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|Blood Ties(Blood Coven Vampire,book 6) by Mari Mancusi|
I reach out to smooth his razor-cut black hair. “It’s okay,” I assure him. “You’ve been going through a lot. It’s understandable.”
“It’s not that, though,” he insists. “I mean, yeah, the vampire thing is stressful and all. But that’s not why I’ve been so mad at you.”
I prop my head on my elbow to study him questioningly. “You’re mad at me?”
He sighs, rolling over onto his back to stare up at the ceiling. “Well, no. I mean, I think I’m mostly mad at myself, I guess. I just...” He lets out a long, frustrated sigh. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this,” he mutters, half to himself.
“Say what, Jayden?” I press, my heart pounding in my chest as I wonder if I truly want to know.
At first I think he’s not going to speak. But finally he opens his mouth. “I was lying there, hiding under the bed in the Bite Club, pretty sure I was going to die. And I kept thinking, I’m going to die and I’m never going to get a chance to tell Sunny how much she means to me.” His voice cracks on the last sentence and I can see the tears welling up in his eyes.
“Oh, Jayden,” I murmur, reaching out to him. But he grabs my hand and pushes it away.
“Let me finish,” he begs, “or I’ll lose my nerve again.” He laughs bitterly, then he turns to face me, reaching out and cupping my chin with his hand, steering my face to his so our eyes are locked onto one another. A chill trips down my spine and I hold my breath, trying desperately to ready myself for his impending words.
“Sunny, I love you,” he says simply. “I’ve loved you since the first moment I saw you walk into the Sun Casino in Vegas. I’ve been trying to be good—to hold back and keep it inside—telling myself that I don’t want to make things harder for you by burdening you with these feelings. After all, you made your choice. You chose Magnus and I let you walk away.” He shakes his head, the tears tumbling from his eyes. “God, that was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. Giving you back to him—who doesn’t even deserve you.”
I struggle to draw in a breath, my heart breaking at his raw, honest words. I remember that day—in the hospital room when I tried to give my heart to Jayden. And he told me to go back to Magnus and try to work things out. It had all seemed so noble and selfless of him at the time. But had it been the right thing for me to do?
Since then, I’ve been working so hard at my relationship with Magnus. Trying to get over the trust issues we have and always wondering where his loyalties truly lie. Fighting over stupid things—trying and failing to fit into his world while he tried and failed to fit into mine.
With Jayden, it’s so easy. We’re like two twin souls, with the same desires and dreams. Like two children coming together, finding each other and bonding together against the cold, hard world. With Jayden, I never have to doubt his motives. I never have to wonder if he’s lying to me. He’s simple and open and pure and good and everything I always dreamed about in a boyfriend.
And he loves me. With all his heart. He’s already proven he’d gladly die for me. And there’s no conflict of a stupid coven to get in his way.
“Sorry,” he says, his face pinkening into a small blush. “Again, I don’t mean to make things difficult for you. I just can’t keep going, pretending you don’t mean everything to me.” He gives a sad little laugh. “So now you know. And you can choose to walk away again—and I won’t stop you. Or you can give yourself to me and let me love you the way you deserve to be loved. Dedicating my entire life— mortal or vampire—to making you happy.”
He stops and looks at me with his big puppy-dog eyes and I find I can’t speak, my throat is so clogged with tears. And so I do the only thing I know how. I kiss him. Our mouths tumbling over each other in desperate abandon—not thinking, not analyzing, not wondering what the consequences might be to something like this. Just kissing and loving and worshiping each other. The salty taste of our tears mixing with the sweetest ecstasy. A perfect dream bubble in a nightmare of a world.
It’s Jayden who pulls away first. “I’m sorry,” he says, a bashful expression on his face. “I shouldn’t have...”
I put a finger to his lips—swollen and bruised from my mouth. “It’s okay,” I assure him. “I... I wanted to.” He looks at me with a shy smile. “Yeah?” he asks, his voice so full of hope it breaks my heart all over again. A part of me wildly demands to know what the hell I think I’m doing, but I push it deep down inside. There will be time for overanalysis later.
“Jayden. I have feelings for you,” I admit. “I always have, as much as I’ve tried to hide them for your own good. I didn’t want to hurt you. Or let you down if I couldn’t follow through. I’ve already caused you enough pain.” I draw in a breath. “But I do love you. I love you so much, Jayden, and I’m sick of trying to deny it to myself.”
“What about Magnus?” he asks softly, breathing the name I’m trying to block out of my mind.
I roll onto my back, staring up at the ceiling. “I don’t know,” I say with a sigh. “After how we left things back in England, I don’t even know where we stand right now. I mean, of course I love him. But I don’t know if I can trust him. And I don’t want a relationship based on lies.” I roll back over to face Jayden. “I mean, look at you. You’re so open and honest. I know I can trust you with my heart and soul. And I need that. I really need that.”