"Wh-what?" Carrow didn't understand. "What did you do?"
Malkom had pulled out?
He'd finished on her belly, heaving over her as he'd yelled her name. And it felt like a slap in the face. He hadn't even broken his demon seal, hadn't ejaculated with his release.
Now he collapsed atop her, his heart like a drum, his hips still languidly rocking.
Be glad, Carrow. You don't need a baby. So why did she feel like crying? "Okay, you can get up now."
He raised his head as if with difficulty, the corners of his lips curling. "I do not know if I can move, ara."
That half grin was almost her undoing. He looked so boyish, his face relaxed, his eyes now that steadfast blue.
"At least not until I take you next." He began hardening atop her.
"Get off me."
He frowned at her tone, levering himself up on his elbows. "I have hurt you?"
He had, just not in the way he thought. She scrambled back, out from under him.
" Channa, what? Did I do ... wrong?"
"Just give me a second, Malkom." She couldn't even process this. The best sex in her entire life, the strongest emotional connection she'd ever felt, and he'd gypped her. Why would he do that? How could he do that?
He'd seemed utterly lost right before he'd come.
But then, he didn't trust her. And deep down he could even hate her. Probably both.
All she knew was that he'd defied his demon instinct, denied himself that kind of pleasure, to make sure she didn't get pregnant with his baby.
Though he'd vowed never to release her, never to give her up, he might hate every minute of having her.
"Why will you not look at me?" he asked when she began dressing. "Are you angry about how I ended? Is that wrong to your kind?"
"I just didn't expect you to do that."
"I know. 'Twas nigh too good to pull away."
She muttered, "Second slap of the night," then added, "Yet somehow you found a way to."
"You are upset about this? I did not know you wanted a child."
Once dressed, she faced him. "I didn't. I don't!" She brushed her damp hair from her forehead. "I don't necessarily want a kid, but I thought you needed to break the seal and obey your instincts and all that. Since I'm your mate."
"Those drives were ... pressing," he said, sounding as if he'd just uttered the understatement of the century. "I am very stunned I could deny them."
"If those drives were pressing, then your motives for pulling out must be as well. Look, I understand why you did it. If you got me pregnant, then I could blaze and you'd never know where your all-important heir went to."
He frowned at some of her words, then seemed to take in her meaning. "An heir to what, Carrow?" he snapped. "I left any wealth I had behind, for you!" Clearly reining in his temper, he said, "I am speaking of how my child would be treated."
"What?" Third slap of the night. "You think I would mistreat my own baby?"
"Just as you said, some things you cannot risk. I must be there to protect my offspring."
"From anyone or anything," he said. "Ruby has no parents and is dependent on fate - dependent now on my goodwill."
"Your goodwill?" She wanted away from him. Unfortunately, in this case at least, she wasn't stupid. There'd be no flouncing away, not when she had Ruby with her. Malkom was right - they'd have to stay with the big gun for as long as he'd let them.
No matter that he'd just made her feel dirty and lacking. I want my powers back!
"You know 'tis true. And I would not have my own so vulnerable."
"You forget - Ruby has me."
"Do you think I could ever forget that, witch?"
Carrow had heard of loves that could trump all obstacles. But then she'd also heard that there were things couples couldn't come back from.
She was beginning to fear that she and Malkom might not get past this.
He stabbed his legs into his pants once again. "You are angry with me and have no right to be."
"And you're treating me like some evil bitch who'll abscond with your kid. I'm not like that. I'm actually not that bad a person." She knew he'd had a tormented life, knew he'd experienced hardships she couldn't even imagine. Carrow could understand his mistrust. But I don't know what to do about it. "Will you ever see past what I was forced to do? Or will you always think I'm a liar?"
"What would you do then, if my seed took?"
"I wouldn't keep your child from you." As if she even could. It struck her that Malkom was in their lives now. For better or worse, he was on this plane and would never willingly be parted from her.
Maybe he was right to keep an emotional distance. Their relationship was likely doomed.
So why had she felt that unwavering certainty about him? Husband, her heart seemed to cry even now.
"You said you'd wanted me to claim you in Oblivion," he grated. "You could have gotten pregnant then. Did you give no thought to that?"
"And I thought that my life was already changing radically because of Ruby. And that little girl fills me with contentment like I've never known. So why wouldn't another child do the same?"
"So 'tis all about your happiness. You would have raised my child while I was imprisoned in that place?"
"I know you don't believe me, but I vowed to my goddess Hekate that I would come back for you. I swore that I wouldn't stop until you were freed. I don't know what to do to convince you of that."
He looked like he wanted to believe her so badly. Then his expression grew closed-off once more.
"I asked you a "uestion before, and I want the answer," she said. "Yes or no. Will you ever see past what I was forced to do? Because I'm beginning to suspect you will always hate me, will always think I'm deceiving you."
"And what would you do if that were the case? Nothing will change by my answering either way."
Still he'd evaded the "uestion. She pinched her forehead. "Then what do we do now?"
"We did things your way; now we will do them mine," he said, his tone as cold as frost. "I am going to protect you. I will even protect your adopted one. Expect nothing more."
Her lips parted. When he was done with her, Carrow's heart would be as broken as his was. Maybe worse. She asked softly, "Will that be enough for you?"
"It must be for me, as well as for you. I usually kill those who betray me. Count yourself lucky."