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“No,” Cian said firmly.

“Yes,” Amaliya spoke over him. “And I should rip your freaking head off after the shit you pulled,” Amaliya hissed at Roberto as he moved smoothly toward the kitchen.

“I only did what I felt was right. ”

“Well, what if I do what feels right and it's throwing you off the balcony?”

“I'm stronger than you think,” Roberto answered as he picked up the cellphone and looked around for the keys to the Lincoln. “A hundred years of drinking a vampire's blood makes me stronger than a mere mortal. ”

“I'll show you how mortal you still are!” Amaliya headed toward him. She had a very strong desire to punch his lights out.

She was stopped when Cian grabbed her arm and jerked her back off her feet and onto the floor. “Leave him be. ”

Roberto moved toward them, the keys and cellphone in his well-manicured hand. His expression was impassive as he laid the objects on a table. He plucked his jacket off the back of a chair.

“If you are wise, you will let her leave,” Roberto said to Cian.

Amaliya pushed herself to her feet.

“Roberto,” Cian said in a low voice. It was a tone Cian had never used before and it terrified Amaliya.

“Yes, my Master,” Roberto said, eyebrow arched, as he shrugged on his jacket.

“Get out. ” Cian's tone was absolute.

“As you wish. ” The servant quickly moved across the loft and soon the front door clicked shut.

“Are you going to kill me?” Amaliya asked warily as she backed away from him.

“No,” Cian answered, and closed the gap between them in the wink of an eye.

She was startled when he pulled her close and his hands cradled her face.

“Cian, we talked about this,” she said as he kissed her. As always, she felt the great need rising and her desire to crush him close was growing unbearable.

“I was wrong,” he answered against her lips, and kissed her again with deepening passion.

“Samantha,” she whispered in a husky voice. “You're marrying her. ”

Cian drew back from Amaliya and moved toward the walls that hid his secret lair. She felt strangely abandoned and her lips felt naked without his. She felt hypnotized by his movements as he moved away from her.

“You know as well as I do that I was living a delusion. ”

“You said she made you good,” Amaliya responded in a weak voice.

She felt terrible that she had come into his life and royally messed it up just as The Summoner had done to her.

“She makes me weak. She makes me feel human. She makes me forget what I am,” he said sharply. He turned toward her, eyes blazing. His longer hair and goatee made him look almost satanic. “I am a vampire. I am the master of this city and I will protect it and guard it against intruders. And that includes protecting my cabal. Which may be only you, but that is what I must do. ”

“You've changed. Just since I met you a few days ago,” Amaliya said in a low voice.

It just wasn't his appearance: it was his presence. He seemed less of the Austin pretty boy and more of the master vampire. His power was evident to her gaze now, even if it had not been when she had first met him. She felt torn. Cian was the only real advocate she had in this life. The only real protection she had against The Summoner and the unknown. Hell, even against herself. She was still learning. But she hated to fuck up his life and destroy all he had created for himself.

Cian ran his hand over his hair and shook his head slightly. “Maybe. But maybe it is an awakening you are seeing more than anything else. ”

Moving slowly toward him, Amaliya ran her hands over her arms lightly, trying to focus her thoughts. Being around him was hard at times. This was one of those times. She wanted him. They both knew it. Despite her misgivings and her own stubbornness, she slowly closed the gap between them.

The moment she was close enough, his hands were in her hair and his lips were on hers. Within seconds, their kiss was frenzied and full of need.