I understood what a loaded question this was. Van had let me control our joining, he’d considered what had harmed me even as he sated his ravenous hunger. All of which had been rare, unusual circumstances in my interactions with him.
But never, never, had he asked me to let him have me.
To consent to his taking of my body…
Especially not to let him make love to me. I knew I barely understood what that meant. My experiences with men had been very limited.
But does he?
Would he even know how to make love to a woman?
I considered what I had learned of lovemaking and realized that was truly not what we had ever done. There’d been shouting, sobbing and pleading. And though I knew of the highwaymen that took women in these woods, I’d seen barmaids with men who paid them coin and knew that the taking did not always have to be harmful.
Sometimes they sounded pleasured. And I remembered those rare occasions that Van had made something hot explode within me that had scent my muscles to quaking and turned me to clay in his hands.
In truth what I knew of the act was still very limited now. I’ve been possessed by a demon and every act he’d manipulated me into had benefitted him in some way, I had not been romanced by a man.
I reminded myself harshly of the difference. Filling me with shame.
Locked me more deeply to him.
“What will this cost me, Van?”
“What do you mean?” He leaned more toward the fire. Making his eyes glint with a gold light which seemed to be in motion. Like smoke over his irises.
In the distance I heard crickets chirping. Night birds screeched and somewhere far off there were branches cracking as someone walked an old trail.
Possibly the witches.
“Everything you’ve made me do or say has in some way made things worse for me with you.”
“I never asked you to say my real name.” He pointed out. Scooting on the log in a way that indicated, even now, he was uncomfortable discussing that horrible event.
I shuddered at the memory of the horrible thing he’d become when I called him out.
“I did, in-fact, caution you against using it. Several times.”
He had. He’d covered my mouth. Begged me to let him heal me before I said it. Warned me that it might not have the result I so hoped for.
But I did it anyway.
And I had suffered for it. Despite all his many kindnesses, I now could not look at him without seeing the hint of that awful demon just behind his eyes.
So easily brought to the forefront by whispering one word.
“Please don’t change the subject, Van.” I gave him a long look. “What will this cost me.”
He leaned forward. Tilting his head nearly horizontal as he returned my pensive study. “Everything…”