So. I guess we’ll be seeing you in the finals. Antihistamines.

Manuelito stood between me and Jenny, his dark head barely reaching the stools.

That took a lot out of you, didn’t it? I asked softly.She didn’t want to admit it, just kept a steady pressure of her hand on my forearm.

I leaned in and kissed her hair, withdrawing gently and tugging the gown back over her legs. We can do more later. I shifted and the bed complained with a squeaky groan. When I don’t have to worry about breaking something expensive.She smiled a little, her eyes fluttering closed. I tucked her head into my neck, that spot she always loved to nestle into, and waited for her breathing to settle. I tried not to picture the glassed room, the proud father, and the woman who was waiting for him somewhere in these same walls. He would close in next to her like this, and lay the baby on her chest. And their moment would be different from any I had ever known.I reined in the emotion and shoved it down. No use thinking on things I couldn’t change. Corabelle had fallen asleep, and I edged away from her. The notebook sat open on the side table, so I took a pen and scrawled a quick note — I love you. See you tomorrow.

Then I slipped from her room, down the quieting halls, and back to my motorcycle and my own empty apartment.My father sat on the sofa by the window, sullen as Mom planned their day. I had convinced her to visit the museums in Balboa Park, insisting she bring me a set of note cards from the gift store in the Museum of Art, one you couldn’t get anywhere else. I told her I had thank-you notes to send and only those cards would do.

A gift basket had arrived from Cool Beans, a bunch of coffees and chocolates and a couple magazines. Jason, who often worked with me at the coffee shop, was undoubtedly the one who inserted a packet of Hot Pumpkin Spice tea, his new nickname for me ever since I’d started dating again. Better that than the old one, Frozen Latte.

I was anxious for them to leave, as I knew the social worker was bound to return. I did not want them there — I didn’t even want them to know she had been coming by.Shaking his head in what seemed to be both disappointment and anger, Will claimed, You have changed, Salem. I never thought I’d see the day –

– that you betrayed me and your line so wholeheartedly. To leave us to become a member of the legion was bad enough. But to side with someone outside your own line, someone who attacked –I was there, Will, Salem interrupted. Or did Gina not tell you that? I was at the bar last night, I witnessed her bait Ava. I warned her away from Ava yet again. But she stayed. She wanted a fight, and she got one.

But I don’t think any of that matters to you, I said to Will. Not really. I don’t think you honestly care about what happened to Gina. You saw an excuse to confront me, to cause shit, and you took it.How could you let this child come between us, Salem? How could you turn from me this way? Will’s face was so red by that point that Blythe was starting to look worried. I am your Sire.