Tears threatened to spill down her cheeks the second her ass hit the driver’s seat of her car. Familiar was supposed to feel safe, comforting. But Brian had been both. Dangerous lie that turned out to be. Reaching into her purse for a tissue she fiercely fought against needing, her hand brushed against the small velvet box that started this whole mess. What was she going to do with the damn necklace now? She sure as hell wasn’t keeping it, but she couldn’t give it back to Brian either.
What a fucking nightmare.
Cara’s gaze slid to Damian. He stood by the passenger side of his car, door open wide as he motioned for her to come with him. He even gave her a slight bow. She didn’t try to fight the curve of her lips as she got out.
“I can drive you home, if you want. I’ll handle getting your car there so you won’t have to worry about that.”
She’d expected him to say that she shouldn’t be driving right now, that she needed to take it easy and calm her nerves. Being the youngest in the family, someone was always trying to tell her what was best for her. As if she couldn’t possibly handle her own life, despite the fact that she lived alone and ran her own business. But he didn’t lecture her, or try to boss her around. Instead, he presented her with another option, one she was grateful he’d offered.
“Thank you. I’d appreciate that.” She eyed the respectable sedan as she passed by. “So, you drive a badass motorcycle and a... Volvo?”
“It’s my grandmother’s.” He said dryly as a smile curved his lips, ushering her into the seat, then closing her door.
After giving him the directions to her apartment, they pulled onto
“So what’s the deal with those other people who came through the portal? Are they even people?” She was already plummeting down the rabbit hole. Might as well find out what was at the bottom of the damn thing.
“The less you know about them, the better. The only reason I brought them up is because of what I had to do to that asshole. Dazing, along with some other Arcturian abilities, can be detected by them. If they searched his mind, they could find out about your connection to me.”
“How likely is that to happen?”
“Not very. They don’t usually bother with dazed humans, but I’m not willing to risk leaving you unprotected. Until the aura wears off, I will stay with you. Luckily, since I didn’t mess with him that much, it should be gone by tonight.”
“I don’t really know what to say about all this. It’s so hard to wrap my mind around.” She dropped her gaze, staring at her lap.
Damian closed his hand around hers, gently raising it to his lips as he pressed a kiss to her palm. The contact shot a tingle through her, his warmth echoing inside her.
“I’m so sorry, Cara. I brought all of this on you.”
“No, you didn’t. Brian still would have come here to...” She took a deep breath, shaking her head. “You wouldn’t have been here to save me if we hadn’t bumped into each other last night. I’m lucky to have you... looking out for me.”
She turned away, staring out the window, a blanket of silence descending upon them. It was funny how life worked sometimes. Destiny, fate, divine intervention. Whichever one this situation was, Cara was exactly where she needed to be, the signs unmistakable. Their accidental meet, their instant attraction, the near miss with Brian. Damian was meant to be in her life. But, for how long?
As they pulled up to the apartment building, she directed him to her parking space. She wasn’t going to need it for the rest of the day anyway.
He withdrew a gun from under his seat, tucking it in the waist of his jeans, under his shirt. He handled it with the ease and confidence of someone who knew what they were doing. While she’d never been comfortable around guns, she couldn’t argue with him carrying one. It could wind up saving their lives.
His eyes met hers, the graveness in them giving her pause.
“When we get to your apartment, you stay right behind me. If I tell you to run, you run. You hear me?”
She fought the urge to roll her eyes. “I hear you. Look, I understand that you know more about what’s going on than I do. And I trust you, so I’ll do what you say. For now. But, I wouldn’t get used too used to it, if I were you.”
He smirked. “Let’s go.”
After checking the entire apartment, and finding nothing wrong, she let out a breath of relief. At least something of her life was still normal.
She watched Damian as he set the gun on the table beside the couch. He wasn’t as worried about an attack, but obviously still wanted it within reach.
“Those two guys with you last night, they’re Arcturians, aren’t they?”
“Yes.” His jaw set in a hard line.
“Is it possible I’ve met other Arcturians, too?”
“Well, I guess it’s possible. But unless you go out at night very often, I doubt it.”
“Why is that?”
“Arcturians are nocturnal. They get a form of radiation sickness from sunlight, making them extremely sick after an hour or so of exposure. Only a few hyrbrids like myself are able to stand being out during the day.”
Damn. No wonder people thought vampires existed. Fangs, check. No sunlight, check.
“You guys don’t drink blood, do you?” A laugh bubbled up as she struggled to keep a straight face.
“But of course we do. I vant to sok your blod.” He said, laughing through the spot-on Transylvanian accent.
Her stomach growled, reminding her that they had missed lunch. “Since I am but a humble human, I need food. How do you feel about getting a pizza delivered?”
“It’s not pizza without it.” She went into the kitchen for the number, and called in their order. A large should be enough.
She caught her reflection off the microwave and her heart twisted. Her hair grungy and disheveled, her face and neck bruised, she suddenly felt covered in filth. The muck of a really bad day that only a steaming hot shower could fix.
Cara walked back into the living room, Damian turning from the window to meet her gaze.
“Would you mind watching out for the delivery guy? I really need to get cleaned up. They said it’d be about twenty minutes.”
“I don’t mind at all. I’d planned on being the one to answer your door, anyway. I meant what I said before. I’m going to make sure you’re protected, Cara.”
“Help yourself to anything I’ve got. I shouldn’t be too long.”
She laid out her pajamas on her bed, snagging a towel from the armoire in her room before going in her bathroom. Staring once again at her reflection, the stress was taking its toll on her, dark circles under her eyes, face streaked with dried tears. The shock of her ordeal was wearing off, leaving her cold and exhausted. She was losing the battle to keep her composure, Damian being the only thing saving her from a complete meltdown.
Cranking the hot water up as high as she could stand it, Cara slid out of her clothes as steam filled the room. Bruises littered her body. And her soul. Tears welled, but she squeezed her eyes shut to keep them from falling.
I will not cry.
I will not cry.