Swiveling his head to the side, Aidan found Lyssa standing at the bottom of the stairs, her lips and knuckles white with tension, her outstretched hand shaking violently. He arched his brow at the sight of the object she held, and jumped off the table. "What were you going to do? Parry with your pen?"
Swallowing hard, she sputtered, "P-pepper spr-spray."
His gaze narrowed, "You grabbed that before the doorbell rang."
The implications of her actions made him grit his teeth. He collected Chad's sword and put it on the opposite side of the room.
He retrieved his scabbard from the floor and sheathed his glaive, setting it next to the other weapon with deliberately casual movements. Then he went to her, wrapping his big hand around the one she held out.
"Gimme that," he murmured, prying her nerveless fingers open. Keeping her icy cold hand in his, Aidan side-stepped just far enough to reach the entertainment center. Then he set the pepper spray pen atop it, far from Lyssa's reach.
Her free hand touched his chest, making the muscle beneath it jump. '"You're barely breathing hard at all."
Aidan caught her wrist and pulled her hand away. "Were you planning on spraying me with the damn pepper spray?"
Again she blinked huge, dark eyes at him, the irises swallowed by dilated pupils. "Stacey said I should if you wanted to sacrifice me or came from another planet."
"Sacrifice—?" He growled. "And you call me insane?"
She frowned. And then burst into tears.
Relenting with a sigh, he tugged her into his arms. His brain acknowledged that she had a right to be wary and to consider self-protection. Another part of him—his aching heart—didn't care about that.
"Did you call anyone?" he asked.
"Good girl." He stroked the length of her spine.
"What's going on?" she sobbed, her voice muffled.
He rested his cheek against the top of her head and told her.
"When he wakes up," he finished, "he's going to hurt like hell and have a nasty bruise on his jaw, but he won't remember any of this."
"I'll never forget it." She sucked in a shuddering breath and rubbed her face into his damp skin in a way that made the ache in his chest worse. "So you told me the truth."
"Of course." He pushed her away and moved to Chad's splayed body. "Listen, I've got to get him to his place before he wakes up. We don't have time to change our clothes."
He dug in Chad's pocket and withdrew his car keys. "I'll follow behind you in his car, then you can drive us both back. Are you okay to get behind the wheel?"
"I think so." She went to the kitchen to collect her purse, and Aidan bent low to heft Chad's body over his shoulder. He found the red Jeep parked just outside Lyssa's garage, tossed his burden into the passenger seat, and moved the vehicle out of the way so she could pull out.
He'd considered the possibility of controlling Dreamers, from the Twilight. When he first saw the cavern the Elders used to contain hypnotized humans, he'd thought surely the ability to control the mind in that state would work both ways. It appeared it was true. He wondered if Chad had initiated the connection on purpose—turning to hypnosis to cure some ailment—or if the Elders had the ability to control the human body through dreams. The latter thought was terrifying. It made every single person around them a threat.
Lyssa wasn't safe anywhere.
Lyssa backed out of her garage with more care than usual, then took a long moment to stare at the Jeep and the man who sat so pensively in the driver's seat. She held the steering wheel with white-knuckled force to keep her hands from shaking uncontrollably. Everything she knew about her life had just blown up in her face. An alien invasion wouldn't come by air. It would come from within, like zombies or Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
But Aidan wasn't like that. He was warm, caring, passionate. Human.
Just thinking about him made her long for his arms around her. He had come an incalculable distance to save her, leaving everything—everything—he knew behind. For her.
She stepped on the gas pedal and drove to Chad's, her eyes lifting constantly to her rearview mirror. Her thoughts were tumultuous, her breathing uneven, and her hands and feet were as cold as ice. She parked her car at Chad's by instinct, her brain too overloaded to record the events. As she slowly recovered from shock, it took her an hour to realize Aidan wasn't talking to her.
He was silent as he arranged Chad on the floor by the bed, simulating a fall that would in no way account for his exhausted muscles and bruised face, but was the best they could do. He was silent on the ride home and on the walk into the house from the garage, even though she'd paused at the door with her hand on the knob, her blood heating at the memory of what they had done there. Only hours ago, yet it seemed like forever.
She'd looked over her shoulder and noted the darkness of his gaze. He had thought of it, too, but aside from the heat in his eyes, he had been distant and cold.
Now, as he stood in her kitchen with a sleeping pill in his palm, she realized this was as hard on him as it was on her. She shook her head. "I don't want that now. We need to talk."
"We've talked enough." His jaw was firm. "You need sleep."
"I'm not tired."
"You're in shock. You don't know what you are." His tone lowered wearily. "Or what I am."
His eyes closed at the sound of his name.
"Will you come upstairs with me?" she asked softly.
"I can't. I've got work to do."
"Just until I fall asleep?"
"Lyssa." He shook his head. "If I lie down, I may fall asleep. I can't do that. We'll have to sleep in shifts. We can't afford to have me unconscious at the same time you are."
If they slept in shifts, they would never be together.
And she needed him.
She almost told him that all she wanted was him wrapped around her, inside her, making her feel cherished and safe. But she worried that telling him would ensure a negative response. For the first time since he'd walked in the door, she was fairly certain he didn't want to make love to her. So all she said was, "Please."
He growled low and ran a hand through his hair. He gestured for her to go ahead of him and then followed her up the stairs. When she stopped by the bathroom, Aidan handed her the sleeping pill, and she went to the sink as he sprawled on the bed. She looked at her reflection, knowing she looked like death warmed over, but also knowing it wasn't her looks that had dampened Aidan's ardor.
She set the pill on the counter. If she needed it later, so be it. But first she was going to try to get Aidan to talk to her.
Returning to the bedroom, Lyssa crawled on the bed and stretched out parallel to him. Aidan lay on his side, his head in his hand, but when she got close he rolled to his back and tucked her against him. She tossed her leg over his and her arm across his abdomen. He stiffened in response.
"You're mad at me," she whispered, her breath hot as it gusted across his bare chest.
He exhaled audibly and rolled into her. "No. I'm not mad at you."
"Then hold me," she breathed. "I need you."
"Lyssa…" Aidan lowered his head and took her mouth, his tongue gliding deep, making her shudder beneath him. She needed this, needed the connection to ground her to him. He was a dream, an alien, a man centuries older than she was. She was a threat, a prophecy, the key to his destruction. The distance between them yawned galaxies and planes of existence apart, and yet he was the yang to her yin, a living puzzle piece that by some miracle made him physically able to fit her, just as males of her own species did. Together they could become one, with no separation at all between them. That's what she needed, right now, as much as she needed to breathe.
As her desire for him built, her embrace loosened, her hands moving to stroke the length of his spine. He smelled delicious, even more so than usual because he'd worked up a sweat earlier. The combination of Aidan, adrenaline overload, and testosterone was a potent aphrodisiac.
Endlessly in lust with him, she stroked his tongue with her own.
"Remember the apple?" he murmured into her mouth.
Lyssa stilled. "Yeah…"
"That hasn't changed just because you understand now."
"What are you saying?"
"I don't know how long I'll be here," he said softly, his gaze starkly intense beneath the lock of black hair that fell over his brow. "The information I need may be in the books I brought, or it could be back in the Twilight. Right now, we both need to consider my being here as temporary and my eventual departure as permanent."
She swallowed hard. "I thought you said no one has ever gone back?"
"None of the other Guardians had a book by the Elders detailing fissure creation," he pointed out.
"Oh." Sinking into the mattress, her legs slackened and then fell away. "So you're not mad?"
"I am." His voice was low and fervent. "At everything and everyone that prevents me from keeping you." He rested his forehead against hers, inundating her senses with the scent and heat of his skin. "But I'm not angry with you, no. I'm proud of you for taking steps to protect yourself, and I know you trust me. You wouldn't have let me take you without a condom otherwise. "You're a doctor and far too smart to gamble with your life like that."
Aidan rolled off her and stared up at the ceiling.
"I don't understand how you could go back," she said, frowning in confusion. "I'm not even sure I understand how you got here."
He turned his head to look at her with a gentle smile. ""You've heard of Athena, haven't you? Goddess of Wisdom, who sprang fully formed from Zeus's head."
"That's a myth," she scoffed, but the similarity was startling.