Seething I advanced on them. Both their heads swung to look at me and then Sam gasped and backed away, hiding behind Max. Instantly I stopped still. Sam was backing away? Sam was hiding behind another person? That didn’t ring right.

Something else occurred to me then, too. My senses weren’t hyper the way they usually were when she was around. I didn’t feel that pull to go to her that I usually felt.

There was something else I realised too, something that shocked the hell out of me and had me spooked, but I didn’t want to think about that yet.

“She’s made her choice, Michaels,” said Max. “It’s me she wants.”

“Is that right?” I asked, folding my arms across my chest.

“The only reason she slept with you was because she wanted to get back at me.”

“To get back at you?”

He nodded. “That’s right.”

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to hear this from the horse’s mouth.” I raised a brow at her. She was still hiding behind Max. As I expected, she didn’t speak. “If you expect me to believe you want him then I’m going to need to hear you say it.” Still she didn’t speak.

“Tell him, Sam,” urged Max, stroking a hand through her hair, “tell him it’s me you want.”

She edged closer to Max but still she said nothing.

“Did you rob her ability to speak or something?” I asked Max who was starting to look a little confused and unsure. “I’m getting pretty agitated now, Sam. Tell me to my face that it’s Max you want. What’re you hiding for? If you really think I’d ever hurt you then just get out that pretty whip of yours? If you want to defend yourself you can do it easy. Unless…you’re not Sam.”

Chapter Fourteen

(Sam)

I halted mid-stride as I entered the office to find Jared and Max having some kind of face-off. Not only that, but there was a woman cowering behind Max. A woman who was identical to me. “Bloody hell.” Three heads turned to look at me. Max looked stunned, my doppelganger looked anxious, and Jared seemed completely unsurprised.

Max spun and glared at the woman behind him. Then his eyes repeatedly darted from her to me as though he was trying to work out which one was the real me. “What’s going on?”

I snorted. “I was hoping one of you three could help me with that.”

Jared spoke, “Short version is I teleported here and got to watch while Max had you wrapped around him almost sucking your mouth off. Only it wasn’t you, I realised.” His eyes bore into the imitation of me. “Game’s up, Joy.”

“Joy,” I echoed with irritation. I was even more irritated by the fact that she was wearing my jacket which I’d left on the chair.

“I think she thought she could cause a nice big rift between us. I told her before that she’d never be you. It’s stupid that she didn’t just listen.”

Joy’s entire body seemed to twinkle and then she was back to her old self.

Max stepped away from her, rubbing his mouth as if to rub away any trace of her. He looked over at me. “I came here like you asked me to and she was sat at your desk. She said she’d made a mistake when she slept with him and that it was really me she wanted.”

“And you bought her little act? You thought that was me?”

“Well, I mean, I thought you sounded a little weird. Your accent seemed off and your scent wasn’t as strong -”

“Probably because it was my jacket that had my scent on it, not her.”

“- but I didn’t think it was someone else. Why would I?” He turned to Jared then. “How did you know?”

“I just did.”

Wearing the scowl from hell, Joy began ranting at Jared. “Maybe now you know what it feels like seeing the person you care about with someone else! Maybe now you have a tiny idea of how I feel! Shame you didn’t think it was really her and then attack us. I would’ve liked watching Max steal your senses and then pummel you.”

“Bloodthirsty isn’t she,” I commented to Jared before then concentrating my focus on her. “I strongly advise you to scarper out of this office before I seriously end up losing it. I have no time for anyone who thinks it’s their right to play with people’s lives.”

“I’m not afraid of some Sventé.”

“Then you’re dumber than I thought,” said Jared, his voice heavy with impatience and aggravation.

“A good lay, isn’t he,” she said to me, wearing a cocky smirk. “I quite like his tongue. Does he call you baby too? I’ll bet he tells you you’re blood tastes real good too. Feels good when he zaps your clit with that gift of his, doesn’t it.”

“Are we supposed to be comparing notes? Or is this just your way of telling me that I mean nothing more to him than any other woman?” It wasn’t something I didn’t already know. It was dumb that I cared. I shouldn’t care about that fact, I shouldn’t care that when he called me baby it wasn’t because he saw me as more than a shag, I shouldn’t care about him. And yet I did. It made me want to slap myself.

“It seems only fair that you know. He has this way of making you think you’re special to him when the truth is you’re nothing to him but another piece of ass.”

I placed my hand over my heart and said mockingly, “Oh, I think I feel it shattering. You’ve killed the dream.” What worried me was that my words were a lot closer to the truth than I was comfortable with. “Now. Get. The. Hell. Out.”

“It’ll be a pleasure to.” Looking rather self-satisfied, she shrugged passed Jared and Max. As she was passing me she made an extremely stupid move: she abruptly reached out and clawed my face with her nails like some sort of wildcat. Without hesitation I dived on her, or at least I meant to. Instead, the strangest thing happened. I fell into her. My body invaded hers, fused with hers, melded with hers. It was an odd feeling. It was like stepping into an all-in-one suit, stretching my limbs into place; a suit that I could see out of. Then the other senses came to me; hearing, smelling, touching, tasting. And then the feeling changed again, as though the suit was being burnt into my skin so that it became part of me, but the pain was only slight and brief.

And just like that I felt utterly invincible. I knew that I wasn’t, but I felt it. Power was coursing through me, making me feel drunk on it. It was like a caged, pacing, agitated tiger: it wanted to be released, and I knew that if I unleashed it I’d have a hard job controlling it.

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