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|Blood Ties(Blood Coven Vampire,book 6) by Mari Mancusi|
I lean forward to kiss him again, desperate to feel his lips brush against mine one more time. But instead, he stops me, pressing a hand to my chest.
“Wait,” he says, his eyes dropping to the floor.
I look at him, puzzled. “What?” I ask, taking in his distraught expression. “What’s wrong?”
“I need to tell you something.” He rakes a hand through his black hair. “You say I’m honest, but I haven’t been entirely truthful to you.”
Fear trips down my spine at his words. “What are you saying?” I manage to spit out.
“I...” Jayden swallows hard. “Oh God. Promise you won’t hate me, Sun. I couldn’t bear to have you hate me.”
Now the fear is in my gut, twisting like a knife. “What, Jayden?” I ask, gritting my teeth in an attempt to keep my composure. “Tell me. Now.”
“I... well, I didn’t tell you the exact truth. About the whole vampire thing, I mean.”
“You mean Cornelius biting you?”
“I mean that he didn’t bite me. I was fine after that whole encounter,” Jayden confesses. “But then you disappeared and I started getting really depressed. And... angry, I guess. Angry that you chose someone else. A bloodsucker—a living corpse— over me. I thought...” He shrugs. “I thought maybe if I found a way to become a vampire I’d be more appealing to you. That maybe you’d leave Magnus and be mine.”
“But that’s crazy! Why would you—?”
“I don’t know!” Jayden interrupts fiercely. “I told you, I wasn’t thinking straight. I was so depressed and angry and... I don’t know. In any case, I headed down to the vampire bar that I knew Cornelius used to frequent. And I started propositioning vampires, asking them to turn me. My plan was to get one of them to do the job, then take the first plane back to Massachusetts—where I thought you were—and profess my love.”
“But no vampire would do that. It’s completely against protocol. You have to be certified first! And go through the training.”
He nods. “I found that out pretty quick. Everyone turned me down. Except for one vampire.” He looks up at me, his eyes brimming with blood tears. “His name was Corbin. He wore a red cloak.”
I almost fall off my chair. “Oh my God.”
“He and the other Alphas burst into the bar on a mission of vengeance, killing every vampire and human in sight, just as they did today. I begged him to spare my life—telling him I knew you and Magnus and the Blood Coven—thinking maybe it would help my case. He got this weird gleam in his eyes and asked me if I wanted to become a vampire.”
“So Corbin turned you,” I say dully. “And let me guess, he can hear your thoughts now. That’s how they’ve been able to stay one step ahead of us. To steal the Grail. To break into the Bite Club.”
Jayden cringes. “Probably,” he says. “I don’t know. Whatever he did to me... well, he didn’t finish. He got interrupted halfway through the process by a vampire mob, which chased him off. Which I guess is why I only turned half vamp. Too sick to follow through with my plan to go find you. I couldn’t believe it when you found me instead. It was like a dream wrapped in a nightmare.”
“Oh, Jayden,” I cry, my heart breaking. “Why? Why would you do such a thing?”
“Because I wanted you to love me,” he says simply, his voice hoarse with pain. “I wanted to be the kind of guy you respected.”
I rise to my feet, anger churning in my gut. I can’t believe it. Lied to again. Is no man alive worth my trust?
“And now, instead, you’re a monster who’s put the entire vampire race in danger.”
“I don’t care about the vampire race,” he moans. “I only care about you.”
I shake my head. There’s no use arguing. “I’ve got to go,” I tell him. “I’ve got to warn the coven.”
“I’ll come with you!”
“Absolutely not! You’ve done enough already.” I squeeze my hands into fists. “God, I should have never taken you away from England in the first place. Magnus was right. Damn it, he was right all along!” Why hadn’t I trusted him? Why had I just assumed he wasn’t looking out for my best interests?
“What am I supposed to do?” Jayden asks, his eyes wide and frightened.
“I don’t know. Stake yourself in the heart for all I care,” I growl.
He looks at me with his big green eyes, his face a study of torment and regret. “I’m so sorry, Sunny,” he murmurs. “I never meant—”
I catch his expression and part of me melts. Part of me wants nothing more than to take him into my arms and hug him and say I understand and forgive him because he did it for me. He did it to win my love. How can I blame him for something so innocent and pure?
But I have to. I have to stay strong. It will do no good to be soft on him now. Doing so will only endanger the lives of thousands.
Suddenly I get a real idea of the kinds of decisions I’ve been asking Magnus to make.
“Look, I’m sorry,” I say. “I didn’t mean the whole stake thing. But you gotta stay here, okay? When Rayne shows up, let her know what’s going on and have her call me ASAP.”
“I will,” he says, staring down at the floor. “Sunny, I’m really sorry.”
I shake my head as I walk out of the room. “I know you are. But it doesn’t do me much good now.”