Temptation by Fire(98)

By: Tiffany Allee

The bruises and bandages still covering much of Miriam’s face and arms dampened my enjoyment a bit, but Miriam’s bright smile brought it back.

“Oh my God, Ava. I think they heard you in Iowa.” Miriam gave Karson a tight smile and a nod. “Thanks for the cheers. Made me feel like a rock star.”

“You’re practically a doctor. Much cooler than a rock star,” I said. Then in a lower voice, I asked, “How are you feeling?”

Miriam touched the bandage stretching down from her temple to her jaw self-consciously. “I’m fine,” she said, but her enthusiasm seemed a little forced. “Really. I’m getting lots of extra attention from my teachers. For being so brave to attend today, less than a week after such a terrible car accident.”

If a ghost of something worse than bruises passed behind Miriam’s eyes as she smiled for my sake, I wasn’t about to call her on it. We all had scars, far worse than the ones carried on our skin, and Miriam had to deal with hers in her own way. And when she was ready, I would be there to help.

“So you guys aren’t going to believe this, but my mom is throwing yet another party today for my graduation. Just a small thing. Basically us and you guys and a couple of my aunts and uncles. You in?”

I didn’t have to glance at Karson, but I did, and the warm smile on his face revealed his vote. “Sounds like fun.”

“All right. Well, let’s do some pictures. My mom is getting antsy.”

“Miriam, wait—”

Miriam stopped in her tracks and turned back around. “What?”

I pulled her into a hug, conscious of our skin-to-skin contact. For once, it wasn’t me who stiffened at the contact—it was Miriam. But after a moment’s hesitation, my friend melted into the hug, too.

No vision assailed me. And for once, I didn’t dread the idea that one might.

“Congratulations,” I said into Miriam’s hair, my voice tight.

“Thank you.” Miriam hugged me tightly for a moment before she released me, wiping furiously at her eyes.

“All right. Are you two ready for some pictures?”

“We’ll be right behind you.”

Miriam danced off, and Karson tugged me to a stop when I tried to follow.

“What did she mean by you two?”

If I didn’t know better, I’d think the brave demon hunter was afraid of getting his photo taken. But I knew the real reason for his hesitation.

“She meant us, Karson. Her friends. Her family.” I leaned up and kissed the worried expression turning his mouth. “You’re stuck with us now.”

The tension faded from his brows, and his mouth turned into a sexy grin. “Oh yeah?”

“Yup. You’re especially stuck with me.”

He took my hands in his, and a pleasant shock ran through me at the touch. His warm brown eyes captured mine with the intensity of emotion they conveyed, and for a moment, the world around us stopped.

“You’re stuck with me, too,” he said. And then he kissed me.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.