Chapter 19: Hard Truth Served Cold

Someone was lying on the mattress next to me. Close, but not touching. I didn't need to roll over to know who it was. Even without feeling the electricity, I could sense his proximity. It could be the blood bond, or just my innate teenage boy sensor, a perfectly human, completely not supernatural thing. A small smile formed on my lips. After everything I'd done, he was still doing this - just being Keel.

"You're brave," I whispered, hardly believing he'd shown up.

"Are you sure you don't mean crazy?" he asked.

"That too."

"So, you wanted to talk."

It had worked. I'd called out to him and he'd heard me.

"And you came," I said with amazement. "Even after I -"

"- made me attack you?" he offered.

"What?!" I'd been so lost in my guilt and horror over melting his face, I hadn't considered what else my magic might have influenced.

"Remember what I told you yesterday? When I ingest your blood, your feelings affect me. You wanted me to attack you - be what I am, you said - so I was forced to," Keel explained. "I tried to fight it. I tried to get you to stop, but it only made you angrier."

"So you're saying it was all my fault?"

"No. You didn't know what you were doing. And the monster was me. You just incited it."

The monster: the real Keel - or at least, equally as real as the Keel that was lying beside me. When we'd met I thought we'd have nothing in common, but we were not so different. Not anymore. Now I was scary too.

"You don't have to protect me, you know," I said, rolling onto my back so I could look at him. He was lying on his side facing me, half-propping himself up with one arm. "I know what I am now. I saw what I can do."

"Mills -"

"Honestly, it's okay," I told him. He didn't need to spare my feelings. "If anything, I should be saying thanks to you for not killing me after -"

"Mills -" Keel repeated, cutting me off.

"Arthos told me about how you stayed," I blurted out. There was so much I needed to say, wanted to ask, but what were the right words? I knew how to apologize for breaking curfew, for disappointing a friend, for picking on my kid brother, but how did you say sorry for attempted murder?

Keel reached over and grabbed my hand. The sudden zing of our physical contact shut my mouth more effectively than his interruptions had. "You had every right to be angry. I just wish you'd given me a chance to explain first."

"What did you expect?" I said. Keel had interlaced his fingers with mine, and was using the constant thrum of energy to root my focus on him. "I'd just found out I was going to be impregnated by your father!"

Keel laughed, but it was nervous and reserved. As chill as he was acting, there was no denying what I had done had shaken him. The only question was whether he was trying to hide it from me or from himself. "No, you hadn't."

"This isn't funny," I snapped. I'd asked him here - I wanted him here - but he was already pissing me off. And knowing everything, shouldn't he be trying not to do that? "You wanted to explain, so explain."

Could I make him talk? Could my blood do that? How much influence over him did I have? As curious as I was, I wouldn't manipulate him. That would be yet another step over the line. We needed ground rules here. If last night had proved anything, it was that.

Bleeder [Blood Magic, Book 1]Read this story for FREE!