V’Aidan heard Erin enter the apartment. Her shoes made the lightest of noises on the carpet, even so he knew her distinctive walk. Knew her scent, her sound. Knew things about her he’d never known about anyone else.
He turned over in the bed as she entered the room with a bag in her hands.
“I didn’t mean to wake you,” she said.
“I wasn’t sleeping.”
She moved forward and set the bag on the foot of the bed, then came to rest beside him. She placed her hand against his brow and frowned.
“How do you feel?” she asked gently.
“Like I’ve been beaten.”
She rolled her eyes at his blase tone. “You have a pretty bad fever there. Maybe I should-”
“You can’t call a doctor, Erin. Just because I appear human, it doesn’t make me one of you.”
“I know.” She sat by his side and brushed his hair back from his damp brow. “So what are we going to do?”
He took her hand in his and ran the backs of her knuckles along his jaw that had already begun to heal. Her touch was sublime. He’d never realized such a thing existed. “I don’t know.”
“I was thinking while I was out that maybe we could find a ceremony or something to make you human. Some kind of ritual.”
He smiled at the idea. “It’s a good thought, love, but there’s no such thing.”
V’Aidan watched her then and it was on the tip of his tongue to explain to her exactly what he was. But he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Not after they had been through so much.
All he wanted was to enjoy what little time they had and with that thought, he forced himself to get up.
Erin protested his movements as he dressed. “You’re still hurt.”
“I’ll be fine,” he said dismissively. “My kind heals fast.”
Erin growled low in her throat as she watched him dress. The man wouldn’t listen.
Insufferably male, he refused to relax for the rest of the day. He wouldn’t even stay behind and rest while she went to the grocery store.
But she had to admit she really did like having him along. She’d lived alone for so long that she hadn’t realized just how much fun someone could have in the produce department.
“So,” V’Aidan said as she thumped a cantaloupe, “What are you listening for?”
She held it up to his ear and thumped. “This one is too ripe.” Then she held up another one and let him hear the difference. “This one isn’t.”
She put the good cantaloupe in the cart, then turned around to catch him thumping bananas. Erin quickly grabbed them away from him. “We don’t thump those.”
“It’ll bruise them.”
“Oh,” he looked around then paused. “What about those?”
She turned to see the grapes. “Only thump if you want to turn them into wine.”
He pulled her into his arms. “What about if I thump you?”
She smiled. “I’d probably make all kinds of interesting noises if you did.”
He grinned at that and gave her a quick, scorching kiss that sent heat throughout her entire body.
As they walked through the store, Erin couldn’t help noticing the stares V’Aidan collected. She became aware again of just how different the two of them were. He was tall, sexy and gorgeous and she was plain and simple.
She’d only had a couple of boyfriends and most of them had been as average looking as she was. But V’Aidan…
He deserved a beautiful woman.
“Hey?” he asked as they reached the dairy section. “Are you all right?”
“You look sad.”
She saw the concern in his celestial eyes. “How tired?”
It was then she caught his meaning. “They’ll be after us again when we sleep, won’t they?”
He looked away and she had her answer.
“If they don’t kill him, I will.” M’Ordant’s ominous words echoed in her head.
“I won’t let them have you,” she said, taking his arm. “There has to be some way we can fight them.”
He draped his arm over her shoulders and held her close. “You would fight for me?”
“Then I am the luckiest being in the universe.”
V’Aidan gave her a tight squeeze as he inhaled the scent of her hair. And he wondered morbidly if she would feel that way if she knew the truth of his past.
If she ever knew the truth of him…
V’Aidan clenched his teeth. She would never know, anymore than he would let her be harmed because of him. He would fight this battle all right. Fight until he either won or they killed him. But he would do it the way he had lived since the dawn of time.