Thorn and I got home, and as usual went up to my bedroom. During the entire journey home we had been silent but now I suddenly burst out with the words "I don't want this soulmate thing to tear us apart!"
Thorn looked alarmed. "Of course not, darling!" He hugged me tightly, kissing the top of my head which made me feel tonnes better.
"I want to love you forever," I murmured.
"I know," he whispered. "Me too."
"Promise you won't ever stop loving me."
"I promise." He kissed the top of my head again.
"Never ever hate me," I said passionately.
"Oh, darling," Thorn whispered.
He picked me up and carried me to the bed. He sat there, cradling me against him, kissing my hair, my cheek, my lips, murmuring "I love you so much. Nothing will tear us apart. You were mine from the day we first met and will remain mine till the end of time. I was serious about turning you - see, I'm stopping death from parting us."
I nestled into him. "Good. I don't want our lives to become disentangled."
"I'm so glad my cousin knew you," I told him.
"Me too. Even if we weren't destined to love each other, we were destined to meet and become great friends."
"There's one thing I don't get," I said, later on, when I had quite calmed down, especially after Thorn had tickled me.
"Hmm?" he said absently, toying with a few strands of my hair.
"I ... I don't get why Emilia would bring it up," I said hesitantly. I was voicing a thought that had cropped up in retrospect of this evening. "Why do we need to know about soulmates? I mean, she sounds like she knew we weren't. So why say anything?"
Thorn frowned. "I see your point. It wasn't the kindest thing to do."
"D'you think they're plotting something?" I asked, unhappily. I felt betrayed: it had seemed Alex and I were getting on really well tonight.
"They could be, darling," Thorn replied seriously.
"Let's go and ask him about it," I said confidently. "If he's been lying to me, I won't ever associate with him again. And then you can tell me as much about werewolf inferiority as you want."
Thorn snorted. "I don't ask it of you. But yeah, I want to know if someone intends to hurt my precious Flora too."
And so, the following day, we set off for the garage.
"Hey, Alex," I shouted, "where are you?"
A low growl came from my feet.
I looked down to see the lupine Alex in front of me.
"I have something to ask you," I said bravely, though heard the quiver in my voice. Thorn's hand appeared on my shoulder, squeezing gently, sending reassurance through me.
He yawned, his jaw wide as he dismissed me with a swish of his tail.
"Are you going to talk to me?" I asked.
He curled up into a tighter ball and tucked his tail around him, his breathing gentle and steady.
"Hey, mutt," Thorn said; "have the decency to answer her!"
He opened one eye and snorted, returning to his warm ball.
"I thought Emilia let me have power over you," he said, folding his arms.
He lifted his great head a sleepily rose to his feet, shaking himself into human form.
"I have something to ask you," I repeated, looking directly into his caramel eyes as though that could indicate whether he was lying or not.
"Go right ahead."
My tone softened as I murmured "Do you hate me?"
"Yes," he nodded simply, "I didn't but I do."
I looked to the floor. "Was it the way I submitted to Thorn?"
"No and yes."
"What else was it?" I whispered. Thorn took my hand and rubbed it soothingly.
He looked at our hands and let out a pained growl, changing back into his wolf form.
"Because I love him?" I asked, shocked. I closed my eyes back and thought back to before Thorn had arrived, to the last thing that had happened before my wonderful vampire had re-dominated my thoughts.
"You rescued me from the other vampire," I whispered, thinking aloud. "And ... oh." I sat down on the floor, overwhelmed by guilt. "You cared about me. And I forgot. And I ... Now I'm back with Thorn. Oh, Alex."
He looked away from me, curling back up into a ball with a faint whine and a flick of his tail.
I crouched down. "Alex, ... oh, Alex..."
Thorn sighed behind me.
'Could you leave us a second?' I thought.
'Sure,' he replied dully, and he left soundlessly like a summer breeze.
"Alex, I'm sorry."
He stood, growling and running away from me to the back of the garage
"Alex!" I shouted pleadingly, bursting into tears. I held my knees and rocked myself.
He howled, dropping into an aggressive stance, his lips pulled back into a snarl, flicking his head wildly.
"I don't care!" I shouted at him. "I don't care!"
He changed, if only for a second before changing back.
"Get out! Get out!" his voice echoed
"NO!" I shouted defiantly. "I've had enough of running away! Of running away from everything! If you're going to eat me, do it! Why did everything have to be wrong?"
He looked at me angrily, before running off as fast as he could, wind whipping behind him as his paws thudded into the ground
Thorn walked in and wordlessly picked me up, carrying me sobbing back to the car. He climbed in the backseat and closed the door. He stroked my hair but didn't say anything.
"It's not your fault," I told him, "I know how it sounded but it's not you. It's fate. It's stupid, blasted Fate."
He still didn't say anything.
"I don't blame you for not being able to tell," I insisted.
Then, suddenly, Thorn arranged me in a sitting position and kissed my neck. His arms encircled my waist.
"Hold still for me baby," he whispered.
"What are you doing?" I asked, as he rested his head against my shoulder.
"I don't want to lose you. I hope you understand. I understand /you/."
I frowned. "I ... I don't get it."
He lifted his head and gently bit down.
"Oh," I whispered, not entirely sure how I felt.
'Just sit still,' he thought quietly, while rhythmically lapping my blood. "Nothing'll happen yet."