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“I …” Tasia paused, choosing her words with care this time. “My work with your Pack …” “Fuck the Pack.” His voice was very even. “This has nothing to do with the Pack. I’m talking
about us — you and me.”
more clearly. “There’s no us.”
been with me every step of the way.”
the edge of a precipice. She couldn’t discern his expression but she wondered what he read in hers, with his night eyes.
“Any time you’d like a demonstration, let me know” he remarked sardonically.
Tasia flushed. They’d been leading up to this moment, she realized. This was the dance he talked about. She should have put a stop to it before. Now, she’d have to defuse it carefully or the resulting conflagration would destroy her.
“I’ve been around the block a few times, witchling. You and I — we make our own fire, no tinder required. That’s not it. Something else has you stepping back. What is it?”
Tasia thought furiously, through the fog in her head. “You don’t get involved with Pack” she reminded him.
“I’m willing to make an exception for you” he said clearly.
when I thought you were in danger. What does that tell you, witchling?”
in the way of his responsibilities to his Pack or to her, no matter how bad things got between them. Then, something seemed to strike him. “Is it because I’m a Shifter?”
Tasia wondered wildly if he would accept that. Perhaps his pride would not let him pursue her if he believed that she wanted no part of a relationship with a Shifter. It would make her sound like a bigot. But she’d take that.
“Will you let this be if … if I have reservations about Shifters?” she asked hopefully.
“Hell no.” His response was immediate and forceful. “I’ll do my damnedest to change your mind.”
He frowned, something about her answer registering finally. “Is that what this is about — being with a Shifter?”
Again, he was forthright with his query, and Tasia realized she could not bring herself to lie to him. Like him, she too was willing to make an exception. For him.
“No” she admitted softly.
There was a short silence while Tasia tried to get her jumbled thoughts into order. The wild cacophony in her head was now so loud that it drowned out everything but his voice, even the gentle lap of water against the wall and the whoosh of the wind behind her.
“Let me simplify this for you” he said, the gold eyes holding her gaze. “Tell me what you want, and we go from there.”
“What I want?” Tasia repeated mechanically.
I can’t have what I want.
“Don’t tell me you don’t know what you want.” His eyes narrowed in the darkness.
Tasia shook her head, her eyes darting away as if to seek an escape. She’d have to walk away, she thought despairingly. She saw no other way out.
His initial fury having abated, Raoul was starting to use his connection to her, much as he had before, when he’d been so attuned to her unspoken words. He had realized it almost immediately, taking it in stride. He wondered if she had picked up on it yet.
“You told me once that you don’t run away” he reminded her, picking up hints of her roiling emotions.
Tasia said nothing.
“If you run from me because you don’t want to deal with whatever is between us, witchling, I will come after you.” His voice hardened as a spike of anger flared in him. “I won’t stand by again while you run recklessly into the fire.”
Tasia looked away from him. There seemed no way out of this impasse. He would not back away, not without an explanation from her. She could not give him one, not without endangering all sorts of secrets, and she was very much afraid that, unless she convinced him to walk away first, she’d eventually succumb to him.
Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire!
Raoul stared at her, puzzled by her inexplicable desire to deny that which sizzled like a living entity between them. He tried to piece together what he could sense from her.
Suddenly, it hit him. “You’re afraid!” he muttered incredulously.
This was the primary emotion he sensed from her, overriding everything else. He had sensed many emotions from her before but terror, the kind he sensed now, had thus far been reserved exclusively for the Clan.
She said nothing, neither confirming nor refuting his statement. Jolted, he took a step back. “Of what?”
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