Worse still, I couldn’t seem to shrug my shoulders about it all. I told myself I didn’t like him that much. I told myself that what little attraction I had to him was purely physical. But if that was the case, why was I so bothered by what he thought of me as a person? Why did I suddenly care about what he thought of my appearance? Why was I jealous of his relationship, if you could call it that, with his consorts? Why when I needed comfort was he the only one I wanted around me? Why when Max was so cute and sweet and made an effort to spend time with me did I find myself thinking about Jared instead?
Maybe Jared was right: maybe it wasn’t fair to Max that I responded to his flirtatiousness if it was Jared I wanted more. Well, time to remedy that. And not by pushing Max away or attempting any further seductions with Jared. No. Time to rid myself of this craving I had for Jared. Yes, it had somehow, without my even realising it until now, developed into a craving. How was I going to rid myself of that? Easy, because I wasn’t a shallow person and I didn’t believe that looks were more important than personality. So now all I had to do was remind myself of all his bad traits.
Of course there was the obvious one: he was outrageously sexist, even to the extent that he hadn’t been prepared to give me the job I deserved merely because I was female – he wouldn’t even work with me and we had to split the training hours for the squad and train them separately. Number two: he was prejudiced against Sventés, seeing them as inferior to him and horrified at the thought of being seen outside the walls with one. Number three: he placed so little significance in women that they were simply objects to him – objects that he could claim and possess and tuck away in an apartment – and vehicles for his sexual pleasure. Number four: he was so much of a spoilt brat that he sulked whenever things didn’t go his way, even going as far as to barely speak to me for days at a time. Number five: he was so unbelievably vain he couldn’t grasp the concept that a woman might not want to be his consort.
To sum up, he’s a dickhead.
And now my head feels so much clearer. Objective: Forget Jared, concentrate on Max.
Sam wasn’t in the office when I teleported there. She was always in her office during lunch hour, flicking through files and charting the progress of the recruits. It wasn’t exactly cause for alarm that she wasn’t there now, but I didn’t like it. I had apparently gotten so used to knowing where she would be that this simple detail threw me off. I didn’t know where she was. I just really didn’t like that at all.
It would make sense that she wouldn’t be enthusiastic about talking to me right now. I knew I’d hurt her feelings by protesting about taking her to the gathering tomorrow evening. It hadn’t really registered until now that it was possible to hurt her. It should’ve done as I’d glimpsed what she hid behind that frosty exterior; the pain, the anger, and the shame at what her dick of a Sire had done to her. And now I was the dick, too.
It wasn’t that I was ashamed to be seen with her like she thought. Okay, I admit, I didn’t like the idea of everyone staring and whispering and judging, and if it was any other Sventé I’d point-blank refuse to take her. But I didn’t look at Sam and see a Sventé. I saw a strong, determined, wilful, gorgeous, good-hearted person. A good-hearted person who I’d just hurt.
I had to see her. Not that I was going to say sorry or grovel. Pride and all that. But the idea that she was somewhere thinking horrible shit about me or upset because of what I’d said...I just didn’t like it. It was probably just that I knew it would make me getting her to admit that she wanted me even harder. Yeah, that’s all it was. It wasn’t like it could be anything else. Feelings weren’t something I experienced when it came to women. I just didn’t seem to function that way.
I guess that makes me seem cold, but after watching the way my parents were – arguing, brawling, cheating – I had never been able to see the point in relationships. Evan was the opposite of me. Witnessing the messed up marriage that our parents had had only made him want to seek out the right woman and not settle for someone the way our parents had. Personally, I didn’t think there was a right woman for each and every guy. You either cared about them or you didn’t, and it either lasted or it didn’t. Like Sam said, sometimes you love someone for a little while and then it’s over.
Odd how much it bothered me that she once loved someone. I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to be jealous of a dead person. I couldn’t even work out why I was experiencing jealousy over it at all. Nothing I felt or did when it came to Sam made much sense. I still couldn’t believe I’d walked away from her offer of sex last night. Evan would laugh his tits off if he knew. That was why I wasn’t planning on telling him.
Shaking my head at myself and my inability to explain my weird responses to this woman, I picked up the phone and called Fletcher using the internal line.
He answered immediately. “Yes, Commander?”
“Fletcher, do you have any idea where Sam is?”
“Sam?” He sounded uncomfortable. “Well, er, Max came to take her out for something to eat for lunch.”
My jaw suddenly hurt, and I realised I was grinding my teeth together. “Okay, thanks Fletcher.”
Max had taken her out for lunch? Motherfucker. I was really going to end up seriously hurting that guy. I’d never before felt threatened by another guy when it came to women. Mostly because it didn’t really matter to me if the woman wasn’t interested, there were plenty more strutting around. It wasn’t really much different from me browsing through a shopping mall with a vague idea of what I might like and then choosing an outfit to try on for size.
This time it was different. Sam was different. I didn’t want a woman like her, I wanted that woman. But if all I was doing was just trying her on for size and had no sense of ownership then that meant other people could try her on for size too. And that nettled more than I’d have expected it would have. In which case Max really needed to get the hell out of the picture. Could she be right and my ego was really that swollen that I couldn’t stand the idea of someone else beating me to it? It had to be that.
And now all I could do was wonder what they were doing, if she was enjoying herself, whether his little lunch date would amount to anything. I didn’t believe that Sam was the type to be dazzled by dates or anything soppy, but she would appreciate the fact that he was making an effort. I really didn’t appreciate his efforts at all. In fact, I’d like to shove them up his ass along with any objects I could find.