Amazing.” Anders glanced around with a start. He found Lucian leaning against the door frame, eyeing him with amusement. “What?” he asked, sitting up straight. “How everything can change so swiftly,” Lucian said dryly, moving into the kitchen. Anders watched him get a glass out of the cupboard before asking mildly, “And what is it you think is changing?” “Three days ago when you first realized you couldn’t read her and that she might possibly be your life mate, you weren’t happy,” Lucian said. He filled the glass with water, took a drink, and then continued, “You didn’t like the idea of anyone stealing so much of your attention, of having something to lose, of becoming a mother hen like me, or of being led around by your dick. Now you want to follow that presently very evident dick upstairs and claim Valerie by any means necessary.” Anders glanced down to note that not only did he still have an erection, but it was very evident in his boxers. Grabbing one of the couch pillows, he dragged it over his lap and muttered, “You caught all that from reading my thoughts, did you?” “Clear as glass,” Lucian said. “Right.” Anders said and grimaced at the knowledge that Lucian had read his less than complimentary thoughts about his worry for Leigh and being led around by his dick. Raising an eyebrow, he asked, “Do I owe you an apology?” “Nope. I can hardly complain when I was eavesdropping on your thoughts.” He took another drink of his water. As Lucian lowered the glass, he swallowed, and added, “But I’d go softly with Valerie. I wouldn’t want you to rush things and blow it.” “Thanks for the advice,” Anders said dryly. “I’m serious,” Lucian said softly. Anders stilled. As a rule, Lucian could be counted on to growl, grunt, or bark. His voice only got that soft, solemn sound on very rare occasions. When it did, you were smart to listen. Anders nodded. “I’m listening.” “She just experienced a nightmarish two weeks at the hands of what she thinks is a vampire. One of our kind,” he pointed out. “Ten days and nights in the flesh and three in fever-driven nightmares.” “But we aren’t vampires,” Anders pointed out. “We’re immortals.” “Semantics,” Lucian said with a shrug. “It won’t make any difference to her whether we are the mythological cursed and soulless beast Stoker wrote about, or scientifically evolved mortals turned nearly immortal by bio-engineered nanos that were introduced into our blood before the fall of Atlantis.” “Scientifically evolved mortals who need more blood than the human body can produce to power those nanos,” Anders added wearily. Lucian nodded. “We have fangs, we don’t age, we are hard to kill and we need blood to survive. To her and many others, we are vampires.” “We drink bagged blood to survive now,” Anders argued. “The immortal who kidnapped and held Valerie and the other women is a rogue.” “True,” Lucian agreed. “Unfortunately, Valerie’s first encounter with our kind was via that rogue. She, understandably, is not going to be very receptive to the possibility that there are good guys among our kind. She needs to get to know and trust us, you especially, before you reveal too much.” Anders nodded, seeing the wisdom in what he said. Then he cleared his throat and asked, “By don’t reveal too much, you aren’t including—” “No,” Lucian said, rare amusement curving his lips. “Bed her all you want, just keep your mouth shut while you do. At least until you think she can handle it. Otherwise,” he warned, “you could lose the chance of a lifetime.