Finally, he answered, "Because you were so staunchly against it."
"But you do want to make love to me?"
"Of course I do, sweetheart." There was that endearment again. Did it sound insincere? Cadeon only called women that if he didn't want them.
Tim continued, "You're beautiful and desirable."
Then why haven't you locked that up?
Where were these thoughts coming from? She'd made a commitment to Tim, and now she was rethinking it only because her life was in such upheaval.
Decide nothing until back to normal. Keep the constants constant.
Tim was a good man. Any girl would be lucky to have him. Even her parents had liked him.
Or had they merely been delighted that she had a boyfriend?
"I'm sorry, Tim. I don't know what's wrong with me. Maybe I can call you tomorrow?"
"It's okay. We all have days like this."
Tim never did.
Once they'd hung up, she gazed vacantly at her computer screen.
Even if she did decide to break up with Tim, the alternative was not Cadeon. The demon might be thrilling and sexy and...fun, but a relationship with him would never work. He was too implusive, his moods too mercurial. She didn't know if Cadeon was even capable of a deep and lasting love.
And Holly wanted a love like the abiding one her parents enjoyed. She'd always hoped that something approaching that could grow between her and Tim.
Then why hasn't it in two years? You're clinging because you're afraid.
Shut up, dark side!
Holly wanted steady and normal. She would not succumb.
Which meant she had to get to Groot. Her mind back on the prize, she opened Google Earth. After determining that the longitude was just around the tip of Idaho, she eased the pointer north, frowning that she wasn't near the latitude yet.
When the pointer rested on their destination, her lips parted on a stunned breath.
Cade shot up in bed, drenched in sweat, heart thundering.
He'd dreamed of the blustery night mere weeks ago when he'd killed the mortal Néomi. The night he'd ruined their chances with the vampire.
Cade took his dreams very seriously, and he'd had this one before. He must be feeling more guilt about this than he'd thought. Yes, the death had been an accident, but it had been caused by him - not by Rydstrom or even Rök, who'd both been there.
He shuddered, recalling the sickening feeling as his sword had sunk into her. Her pale face had looked as shocked as he felt. Blood had bubbled from her lips as she'd tried to scream.
When she'd slipped from his sword to the ground, Cade had caught his brother's gaze. Through the rain, Cade had seen that same look Rydstrom had given him nine hundred years ago - pity mingled with contempt....
Cade blinked down, surprised to find Holly in the bed with him, though she was on the outside of the cover, dressed in her robe and curled under a blanket. Her pink lips were parted, her lashes thick against her cheeks. Shining against the pillow was a riot of red-blond curls.
He leaned over and plucked up a strand, rubbing it between his thumb and forefinger. As he gazed down at her, memories from the night began to arise. He remembered how brave she'd been with the fire demons, and how she'd refused to leave him, instead managing to drive them out of danger.
She'd talked to him the entire way to this motel, seeming to know how much he'd needed to hear her voice. All night she'd cared for him.
Cade remembered being so damned proud of her, of the way she'd taken everything in stride, rising to the fore.
He'd also realized that what he felt for her was more than the pull of fate....
Releasing her hair, he eased from the bed, then he scuffed into the bathroom. He checked his face in the mirror. Healed.
Even after he'd finished showering and dressing, she still slept. She must be exhausted from the night.
He saw her laptop was open and on. She'd already researched their next direction, mapping it. Where would they be going...?
"Bugger all," he muttered. The Northwest Territories. Just under the Arctic Circle.
They would have to cross the border, then travel nearly the entire length of Canada while heading ever northward. She'd determined sixty-seven hours of driving time - if the weather was perfect.
As usual, her cell phone was lying parallel to the laptop. He frowned, vaguely recalling her voice lowered, as if in conversation. Had she made a call? He checked the log. Son of a - "Holly!" he bellowed.
She shot up in bed, shoving her curling hair from her face. "Whaa? I'm up!"
"You called the tosser last night?"
"You checked my phone?" she cried, scrambling to her feet. "How dare you!"
"Even after what I told you at the bridge?"
"I needed someone to talk to." When she saw he was about to crush her phone, she snatched it from him.
Wait... More memories emerged. She'd questioned him! Cade cast his mind back, trying to recall everything he'd told her. "Seems like you talked to me quite a bit! Interrogating me!"
"Now you know how it feels to be taken advantage of. Turnabout's fair play."
"It's hardly the same! You were drunk, while I was poisoned and burned."
"And drunk," she added.
"You called him even when I was hurt? While I was lying unconscious, you talked to him?"
"Yes, Cadeon, after I tirelessly saw to your healing, and then determined that you were going to be fine, I did make a call."
Cade's eyes widened. "To break up with him?"
"No! Just because you told me I'm your female doesn't make the corollary true. We still don't have a relationship."
"In other words, the square root of f**kall is f**kall."
"You don't want me to be with Tim, but you're not offering anything else."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You told me I'm your female, but you have no plans to ask me for any kind of commitment."
He ground his teeth. Because I can't! "Would you say yes if I did?" he asked, noting that he'd gone still, awaiting her answer.
"No, Cadeon," she finally said. "I wouldn't."
A fear skittered up his spine - something he'd considered, but dismissed. "Are you in love with that human?"
With an unflinching gaze, she said, "He's what I want."
They'd made the cab ride from the motel to the closest car dealership in stony silence.
Now, as a bemused salesman escorted them about the lot, they bickered over what to buy for the rest of the trip. She wanted a new, smaller SUV, and Cade wanted a used "gas-guzzling behemoth," as she put it. Though he'd calmly pointed out the various merits of his choice, she refused to see reason.