“I care a lot when someone hurts a woman.” His words are hard, but his face softens. It makes him look younger than I previously assumed him to be. He doesn’t have any laugh lines on his face, and maybe it’s because he has as many walls up as I do.

It’s then I realize it’s anger that’s fueling me more than anything now, and anger I can deal with because it’s easier.

“Do you have a family?” I ask him, knowing I’ve caught him off guard with my question.

“Not any longer.” I see the hint of sadness as he says it.

“You want one, though, don’t you? One day?” I wave my hand around the hotel room. “Once you’re past your playboy and one-night stand days.”

“I’m not a fucking playboy. If I was I would have had a condom on my dick last night. Maybe I would have been prepared instead of attacking you like a man getting a taste of something he’s never had.”

“I’m sure you’ve never had a vampire before. They say females are rare and don’t typically find mates. Male vampires have a hard time turning women. I think it links back to disrespecting whoever their mate might be. Mated vampires are jealous creatures. I hear the females can be the worst.” I let my warning ring clear.

Valen reaches up and touches one of the bite marks I left on him. I can’t even be sure how many times I bit him or how long we fucked in that hotel bed. My stomach turns at the word fuck because, yes, some of it did feel like raw fucking, but other parts felt tender and sweet as the hours passed by. It was as if we were two people in love.

“Answer the question,” I remind him. He’s good at moving on to something else and trying to distract me from the real questions I want answers to.

“Yeah, at one time the idea of a family sounded nice. A real one. Not one that felt like your whole life was planned out. That you had to follow a certain path.”

“The American dream,” I respond easily, because I once had that dream, too. “That’s something I could never give you.” I turn from him to go in search of something to wear. I don’t want to see the disappointment in his face that I can’t give him everything he could ever want.

Sure, maybe we could make us work for a little while, but for him it wouldn’t be forever, and where would that leave me? Dead all over again because of a man. Maybe we hadn’t mated or if we had, it could be broken still because it’s so early. The thought takes the breath right out of me.

Valen reaches out and grabs my arm softly. “You know better than anyone that things change.” I raise my head to look him in his eyes.

“Maybe for some, but for me…” I pull my eyes from his because I can’t stand what they do to me. They can control me like a spell. “I still mourn my losses and I don’t ever see that going away.” I swallow to keep a lump from forming in my throat. “I’d end up making you miserable if you stayed with me. We’d break each other’s hearts.” I give him a half-smile. It’s forced, but I try to not seem affected. I shake my head. “This is silly. I don’t even know why I’m getting into this with you. It doesn’t matter. We both know what last night was and there’s no reason to make this a big deal. I get it. I’m a big girl, but I’m also woman enough to admit me hanging around and doing this with you for a few more days won’t work for me. I’d probably go crazy with possessiveness and cling to you.”

“Princess, you can cling to me anytime you like.” He pulls me into his hard body and I melt into him as if we are made for each other. He looks down at me. “Stop putting up the walls. I promise you I’ll keep knocking them down.”

I want to yell at him and tell him how this would never work. He admitted he’s dreamed about having a family before, and I know he means beyond what I have with my self-made family. He knows I’m a vampire. He should also know then I can’t have children. I don’t know why he’s even pushing for this.

I reach down and pick up a shirt off the floor, but I freeze when I hear someone closing in. “Someone is coming.”

“I know,” he says, already in motion. He pushes me behind him as the door bursts open.

Standing there in the open doorway is Bishop and the twins.

“You’ve had your fun, it’s time to go,” Bishop tells me as I peek out from behind Valen.

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