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Safety Above All

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“You heard her,” Alek interrupted. “She can take care of herself.”

Alek watched Chloe’s face harden. He knew that those six words had cost him any ground he’d gained helping Chloe control her hearing. He’d known they would even before he said them. That was the problem with being Chloe’s protector in addition to being in love with her. He had to put his job before his feelings—or rather, before her feelings for him.

So he had to tell her to back off of Lana and her problems, even though he knew that it would make her angry. Honestly, even if he weren’t her protector he’d tell her to back off. She was too careless with her life—lives—and one of these days it was going to catch up with her. That was the last thing he wanted. He’d rather she be angry with him and still with eight lives than happy with him and down to seven…or less.

Still, he was taken aback by just how much anger was in her voice when she spoke.

“Stop watching me,” she demanded.

Alek looked at her, took in her lovely face set in angry lines, her eyes lit with emotion. It astonished him every time, how beautiful she could be when she was angry. She was always gorgeous, of course, but anger added an extra spark to her that made her…magnificent.

“You know I can’t do that,” he said softly.

He watched as anger and frustration warred on her face. For a moment, she almost looked like she wanted to cry. His heart clenched painfully. He wanted so, so badly to make her happy—to make her love him. But she always insisted on doing (or trying to do) reckless things. He had to protect her, to keep her from throwing her lives away.

Still, it hurt more than usual to see her face twisted in dislike. Just two days before, she’d looked at him with awe and gratitude. She’d blocked out the world to listen to his heartbeat, and he’d looked into her eyes and seen something, something that gave him hope. Now it was gone, replaced with disdain.

He stood there helplessly as she turned and stalked away. Once she turned the corner he’d have to take to the rooftops and follow her home. He’d have to be ready to stop her, in case she tried to find that guy again. It wasn’t just his duty. He wanted to be with her, to make sure she was safe. Her safety would come before her happiness, always. Even if she never loved him, even if she started hating him.

He had to keep her safe.