“Anna. What are you doing—?”

“Is John-John here?”

“No. He’s still at school.” A glance at his watch. “He won’t be home for another three hours.”

I push him into the living room, slam and lock the door and shove him down on the couch.

He grins up at me. “I take it you have a reason for surprising me like this?”

“Can you guess what it is?” My hands are busy unbuckling his belt, pulling at the top button of his jeans.

“You missed me?” It comes out in a hoarse whisper, his fingers tugging my blouse free, slipping it off my shoulders.

In another moment, he’s got my jeans unzipped and we’re both squirming—frantic to have nothing between us except heat and skin.

And then he’s inside me and neither of us speaks again for a long time.

* * *

FREY IS STROKING MY HAIR. I HAVE MY HEAD ON HIS chest, listening to the strong, steady beat of his heart.

I nestle closer. “This is right, isn’t it?”

His hand stills. He tilts my chin up so that our eyes meet. “For me, it’s been right for a long time. Maybe since the first day I saw you walk into that school auditorium with your mother. I’m just sorry it took so long for me to get the courage to tell you how I felt.” He pauses. “And when I finally did, you didn’t believe me.”

I think back to that conversation—could it really have been only a few weeks ago? I shake my head and smile sadly. “John-John had just lost his mother. Staying with him, being a real father for the first time, starting a new life. That’s a lot of emotional upheaval in a very short time. I believed you missed me. I believed you wanted me. But I didn’t believe you were ready to love me.”

“And,” he reminds me, “there was Stephen.”

I nod. “Yes. There was Stephen.” A human I thought I could build a future with because he knew and accepted my true nature. But he was human, after all, and love was no competition for the lure of a public career that I could never, as vampire, be a part of.

I poke his chest with a finger. “And you were right. A match between a human and a vampire is doomed from the start.”

“Oh. So, I’m the consolation prize.”

I reach up and kiss him, urgently, passionately. When I pull back, we’re both breathless. “Does that feel like a consolation prize?”

He puts his arms around me and pulls me closer. “So, tell me, Anna, what really brought you here today?”

I slide my hand down his abdomen. “You mean besides this?”

He laughs. “Besides that.”


“Max?” He pulls back so he can see my face. “What does Max have to do with us?”

“He told me you were the one.”

His voice softens. “Before he died?”

“No. After.”

Frey doesn’t laugh or express incredulity. In fact, his expression grows thoughtful. He and I have been through so much together—faced witches and skinwalkers and rogue creatures of every denomination. The idea that I may have been visited by a man who was once a lover, who was killed in front of me while saving the life of a young girl, who proved to be as strong and bravehearted as any human I ever knew, all this he accepts with a nod and a tightening of his arms around my shoulders.

“Then I owe Max a debt of gratitude,” he says.

“We both do.”



I PULL THE JAG INTO THE PARKING LOT AND reluctantly shut off the engine. my business partners, david and tracey, are already in the office. I know because I’m parked right next to David. He and Tracey have taken to driving together and I can tell where they spent the night by whose car is in the lot. This morning, it’s David’s big, yellow Humvee.

I should have been inside by now, too, knee-deep in tax reports. The not-so-fun side of a successful bounty-hunting business. To make it worse, the sun is bouncing off the bay with the intensity only a cloudless San Diego spring day can generate. I want to be outside basking in it—not trapped inside, working.

But duty calls.

Halfheartedly, I drag myself up the path to the door.

Tracey looks up and smiles a greeting, but David frowns.

“You were supposed to be here an hour ago. We have to get this stuff to the tax attorney by noon.”

I slump in my chair. “Yeah, yeah. What do you want me to do?”

He hands me a fistful of receipts. “Sort these by date.”

I take the pile and spread the receipts on the desk. Mechanically, I sort.


“We’ve had a good year,” Tracey remarks, her eyes zeroing in on the bottom line of an income statement.

“Too good,” David grumbles. “And if we don’t get this tax stuff to the attorney by noon, what hard work giveth, the tax man will taketh away.”

“I hear you, David. Look. I’m sorting, I’m sorting.”

David drops his eyes back to the pile of paper on his side of our partners’ desk. Tracey has pulled a chair up so that they are seated side by side and it strikes me what a good-looking couple they are. David, ex–football player, six feet six inches tall, still the same weight and shape he was when he played for the Raiders. Tracey, ex-cop, bundle of energy, her auburn hair pulled back in a ponytail. I can’t remember why I was skeptical of her when David first brought her on board. I had no reason to be. We even have the same fashion sense—each of us perennially dressed in jeans and T-shirts. That in itself should have been enough to bond us.

David looks up, catches me watching him. But instead of making some comment about how I’m not working, his expression shifts from irritation to sly mischief.

Uh-oh. What now? I brace myself.

“So, Anna,” he says. “You went out of town last weekend.”

“Did you do anything special?” Tracey pipes in, batting her lashes.

What the— I shift my gaze from Tracey to David, narrow my eyes. “Why don’t you tell me? And since when have my weekends been a topic of conversation?”

David leans back in his chair and laces his fingers behind his head. “Since you started spending a lot of time with that friend of yours in Monument Valley. Is there something you want to share with us?”

“Like what?”

“Like is it getting serious between you two?”

I frown, sifting several variations of “none of your fucking business” through my head until I come to the realization with a start. It is their fucking business. They are my partners and my friends. I turn that old frown upside down. “Yes.”

David almost slips backward off his chair. Scrambling to regain his balance, he grunts, “Wow. That’s a first. He’s not just a fuck buddy? You actually admit you have a serious relationship?”

Tracey leans forward, all big eyes and girlish enthusiasm. “Ooooh. Tell me about him. When will I meet him? What’s he like?”

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