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Pen Your Pride


Pagan's room was the one place out of the whole house that had seen the least damage. Someone had torn down all the sheer white material hanging around the bed and pulled the drawers out of the side tables and dresser, strewing clothes across the room. I'd spent some time folding and putting them away, but I still wasn't tired.

Thomas had moved on. He'd crossed over and was now with his family. I should have felt joy, but I didn't. I should have felt guilty that I hadn't done what Luke wanted. I had no banshees, no real power of my own to help Luke when he needed it most. When I helped Thomas cross over, I hadn't been thinking of Darla, I hadn't been worried about my own safety, my own need for magic—all I cared about at that one moment was seeing Thomas go into the light. And now that it was over, I had to face Luke knowing that I let him down when he needed me most. I felt no fear, no joy. Just a crushing indifference, a cold numbness that seemed to spread through my body and mind.

What's wrong with me?

Luke knocked on the open door. He held a blanket in his hand. "I thought you could use this."

We were both dressed in black sweats, but he, as usual, was not sporting a top.

Doesn't he get cold when he sleeps? I couldn't help myself—my eyes traveled down his chest and across his stomach. I waited for the usual hum, the wanting, the desire that filled my body and mind whenever I was this close to Luke...but there was nothing. Just that same cold void where my emotions should be. "Thanks."

He stepped closer. "Are you okay?"

I wondered what Luke thought of me. Did he consider me some sort of freak? The spell he asked me to do should have bound Thomas to me as a banshee. Instead, Thomas reunited with his family and escaped the in between. I never liked the idea of spirit slaves, and I should have been happy that I set Thomas free, but inside I still felt nothing. I wanted to feel something...anything. This emptiness seemed to permeate my entire being. What happened to my emotions?

After the second ritual, I felt different. Anger seemed to fuel my blood, but somehow the third ritual had washed that all away. Had it washed away all of my emotions? Was this unfeeling creature I'd become—the one who could raise the dead—all that remained?

My eyes met Luke's. "I can't feel anything."

Luke took step after step until he was only inches from me. His hand reached out and caressed my cheek. His fingers slid down my neck. He looked at me as if asking a question. Before I could answer, he pulled me gently toward him. His lips pressed against mine. Heat spread across my body at his touch. My blood was on fire again, but not from anger this time.

He pulled away. "Did you feel that?"

"Yes," I whispered.

The blanket he held dropped to the floor, and he pulled me against him. We kissed again as he lowered me slowly onto the bed. Our bodies moved together as we fell against the thick white covers. We lay there together, his lips still on mine. My body tingled as his hand slid down the length of me. His fingers were in my hair, then running down my back.

The kiss stretched on, and with it came a heat that spread through my entire body. Each kiss became deeper, more desperate. I tried to pull him closer. I needed to feel his full body against mine. I no longer felt numb. Instead, emotions I couldn't control—desire, excitement, and overwhelming happiness—now swirled through me. I felt overheated, feverish.

Luke's fingers ran across my leg and then reached under my shirt and slid against my naked stomach. If we keep this up... The thought forced me upright. A blush crept across my cheeks.

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