“Some people would say I am.”

“But it’s not something you asked for or wanted,” I finish for him.

“Correct. I took on the role to oversee the area and have other leaders report back to me.” He shrugs as if it’s no big deal that he’s some kind of vampire leader. “I knew that my intentions would stay pure, and that doesn’t always happen with vampires.”

“Gordon told me he worked for the government. He said he was doing what he had to for the greater good.” I feel shame that I didn’t see through it all even if he was using mind tricks on me.

“Don’t do that, love.” Bishop leans in and brushes his lips against mine. “This isn’t on you. You were only a child when he took you and he played with your head. Trust me, I know. His powers don’t work on me and he had me fooled. The only greater good Gordon strives for is his own.”

“Is that why he hates you? Because you could see who he really was?” I ask, because that’s the moment he finally lashed out at me. Even with my mind clear now, I’m still shocked he struck me. He’d never hurt me in all the time I was with him. I think on some twisted level he does care about me, but not in a fatherly way. I’m a prized pet to him and nothing more.

“I took something from him that he wanted, so he tried to do the same.”

“He took me from you.”

“You were no secret back then. I was young when I knew Gordon. Everyone knew I was looking for you and I made no secret of it. That was until I realized it could be used against me. I never thought…” He lets out a deep growl. “I never thought that he would start killing women who could potentially be my mate. I think he knew all of them weren’t you. Your hair, those eyes, and this…” He leans down, kissing my birthmark. “It’s all one of a kind. He just enjoyed antagonizing me and letting me know he was hunting you. Every time I got close to him he’d disappear again.” His drops his forehead to rest on mine. “I think when he found you his plans changed and he thought it better to turn you against me. He tried to make you hate me, but Gordon never understood mates. He thought they made vampires weak.”

“I don’t feel weak. I did when I was with him. I felt lost and unsure of everything,” I admit. “He doesn’t understand the power of mates because they make you stronger.”

To have someone at your side who is your other half and who would stand by you forever is beyond powerful. That could never be weak. I’m more alive now than I’ve been in my whole life.

“I think his mind tricks quit working on me when we moved here. I know this sounds crazy, but I think being closer to you made me stronger. It wasn’t working anymore and I started to see the reality of what was around me.”

Bishop lets out a deep breath. “I think you might be right. Over the last year I’ve changed. I was more on edge and I thought I was losing my mind and that my end was coming. Maybe it was, but my dreams of you were clearer than ever and you felt closer. I thought I was going to meet you on the other side and I was ready to go.”

“No!” I gasp, unable to think about him dying. I hate the idea of him no longer being here. His words are dark but tell how much he needs me. Maybe it’s wrong of me to like that, but I don’t care. The idea of never getting to be with him, even if only for one night, is too painful to think about.

“It’s not going to be only one night, love. I promise you that. After so many years of dreaming of you and never finding you, I thought maybe you’d already passed and were waiting for me on the other side. I wanted to be anywhere you were, even if that place was death.” I close my eyes and absorb his words. “You feel that, don’t you? I’ll follow anywhere you go. You’re mine, Loren, and he won’t take you from me again.” I open my eyes and a tear slips free. I can feel just how deeply he loves me. Bishop kisses it away and I know he feels everything that’s inside me now.

All those times I gazed at his picture I was so unsure of what was happening to me. I didn’t know what it was because I’d never experienced it before. But this whole time it was love.

“Make love to me,” I say against his mouth as I lean in for another kiss. His mouth meets mine for the briefest of moments before he pulls away.

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