“What’s he going to do to me?”
“My dad is in charge of the entire paranormal community and you doubt he could do something to you?”
“I’m just a human. He can’t hurt me.”
“First of all, you are not just a human. You are my mate. Big difference, and he could force you to marry me tonight if he wanted to.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Like I said my dad has his ways. Let’s stop this. You promised to give tonight a chance. Please, won’t you at least try?”
“Are you ready to go back in?”
We walked back into the tent to the sound of clinking as several people tried to silence the crowd. Robert strode purposely to the center of the dance floor.
“Thank you everyone for being with us tonight. It isn’t often that we have the pleasure of welcoming so many members of the community to our home, and we are so thankful that you were able to join us on this happy occasion. Many of you probably thought this day would never come.” Polite laugher made Robert pause.
“I am well aware of my son’s reputation with women, but it seems he has met his match. I have never seen Levi so happy or focused, and I know that we can expect great things from him as he formally takes his position next year. On that note, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Allison Davis, Levi’s beautiful mate.”
Levi steered us over to his dad. “Thank you father. You’re right. I have met my match, and she’s my match in every sense of the word. I have no doubt you will all learn to adore her as much as I do. Our community is new to her, but I am sure she will make a seamless transition. Now sweetheart, will you give me this dance?”
A quartet struck up a beautiful ballad and loud applause filled the tent as Levi led me onto the dance floor. I tried to ignore the shiver creeping down my back from his touch and the way he looked at me as though I were the only one in the room.
Levi took a slight bow, gesturing for me to do the same. I followed his lead, and we started to dance. Dancing with Levi was as natural as you would expect, but the closeness unnerved me. I didn’t want to want him so much.
The song came to an end, but the quartet started another slow tune without a break.
Taking advantage of the slower music, he started talking quietly. “Al, I’m sorry. I’d do anything to erase what happened to you. I messed up, I know I did but I also know that there is something real between us.”
“I don’t see how you expect me to believe that.”
“Please. It’s true. We have to at least give this a chance,” he pleaded.
“So, what, I throw away all my plans?”
“Defer Princeton until the spring. One semester at Tulane won’t hurt; you’ll probably like it. We can make sure you’re roommates with Hailey and everything.”
“If I agree, it’s only for a semester.”
“So you’ll give us a chance?”
“This isn’t about you and me. This is about New Orleans and keeping myself and my family safe. I’ll stay, but you need to accept that we’re not really together.” I knew in my heart I couldn’t leave. If what everyone was telling me was true, I might end up causing even more heartache to a city that had already been through so much. I also refused to put my parents or friends in danger, especially considering there was a part of me that was excited about spending a few more months in New Orleans—giving myself more time to experience something new.
Levi pulled me tightly against him. “I love you. I have never felt this way before and the thought of losing you scares me.”
“And that’s supposed to make everything better?” I bristled. “You love me? It doesn’t matter anyway.”
“Because I don’t love you.” Even as the words left my lips, I knew they weren’t true.