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Wide-eyed, Sonora looked at Ian as her stomach tied into a knot. This was not the time for her to back down. "Who says that I'm going home? I do." Her voice came soft and gentle as she reached out and laid a hand on his arm. "It is obvious that you are a nice guy. This isn't you."

Keeping his eyes on the underwater view, Ian said in a resigned voice, "You don't know me or what I would do."

"I know you wouldn't take helpless women against their will. I see the way you respect your mother. The way you have taken care of me since I've gotten here. You don't want to hurt me."

"Keeping you here isn't going to hurt you."

"It will and you know it."

Ian sighed, deep and long. "Tomorrow we will go out and look around the city."

Sonora frowned at him. "Tomorrow you are taking me home."

Ian took his direct gaze from the water to her. "I can't take you home yet. You have to stay tomorrow."

Sonora flapped her arms. "I can't. My family will wonder where I am. I can explain one night somehow but not longer than that. They'll be out there looking for me, worried about me. If they find my car just sitting in the parking lot, I don't know what they'll think."

"I'll take care of it."

Her voice rose. "I don't want you to-," Sonora let out a huff. "I don't want you to take care of it. I want to go home!"

Ian laid a hand on her shoulder, which she unsuccessfully tried to shake off. His eyes were sincere when he said, "I give you my word that when you can go home, if you want to, I will take you there."

"When I can? If I want to? Of course, I will want to. What are you talking about?"

Sonora shook his hand from her with a jerk of her body. "You do know that your communication skills are sorely lacking." She took a moment to glare at him before stomping toward the room where he had laid her borrowed clothing.

"Sunny." When she didn't stop, he called again this time his voice was sharp as a whip. "Sunny!"

Sonora stopped but took her time as she looked back at him.

"Come," Ian demanded as he beckoned her with a wave of his hand.

Though angry, Sonora could not ignore the picture of the man before her. He still half-leaned against the sash of the picture window, almost as tall as it. One muscled arm supported his upper body; his other stretched out toward her. Her eyes traced the lines of his form to his handsome face, and she let her gaze play along it, noticing a muscle in his jaw twitch as she did so. Her gaze stopped on his, and he captured it, refusing to let go.

Seconds turned to moments and something kindled in her, a feeling she'd never had before. It was deeper than a normal desire, like a pull to belong.

She had to stop herself from rushing to him. Sonora tore her eyes away just as a gleam of recognition rose in his. She gave her head a little shake.

Geez. Put a cute guy in front of me, and I lose all sense.

Sonora stomped over to him, jerking out of the way when he attempted to lay a hand on her. "What? What do you want?" she said sharply.

She felt Ian's sigh rather than heard it as he tried to suppress it.

"You see that grid out there?" Ian asked.

"I'm not in the mood for another lesson in your superior underwater technology," she said, her voice bitter. "Or any of your superior anything. In fact-,"

Ian cut her off. "Will you just listen?"

Sonora huffed and crossed her arms.

"That grid is to keep people unaware of our existence. For centuries, building our cities in rocky areas was enough. The seafarers naturally avoided them. But as human's technology grew, ours needed to do also. So we created the grid. It distorts your echo sounders, so people avoid this area.

"We have it not because we are hostile toward humans but because they are not ready to know about us yet. Can you imagine what would happen if they found out we were down here?"

Sonora knew exactly what would happen. News, media, fascination, suspicion, chaos, sadness and terror. And that was if everything went well. Nothing here would ever be the same again. Murder had already been committed by someone who did know about them.

"We know that the day will come when we need to approach them, but now is not the time." Ian looked at her. "There are things about us, about me, that you don't know yet. Not because they will hurt you, but because the time is not right yet." A small smile curved one side of his lips. "I am your grid."

"Oh, ha, ha," Sonora said with a fake laugh.

"You have to stay tomorrow."

"And the day after that?"

"Let each day decide for itself."

"No! I'm not-,"

"Sunny, you can rail against this all you want, but it will change nothing."

Her anger ignited at his high-handed words, and she struck out at him. Her fists pounding against him with all her might as he stood there and took everything she had to give.

When she was tired, she stopped and glared up at him and hissed. "I hate you!"

The words did what the blows could not. They seemed to cause him genuine pain. He stumbled back from her, a stricken look covering his face. Instinctively, she reached out to him, and they both looked down at her outstretched arm. His expression easing at her willingness to help him while hers changed to bewilderment over the same thing.

She rushed to the chairs and sat, wrapping her arms around herself as tight as she could. What was happening to her? Hurting him is what she wanted to do, needed to do for him to understand she would not stay here. Why would she suddenly care that she did so?

Ian followed her and sank into the chair across from her. He pulled a hand through his dark hair, disturbing its straight silkiness. "I didn't want this."

"I didn't want this. You most certainly did, or I wouldn't be here."

Ian shook his head. "No, not like this."

Sonora brought her hands to cover her face and rested her elbows on her knees. After a moment, she straightened. "Okay so, now what?"

"Tomorrow I show you around."

Sonora rolled her eyes. Right back at the beginning again. "And that will magically do what?"

"Not magically. But the more you cooperate, the faster this will go."

Oh, I'm sure it will.

Scoffing, Sonora said, "And I'm not allowed to know what "this" is?"

Ian raised an eyebrow and grinned. In that moment, it was clear he knew he had won. He pulled his fingers through his hair again, this time to fix it. The gesture caused him to bow his head as he looked at her and his shoulders to roll. "The grid, remember?"

Sonora blew out a puff of air that stirred the hair around her face. Still furious, her words were short. "Don't try to be cute. It doesn't help your case at all."

Which was totally not true.


A/N: Since I didn't get a Sea Bound out Monday, and only had time to get out one today, I worked on it. Thanks so much for your patience! I hope you enjoy the chapter! :)

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