Sebastian’s tone was cautious. “You realise that Evan’s response may be different from yours?”
Jared shrugged at the tall Keja who, as always, was dressed in an Armani suit. “His decision is his own. I won’t interfere with his, just as he won’t interfere with mine.”
I’d never heard him sound so cold and hard before. “Jared, she was your mum, she—”
“She was Evan’s mom,” he corrected, “but never mine.” And then the shutters went down. Apparently that was the only answer I was getting.
When it came to questions, Jared was seriously the artful dodger. I’d quickly come to realise that he was very guarded. Whenever I asked about his past, he would instantly shut down. It wasn’t just his human years that he was vague about; it was his years as a vampire before joining Antonio’s legion. Whenever I pressed him, he turned into an arsehole, literally emitting ‘fuck off’ signals, but I knew it was just to distract me from my questions.
It didn’t seem that he was hiding deep, dark secrets. No. It was more like he didn’t want to think on life before The Hollow. When we had Merged with each other during the attack, I had automatically had access to his thoughts, feelings, and memories. I’d known he was worried for me, had known that he loved me, but as for his memories…There had been nothing from before The Hollow. Nothing that he cared to remember, anyway.
His seeming inability to open up to me was one of the reasons why I worried that he’d find himself backing out of the Binding. Not that I thought he didn’t care for me as much as he claimed to. There was no way I could doubt the extent of what he felt; it was all in his body language, in his vocal tone, the constant touches, the heated glances. And he had this way of looking at me like nothing else mattered. It was all extremely intimate. Powerful. Even disorientating at times.
The problem was that Binding didn’t allow for mental barriers. It wasn’t like marriage − the connection wasn’t something that a person could later free themselves from. Even if the couple came to hate each other, the psychic link could only be broken by death. As such, there wasn’t space for doubts. But if Jared feared being open with me, if he felt this need to hold back, there was every chance that he would back out of the Binding.
Maybe it would make sense for me to cut and run, but this was someone I cared about. If he was deeply scarred by something, I wanted to know what it was. He’d helped me with my scars. He had made me realise that my past as an unwilling consort for my Sire didn’t make me dirty or unworthy; it didn’t mean that I couldn’t have a normal, sexual, and even loving relationship with someone else. With him. I wanted to do the same for him. “Jared—”
Ignoring me, he spoke to Antonio. “There’s something that Sam needs to talk with you about.” He turned to me then. “Tell him.”
I narrowed my eyes at his swift change of topic. We’ll continue this conversation later, I told him telepathically. I wasn’t telepathic myself, but as Jared was, he could hear any thought that was directed at him by anyone. His nod was reluctant.
“I’ve been having these dreams,” I told Antonio. “I don’t think they’re anything to fret about, but they’re bugging me.”
The powerful vampire cocked his head, making his thick, black hair drape over his shoulder like a curtain. “What kind of dreams?”
“It’s always the same. I wake up, and there’s this female vampire there who wants me to follow her into the living area. In there is a huge mirror, which turns out to be a doorway. Through it, I can see a bungalow situated in the middle of nowhere. She steps through the doorway and wants me to go with her, but I never go.”
“And you sleepwalk to the living area every time you have the dream,” said Jared.
“So you may not be dreaming at all,” mused Sebastian, pursing his full lips.
Jared nodded. “Exactly.”
Antonio exchanged a look with Luther before asking me, “Does she speak to you?”
Luther, who looked like he’d just stepped out of a J. R. R. Tolkien book with his long white hair and beard, leaned toward me. “What breed of vampire is she?”
“She doesn’t have a red or amber tinge to her irises, so I’m guessing she’s a Sventé. Wait, why are we talking about her like she’s real?”
“Because it’s possible that she is.” Luther rested his joined hands on the table. “There is a Sventé gift that allows a vampire to invade dreams, but they can only enter the dreams of other Sventés. Dreamwalkers, they’re called.”
“And you think she might be a dreamwalker?” At his nod, I asked, “Why would she come to me?”
“If she needs help – which is my guess – she will try to contact someone who can aid her. As I said, dreamwalkers can only invade the dreams of other Sventés. You’re the most powerful Sventé there is, and you are closely linked with Antonio. It makes perfect sense for her to reach out to you.”
“Or,” drawled Jared, “this could be a trap.” Luther tilted his head, allowing that.
“But it could be someone who truly needs help. I can’t ignore that,” I told Jared. I sensed his anger before he even spoke.
“Don’t think you’re going there, Sam. Not a chance will I let you take that kind of risk.”
“Let? Jared, don’t be a wanker.”
“I’m serious. If we find this place, we could be walking right into a f**king trap.”
“And that’s why we won’t go alone. We’ll take the squad.”
Antonio quickly interjected, “Jared, I realise that Sam’s safety is important to you, but you need to channel that protectiveness into watching out for her while on assignments.”
I was expecting an outburst, but what Jared did was shrug. A shaft of smugness shot through him. It wasn’t until he spoke that I understood why.
“The probability of us finding this place is second to none anyway. It could be anywhere.”
“Actually, I may be able to assist with that.” Luther’s words naturally didn’t go down well with Jared. “Sam, if you were to hold my hand while replaying the dream through your mind, there’s a possibility that I can help.”
I shrugged. “Sure.”
“Sam,” Jared bit out.
The overprotectiveness was unbelievably annoying, but sensing his anxiety and concern made some of my anger fizzle away. Holding his gaze, I again spoke to him telepathically. You know you wouldn’t stay behind if I asked you to, just as I can’t, no matter how much this pisses you off. That’s not who we are.