From: Carla Martinek <copper6500@xxxxx.xxxx

Date: Thu Oct 28, 1999 3:54 pm

Subject: New Beginnings

I think I started posting this a while back, and never finished it. So,

here it is again in its entirety. Will also be posted to fkfic with

adult header.

This is a shameless Nick & Nat love story. <g> Content is Adult, with a

little bit of slash thrown in as part of a police case. Do not read

this story if you are offended by Adult situations depicting Nick & Nat

together in an intimate fashion.

I don't own the Forever Knight characters - I just wish I did. Nick &

Nat & Company belong to TPTB and I'm just borrowing them to have a

little fun. This story is for entertainment only and no profit is being

made from it.

ARCHIVE PERMISSION: Permission to archive to Mel's FKFanfic Archive,

Mortal Love Archive and the FTP site. All others must ask permission.

Cheers, jeers, flames, etc. may all be directed to Carla at



New Beginnings

Natalie checked her reflection in the full-length oval mirror in the

corner of her bedroom as she clipped on her small diamond earrings. The

deep, wine-colored velvet cocktail dress looked wonderful, but something

was missing. The long sleeves were off-the-shoulder, and the neckline

of the dress dipped low, displaying the upper curves of her breasts.

The princess-seams the skirt flared out into soft folds that draped to

mid-calf in front, and to her ankles in back. A sample spin verified

that though the skirt would float up, it was not to the point of being

indecent. She checked herself again in the mirror.

"That's it!" she said to herself. "I need a necklace." She had twisted

her long hair into an elegant French knot, with a short curly tendrils

hanging down to soften the effect. The result, combined with the low

neckline of the dress, left her neck and shoulders bare. She rummaged

through her jewelry box, looking for something that would go.

"Damn," she muttered, "I've got gold and silver necklaces, but they just

won't do." She pulled up a gold chain with a single diamond pendant,

and held it up to check it in the mirror. "No, it's not right. Oh, what

the heck does it matter? Who am I out to impress anyway?"

She had looked forward to attending the annual Christmas Ball until

earlier this evening. Nick was supposed to have been her escort, but at

the last minute he had been called into work on a murder case he and

Tracy had been working on for months. It seemed that while they were

checking out a murder scene, the suspect had literally fallen into

police custody -- a simple routine traffic stop, and a check on the

license had notified the officer that the driver was wanted on a murder

warrant. She was happy that they'd caught the guy, but why did it have

to be tonight? Nick had sounded regretful when he called - he too had

looked forward to escorting Natalie to the ball.

"Oh, well," she said to Sidney, who lay curled on the bed, "looks like

I'm going stag tonight. It won't be the first time, and probably won't

be the last."

With a sigh, she replaced the necklace she still held in the box. In the

back of the jewelry case, a glitter caught her eye, and she reached in

and pulled it out. "Oh, Richard," she said with a half sob, a tear

forming in her eye as she thought of her brother.

In her hand, she held an old-fashioned pendant. In the center was a

cabochon sapphire almost an inch in length. The rounded, smooth stone

sat in an elaborate carving of gold wire which looked as if it has been

twisted and turned and finally tamed to hold it's treasure securely from

ever coming loose. A few small diamonds trapped in the gold accented the

sapphire. Simply said, it was magnificent.

Richard and his wife had brought the pendant home to Natalie after their

European honeymoon. They had found it in a small antique shop in

northern France, and the price had been so reasonable that they *had to

get it for her. They had assumed that the larger stone was a fake

because of the low price, but the setting was still so beautiful it was

hard to pass up. Natalie had loved it instantly, and had worn it often

until she started in the Coroner's Office. Long necklaces had no place

when you were leaning over the remains of the latest homicide victim. It

had been put away, and the chance for wearing it again had just never

come up in the last few years.

She held the pendant up to her neck, and looked again at her reflection.

"No," she said to herself, "it's not right, either."

With a sigh, she wistfully set the pendant on the dresser and reached to

put the last finishing touches to her makeup. Just then, her door bell

rang. She glanced at the clock, noting that she was almost late for

leaving for the ball. The necklace momentarily forgotten, she rushed to

the door, intending to get rid of whoever it was so that she could leave

on time.

She opened the door, and there stood Nick, elegant in a double-breasted

tuxedo. Natalie's jaw dropped open.

"Nick, you said you wouldn't be able to make it tonight... the murder


Nick smiled at her. "Well, we pushed through the absolute minimum

paperwork to keep the guy in jail for at least 24 hours. Captain Reese

said to get going, and that he would see us at the ball a little later."

Natalie stood there, still a little shocked at his appearance. "Um, Nat,

can I come in?" Nick asked.

"Oh! Of course!" she laughed, stepping aside to let him in. He followed

her into her apartment, and closed the door behind himself. "Let me grab

my purse and coat, and we can get going."



"We'll have to take your car. It's snowing outside, and I was in a

hurry, and, uh, the traffic, and I wanted to get here before you


Natalie looked closer at him, noticing that his blonde hair was

windblown and had wet drops clinging to it. The coat slung over his

shoulder also showed signs of moisture, and it wasn't hard to figure out

just how he got to her place. "Well," she commented with a smile, "at

least you don't have to worry about traffic jams at that altitude."

Nick returned her smile, relieved that she wasn't angry, and hung his

coat on the rack by the door. "We've got a few minutes before we have to

leave, so can we sit for a moment?"

Nat cocked her head at him, and said, "Sure." She paused for a second,

as if making a decision, and then walked towards the kitchen. "Let me

get something to drink, OK?"

Nick walked over to the couch, and sat down, waiting for her to return.

When she walked back in the room, she was carrying two glasses, one

already filled, and a bottle. She set them down on the coffee table.

Nick looked at the unmarked bottle, and then turned to Natalie, his

eyebrow raised in question.

Nat dropped her eyes as she responded, "I borrowed it from your

refrigerator, to keep here just in case. I hope you don't mind... it was

a spur of the moment thought a while ago...."

Nick reached over, and raised Natalie's chin so that she looked him in

the eyes. "Thank you, Natalie. I appreciate it." He leaned over and

placed a gentle kiss on her lips, and then sat back. He reached for the

bottle, opened it, and poured his glass, and then raised it in a toast.

Natalie raised her own glass in response.

"A toast," Nick said, looking Natalie in the eyes, "a toast to the most

beautiful woman at the ball," and then he drained the glass. Natalie

blushed, and took a small sip of her own. "What has happened to him,"

she wondered to herself? First, he kisses me, and then he calls me

beautiful. He hasn't shown this much emotion since.... Azure."

Nick continued to speak, "Natalie, I know that I don't tell you how I

feel very often... it's hard, knowing that we may never be able to be

more than friends, but tonight, I just had to. And I have a present for

you." He reached into the pocket on his tuxedo, and pulled out a long,

slim black velvet case. "I hope you don't mind, but I had to get it for


"Nick, I..." Natalie was speechless. She felt as if she'd been

blindsided. She reached for the case, and held it in her hands, looking

at it. "I...."

"Please open it, Nat. Please."

Her hands trembled slightly as she opened the lid. There, on a

background of black satin, lay a beautiful diamond necklace. "This is

beautiful! Nick, I can't accept this... it's so expensive..." Nick

reached out and put his hand over hers. "Yes, you can. Natalie, you know

that the money doesn't matter to me. But I knew this would be perfect

for you. Besides," he continued with a smile, "it matches your


Natalie self-consciously reached up and touched her earrings. "How did

you know I'd have these on?"

"Because those are your favorite earrings... and you never get a chance

to wear them. I took a chance you'd have them on tonight. Please, wear

it tonight, for me."

Natalie paused, undecided for a moment, and then lifted the necklace out

of the case. The diamonds dripped over her fingers like frozen droplets

of water. She held the necklace out to Nick, and then turned her back to

him, baring her neck, silently inviting him to put it on. Nick took the

necklace, and reached around her to place it on her neck. He had moved

closer to perform this intimate task, and her upswept hair left her neck

bared to him. He could hear her pulse beating, and could smell the sweet

tang of her blood just inches away, but there was no urge to take her.

Maybe the bloodwine had calmed the vampire inside, or maybe it was just

the feelings that he had for this woman, this night, that were far more

powerful that the vampire could ever be.

He fastened the necklace, and then couldn't resist leaning forward a

little more to kiss the edge of her ear. Natalie almost jumped off the


"Shh.... relax. It's all right." He pulled her back against him, noting

that her pulse had quickened, and then leaned into her ear again. His

tongue traced the delicate swirls of her ear, and then darted quickly a

little deeper, before returning to it's previous task. Natalie gasped,

"Nick..." and closed her eyes, surprised, but trusting him to take care

of her.

Nick turned his attentions to the sensitive spot just below and behind

her ear, and felt her relax even closer against him. His vampire senses

told him that her body temperature had increased slightly, an indication

of her arousal. He scraped his teeth across the tendon of her neck, and

she moaned, throwing her head further back for his access. Nick felt an

unaccustomed warmth flow through him at the trust she placed in him, and

marveled that the vampire still lay dormant, despite the temptation in

front of him. He quickly turned Natalie so that she was sitting on his

lap, facing him. Her eyes snapped open at this sudden change.

Natalie had expected Nick's eyes to have the golden glow that appeared

whenever the vampire started to surface. Instead, Nick's eyes remained a

clear blue, heavy lidded with desire. Her silence asked an unspoken


"I don't know why, Nat. Let's not question it too closely right now," he

answered. "Come here," he said and pulled her close, covering her lips

with his own. Her arms reached up and twined themselves around his neck,

her fingers running through the curls at the back of his hair.

Nick's lips slanted across Natalie's, and he tugged at her lower lip

with his teeth. She opened her mouth for him, and their tongues met,

caressing each other in imitation of a far more intimate act. Nick's

hands had moved down her shoulders onto her arms, and now one hand

slipped over to cover her breast while the other reached behind her to

pull her closer. He rubbed his hand over the fabric covering her breast,

feeling the nipple peak and harden even through the thick velvet. All

the while, their kiss continued, though Natalie now turned her head

slightly to the side to catch her breath. Nick took advantage of the

situation to nip at her other ear, while Natalie gasped for breath at

these new onslaughts. "Oh, Nick..."

Natalie's eyes remained closed, in the event that if she opened them she

would find that this was all a dream. She didn't want this to ever end.

Nick could smell her arousal now, the warm, musky scent of her, and knew

that he would have to stop soon if they were ever to salvage any of the

evening. But he couldn't resist one more assault. The hand on her back

slowly unzipped her dress a few inches, allowing him enough room to pull

the dress's low neckline in front down enough to expose her breasts.

Underneath, he found a strapless black lace bra. Her nipples were hard,

and Nick dipped his head to capture one in his mouth though the lace.

Natalie arched her back, pushing her breast even closer to Nick's loving

ministrations. The scrap of lace was pushed out of the way, and he took

her exposed nipple into his mouth, and suckled her hard, almost

savagely, peaking the tip even more while she moaned, and then turned

his attention to the other, heretofore neglected breast, where it

received it's share of attention. Nick's arm behind her was the only

thing to keep her from falling backwards, but Natalie didn't care.

The smell of Natalie's arousal had increased, and Nick's response to her

made him so hard that it was uncomfortable. But a couch was *not* where

he wanted to make love to Natalie for the first time. Slowly, the

reality of their situation started to sink into his passioned state. He

kissed each breast, bidding it au revoir until later, he promised

himself, and then pulled Natalie up against him until his arms were

wrapped around her and hers around him. He rested his cheek against the

top of her head. Her breathing was heavy, and if he had been mortal,

Nick was sure he would be doing the same. His heart beat twice in

succession instead.

"Natalie, we have to leave soon," he said quietly. "We're expected at

the ball, and it's an official function. Otherwise, I wouldn't leave

here until you fell asleep from sheer exhaustion."

"Nick, did we just... how did...?"

"I don't know. Let's not question it, OK?" He kissed the top of her

head, and tightened his arms around her. Her breathing was slowing along

with her heartrate, and his body was also slowly relaxing. He wondered

himself why he had been able to get this intimate without the

vampire.... perhaps he might be able to follow Janette's path... but

those thoughts were better saved for later.

Natalie leaned back in his arms and looked up at him, seeing the

still-clear blue eyes of the man she loved. Was tonight an indication

that she might be able to tell him of this love? That they might share a

life together? She allowed the hope to take life. It was then that she

felt the breeze from the forced-air heating in her apartment glide

across her bare chest, puckering her exposed nipples that were still

damp from Nick's kisses. She ducked her head in embarrassment.

"Natalie," Nick said solemnly, using a hand to lift her head to face

him, "there's nothing to be ashamed of. You're beautiful, and what we

did together was beautiful."

Natalie nodded once, acknowledging him. She reached to put her clothing

back together.

"Let me." Nick's hands moved hers out of the way as he pulled the lace

bra back into place, his hands lingering on the fullness of her curves

for a moment. He bent his head and kissed her above the black lace. "You

smell so good," he said, as he nuzzled the exposed valley between. Then

he pulled the velvet dress back into its place, and reached behind her

to zip the dress back up. All during this, Natalie's eyes had never left

his face. She saw that his look was almost... reverent... as he looked

at her body. As much as she disparaged her figure on occasion,

apparently Nick didn't think it was so bad.

Nick's hands lingered on her body, reluctant to break contact. He wanted

to touch her, to hold her, to love her, forever. But duty called, and

they were going to be a trifle late getting there as it was. If he

delayed any longer....

Natalie took the initiative and stood up, but didn't relinquish her grip

on his hand. Nick followed her up, and again took her into his arms,

enveloping her in the warmth of his affection that banished the cool of

his vampire body. They stood together, not moving, for what seemed an

eternity, and then Natalie broke away.

"I've got to... freshen up... a little bit before we leave."


Natalie turned back to him. "Yes?"

"Please put some more perfume on. There are some aromas, no matter how

tantalizing, I do *not* want you to share with any other man. I want

that saved for me alone. But don't wash."

Nick's possessive and highly intimate statement made Natalie blush to

the roots of her hair, realizing just what *aroma* he referred to. She

was mortified.

"Natalie," he said, coming over to her again and wrapping her in his

embrace again, "I'm sure that no one other than a vampire would be able

to scent anything, but the chance than any other man there would

recognize it would drive me crazy. To me you smell erotic, sensual,

desirable.... Can you understand why I don't want anyone else to share

in that? It belongs to you and me only."

Natalie's blush continued. Where had this possessive streak in him come

from? He was acting like a feudal lord... which when she thought about

it, he had been at one time. "I think so... I just feel, so..."

"Natalie, you feel like a woman waiting for her lover to finish the job

he started. And tonight, after the ball, I'll try to remedy that to the

best of my ability. Go," he said with a little smile, pushing her

towards the bathroom, "touch up your lipstick and we'll get going."

Natalie reflected on Nick's comments while she finished her touch up.

She dabbed a bit more perfume on her wrists and behind her knees. It was

a musk-based perfume, with hints of jasmine, and had become her favorite

as soon as she had discovered it. She wouldn't put any more behind her

ears or between her breasts, knowing Nick's vampire smell might find it

a little strong. She couldn't believe his comments about her... what was

the term he used?... aroma. She still felt embarrassed about it. She

recalled her previous relationships, where the smells of sex and arousal

were something to be cleaned up and washed away as soon as possible. Was

Nick's preference born of his old-world life, or something the vampire

in him enjoyed? Perhaps she'd ask him. Later. Right now, she wanted to

remember what had just happened between them, and Nick's sultry promise

of what was to come later. She felt another flush of desire go through

her at the thought.

Nick drained the remainder of his bottle while he waited for Natalie to

return. He disposed of the bottle in the recycling bin in the kitchen,

and then put the glasses in the sink. He checked Sidney's food and water

dishes, making sure both were full, since he fully intended to take

Natalie to the loft after the ball, and not return her until sometime

tomorrow night.

Natalie still hadn't appeared, and Nick looked at his watch. They would

be fashionably late, but not unforgivably so. He made one more quick

decision. He walked into Natalie's bedroom, and noticed that the jeans

and sweater she'd had on earlier in the day lay across the end of her

bed. He opened her closet, and found a small overnight bag. He put the

jeans and sweater in the case, then put her tennis shoes from the floor

on top. That should be enough. Natalie would probably kill him when she

found out he'd just waltzed into her room and into her closet.

Natalie walked into the living room just seconds after Nick returned.

Nick turned around, and greeted her with a smile. "Nat, I hope you don't

mind... I made sure Sidney had food and water, and then I, uh, grabbed a

couple of things for you. I hoped I could convince you to stay with me


Natalie's surprise registered on her face as she took in the overnight

bag sitting on the couch. "Nick...." He stopped her by placing a finger

over her lips, followed quickly by his own lips and a searing kiss. Her

affront immediately melted away.

"Nat, I just didn't want to waste any more time. Please say you'll come

back to the loft with me tonight." Forever, whispered a voice in Nick's

head which he quickly quieted.

How could she turn down this invitation, when in truth she had been

waiting for it for years? That it came out of the blue, unexpected, made

it all the sweeter. "Yes, I'll stay tonight," she responded to him,

while to herself she silently added, "I'll stay forever if you'll let

me, but one night is a good start. I still can't fathom what brought all

this on so suddenly, but I will not turn it down."

Nick kissed her again, quickly, then went to retrieve her coat. He

helped her slide on the full-length wool coat, then pulled his own on.

Natalie grabbed her keys off the counter, and handed them to him. "Well,

it's not as romantic as the Caddy, but at least I don't have the

Coroner's station wagon tonight," she quipped, a smile lighting her

features. Nick took the keys, and opened the door for Natalie.

"After you, my lady," he said with a smile and a gallant bow. Natalie

checked the light switch, and called out to Sidney, "Be good, Sidney,

and I'll get you a can of *real* tuna tomorrow!" She led the way out the

door. Nick followed, and locked the door after him. As they started

towards the elevator to take them down to the parking garage below the

apartment, Nick wrapped his arm around her waist as they walked. Now

that he had made his decision, it seemed as if he couldn't touch her


They waited in silence for the elevator, looking at each other. Nick

reached out and brushed a stray tendril of hair off her cheek, his palm

lingering there. Natalie pressed her face into his hand, rubbing her

cheek against his palm and caressing the cool surface of it. She leaned

forward to kiss him again, but the opening elevator doors startled them

both, causing them to jump back guiltily.

There was no one in the elevator, and they laughed at their nervous

folly. They entered, and Nick pressed the button for the garage, his

other arm still holding Natalie close. She raised her face to his,

asking for the kiss they'd been denied seconds before. Nick obliged

happily, placing a sensuous kiss on her lips, tracing their outline with

his tongue. Natalie shivered.

"Nat?" he murmured against her lips.

"Hmm... yes?"

"I can still smell you."

It took a second for his comment to sink in, and then Natalie jumped

back from him, hitting him with her evening bag. "Nick, how can you say

such a thing?" she demanded, taking in his grinning face.

"I didn't say it was bad," he offered, holding his hands up in mock

surrender, devilment lighting his eyes. "I happen to like it very much,

thank you. Besides, no one other than me would be able to tell, and your

perfume will be all that anyone else who even gets close enough to you

will smell. *If* I let them get close enough," he added.

Natalie's shook her head in bemusement, and then stepped back closer to

him. His teasing, as intended, had broke the sexual tension that had

been between them since he entered her apartment. If the two of them

arrived at the ball in their current state, there's no telling what

people would say. "I'll behave until the ball is over. How's that,

Cinderella?" he asked.

"I suppose that will have to do," she said with a long-suffering

dramatic sigh, and then snuggled into his arm.

"Only until the ball is over," he reiterated. "After that," he leered,

"I'm reverting to the beast!" Natalie burst out laughing, making the

comment, "Oh, does that make me the *Belle* of the ball, then?" She

giggled at her own comment, and then at Nick's obvious puzzlement.

"Nick, remember, we watched *Beauty and the Beast*?"

The light went on for Nick, and he smiled sheepishly. "What happened to

that famous vampire memory?" Natalie asked. Nick's reply was, "I was

blinded by your beauty?" which earned him another swat with her bag.

By this time, the elevator had stopped and opened its doors. Nick

escorted Nat out, and to her parking space, where he held open the door

for her to get in. Then, he went around to the driver's side. As he got

in, he banged his knees on the steering wheel. "Damn!" he muttered.

"Sorry. I forgot to remind you to move the seat back. Not everyone has

legs as long as yours," said Natalie. Nick reached down to the side of

the seat, and adjusted it so that he was comfortable. They pulled out,

and were on their way to the ball.

The drive to the ball was non-eventful. They kept the conversation

steered towards work, avoiding anything to do with themselves. The

anticipation for the events after the ball was building in both of them,

but they refused to acknowledge it. Nick pulled the car up to the valet

parking, and came around to help Natalie out, and then escorted her into

the museum, this year's location for the ball.

They checked their coats, and then started to mingle with all the other

city officials and socialites. Nick leaned down and commented privately

in Natalie's ear, "At least this isn't like a Victorian ball, where they

announce everyone as they enter. I feel as if everyone would know what

we're doing, and what we're *going* to do!" Natalie blushed again. ‘What

was with her tonight?' she wondered to herself. She had blushed more in

one evening than she could remember blushing in several years. She was

acting like a nervous teenager! She glanced up at Nick and shook her

head at him in mock disapproval, but couldn't hold it for long. Another

smile appeared quickly. Nick smiled back and tucked her hand into the

crook of his arm more securely as he escorted Natalie around, and they

made small talk with the people they were acquainted with.

It escaped Natalie at this time that Nick's actions, such as keeping her

hand on his arm at all times, and not leaving her, were statements in

themselves. The happiness she felt this evening made her face glow.

Nick's actions clearly stated to anyone smart enough to read them, "This

is MY woman. No trespassing."

A small orchestra had already been playing as Nick and Nat entered, and

now they struck up a waltz. They had been chatting with some of the

other officers in the department, but when the waltz started, Nick

offered the rest of the group a "Please excuse us," and then turned back

to Natalie, where he made a short bow from the waist, and asked, "May I

have the pleasure of this dance?" A few of the other women in the group

smiled at Nick's gallantry, while Natalie had no choice but to say yes.

Nick swept her into his arms and out onto the dance floor, where they

entered the flow of other dancers.

Nick's dancing wasn't the small, turning steps that Natalie was used to

at crowded wedding receptions, nor was it the grand sweeping steps of

someone in a ballroom dancing competition. It was somewhere in between,

and Nick, obviously an accomplished dancer, led her around the floor,

effortlessly avoiding what Natalie thought would surely be collisions

with the other dancers.

"Nick," Natalie managed to catch her breath as they danced, "I never

knew you danced so well."

"Years of practice, Nat. Centuries, you might say!" Nick rejoined with a

smile, never missing a beat. "Besides, with the *Belle* of the ball in

my arms, how could I *not* dance well?" They grinned at their own

private joke, and continued to twirl around the floor. The waltz came to

an end, and Nick reluctantly led a somewhat breathless Natalie to the

edge of the dance floor, but before they reached it, the orchestra

started in on Nat King Cole's ‘Unforgettable', and it was Natalie who

pulled Nick back onto the floor. At the same time, a singer stepped up

to a microphone to begin the haunting words of the song.

"I don't know how to dance to this," Nick complained.

"OK, old man, then let me lead this time... this is something *I'm* more

familiar with!" They stopped in a crowd of other dancers already

standing close and swaying to the romantic tune. "Hold just like you did

in the waltz," commanded Natalie. Nick complied, and then Natalie moved

herself even closer to Nick, so that their bodies touched from chest to

upper thigh. She curled their joined hand in so that it rested on Nick,

next to her face which she turned to the side and lay against his chest.

The hand she had placed on his shoulder crept up to his neck, and rested

there. Then she started swaying slowly and taking small steps.

"This, Nicholas Knight, is what we call *slow dancing*. Very close, very

intimate, and not much skill required. Anyone can learn to do it, even


"Mmm..." Nick replied, leaning his cheek down to rest on the top of

Natalie's head, as he saw several other dancers doing. "I suppose I

could get used to this." He slid his hand which had rested on her waist

around so that it rested in the small of her back, his fingers moving a

fraction to caress the upper curve of her buttocks. Conversation ceased

between the two of them as they swayed in time with the music, listening

to the words.

"Unforgettable, That's what you are...

Nick pulled Natalie in even closer to his body, enjoying her warmth and

the intimacy of the dance. The two were lost in a world of their own,

both thinking of the time that had come before this night, the

frustrations, the yearnings, the disappointments. But none of that

mattered now, in the face of Nick's decisive actions since walking

through Natalie's door tonight. With the tantalizing scent of her

perfume and that own unique scent that was Natalie wafting up from her

warmth to tease him, Nick vowed silently to himself that he would not

turn back from his chosen path tonight, that he would keep the vampire

under control so that he could love his Natalie, in every sense of the

word, tonight.

As Nick made his vow to himself, Natalie also vowed silently to make

Nick fulfill his earlier promises. Tonight, if he backed away at the

last minute, *she* would become the aggressor. It had worked for

Janette; it would work for them. She didn't know *why* Nick had suddenly

become the lover she'd always hoped for, but she would find out.

The singer sang the last haunting notes of the song, and the audience

and dancers applauded to show their appreciation. Nick and Nat, lost in

their own world, kept dancing for a few seconds after her finish, but as

the applause broke into their consciousness, they grinned sheepishly at

each other, and stepped apart to join the clapping. Nick tucked

Natalie's arm back into his, and led her off the floor in search of

refreshments. At the edge of the crowd, they met Tracy, looking vibrant

in a short flirty red silk dress. She smiled at them.

"Well, it's about time, you two! Anyone with half a brain could see that

there's something different with you guys tonight. Way to go, partner,"

she added to Nick.

"Well, you know," Nick said, smiling down at Natalie, "it's Christmas, a

time for love and new beginnings..." he trailed off. Tracy nodded,

understanding what had happened to Nick earlier in the evening.

"Seriously, Nick," Tracy continued, "everyone's been hoping that you two

would work whatever it is between you out. No two people belong together

more than you. It just took you longer to realize it than everyone

else!" With that, Tracy gave Natalie a small hug, and then left the two

of them alone again, moving off to claim a handsome young officer for a


"From the mouths of babes," quoted Nick.

Natalie playfully swatted his arm, then added in a serious tone,

"Sometime soon you're going to tell me what happened tonight. Why the

sudden change of heart. But not now," she added, placing a finger over

his lips to stop any comments he might have. His tongue darted out,

wetting her finger, and then he sucked the tip of it into his mouth for

a quick nip.

"Nick!" she said in an loud whisper, yanking her finger out of his

mouth, "behave yourself!" Her smile softened her chastisement, and Nick

just laughed and escorted her to the refreshment table, where they both

picked up glasses of red wine. Nick's glass was more of a prop, but he

occasionally took small sips, while Natalie truly enjoyed the fine


The rest of the ball passed similarly, with the two of them alternating

between dancing and mingling with the friends, acquaintances, and

co-workers also present. Several of them commented among themselves out

of earshot (so they thought) that it was wonderful to finally see the

two of them together.

As Nick led Natalie in another slow dance, he spoke low for her ears

only, "Nat, they're talking about us."

"Who?" she asked, keeping her eyes closed and her cheek against his


"Just about everyone who knows us," he replied. She tilted her head back

to look up at him.

"How do you know? What about?"

"Basically, the same things Tracy said. ‘It's about time... they're so

perfect together... What took them so long?' They all approve," was his

reply. "To answer your first question, remember that I have *very* good


"Oh." If Natalie could have slapped her forhead and said, "Duh," it

would have been the same.

Nick tucked her head back against his chest, and they finished the dance

in silence. When the music was over, Nick placed his forefinger under

Natalie's chin, tipping her head up to look at him again. "Think we can

gracefully sneak out, now?"

Natalie looked at the large clock hung high on the wall. It was just

after midnight, and they had been there for over four hours. "I think

so. We've done more than our duty requires for tonight." She smiled at

him. "Besides, this Cinderella doesn't want her prince to turn into a

frog at the stroke of midnight."

"You're mixing stories there, Nat. The Grimms would be extremely upset."

"Who cares?" was her laughing reply. "Tonight has been the best

fairytale of all. Don't tell me you knew them?" she added.

"Well... I did run across them once. Very strange fellows. I'll tell you

about it sometime." With that, they made their way towards the coat

check, saying their farewells to the people they met along the way. Nick

retrieved their coats, and helped Natalie with hers before sliding his

own on. Suddenly, the warm affection that had been with them during the

duration of the ball disappeared, replaced by the earlier expectant

tension, heavy with unspoken desires and promises.

Nick handed the billet to the parking valet, waiting for Natalie's car

to be brought around. The two of them stood waiting in silence on the

steps, watching the fluffy snow that had started falling while they had

been inside. Nick wrapped his arms around Natalie from behind, holding

her close.

The valet returned with the car, and opened the door for Natalie. Nick

helped her in, and then went around to his side, tipping the valet

before he got in. Pointing the car towards the loft, and they were soon

moving through the dark city streets, both silent, both thinking of what

was yet to come.

Nick pulled Natalie's car into the lower level of his warehouse

building. They took the lift up to the loft, and Nick slid the door

back for her, allowing her to enter first. As she started to step out

of the lift, Nick suddenly swung her up into his arms. Nat instinctively

wrapped her arms around his neck.

"New beginnings, Nat," he said to her unspoken question, and carried her

into the loft. He carried her over next to the couch, and lowered her

feet so that she slid along the length of his body before she reached

the floor. "Here, let me take your coat," he said, as he helped her out

of it. He laid it over the nearby chair, then shrugged out of his own,

setting it on top of hers.

Meanwhile, Natalie had reached for the remote to open the shutters. As

they slid up, she could see the snow that still fell in thick blankets

coming down. Nick stepped up behind her, wrapping his arms around her

waist and pulling her back into him. He took the remote out of her

hand, and pressed one of the buttons. The stereo started up, the strains

of some soft classical piece filling the air. Natalie turned around in

Nick's arms, and wrapped her arms around his neck. She pulled his head

down to meet hers, and gave him a deep kiss, determined not to be merely

a respondent to Nick's overtures, but also an active participant.

Their tongues warred with each other, while their hands traced paths

that their mouths would later follow. Natalie could feel Nick's arousal

pressing into her, and she ground her hips slightly against his. Nick

growled in response, tightening his grip on her and deepening their

kiss. Then, without breaking contact, he lowered her onto the leather

couch, and lay partially atop her. Natalie squirmed slightly, working

her leg out from underneath so that she could wrap it around his. Nick

moved his kiss from her mouth over to her ear, blowing softly in it.

Shivers ran down Natalie's spine.

His teeth nipped the soft lobe, then he started tracing a path down her

neck. He reached up and cupped her breast in his hand, pushing it up so

that it rounded above the top of the dress, and his lowered his mouth,

gently sucking on the exposed skin. Natalie's breathless pants aroused

him more than any other woman in his long past ever had, and he knew

that this was right. He slowed his ministrations, and raised his lips

to gently kiss hers.

"I will NOT make love to you the first time on a couch, fully clothed,"

he stated, swinging his knees over to the floor, and kneeling besides

her. Natalie smiled a half smile, and replied, "Well, it isn't the most

comfortable spot in the world, but as long as I'm with you..." Her eyes

glowed with unspoken emotions.

Nick stood, and held a hand out to help Natalie up from the couch. She

rose gracefully, and he led her over to the stairs. Before they headed

up, he asked her if she needed anything, a drink perhaps?

She shook her head no, and he stepped close and swept her up in his arms

again. He lowered his head to kiss her, and the world disappeared again

while they lost themselves in each other.

Natalie opened her eyes again to find them outside of Nick's bedroom

door. "Nick, did you..?" she trailed off questioningly.

"Uh-huh," he said sheepishly. "It was quicker. Besides, you don't think

I was actually going to CARRY you up the stairs, do you? I'd be worn out

by the time I got up here!" His laughing blue eyes told her he was

teasing, and she punished him by pulling his head down for a kiss, and

nipping his bottom lip. He growled again, and strode into the bedroom

with her.

The sound system was wired into the entire loft, and the music on the

stereo still floated unobtrusively around them as Nick lowered her feet

to the floor again. He stepped away from her to shrug out of his tuxedo

jacket, and then started to remove the studs from his shirt. Natalie

brushed his hands away, intending to undress him herself.

As she removed each stud from his shirt, she laid it on the dresser. As

his shirt gaped farther open with each removal, she pressed kisses to

the cool pale flesh that was exposed. She tugged the shirttails out of

his pants, and unbuttoned the last few studs. She pulled the front of

his shirt apart, exposing his light brown nipples. She placed her mouth

over one, and sucked gently, her teeth grazing the sensitive nub. Nick

jerked in response, but remained where he was, allowing Natalie to

explore at her leisure. She slid her hands up his chest, and then slid

the shirt down off his shoulders and arms. His torso was now bare, and

she loved the maleness of it, the pale hairs curling on his chest, the

wiry muscles below the skin, and ran her hands over all of him, her

mouth following in a fiery trail afterwards.

Nick's vampire senses could stand no more at this point, and he pulled

her mouth up to meet his. He reached around behind her, and started

unzipping her dress. This time, he pulled the zipper all the way down,

and the dress gaped open at the top, exposing her lace bra and allowing

him to see to the foundation garments below her waist.

He repeated Natalie's actions, slowly pulling the dress down her body

inch by inch, kissing the skin that became exposed. When it reached her

hips, he gave a slight tug, and the velvet puddled to the floor around

her feet, still encased in their stockings and high heels. He knelt in

front of her, and wrapped his arms around her waist, laying his head

against her stomach, listening to her heartbeat echo within her body.

Natalie stood trembling with desire as Nick lifted his head and placed a

warm, wet kiss on her stomach and his hands moved to cup her buttocks.

He caressed them and squeezed slightly, and turned the kiss on her

stomach into a sucking motion. The simultaneous actions sent waves of

desire through her body, and she could feel the rush of moisture between

her legs. She had never realized that such simple actions could be so

erotically stimulating.

Nick felt the minute shivers go through her body, and he could smell her

reaction. He lowered his head, and placed his mouth over the lace

bikini that hid her femininity. He could feel the wetness already

there, and he blew softly through the barrier, exciting her even

further. He then reversed, and sucked in, bringing both the lace and

the hidden nub into his mouth momentarily. Natalie moaned loudly, and

almost collapsed at the sensation. Only her hands braced on his

shoulders and Nick's grip around her waist kept her from collapsing to

the floor.

Nick reached up and grabbed the edges of the panties, and slid them down

her legs, removing the barrier. Natalie still stood there in her black

lace bra and garter, and sheer black stockings and shoes, and Nick

thought he had never seen anything more beautiful. "The bra will have

to go," he said, "but the rest can remain for now."

Nick stood up, never releasing his hold on Natalie, and helped her step

out of the clothing tangled around her feet. Then he stepped out of his

dress shoes. She had regained a little control at this point, and

turnabout was fair play. She reached for the fastening on his pants,

and released it. Then, she slid the zipper down, careful not to catch

anything, fabric or otherwise, below it. His pants slid easily to the

floor, and he stepped out of them. He now stood in nothing but his

black patterned silk bikini underwear, and his socks. Natalie couldn't

help but giggle at the sight, and Nick rolled his eyes, easily guessing

what was on her mind.

"Why is it sexy for a woman to stand in her stockings and underwear, but

not for a man?" Nick asked, as Natalie knelt in front of him to help

remove his socks. She pulled one off, exposing an aristocratic-looking

foot, long and narrow, before smiling and replying, "Guess it's just one

of those things... only this time women get the better deal." She

removed the other sock, and then ran her hands around his calves before

heading back up to more interesting territory. She stopped at his

thighs, kneading and feeling the muscles underneath. She could see his

arousal straining at his underwear, but she ignored it for now, and

instead dropped kisses along the front of his thighs while her hands

reached for his buttocks. Nick stood unmoving, but she could tell that

it affected him, for the tenseness in the muscles under her hands


She traced little circles and paths with her tongue on his thighs, and

then blew air on them immediately afterwards, seeing the skin pucker and

the hairs stand up. She worked her way towards his underwear, torturing

him with her refusal to directly touch him.

Finally, she paused in front of him, and then placed her mouth on the

bulge in front of her, blowing hot moist air through the fabric in

imitation of Nick's actions on her. She glanced up, and saw his head

tip back and the cords in his neck stand out. Her own arousal was

increasing, and she was tired of waiting, so she took pity on and freed


She carefully pulled the fabric away from him, and down to the floor,

exposing him to her view. He was uncircumcised, which surprised her

until she remembered that of course he would be. The foreskin was

pulled slightly back, exposing the purplish heart-shaped head. A drop

of moisture glistened at the top, and as Natalie reached to touch him,

she darted her tongue out to catch it. Nick's indrawn breath told her

that she had surprised him as much as she surprised herself with the


She caressed his length once with her hands, and then stood up next to

Nick, reaching up and pulling his head down for another kiss. He

reached behind her and released the catch on her bra, freeing her

breasts and dropping the garment without a thought. Both hands reached

up to cup her as he backed her towards the bed, sitting her down on the


Natalie came up for air, and reached for the hooks on her garters. "No,

he said, "let me." He removed her shoes, then unhooked the garters and

rolled the stockings down. Then he pushed her back on the bed until she

was completely reclined, and just looked at her. Natalie started to

feel self-conscious.

"You're beautiful," he said simply as he sat down next to her, reaching

for her hand and bringing it to his mouth. She could see that his eyes

were gold-rimmed, and that the vampire had made it's inevitable

appearance, but she felt no fear. "Natalie, are you sure? Do you trust

me..." he trailed off, not wanting to finish the thought.

"Nick, I trust you with everything. My life, my soul, and my love. I

know you, and we wouldn't be here right now if you were unsure."

"Natalie, I love you." There, he had finally said it, and there was no

going back. "You know more about me than any other human. You do

realize that for me to... complete... the act, I have to have blood?"

She nodded. He continued, "if you're at all unsure, we don't have to.

There's much I can do for you, to you, and still avoid that."

Natalie responded without hesitation, "I love you, Nick, and I trust

you. Together, we can do anything, conquer anything." She tugged on

his hand, pulling him down to lay on top of her. She didn't want to

wait anymore.

They kissed, and once more their hands explored all the places on each

other that they'd only dreamed of. Natalie moved her mouth to Nick's

neck, biting him gently. "Nat... you don't know what you're doing," he

groaned. She smiled, and replaced her teeth with her lips, sucking.

She raised her head to ask a question, "Can vampires get hickeys?"

"Yeah, but they don't last very long. They'll be gone in a few


"Good," Natalie answered, and returned to his neck. She nibbled up and

down the cord in his neck, working from behind his ear down to his

shoulder. She nipped, she nibbled, she kissed, and she sucked. The

last action affected Nick the most, she noted, causing him to clench his

hands and turn his head for better access when she sucked extremely hard

and used her teeth to lightly bite. On a normal human, it would have

left a mark that would have taken a week or more to fade, but she didn't

have to worry about that with Nick. She finally took mercy on him, and

ceased. He turned his head back to her, and she could see that his eyes

were completely gold, and that his fangs had descended.

"Oh!" she voiced softly, surprised that she'd caused such a potent

reaction, but still unafraid.

Nick's brow knitted, wondering if he had frightened her. Natalie

placed a hand along his cheek, and said, "I didn't know that I was doing

such a good job. You were right," she added, "I didn't know what I was

doing. Was it OK?" she asked, worried that she might have went too far.

"It's all right," he answered, a smile looking incongruous around the

fangs, "but please remember that what you just did was as close to

sharing blood as you can get, and that is the ultimate act for

vampires. Next time, wait until later!" Natalie relaxed, relieved.

"My turn!" Nick added Nick, and he grasped her hands and pinned her to

the bed underneath him. He began his assault, starting with her mouth,

then trailing down her neck. He didn't stay too long, not wanting to

tempt himself overly much. He continued down to her breasts, and laved

each one with attention. He nipped, and then suckled on them, careful

not to draw blood with the razor sharp fangs. Natalie moaned and

squirmed beneath him. He released her hands, and she immediately

brought them to his head, running her fingers through his hair, holding

him against her.

Nick continued his ministrations, moved down her stomach towards the

thatch of curly brown hair at the apex of her legs. He reached up and

ran his fingers through the springy curls, and then used his hand to

nudge her legs apart. They went willingly, and she was exposed to him.

He could see the wetness of her, smell the musky scent that aroused him

like no manufactured perfume ever could. He slid a finger down through

the moist folds, and felt Natalie squirm in response. He brought his

other hand up to join the first, and spread the delicate petals apart

until she glistened pink in front of him. He lowered his mouth to her,

and she nearly jumped off the bed.

"Oh, Nick!"

He quickly found the nub of her desire, and swirled his tongue around

it. Then, he took one finger and inserted it inside of her, and she

immediately flooded his hand with more wetness, indicating her extreme

arousal. He sucked the nub into his mouth, and at the same time

inserted another finger. As he thrust into her, he sucked at the same

time, and Natalie was going out of her mind with pleasure, the

anticipation that had been building throughout the evening only

hastening her to the end. Nick's only goal was to bring Natalie to

orgasm first, and she willingly complied.

The orgasm hit her suddenly, causing her body to tighten around his

finger and arch her back off the bed while she screamed his name. Her

hands clenched in his hair, and Nick could feel the contractions around

his finger, and eased his attentions as they subsided. He was rock hard

with his own arousal, and knew that he couldn't wait much longer. But,

he would be sure Natalie was ready for him after such an explosive

reaction. He slid up the bed beside her, taking her in his arms and

carefully kissing her.

Natalie could taste herself on his lips, but felt no revulsion.

Somehow, it was right. Nick was kissing her softly, insistently, and as

she returned to earth, she wrapped her arms around him, pulling him

closer. She was somewhat surprised to find that she was still

incredibly aroused, even after what had just happened. She reached down

to touch him, finding him hard and ready. She ran her hand up and down

the length of him, and gently circled his testicles, now drawn up and

firm within his scrotum. Nick growled in her ear, saying, "Love, I

can't go on like this for much longer."

"Then don't," she replied, pulling him on top of her. She spread her

legs and raised her knees so that he could settle between them. She

felt his erection pushing through her wet folds, and then the tip of him

was inside her. She could feel her muscles tighten around him, and he

growled again as he slowly pushed even further inside. He didn't want

to hurt her, knowing she was still sensitive after her orgasm, but

Natalie had different ideas. She wrapped her legs around him, and

pulled him in until he was completely buried inside her.

"Oh, God, Nat," he said with his head thrown back, moving in and out of

her, feeling her tighten rhythmically around him. Natalie, too,

marveled in the sensations of having him inside of her, loving her. She

pulled his head down to kiss him again.

They continued for what could have been a mere moment, or an eternity,

so locked in the rapture of each other were they. Nick's thrusts

increased, and he moved his mouth from Natalie's over to her neck, where

she turned her head to allow him access. "It's almost time," he half

moaned, half growled, allowing Natalie one last chance to back out. She

pulled his head down to her neck in response, and then tightened her

grip on him.

Thrusting fast and furiously, Nick felt the tightening in Natalie that

signaled the start of her release, and he strove for his own. Natalie

keened in his ear as she fell over the precipice of pleasure, hurtling

into exquisite oblivion. Nick was but one step behind her, and he

pulled his head back, ready to plunge into her neck. His fangs broke

the skin, and as she cried out in pleasure and pain, he heard her

whisper in his ear, "I love you, Nick. Come with me."

Her blood touched his tongue, and he thought he had never tasted

anything so wonderful, so pure, so full of love and trust. His release

was violently strong, unlike any that he had ever had, and he knew that

for a moment, damned creature of the night that he was, he must have

touched Heaven. He drank, but was surprised at how quickly he was

sated. A few swallows was all he needed, or wanted. He withdrew and

licked the small punctures he had made. Still within her, he could feel

Natalie tighten and release around him in the aftermath of her own


Nick rolled so that Natalie was now laying on top of him, still joined.

The vampire had retreated quickly, satisfied, and he wrapped his arms

around her, holding her close. He pressed a kiss to her forehead. "I

love you, Natalie Lambert."

"And I love you, Nicholas de Brabant Knight. I always have."

Nick reached for a cover, sensitive to the fact that she would probably

chill after the warmth of their exertions wore off.

Nick held Natalie close, listening to her breathing slow as she slipped

into Morpheus's arms. Never had he felt so content. He relaxed, and

let her sleep. He turned his thoughts to the events earlier in the

evening, which had instigated his actions tonight.


earlier in the same evening

Nick listened to the answering machine pick up as he pulled the bottle

out of the refrigerator. He had just crawled out of bed, and now

Captain Reese's voice boomed in the silence.

"Knight, I hate to do this to you, but I need you in here tonight.

Seems the perp from the Hanson murder struck again. Same M.O. I need

you to report to 759 Michigan St., Apt. 8D. Tracy will meet you there.

Regular patrol's already on the scene.

"Damn!" Nick cursed. Natalie was expecting him in a few hours. Tonight

was the Christmas Ball, and he had promised to escort her, to fulfill

their obligations to the department. Well, there was no helping it

now. He picked up the phone, and called Natalie's number.

"Hello," answered Natalie.

"Hi, Nat, it's me."

"Nick! Still on for tonight, right?" Her voice was bright.

"Well, that's what I'm calling about. Remember the Hanson murder?

Seems he struck again, and Tracy and I have to report to the scene. I'm

sorry Nat, I was looking forward to tonight. Maybe Tracy and I can get

it taken care of and I can meet you at the ball later?"

"Sure, Nick. I understand. I'll see you there later, then." Nick

could hear the disappointment in her voice; both of them knew that the

chances that he and Tracy would finish up anytime soon was almost

non-existent. Chances were they wouldn't be finished questioning and

searching the scene until well into the early morning.

"Nat, I..." Nick paused, "I was really looking forward to this evening.

I'm sorry." They said their goodbyes, and Nick hung up. He angrily

drained the bottle he still held in his hand, and then headed upstairs

to get dressed. He glanced at the tuxedo hanging ready, and reached

past it for his black jeans and a dark shirt.

Downstairs, he grabbed his coat, and headed down to the Caddy. As soon

as he pulled the car out onto the road, he reached for his cell phone

and called the Captain.

"It's Knight. I'm on my way to the scene."

He arrived at the apartment building, and took the elevator up to the

eighth floor. The scene wasn't hard to find... there was a crowd

outside the door. Nick flashed his badge, and went into the apartment.

A patrol officer pointed him towards the bedroom.

Nick walked into the bedroom, and stopped, staring at the sight on the

bed. The victim was a woman, and she had obviously been tied, tortured,

and raped before being killed. Her hands and feet had been tied to the

posts of the bed, and a piece of clothing had been shoved into her mouth

to silence her. Dozens of shallow knife cuts crisscrossed her torso,

deep enough to bleed, but not deep enough to kill. It had to have been

horrifically painful. Nick was thankful he had just drank a bottle

before coming on the scene, otherwise the amount of blood might have

affected him adversely.

The perp on this case was definitely a psycho, getting his thrills out

of bloodletting and torture. The woman had not died from the cuts on

her body, but from the knife that was still embedded in her chest. THAT

had been the killing blow. She had obviously been raped... blood

smeared her thighs and the forensic technician was taking samples of

what appeared to be semen before they moved the body.

What had stopped Nick in his tracks was not the gruesomeness of the

murder, but the victim's resemblance to someone he knew. To Natalie.

She had the same honey brown hair. Her eyes, which stared wide open at

the ceiling, were a hazel green, close to Natalie's. Her size, weight,

and age all appeared to be similar to Natalie's as well. Nick felt a

frisson go through him at the similarities.

"God, I hate this job sometimes," Tracy said, walking up behind him.

"It really makes you wonder if there's any hope for humanity when you

see something this sick."

Nick nodded distractedly, his attention still held by the unfortunate


"She reminds me of someone," Tracy started to say, but Nick cut her off.

"Natalie. She looks like Natalie." His voice was flat, dead. Tracy

wondered at the complete lack of emotion in it.

"Nick," she said, suddenly understanding his reaction, "let me handle

the stuff in here. You go see if there's any witnesses in the crowd

outside." She laid a comforting hand on his arm, forcing his attention

to her. "I'll deal with this in here," she repeated. She felt the small

tremors in the muscles of his arm.

He turned his head towards her, shocked eyes meeting understanding

ones. "Are you sure?" he asked, hoping she would agree.

"Go," Tracy said, shoving him towards the door. "I'll let the Captain

know that you're handling the witnesses."

A brief smile of gratitude appeared on Nick's face, and then he headed

out to see if there was any information to be found from the other

residents of the building. However, he couldn't shake his first

impression of the victim, and that it had been Natalie. And his

reaction at thinking she was dead, the regrets that had overwhelmed him,

the longings that screamed through his body. He never wanted to feel

that again. He had wanted to walk up to the roof of the building, was

ready to face the morning sun, before he had realized that it *wasn't*


Nick found the people outside the door, and started his questioning.

Nat woke to the unfamiliar feeling of another body next to hers, it's

arms wrapped around her. For a split-second, she wondered who it was,

and then the previous evening's events came rushing back to her.

Nick slept soundly beside her, his cheek tucked against the top of her

head. Nat glanced the clock next to the bed, noting it was almost

sunrise. Soft pre-dawn light filtered through the window, but Nick

still hadn't moved, so she slowly extricated herself from his embrace

and got up. She moved to the window and looked out at the dawning day,

noting that it had stopped snowing. Then she looked at their clothing

strewn around the room, and a small smile appeared. She touched her

lips with her fingertips, then moved them to the small punctures on her

neck. "Yes, it really happened," she said to herself, glancing back

over her shoulder at the sleeping form on the bed. She looked for

something to put on and picked up Nick's shirt from the night before. As

she reached to button it, she remembered that it had no buttons - the

studs that held it closed were on the dresser. She abandoned the

thought of looking for something else, and simply pulled the loose ends

closed with her hand. The shirt hung just below the curve of her

buttocks, which suited her purpose, and she headed down the stairs for

the remote.

After using the remote to shutter the loft and protect her sleeping

lover, Natalie headed to the kitchen to see if there was *anything* to

eat. She opened the refrigerator, and there, much to her surprise, were

a couple of bagels and some cream cheese leftover from one of their

movie nights last week. Delighted, she took one out and smeared a thick

layer of the cream cheese over it and then quickly devoured it. She

washed it down with a glass of water.

Nat climbed the stairs back to the loft, deciding what she was going to

do for the day while Nick slept. Things had changed so radically in the

last 12 hours that her head was still spinning. "Just enjoy it,

Lambert," she said to herself. "Crawl back into that bed, go back to

sleep and enjoy it!"

Nick's shirt gaped open, forgotten, as she entered the darkened bedroom,

and she failed to notice that the bed was empty as she walked towards

it. Suddenly, arms wrapped around her from behind, and she shrieked,


"Relax, Nat, it's me!"

"I *hate* it when you do that, Nick!" She turned in his arms to face

him, a smile softening her rebuke. He grinned at her, and tightened his

arms. "I thought you were sleeping," Nat continued, "it's almost dawn."

"I was only dozing… I woke up as soon as you tried to crawl out of bed.

You're beautiful in the morning light," he added, letting her know that

he had been watching her.

Natalie blushed, remembering standing in front of the window in all her

naked glory, never realizing that she was being watched.

"I wish I could have stood there with you, but this is just as nice," he

added, looking down at her body between them. The shirt gaped open,

exposing Natalie's breasts, and everything else, to his view.

"Nick," she said as she reached to close the shirt.

"Don't," he countered, stopping her hand before it could grasp the

material. He leaned forward, his lips brushing against hers as he

whispered, "will you take it off for me, love?" and then pressed a

feather-soft kiss against her lips, which increased in pressure when her

arms came up to wrap around his neck. The passion of the night before

blazed into existence again as they touched and tasted one another. Nat

allowed the shirt to slide off her shoulders, letting it drop to the

floor before she pushed her body tighter against his, noting that he

hadn't even bothered with a robe when getting out of bed.

Nick walked Natalie backwards towards the bed, never releasing his hold

on her. They tumbled together down on top of it, and Natalie released

her hold on Nick long enough to put her hands against his chest and


"What the…?" Nick asked, surprised that she'd push him away. Natalie

laughed. "I couldn't breathe!" She positioned herself a little more

comfortably. "Now, come here," she demanded imperiously, an impish

smile ruining the declaration as she held out her arms.

Nick shook his head, and looked down at the bed for a second, then

lifted his head as he jumped towards her fully vamped out and then

grabbed her. Natalie shrieked again, startled.

"So, you want to play, do you?" Nick growled, looking as ferocious as he

could manage under the circumstances. He angled his head towards her

neck while at the same time moving his fingers over her ribs. His fangs

had retracted as quickly as they appeared, and when his lips met her

neck, it was to blow a big wet raspberry on it while his fingers

mercilessly tickled her. Natalie shrieked again, this time in laughter.

"Stop it, Nick! Stop it! Oh, please!!!!" she gasped, laughing

uncontrollably. Nick let her up, victoriously grinning.

"Much as I would love to repeat last night, my love," he said, "I don't

think we should. I don't want to weaken you." Natalie, still gasping

for breath, nodded her understanding. "But," he continued with a leer

on his face, "I'm only saving you for tonight!"

A flush of pleasure ran through Natalie's body at the thought that he

still wanted her.

"Natalie," Nick said, suddenly serious, holding her hands in his, "last

night was different than anything I have ever known. It was more

intimate, more passionate, more…" he trailed off, unable to come up with

the words to describe his feelings. "I don't know what's going to

happen in the future, but I do know that I want you with me as long as

you will stay. Will you stay with me?"

Natalie gazed into Nick's eyes. "Nick, are you asking me to marry you?"

"Yes, if you'll have me. Otherwise, will you stay with me for as long

as you can?

"No," she answered.

Puzzled and hurt, Nick repeated, "No?," the last thing he had expected

to hear.

"No, I will not stay with you for as long as I can. But yes, I will

marry you, and stay with you for the rest of my life."

Understanding dawned in Nick's eyes, and he crushed her to him, holding

her tight.

"Oh, God, Nat, I almost think that there might be a chance for me after


"So do I, Nick, so do I."


Finis, for now. To be continued in a little while....


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