“You can’t stay mad at me forever. You love me and you know it,” Ben said to Alana. She adjusted the phone, careful not to let him hear her exhausted sigh. Her only goal here was to get Matt and hopefully Carly back safely. Now that she’d managed to talk Nicholas into leaving the house for a few groceries she had her chance. “The only reason you’re even with that son of a bitch is because he’s got hold of your mind.”
“If he had that he’d have already made me forget all this,” she said coolly.
“Or he’s just trying to make you think that.” He looked down at his latest victim and smiled. She’d been particularly easy to talk into coming back to his place. Amazing what a wad of cash can do for a guy. “We can be pretty manipulative you know.”
“No, Ben, Nicholas truly cares. He doesn’t want to own me the way you do. He wants a companion, not a slave.”
“He wants a donor,” he snorted. He tossed the sheet over the dead girl’s naked body and rolled off the bed. “If you think he wants more you’re crazy.”
“Look, I’m not talking to you to debate the foundation of my relationship with him.” She didn’t see a point in reminding him what Nicholas’s ultimate intentions were. The decision on whether or not she’d let him turn her had become a thorn in both their sides. “I want you to let Matt go. And Carly.” Alana waited for an objection but it didn’t come. “They don’t have anything to do with this. You shouldn’t have involved either one.”
“I can’t do anything about the Reader,” he said calmly. In fact, Carly was already long gone. She had a war to predict. “But Matt. He’s a free man if I get what I want."
“Which is me.”
“Very good,” he said sarcastically. “I want your lover, too. He needs to pay for taking you from me.”
“He didn’t take me from you. I was never yours to begin with.”
“Alana, you’ve been mine all your life, you just can’t see it. I’m your man. Always have been. Always will be. Why fight it?”
“Because I don’t love you,” she answered. “I don’t even like you, Ben.” Even after finding the strength she needed to fight him, she was still terrified of him.
“You can learn to,” he said. “I have everything you could ever want now, Alana. Money. A huge house. Nice cars. Anything you want, it’s yours. Just let me make up the bad.”
“There is nothing on this earth you could do to make up for that,” she said flatly. “If Paul’s death hadn’t ended that, Jennifer’s definitely would have.”
Anger filled him. How dare she throw them in his face! “That was your fault,” he growled. “If you hadn’t been playing hard to get I wouldn’t have had to kill them. Their blood is on your hands.”
“My hands?” She was stunned. She hadn’t done a thing but try to move on with her life. “You’re the one who couldn’t let go, not me.”
“You had no right to move on.” Ben was so angry his hands were shaking. “None!”
Suddenly the phone was ripped from Alana’s hand. Nicholas looked at the number on the screen and shook his head. He calmly hung up the phone and tossed it on the couch. Still stunned, Alana looked from her open hand to him.
Nicholas brushed past her and into the kitchen to put away the things she’d asked for. He knew before he left what she’d had planned. He knew when he got back she’d still be trying to bargain for Matt’s safe return. He also knew she would fail. The fact is he didn’t care about any of it. Matt would live. Alana was his and nothing Ben could do would change that. Things may be strained between them, but he could still see inside her mind. Every day her resolve to stay human lessened a little more.