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I understand that it was Derian who spoiled everything; he purposefully tainted your view of me and forced you to follow him. I know that none of what happened was your idea or your desire, Eena.' She didn't get up, but spoke from her curled position. Her voice was weak, still heavy with despair. 'Derian never forced me to do anything.' 'But if he hadn't influenced you, we would be enjoying a pleasant dinner again, telling stories and laughing. I'm sure that would be the case. You would be happy...and so would I.' Eena chuckled without amusement. 'You have to admit we shared some very enjoyable evenings, didn't we? There's really no reason why we can't put this whole mess behind us and start from where we left off.' He sounded genuinely serious. 'You forget, ' she reminded him, 'I heard your conversation with the Ghengats. This isn't about Derian, it's about you.' 'Alright, ' he admitted, 'so I'm not everything you'd hoped for. But really, what man can ever live up to any woman's terribly high expectations?' This got her attention. She almost stood up to face him, but decided it wasn't worth the effort. Leaning forward, she retorted, 'Expecting a man to respect you, to be honest with you, and, oh yes, to not be a shameless murderer-I don't think those are overly high expectations!' He shrugged, casually excusing his faults. 'Nobody's perfect.' 'What do you want?' she asked, exasperated. He squatted to her level and then plainly stated his desire. 'I want you. Eena thought the expression on his face-the look in his weary blue eyes-appeared strangely sincere. But there was one thing she had learned from all this: never trust a master of deceit.

I understand that it was Derian who spoiled everything; he purposefully tainted your view of me and forced you to follow him. I know that none of what happened was your idea or your desire, Eena.' She didn't get up, but spoke from her curled position. Her voice was weak, still heavy with despair. 'Derian never forced me to do anything.' 'But if he hadn't influenced you, we would be enjoying a pleasant dinner again, telling stories and laughing. I'm sure that would be the case. You would be happy...and so would I.' Eena chuckled without amusement. 'You have to admit we shared some very enjoyable evenings, didn't we? There's really no reason why we can't put this whole mess behind us and start from where we left off.' He sounded genuinely serious. 'You forget, ' she reminded him, 'I heard your conversation with the Ghengats. This isn't about Derian, it's about you.' 'Alright, ' he admitted, 'so I'm not everything you'd hoped for. But really, what man can ever live up to any woman's terribly high expectations?' This got her attention. She almost stood up to face him, but decided it wasn't worth the effort. Leaning forward, she retorted, 'Expecting a man to respect you, to be honest with you, and, oh yes, to not be a shameless murderer-I don't think those are overly high expectations!' He shrugged, casually excusing his faults. 'Nobody's perfect.' 'What do you want?' she asked, exasperated. He squatted to her level and then plainly stated his desire. 'I want you. Eena thought the expression on his face-the look in his weary blue eyes-appeared strangely sincere. But there was one thing she had learned from all this: never trust a master of deceit.


-Richelle E. Goodrich

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