His dark eyes stare into mine and his hand comes up. I should flinch, but I tilt my head, meeting his hand against my cheek. Something inside of me craves his affection.
“Who did this to you?” His touch is feather soft for such a big man. His fingers linger on my cheek as if I’m made of glass.
I swallow, not wanting to cry. I’m still shocked Gordon struck me, but I think I knew it was coming. He’d been changing lately, and I had to have known on some level or I wouldn’t have been walking on eggshells.
“Tell me?” Bishop asks as he moves even closer to me.
“How do you sound commanding and concerned at the same time?” I say.
I hear a loud snort and turn my head to see a group of people watching us. I know the noise came from the dark-haired female vampire. She’d probably look like more of a badass if the man next to her didn’t dwarf her in comparison, his arm slung affectionately around her.
Dove is here, too, and I find comfort in that fact. It makes me wonder if I should have taken her up on her offer that day. I guess some lessons must be learned on my own.
She’s sandwiched between identical twins, and there’s no telling them apart. Both have a possessive hold on her, and it’s odd because I’m not used to seeing so many couples. For some reason that puts me at even more at ease. The open affection everyone has for one another makes me think that this must be a safe place.
“Wow. I’ve never seen eyes like that before,” another woman says, making me glance to her. A vampire with a scarred face stands beside her. She’s cuddling into him as if he’s a giant teddy bear, but he’s practically blocking her view.
“People always say something about them the first time they see me,” I admit. I’m used to it, but some people think they’re pretty while others think they’re freaky. I forget about them until I meet someone new.
“Sorry, I’m Juliet.” She gives a small wave. “They’re just—”
“Magnificent,” Bishop says, cutting her off. “They’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. They’re the same eyes I’ve been dreaming about,” he says as he leans in. “Now tell me, who hit you.”
“My dad.” I shake my head. “I mean Gordon.”
His jaw clenches and I swear I hear a sound rumble from deep inside of him. I should back away in fear, but I don’t. Instead I lean into him, enjoying the sound of his anger over me being hurt.
“Are you doing something to me? Are you playing with my mind?”
“No,” he answers, offended and disgusted at the idea. “I’d never do that to you.”
“I want to trust you,” I admit. “But I hate you.” As I say the words, they sound wrong. Bishop is the one who flinches this time and guilt slides across me. “I’m sorry,” I mumble, looking down at my hands in my lap. How do I feel lost and found at the same time?
“Maybe we should leave you two alone.” I glance over at Dove. “We’ll be around. I promise there isn’t a safer place in the world for you to be.”
With that they all leave, and I see a mix of concern and happiness on their faces.
“They care about you,” I say when I look back at Bishop. They’re not like Gordon’s men, who fear him, and that’s why they follow his orders. His men have no choice, but there’s none of that here.
“They’re my family.” The corner of his mouth turns up in a smile, and I can tell he’s proud to say that.
“I don’t have a family anymore.” I don’t mean to say it aloud, but it comes out. “He’s not really my dad.”
“Love.” I can hear the hurt in his voice for me as he pulls me into his lap. The simple word hits me hard. It’s the first time I’ve ever given the word much thought because it isn’t a word I’m used to hearing. I’ve never used it myself. “I’m your family, and now they’re your family, too.”
Why would he say that? Gordon said he wanted me, but he never said why.
“You killed my mother?” I say it as a question, and Bishop’s body stills.
He doesn’t answer me and time ticks by. I should shove him away, but I don’t have it in me. What does that say about me? Why did I push with Gordon when I thought something was amiss, but with Bishop I lay my head on his shoulder, not wanting to move?
“She’s dead because of me,” he finally says, and I notice he doesn’t say he killed her but he takes the blame. “Gordon doesn’t much care for me.”
I can’t help the bark of laughter that bubbles up from me at his gross understatement. Even Bishop lets out a small chuckle and it feels good to laugh for a moment.