“Tricks mean nothing to me, Cinka.” Riley stared directly into Cinka’s eyes to avoid being distracted. “I do not buy love.”

“Pleasure?” Cinka was standing in front of him now, daring to lift her hand and touch his chest.

“There is no pleasure for me, despite your tricks, when I don’t even LIKE you.” Riley ignored it. Why didn’t she get the point? He was not going to ever fall into her traps.

“Liking me has nothing to do with sex.” Cinka softened her voice, tilting her head to let her hair fall over her eyes. “I dream of you and I, Riley.” Then, she started playing the sympathy card, “Zaile doesn’t love me, he doesn’t care. He loves what I do.”

“Excuse me!” Riley couldn’t take any more of this, especially not with Maelinn in the room. It was one thing to touch him, another to disrespect Maelinn. “Keep me out of your perverted dreams,” He unfolded his arms, knocking Cinka’s hand back, but she reached forward with both hands. He caught them and held her back as though touching her was contaminating him in some way. “And as for Zaile. He fills his life with things he doesn’t have to love so they’re easy to dispose of when he tires of them.”

The words spilled out uncontrollably. “YOU are an object and the sooner he discards you, the better.” Riley was forced to look away as he glimpsed hurt in Cinka’s eyes. She had crossed a line and for her, he would not hesitate to remind her of her place. The place she had chosen.