“Why’d you make him leave?” Matt asked dumfounded. “As much as I hate to admit it, he may be your only line of defense.”
“I don’t care what he is!” Alana screamed. Her face flushed with anger. “You’re lucky I don’t throw your ass out, too.” She put her palms to her temples, pressing hard. She took a few deep breaths and looked back up at Matt. “The only reason I haven’t is because I’m hoping you have a good explanation for hiding this from me.”
He gestured towards the door and grunted. “That! That right there is why I didn’t say anything.”
“I threw a liar out.”
“How’s he a lair? You never gave him a chance to fully explain his position.”
She put her hands on her hips. Her eyes narrowed into slits. “Are you actually taking up for that…THING?”
“No,” Carly answered. She slid her hand into his. “Matt’s just saying Nicholas is in this for you. He wants you.”
“Wants, huh?” she snorted. “When did I ever say he could have me? I’ve never seen the man till tonight. Now he wants to offer me his undying devotion and protect me from a mess he created. How does that translate into a freakin’ relationship?”
“Only in part,” Carly said gently. “Nicholas meant to kill that guy. If Thomas hadn’t followed him, he would have.”
“But he did,” Alana pressed. Tears started to well up in her eyes. “And now Ben’s out there; waiting.”
Carly walked over to her and lead her to the bed, urging her to sit. Alana did. Her legs couldn’t support even her minute weight anymore. While Alana sat there, Carly put her gift to work. Thanks to her subject’s fragile emotional state and weakening health it was easy to get inside her head. After little more than a minute she found the memory Alana needed to see. But finding it and extracting it were two different things.
“You said tonight was the first time you’ve seen him, yes?” Carly asked Alana.
“Yes,” she answered.
“But he’s the guy-” Matt’s voice was silenced with a wave of Carly’s hand.
“I wanna show you something, but in order to see it I need you to relax. Let go of everything. Can you do that?”
“Why?” she jerked her hand from Carly’s.
“Do you trust Matt?” Alana frowned. “Okay, apart from all this, do you trust him?” She nodded, though reluctantly. “Good. Then you know you can trust me. Now relax.”
Carly took her hand and closed her eyes. Alana sighed and closed her own. May as well try, she thought. After a few seconds she let her body relax. Emptying her mind was a little more difficult. Thoughts rushed in at her from every direction. All she could do at the moment is think.
Suddenly Nickolas’s smooth voice made her forget everything. She focused on the man sitting with her at the club she’d gone to a few weeks ago. She saw herself, happy to have him there. They were having a wonderful time. He’d actually managed to make her smile. As she did him. She looked closer at the drinks. No, it’s just water.
She watched as she; SHE ran her foot up his leg. She was the one to caress his cheek, slide her thumb across his lips. Heart nearly dropped when she saw herself lean across the little table to kiss him. Not some peck on the cheek either. To anyone looking on they would have thought she’d apparently been alone for far too long or she was a total slut. Dear God, what was I thinking?!
She nearly stood up and screamed at herself when she heard her voice suggest they leave and go to her place.
“Stop,” she said opening her eyes. “Please stop. I can’t.”
“You haven’t seen the most important part,” Carly whispered. Her eyes were still closed, her hand still in Alana’s watching the night play out.
“Sleeping with him was a stupid mistake,” she said flatly. “I don’t need to relive it again.”
“Sleeping? Yes,” Carly said, opening her eyes. “Sleeping with him? No. He refused to let it go that far.”
“No, Nicholas saw your pain. He looked inside you and saw what you’d been through. That’s what stopped him. That’s part of what kept you alive.”
“Part?” Matt asked, kneeling down between them.
“Let him come back in,” Carly pleaded. “Let me read him. I can tell what his intentions are. I can tell you if his feelings for you are what I think they are. If they are he’s no danger. If they are he’s quite possibly your only chance.”
“Babe, after listening to Lana’s rant I’m sure he’s long gone.”
“You’re wrong,” Carly smiled. She glanced out the window. They’re gaze followed hers. Nicholas stood right outside her bedroom doors. “He won’t leave until morning.”
As much as she didn’t want to let him come back in, she could see Matt wanted him back. Alana looked at the vampire’s back and softened a bit. She’d been the one to lead him on in the first place. What’s to say some of this wasn’t in some way her fault? What if vampires reacted first; asked questions later if at all? Finally she nodded.
Matt ran to the door. Nicholas turned to his head look, surprised to see a smile. “Lana says you can come back in.”
“Conditions?” he asked.
“I get to read you,” Carly said. “I’ve showed her the night y’all met. Now I need to prove to her that you are the best person to watch over her.”
“You should have left the memory buried,” he told her. Alana waved him inside, but didn’t move. “I could let her read me,” he said his blue eyes never left Alana’s. “Or I could tell you myself.”
“How do I know you aren’t lying?” Alana asked.
“You don’t,” He was standing before her in a flash. Alana, surprised by his speed jumped back against the headboard. Nicholas caught her eye and held it. “Yes, I went out in search of blood that night. But that was before I found you. Beautiful, charming, smart, sensual. All these things in one woman. I knew then I couldn’t let you slip away. But you have scars. Not the physical ones,” he said when he saw her hand move to her chest. “The mental ones. I couldn’t, wouldn’t take advantage of you while you were in that state. In my own way I have claimed you. I do want you. I may even go as far as to say I have fallen in love with you.” Her mouth opened. He held up his hand to silence her. “Those are my feelings. Whether you share them or not is up to you. I will not force anything on you.”
She thought about his words. Listened to his voice. The same voice she now knew had been there to calm her every night since Ben escaped. If he had wanted to hurt her, wouldn’t he have done it already? What if Matt’s right? What if he is the only thing standing between her and Ben?
“If I let you stay, you stay,” she told him. “I realize you have to sleep during the day. I’ll accommodate you there. But don’t think even for a minute me letting you stay here is in any way saying I have any feelings for you at all.”
“Understood,” Nicholas said, bowing his head curtly.