Liz woke slowly, feeling good, but as she opened her eyes, the events of the previous night came rushing back to her, and she groaned.
Covering her face with her hands, she could see everything that had happened. She couldn’t believe she’d let Zan touch her and hadn’t done anything to stop him. It’s like his power had been holding her, or she’d been in some kind of trance or something.
But if she was honest with herself, he really hadn’t done anything to her. She’d wanted him.
She’d wanted to have sex with him, to use him and then discard him like she’d done with so many others, but it hadn’t happened like that. And it felt different.
For months she’d been using sex with anonymous men to forget, but what had happened with Zan just seemed too . . . intimate. She knew it was crazy. She had done much more intimate things with strangers. Maybe it was just because she knew Zan and he knew who she was.
She’d wanted sex and she’d gotten it, kind of. At least Zan had given her a powerful enough orgasm that she’d been able to sleep.
Of course the dreams had still come, but Zan’s face and body had kept appearing. And it was no wonder after the run they’d shared that she’d hadn’t been able to stop thinking about him.
She swalled hard. She could still see him now. Persperation running down his beautiful body as his muscles flexed and strained. It made her mouth dry and she felt desire starting to build inside her.
Suddenly Liz realized that during the run she hadn’t even noticed the angels in the graveyard last night, and a cold shiver rushed through her. It was the first time she hadn’t looked at them, at him, and it was because she’d been thinking too much about Zan’s body.
Shame filled her and a sick feeling of disloyalty made her stomach roll.
How could she have forgotten him?
Squeezing her eyes shut, she shook her head. It was what she wanted, wasn’t it? To forget.
But not like that. He should never be forgotten like that.
Scrambling out of bed, she saw that she was still wearing her running clothes from last night, and didn’t waste time changing but simply slipped on her shoes and immediately headed for the front door. Going out, she jogged across the street and then broke into a run as she reached the park.
She felt a kind of panic and ran hard, needing to get to her angel.
It seemed to take forever but finally she burst through the edge of the trees and saw the angels towering over the graveyard.
As always a feeling of calm settled over her as she approached them. Breathing hard, she sank down in the grass in front of them and focused on the center angel with the outstretched hand.
Every time she saw him, she wondered if he was warning her to stay away or beckoning her to come with him. And she guessed she’d never really know, but she liked to think it was an invitation. He never would have left her if he’d had a choice.
The sadness started to creep in and her eyes filled with tears. But instead of pushing it away she let the sorrow fill and consume her. It was so sharp, so painful just like it had happened yesterday instead of the long months ago.
Tears spilled down her cheeks as she focused back on the angel’s face.
She didn’t know when she’d started equating the angel with Max, but it must have been from the first time she’d seen him. He was beautiful, fierce, but his eyes had such tenderness and compassion. He was a leader, a king. She could just tell.
Suddenly her thoughts shifted to Zan. He had that same kingly aura, but of course he was a king too. In some ways he was so like Max, but there were so many ways they were different.
The conversation they’d had yesterday came back to her and she smiled. It wasn’t really a conversation, more of an argument.
He’d claimed she belonged to him. It wasn’t true, but it was just the kind of thing Max would have said.
They were both controlling, confident, even arrogant. It had taken Max a while to grow into it, but she bet Zan had possessed those traits from the first.
The shivery feeling she knew was Zan flitted along the edge of her perception and she realized that he was letting her know he was coming.
It kind of annoyed her. She’d just wanted to be alone with her angel and now Zan was intruding.
Actually she wasn’t surprised he was coming. For some reason it seemed like he should be there, but she didn’t turn toward him even when she was sure he was right behind her.
His deep voice washed over her. “You’re cold.”
The fact that he mentioned it made her realize that she was, but before she even really registered it, he wrapped his warm jacket around her.
It felt wonderful, the warmth of him surrounding her, comforting her, but she immediately wanted to push it off. The jacket smelled like him and accepting it somehow seemed to mean something more.
He sank down in the grass next to her, and spoke like he could read her mind. “It’s just a jacket, princess. It doesn’t change anything.”
It didn’t change anything for him, she thought. He’d already decided she belonged to him. But her accepting the jacket didn’t mean her perception of their relationship had changed, did it?
Maybe she was thinking too much.
She almost laughed at her use of the word. They didn’t have a relationship and they never would. She’d never have a relationship with anyone ever again.
She sat stiffly next to Zan in silence for a long time, not even looking at him before she finally spoke. “Why are you here?”
“I could feel you were upset,” he said softly.
She was surprised. “You felt that at your house and came to find me?” she asked, still not looking at him.
“Sure,” he said softly. “Do you want to tell me what’s upset you?”
“No,” she answered instantly.
She couldn’t believe that he could feel her emotions so easily, and she wondered if he could tell everything she felt. It was kind of unnerving really. It would be amazing with someone she loved but Zan was practically a stranger. She didn’t want him knowing her inner-most feelings.
She also couldn’t believe that he’d come to her. But to do what? Try to make her feel better?
Her stomach turned over again. She felt so disloyal sitting here in front of her angel with Zan. It was like she was rubbing his nose in the fact that she’d moved on. But she hadn’t. She couldn’t.
But he would know that, wouldn’t he?
He would know that she would always belong to him. She would always be loyal to him and their love. She could never be with Zan.
Just thinking his name made her mind turn to him.
She didn’t want to think about Zan at all but now that she was aware of him, his presence made it impossible not to. She refused to look at him, but she could see his jean-clad legs and boots in the grass next to her, and of course she could feel him in her head, but she also swore that she could feel his heat.
It was crazy, she knew, she was just feeling the residual warmth in his jacket, but it seemed different. It was like she could feel his physical warmth even though he wasn’t touching her. Maybe it was just because she wanted him.
And heaven help her, she did want him. She wanted him more than ever.
Her mind kept returning to what had happened last night and she felt a blush coloring her cheeks. She had done more intimate things with other guys, but she’d never had to face them the morning after. She’d always left when they were asleep.
But here was Zan next to her. They both knew what had happened between them, and she wasn’t sure how to handle it. Finally she decided to pretend it hadn’t happened. It wouldn’t be easy. It was almost like she could still feel his touch and she’d never forget the overwhelming pleasure. Another blush stained her cheeks as she wondered if he knew what she was remembering.
She also kept thinking about what he’d said last night, and curiosity was eating her up.
Still without looking at him, she asked the question that had been on her mind. “What did you mean,” she said softly, “when you said I’d been drawn here?”
He didn’t answer for a moment as if he was trying to decide what to say, but finally he spoke. “Do you remember why you chose to come to L.A.?”
She picked at the grass, still refusing to look at him, and thought it was a strange question. “What do you mean?”
“Why L.A.?” he asked again. “Why not Phoenix, Dallas, Denver, San Francisco? Why did you choose L.A.?”
She shrugged. “I wanted to go to a big city that was far away from Roswell because it would be easier to get lost, and L.A. seemed like a good choice.”
“But,” he pressed, “there are other big cities, a lot are even farther than L.A., so why this city?”
She saw his argument now. “So you’re saying that I didn’t really make a decision to come to L.A. but I was drawn here because you are here.” She shook her head. “I don’t buy it. It’s a complete coincidence.”
“Is it?” he asked. “Of all the cities in the world you could have gone to, you end up here, only a few minutes away from me.”
She shook her head, but he continued. “I knew you’d come here as soon as I felt you leave Roswell. Even if you couldn’t consciously feel me that far away, your powers were drawn to mine. That’s the way it works.”
Liz was getting angry now and felt even more confused, and tuned to him in spite of herself. She met his eyes and she saw a flash of triumph. He’d wanted her to look at him. Another blush burned her cheeks but she was more angry than shy now.
“That’s the way what works?” she demanded.
He held her gaze. “You belong to me, and I belong to you. You can always find me.”
“No,” she denied instantly. “I don’t belong to you.”
One corner of his mouth quirked up. “Saying it isn’t so doesn’t make it any less true.”
Liz jumped to her feet. “I’ll never belong to you,” she snarled.
With a lithe motion, Zan was on his feet next to her. “Never is a long time, princess.”
She felt like slapping him or running away, or both, and she realized that he knew it a split second before he wrapped his fingers around her wrist.
“Easy princess,” he soothed. “Don’t go running off again. My car is right over here,” he motioned to the parking lot. “I’ll drive you home.”
She stiffened under his touch as she instantly thought about what he’d done to her last night, and her body automatically reacted to him, desire filling her.
With a quick, guilty glance, she looked up at the angel. She needed to get away from Zan. “I’ll walk home,” she said haughtily, meeting his eyes and trying to pull out of his grip.
But he didn’t let go, and his eyes never left hers. He spoke only a single word, but it sent shivers through her. “Liz.”
His voice wasn’t loud or demanding, but calm and gentle, and made her feel like a fool for fighting him about a simple car ride. She wasn’t sure what it was, his tone of voice, his expression, but she found herself meekly going with him, and before she knew it he was shutting her into his car.
He got in beside her and started the engine, turning the heat up high. “You’re cold again,” he said, making her realize that she was, and she pulled his jacket even more tightly around her, shivering inside it.
She thought he would take her home, but he turned to her. “Do you want to talk about what happened last night?” he asked softly.
“No,” she said, staring out the windshield, refusing to look at him. “Because it was a mistake and it will never happen again.”
The car seat creaked and she knew he was leaning toward her, and she felt his arm across the back of her shoulders. He grasped her chin in his fingers, making her meet his eyes, and she almost gasped with the intensity she saw in him.
“It will happen, princess,” he promised, “we both know it, and you will enjoy every minute.”
Another shiver rushed through her and this time she knew it wasn’t from the cold. Suddenly every inch of her was warm, hot even, as desire filled her. And she knew Zan felt it by the satisfied look on his face.
His eyes drifted to her lips and she thought he would kiss her. She even wanted him to, but neither of them moved for long minutes and finally Zan released her and moved back across the seat.
He’d repeatedly said that he wouldn’t take her until she only wanted him. Was that what he was waiting for? she wondered. And how did he think he would know? Maybe he thought he’d be able to feel it.
His voice broke into her thoughts. “Why were you upset this morning?”
The feelings of guilt filled her again and she felt tears prick her eyes. “Couldn’t you tell?” she asked stiffly.
“I can tell what you are feeling, not why you are feeling it,” he said softly. “I can’t read your mind. What happened that made you so sad? Was it about last night?”
She almost thought she heard regret in his tone, but she knew that was ridiculous. He’d wanted her and heaven help her, she’d wanted him. It had been a mistake, but that’s not why she’d had the meltdown. It wasn’t any of his business and she wasn’t going to tell him anything but to go to hell, but when she opened her mouth, it just came out. “I forgot him,” she whispered.
Regretting it as soon as she said it, she put a hand to her lips.
She expected him to keep questioning her but he stayed silent, not even asking who she meant. It was obvious, she thought, but her whole body was tense as she waited for him to say something.
His voice was gruff when he spoke. “You’ll never really forget him, not after what you shared.”
His answer surprised her so much that she turned tear-filled eyes toward him. “Thank you,” she whispered.
A tear spilled down her cheek, and reaching out, he wiped it away with his thumb. He continued to stroke her cheek as his eyes searched her face, and she was afraid of what he might see there. Trembling under his touch, she dropped her eyes, unable to meet his intense gaze.
His soft voice brought her eyes back to his. “Do you want to tell me about him?”
A rush of fear and pain filled her, and she was so confused. She never wanted to forget Max, but she also wanted the pain of her memories to go away. It was crazy. She was crazy.
Zan was watching her, and she realized he was expecting her to answer, but she wasn’t sure if she did want to talk about Max.
“You said you could feel what he was feeling,” she said at last.
“Yeah,” he agreed, “but I want to hear it from you.”
Tears filled her eyes again as powerful memories pushed their way forward. She wasn’t sure why but she started talking.
“I had a crush on him for years, but I never thought I had a chance. I never thought he even looked at me.”
Zan broke in. “He loved you from the first moment he saw you, but he was afraid to show it.”
The tears she had barely been keeping in check flowed down her cheeks. It was wonderful to hear, but it hurt so much to think of all the time they’d wasted.
Eventually she continued. “Even after he saved me he tried to stay away, we both did, but we couldn’t.”
“What happened?” he prompted.
“There was a party,” she said softly, remembering. “All night I thought we would finally kiss, but we kept getting interrupted. He came to my house the next night and it happened. It was so powerful but so sweet.”
He spoke again. “And then you were together.”
“Mostly,” she whispered. “For a while anyway.” The memories practically overwhelmed her and she closed her eyes as she felt more tears gathering. ‘Until we found out about his des…, about who he was.
“A king, you mean,” he said.
“Yeah,” she agreed softly. “And I couldn’t stand in his way. I had to let him go. But he wouldn’t accept it. I had to push him away again and again, until...” she trailed off, her voice cracking with emotion as she choked on her tears.
Zan took her in her in his arms, holding her tightly. “Until he turned to her,” he said softly.
She nodded. “It’s all my fault,” she sobbed. “I thought he had to be with her. If I’d have known…” she trailed off again, shaking her head.
“If you’d known what?” he asked, his breath brushing her ear.
Suddenly she realized how much she’d revealed and struggled to get away from him. She pushed at his chest, but couldn’t budge him. His arms were holding her tightly, but somehow stayed gentle and soothing.
“It’s okay,” he whispered.
“Let me go, damn it,” she demanded.
Instantly he complied, and she scooted as far away from him as she could get, glaring at him, blaming him for how much she’d said.
He held her gaze. “You need to talk about it.”
Turning away from him, she spoke. “You can either take me home now or I’ll walk.”
Zan looked at her for a few more long minutes and then finally started the car.
They drove in silence and as soon as he stopped in front of her apartment she threw his jacket aside, leapt out and ran inside. She kept listening for his step behind her but she was surprised that Zan didn’t follow her.
Even though she didn’t want to admit it to herself, she was disappointed that he didn’t come with her, and it made her more confused.
She was shivering all over and her mind was spinning. There were so many things she didn’t want to remember, didn’t want to talk about and it was all Zan’s fault. He kept dredging up all of the things she wanted to forget, and he thought she belonged to him.
Never would she belong to him and never would she tell him what he kept pushing her to reveal.
But she wasn’t sure what to do.
She was so confused. She wanted to fight but she also wanted to run. Half of her wanted to pack her few belongings and drive so far away that Zan would never be able to find her. The other half wanted to prove to Zan that he couldn’t control her, and would never have her.
Suddenly she knew what she would do. Tonight she would go out and find a guy and ride him all night.
At ten thirty exactly she walked into the club.
She was wearing her usual fuck-me outfit but instead of making her feel strong and in control, she just felt confused. Her body wasn’t getting that rush of desire she usually got in her favorite hunting ground. Instead she felt nervous and uncertain.
Zan had done this to her, she reminded herself. All she had to do was find a guy and fuck him silly and she would feel better again. She just had to prove to herself that Zan wasn’t right. She’d prove it to both of them.
Instantly she started scanning the guys, mentally discarding one after another until she’d narrowed it down to two.
One was a typical frat boy, clean-cut, expensive clothes, but he could dance. She thought he might be a contender, but wondered about his abilities in bed.
The other guy was a bit beefier, his well-defined body easy to see in the snug-fitting clothes he wore. She had doubts about him too. Something just didn’t feel right.
Butterflies filled her stomach, not desire, and normally she would have discarded them both, but she pushed her feelings away. She needed this even if it wasn’t the best ride she’d had. She told herself that she was bound to have an off night occasionally especially when she was just getting back into the swing of things.
The second guy caught her looking at him, and started toward her.
Normally at this point she would be congratulating herself on her technique, but as he got closer she just felt nervous, and a little sick.
“Hi, beautiful,” he greeted.
Swallowing hard to rid herself of her nervousness, she spoke with more bravado than she felt. “Hi yourself,” she purred, trying to channel her pre-Zan, confident self.
Slowly she looked at his body, letting him see her admiration and saw the light of desire ignite in his eyes. Moving closer to him, she put a hand on his chest and stood on tiptoe to talk in his ear. “I’m looking for a good fuck tonight,” she said huskily, “and I think you’re the one to give it to me.”
His hands gripped her waist and he nuzzled her neck near her ear. “I can give it to you good all right,” he agreed arrogantly.
A shiver went through her, but it wasn’t desire. It felt more like revulsion, but she pushed it aside. She had to do this.
“My place?” he asked.
She nodded. “But I can’t wait that long,” she said, even though she didn’t feel turned on at all. Briefly she wondered if she was even wet enough to take him inside, but decided it would happen as soon as he started touching her. “Let’s have a preview in the men’s room.”
With his arm around her waist, he quickly steered them toward the bathroom and held the door open for her to go inside. She noticed that it was empty, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway for what she wanted. She went to the last stall in the row and he was right behind her, closing the door and snapping the lock shut before turning to her.
Nervousness consumed her now as he reached for her. She’d never felt anything like it even the first times she gone hunting. She’d always been so confident, so in control, but now…
Before the guy touched her, the stall door was flung open and her suitor spun around in surprise, “What the…?”
Somehow Liz wasn’t surprised at what she saw.
Zan leaned a casual shoulder against the stall, his arms folded over his chest, but his eyes were burning with intensity. He didn’t even look at the guy, but stayed focused on her as he spoke. “Hit the road,” he said in a low, intense voice.
“Uh, s-sure man,” he stuttered, practically stumbling in his haste to get away.
Liz held Zan’s gaze as she heard the bathroom door shut behind the guy. Zan gave a small flick of his hand and she heard a click, knowing he’d locked it so they could have some privacy.
“So,” he started, “who are you trying to prove it to, me or you?”
Liz thought it was strange that he didn’t even really seem mad. “I don’t know what you mean,” she denied.
His eyebrow rose. “You came here tonight to fuck a guy to either prove to me or you that you’re not mine. So which is it?”
Suddenly she couldn’t hold his gaze any longer. It was too intense, too perceptive. She pushed past him out of the stall and kept her back to him as she answered. “I don’t have to prove anything to you.”
When he spoke, he was so close that it made her jump. “So you wanted to prove to yourself that you could have meaningless sex with a random guy even though you feel the exact opposite of desire for him.”
Liz whirled around, “Get out of my head!” she spat.
He grasped her shoulders. “And what would that prove?” he asked, ignoring her outburst. “We both know how much you want me.”
She pushed at him trying to get away. “It’s just sex!” she yelled. “It doesn’t mean anything!”
Realizing that she’d just echoed words that had once been spoken by Tess, she clapped her hands to her mouth, her eyes wide.
Zan searched her face. “But it does mean something, doesn’t it?” he said softly. “It meant something when you made love with him. And you know what it would mean to him if he found out what you were doing with all these guys.”
Pain ripped though her as the thought of Max. Zan was right, making love with Max had meant everything.
Liz shook her head, feeling dizzy and sick. She squatted down, taking deep breaths as shivers racked her body. What was she doing? She didn’t even know anymore.
Zan sank down next to her, his hands rubbing her back and arms, his breath brushing her ear as he continued. “What would he say to you if he knew?”
Even though she was drowning in confusion she couldn’t stop fighting Zan. “It’s none of his business,” she whispered.
“Maybe we should ask him?” he suggested.
A laugh started to bubble up in her throat and she wondered if she was hysterical. “Good luck with that,” she said, giggling. “You’d better have a damn good cell plan because he’s not even on the planet.”