You can read another excerpt at my site or if you really want, you can go ahead and order it.
“You don’t need to keep me safe from you, Kel. You’ve never been a threat to me. The only thing that could hurt me would be losing you again.”
Kel slid her a look and shook his head. “You’re wrong.” Then he reached up, carefully prying her arms away from him and this time, when she struggled, he ignored her. He was off the bed in less than a second, turning to face her. “You don’t know me, Angel. Don’t know what I’ve become. What I’ve done.”
She blinked and momentarily froze. Then fury shot through her. Coming off the bed, she stalked across the room and jabbed him in the chest with her finger. “I don’t know you? Kel, I know you better than anybody. Better than everybody. I always have.”
A mocking smile curled his lips. “Oh, baby, you have no clue how wrong you are.” His gaze slid down to her neck, lingered on the spot that even now seemed to tingle and throb, almost like her body craved to feel that again. “You just fucked a vampire–let one feed on you like a parasite.”
He saw the warning in her eyes, saw it in her body as she tensed, and he could have moved to stop it. He let her hit him though, a solid jab to his jaw. If he’d still been human, it might have knocked him on his ass. Angel had always been strong. That hadn’t changed. But all it managed to do was hurt her hand–his body absorbed the minor twinge like water but he could see that her hand was already swelling. Just one more little guilt to pile on him.
Her words, though, did a lot more damage. Hell, she could have driven a silver dagger into his heart and it wouldn’t have hurt as much as her words…or the look in her eyes. Staring at him with haunted eyes, she said, “I just fucked the man I loved. The man I’ve always loved.”
Bitter, he said, “Times change, Angel. Neither of us are who we used to be.”
“You got that right, slick. You didn’t used to be a coward.”
That stung. It had nothing to do with cowardice–it had to do with trying to do what was best for her. She wouldn’t see that, though. Maybe she couldn’t see it, he acknowledged. She was still so focused on who he used to be, she couldn’t see what he’d become. Until she could see that, maybe she just wouldn’t be able to get past this, past him.
So instead of trying to explain he wasn’t acting out of cowardice, but a need to take care of her, he gave her a mean little smile and flicked the bite mark on her neck. “I didn’t use to be a lot of things.” Lowering his head, he murmured in her ear, “You really don’t know me, Angel. Not any more. I’m not the man you think you love…I’m not much more than a monster.”
She jerked away, shaking her head. “I don’t believe that.”
“Oh, really?” He reached up and cupped her face in his hands, staring down at her face. She stared at him with faith, a deep belief in the man she still believed existed. But that man had died long ago, before he’d really even had a chance to become whoever he might have become. It was too late for him. But it didn’t have to be too late for her.
He rubbed a thumb over the curve of her lips. “My dad died a month ago. I felt it…knew it had happened, because of you.” Dipping his head, he pressed his lips to her forehead and then trailed them down over her silken skin until he could murmur in her ear, “I knew. Because of you. And while you were up late that night making arrangements, you know what I was doing?”
It wasn’t exactly a lie that he forced into her head. The memory he pulled up from his subconscious and forced on her had happened. But it had happened two days before his dad had died. The days after his dad had died had found Kel locked up in his rooms and brooding, trying not to slip back into the rut of anger that had been his companion for so long.
His psychic abilities, though, rivaled Angel’s now and he had no doubt he could convince her of the truth in his words as he pushed in a memory of one of the last nights he’d spent with Phoebe. He didn’t leave any of it out, not the sex, not the way he’d fed from Phoebe until she’d all but blacked out or the way that the more they hurt each other, the better it was.
Memories of that left him feeling shamed, but he wouldn’t focus on the shame. Wouldn’t focus on anything but convincing Angel she was better off without him. Dipping his head, he nuzzled the bite marks on her neck–odd, they seemed to be healing. Already. Not vamp quick, but certainly quicker than he would have thought.
Doesn’t matter…just do it. He licked her neck and then whispered, “While you were crying over Dad, I was fucking a woman I didn’t love. Fucking a woman who liked to draw blood while we did it, and every time she made me bleed, it made me feel a little bit more alive. I’ve spent the past year in her bed doing dirty, wicked things no decent man would do. Tell me, Angel…am I really the man you think you love?”
Angel tore away from him, staring at him with dark, hurt eyes. Her face was pale, ghost white. She shook her head and whispered, “You son of a bitch.”
He smirked. “Sugar, you really didn’t think I’d spent the past twelve years going without, did you?” He shrugged casually, forced the words out through a tight throat and hoped she couldn’t hear the pain behind them. “Vamps need sex almost as much as blood. I gotta do what I gotta do.”
She blinked, tears glittering in her eyes. Some of them broke free but she dashed them away. “Tell me something, Kel,” she asked, her voice hoarse and shaking. “Did you feel half as alive with any other woman as you felt with me just now?”
But she didn’t wait for an answer. She grabbed her clothes and bundled them against her chest, stalking out of the room. In the doorway, she paused. Without looking back at him, she said, “I don’t know much about what you are now, I don’t know if you have a reflection, don’t know if you can’t cross running water or what. But you’re still a man–no matter what you say. Last night, he was a monster. Whether he intended to become one or not, I don’t know, but he was a monster. I know what a monster is.”
Finally, she glanced back at him and added, “And I know what a monster isn’t. It’s a pity you don’t.”