Her jaw dropped. “Am I…?”
“Yes. Once you reach maturity, aging will stop for you, too.” Growing old and dying were two things most humans feared. Knowing she would never have to worry about that should ease her mind a little.
“Oh.” Her chin quivered, and I was surprised to see something akin to sorrow fill her eyes.
“That upsets you?”
She nodded and rubbed her shivering arms.
Concern filled me, and I moved to give her my leather jacket. “You’re cold.”
“I’m fine, thanks.” Her shoulders heaved as she took a deep breath. “What if I don’t want to join the Mohiri?”
My Mori growled unhappily.
“You don’t join. You are Mohiri.”
She lifted her chin. “What if I don’t want to live with them, and I just want to stay here? You said yourself that I can control this demon thing better than anyone you’ve ever seen, so I don’t need your training.”
I knew my next words would hurt, but she had to understand what all of this meant for her. “You don’t belong here anymore. What will you tell people when you stop aging? What will you do when everyone you know here grows old and dies? You need to be with your own people.”
She flinched. “These are my people.”
“That’s because they are all you’ve ever known. Once you get to know the Mohiri –”
“No!” Anger burned in her eyes. “I knew a Mohiri, remember? All she did was abandon me and my father. My loving Mohiri mother deserted us, and my dad was murdered by vampires. Where were my people then?”
Stunned by her outburst, I stared at her. “Vampires killed your father?”
Her laugh was bitter. “Pathetic, isn’t it? You’d think someone like me would be a lot less likely to be taken in by a vampire, considering my past and my genes. Some warrior.” She started walking at a fast pace toward the waterfront again.
I walked beside her. “That vampire, Eli, knows what you are now. He’ll be looking for you. Vampires love nothing more than draining Mohiri orphans. We deprived him of that pleasure, and he will not forget it.”
She stumbled slightly, but didn’t stop walking. “I thought you said he wouldn’t get away.”
“He was more resourceful than most.” I cursed myself again for letting the vampire escape and for being the cause of the fear that had crept back into her voice.
“Well, if he does come back, he’ll think I’m in Portland, right?” she said hopefully. “There’s no way he would know to look for me here. Besides, this is werewolf territory and the werewolves are doing sweeps of Portland to find the vampires.”
“The werewolves might not catch him either.” Eli had evaded the pack for the last three weeks. He might not be stupid enough to come this close to the Alpha, but I’d seen how much he wanted Sara.
She glared at me. “Are you trying to scare me?”
“No, but I will not lie to you either.”
When we reached my bike, she faced me with her shoulders back and her arms crossed. “I don’t want you to think I’m not grateful for you saving my life because I am, more than I can say. But your way of life, your people – I don’t belong with them.”
Her statement made waves of agitation roll off my demon. I wasn’t too happy either. But short of forcing her to go with me, there was nothing I could do.
Solmi, my Mori insisted. It wanted its mate, and it sent me a vivid image of me carrying her away.
Ignoring the demon, I pulled out a small card and handed it to her. “This is my number. Call me if you need me or when you reconsider your options.”
She took the card and looked at it for several seconds before she put it in her jeans pocket. “I won’t reconsider.”
The set of her jaw told me she wouldn’t be easily persuaded, and I would not force her to leave. Something told me she would never forgive me if I did. I’d never cared much about people’s opinions, but the thought of this girl hating me did not sit well with me.
“One more thing.” I took a small sheathed dagger from an inner pocket of my jacket and held it toward her. “You may feel safe here now, but as you found out Friday night, danger can find you when you least expect it.”
She shook her head, but I put the knife in her hand before she could pull it away. I watched her unsheathe the dagger and study the silver blade with open curiosity. Seeing her holding one of my weapons gave me an absurd rush of pleasure. I grabbed my helmet and donned it before she could see the smile tugging at my lips.
I mounted my bike and turned my head toward her. “I’ll be seeing you, Sara.”
Riding away from Sara, I wasn’t prepared for the mixed feelings that assailed me. I’d expected my Mori to be upset, but it surprised me to realize I didn’t want to leave either. When I’d decided to come here today, I had only wanted to make sense of what I was feeling and to clear my head. If it wasn’t for the bond, she’d be just another orphan.
I laughed at my pathetic attempts at denial. There was nothing average about Sara Grey. I could blame all of this on my demon, but the truth was, I’d noticed the girl before I’d touched her and felt the bond. And the more I got to know her, the more intrigued I was by her. She looked so small and defenseless, yet she possessed inner strength and courage. She’d had no idea what she was, but she had not only survived her demon, she had somehow mastered it. In my whole life, I had never met anyone like her. Her vulnerability and fear made the warrior in me want to protect her, while her soft curves and sweet voice stirred me more than I wanted to admit.
I swore harshly. How the hell had this girl managed to get under my skin so effortlessly? She didn’t want anything to do with me, yet I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I tried to recall some of the beautiful women I’d been with, but all I could see was her face.
I’d convinced myself I had to come here to get answers, and that I should be the one to tell her what she was. After all, it was part of my job to protect our people, and she needed my protection even after I broke the bond.
But seeing her today… The bond was too new for me to be having such a strong reaction to her. And yet, I was a thought away from turning this bike around and going back to her.
Exhaling loudly, I focused on other things, such as the fact that I had to tell Tristan about Sara. He was going to be beside himself when he learned he had a granddaughter. My mind was still trying to grasp that Sara was Madeline’s daughter. Madeline was a lot of things, but I never would have believed her capable of deserting her child and leaving her unprotected in a world so dangerous to our kind.