Page 16

I kept my mind purposely blank as I stripped off the clothing, avoiding the mirror as I walked past it to the shower.

The last thing I wanted to know was if my boobs also shimmered.

I scrubbed and scrubbed like I could somehow rub off the stupid glimmer. By the time I was done, my skin felt pristine and actually kind of hurt. I’d just finished slipping on a pair of leggings and a shirt Tink had gotten me for my birthday last year—zombie troll dolls, because of course—when the door opened. I whipped around, the air lodging firmly in my throat when I saw it was Ren.

He came to a complete stop, his eyes widening slightly as his gaze roamed over me from head to toe, notably getting more hung up on the shirt than anything else, but still the shock was there. And I didn’t know if it was because he wasn’t expecting me to be in the room or it was due to my new glittery appearance.

But he . . . he looked good. Healthy and beautiful in that wild way of his. Looking at him now, I could almost imagine that I hadn’t fed on him. That I hadn’t seen him with those wretched shadows under his eyes or his sunken cheekbones.

I remembered what I’d done to him, though. That memory fueled the words that parted my lips. “Like the new look?” My voice dripped with acid. “I look like a vampire from Twilight.” Turning my head, I yanked back the wet curls. “And look! Don’t need a costume for Halloween now that I got these super awesome pointy ears.”

His head tilted to the side as he stared at me. “You look beautiful as always.”

A harsh laugh burst out of me. “Seriously?”

“Seriously,” he said. “Beautiful and hot. The shirt is a little weird though.”

“A gift from Tink,” I explained, wondering if Ren was for real. How could he think I was beautiful when I truly looked like I had fae blood in me now?

“Figured.” A wry grin tugged at his full mouth. “God, you have no idea how I feel seeing you standing in front of me. Alive. Talking. Sexy even in a shirt that shouldn’t have ever been made.”

I stared at him. “My skin is shimmering and my ears are pointy now.”

“I didn’t even notice. All I was paying attention to was the fact you were standing and breathing.” His gaze flickered over me again. “But now that you mention it, I’m kind of digging it.”

My mouth dropped open. “How in the world could you be digging that I look more like the creatures we were born to hunt and kill? That doesn’t make sense.”

Ren looked taken aback. “You don’t get it. Your skin could be green and your ears the size of UFOs and I’d still think you’re absolutely stunning.”

At that point, I started wondering if Ren was high.

“I’m about to sound cheesy as fuck and I’m kind of surprised that I even have to say this, but it’s not just about how you look. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a way nice bonus, but it’s you, Ivy. What’s on the inside, Sweetness.”


That wasn’t cheesy at all. It was . . . it was actually a beautiful thing to say and something I so desperately needed to hear and wanted to believe.

Silence stretched out between us and then Ren moved. Kicking the door shut behind him, he started toward me, intent tensing the lines of his mouth. Ren was such a shower and not a teller. He was going to prove that he still thought I was beautiful. He was going to take me in his arms. He would kiss me, and I didn’t know what I would do, what I was capable of.

I locked up. “Don’t.”

Ren immediately stopped, his brows pinching together.

“I mean, I don’t know if you should come near me right now.” The next part killed me to admit. “I . . . I don’t know what I’ll do.”

Understanding flared. “I trust you.”

“You shouldn’t.” I looked away. “You shouldn’t have trusted me before.”

“I did, and you didn’t hurt me.”

“Didn’t hurt you?” I gasped. “I fed on you. I saw what you looked like afterwards—”

“I was fine—I am fine. I was just tired. That was all.”

“But that wasn’t all I did.” My cheeks burned as the memory of ripping open his pants resurfaced.

“What came after you fed?” His voice deepened. “I didn’t have a single problem with it. That was—”

“It was messed up,” I said, shaking my head. “I was out of my mind. I fed on you and I—”

“I told you to take from me what you needed and I meant that. I gave you what you needed, no matter what that was.”

“You didn’t think it was wrong?” My voice dropped to a whisper.

“I think how we got to that moment was wrong, but what we did on that table wasn’t. It never is between us.”

As I watched him, I knew that he believed that, but I still felt like I’d done something wrong. I folded my arms over my waist, looking away.

He was quiet for a moment. “I ran into Faye. She told me you’d woken up and were fine. That you went up to our room. I came as soon as I heard. Would’ve been there. I wanted to be there, but—”

“I know. They wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to suck the life out of you.” My lips twisted into a gross reflection of a smile.

“I never once believed you’d do that.” His gaze was steady as he reached to his side. That was when I realized he was carrying the thorn stake. He unhooked it, laying it on the small table by the door. I guessed the whole not carrying weapons thing was now off the table. “Not once, Ivy.”

“Really?” I looked at him again and welcomed the same razor-sharp anger I’d felt toward Tink despite how good their intentions were. Being angry was sure as hell a lot easier than the roaring confusion and nearly overwhelming anxiety.

“You could’ve done it, but you didn’t. You stopped.” Ren stepped forward before stopping again. “I know that you will always stop.”

He may have believed that, but I didn’t. “You’re an idiot if you believe that. You should’ve never agreed to me feeding off you. It was too dangerous—”

“I would risk it again.” Another step forward. “A hundred percent, I would risk all of it again to save you.”

Disbelief thundered through me, as did fury. “You know what can happen to humans when they’ve been fed on. We’ve had to put them down. You have!”

“Like I said, I would risk it all over again.” He held my gaze. “That was my choice.”

“It was never your choice, Ren! It was mine, and it was taken away from me.”

“What choice did you have?” He stopped, nostrils flaring. “You were dying, Ivy. There was no time to get a surgeon or take you to the hospital. You were bleeding out right in front of me. There was no choice, because allowing you to die was never an option.”

“If you’d done that at least then I wouldn’t have been forced to feed on you just like the Prince made me do!” The moment those words came out of my mouth, I wished I hadn’t said them.

Ren’s face paled. “You’d rather be dead, Ivy?”

I sucked in a breath. “I’m not saying that.”

“Then what are you saying exactly, and Sweetness, I need you to be real detailed, because I’m thinking the worst.”

I turned away, thrusting my hands through my hair. I wasn’t stupid. If Tink and Ren hadn’t forced Faye to do the compulsion, I would be dead. And I didn’t want to be dead.

But I didn’t want to be this.

God, I just didn’t want any of this.


He’d spoken my name so softly that I reacted to him without thought. I faced him, lowering my hands.

“When I found you outside, I thought I was too late. When I carried you into that damn room, I was covered in your blood. Drenched in it.” As he spoke, his gaze never left mine. “And when that fae doctor said that you were dying, it felt like a piece of me died right then and there.”

I opened my mouth.

“Let me get this out and you can yell at me and be pissed all you want,” he insisted, and I snapped my mouth shut. “I have never been more afraid than I was right then and there. I was going to lose you before I even got to have you. And when Tink said there may be another way, it was the only choice I had and I made that choice knowing you could hate me for it. I made that choice knowing that it could hurt me. I made that choice knowing that you may never forgive me for it.”