"Yes," Curran said. His face was still flat.

"What did Jim say?"

"He advised against it. He had bullet points of why this was not a good idea."

My heart skipped a bit.

"He also said that since I was going to do it anyway, despite whatever he said, I should get on with it, because it took too much manpower to track me all over the city. He always sent guards to shadow me, and I usually dumped them before getting to your apartment. He said his life would be a lot easier if I just moved you into the Keep."

"Is that why you wanted me here?"

Curran leaned forward. The mask that was his face vanished. "I wanted you here because I wanted to be with you. For better or worse, Kate. You didn't brainwash me the way your mother did. You don't have her powers. You have the complete opposite, if anything."

All or nothing. "Did you know that Roland was my father before I told you?"


Suddenly I was ice cold.


"Breaking Roland's sword was a big clue," he said. "Jim obtained some pictures of Roland. You resemble him. And there is a story floating around about a child Roland supposedly killed. I put two and two together."

I had agonized about telling him who I was. It took every shred of will to admit it, and he had it all figured out already. "And you let me sit there and tell you all about it, when you already knew?"

"It was important," Curran said. "You had to do it, so I listened."

"Did you take who I was into consideration before you offered me the mating?"

Curran leaned forward. A faint glow touched his eyes and vanished. "Of course I did."

And here it was. At least he hadn't lied. Deep down I had known it. Curran was too used to calculating the odds. Like Evdokia said, it wasn't his first time at the love rodeo. It's not like he would have fallen head over heels into it, the way I did. "I have a string of safe houses set up all across the country," he said.

I must've misheard. "What?"

"I have a safe house in almost every state. I have more than enough money to keep us comfortable for the rest of our lives, if it comes to it. I've moved most of my funds to places outside the Pack."

"What are you talking about?"

"I know he is coming and you are afraid. If you don't want to fight him, you and I can disappear."

I stared at him.

"The mass transit is gone. No planes, no reliable roads. The world is big again, Kate. He will never find us."

"What about the Pack?"

His upper lip trembled, betraying the edge of his teeth. "Fuck the Pack. I gave them fifteen years of my life. I fought for them, bled for them, and the moment my back was turned, they attacked my wife. I owe them nothing."

Curran reached over and covered my fingers with his hand. "I'm serious. Say the word right now and we're gone. We can take Julie with us, if you want."

"Jim would find us."

"No. I covered my tracks. If Jim does find us, he'll wish he hadn't. Besides, Jim is a friend. He would understand and he wouldn't look for us very hard."

It wasn't a bluff; I heard it in his voice. He would do it. He would walk away. "You would leave all these people, all the bowing, and the ..."

His gray eyes looked into mine. "If I fought for them and was crippled, they would all say nice things, and then they would replace me and forget I was ever there. You would stay with me. You would take care of me, because you love me. I love you too, Kate. If you ever became hurt, I would not leave you. I'll be there. Wherever you want `there' to be."

I felt like crying. Great, he'd turned me into a weeping weakling.

"Would you like to leave?" he asked.

I swallowed. "Not unless you want to."

"Then we will stay. For now."

"Yes." "Okay," he said.

I was lucky. Somehow, maybe because of all the messed-up shit the Universe had thrown my way, I'd gotten him. He was mine, completely mine. He loved me.

I kept making barriers between us and then heroically knocking them down. Whether it was because of fear or mistrust, or for whatever other reason, I had to stop doing it.

I glanced down. The food was cold, our plates sat empty. "Do you think it will keep?"

He stood up. "Hell yes."

THE CANDLES DIDN'T KEEP. BY THE TIME WE MADE IT back to the kitchen, the candles had dripped wax over the candelabra. I poked my steak--lukewarm. The baked potatoes were cold. Corn on the cob was barely warm. I didn't care.

"I'm starving."

"Got to keep your strength up." Curran grinned. "So you can keep up."

I clasped my hand to my throat and made some strangled noises. "Help me, I can't breathe, your ego is pushing all the air out of the room."

He laughed.

"This menu looks really familiar," I said, loading my plate. I'd switched to a sweatshirt and sweatpants. My dress had been discarded anyway and besides, we had agreed to take our plates back to the couch, and I didn't want to get food on it.

"Mm-hm," Curran said, spearing a chunk of meat. "Apple pie is in the fridge."

He'd recreated the menu he requested for the naked dinner. Ha!

"How did you even know my shoe size?"

"I've seen your foot up close." Curran pointed to his chest. "I've seen it here." He moved his hand to his jaw. "Here." He touched the place over his cheek where my kick had cut him. "And here."

Aha. "Would you like to watch a movie while we eat?"

"Sure. What sort of movie?"

"It has everything: action, drama, comedy, beautiful soundtrack. Hot male lead."

His thick eyebrows crept up half an inch. "That last one isn't exactly a plus."

"Jealous of the actors now, are we?" "What, of some fancy boy on the screen? Inconceivable."

Oh, this was going to be good.

We took our plates to the coffee table by the couch, and I slid Saiman's disk into the player. The warehouse full of cars solidified on the screen. Curran's face went blank.

When the first notes of the song sounded through the living room, he looked at me. "He set it to music?"

"His exact words were, `It begged for a soundtrack.' "

A Ferrari flew across the screen and crashed into the wall. Curran looked impassive.

I chewed a piece of my steak. It had to be the best steak I'd ever had. "I seem to recall a certain man boasting about his `superhuman' restraint."

"I did show remarkable self-control."

Tags: Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Vampires
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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