I was back in the house. The house where I killed the innocent man. Why was I back here?
This was all wrong.
I didn’t want to be here. I didn’t want to be walking toward the kitchen. I didn’t want to see what I’d done, but my feet drew me down the hallway and through the door into the dimly lit kitchen.
I expected to see the man on the ground, dagger in his chest where I’d put it. But the dagger was in my grip and the man stood staring at me, torchlight in one hand, plate of sandwiches in the other.Oh, God. No. Not again.
The man let out a bellow and charged.
Drop the dagger.
But the damn thing was welded to my palm and my hand was coming up in an effort to warn him off and his gurgle of pain was all I could hear.
“No!” I backed away as he fell to the ground.Dead.
“No, no, no.”
“Such a shame,” a voice drawled behind me.
I turned to find Tate leaning against the doorjamb.
He smirked. “He was a good man, you know. Did a ton of charity work in his younger years.”
The way he spoke…The inflection in his tone… “You’re not Tate.”
His smile widened. “No, my child. I’m not.”
The taint. How could she be here? I was mated to three Faoladh and those bonds were supposed to keep her out of my head.
“Maybe if you hadn’t done what you did…” She shrugged.
Shit, had I spoken out loud? Did I even need to for her to hear me in this dreamscape?
The taint pushed off the doorframe and sauntered into the room. Tate’s form slipped away with each step until she was standing by the dead body in the form I recognized. Her dark hair spilled down her shoulders and her figure-hugging dress writhed with shadows.
“You killed this poor innocent man.” Her mouth turned down and she shook her head. “You killed him in cold blood.”
Guilt clawed at my chest. “I didn’t know…it was an accident.”
I pressed my lips together. “You’re right. There is no excuse. I killed him and I have to live with that guilt for the rest of my life.”
“But that’s just it, sweetheart, you don’t. You don’t have to live with any guilt. We are apex predators, powerful and untouchable. There is no room for guilt in our hearts. Once you accept that, you can be free.” She shrugged. “Humans are lesser. Cattle to be culled. Would you feel guilt over wringing a chicken’s neck?”
“Humans aren’t chickens.”
“Aren’t they?” She arched a brow. “Humans are nothing compared to you and me. We are more. Evolved. Superior.”
“Killers.” The word was bitter on my tongue. “You’re a killer. A murderer. I’m nothing like you.”
“You are everything like me. You’re made from me. You belong to me, and nothing you do will change that.”
Rage born of frustration ignited in my chest. “What do you fucking want from me?”
She blinked sharply. “I want…”
I curled my hands into fists, nails biting into my palms. “What? What do you want?”
“I want you to stop fighting and accept the inevitable. I want you to be who you were meant to be.”
“And what is that, exactly?”
Once again that strange look came over her face, one that on anyone else I’d have labeled confusion. “My daughter…” She frowned. “Mine. I’m the only one who’ll accept you for who you truly are.”
Panic heated my chest because there was way too much sincerity in her tone and there was no denying the tug of twisted longing in my chest.
I staunched it, gritting my teeth and shaking my head. “Bullshit. My mates accept me. Tate accepts me.”
Her lips curved in a knowing smile. “For now. But things change. You’ll change. That part, my child, is inevitable, and when it happens, you’ll see that their love isn’t as unconditional as you believe it to be. When that time comes, I’ll be there just as I’ve always been. But for now, it’s time to wake up. Time to take another step toward your fate.”