“Lupis, are you sure there’s no other way? I can just tell him it’s over, and he’ll be out of my life that way. It’ll be better for me that way, I already have enough nightmares as is. I don’t need to add any others.”

                Lupis shakes his head. “I know you don’t, and if there were another way, I’d let you do it. But there is no other way, I’ve looked. I didn’t want to have to do this either, but I had to.”

                “Yeah, but I’m sure you didn’t have to kill someone you were willing to spend the rest of your life with,” I say.

                “Aries, are you sure that you’re really willing to spend the rest of your life with him? It would never last and you know that. He’ll never be able to know about this part of your life, and it wouldn’t be that long before he could figure it out. There are always visible signs when someone like us has a human mate and when they don’t. Jay could pick up on the signs quickly when you’re with me. You’re a little easier to read than you think you are.” He reaches out and closes my fingers around the smooth hilt of the dagger. “You know that deep down inside, this is what you want to do. You know the feelings those nightmares gave you. It wasn’t fear, it was ecstasy. You want this so bad, and you’ll do anything for it. This is all I’m asking you for, and after that, I won’t force you to do anything.”

                “I’ve never been one for following orders, Lupis. And I’m not someone for you to order around. If you wanted someone like that, you should’ve gotten Halcyone.”

                Lupis smiles and gently guides me toward the door. “Go on, Jay will be awake soon. What are you going to say if you’re not there when he wakes up?”

                I look up at the window of his apartment. “Okay. But before I do this, how do I know you won’t leave me to suffer the ramifications that killing him will leave in this world?”

                Lupis leans forward, his forehead against mine. “Because the bond between us is stronger than it was between me and Hanna. I felt no guilt watching her die, but losing you would be like losing half of me, I couldn’t take it.”

                “So this is still about you,” I say softly as I try to push him back. “Fine. But just know that it’ll take you longer to get anywhere with me now.”

                Lupine laughs in my head and I take a step away from Lupis.

                “I’ll be waiting out here for you when you’re done, Aries,” he says softly as his hand trails down my arm.

                I turn and walk into the building and head for the stairs since the elevator’s been out for months. The two flights of stairs I have to take have never felt so long as they do now. Each step is an argument with myself. After all, I can at least try and forget that this day ever happened. I can just climb back into bed with Jay and slip my arm around his waist and pretend that the past twenty hours have never happened.

                But then I’d be living a lie. Katrina was right, even though I thought I loved Jay, I’m not completely happy with him. There are just a lot of things about him that I can’t stand. And after all, since I’ll be hiding most of my life from him now, there’s no point in making him think I’m the same person he fell in love with.

                And I can’t just leave him because that’d completely crush him. He’d end up at the edge anyway, so I might as well save him the pain and go ahead and put him out of his misery.

                I stop at his door and slide the dagger partially into my back pocket and push the door open. Jay’s sitting in a chair in the kitchen by the door, waiting for me to come back. Or at least, he was before he fell asleep. I silently walk across the room to him. I reach out and gently trace the edge of his jaw, a final touch.

                He opens his eyes and smiles when he sees me. “You came back.”

                I force a smile. “Yeah. Sorry I took so long, I went out for a long walk.”

                He stands up and wraps an arm around my waist, pulling me closer. “You had me worried when you were gone all night, but you’re an artist, I knew you’d come back when you were ready.” He leans down and brushes his lips across my cheek. “Every time you leave, part of me wonders if there’s going to be a time where you won’t come back. Who else has part of your heart, Aries?”

                “What are you talking about? There’s no one else,” I say as I brush his hair away from his face.

                He smiles. “That’s not true, your art has a large part in your heart, and that’s a place I’ll never be able to go. And so to try and fix that, I’ve tried something for you.”

                Jay lets go of me and leads me into the part of the dining room he let me use for an art studio. Or at least it used to be a dining room. Now it’s a complete art studio. He must have spent a small fortune on this, a small fortune neither of us can afford.

                “I’ve been saving for it for a long time, and I did it while you were gone,” he says as I walk forward into it.

               You’ll never be completely happy with him,Lupis says in my head.You know that. Why drag out his pain? Come to me, I can give you more than just an art studio.

                I turn around and hug Jay tightly. “I love it, and I love you,” I whisper in his ear, a small part of me still doubting the truth of the last sentence.

                “I knew you would. And I have something for you,” he says as he lets me go again and pulls a box out of his pocket.

                “Jay, is that…?”

                “Aries, I’m sorry it took so long, but I finally got you your ring,” he says as he opens the box.

                Tears start forming in my eyes. Why is he making this so hard?

               Just do it,Lupis says, his voice starting to sound irritated.I can give you so much more than he ever can.

                No, you can’t. You want power. Katrina said that it wouldn’t work out, but I’ll make it work. Lupis, I’m done with you!

                Lupis laughs.Alright, have fun with your little fling. But when you’re done using him, you’ll come crawling back to me. You won’t be able to resist. Have fun, Aries.

                Jay looks at me confused as I start crying. “Is there something wrong? Is this not what you wanted?” he asks as he stands up and puts his arms around me again.

                “No, this is everything I’ve ever wanted, Jay. Thank you.”

                He smiles and holds me tightly. “So what’s your answer?”

                “Yes,” I laugh. “Yes!”

The End

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