Prologue

I'd come here to deceive her, to entrap her in my world. Then I would leave, forget about her, go on with my life. But I had deceived myself, entrapped myself. She was etched in my silent heart, and I could not move on. She didn't hate me anymore, but she couldn't forgive me.

When I'd first been told I was to move to Bon Temps, I was apathetic. When I was told that my purpose in coming here was to secure a telepath, a human telepath, for the Queen, I was annoyed. I did not despise humans, as so many of my kind did, but I had little use for them. Those that threw themselves at us, begging to be bitten or turned, were sad, disgusting creatures. Those that didn't, I ignored, as they ignored me. My only real contact with humans was for feeding or sex, and even then I glamoured them, removing myself from their memory so they would not care when I left. And then I met her.

I had settled in my descendant's home two weeks before I sought her out. I'd had to prepare a light-tight resting place and stock up on synthetic blood, something not common in this quaint little town. The population in Bon Temps was so sparse that they would have noticed if their citizens suddenly bore fang marks, and I had no desire to heal them all with my blood.

The house was large, but in terrible disrepair, and it had taken many nights to make it comfortable. I had enjoyed my solitude, but I could no longer put off what I had come to do. And so I wandered into the little bar to find her.

She'd immediately recognized me for what I was, yet unlike other humans, she was neither enamored nor afraid. She was accepting, a bit intrigued, and unexpectedly kind. And when I found myself bound in silver and facing a final death at the hands of drainers, she had come to my rescue. It would not be difficult to gain her trust and deliver her to the Queen without incident. Until I hesitated.

She had asked me to meet her after work, a strange request from a non-fangbanger, but I had agreed, knowing it would help me in my mission to secure her for the Queen. But when the time came to return to the bar, I had oddly human second thoughts. For the first time in many decades, I felt something close to guilt. And so I had arrived late, though just in time to prevent her death at the hands of those same drainers. At the time, I thought I gave her my blood to heal her only to save myself from the Queen's wrath. I now wonder if perhaps I did it for her, because she was too different, too special to let die.

I can't say when I fell in love with her. It was a strange emotion, creeping into me a little more each time I saw her, each time she blindly trusted me, each time she looked at me and saw not a vampire, but a man. But when she opened the door to me that night, when she stood there in her long t-shirt, her wet hair, her bare feet…I knew.

I loved her, but then I had destroyed her. I had been unfaithful and secretive. I had raped and nearly killed her, though I was not in my right mind at the time. My ploy to make her jealous only hurt her worse. And in the end, it was my secret, my mission for the Queen, that was my undoing. She may have forgiven me for all else in time, but once she knew my true reason for coming here, she could not believe in me.

I stood by and watched as others courted her. The shifter, the were, even my sheriff. But I could not stop loving her. I tried repeatedly to apologize, to make her understand, to somehow win her affection again. She would not be swayed.

Tonight, I went to her home, and when she opened the door, it was like stepping back in time. There she stood in a long t-shirt, her hair wet, her feet bare. But instead of inviting me in, instead of making love, instead of being mine, instead of hearing my pleas, she said, "It doesn't mean I want you back."

Yet I cannot give up.

*****************

She had been mine. She should be mine.

The others had not been good enough for her. The shifter had never stood a chance. The tiger had been too easily manipulated. And Bill…he had been too weak.

I had wanted her the moment I saw her on his arm. She had been too bright, too full of life for him. And yet she clung to him like he was her savior.

It was almost too easy to rid her of him. She could not be glamoured, but she could be persuaded. She was stubborn and proud, and she would not give in easily, but she would give in. That I was sure of.

She had begun to trust me even before she knew Bill's true nature. She had known I would protect her at that ridiculous orgy. And while I knew a part of her feared me, she knew that I had never hurt her, never left her, never betrayed her.

It was when I regained my memories of my time with her that I had come to understand her. She was not willing to be treated as a subordinate, as a possession, as an asset. She was determined to be an equal, though she knew it was impossible between our worlds.

It had been her determination that intrigued me so. She was unlike any human I'd known before, and she was unwilling to change. I'd had to resort to trickery to get only a few drops of my blood in her, and even while I could feel her lust, she had denied it. Only when I did not know who I was did she yield to me, yet she'd denied that as well after I recovered myself.

Other men could not give her what she needed. I had killed Longshadow to protect her as Bill stood by. I had tended to her wounds and taken bullets for her. I had retrieved her from that trunk with Bill and seen her home when she was too grieved to be near him. I had killed those Weres and buried that woman's body. I had even bonded with her to save her from Andre and surrendered to Felipe to ensure her safety. She was just a human, yet I could deny her nothing.

We still needed to talk, to discuss our bond, and her inevitable future with me. She had said she would not be mine, that she would not be anyone's, that she was her own woman.

Yet I cannot give up.