The car ride home seemed longer than I expected. Leo and I traded off driving about halfway home. We stopped at Leo’s apartment first. The teal-colored, square complex looked uncommonly quiet at two in the morning. Leo looked totally spent from our weekend of new situations.
“Can I call you tomorrow?” I asked.
“You can call me anytime you like, Darlin.” His eyes looked cold. They didn’t match his words. I could tell Leo was disappointed about something.
I followed him from the car to the trunk and opened it for him. “I don’t know where the ice in your veins is coming from,” I brushed my hand along his jawline and felt him lean into my touch. “I need to talk to you alone.”
“That time is going to be hard to come by now.” Leo nodded toward Henry sleeping in the backseat.
“No, it won’t. I’ll text you when I make it home.” Leo smiled and turned slowly toward his door. I tugged at his shirt and pulled myself up to kiss him. He didn’t help me reach him or bend down to meet me. He was hurt, and I needed to fix him.
“I love you, not what’s floating in your blood.”
Leo grinned, scanning my face quickly. He unlocked his front door. “I’ll be more fun after a few hours of sleep.”
“Sure thing.” I walked away and heard his door close and lock before I reached my car. He usually watched until I started my car and drove away. At least before today. The change depressed me, leaving me feeling dead tired and irritable.
Henry woke when I got back in the car. He stretched and yawned, grabbed my shoulder, and rubbed my arm on the way back to his place. He talked about how much he likes my father and how much fun the party was.
I replayed the afternoon, trying to count the ways I probably upset Leo. My episode with Lila, how busy we all were, my few minutes of free time spent with Henry, maybe my short conversation with Dagen. I couldn’t decide on just one fatal move. It was likely the whole day, including the morning hours spent in bed next to Henry.
Rounding the corner near Henry’s place, he started talking about lunch plans and what I was hoping to accomplish during the week.
“I need to get some books ready to sell back and drop the summer classes I signed up for. There’s a push for us to return to the Yolk soon. There won’t be time for anything else. I need to talk to Kate about—all of it, really.”
“I need to smooth things over with Leo and find myself a pureblood to fuck so I don’t rip somebody’s head off who can’t heal at hyper speed like my sister.” Was what I was thinking, but I didn’t need to burden Henry with my internal list. The public one was boring enough.
“You put most of your life on hold before you walked inside.”
“Hmm, and since I didn’t die like I expected, I guess I focus on living again. There’s a parking space just in front of the stairs. I’m going to take it.” I parked and went around to get our bags. Henry opened the back passenger door and stretched out his long arms.
“I totally understand, maybe we can have lunch together at the end of the week. After things even out.” Henry wrapped his arm around my shoulders and let me lead him to the steps. “Hand me the bags. Let me carry them inside.”
“Front steps,” I yawned, pressing the button to set the alarm on my car.
Henry knew every inch of his apartment surroundings. If you didn’t know better, you wouldn’t realize he was blind. I was trying to be angry with him, but I just couldn’t. He’s remarkable in every way.
I let the smothering feel of Leo’s bad mood fall off my shoulders before I walked in the front door.
In the morning, Henry woke me before leaving for work dressed in a light gray suit and crisp white shirt.
“Wow, you look terrific, and you smell so yummy.” I offered to toss on clothes and drive him, but his normal car service was already on its way.
“I put an extra key on the kitchen counter. Bring as little or as much of your stuff here as you like. See you later tonight.”
“Okay, sure.” He kissed my forehead and left in a flash. There was no time allotted for discussion over the key by design.
With my day open, I made up the bed and tidied the room. I grabbed a sweatshirt from his closet and slid on my running shoes. The key sitting on the counter created an interesting dilemma. If I didn’t take the key, I couldn’t lock the deadbolt on the front door—Bastard.
I stopped at a traffic light on the way to my apartment. The turn signal in my car seemed incredibly loud. Heat licked like invisible flames off of the hood of the car in front of me. I never noticed how something so common could be so mesmerizingly beautiful.
A loud, long honk came from the car behind me. I wasn’t texting or looking at my phone. I was just distracted by the beauty of the world. It was only another ten minutes to my front door. I needed to focus long enough to get myself home.
I waved apologetically to the car behind me and continued with traffic until I could turn onto my quiet residential street. I was almost too distracted by everyday surroundings to even drive myself home.
Kate’s little green car sat parked close to the front entrance. I needed to talk to her, but I wanted to run. I couldn’t fathom sitting still at my computer completing my mundane chores.
I pulled the laces on my shoes tight. I didn’t even wear socks for the short drive home. I was only wearing a dark tank top and some yoga shorts under my sweatshirt. I tossed my purse and phone in the trunk and headed off in a sprint down the street toward the park.
My legs felt stronger than ever before. My eyesight seemed to double in clarity overnight, and my hearing seemed incredibly sensitive.
I reached the park and ran the long walking path twice. Tracking a group of squirrels hiding from me in the bushes lining the manicured path, I noticed doves fighting off a blue jay bull badgering their nest.
I hopped the low path fence on my next pass by the tree limb and grabbed the blue jay squishing it in my hand as I landed. No one was around, but panic rushed through my core.
What if someone saw me.
I took off running back toward my car, grabbed my stuff from inside the trunk, and hurried inside. Kate was nowhere to be seen, and I couldn’t hear her heartbeat anywhere. I decided she must have dropped off her car and left. I peeled off my sweat-soaked, bird gut smeared clothes and put them in the washtub. I desperately needed a shower.
I grabbed a cold water from the fridge and texted Leo. I went on a run and grabbed a nasty ass bird. Home now, come by if you can. I tossed my phone on the bed and walked into the shower.
Leo arrived before I was finished washing my hair.
“Al, it’s me. I’m coming in.” I opened the shower door wide and watched Leo strip off his clothes.
The beauty of his chiseled body wasn’t lost on me. I could feel the lust waking my desire to touch him. His kiss tasted like hard liquor at eight-thirty in the morning.
I scanned his face for an explanation. A confrontation with him wasn’t what I wanted, so I didn’t press him. I kissed Leo deeply, trying to silently discuss our unusual situation.
Every muscle in his body felt rigid and firm. His soapy grip around my stomach felt like ropes tying around me. His chest on my back felt cold. It took a few minutes for the hot water to warm his skin. All the care and softness I’ve come to expect from Leo’s touch was gone.
He picked me up, pinning me to the far shower wall. The tile was cold, but my hot skin barely registered the temperature. I wrapped my legs around his waist and felt his footing slip as he situated our bodies together. It was quick, especially for Leo. He pulled out at the last second. I rinsed him off carefully, hoping to soften his mood, but he remained hostile.
Leo walked out of the shower and grabbed his clothes from the floor. I followed and tried to kiss him, but he turned away from me.
“What is with you?” We both noticed the light steam floating off my skin. The air in the house wasn’t that cold. Leo grabbed a towel from the rack and walked into the bedroom.
I grabbed his thick bicep spinning him around to face me. He looked startled. I was never strong enough to force him to do anything before the Yolk.
I stared into his eyes, waiting for some kind of response.
Leo dropped his handful of clothes and grabbed my shoulders roughly. I could feel the bruises rise and fall under his unyielding grip. He kissed my mouth hard and fierce, moving to kiss a bruise high on my neck before shoving me back on the bed.
His eyes were red. The pain in them turned our conversation in a different direction.
“What did I do? Tell me so I can fix it,” I demanded.
“There’s nothing to fix. I’m a half-blood. You’re full and purified by the Yolk. I can’t be what you need anymore.”
“We were never about need. What are you really saying?” I reached out and grabbed Leo’s hand. He wrenched it away from me.
“They explained it all to me. I won’t live as long as you. I don’t have enough magic in my blood. That wasn’t you with your hand around Lila’s neck. That was your need for magic blood taking over because I’m not enough for you anymore.”
“So, we find somebody for that. Maybe a woman, Emma, or one of her coven. Henry isn’t magical at all,” I thought out loud.
“Henry is a problem that goes away in time. This never will.” Leo grabbed his clothes off the floor and dropped them on my bedside chair, shaking out each piece as if he was preparing to put them back on and leave.
I crawled across the bed and knelt in front of him, taking him into my mouth, grabbing his firm ass cheeks with both hands. He steadied himself against the high back of the old chair. Once he came, I pulled my mouth off his skin and ran my hands down his legs—kissing his muscular thighs before sitting back on the floor and looking up at him.
“There’s no reason for you to leave.” I could see his eyes soften. His face changed back to the Leo I knew all my life— the one that looked at me with a mix of devotion and worship.
He pulled me up off the floor and hugged me for a long time. I coaxed him toward my bed several times before he accepted my apology.
The end of our conversation took longer. Too much change in too short of time, and Leo couldn’t take it all at once. He promised not to freeze me out again. I promised to do better—a few times.