I pulled my knees up to my chest. “I wouldn’t have done it if I thought you’d be angry.”
“Bullshit,” he said. “You were out of control and you know it.”
I rose slowly, my hands shaking with anger. How dare he act like I was the only one carried away? He’d been rough with me, too. “Look, I apologize for biting you. But you know damned well that sex and blood go together for me. I haven’t bitten you in months and I resent the implication that I’m some sort of monster. You were as into that as I was. The only difference is you don’t have fangs.”
He crossed his arms. “Here we go again. Sabina’s using her vampire nature as an excuse for poor decisions.”
I reared back, stung by his tone and his attitude. “What the f**k is that supposed to mean?”
He laughed, a hard, cold sound. “Let’s just acknowledge the demon in the room, shall we? We both know you believe your little escapade with Slade was a result of your struggle to control your vampire side.”
My mouth fell open. “Don’t put words in my mouth, Adam. If you’d given me a chance to discuss this like two rational adults, you’d know that had nothing to do with it.”
He raised a challenging brow. “Enlighten me, then.”
If I hadn’t been so hurt and angry, I would have found the fact that we were arguing naked humorous. But considering how exposed I felt emotionally, the nudity seemed somehow fitting.
Memories of that week in October flooded my mind. I’d gone over and over my reasons for turning to Slade. At first, sure, I’d justified my actions, claiming I’d been emotional and confused. But eventually, the ugly truth became apparent. I’d stuffed it down, believing it didn’t really matter anymore, since Adam and I were happy now. Or were happy before the truth came out. But now I couldn’t avoid opening that secret box and exposing my true motivations and let the cards fall where they may.
“Where were you, Adam?” I said, my voice cracking. “Why didn’t you come find me after Maisie helped me out of that cell? Or for that matter, why didn’t you step in when Orpheus accused me of killing Hawthorne Banathsheh in cold blood?”
Hawthorne Banathsheh was an ambassador for Queen Maeve, sent to the mage Council to oversee negotiating an alliance against the vampires when war seemed inevitable. Unknown to the Queen and the Council, Banathsheh also belonged to the Caste of Nod. He’d attacked me and almost managed to end me before I used my Chthonic magic to turn him into a faery briquette. At first, given my violent background, Orpheus believed I’d murdered the fae in cold blood and thus ruined any chance of the Queen upholding the alliance. Adam tried to defend me, but in the end, he backed down when Orpheus threatened to kick him out of the Pythian Guard.
Adam’s mouth snapped shut and his cheeks went red. “What does that have to do with this?”
My hands shook as I gave voice to the resentment I’d ignored for all this time. “You let Orpheus call me a murderer and stick me in that f**king prison cell. Maisie freed me and sent me to Slade for help since I had no other options. I waited for you to show up, but you didn’t. And don’t tell me Maisie didn’t tell you where I was. You had to know.”
“I fought for you! I told Orpheus there had to be an explanation—”
“I saw the doubt in your eyes,” I interrupted, my voice shaking. “Knew that you believed I’d really killed the faery for my own selfish reasons. And then you backed down just like you always do where Orpheus is concerned.”
“You wanted me to choose you over the man who raised me?” he roared. “We weren’t even together then!”
I tilted my head. “Exactly. We weren’t together. A fact made more apparent when you didn’t come find me. When I turned to Slade, I honestly felt I had no one else in the world. He was there for me. You weren’t.”
Adam came up short. The room was silent and tense for a moment while that sank in. “I did what I thought was best at the time,” he began slowly. “I knew that once Orpheus calmed down, he’d listen to reason. And I didn’t come for you because Maisie said you needed some time to sort through everything that had happened.” He blew out a breath. “You can build my mistakes up as justification for your own. You can claim you were upset and turned to the closest warm body. But we both know the truth, Sabina. You didn’t sleep with Slade because you needed comfort. You slept with him because you needed an excuse to run.”
“But I didn’t!” I yelled. “I didn’t run. I came back and helped fight.”
“I wasn’t talking about running from the mages. I was talking about running from this mage.” He hit his chest with a thumb. “You were running because you were too scared to let yourself be happy with me.”
I looked the man I loved in the eyes. “But that was months ago, Adam. I’m with you now. That has to mean more than a stupid mistake I made before we were together. I have no interest in Slade.”
“I know. He told me as much when I talked to him last night.”
“So you believe Slade but not me?” My mouth fell open. “Why was my word not enough?”
“That’s the thing, Red. I would have gotten over you f**king Slade eventually. I know you don’t love him.”
“So what’s the problem?” I cried, throwing my hands up in frustration.
“The problem is that you lied to me. Back then, I would have understood because I knew you were struggling to overcome your dark side. But now?” He ran a frustrated hand over his face and tried to get a handle on his temper. “You had a chance to come clean less than a week ago. Instead, you lied to my face. If our time together had really changed you, you would have told me the truth.”
I paused as what he said sunk in. “That’s the real problem, isn’t it?” I shook my head as everything finally clicked. He raised a brow, waiting for me to continue. “Ever since we met, you’ve wanted me to change. To become some sort of Stepford mage. You like to pretend that my vampire side is a shameful part of me that I can flip on and off like a switch. But guess what, Adam? Like it or not, I am a vampire. My past really happened and it’s as part of me as my fangs.”
“You’re not just a vampire, Sabina. You’re also a mage. And for the most part, you’ve managed to be more mage than vamp over the last several months. That’s why I got so upset when you bit me. You lost control.”