He nodded and then walked past the three large males not even flinching when Lucien snapped his jaws at his ear. When Sebastian was safely outside and his scent had disappeared, Caia turned to Ryder. “Will you let him go so he and I can speak?”

“I don’t know if that’s...”

He trailed off as Lucien began shuddering in their arms, obviously trying to control his lykan. His breathing began to even out and his eyes became more silver, although no less angry as they glared at her.

“Leave us,” he demanded.

“Lucien, you won’t hurt h-”

“How could you even think I would?”

“You’re just not yourself right now.”

“Leave us.”

The others nodded and quietly left them alone in the motel room. She flinched as Lucien strode by her and began rummaging through a holdall he had with him filled with weapons and clothes. He pulled out a black shirt and threw it at her. “Change.”

His stormy scent infiltrated her olfactory senses and her stomach inappropriately clenched in desire. She blushed, turning away, hoping he couldn’t sense it. Holy Artemis, how could she still want him after that he-man display of outrageousness? She shouldn’t put the shirt on. How dare he tell her what to do!


As if sensing her defiance, Lucien growled and repeated the command.

Um, it may be better at this point to just humor the angry, muscular lykan. Keeping her back to him, Caia drew Sebastian’s shirt over her head and heard Lucien’s intake of breath. She tried not to be pleased at how she affected him, but it must have been a female thing because she couldn’t help but want to wag her tail in smugness. Instead she quickly threw Lucien’s black shirt on which drowned her even more than Sebastian’s had. Turning back to face him, he looked somewhat appeased by her obedience, but still blazing angry.

“And why are you here?” he bit out without any ‘how d’ya do’s’.

She braced herself for war. “To get Jaeden back. We’re coming with you.”

Lucien had a hold of her so quickly he gave her whiplash. “Like Hades you are.”

“You can’t stop me,” she replied calmly.

His face crumpled, losing all anger and filling with desperation. “Caia, I can’t go into this worrying about your safety.”

“You need someone, a magikal someone, in there with you. And I need to do this.”

Lucien shook her none too gently. “It is not your fault they took her.”

“Yes. It. Is.”


“I’m not arguing this out with you, Lucien. You either let me go with you or I’ll just use my magik to keep you here and go it alone.”

His eyes narrowed dangerously. “You’ve not got that kind of power yet.”

Caia tensed at the challenge and smiled humorlessly. “You wanna bet?” And with that, she drew her focus and energy carefully into seizing a hold of Lucien. He gasped as his hands dropped from her uppers arms and he was pushed back gently with an invisible force. She smiled at his surprise which seemed to infuriate him back to his senses and he made a move towards her, only to bounce back off an invisible barrier between them.

“Caia,” he growled and hit at the barrier.

Her amusement faded as he walked the length of the room trying to escape the shield she had created around him. Marion had taught her this the day she had returned from the Center, and Caia had picked it up with surprising ease. But watching Lucien growl and hiss and spit in his growing failure Caia felt terrible, caging him in. She didn’t want to do this to him.

The barrier disappeared and Lucien had a hold of her again. “Don’t ever do that again,” his hot breath rushed across her face and she closed her eyes not wanting to see any contempt in his eyes.

“Caia look at me,” he demanded.

She shook her head.

“Look at me.”

Slowly her eyes fluttered open. Lucien didn’t look angry at her anymore. Sad. Awed. Scared.

“You’re not disgusted?” she whispered.

He shook his head. “Not happy either, though.”

“I don’t want to do that to you, Lucien, but I will. To protect you, to protect Jaeden, I will.”

She felt him tremble and knew he was trying to remain calm. He definitely didn’t like not getting his own way. He let go of her and dropped down heavily onto one of the beds, his elbows braced on his knees, his head buried in his hands. “Fine,” he snapped.

Caia wanted to rejoice. She had won a battle with him. She would get to be there to see Jaeden out of the clutches of her twisted uncle. She would make sure that Lucien would get home safely, too. And then she could get on with her life. “Before we get Jaeden back, we need to talk.” Quietly she settled into a threadbare armchair in the corner of the room, distancing herself physically from him.

He looked up, his eyes searching. “About what?”


He nodded and exhaled loudly. “Is this about the Center?”


Unnerved, Caia waited for him to say anything, but he sat their immobile, like stone, so stoic now compared to the writhing animal he had been merely fifteen minutes before.

“I think the air should be honest and clear between us before we attempt to rescue Jaeden.”

“Agreed.” He shifted casually so that he lay across the bed, his back pressed against the headboard. Caia looked away, hot flashbacks scoring across her eyes and bursting into goosebumps up and down her arms. Dammit. It was the whole mating thing, she assured herself, the attraction between them would always be there because of that.

Caia swallowed and managed to look back up at him, annoyed by the mischievous light in his eyes that told her he knew what she was thinking.

“From the beginning, here’s the truth.” She breathed and tried to have the courage to maintain eye contact. “I had a crush on you almost from the start. A huge, embarrassing, adolescent crush.” His lips quirked up smugly and she bristled. “Enough of that.”

He chuckled and shrugged. “The attraction was mutual, believe me.”

Caia didn’t want to hear that. She especially didn’t want to feel elated at the news.

“Anyway,” she tried to sound all business, “You have to think how it was for me, Lucien. I hadn’t really had anyone in my life and now here was the pack. And you. I felt safe with you.”

The quiet vulnerability in her voice was obvious and Lucien shifted, sitting up straighter, more alert. “Good,” was his hoarse reply.

“No. Not good-”


“Lucien, please listen,” she growled and then heaved a sigh. “It wasn’t good because I was really devastated when I learned about my mother and father and the Midnights. I was torn up, and not just because of the truth… but because you, my safe place, hid it from me.”

He swung his legs off the bed now, leaning forward, his eyes full of anguish. “You said you forgave me.”

“I do.” She nodded quickly. “I understand why you did it. I would have done the same thing to protect the pack. But it still doesn’t change the fact that my feelings for you were no longer quite the same as before. But...” she looked away embarrassed. “I was still attracted to you, still respected you, admired you. And yes, I eventually forgave you. Learning about my powers also took my mind off it, off you, for a while. But then Jaeden was taken, and when we realized she had been taken for a long time I... you can’t tell me it’s not my fault.”

“But it isn’t,” he growled as he launched himself off the bed and strode towards her. He bent down before her and grasped a hold of her hand, his silver eyes pleading with her. “You have to believe that.”

“I believe that you believe that. But I will always blame myself and I can’t stop that. I’m sorry.”

Her Alpha cursed and then sighed, tugging on her hands. “What are you trying to tell me here?”

Caia heaved another sigh. “That night... we... well...”

“Had sex,” he offered bluntly.

She nodded and continued. “Yes. It was... I was scared and sad, and you were there making me feel safe again. I wanted to be with you, I want you to know that.”

She felt his hands stroke her skin softly, seductively, and had to fight herself from shivering obviously.

“I want you too,” was his gravelly reply.

“Don’t. That’s not where I’m going with this.”

“Where are you going with this?”

She decided to be just as blunt with him. “Not telling me about the mating was the last straw with you, Lucien.”

He tensed instantly and she caught the angry fear in his lupine gaze. “What does that mean exactly?”

“I was a pawn for my mother, for my uncle. I’m even a pawn for the Daylights, I’m not stupid. I’m their ultimate weapon. But that night I realized I was pawn for you too-”

“Caia, no-”

“Yes. I was, Lucien!” She threw him off her, standing up and pacing away from him. “You kept everything to yourself when you had months to tell me. And you didn’t even have an excuse because by then you knew me. You knew me. And you didn’t trust me. You wanted to control me like you control the pack.”

“That’s not even close to the truth!” he yelled, his whole body thrumming with anger. She was pushing him to his limits.

“I don’t take it personally, Lucien,” she replied calmly. “It’s what an Alpha does. It’s who he needs to be for the good of his pack. And again... I forgive you.”

The tension eased from his body. “Then you will...”

Caia shook her head. “I can’t be with you like that. All my life my choices have been taken away from me. Sent away from the pack. Brought back to the pack. Hidden from the truth. I won’t have that choice taken from me, too. And I won’t have my choice to go to the Center taken away from me either. Even though Marita wants me for Daylight ends, I can’t see the wrong in that. I can protect the pack and every other Daylight creature by going to the Center and becoming the best that I can be and taking down the bastards that have stolen all my choices from me. You got to kill Adriana and avenge your father. Well I want to avenge my father.”

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