Chapter 9

Anna wasn't exactly one to over ponder things. She acted—when she was angry, she sulked, when she was happy, she smiled, when she was pensive, she was quiet. Her emotions were clear on her face, her heart on her sleeve—she still had one, even if it didn't function.

She could not determine her opinion of Seth, however, and confusion had never sat well on her face.

"But… I don't understand," she murmured. "How can you put yourself through such a dreadful thing?" She was sitting cross-legged at the foot of his bed, leaning against the wall. His broken leg was propped up on her knee, and his boyish features were avid in his attempt at explanation.

"We don't have a choice," he told her patiently. She tucked a strand of fair hair behind her ear and smiled a little.

"Why ever not?" she asked.

"It's nature."

"Shouldn't you have the right to chose who you fall in love with?"

"I guess. But it just happens."

She raised an eyebrow. "Nature is cruel."

She liked the way his hair sort of fell about his face, and the beginning of stubble—how, in spite of the fact that he was a werewolf, he wasn't absolutely enormous, like the rest of his clansmen. How he smiled, how when he looked at her, she seemed to be the only thing in his world.

"I suppose. But it saves us the trouble of finding a woman ourselves." She did, however, dislike his laziness; the slight drawl in his voice that she knew hadn't been there all his life.

"And have you imprinted yet?"

"No." he said too quickly. She raised an eyebrow, but smiled a little. She'd been painting his cast absently, in swirls of color. There was a pair of octagonal, wire framed, pink-glass sunglasses at the top of her head, and another paintbrush behind her ear.

"I suppose you don't want to?"

"I… I don't really know. I'm worried about it."

"Worried? Whatever for?"

"I get the feeling she won't like me."

She rolled her eyes. "You'll be fine."

"Anna?"

"Mmm?"

"I lied."

"About what?"

"I have imprinted."

"And she doesn't like you?"

"I don't know."

"What do you mean you don't know?" she asked, frustrated. "does she dislike you?"

"I don't know. I haven't told her yet."

"Oh God…"

"So I really, truly, have no idea."

"That's ridiculous. You should tell her and she should answer."

"That's disturbing. If a random stranger—or a guy I'd met a week or so ago, that's when I saw her—came up to me and told me he was irrevocably in love with me, I'd run away screaming."

"Well, yes, but that's because a guy coming up to you andtellingyou he is irrevocably—"

"No, you're not understanding—"

"I understand, Seth." She murmured with a slight smile, reaching over to pat his cheek. "I'm just making fun of you."

"Thanks a ton."

"Anytime."

They sat in silence for a while, her doodling on his cast, and him watching her through half closed eyes. Then, suddenly he said, "I'm hungry."

"No! You shouldn't be hungry! I fed you thirty minutes ago!"

"But it was soup."

"What's wrong with soup? Your ribs are broken. Stuff that goes down your torso should be gentle."

"Soup, my dear, is totally unappetizing."

"Well, that's all there is, so live with it."

"No food?"

"Soup is food!"

"That's the problem with vampires… you don't understand people who don't need to eat because you eat them yourselves…"

She got up, gently but firmly putting his leg back on the bed. "I don't eat humans, you bastard. I should hit you as hard as I can though, but I have more dignity than that!" and she marched off, paintbrushes and all.