“How could you?” She threw him into the face of the cliff, tossing him as if he weighed nothing when he finally caught up with her on the road back to the valley.
He shook his head and wiped a trickle of blood from his nose. “He was old. He was going to die within a few weeks, Beatrice.”
She paced back and forth in the small clearing. “But I didn’t need to be the one to kill him.” Streaks of tears marred her perfect white skin. The rain beat down on them and the wind whipped through the small pass.
Giovanni tried to speak in a low calming voice. “You broke out of the bloodlust much quicker than I had imagined. You’re doing very well.”
“But I still killed him, Gio! I did. And you stood there and let me. You stood by and let me kill that old man doing nothing more than sitting in his garden!”
Giovanni stood slowly, still keeping his distance. “If he had been in good health, you would not have killed him. But he was sick, Tesoro. Surely you must have tasted it in his blood. He was in pain. Your amnis calmed him as you drank. He felt nothing.”
She screamed and pulled at her hair. “How could you let me kill him?”
“It was a mercy.”
“No!” she yelled and rushed him, knocking him over and pummeling his face. She loosed her rage on her mate until he grabbed her hands. He could barely contain her; Beatrice had become almost immeasurably strong. “Why? Why did you let me murder him?”
With a surge, he rolled over until she was laying under him, sobbing in the rain as the bloody tears ran down her face and into the mud.
“This is why! Do you understand? Look at me, Beatrice.” Giovanni finally caught her narrowed eyes, and she bared her teeth at him. “Look at me and listen right now! Did I let you kill that old man? Yes, and I’ll tell you why.”
He took a softer hand and brushed at the tears that stained her cheeks. “Because one day, very soon, it’s not going to be a sick stranger in a garden who tempts you.” He sat back and pulled her up in front of him, as the rain beat on their heads.
“Someday very soon, it’s going to be Benjamin. Or your grandmother. Or Caspar or Dez or Matt. It’s going to be someone you love. An innocent stranger on a train or walking down the street at night. And the temptation is going to knock you over and every instinct in you is going to be screaming to take and drink and not to stop because there is nothing in the human world more powerful than you. Do you understand what I’m saying?” He grabbed the collar of her soaked overcoat and pulled her closer. She still stared at him with sullen, tear-filled eyes as he continued. “Do you? Because when that moment comes, I want you to remember how you feel right now, Beatrice. I want you to remember this moment for the rest of your existence because that is what will keep the humans around you safe from the monster who lives inside you. Who lives inside all of us.”
Her eyes were dull as she stared at him. Her hands lay limp at her sides.
“I hate you.”
“I love you.”