About Daughter of Glass
Sasha Alexander has a powerful ability. Either that, or she’s dangerously mad.
Her father shrouds her in isolation, convinced he’s protecting her. But the seven guardians that only she can see insist she’s gifted. Her companions since her mother’s suicide, they protect her from hurt, pain and fear. They also keep her from feeling love. Sasha doesn’t know how to react when Noah explodes through her defenses. This strange young man with the scarred hands suddenly makes her feel again.
But unless she can learn to control her own emotions, the biggest danger to them all may be Sasha herself.
He stayed with me through the rest of the night.
While what remained of the party fizzled out and drifted home, he picked me up and carried me up the curving staircase. He stayed to make sure Theo and his henchmen left me alone. He stayed because nothing could wake me, and he was afraid I might need medical attention.
Later, he told me that mostly he stayed because he wanted to. No one had ever done that before. Either they wanted something from me, or my father had paid them to look after me. But not him.
Not Noah. I woke up with my head in his lap. He was sitting cross-legged on my bed. The morning sun filtered through the branches of the spreading oak tree just outside my window. The air stirred the gauzy white curtains over my windows. This strange boy slumped motionless against my headboard, his eyelids twitching as if he were dreaming. I could see bruises darkening from red to purple along his cheekbone. It looked as if he might have a blackened eye, but since they were closed and he was sleeping, I couldn’t tell for sure. The barest hint of stubble darkened his jaw.
I held myself perfectly still. My head throbbed where I’d cracked it on the floor, but other than that, I felt fine. I always did, when Oblivion had been with me. He just looked so peaceful, so innocent, cradling my head between his jeans-clad thighs, that I didn’t want to disturb him. I wanted a chance to study this strange boy from the wrong part of town who’d done something for me no one else ever had but my guardians.
He’d stood up for me.
It was a strange feeling: breathless and tingling and humbling.
I wondered if his eyes were as green as I remembered.
The smell of cigarette smoke preceded Dez into my room. He looked the same as always, with hair so dark it almost matched the black leather of his jacket. He had his glasses off this morning, allowing me to see eyes that were piercing in their intensity. Without his glasses, he looked softer, more intimate than he usually did. I was more than a little uneasy at his appearance. They didn’t usually stick around, the guardians. They showed up, did their job, and moved on until next time. Dez raised both eyebrows and sucked deeply on his cigarette as if sensing my thoughts. Which, of course, he was. He lounged against my doorpost and regarded me thoughtfully.
“Feeling all right, posey?” Another deep drag. “You look a little worse for the wear.”
I stopped myself from probing the aching spot on my head, or checking my hair for ratty tangles. Noah was sleeping so soundly. I didn’t want to move and spoil it, not with a guardian like Desire here. Not when I had questions.
“What the hell are you still doing here?” I hissed.
“I told you last night, darlin’.” When Desire moved, it was like watching a pool of ink spread without staining. He flowed towards the bed, circling it until he stood at the foot of it, regarding us with his steely eyes. “I told you things were different this time.” He tilted his head sideways, looking at Noah with interest.
“But why?” I hissed again, trying to keep my voice as low as possible. The last thing I wanted was confirmation of the rumors of how crazy I was. “Two of you in one evening? What was that about?”
He dropped the cigarette right on to my carpet and ground it out with his boot. “We belong to you, darlin’. You tell me.” His grin was crooked, and not entirely sincere. “Although even the morning after, you should be able to figure this one out on your own.”
I closed my eyes and concentrated on evening my breathing. I would not let this boy who helped me see me panicked and apparently talking to myself. But I had to say it. “I won’t, Dez. I’ll fight it. I’ll fight all of you.” I ignored his amused snort. “I won’t turn out like her.”
“Like your mother?” he asked, and I did open my eyes then. I saw Dez with his back to me, staring at the oak tree. “She didn’t understand that we’re not something worth fighting, Sasha. She didn’t understand that we were just aspects of herself, of a gift she had to keep hidden. And that disconnect is what destroyed her.”
“I’m not her,” I repeated for emphasis, but it sounded more like I was trying to convince myself.
“Course you’re not,” Dez said.
“Who is ‘her’?” Noah asked at the exact same time.
He was awake. Shit. And he’d heard me talking to Dez. Which meant he’d heard me talking to myself.
I followed deeply buried instincts drilled into me since my guardians had first started appearing to me, back when my mother died. Mostly, they consisted of pretending anything I wanted to go away didn’t exist. It worked a surprising amount of the time. “Oh. You’re awake.” I smiled at him as brightly as I could. I feigned a stretch and tried to look foggy. All a sham, of course. I felt great, except for the bump on my head. I sent a silent thanks to Oblivion, even though I’d been ready to pummel her last night.
Noah stared at me still. I didn’t mind it. His eyes really were as green as I remembered. Then I realized he was talking to me, and focused on his lips as Desire laughed at me in the background.
Ok, clearly I wanted this boy in a sad and epic way. Why else would Desire be hanging out while we were together?
And then it hit me. Maybe he felt the same.
“Bingo,” Dez said, from somewhere near the foot of the bed.
“Um, what?” I asked stupidly. I hadn’t caught a thing Noah had just told me. He frowned and eased me off his lap. I missed the contact as soon as he went.
“Hospital. As in, I think we should take you to one. You’ve been out for hours, and you hit your head so hard.” His bottom lip disappeared behind two perfect white teeth. A nervous gesture, I realized, already deciding I found it cute. “I can’t believe how out of it… I mean, I couldn’t leave you alone. Everyone else left, and if I hadn’t stayed those creeps might have bothered you again.” His face darkened at the mention of them. “Have they done it before? Hassled you, I mean?”
“Who? Theo and his sidekicks?” Whoa. I staggered slightly. The bang to my head was a little worse than I thought. I felt ok, but I knew my room wasn’t supposed to feel like it had been built on water rather than land. I grabbed for a bedpost, missing Dez by inches. He was still grinning like an idiot. “Get some popcorn, why don’t you,” I murmured crossly. He snickered and danced back out of my way.
Noah was beside me in an instant, a strong calloused hand on my elbow, steadying me. “Easy now,” he cautioned. “You’ve got to move more slowly. Your head… and just how much did you have to drink last night?” His frown deepened. “Do you remember?”
Oh, but his concern was cute. Cute but so misplaced. If anyone had cause to worry about last night, it was him. “I always drink like that,” I told him, deciding that as much honesty as was possible was a good idea. Reluctantly, I pulled out of his grip and made my way to my attached bathroom. I caught a glimpse of myself before I began dousing my face with cold water. Pale skin, dark eyes, dark hair, a hint of light freckles across my nose. It was the same face that looked out at me from the portrait over the fireplace. My mother’s face. But there was no bruising, no damage. I didn’t even have bloodshot eyes.
I submerged my face in the icy cold water that had filled my sink. I would take the bruises and bloodshot eyes if it meant I didn’t look like her.
“You’re the one who has to worry,” I said at last, coming up for air. “Theo and Justin and Darrin will be after you now. You embarrassed them, taking all of them on like that.” I spun, one hip pressed against the sink for support. “Just how the hell did you do that, anyway?”
He looked as puzzled as I felt, and more than a little frightened. “I… I’m not sure. I wasn’t, before you…” he trailed off, leaning against the bathroom door jamb. “Before you. Before they grabbed you. Before you showed up. And then, it was like something else took over.” He shook his head, clearly disturbed. “I can take a pounding as well as the next guy, but what happened last night… do you usually have that effect on people?”
I laughed nervously. Dez had appeared right over his shoulder and nodded slightly. Suddenly I needed the support of the bathroom counter more than ever. I had that effect on him? I had influenced his emotions somehow, making him feel more than he would have otherwise? But, weren’t m guardians supposed to stop that?
Desire’s gray eyes flashed, and Noah closed the distance between us, his fingers tight across my shoulders. “You look terrified right now,” he said, leaning closer and closer into my personal space. My God, I had never been this close to a boy before, not alone, and not with Desire right there. Desire had always put an end to things, protected me from others… … what the hell was happening?
Noah’s fingers had loosened. They didn’t grip so much as lightly squeeze. I didn’t have to look to see that Desire’s eyes were twin pools of molten silver. I could ignore the guardian entirely, because the real thing was here with me, had me in his own two hands. “No,” I whispered hoarsely. “Not terror. Terror looks nothing like this.”
And he was kissing me, slipping a hand down to my hip to lift me onto the counter top. And then, in the dark and quiet of my bathroom, we were all hands and mouths. I tugged his head closer to mine, and with one quick shift of his body weight, I sat completely on my counter with my legs pressed against his side. Was this what it was like, what Desire had been holding back? Fingers slid through my hair, moving my face first one way, then another, so that my lips fit better against his. I tasted the faint metallic tang of blood and tempered my kisses to feather-light where his lip was torn and swollen from last night. But he growled, something feral low in his chest, and buried his face against my neck.
“God, what is this, Sasha?” he moaned, his shoulders heaving against my chest. “I’ve never felt this before.”
“Me neither,” I managed to gasp out as his teeth found the hollow of my throat.
I saw Desire again, then. He’d moved far back across the room, but his stare was so avid and hungry that it almost stopped me cold.
Almost. But not completely.
Noah groaned, his forehead pressed to mine. “I… I can’t. I don’t think I can stop, if we keep going. I need to. Stop.” His fingers shook against the hem of my t-shirt like a junkie in withdrawal.
“Then don’t,” I whispered into his ear, finding his trembling hands and helping him pull my t-shirt up and over my head. “Just don’t. Don’t stop. It’ll be ok.” My palms, flat against the planes of his abdomen, felt them clench in surprise or with the effort of restraint.
Across the room, Desire’s smiled blazed. He looked triumphant. As Noah pulled me against him by the hips, I had the presence of mind to wonder if they were playing with me, my guardians. But Noah’s calloused hands and fast kisses were enough to keep me from caring.