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“It’s what I’ve always wanted to tell you, Alex.” He sat up, bringing me along with him. “I’ve always wanted this with you.”

I slid my hands to his cheeks, meeting his heated gaze with my own. “I’ve always loved you.”

Aiden made a strangled sound and his lips were on mine again. His hand buried in my hair, holding me still. “This wasn’t my intention… coming in here.”

“I know.” My lips brushed his as I spoke. “I know.”

As he kissed me again, he eased onto his back. My heart was hammering against my ribs as his fingers left my face and traveled down. He lifted himself up just enough for me to take off his shirt and toss it aside. My hands splayed across each hard ripple and I kissed my way down until his chest heaved under my lips and he whispered my name in a pleading sort of way. He gripped my arms and pulled me back to his lips.

I shrugged out of his grasp and lifted my arms without speaking. He obeyed the silent command and tossed my shirt aside. Without any warning, I was on my back, staring up at him. His hands slipped over my bare skin as his lips dipped down my throat and over the curve of my shoulder. Each scar was kissed tenderly, and when he came to the one Linard’s blade had left, he shuddered.

My fingers sifted through his hair as I held him to me. His kisses were doing crazy, strange, and wonderful things to me. I whispered his name over and over again like some kind of mad prayer. Then I was moving against him, being guided by some primal instinct that told me what to do. The rest of our clothes ended up in a pile on the floor. The moment our bodies were flush with one another, a sense of wildness came over me.

Our kisses deepened, his tongue swept over mine, and I rocked against him. All of this was wonderful, exquisitely pleasing. Aiden dropped kisses all over my flushed skin. I was lost in the heady sensations, completely unprepared for it. This may not have been what we intended, but this… this was happening.

Aiden lifted his head. “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” I breathed. “I’ve never been more sure.”

His hand trembled against my flushed face. “Have you gotten…?”

He was asking if I’d had my shot—the Council-mandated birth control for all half-blood females. I nodded.

The silver eyes flared. His hand trembled against my cheek again and as he lifted up, his eyes roamed over me. My newfound courage all but disappeared under his scalding stare. Somehow sensing my nervousness, his kiss was gentle and sweet. He was patient and perfect, coaxing away the shyness until I wrapped myself around him.

There was a near-panicked edge to him, driven by the knowledge that there was no pulling back, no stopping this time. With a thrusting kiss that left me shaken, his hand drifted with such exquisite detail. His kisses followed the same pattern and when he paused, his eyes begged for permission. That simple moment, that tiny act brought tears to my eyes.

I couldn’t—didn’t want to—deny him anything.

Aiden was everywhere—in every touch, every soft moan. When I thought I couldn’t take anymore, that I would surely break, he was there to prove that I could. When his lips descended on mine again, they did so with a fevered pitch.

“I love you,” he whispered. “I have since the night in Atlanta. I always will.”

I gasped against his skin. “I love you.”

He broke. Whatever control he had wrapped around him finally slipped away. I reveled in it, the pure simplicity of being in his arms and knowing that he felt the same keen madness that I did. Supporting himself with his forearm as his kisses took on the same sense of urgency that I felt, he lifted his mouth to whisper something in a beautiful language I didn’t understand. I was nearly over the edge, rushing towards a glorious ending.

We were surrounded by our love for one another. It became a tangible thing, electrifying the air around us until I was sure we both would ignite under its power. Then in a mindless moment of pure beauty, we weren’t a half-blood and a pure-blood, we were simply just two people madly, deeply in love.

We were one.

I awoke some time later, tucked in Aiden’s arms. The candle still flickered by the bed. The sheet had tangled around our legs, and the comforter was pushed to the floor. I realized that I’d been more or less using him as a pillow. I lifted my head and drank him in. I could never grow tired of looking at him.

His chest rose evenly under my hands. He looked so young and relaxed while he slept. Locks of dark waves tumbled against his forehead and his lips were parted. I leaned down and placed a soft kiss against those lips.

His arms immediately tightened, betraying that he was not as deeply asleep as I’d originally thought. I grinned at being caught. “Hello.”

Aiden’s eyes fluttered open. “How long have you been staring at me?”

“Not long.”

“Knowing you,” he drawled lazily, “you’ve been staring at me since I fell asleep.”

“That’s not true.” I giggled.

“Uh huh, come here.” He tugged me down. My nose brushed against his. “Not nearly close enough.”

I shifted closer. My leg wrapped around his. “Close enough?”

“Let me see.” His hands slid down my back and rested over the curve of my waist with the slightest pressure. “Ah, that’s better.”

I flushed. “Yes… yeah, it is.”

Aiden grinned wolfishly and a wicked glint filled his silver eyes. I should’ve known at that point he was up to something, but this side of Aiden—this playful and sensual side—was unknown to me. His hand glided lower, eliciting a pleased gasp of surprise. He sat up in one fast fluid motion and I found myself unexpectedly in his lap.

I didn’t have a moment to consider much. Aiden kissed me, scattering all thoughts or responses. The sheet slipped away and I melted against him. It was quite some time later, when the sun was about to rise and the candle had long since gone out, that Aiden gently roused me.

“Alex.” He brushed his lips over my forehead.

I opened my eyes, smiling. “You’re still here.”

His hand caressed my cheek. “Where else would I be?” Then he kissed me, and my toes curled. “Did you think I’d just leave?”

I marveled at the fact that I could run my hand up his arm without having him pull away. “No. I don’t know, actually.”

He frowned as he traced the shape of my cheekbone. “What do you mean?”

I snuggled closer to him. “What happens now?”

Understanding flared in his gaze. “I don’t know, Alex. We have to be careful. It’s not going to be easy, but… we’ll figure something out.”

My heart skipped a beat.

A relationship was going to be damn near impossible anywhere we’d go, but I couldn’t stop the hope swelling inside me or the tears building in my eyes. Was it wrong to hope for a miracle? Because that’s what we would need to make this work.

“Oh, Alex.” He gathered me into his arms, holding me tightly against him. I burrowed my face in the space between his neck and shoulder, inhaling deeply. “What we did—it was the best thing I’ve ever done and it wasn’t just some sort of fling.”

“I know,” I murmured.

“And I’m not going to let you go—not because some stupid law says we can’t be together.”

Dangerous words, but I melted along with them, cherished them. I wrapped my arms around him, trying to keep old fears and worries at bay. Aiden was taking a huge risk to be with me—so was I—and I couldn’t deny our feelings because of what’d happened to Hector and Kelia. That fear wasn’t fair to Aiden or to me.

Aiden rolled onto his back, fitting me to his side. “And I’m not going to lose you to Seth.”

The air hitched in my lungs. Somehow, being so lost in Aiden, I’d completely forgotten the unforgettable—the fact that I’d be Awakening in two weeks—and all the ramifications of that. Fear tasted like blood in the back of my throat. What if that changed the way I felt about Aiden?

Crap. What if the bond twisted those feelings back to Seth?

And how in the hell had I forgotten about Seth in the first place? “Out of sight and out of mind” was totally not justifiable. The thing was I did care for Seth—a lot. Part of me even loved him, even though I wanted to hurt him most of the time. But my love for Seth was nothing like what it was for Aiden. It didn’t consume me, didn’t make me want to do crazy things, be reckless, and in the same breath, be safer and more cautious. My heart, my body didn’t respond in the same way.

Aiden’s hand skimmed over my arm. “I know what you’re thinking, agapi mou, zoi mou.”

I took a shallow breath. “What does that mean?”

“It means, ‘my love, my life’.”

I squeezed my eyes shut against the rush of tears as I remembered the first time he’d said “agapi mou” to me. My gods, Aiden hadn’t lied. He had loved me since the very beginning. Knowing that filled me with steely resolve. I rose up and stared down at him.

He smiled, and my heart jumped. He reached up, tucking my hair back behind my ear. His hand lingered. “What are you thinking now?”

“We can do this.” I leaned down and kissed him. “We will do this, dammit.”

His arm circled around my waist. “I know.”

“Gods, I know this sounds really lame, so please don’t laugh at me.” I grinned. “But I’ve been… terrified of this Awakening, of losing myself. But… but I’m not anymore. I won’t lose myself, because… well, how I feel about you, it would never let me forget who I am.”

“I’d never let you forget who you are.”

My grin spread. “Gods, we’re crazy. You know that, right?”

Aiden laughed. “I think we’re pretty good at crazy, though.”

We stayed in each other’s arms longer than we should have. I was reluctant to let him leave and I think he was, too. Rolling onto my side, I watched him throw his clothes on. He grinned when he caught me. I wiggled my brows. “What? It’s a nice view.”

“Wicked,” he said, sitting beside me. His hand skimmed over my hip. There was something fierce in his gaze. “We will do this.”

I snuggled closer to him, wishing he didn’t have to leave. “I know. I believe that.”

Aiden kissed me once more and whispered, “Agapi mou”

Chapter 23

EVERYTHING AND NOTHING CHANGED AFTER HAVING sex. I didn’t look any different. Well, there was the goofy smile plastered over my face that I couldn’t get rid of. Other than that, I looked the same. But I did feel different. I ached in places I had no idea someone could even hurt. My heart also did that fluttering thing every time I even thought his name, which was so girlie and I loved it.

Letting my heart instead of my hormones decide when to do it made what Aiden and I’d done special. And when we passed each other throughout the day, the looks we stole suddenly meant more. Everything meant more, because we both were risking it all and neither of us regretted that.

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