“Even if vampires are real, that’s insane. Fate can’t just...just...pick someone for me!”
I sighed, not envying Jareth in the least. The consorts we saved had all kinds of different reactions to the truth, but the most frustrating were the ones who couldn’t accept it. A lot of times, they refused the council’s help, went off on their own, and ended up dead as a result.
“There’s a place we can go—”
Narkissa snorted and began to struggle to her feet in the small space between the dumpsters. “I’m not going anywhere with you. You’re obviously insane, and your hotness doesn’t quite beat out the crazy meter.”
Jareth rolled his eyes, and I stifled a laugh, earning myself a glare that promised retribution.
There was nothing for Narkissa to grip, so her hands slipped, and she landed on her ass again. Jareth growled in frustration and leaned in, grabbing her arms and hauling her to her feet.
The air around us suddenly thickened, and Jareth’s shocked expression told me all I needed to know. Narkissa’s mouth opened, and she stared at my brother, clearly in much the same state. But when Jareth leaned in, she snapped out of the trance and landed a pretty impressive right hook into my brother’s jaw.
Ouch, I thought.
Shut it, Jareth responded as he bent over holding his jaw and trying to catch his breath. Damn, I think she broke it.
After several minutes, he straightened and moved his jaw around, his accelerated healing having already mended the bone. His gaze landed on the spot where his fated consort had been standing, and when he saw it empty, he turned and swept his eyes all around.
“Looking for your consort?” I drawled with a sly grin. “She went that way.” I jerked my chin in the direction of the alley. While he’d been nursing his jaw, I’d heard a car door slam, the engine turn over, and the wheels burn rubber as the vehicle took off.
“Fucking hell.” Jareth would have killed me with his eyes if it were possible, but I just smiled as he jogged in the direction I’d indicated.
“Good luck, brother. I hope she leads you on a merry chase.”
I’d been lucky in the years since Kieran, Athan, and Stephan had first rescued me from vampires. The council had prepared me for the worst-case scenario of being attacked by them again when there wasn’t a daywalker around to save me, but I’d never needed to use the holy water they’d given me until now. There had only been one close call where Marshall had to save me, and the nightwalker hadn’t even had the chance to get close before my brother-in-law turned him to ashes.
Holy water could only do so much, though, and I’d been woefully unprepared to face off against an entire nest of the evil leeches. If Liam and his relatives hadn’t appeared when they had, Narkissa and I would’ve been dead. The past ten minutes had been the scariest of my life, and coupled with the emotional upheaval that had sent me running in the first place, I was wrecked both physically and mentally. But once the adrenaline rush drained away, I realized I was clinging to Liam as though he was my lifeline. Although I had a deep-seated urge to stay right where I was—the bond between us was already strong—I stepped out of his embrace and put space between us.
“Thank you for saving me.” A tear slid down my cheek as I whispered, “Could you please reach out mentally to Marshall or Everleigh and ask them to come get me?”
I flinched when Liam raised his hand to wipe a tear away, and he looked devastated by my rejection. I hated the idea of hurting him, but I couldn’t destroy myself just to make him happy. And after what I’d gone through with my parents growing up, I knew that staying with a man who pined for another woman would wreck me. Even though I’d never be able to physically desire anybody else, I’d be better off alone than spending eternity coming in second place with the man who had already become the center of my world. The pain would be too much to bear.
“Amaia, please don’t cry,” he pleaded as he dropped his arm to his side, his hand curling into a fist. “There’s been a horrible misunderstanding.”
I crossed my arms over my chest, fighting against the urge to throw myself at him. “No, the misunderstanding happened last night when we touched. Now my eyes have been opened to the truth, and I realize how delusional I was for thinking that my happily ever after was guaranteed just because I finally found you.”
“If you’re delusional, then so am I. The past day has been the best in my life, and it kills me to know you’re not looking forward to spending an eternity with me the same way I am with you. But you need to know, you’ll get everything you’ve ever wanted out of this life if it’s the last thing I do,” he vowed, determination gleaming in his bright blue eyes. “When I told you that it was my privilege to dote on you, I wasn’t referring to only material things. I want to make all your dreams come true, Amaia.”