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He denied it? “I’m sure he wants to talk it over with me,” Della said, hoping she was right, but accepting she probably wasn’t. First, she knew Burnett didn’t trust the Vampire Council. Second, even with her new powers, knowing him, he’d still probably hesitate to let her work any case he considered dangerous. But shouldn’t the decision be hers?
Hell yes, it should, the ghostly voice inside her shouted. Find Natasha!
And just like that, she knew the two things were connected. Natasha and Liam were victims of Craig Anthony. He may have been caught, but those he had imprisoned and enslaved were still out there.
“Burnett denied my request right out,” Chase said with sarcasm. “He keeps you all on a short leash.”
Pushing her latest thought aside to deal with Chase, she cupped her hands and considered his accusation about the camp leader. She knew what Chase said was true. She’d spent most of the last few months yanking on her leash, but her loyalty to Burnett demanded she defend him. “Not that short. We caught Craig Anthony, didn’t we?”
“There is that,” he said. “But I’ll bet anything you did it while breaking some of his rules.”
Right again. But she wouldn’t admit it. She met Chase’s gaze, noting the bruise under his eye. “Some rules are there for a reason. Like we’re not supposed to reveal our Reborn powers. Is that how you got that black eye? Inviting trouble by showing off?”
“I don’t invite trouble, but I take care of it if it shows up.”
“Well, stop it. Stop showing off what you can do. Burnett’s right. It’ll invite all kinds to try to outdo you. Next time, instead of a black eye, you could have a broken neck.”
A slow smile came across his face. “Careful, you almost sound like you care.”
Damn it! She did care. Bonded. What the hell did that really mean? She almost asked him to explain it more, but why the hell would she trust someone who was full of nothing but secrets?
She turned to leave, but before she walked through the falls, he appeared in front of her.
“Don’t go,” he said.
She shook her head. “The only conversation I want to have with you is when you tell me who sent you to check on Chan and me.”
“I told you already,” he growled, frustration sounding in his tone. “The Vampire Council.”
Della studied his face, realizing that this time he didn’t flinch. Was he telling the truth? Did he not know who else was behind it? Oh, hell, she didn’t know what to believe anymore.
“Then how did they know about me?” she asked.
“Della, I work for them, just like you work for the FRU. Do they tell you everything? Hell, no. Burnett didn’t even tell us they sent other agents in when we were looking for that Billy kid.”
The truth of his words had more doubt flopping around her head and her heart. She hated uncertainty.
And he seemed to sense it. “We belong together now.” He moved closer, put his hand on her shoulder. “Why are you fighting it?” He studied her and a frown suddenly pulled at his lips. “Is it Steve? You still have feelings for him?”
She tilted her head back. “Yes, I care about Steve.”
She wasn’t going to lie. She and Steve were practically together now. This last weekend when he’d been here, she’d stopped pretending in front of everyone. Steve had even put his arm around her when they’d been walking to lunch Friday. And because she’d sensed it had been a test, she’d let him. Damn it, she hadn’t wanted to fail that test.
She hadn’t wanted to fail Steve. Yet there was a small part of her that worried she was destined to fail him. And all because of some stupid bonding with the guy standing in front of her.
“And this,” she waved a hand between them, “this isn’t the same thing.” She reached deep inside to find something to explain it.
She saw emotions flash in his eyes. Disappointment, anger, maybe even jealousy.
“You even told me. This bond thing can be compared to the relationship shared by identical twins.”
His eyebrow arched in complete disbelief. “So, you love me like a brother? That kiss last week—”
“Not exactly like a brother, but … but…” His words echoed in her head. Or, at least one word did. Love. “I don’t love you, period.” She gripped her hands. “I go back and forth on even liking you.” Being attracted to him, caring if he got hurt, that was something different. Something she didn’t want to think about.
Something she was working on denying.
He exhaled. “That’s bullshit.”
Suddenly feeling the urgency to deal with other issues—that didn’t have to do with him—she glanced up at another rainbow of color dancing on the walls. “I gotta go.” Turning on the heels of her boots, she stepped out of the cavern. The cold of the waterfall almost felt surreal. It washed down her head, seeping beneath her shirt. Immediately, she felt a sense of loss at leaving. I’ll be back.
“Go to do what?” Chase was right behind her, but she kept walking. She refused to look back, and refused to acknowledge that the sense of loss had anything to do with him and not everything to do with the falls. Please let it be just the falls.
“What is it that you have to do?” He repeated the question when she didn’t answer.
“Talk to Burnett,” she answered, thinking about him denying her the case—without even talking to her about it—and then she recalled the whole ghost issue and the crazy vision. “And Kylie and Holiday,” she said aloud as she formed her own plan. If anyone could explain what had happened there, it would be them.