ian stood a few inches taller than most guys, with straight caramel colored hair that fell to his shoulders. He wore skinny jeans, a leather jacket and thick gloves. Always the gloves, even at school. She’d never seen him without them. “Are you sure? You looked scared for a minute there.”
Eva bounded forward. She reminded Lily of a skinny hyena looking for something mischievous to do. “Dude, Lily doesn’t get scared. She’s freaking immune to fear.”
Lily wanted to laugh. If only.
Eva grabbed Lily’s hands and bounced up and down on her toes. “Isn’t this the most awesome spring break ever? Aren’t you sooo excited Ross invited us to his bonfire tonight?”
Lily attempted a smile. “I’m super stoked.”
“Me too!” Eva laughed and stared at the bonfire. A red-head slunk near the flames and tossed sticks in. “Oh look, there’s Ross. I’ll catch you in a minute, okay?”
Eva scampered toward Ross. Behind the bonfire, the Big Cypress River roiled. The dam sat close to the bonfire, churning out tons of water, so loud Lily heard the thundering water from where she stood.
Lily turned back to Ian. He stared at her with a strange expression on his face, as if he were trying to see inside her head. Lily felt unnerved, pushed strands of jet black curls out of her eyes, and headed to the cooler. Ian followed. She stopped near the ice chest and grabbed a cup.
“Let me get that for you,” Ian said as he pulled the Styrofoam cup out of her hands and filled it with kool-aid. He handed it to her and smiled. She took it, stared at the blazin’ berry blast spinning around in her cup, and wondered why Ian suddenly seemed so interested in her.
“Umm, thanks,” she mumbled.
“So you’re name’s Lily White, right? You’re Grant White’s daughter?”
“That’s me.” She smiled, hoping he was mature enough not to start making jokes about the virginal connotations of her name.
Ian only smiled back. Well, at least he passed that test.
He thrust out his gloved hand. “Ian Kanellis. I know we’ve had Greek Lit together, but I’ve never really introduced myself.”
Lily stared at his hand for a moment and then shook it, feeling a little awkward. “I’m glad we got to meet up tonight.”
“Um-hmm,” Lily said as she took a drink of her punch and watched Ross climb the utility ladder leading to the top of the dam. Ian followed Lily’s gaze.
“You think he’ll jump?” Ian asked.
“Not a chance. The guys do this every year. Usually they just climb to the top, wave their arms around and act like morons. Somebody died a few years ago and now they’re all too scared to jump.”
Lily turned on him. His question sounded innocent enough, but she heard something in his voice that seemed like a threat. “Why do you think I would want to jump off a twenty-foot dam, Ian?”
He shrugged, acted casual. “I’ve heard you’re a daredevil, that’s all.”
“You haven’t heard anything else?” she asked.
Ian locked those honey colored eyes on her and she froze. He knows. She wasn’t sure how he could have found out. She’d never told anyone. Maybe she was overacting. How could Ian know about her ancestry—that she was the daughter of a demon? Hadn’t he only been in town a few months?
Ian cleared his throat and turned his gaze on the dam where Ross stood on top, waved his arms around, and acted like a moron.
“You should go up there,” Ian said. “You’d show all the guys up, make them feel like dumb asses. It would be fun.”
Lily crossed her arms and bit her lip. Who was this guy? “You think it would be fun to watch me jump off that dam?”
He smiled and reminded her of the Cheshire cat. The bon fire crackled and sent a pop of sparks through the air that glinted off Ian’s teeth. Lily wasn’t sure if her pounding heart was a result of fear or of something else.
Lily turned to the dam and watched the water rush to the bottom. Beyond the river spanned the towering East Texas pine forest, the trees dark silhouettes at this time of night. The castle flickered into appearance once and then vanished.
“Twenty bucks,” Ian said. He pulled a wadded bill from his back pocket. She stared at it.
“What’s that for?”
“For you. If you jump off the dam.”
“Is this a joke?”
“Nope.” He straightened out the bill. “What do you think it would feel like to be up there? I’ll bet it’s awesome. Huge adrenaline rush.”
Blood thumped through her ears. She felt her demon wake as if it had been in hibernation. Oh no.
“Have you ever been sky diving? I bet it would feel like that. The rush must be amazing.”
Stop it. Please, stop.
“Here,” Ian said and took her cup. “I’ll hold this while you jump.”
“All right.” Why did I say that? Lily focused on the dam and walked forward.
“And Lily,” Ian called after her.
“Don’t forget to swim.”
Lily nodded. Then she started moving again. Half-way to the dam. Oh crap. Why was she doing this again? She didn’t want to go back to the ER. How many times had she been this year? Seven, eight?
No more risky crap, she’d promised herself. No more rushes.
She climbed the ladder. Lights blinked from the top of the dam. Strange alien lights, as if she were boarding a spaceship.
Standing now. On top of the dam. Thousands of gallons of water churning below. Invigorating!
Heart pumping faster. Blood in her cheeks, in her hands.
“There’s someone up there!” A voice shouted. Then all eyes on her.
“Don’t do it!” someone called. Eva?
Wind rushed through her hair, tugged on her jeans. She raised her arms and let tiny drops of water splash her skin. Cold, even for March.
“Lily, don’t!” Eva again.
With her demon’s sight focused, she saw Ian looking at her with those amber lion’s eyes. Jump, he seemed to say.
Lily exhaled. Then inhaled. A tiny voice said she’d drown. Her demon pushed the thought away and she jumped.