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“That’s good, right?”

“Yeah, it’s just that . . . I don’t know if it will always be like that or if it’ll hit me again—the cravings.” I forced myself to keep going. “I mean, it’s there. Not all the time, but it’s like . . . indigestion.”

He lifted a brow.

“But more serious than heartburn,” I added.

Ren was quiet for a moment. “You’ve got to trust yourself, Ivy. I know that’s easier said than done, but even when you were . . . dying, you didn’t want to feed. And when you were feeding, you stopped. That part of you is not gone. I never once worried about you jumping on me like the face-clinger thing from those Alien movies.”

I laughed softly. “Good to know.”

“I trust you.” His eyes met and held mine. “I’m going to make sure you start trusting yourself.”

My vision blurred again, and it didn’t help when he kissed the tip of my nose.

“Now, on to a much more serious conversation.”

Oh dear.

He rose onto one elbow. “I’m not sure if you realized this or not, but you’re pretty strong.”

“Of course I am,” I murmured.

He dropped his hand to the curve of my waist. “No, Ivy. Stronger than you realize.”

I frowned up at him.

“When you pushed me into the pool, I wasn’t off-balance. You shouldn’t have been able to do that so easily.”

Unsure if I should be annoyed by that statement or not, my frown increased. “I’ve been training since I can remember. Knocking you over isn’t that hard.”

He grinned down at me. “And I’ve been training since I can remember. Plus, I have a good hundred pounds on you. When you pushed me, it felt like a truck was slamming into me.”

“Wow,” I muttered. “That’s not flattering.”

Chuckling under his breath, he raised his brows at me. “I want to try something, okay? I want you to hold me down.”

I stared at him. “Seriously?”

He nodded. “I want to see if you—”

Ren didn’t need to ask twice. Sitting up, I placed my hands on his shoulders and pushed him back, into the bed. I moved, straddling him.

“Okay.” He laughed. “You’re down for this.”

I grinned. “I’m always here to knock you down a peg or two.”

He blew a kiss at me, and then I felt his muscles flex under my palms. He started to rise up, but I pushed down, keeping him relatively pinned.

“That’s the best you got? Come on, Ren. Stop messing with me.”

“I’m not messing with you.” His jaw locked down as his body coiled tight under mine. He lifted his shoulders up, but I exerted more pressure, keeping him from sitting up. “Jesus,” he grunted, falling back and losing the inches he’d gained. “That’s what I’m talking about.”

I blinked and then jerked my head back. “You’re really not fooling around? You can’t sit up?”


I didn’t believe him. “Try it again.”

“Whatever.” Ren did an ab curl, and I could feel the power and strength in his body. He wasn’t holding back, but he wasn’t getting very far. His muscles trembled. “See?”

Shocked, I let go and then he shot up like a rocket, snagging an arm around my waist before I toppled off of him. “Holy crap.”

“Yeah.” Once he had me steady, he fell back onto the bed. “That’s what I’m talking about. You’re stronger than me.”

All I could do was stare at him. I’d always been fast and strong. Years and years of training did that, but Ren had more muscle mass. I shouldn’t have been able to overpower him.

The dimple appeared in his cheek. “And it’s kind of hot as hell.”

I cocked my head to the side and sighed.

“What? Remember that night when you flipped me?”

“Yeah, I remember. You had broken into my apartment,” I replied dryly.

“I didn’t break it. The balcony doors were unlocked.”

I rolled my eyes. “You still entered without permission, Ren.”

He skated right over that. “Anyway, I think you’ve got some fae strength in you.”

Sitting back, I let my hands rest on his abs. “You know, being a halfling and all? I never really got sick growing up. I never broke a bone, but I’ve never been this strong.”

“Probably the feeding.” His hands landed lightly on my hips.

I thought back to when I first woke up. “Faye did say there may be other . . . changes in me, and I . . . I broke the restraints they had on me. I’d forgotten all about that.”

“Restraints?” The grin faded from his face.

“Yeah. You didn’t know? Apparently, they were worried I’d do something terrible.” I blew out a long breath, thinking about when I was training earlier. I hadn’t gone full beast mode on the dummy, so I wouldn’t have noticed if I was stronger than before. “Maybe it’ll fade.”

“Maybe.” He tilted his head to the side. “But look at Faye or Kalen and Dane. They don’t feed and they’re strong.”

And I had changed, physically. There was no denying that. Being stronger wasn’t bad. Not at all. Considering my line of work and what we had facing us, it was a blessing.


I wasn’t sure how to feel about being okay with that change. Then I realized that I could be okay with it. I just had to let myself be okay.

Could it be that easy?

I shifted and then stilled, pulled completely out of my head. I felt him hardening under me. My brows lifted. “Really?”

A lopsided grin appeared. “I don’t know if you remember this or not, but you’re not wearing anything under my shirt and you’re straddling me.”

A sharp tingle radiated from where I could feel him straining up against me. “Good point.”

“And like I said, you overpowering me is hot as hell.”

I laughed as I tipped forward, marveling at the way his abs tightened in response and how his eyes deepened to a forest green. “It must be nice being a guy.”

His eyes became hooded as his fingers tiptoed along the edges of the shirt I was wearing. “It is when I have you sitting on my dick.”

A laugh burst out of me, and I got blessed with two dimples appearing on his face.

His fingers curled under the hem of the shirt. “I want to see you.”

My breath caught, because I knew what he meant. Immediately, my pulse pounded. I was seriously naked under his shirt.

“May I?”

Biting down on my lip, I nodded.

Ren lifted the shirt, sliding it up my sides and over my head. When he tossed it onto the bed beside him, I was completely bare and there was no hiding the fact that every part of me had a silvery tint to it.

And Ren was taking it all in.

His gaze locked with mine and then slid south, the intensity almost a physical caress. I felt his stare as it slipped over my shoulders. My breasts grew heavy, nipples tightening, and it was hard to sit still as his gaze continued to move, over the apex of my thighs, all the way to where my knees were bent.

“Thank you,” he said finally, his voice a husky drawl.

My mouth dried.

The very tips of his fingers dragged over my sides and hips, down my outer thighs and then back up, over my lower stomach. His hands stopped just below my breasts. “You’re beautiful, Ivy. I’ve told you that, right?”

I found my voice. “Yes.”

A half grin appeared as his fingers brushed over the swell of my breasts. “I don’t think I tell you that nearly enough.”

I drew in a shallow breath. “You can keep telling me that.” My voice hitched as his fingers grew very close to my nipples before skating away. “I don’t mind.”

He bit down on his lower lip, sucking it between his teeth. Parts of me clenched in response. His fingers circled the very center of my breasts, and the torture of him getting close and then pulling away was possibly the most wicked thing he could do.

“We’re going to have to get up early tomorrow.” His gaze followed his fingers now.