I gain some composure and roll off of her to my back. “Yeah … wow.”

We’re lying on our backs but looking at one another. “I thought vampires didn’t make love.”

I’m at a loss. “They don’t. Ever. Nor do they have the desire to.”

Her hand finds mine and she squeezes it. “Well we did and it wasn’t just sex. It was something else as well. Did you feel it?”

I’m not experienced in the sex department but even I know that wasn’t a normal act of intimacy. “Yes. There was definitely more to it.”

“I think there’s something I need to tell you.” I hear the worry in her voice but I never want her to be frightened to tell me anything.

“Okay.”

She breathes in deeply and her lips puff out as she exhales. “I sensed your existence long before the night you came to Vincent’s. I’ve felt your presence for as long as I can remember. I’ve always known someone was missing from my life but I didn’t know who until our eyes met through that crowd of vampires at Vincent’s. I knew you were the one I had been waiting for my entire life.”

Am I wrong about why I’m so beguiled by her? It’s not because she’s a blood jewel? “I was drawn to you the second I laid eyes on you. I wanted to rescue and protect you but I had no idea why. It almost killed me to walk out of that house without you in my arms.”

She closes her eyes and smiles. “Do you feel that? What’s happening between us right now?”

I know exactly what she’s talking about. It’s our special connection–the intense one we feel while I’m drinking directly from her. This is the strongest it’s ever been. “Yes. I feel how happy–but confused–you are right now.”

She opens her eyes and her brow wrinkles in confusion. “And I sense the same about you but you don’t seem quite as confused as me. I think you understand what’s happening.”

I’d call it hopeful suspicion. “Do you have a birthmark?”

“Yeah but what does that have to do with anything?”

My hope gains momentum. “I need to see it.”

“Okay.” She rises to a sitting position and rolls her left shoulder forward. Her right arm crosses her chest and she reaches around to point at her upper shoulder blade. “Right here. But I must tell you that it’s the most peculiar looking birthmark you’ll ever see. It looks like an albino butterfly.”

And there it is–a most beloved sight. It’s what I wanted to see more than anything in the world. I think it’s the proof of what I suspect. I can’t stop the happy laughter erupting from my lips as I reach out to touch it. “Oh, Avery.”

“What?”

I playfully push her down onto the bed and climb over her. I grasp her face and kiss her hard before looking into her eyes. “This may sound crazy but I think you’re my agápe.”

Chapter Seven

Curry and Sebastian are looking at me from across my desk as they wait to hear the reason I’ve asked them to join me in my office. How do I do this? I haven’t a clue. How do I dare to explain how I’ve been secretly drinking from Avery for weeks? Or worse–what happened between us in her bedroom this morning?

Worse is the wrong choice of words. If she’s my agápe then what happened was natural. And inevitable. But what if I’m wrong and she’s not what I think she is?

Sitting here in silence is becoming awkward. I don’t know how to start this conversation so I’m glad when Curry finally asks, “Is everything all right with you?”

We’ll see if it is after I get their verdict. “Something has happened. It’s quite serious and it may or may not cause you both to be extremely angry with me.”

They glance at one another and a quick look passes between them before they turn back to me. For a moment I’m afraid they already know everything that’s been happening between me and Avery but I decide it’s my guilty conscience causing me to jump to conclusions.

Curry clears his throat. “You can tell us anything. We won’t judge.”

We’d see about that. “I love Avery. I have from the first moment I saw her but I didn’t realize it was affection that I was feeling. I assumed her blood was siren-like and was calling out to me because I hadn’t drunk it. But then Curry brought her here and I realized he wasn’t being drawn to her the way I was.”

This catches Sebastian’s attention because he sits up and appears very interested. “And you felt this way about her before you drank her blood?”

“Yes. And I discovered something strange while drinking from her that night. Her blood didn’t appeal to me at all but the act of drinking from her was … beautiful. We connected on an entirely different level. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. And afterwards–I could still feel her.” I place my hand over my heart. “There hasn’t been a moment I haven’t felt her right here since that night.”

Sebastian is rubbing his chin, as he tends to do when he’s mulling something over in his mind. “Have you and Avery discussed this?”

And the plot thickens. “Not until a few weeks ago. I’ve spent the last few months believing she was terrified of me. She always seemed so nervous and her heart was always pounding erratically every time we were close. Turns out I was wrong about why. She came to me the night I announced I was leaving and asked me to stay.”

“That was several weeks ago and you haven’t said a word about it,” Curry says.

This was where things could go downhill fast. “We agreed that something special happened between us when I drank from her but neither of us understood what it was. She wanted to explore it more–and so did I–so she asked me to make her my blood doll.”

Curry closes his eyes and rubs his lids with his hand. “Tell me you didn’t.”

It was time to admit what I’d been doing. “I didn’t want to make her my blood whore but it’s what she wanted and I find it impossible to deny her the things she asks of me. I must admit it’s what I wanted too so I started drinking from her.”

Sebastian’s expression is calm and collected as always. “I guess that explains why you stopped taking blood from the swans at dinner.”

“Avery wanted to be the only one.” Wanted isn’t the right word. Insisted would be a much better fit.

“How often do you drink from her?” Sebastian asks.

“It was every three days in the beginning.”

He lifts a brow and I’m guessing it’s because he’s reading into the last part of my admission. “And now?”

“Twice daily.” I feel like I should defend myself. “But I don’t do it for her blood. We do it for the connection we share while I’m drinking. The blood just happens to be part of it.” I hear my words and realize how much I sound like a junkie in denial.

Curry looks ready to explode. And then he does. “I can’t believe you’ve been doing this for weeks. You’re addicted to her. You knew there was a chance this could happen and you chose to take the risk because you think something special happened. Well something happened all right. You got yourself addicted to a blood jewel and now you’re screwed.”

He doesn’t have a clue about the relationship Avery and I share. “It’s not like that.”

“Yeah, it is exactly like that.” He’s scoffing. And it pisses me off.

“You don’t understand. I went to Avery in her bedroom this morning and something else happened as well.” They’re both looking at me waiting for the rest of the story. “Things became … physical.”

“Physical?” Curry asks. “You mean she tried to fight you off when you were drinking from her?”

“No. It was the kind of physical act involving a man and a woman.” They’re obviously not catching on but I shouldn’t expect them to. There’s no reason they would put the pieces together. “We made love the way a human man and human woman do except I drank from her while it was happening. I don’t know what it is but something even greater transpired. Now we have an even stronger connection. I’m able to feel her emotions almost like I can read her mind.”

Sebastian nods while wearing a solemn expression. “And she can feel your emotions as well?”

“Just as strongly.” I’m about to unveil the final piece of evidence and I pray they will confirm I’m not imagining this. I want Avery as my agápe. I have to have her. There is no alternative. “She bears the mark of Anteros like Chansey but it’s white instead of brown.”

Sebastian looks at Curry and then back to me. “Ella’s was deep red, the color of port-wine.”

“Is Avery my agápe?” I prepare for the worst but will settle for nothing less than an affirmative.

Sebastian looks amused. “Do you really have to ask?”

I believe that’s the confirmation I desperately want but I’m afraid to jump to conclusions. “I made her mine but I need to know if she’s intended for me. If she isn’t, another vampire could try to take her from me but I won’t allow it. I will never be parted from her.”

“We don’t know a lot about agápes but I don’t believe you could have claimed Avery as your own if she wasn’t intended for you byAnteros. You’ve completed the final stage of the bond with her. You couldn’t have done that if she wasn’t yours. You might not have had the typical introduction or early relationship but every event was part of the plan to bring Avery Ferrand into your life. She is your destiny.”

He confirms my suspicion and it’s a huge relief. “And I am hers.”

I can tell that he’s happy for me. “Yes. You’re her protector and will do anything to maintain her safety. You’ll gladly die to keep her from harm.”

He’s right. I am her shield from danger and I already have my first task in mind. “Or kill.”




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