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"I know," she said quickly, her eyes not meeting his. "I'm sorry. This is hard, I understand, but I have to know. It wasn't the sun? You said the sun can't hurt females."

The anger that surged through him in that moment concerned him. It felt reckless, and was fusing with his painful hunger-urging him to reach across the table and bite the veana. For her blood and her silence.

"It is time for your end of the bargain, Petra," he growled.

His fiercely uttered words seemed to snap her out of the one-track-questions race she'd been on for the past hour. "My blood?"

Was he wrong or did he actually see a flash of interest, of excitement, cross her wide-eyed gaze? "Yes," he answered. "I need your blood. You have no idea how much. But first, I need your breath."

* * *

"Am I doing this right?"

"Stop talking. We'll know in a moment."

They were seated on the floor, Petra on her knees. She had lit more candles, wanted to make sure she saw everything, was aware of everything. She was really nervous, wondering what she was doing, and if she could somehow screw it up. The idea sounded insane; blowing one's breath on another to heal them. Could she truly have the kind of power he was suggesting? Or was this some kind of attempt at manipulation or embarrassment before the real deal commenced?

The drinking of her blood.

"I can feel your timidity, Petra." He opened his eyes. They were the color of wet bark and they implored her. "For this to work, you must be confident."

"That's the problem," she said. "Confidence about something I've never done before, can't imagine will work, and-"

"Stop talking."

"Fine," she grumbled.

"Just focus. You have this power. I swear it to you."

"That would be great if I actually trusted you."

He reached out and gripped her shoulders. "Bloody hell, Veana. I'm not asking you to trust me. I'm asking you to trust yourself."

She stilled. Her breath catching in her lungs, she looked at him. His ravaged skin, his intense gaze, his mouth . . . Gods, how had this happened? How had she been the one near the caves that day, seen him carry the female? Why was she the one to pull him from the blistering sun? This male with no heartbeat. Who claimed he was a vampire, who swore she was one too. She took a deep breath. Was it the truth?

Was it her truth?

And if so, when did it kick in?


His voice, his command, pulled her back into the moment. If she did this and it worked, she would have her answer, wouldn't she? What the hell?

"Okay." She closed her eyes and for a moment just drew on her belief in herself and her strength. Then she pursed her lips and released her breath.

She heard nothing but her exhale.

"Again," he said tightly.

Her blood rushing in her veins, she focused deeper, her mind connecting with her will. She inhaled and blew her warm breath against his face. This time, Synjon said nothing. This time, after ten seconds or so, he sighed. Actually sighed. No pain accompanied the sound. Just an easy sigh of relief.

She dared to open one eye, see if in truth her breath had actually done anything at all. Through the strange field of view, she saw that his right cheek was . . . Her muscles tensed, she opened her other eye.

"Amazing," she breathed.

He touched his face. One small section, the section that had felt her breath, was completely healed. His eyes flipped up and he grinned. "Yes, you are, Love."

She just stared at him, shock barreling through her. How was it possible? If he was right about this-- If this was true, then . . .

"Continue, Veana," he demanded, cutting through her thoughts with an almost playful growl.

Her eyes cut to his and she gave him a slow grin. "Please."

"I don't say please."

"I'm not surprised. You have very poor manners."

"Continue, Veana," he said, then muttered something under his breath that sounded a lot like, "Please."

Brimming with sudden and intense confidence, she cupped her ear. "I'm sorry. What was that?"

His lip curled with annoyance. "Just do it already."

She didn't move.

"You like truth, facts about our species, yes?" he said through gritted teeth.


"Well, then, here is another. Healing a paven, a Pureblood male, is a veana's pleasure."

She thought about this for a moment, then shrugged. "Pleasure or no, I'm sure these veanas would require the barest of manners. A please and a thank you." She lifted her chin. "It's common courtesy, Mr. Wise."

Synjon looked away, trying to keep his temper under control. Even with the burns on his face, he was a formidable male, ruggedly handsome, sexually interesting. Petra had never truly thought of a male that way. Kind, yes. Strong, yes. Reliable, intelligent, honest, handsome-yes.

But sexually interesting, no.

When he turned back to face her, his eyes blazed with heat. He crooked his finger at her until she leaned back toward him. Then he followed suit until they were just a few inches apart. His lips parted and Petra's gaze dropped.

"Please," he whispered. "Blow me, Veana."

The words meant nothing to her in that moment, but the sensual purr in his throat was crystal clear, and it reached inside her chest, grabbed the muscle that refused to beat and for just one brush of a second set it aflame with life.