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I linger behind Sire as we walk back into his sprawling manor, practically dragging my feet.

What Carran said to me has stained my mind, and whether I like it or not, I'm not going to be able to get it out of my head. What if Sire being free is killing people and I just haven't seen it yet? What if Sire really did steal his friend's lover, causing the war.

"I'm willing to answer as many questions you have to ask, if you will allow me to bathe at the same time," Sire says, sensing that the heavy silence is due to me stewing in my thoughts.

"In the meditation pool?" I ask warily.

"Yes." I can hear the smile in his voice.

"Alright..." I mutter. At least if things get heated he will be stuck in that pool, more vulnerable than me.

I follow him downstairs, keeping my gaze trained to the floor. I don't want to take in the beauty of this manor too much when I plan to never visit it again.

However, as I expected, the meditative pool steals my breath away.

Hazel would love this. She lives for magic, and here, it's strong. I can feel it buzzing against my skin as I make it to the edge.

Sire immediately starts shedding of his clothing, forcing me to turn around abruptly.

"You don't have to fear my naked body, you know?" He exclaims softly.

Yes, I do.

"I know..." I say despite myself.

Turning around is awfully tempting. It's the fact that he's beautiful, like gazing upon a finely carved statute, and the fact that a relationship between us is forbidden. I can't be with him, and I definitely can't see him naked.

"Turn around," he presses.

I squeeze my eyes shut, and then my fists. Why do I want to look so bad? Even though it's basically over between Case and I, it's wrong to want to see him like that. Mate or not.

"I shouldn't," I whisper.

"Why not?" I can feel his presence right behind me, beckoning me to turn around.

"I have a boyfriend," I grit out.

"Compared to a mate, a boyfriend means nothing. Unless you're uncomfortable, turn around and look at me," he encourages. It's the last time he is going to push me.

Not guided by a rational mind, I turn around, facing him.

My eyes travel down the strong planes of his stomach, at the tattoo's that converge over his heart. I seen is muscled abdomen, at the ridges that guide my eyes lower...

I blink, drawing my gaze back up to those cold blue eyes. He has the softest smile on his lips, knowing that the power of the mate bond has overcome me.

My mouth is dry as he turns, stepping down into the pool. He sinks below the mellow water, resting against the wall.

I step toward the edge, peering down, seeing my reflection looking back at me. "What would happen if I touched this pool?"

"You would probably die," he muses calmly.

I jump back a step. The water has morphed from calm to terrifying death water that glares threateningly back at me.

"You should have warned me!" I snap, wrapping my arms around myself.

Sire sighs, bracing his arms out along the edge of the pool, dipping his head back. I look at the dark curls that spill out against the marbled tile.

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