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Pouting slightly, she snuggled down in the covers. “Fine. ”

He deliberately rolled over and put his back to her and she stared at the curve of his shoulders, then closed her eyes.

I'm not attracted to him, she whispered in her own mind. He's just not my type. Plus he's short. I like tall men.

“I'm marrying Samantha,” Cian's voice said from near her. But it did not sound so sure anymore. “I worked hard to create this life. ”

“You're not my type anyway,” Amaliya said with a little laugh. “Don't worry about it. ”

There was silence from his side of the bed, then he reached over and turned out the light. The darkness was strangely comforting, despite the night's events, and she pulled the heavy comforter over her as the cold air whispered over her skin.

“When I died, I lost my entire life. My wife, my children, everything. For years I mourned them and struggled to escape The Summoner and his twisted reality. Austin is where I found my freedom from him at last. I finally won his twisted game and he released me. It took a lot of time and planning to be where I am now. Samantha was just unexpected. She was so full of life and energy. She made me laugh. She made me feel human again. And when she discovered what I was, she didn't run away screaming. Samantha sees everything that is good in me. ” Cian's voice was very soft, yet full of deep emotion and torment.

Amaliya reached out and touched his shoulder lightly. “That is why you should marry her. ”

“I will,” he said with a slight tinge of defiance in his tone. “I will. ”

Something heavy and unspoken hovered in the air between them and Amaliya felt herself struggling not to do something obscenely stupid.

“It doesn't make me stop wanting you. Doesn't make it any easier not to sink my teeth into you and feed. Or want to be in you as you drink from me,” his voice said with raw need and desire. “You remind me of everything I truly am. The parts of me I have been denying. ”

She drew her hand away slowly, but he caught it.

“I'll teach you the basics of our abilities tomorrow and then you must leave. ”

“Okay,” she said softly.

“Because if you don't go,” he hesitated. “If you don't go tomorrow, I may never let you go. ”

Chapter Sixteen

Taking the day off was easy for Samantha. Being the boss definitely had its perks at times. It was easy for things to go terribly wrong when it came to dealing with State agencies, but luckily her small staff was pretty competent. When she called her office manager to leave a voice mail that she was taking the day off, she felt secure that the office could survive one day without her.

Crawling out of bed around ten o'clock, she had stumbled through her small 1940's house to the kitchen and poured herself some coffee. She loved automatic timers. Her cat curled around her feet, muttering about the lack of food, and she managed to pour most of the cat food into the bowl and no

t onto the floor. The tabby she had picked up at the Town Lake Animal Shelter did not act like it had ever been a stray. Beatrice was decidedly aristocratic in bearing and threw a disdainful look at the few bits of kibble on the floor.

“Fine. ” Samantha picked up the bits of food and almost tossed them in the bowl, but didn't want to upset her Feline Majesty, so she threw them away.

She had never needed much sleep before meeting Cian, so usually their late nights did not really affect her, but last night had drained her. The bright sunshine pouring through the trees that towered over her small house filled it with dappled light and shadow. Opening the refrigerator, she pulled out cold Pesto A Go Go pizza from Austin Pizza and began to eat. Breakfast was so overrated.

She had snagged as many of Austin's free publications as she could last night at the Magnolia Cafe after she had left Cian's. She had felt upset and wanted queso. Sitting in a corner table, feeling like a jilted girlfriend, she had gone through all the announcements and ads she could find, looking desperately for someone who could help her. She had considered the Catholic church, but as someone raised Southern Baptist, she was slightly suspicious of their methods.

Picking up the few publications she had yet to read, she sat down at her tiny breakfast table and began flipping through them as she munched on the delicious pizza loaded down with pesto and goat cheese. Every once in a while, she had seen announcements for lectures on the supernatural in town. She had never attended, though her curiosity had been peaked. Before Cian, she had not believed in anything supernatural, but God, Jesus and the angels. Now she was engaged to a vampire, a hot one at that, and she was a lot more open about the supernatural. It made life more exciting and a little more scary all at once.

Tapping the end of her purple highlighter against her cheek, she arched an eyebrow as she came across a small announcement in one of the smaller weekly magazines.

“Is the Supernatural Real? Evidence Presented and Discussed by Jeffery Summerfield, owner of Central Texas Supernatural and Occult Bookstore. ” Tucking the highlighter cap between her teeth, she tugged it off then highlighted the ad in bright, cheery purple. Then she noticed the date. The cap hit the table and rolled onto the ground as she exclaimed “Holy shit! It's today!”

Beatrice pounced on the purple top to the highlighter and smacked it across the kitchen like it was a hockey puck.

Tearing the page out of the magazine, Samantha rushed through her house into the bedroom and began digging through her fresh laundry for something to wear. What did you wear to an occult lecture? She had no idea, but she didn't want to look like an idiot.

Digging out a black skirt with big white, abstract splotches and a black tank top with a white flower on the shoulder, she made a slight face. All her clothes were so cutesy. After seeing Amaliya lounging around in just plain jeans and a t-shirt, she felt decidedly unsexy. Though, she thought with evil glee, her legs were longer than the female vampire's and her hips were trimmer. At least she had that over the sexy vamp.

As per the usual, trying to hurry only resulted in her dropping the soap in the shower numerous times, burning her eyes with shampoo, falling halfway out of the tub when she tried to get out, and managing to drop her makeup all over the floor.

By the time she made it out the front door, jostling her big white bag stuffed with a notebook, pens, and a Bible-a spur of the moment choice- she felt like she had fought a major battle already. Unlocking her little convertible Volkswagen, she glanced up the quiet street to see a few of her neighbors out walking their dogs. It seemed so normal here, but she knew things were far different below the surface of it all.

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