From: "NiteMar" <NiteMar@w...>

Date: Mon Mar 27, 2000 12:45 am

Subject: ADULT: One Night Til Forever


CONTENT WARNINGS: This story is an ADULT Nick & Nat story. It

contains explicit sex (m/f) [Nick/Nat] and explicit sex beyond Nick

and Nat [LaCroix/Nat], and a short self-gratification scene. If

such content would offend you, do NOT read and hit the DELETE key.

PERMISSION IS GRANTED to archive this story at FKFANFIC Archive,

FKFTP site, N&NPACK MORTAL LOVE Archive, JADFE Archive, and DARK

NICK & NAT Archives ONLY. Anyone else please obtain written

permission from me first.

DEDICATION: You can blame the posting of this story on the N&NNUTS

on IRC and their encouragement/harrassment, and especially on

TexasBrat, KnightOwl, Micki, Sheila and NightLady. And a special

thanks to my beta reader, Micki!

DISCLAIMERS: The Forever Knight characters belong to Columbia

Tri/Star. No copyright infringement is intended.

TIMELINE: This story takes place in the 3rd season about a year

after 'Be My Valentine', but Schanke is still alive in my universe.

I have nothing against Tracy; I just like Schanke.

If you do not see "Continued in Part xx..." or "~Fin~" you did not

receive entire part.


One Night Til Forever

By NiteMar

March 2000



"My children of the night...tonight we will hear about the Legend of

One. One Love. One person perfectly made for another. Do you

believe in such a fate? Have you met this person? Or do you long

to still find your One?"


He sat heart-broken on the couch as he clutched the hand-written

letter. It had been lying on the table when he arrived home from

visiting an old friend. She had decided to leave him. She said

that she couldn't take living a lie anymore. He treated her

different in public than he did in private and she hated it. She

was an emotional wreck waiting for something that may never be.


"How do you know that a person is the One as you drift through life,

meeting so many nameless faces..."


Tears fell onto the paper as he reread the words. He didn't blame

her. She was right. He did treat her differently. But it was for

her sake. That's what he had told himself. Now he had lost her.

Why did he let this happen? All he had to do was have the courage

to act. It was too late now. Or was it? Maybe she would give him

another chance. To let him love her. Despite the difficulties.

Determined to win her back, he grabbed his leather jacket and left.

He had to succeed.


" you jump from relationship to they all seem none seem extraordinary?"


First, he stopped at work. She often liked to bury herself in her

work when she was upset. He peeked in her office, but she wasn't

there. No one seemed to know where she was. It was her night off,

but he had still hoped to find her there. Next, he decided to check

her apartment.


"What made you think this is the one? The racing of the heartbeat?

The surge of hot desire?"


He drove through the streets of Toronto as he thought back on the

beginnings of their relationship. It was a unique beginning. But

he had never felt so comfortable, so trusting of someone that fast.

Their friendship grew quickly, and he came to depend on her. But

there was more. He ached to be near her. But he couldn't let her

know the intensity of his feelings. It made things too complicated.

It was better that she didn't know.


"Or was it the connecting look you shared across the room that spoke

volumes without a word?"


He pulled up in front of her building and took a deep breath as he

went inside. Trust. Friendship. That part had been easy for them,

almost natural. They each had access to each other's homes for

emergencies. Good friends did that. There was never any doubt they

were good friends. But he wanted more, desired more. But he

couldn't let it happen, for her sake.


"Or finishing each others spoken thoughts?"


He had checked each room, calling her name and found no sign of her

at home. He left, driving aimlessly through the city streets, while

he thought of where to look next. He decided to check places she

liked to go with her friends. He parked on the street and walked

around looking, searching, thinking about how to win her back, what

words to use. He had searched for hours, when he finally remembered

the place she mentioned going to last Thursday night.


"Did you really think those things are so unusual between two?"


No one at the bar remembered seeing her tonight. He walked back to

his car parked down the street, feeling miserable at his lack of any

more ideas. Noisy crashes and thumps coming from the alley,

prompted him to come to an abrupt stop. He briskly walked across

the street and down the alley towards the sounds' origin. When he

saw the familiar form on the ground, he started to run. As he

neared the still body, he slowed and stooped next to the woman

laying slumped near the brick wall, as if his caution would make

this all disappear.


"...Have you met your One to only let them slip through your

fingers? Did someone take them from you? Or did you allow them to

leave before you told them they were the One?"


He knew now he had loved her the moment he met her. How can you

love someone that fast? But he did. Why couldn't he ever tell her?

Yes, they were friends, good friends. But there was so much more.

And he didn't have the courage to let her know. He continued to go

day to day pretending, living a lie. Even when he knew of her love

for him.


"The folly in this Legend is in knowing who is the One."


Gently reaching for her thick auburn mane strewn across her face, he

pushed the hair aside and held his breath as her features were



"The One is not known until the One slips through your fingers or is

taken from you. When it is too late..."


His hopes were dashed as he saw the bloody gash across her neck and

the pool of blood beneath her. A primal scream vibrated through the

alley as he let loose his agony and rage. Collapsing over her body,

he held her still form in his sobbing embrace.


Nick paused at the traffic light as he heard his master's words.

Why was LaCroix talking about the Legend tonight? The Legend of

One, the vampire legend. Only LaCroix knew how to speak to vampires

and mortals at the same time, mortals never suspecting the double

meaning intended for other ears. His ears.

Was he reminding him of their agreement he had made so many years

ago to save Fleur? Maybe his master was sensing his intense

feelings for Nat lately. He had tried to hide the feelings,

desires. But it was hard to hide anything from him. Did LaCroix

know how much Nat truly meant to him? Ever since Valentine's Day

last year, he had been trying to cope with his feelings, Nat's

feelings, and hiding it all from his father. It was such a delicate

balance to manage.

Honking horns woke him from his thoughts with a start. He continued

on his way home, looking forward to seeing Nat tonight. Earlier

today, Nick had woken from a vivid dream of Nat--holding her close,

of expressing his full feelings for her without fear. She had

remained in his thoughts through the slow evening at the precinct

and he was able to book off early as he had hoped.

He ached to be near her, to steal moments near her, to hold her

during scary movies or tearjerker love stories. Any chance to be

near her. But would that be enough? How long could this last like

this? Was it fair to Nat? If he revealed his feelings, Nat would

be in danger from LaCroix. If he continued to deny his feelings for

Nat, he would lose her. He couldn't stand that. Damn LaCroix! Now

that he has found her it was impossible to have her.


"Unless...unless you are very lucky...If you know who your One is

before they are lost to you, you are indeed lucky..."


Nick turned the radio off. Lucky? Being so close to her and not

being able to have her. He called it torture, torment, and

insanity. Yes, she was the One. He suspected it on the day they

met. As soon as he woke up on her table in the morgue and he first

saw her, he had sensed it. He knew she had lied on the street the

next evening. She did want something for helping him. He could

smell her arousal. She denied it by saying her reward was merely in

solving a puzzle. He allowed her the benefit of her deception for a

while. It made it more convenient for both of them. But the real

reason hung in the air, evident only to the senses of a vampire.

The scent of arousal. The pounding heartbeat. The rapid breathing.

He pulled the caddy into the garage. The garage door closed behind

him, as he continued to ponder their beginnings. Why had he allowed

further contact with her, under the guise of her studies and helping

him to attain mortality? This contact is what he had wanted to

avoid. A close relationship with a mortal woman could only lead to

hurting, no...killing someone again. It could only lead to the same

thing it has lead to for almost 800 years. Sometimes it ended

quickly; other times slowly, gradually and masking itself as hope.

Hope for love. Hope of finding the One. Hope for mortality. Hope

for happiness. The longing for these things consumed his thoughts.

The futility of this search haunted his nights.

In the years he had known Nat, he had come to realize that his

attraction to her was different. How did he know? It wasn't

anything tangible. He just knew. He knew she was the One. He had

to end the masquerade LaCroix had forced on him. He had to stop

tormenting Nat and himself. Before it was too late. And soon.

She didn't know why she had turned the radio show on. Morbid

curiosity maybe? Nick listened to him all the time. Maybe that was

why - to understand what Nick heard in him and his rants. Usually

Nat just had it play in the background while she went about her

work. But tonight had been different. Tonight LaCroix had talked

about One Love. 'What a topic for him! Love?' When she had heard

what he was talking about tonight, she stopped and set her files

aside to listen.

Could he have known what she felt for Nick? He seemed to be talking

straight to her. But why? Was he hinting that they would move on

soon, and that she would lose him? He had made the situation sound

so urgent. Was this her last chance? But why would he encourage

her to act on her love for Nick? She had always had the impression

that he didn't want her in Nick's life. There had to be an ulterior


But she was afraid of losing Nick. She knew the longer he stayed

here in this life, the closer it got to the time he would have to

move on. She had to make sure he didn't move on without her. She

turned the radio off and finished the work on her files before

leaving early for their movie night together. No matter what

LaCroix' motive was, she needed to do something before she lost Nick

for good.


Nick turned as the sliding of the metal lift door announced Nat's

arrival for their late evening together. Music from the stereo

drifted through the expanse of the loft as Nick smiled at her


"What's on the schedule tonight?" Nick asked as he grasped the video

bag from Nat's over-burdened arms.

"A new one and an old one," she answered, grinning. She set another

bag on the table as she slipped her coat off. Pulling some Chinese

carryout boxes from the bag, she explained, "I didn't get a chance

to eat yet. Hope you don't mind if I eat first?"

"Go right ahead. I'll join you." Nick grabbed a bottle out of the

refrigerator and poured the contents into a stemmed glass.

"Nick...," Nat started as he sat down. She hesitated in bringing it

up so quickly.

"Mm...," he looked up at her, as he drank some blood from the glass.

She looked away. "Oh, nothing." 'Not yet,' she told herself. They

needed some time to get comfortable first. There was the whole

evening ahead of them.

Nick saw her obvious discomfort and suddenly felt so foolish. "Oh.

I'm so sorry. I shouldn't.... The blood. It bothers you. I'm

sorry, Nat," he said, rising to put the bottle away.

"No it's not that, Nick. Really," Nat protested. 'Oh no!' She

hadn't meant for her hesitation to give Nick the wrong impression.

Easing back into the chair, Nick tried to explain, "I just wanted to

sit with you and it seemed the..." It had seemed so natural to

pour a glass of his food, while she ate hers.

"It's not the blood. I just wanted to ask something, but..." She

wasn't ready.


"Well,...forget it, Nick. I'll ask later," she promised.

Nick smiled. 'Later.' He would find out what was on her mind

later. 'Don't push it,' he told himself. How many times had he

chosen not to explain what was on his mind? Too many to count. But

he didn't keep things to himself quite as often as when they had

first met. He hadn't wanted to share anything with her then; he had

figured the less she knew about him the better.


"Who are you? What are you?"

"Something very different from you..."


Nick thought back on LaCroix' broadcast and the legend having a

double meaning for the vampire. He had been careful to hide his

feelings from Nat, but his longing for her today had heightened his

arousal. As his eyes changed to a golden glow, he was glad Nat

wasn't looking at him at that moment. Quickly gaining control, his

eyes returned to blue and doubts crept into his thoughts.

Embarrassed at the misunderstanding Nick had over drinking the

blood, Nat couldn't look into his eyes. 'Great going, Nat!' she

chided herself. 'Make him feel bad before you tell him you want

him.' What would she see in those eyes when she looked up? Would

she see a longing, a desire? Would she see frustration, coldness or

worse? She dared not look into his eyes. The loft was heavy in

silence except for the questions hanging in the air. She forked

some more Chinese into her mouth, pretending to ignore the silence.

Nick cursed himself at the haunting memories of all those lives he

had taken, in the lives he had touched. Touched with his vile

existence. What would come of his touching Nat's life? How could

it end up any different?

Nat glanced at Nick and wondered why she was so attracted to him.

Well, besides the fact that he was handsome and every female at the

precinct had their eye on him. But she knew his secrets. What he

was. Why did she want him? Was it because he was so mysterious?

No, being 'a puzzle' was just an excuse. Granted, she did like

puzzles. But there was more to it. Was it because it was so

impossible? Unattainable love? But that 'unattainable' part was

what was driving her nuts. Why she wanted a change, any change. Or

insanity would be her only future.

Nick reprimanded himself as all the things LaCroix mentioned rang

true. The heartbeat. The desire. The shared looks. Damn him, he

had experienced that before. But there was something else here,

something deeper, something different. Or did it just seem that way

because it was happening now? Because she was sitting across the

table from him right now? He stole a moment's glance at her as she

looked away. He studied her face, the face in his dreams, the face

he knew well.


It was the night after he woke up on her table when he tested her

memory of their meeting. She did remember and wasn't afraid to let

him know. Her life would have been so much better if she had not

remembered the night before, not known him at all. And yet he

continued to see her anyway. Despite his worst fears that it would

happen again and again, that his damned beast would destroy whoever

crossed his path, whoever he attempted to care for.

But he couldn't stop. He met with her as she studied him, jabbed

him, and fed him disgusting concoctions. Their relationship

developed, despite his hesitancy to know her, to let her know him.

He quickly grew to trust her and became more comfortable around her.

But he never stopped noticing the rise in her heartbeat when she

knew he was nearby, or the scent of her arousal - which grew more

intense as they came to know one another.

They were 'just friends' to their co-workers and the stated purpose

of their relationship was purely a doctor/patient one and an

inquisitive desire to solve a puzzle. But he knew better. The

unspoken attraction and desire grew as he let the facade continue.

He knew the outcome from times past, but he couldn't stop, even

though he had vowed to never let it happen again.


Was she was the One? After almost 800 years, how could it be? Was

it really possible after so long? Could he possibly hope? Could

she be the one, as he had silently hoped since he first met her?

The one who could really take away his eternal darkness?

Nat was convinced it was not the vampire, the mystery alone. There

was something special about Nick, about how she felt about him. But

was it mutual? These feelings she had for Nick. She watched Nick

out of the corner of her eye. He was looking at her. What was he


A rush of panic had risen in Nick's gut as he realized the same

thing was occurring that always happened. Denial. Avoidance. He

was backing off as his fears set in. With LaCroix' words echoing in

his mind, another fear took hold. What if Nat was the One...and he

lost her? Had LaCroix been talking about Fleur and the resulting

promise? Or was it even simpler, even worse. Could he lose her due

to his own neglect, his own avoidance of these feelings? Nick

stood, and rinsed his empty glass in the sink. He quietly walked to

the window, staring out into the city night.

Nat knew she had to stop hiding behind the medical excuses. What if

he he always did eventually...without even knowing how

she felt? She got up from the table and slowly approached him from



"Unless...unless you are very lucky...If you know who your One is

before they are lost to you, are indeed lucky..."


Nick turned as he sensed her walk up behind him. Searching her

eyes, he slowly reached to cup her face with his hands, smiling at

her in silence. Gently touching his lips to hers, she eagerly met

his lips. Deepening his kiss, he slid his hands to her shoulders

and pulled her close. He pulled her lower lip into his mouth,

tracing it with his tongue. When he pulled back ever so slightly,

she whimpered an incoherent plea. Reaching his arms around her in

an insistent embrace, his lips found hers again with a need he never

had before, and he plundered her with his hungry lips. His hands

couldn't explore her exquisite hot satiny flesh enough. Sliding his

hands over her neck and down her back and sides only intensified his

passion. He slipped his hands between them over her full breasts,

as they rose and fell with accelerated breathing.

Her heart raced as he gazed at her with his electric blue eyes and

pressed his soft lips to hers. When he pulled her closer, the flush

of hot desire rushed through her and she wrapped her arms around

him. She had dreamt of this for so long and now she was in his

arms. Although a thin blouse separated his touch, he created a

trail of fire across her flesh. 'God, please don't let him stop!'

Was the vampire taking hold? Was he losing control? No, his eyes

were unchanged. His fangs had not dropped nor did he thirst for her

blood. His thirst was for something else. Lips. Flesh against

flesh. Release of his agonizing need. Relishing the desire of the

man within him, he delved further into her mouth.

But the vampire did not stay at bay long. He felt its presence

first, in the change of his eyes. And the scent of her blood

calling to him. Nick pulled back suddenly, quickly turning away.

Nat grabbed Nick's shoulder roughly pulling him back towards her and

firmly held his head in her hands.

"No Nick. Look at me," she demanded. She knew what was going on.

The same thing. The same old thing. This time she wasn't going to

let this happen; he wasn't going to push her away. Vampire or not.

Nick slowly lifted his head, eyes golden. "Is this what you want,

Nat? How could you want this?"

"I do. Because it is part of you. I...Love...You," Nat reasoned.

"I don't want to lose you because of what I am. I couldn't bear

it," he said as a dark tear crept down his face.

Nat rubbed the tear away with her thumb. "You won't lose me. You

won't hurt me."

"I don't trust myself to give you what you need without the vampire

taking what he needs," Nick stated. He closed his eyes, and pulled

her close again, burying his face in her hair with a sigh. Nick

hated that this was happening again.

Thankful he did not turn cold, distant as he had other times they

had been this close, Nat held him tightly against her.

Nick pulled back and looked at her with tortured blue eyes.

Encouraging him with a smile, Nick kissed her forehead and pressed

his cheek to her. Holding her in a needful embrace, he vowed

secretly to himself to find a way to solve their problem. To love

Nat without killing her. Gaining strength from her warmth, Nick

finally pulled back a bit, looking in her eyes.

"Nat, I..." he started.

Beep. Beep. Nat reluctantly grabbed the pager from her pocket.


Beep. Beep. Nick's pager went off too.


They saw the flashing emergency lights as they turned the corner in

the caddy. Both needing the extra few moments near each other, they

had decided to come to the scene together. Nat was so grateful he

hadn't pulled away and closed himself off emotionally this time.

Nick pulled up near the scene and stopped the engine. Before she

could move, he reached over to squeeze her hand. Looking up, she

was treated with a sparkling smile, conveying just what she needed

from him. She gently squeezed his hand in response before turning

to exit the car.

As they walked towards the gruesome scene, their functional

professional personas immediately stepped into place. Nick saw

Schanke near the left wall, interviewing a distraught man soaked in

blood along with other bystanders, and headed over to help him.

Natalie made her way to the roped area guarded by the officers on

duty, waiting for her arrival.

The officer stepped aside and gave Natalie access as she approached.

"It's a messy one, Doc."

Nat braced herself as she stooped to examine the scene. Blood had

pooled under the body from the neck that had been slashed open with

a deep cut across her throat. After an initial examination of the

wound, Nat started bagging the hands and feet to protect for later

examination. There didn't seem to be any other apparent cuts, but

she'd have to take a closer look later at the morgue.

Nick approached Schanke, as he questioned the weeping man, soaked in

the victim's blood. His t-shirt was soaked, as well as the top of

his jeans and front of his leather jacket. His face was streaked

with his tears and soft brown hair rumpled from running his hands

through it.

"It's all my fault. She's dead because of me. Oh my god, she's


His friend, comforting him, begged "Tom, its not you're fault. You

need to stop saying that."

"Mr. Frayne," Schanke continued. "That's all the questions I have

for now. Make sure you stick around town. We may need to talk with

you again."

His friend loudly interjected, "You don't think he did it, do you?

He was the one who found her."

Nick chirped in, "We have to question everyone involved with the

victim. It's all part of a good investigation." Nick extended his

hand, introducing himself, "Hello, My name is Detective Knight."

"Hello, Detective." The friend extended his hand to shake, as Nick

carefully scrutinized him. "Timothy Clayton. Tom here is an old

friend of mine." Timothy had coal black hair, combed back and in

perfect place. His attire, though casual with slacks and shirt, lay

perfectly in place.

Schanke added, "We have your name as well, Mr. Clayton, as you knew

the victim too. Same applies to you. Just part of the

investigation. But you are free to go for now."

Mr. Clayton stared at Schanke, then Nick in apparent disdain before

guiding his distraught friend from the scene.

The partners turned and slowly walked towards the body. "Hey,

Partner...glad you could make it," Schanke toyed with him.

Nick stared back at him frowning, knowing that Schanke had even

encouraged him to book off earlier for the night. His dream of Nat

had him very distracted all evening and he was in a foul mood at


Changing the subject, Schanke filled Nick in on the case. "Wow have

we got a mess here. Female victim, slashed across the neck. Mr.

Devastated here--Tom Frayne confessed to being in love with the

victim, Kristen Moore, but didn't let her know how he felt. Seems

she was his boss at work and felt she was someone he couldn't have.

But she secretly wanted him too. She sorta left him a Dear

John...and he found her in this alley. Timothy Clayton--that's an

old friend of his. He happened to be in a bar across the street

that they would frequent sometimes. He has actually calmed down a

bit since his friend arrived."

"How did Mr. Frayne find her?"

"He was looking for her to 'win her back' after he found the letter,

and then he found her here. No one else saw the body before that,

and no one saw him find the body. Yeah I know, I got his address

and number and told him he better stick around. As well as the

friend. Oh yeah, that's when you arrived. Here's the Dear John."

Schanke handed him the pink letter, smudged with blood.

"Do you think it was Frayne?" Nick asked, stopping to look over the


"No. That guy was so torn up, but did you see how cool the friend

was? I think it was someone else who wanted her and was rejected by

her," Schanke suggested.


Schanke shrugged. "Maybe."

"Maybe Frayne killed her when she rejected him after finding her

tonight? Or maybe its someone we don't know about yet," Nick


Nat started to follow the men as they carried the body to the van,

stripping the gloves from her hands. She stopped by Schanke and

Nick as they discussed the case. "I'm headed to the morgue in the

van, Nick. Can't tell much yet except the nasty slice across her

throat. I got some work ahead."

"So do we. I'll check on you later, Nat. You'll still need a

ride," he said hopefully.

She smiled, "Sure. I'll see you later."

Lightening the grim mood of the murder scene, Schanke teased, "You

two don't fool me. I saw you come here together in Nick's car. I

know you two got something going." Schanke snickered, proud that he

had caught them.

Nat rolled her eyes at Schanke's incessant barrage and started to

turn, when she heard Nick say, "You caught us Schanke. Nat and I

were spending an evening together until we both got beeped. Yes, we

are more than friends. Now can we get on with this case, so I can

get back to spending more time with her?" Nick turned and walked

towards where the car was parked.

Schanke stood, stunned, looking after Nick's departing form with his

mouth hanging open. Nat smiled at Schanke, and added, "You heard

him, Schank...Get on with it. Gotta go now." She turned to leave,

barely able to contain her snickering. After taking a few steps

towards the van, she couldn't resist and turned. "Schank, close the

mouth, will you? Before you start catching flies," she teased

mercilessly before again taking off towards the van.

Nat was cleaning up from her examination, when the door opened up

behind her. She turned her head to smile at who she knew came

through the door.

"Hey, Nick," she called.

"Hi, Nat," he responded enthusiastically.

It felt so good to be near her again, to hear her familiar

heartbeat. Since he had left the crime scene, Nick had been

impatient to get back to Nat again. Besides, he hated the

paperwork. As he had entered the room, Nick's first urge was to

meld his body behind hers and wrap his arms around her in a firm

hug, planting multiple kisses on her neck. Instead, he walked over

to sit on the edge of her desk and watched her finish up.

"Any new information on the murder?" he asked.

"Sure is," Nat answered. "She was raped. We have a semen sample,

too. Of course, you know about the slash across the throat. That's

what killed her. We also got some samples from under her

fingernails. Hopefully, the lab tests will give us something

further to go on. Any suspects to try to match this with?"

"Well, we are still talking with employees at her business, trying

to find out about disgruntled employees. And friends, too. We're

going over her address book. "

"Nothing more specific?" Nat asked.

"Well, there is a letter. But its unlikely a suicide note,

considering how she died." Nick added sarcastically.

"A letter?"

"She left it to the boyfriend...if you can call him that," Nick


"Why's that?

"He wasn't really her boyfriend, but he loved her...or claimed to,

but she didn't know how he felt. She loved him according to the

letter she wrote, and was tired of hoping he would love her too,"

Nick explained. "Sad story."

Nick dwelled on the letter as he lowered his head. This could have

happened to him. Nat could have left him, tired of waiting for him

to love her. Waiting for him to admit his unspoken love.

Nat sensed the saddened mood Nick had fallen into. Finishing up,

she pulled off her scrubs and threw them in the container. She went

to his side, resting a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Nick?"

He looked up at her with a half-forced smile. "Nat. I don't want

to lose you. I don't want you to walk away thinking I don't

care...thinking I don't love you." He stood and reached to embrace

her. Enveloped in each other's arms, they were secure in their love

for each other, for the moment.

Nat whispered against his shoulder, "What was that with

Schanke...telling him what you did? You know the gossip is going to

be everywhere tomorrow."

Nick pulled back to look at her with a slight mischievous grin.

"Tomorrow it will definitely be everywhere. Tonight it has already

been spread a lot. You know Schanke."

Nat rolled her eyes at the thought of contending with all the


Nick, serious again for a moment, added, "I hope you didn't mind. I

just don't want to hide my feelings for you anymore. I want people

to know how I feel about you, Nat."

Nat's heart jumped at his words. Nick's exchange with Schanke may

have played out like a joke or a tease, but it wasn't anything like

that. He really meant it to happen that way. It was too good to be

true. He tenderly kissed her on the lips, sealing the mood before

they left.


He looked over the main floor at the late night stragglers as he

savored the red fluid before swallowing. Stronger than the memories

of the young college woman making the donation, were Nicholas'

passionate feelings LaCroix sensed through their link. Passion for

a woman. For one Natalie Lambert.

He turned, with a self-satisfied grin, to the bar where Miklos was

beginning to clean up for the night.

"It has been an interesting evening, Miklos," LaCroix commented,

grinning. Miklos nodded in reply. LaCroix set his glass on the

counter and Miklos poured more into the glass. "Yes, a very

interesting evening indeed," he whispered slowly and deviously, as

he sipped again from the glass.

His son was never very good at hiding his thoughts and feelings.

But then, he had never taught him how to, he thought to himself,

chuckling. Tonight Nicholas' feelings were even more evident, just

as he had planned. It seemed his prodding tonight had accomplished

that. Nicholas could not deny it now. It would soon time to expose

the lie and bring it to the fore again.


As the garage door closed behind the caddy, Nick turned to Nat. He

could sense her nervous heartbeat as he reached his arms around her

to pull her close. He tenderly touched her lips with his and

embraced her, tightening the space between them. Reaching his

fingers through her thick hair, he held her firmly as he captured

her mouth more deeply. She responded to his kiss and tightened her

arms around him.

"Nat," he whispered against her lips, between kisses.

"Mmm..." Nat muttered, before Nick pressed his lips against hers


"Don't leave yet. Come upstairs," Nick softly begged, before

teasing between her lips with his tongue

Nick's plea was answered with the probe of her tongue. He wanted

her. He needed her. Earlier she said she loved all of him, the man

and the vampire. He trusted her love.

Nat couldn't even imagine leaving. She wanted to stay in Nick's

arms forever; she had wanted this for so long. Even earlier this

evening when he pulled away, he still hadn't blocked her out. In

fact, he had continued to be tender and affectionate during the

hours that had passed since. She wasn't sure why Nick was

attempting this again so soon, but she wasn't going to argue. Or

bring it up. Not yet.

Nick reluctantly pulled away from her lips, while holding her gaze

with his deep blue eyes. After exiting the car and quickly helping

her out, they made their way up in the lift, arms entwined.

As the door slammed behind them after entering the loft, Nick

grasped Nat in his arms, again plundering her lips as he inched her

back against the brick wall. Both hands held her head, fingers

sliding through her hair. Easing his tongue in her mouth, he leaned

into her, pressing his hardness against her. The vampire was

awakening along with the man's desires.

Initially caught off guard at his suddenness, Nat reached her arms

around his shoulders and up into his gorgeous locks. Nat responded

to his deepening kiss by exploring his mouth and lifting her hips

against him. She felt his arousal as he leaned into her.

Nick released a hand from her head, easing it over her back and

under her blouse. He caressed the warm flesh of her back and moved

around to her bra-covered breast. He massaged her breast and felt

for her hardened nipple, pinching it through the fabric.

Nat sighed at his cool touch. She had ached to feel his touch on

her skin. Now he was touching her in ways she had only dreamed.

She moaned as he teased her nipple, starting an ache in her core

that only Nick could fill. Her hands explored over the firm muscles

of his back, finding their way under his shirt on his cool flesh.

She quickly moved to unbutton the front of his shirt, exposing his

firm chest. She ran her fingers over his chest and over the

sprinkling of blond hairs, slowing to pinch at his nipples.

Nat's touch on his skin built the ache of his need, of the man and

the vampire. The beast's presence made itself known as Nick felt

the desire for her blood. Nick tore at the bra under her blouse and

both hands massaged her freed breasts, stopping occasionally to roll

a nipple between his fingers. His tongue plundered deep in her

mouth, before removing his lips from hers. Pushing her blouse up

and exposing her bare breasts, he covered her breast with his hungry

lips. He sucked her breast, twirling his tongue across the hardened

nub between his lips. Then he changed to the other breast to give

it equal treatment.

Nat threw back her head in ecstasy from the sensations running

through her. She moaned, "" Nick's touch on her

breasts and nipples had been pleasurable, but his moist mouth and

tongue twirling at her nipple drove her insane with exquisite


Nick moved his mouth from its attention to her breasts to look up at

Nat through the golden haze of the vampire. He clasped his arms

firmly around her.

Nat gasped at the golden eyes before her. Did this mean that Nick

would throw her aside any second now? Did it mean he would curse

himself for allowing the beast to awaken?

The golden eyes stared at her with burning intensity. "Are you

afraid, Natalie?" the vampire asked, sensing her fear.

Nat slowly reached a hand to the side of his face. "Yes..." she


The vampire's predatory smile exposed the tips of his fangs under

his lips. Fear. It made him stronger. It aroused him. Leaning in

to attack her mouth in a consuming kiss, he pushed into her mouth

claiming this woman as his own. Soon he would possess her entirely

by plunging his fangs into her hot flesh. The vampire released her

mouth to again capture her eyes in his mesmerizing gaze.

Nat quickly finished her response to his question, "I'm afraid that

you will stop."

The overbearing hold that the vampire had was relinquished at the

woman's desire for both the man and vampire. Nick didn't have to

hide any part of himself with Nat. He was whole.

"I won't turn away anymore, Nat," Nick said, his voice husky with

desire. He pressed his lips to hers, teasing with his tongue. For

the first time, Nick was confident in his ability to love Nat

without killing her. He had never felt so comfortable with both the

man and vampire. It had always been one or the other, constantly at

battle with one another.

Nat felt his touch soften on her shoulders. His kiss was

passionate, yet tender with his love. His eyes were still golden,

the vampire still present. She didn't know what had happened or why

exactly. But, she silently thanked the heavens for this change.

Nick broke their kiss and suddenly lifted Nat into his arms, and

levitated to the upper level. Gently easing Nat's legs to the floor

by his bedroom door, he supported her firmly in his arms.

Nat was floating. Literally. She gasped in surprise when he had

first lifted her in his arms. But then she nestled her head in the

crook of his neck, as he lifted them upward. Nick's ability to fly

had always fascinated Nat. It seemed so romantic, so magical. When

he finally set her on the floor upstairs, she reached her arms

around his neck and pulled him to her, delving into his mouth with

her tongue.

After his initial surprise at her bold move, Nick responded by

exploring her mouth with his own tongue. When her tongue flicked ac

ross his fang, he moaned against her mouth. Pressing his aching

erection against her, he reached and fumbled with the doorknob. He

pushed through the open door, holding Nat with him. Slowly twirling

towards the bed, he caressed her back with one hand while the other

slid through her hair holding her head as he planted kisses across

her face - her cheeks, her eyes, her nose, and lips.

Nat was in a whirlwind, spinning from years of being alone and

untouched. Now suddenly she was caught up in these overpowering

sensations, these feelings. She wasn't even sure how she got there

next to the bed. Nick was unbuttoning her blouse while planting

soft kisses on her face. She reached forward to touch his rock-hard

erection through his jeans.

'Why are there so many goddamn buttons?' He worked feverishly to

open her blouse without tearing it, like he had done to her bra.

Then she touched his cock. It had even been through the jeans, but

it was too much. He didn't care anymore. He pulled on the fabric

and buttons flew across the room.

'This new development in our relationship would mean a new wardrobe!

Well, Nick could afford it,' she thought. She slid his already

opened shirt from his shoulders and caressed his firm chest.

He slid the blouse and bra from her, as he leaned in to kiss and

lick her neck. He lingered ever so slightly over the blood vessel

there, before continuing to her breasts. Capturing one breast with

his mouth, his tongue twirled and flicked the hardened nub. He

fondled the other breast with his hand, rolling the nipple between

his fingers.

Nat reached to unzip his jeans and Nick backed up a bit to allow her

access. She carefully unzipped the jeans, pushing them down as she

knelt before him. He stepped out of the pants and pushed off his

shoes. Nat, still crouched at his feet, looked up at the tented

boxers and caressed up Nick's thighs towards her target. Sliding

her hand under the shorts, she caressed his abdomen without touching

his throbbing cock, causing Nick to groan insistently. She removed

her hand from under his shorts and slipped her fingers under the

waistline, pulling the shorts down his legs. His erection stood

out and Nat enveloped her warm wet mouth around it. Planting her

hands on Nick's butt, she pulled him close as she licked, twirled

and engulfed him.

A growl emanated from Nick's chest as she licked and sucked. He

held her head with his hands as he looked down at her. Damn, she

knew how to touch him, please him. "Nat," he begged. "Nat, not


She stopped, looking up sensuously through her lashes. "You like?"

she teased. She slowly caressed up his body as she rose and stood

before him.

"Oh, yes. I like," Nick answered. Her caress up his body continued

to excite his senses. Nick unzipped her slacks and pushed them

down as she kicked them and shoes aside. After discarding her

clothes, she snaked her arms around his neck, pressing her warm

flesh to him. He pressed his lips to hers as he turned her, slowly

laying her onto the bed, while supporting her in his arms. He knelt

above her as he drank in her naked flesh below him.

She loved the way he looked at her. With desire. With need.

Kneeling above her , he kissed her on the lips, the chin, the neck.

And he worked his way down her body, caressing her, kissing,

licking. He paused at her navel, twirling, as he approached new and

untouched territory. She saw him look up at her, with a grin as he

continued down further. His hand cupped her mound, slipping a

finger just inside pulling her juices to circle her clit. Nat

pushed her hips forward into his touch, moaning.

"'re really wet, Nat," he said as he plunged another

finger into her. The scent of her desire before had aroused him;

now it assaulted him. He plunged his tongue into her core and slid

it slowly up to her clit. Holding her by the hips, he flicked and

alternately rubbed with his finger, around her clit, as it became

more swollen. He ground his hips against the bed, stimulating his

already throbbing erection.

"NickohNick..." Nat bucked against his tongue. He continued his

assault at her core, plunging and rubbing. As he slid his fingers

across her clit a little faster, Nat could hardly think straight

with the intense sensations. He slid his tongue around her opening,

before plunging into her again. He slid his tongue up to her clit,

flicking and licking. Nat's tension built until he pushed her to

the edge, when Nick stopped.

He looked up mischievously at her and asked, "Are you sure about

this, Nat?" sending Nat into whimpers.

Her eyes widened at him in frustrated alarm. "NICK!!"

Nick quickly plunged into her core again and increased his assault

on her. Nick could feel the tension build against his tongue and in

the muscle tension of her entire body. He gave her clit a

mind-numbing, long suck. This time, when Nick brought her to the

edge, he didn't stop, sending her into a series of spasms as she

cried out his name. She relaxed now, with staggered breath and

rapid heartbeat.

Nick had felt her release. Not through her blood, but her body.

She had been exquisite, writhing under his touch. He crawled up to

crush his lips to hers, while pressing his erection against her

moist center. He ached to be one with her. He needed her. Her

body. Her blood. He moved to press the tip against her opening,

but paused above her.


She looked into his golden eyes, waiting.

"You need to know. I will need to bite you. I need

finish," he begged. "If I go any further, I won't be able to stop."

Nat smiled and pulled Nick down onto her. "I know," she whispered.

In one slow stroke, he pushed his cock all the way into her,

lingering there for a moment. Then he began a series of thrusts

with increasing intensity. She wrapped her legs around him to draw

him into her deeper. He pounded against her, stimulating her clit.

As he leaned close, he licked and suckled her neck. With a final

thrust, Nick slid his fangs into her pliant flesh, and he emptied

his seed into her with his own orgasm. He tasted her life, seeing

happy moments from her childhood, her grief at her parents' death,

her years at college, her satisfaction at her accomplishments, her

first love, and her lonely nights since meeting him. But most

overwhelming was her love for him, her burning desire as her

lifeblood filled his heart. Drinking from her, he tasted her

release as she came again.

Nat was bombarded with images from a time long ago. Long ago in the

sun. They felt like happy times before this life that he had lived

for so long. His seduction into the Night, so many lives violently

taken, LaCroix' taunts, LaCroix' games. Then there was the night he

woke on her table, wanting her so badly. Flashes of holding her on

video nights, shared smiles. The love she felt from him enveloped

her as her release came again.

He pulled his fangs from her neck, licking the wounds before sliding

to her side and pulling her to his chest. Nat, totally spent and

relaxed, snuggled up to Nick

"Nat," Nick whispered.

She looked up into his blue eyes.

"You ok?" he asked.

Nat murmured with a lazy smile. Nick hugged her to him, happy for

the first time in a long time. The comfort finally lulled Nat to

sleep in his arms.

As she dozed, Nick softly ran his hand over her thick mane. Not

wanting to disturb her sleep, Nick leaned his face to the top of her

head and lightly kissed her. He wanted to absorb every touch, her

very scent, and enjoy the gentle link with her.

"Mon amour, je ne puis pas vivre sans ton amour," he whispered

against her hair. "J'ai besoin de toi avec moi." He had lost all

hope before he met her. It was as if the heavens themselves had

laid her in his path.

The feathery sensation tickled her nose and drifted to her cheeks.

She stirred into consciousness as fingers lightly caressed her face.

Her eyes flickered open to see Nick watching her closely, smiling at

her. She had never seen him smile like that before; she had never

smiled this way before either. She lazily reached her arm up into

his silky locks, muttering "Hi there."

"Hi, Sleepy," Nick replied, leaning down to lightly touch his lips

to hers.

Smiling dreamily, she confided, "I felt like you were inside my mind

all night, almost like what I felt when you bit me. Is that some a

leftover effect from you biting me?"

Nick curled his arm around her, drawing her near. "You could call

it that. When I bit you, thoughts and feelings were shared in our

blood. But even now, there is a small link between us. I can feel

your moods, your emotions and you can feel me."

"You mean a link like you have with Janette or LaCroix?" Nat asked

wide-eyed, not realizing this would happen. She wasn't complaining

either. It was sort of nice. But she thought the link only

happened when you were brought across.

Nick smiled and kissed her lips again, "No. Not like that. It's

just a small link that will weaken after a while." Nick added

teasingly, "Unless of course, I bite you again." He playfully

nipped at her neck. "And again." He nipped on the other side of

her neck. "And again." He switched sides and nipped at her neck

again, before playfully looking up at her. "Then it'll get

stronger," he explained. "But never as strong as when a person is

brought across, when it is strong and permanent. That is the

strongest link - between a master and his child."

Nat desired that kind of link, having Nick so close that they almost

melded into one. She rolled to her side, reaching her arm around

his waist. "Mmmm...sounds so wonderful."

Nick looked troubled. "I didn't mean to make it sound so desirable.

There is so much more to it than that," he said as he tried to back

off from this conversation. He had conflicting emotions about Nat's

desire to join him as a vampire. He was sure of her hidden desire

now, having seen it in her blood. He secretly desired it as well.

But it would be a complicated choice, with many things to talk about


Noticing Nick's discomfort and not wanting to spoil the mood, she

nibbled his neck, whispering, "I'm hungry. What do you plan to feed

me before work?"

"Are you always this hungry when you wake up?" he chuckled as he

kissed her cheek. "Or did you work up an appetite?" he teased.

Nat pushed him over on his back as she flipped over on him,

straddling him. Nick grabbed her waist, and teasingly warned,

"Don't start something you can't finish."

Nat leaned forward to plant a quick kiss on his lips, as she lifted

her other leg around getting off the bed. He groaned at the absence

of her flesh against his and rolled to his side, resting on his


"I was just kidding, Nat," he whimpered.

She smiled back at him, explaining, "I really am hungry, Nick. And

I need to shower, and I have to stop at home for some clothes before

going to work." She tilted her head towards the torn clothes on the


Sheepishly, Nick sunk back into the pillow and whispered, "Oh,

forgot about that." With a grimace, Nick pushed himself to sit up.

"Ok, why don't you hop in the shower and let me see what I can find

for you to eat."

"Ok." She pecked his cheek and disappeared into the bathroom. He

grabbed his shorts from the floor and slipped them on before padding


Nick started with the coffee, scooping it into the filter and

turning on the coffeemaker. He was glad he had thought to get one

for Nat's visits, especially with her love of coffee. Nick next

looked in the refrigerator and reached for the milk carton next to

his green bottles. Opening it, he saw milky clumps inside the

carton. "Well, that's no good," he said, talking aloud. He placed

it back on the shelf, making a mental note to himself to throw it

out later. Then he spotted the Chinese carton from last night.

'Hope she doesn't mind it for breakfast,' he thought as he grabbed

the carton and a green bottle, pushing the door shut with his leg.

He grabbed a plate, glass and mug from the cabinet. After dumping

the remainder of the fried rice on the plate and placing it in the

microwave, he poured himself some blood.

Nat let the warm water caress her head as it soaked her thick hair.

She closed her eyes, turning under the spray as images danced in her

mind, images and sensations. His lips, his eyes, both golden and

blue, the feel of his chest under her hands, the touch of his hands

on her naked flesh, the pressing of his hardness against her core.

Soft moans escaped her lips as she remembered his attack with his

tongue against her center of desire, as her hands found their way to

her folds, fingers caressing her clit. She wondered about this link

they had now, as she thought she felt Nick reach into mind. Did he

know what she was thinking of? No. He said he couldn't read her

mind. But his distant embrace excited her as she pleasured herself.

As Nick lifted the glass to his lips, he reached through his link to

Nat. She was excited, probably thinking about last night. He

smiled at the warmth he felt from her. The intense feelings from

her continued to build and he grew aroused, aware of what was

happening. He quickly swallowed his drink and poured another. He

finished the entire bottle standing at the counter and quickly

grabbed another from the refrigerator.

Hearing her on the stairs, he set the microwave and started it,

before walking into her arms. "Have a nice shower?" he asked,

smiling teasingly.

She blushed and buried her head into his shoulder. She whispered,

"I thought you couldn't read my mind, my thoughts."

Nick pulled her face up to his and kissed her softly. "I didn't

have to know what you were thinking. I could feel your mood, your

emotions," he explained as her face flushed even pinker. "Don't be

embarrassed," he insisted.

She kissed his lips, lingering for a sweet moment. Nat smelled the

meal he was cooking, and pulled back, teasing with a smile, "Fried


He shrugged. "I don't have much else, Nat. Unless you want

solidified milk?"

She wrinkled her nose at the thought. "Oh, no. Fried rice is

great," she insisted just as the microwave buzzed and she pulled

away to get it.

Nick stopped her, insisting "No. I'll get it. You sit down." She

smiled, conceding to being waited on and sat down. He grabbed her

plate, setting it before her.

With widened eyes she looked up, resisting "Nick, I didn't know you

heated the whole thing. This is too much."

He looked at her sheepishly and shrugged with that sweet boyish

smile of his, before returning to the kitchen. He grabbed the

second green bottle for himself and filling the mug with coffee for

Nat, he came to the table.

She took a few bites, before pausing. She again wondered what

changed late last night that made this all possible. "Nick I was


"What about?" he asked, sipping from his glass.

"Well, what changed last night? I mean later, after we came home

from the lab. Why you..."

"Why I wasn't afraid of killing you if I loved you?" he asked,

setting his glass on the table.

"Yes. Earlier you..."

"Last night LaCroix talked on his show about something that struck a

cord. A Vampire Legend," Nick started.

"A Vampire Legend?" Nat gulped. "I thought it was just some talk

about true love."

"You heard it?" he asked curiously, as she nodded in response.

"Yeah," he said, running his hand through his hair. "Well, it has a

double meaning for a vampire."

"What do you mean-double meaning?" Suddenly an image flashed in her

mind. Nick, holding her harshly from behind, his cold fingers

grasping her neck as his bared fangs nearly grazed her exposed

flesh. She shook the strange impression aside.

Nick explained, "To a vampire, finding the One, means the belief

that there is One who can end the eternal darkness of our existence.

Some believe that it means that One can cause a vampire to become

mortal again."

"Like with Janette?" Nat asked, her attention back on the question

at hand.

"Yeah. There was something special about Robert for Janette that

made it possible for his blood to calm her and make her become

mortal. Not many of us really believe this to be more than a

vampire's fairytale. But..."

"But what, Nick?" Her heart began to race, as she feared this was

all a mythical search for the cure. That this past evening was not

what it appeared to be.

"The legend isn't very specific. It doesn't say *how* the One ends

the eternal darkness of a vampire," he continued.

Nat suddenly felt sick to her stomach. A legend. Nick's search for

mortality, a cure. That's all this was about. Wasn't it? Why else

did he attempt to make love to her this of all nights? He didn't

really love her. How he would do small romantic things. Bring her

flowers; hold her on the couch watching videos. He just wanted to

just keep her get what he wanted -- a cure. He knew what

she wanted -- him. So he made love to her, hoping the taking of her

blood would cure him. Not because he loved her.

What about the link? How could he lie through their link? But it

was only feelings, not thoughts. And Nick could block or mimic what

feelings he wanted to pass to her. Couldn't he? It felt so real.

Was he lulling her into the security of believing the feelings were

mutual? And what did LaCroix have to do with this? How could she

have been so stupid? She was so confused.

Nick noticed her suddenly tense up; something was very wrong. 'What

did he do? Why was she upset?' "Nat? Are you ok? What's wrong?"

he asked.

"Nothing," she said coldly.

"Nat," he asked, suddenly fearful as she built an almost visible

wall around herself.

Tears welled up in her eyes and knew she wouldn't be able to keep it

in. She stood, turning away. "I really have to go. I have to stop

at home. Take care of Sydney. Oh, and there is that meeting I have

to get to, so I have to get there early...," she rambled as she made

her way towards the lift door. Doubts of Nick's intentions clouded

her thoughts.

Nick jumped up, blocking her path. "Nat, you can't do this. Not

after what we shared last night. You have to tell me what it is.

What did I do? Please," he begged.

Infuriated at his mention of last night, her words burst forth, "I

thought that finding the One meant the One you love. I thought you

loved me. Not that I have some mystical answer to you becoming

mortal again." Tears streamed down her cheeks, as she grew more

confused. "You used me. You pretended to love me to get your

mystical cure. You knew I would fall for it because you knew I

loved you," she added angrily, slapping him across the face.

Nick held his stinging cheek, dumbfounded by her words, stunned.

How could she think that he would ever use her. "Nat, that's not

what I...I wouldn't...," he tried to explain as she stormed past

him, sliding the door open and running into the lift, unable to face

Nick any longer.

The elevator already started making its descent. Nick shouted after

her, pleading for her to come back. He tried pushing into their

link, but the jumble of emotions and fear he was experiencing made

it impossible for him to concentrate. She was wrong. He wasn't

pretending. But it was too late; Nat was already convinced. He

leaned against the cold metal door, as her car pulled away in the

remaining daylight. How could he turn this around? He would never

do what she was suggesting. He could not allow her to leave him.

He loved her. And he had to convince her how much he really loved


Nick followed behind Schanke as they approached Nat's office. He

was anxious to see Nat, yet afraid of her reaction to his presence.

She had refused all of his calls so far this evening, and suspected

her reception would be less than warm.

"Come on, Nick," Schanke moaned, looking over his shoulder at his

trailing partner. "What the hell is wrong with you tonight?" Nick

never trailed behind like this, especially on the way to Nat's

office. Unless they were...damn, more silly games again. Last

night had seemed so promising. He was really going to have to find

a way to really get these two together.

Schanke pushed his way through the door to the lab, Nick having

picked up his pace somewhat.

Nat turned smiling, "Hi Schank." She closed the file and stood.

"Guess you're here for the Moore case," she said, ignoring Nick. If

she acknowledged him, she was afraid of what she'd say or do.

Schanke looked back at Nick and then at Nat, and sighed with

frustration. "Yeah, Nat. Do you have anything?" 'These two are

something. Continuing to deny they are totally hot for each other,'

he thought. Unspoken words hung thickly in the air.

Nat continued, "Well, we got lucky on the semen sample. Seems the

man who raped her is a secretor and we have a blood type. B

negative. The DNA tests will take a while to come back for a more

definite match with your perp."

Schanke punched Nick in the arm, taunting, "See that, Nick. I was

right. It's not the boyfriend. It's his friend, Timothy Clayton.

He is B negative. Frayne is A postive."

Nick finally spoke, "It's just a blood type, Schank. We need more

than that. Maybe she wasn't raped and had consensual sex and then

Frayne killed her." Nick shifted on his feet. "What motive would

Clayton have? Murder would be a harsh sentence for breaking his

friend's heart, don't you think?" he asked sarcastically.

"Well, that is where you detectives come in," Nat chirped in,

acknowledging Nick for the first time since he entered the room. "I

do have other clients to attend to," she said, dismissing them both.

Her head was starting to throb painfully.

As Schanke turned to leave, Nick hesitated, gazing at Nat. Noticing

Nick's pause, Schanke smiled. "See you outside, Nick," he said as

he walked out the door. 'Good. Nick was going to get things

straightened out right away instead of sulking like he usually

does,' he thought, walking cheerfully down the hall.

Nat, panicked at being alone with Nick, stepped forward. "No,

Schanke! I forgot to tell you something about the case," she

shouted after him.

"Then tell Nick," he shouted, his voice muffled by his distance down

the hall.

In her attempt to stop Schanke, she had stepped closer to Nick. He

reached out to hold her hand, but she quickly snapped it away and

backed up. "Nick, you had better leave. Now," she threatened, as

her pounding headache became unbearable.

"But Nat, just talk to me," he pleaded taking a step forward. Nat

looked at him, making eye contact for the first time tonight. Her

piercing eyes cut deep into his heart. She would not talk to him,

not tonight. He hung his head and turned, leaving.


"Earth to Natalie."

Nat snapped back to reality with a start. "Hi Grace," she sighed.

It was then that Grace saw her reddened eyes. "Oh Sweetie, what has

happened? Don't tell me. It's Detective Knight? But the word

around is that you two are finally together."

Nat shrugged off her comment. She stood and took her files to the

cabinet, trying to avoid the conversation. The images from last

night appeared in her mind again. His kiss, such passion, desires.

The feel of his flesh against hers. The sensual flow of images as

he drank her blood. His icy fingers against her neck. His

possession of her. Such conflicting memories. He was only using

her, keeping her happy to suit his needs. To get what he wanted.

Mortality. Not her. Redemption. And freedom to live out his

mortal life without her.

Grace wasn't going to give up that easily. Coming up behind Nat and

resting her hand on her shoulder, she insisted, "Honey, you two

belong together. Everyone here and in the whole precinct knows it."

Nat couldn't concentrate anymore. Grace or no Grace. Still facing

the cabinet, Nat replied choking on her tears, "It takes two to

tango, Grace. He doesn't love me. I thought he did."

Nat quickly wiped a tear away as she turned from the cabinet. Grace

held her friend, trying to comfort her. "Honey, that isn't possible.

I've seen how he looks at you when you aren't noticing. Do you

remember that new suit you wore last Thursday? He looked long and

hard, and then looked away quickly when you turned his way. I've

seen him worry about you when you are not well, be concerned for you

when you are down, be happy for you when things go well. You two

just need to break down those barriers."

Needing to talk to someone, she looked into the caring eyes of her

friend and admitted, "We did, Grace. And I thought it was because

he loved me."

Grace raised her hands to slow Nat down. "Wait. What do you mean

you did?" she probed. But peering into Nat's tearing eyes, Grace

answered her own question, "Oh dear. You really did." She started

to smile about their consummated relationship, but quickly

remembered her friend's pain. "Oh, Honey, it can't be true. He

loves you," she started as she hugged Nat.

"It is true, Grace," She mumbled.

Grace released Nat from her embrace, looking at her. "But the way I

see him look at you. Longingly, with desire. And the way he perks

up when you are around. That is not the behavior of a man who

doesn't love you," she offered. "What in the world happened to make

you think he doesn't love you?" she asked again, trying to help Nat

figure this out.

How could she explain that in mortal terms? "It's hard to explain,

Grace," she started. "But basically he told me that he doesn't love

me. That he pretends to love me, to humor me. Knowing I am

infatuated with him. Because I'm working to remove this cur..., I

mean I help him with his, uh, skin problem."

The words echoed in her mind. 'She knows what I am. She is working

to lift this curse from me. If she happens to have an infatuation

for me, is it not in my best interest to humor her? I do not love

this woman.' She shook her head, puzzled. 'When did he say that?

Who was he talking to?' she wondered.

Grace, troubled at Nat's reasoning replied, "It doesn't make much

sense, Sweetie. Telling you things like that. I can't be reading

him that badly. And what man would say so blatantly that he was

using you, even if it were true?"

Nat pinched her nose, as her headache worsened. The words continued

to haunt her. 'What makes you think that I am in love with her? Do

you think this is about love?'

Grace saw her anguish and knew she had to do something to help,

despite not understanding what happened. She hoped that Nick hadn't

really treated Nat the way she was claiming. She'd kill him. But

Nat's explanation was so odd. She scooted Nat over to her desk to

sit and pulled another chair closer to the desk, sitting down facing


As she watched Nat take something for her headache, it finally

dawned on Grace what she needed to do to relieve her friend's

anguish. 'She needs to get him off her mind. A night out. Yes,

that's it,' she said to herself, devising a plan.

"Well..." Grace said with a sneaky look in her eye.

Nat had seen that scheming look before. "No, Grace. What are you

planning now?"

"Just because he doesn't want you, doesn't mean others won't. We

are going out tomorrow. I know of this new club I want to check

out," Grace explained her plan. "We both are off early tomorrow.

There are no excuses."

"Grace...I'm just too tired." Nat sighed.

"Yeah I know. All that crying at night wears you out. Well, I'm

going to get your mind off this Detective Knight," she insisted.

Natalie sighed at the inevitable.

"Damn it, Nick. What is going on with you two now?" Schanke


Nick looked up from his thoughts, and sighed. Relaxing in his seat

behind the wheel, he replied "Oh, nothing."

"Hell nothing, Nick. Last night you two show up at the scene

together in your car. And what was that you said - something about

getting on with the case so you could get back to spending time with

her? Now tonight she isn't even talking to you. She was talking to

me like you weren't even there. I hope you got it all straightened

out when I left you two alone back there."

Nick sighed, "Not really, Schank." Trying to avoid further

discussion on the matter, he reached to turn the radio on.

But Schanke quickly grabbed the dial and turned it back off. "No,

you're not going to play the depressing show again, not with your

mood. I don't need you to be more miserable than you already are."

Nick ignored Schanke's summation of his mood, and took a deep breath

as he turned the street corner to the home of another name in

Moore's address book.


As they left yet another friend of Moore's, Schanke told Nick his

theory, "It's really unlikely the killer is a disgruntled employee.

With the rape and slash on the throat, I'll bet it is some sort of

unrequited love interest."

"So you think Clayton wanted her and was rejected?" Nick asked as

Schanke opened the car door.

"Makes sense. His blood type matches too," Schanke reasoned.

Nick turned to face Schanke. "But we don't know that she rejected

him. So far no one has mentioned anything that would lead us to

believe Clayton was even interested in her," Nick argued.

"That's what we need to find. A motive," Schanke replied excitedly.

"Nick, he happened to be at the bar across the street. And the

people there couldn't verify the times he was definitely inside.

It's too damn convenient." Schanke added as Nick walked around to

his door.

Nick let the words sink in. "Convenient," Nick repeated as he

turned on the ignition. 'It was convenient. LaCroix' broadcast last

night - all about the Legend of One Love. Why did he talk about

that? What ulterior motive did he have? It certainly wasn't his

regular depressing fare,' he mused.


Done questioning those they were able to contact tonight, they made

their way back to the precinct in an uneasy silence.

"Come on, Nick. What has happened since last night?" Schanke

finally asked.

Schank was not going to let him off the hook. He had been hounding

him all night. Maybe Schank would have some insight that he didn't.

He sure needed a friend to talk to.

Nick took a deep breath and started, "Nat thinks I used her. But

it's not true, Schank." Nick looked forlornly at his partner,

adding, "I would never do that."

Schanke turned towards Nick, hands up to stop him. "Whoa! Wait a

minute there. 'Used her'? As in using her sexually?" he asked,

stunned. Nick nodded in response, as he continued down the road.

Schanke stared straight ahead as he mumbled, "Man, oh man..."

Looking back at Nick he asked, "You two slept together? And now she

thinks you used her?" Schanke was shocked as Nick finally broke his

silence about it. In fact, he had never spoken to him about his

relationship with Nat before. At least nothing past friendship.

"That's what I said, Schank. I don't know what to do," Nick

replied, nervously twisting at the steering wheel. "She won't talk

to me. Maybe if I could talk to her I could find out what it was I

did. But she won't listen to me, she won't talk."

"What in the world did you do, what did you say to her to make her

think that?" Schanke said, still shocked at what the past 24 hours

has held for his partner.

"I'm not sure, Schank. I just know I have to get her back. Now

that we finally got past our barriers, I can't live without her,"

Nick confided. Schanke knew the feeling. Myra was everything to

him. He couldn't stand the thought of life without her.

"Partner, we'll find a way to get you two talking again. She just

needs some space for a day or two. It's probably all some

misunderstanding," Schanke said, lightly punching him in the

shoulder. Nick forced a grin, hoping Schanke was right.


"Hey Nick, I think I found something. An old college buddy of the

victim," Schanke said as Nick returned to his desk.

"Why's this friend any different, Schank?" Nick asked, annoyed with

his insistence on pursuing this unrequited love interest angle. He

was certain that Schanke's find was some excuse to continue in that


"Because, Partner," Schanke explained, "They go way back. As in

years. This person may know something about some poor slob that

Kristen brushed off. Or had a fling with and broke up with. I

don't know, but we'll know when I track her down." Schanke picked

up the phone and started with his search.

Nick shook his head at Schanke's obsession as he looked over the

file on Michael Roberts, the disgruntled employee. He was one of

the two possible suspects that had the same blood type as the semen

sample. And he had a motive.

While Schanke was tracking down ghosts, he had made some inquiries

and found that Roberts had been abruptly fired for 'borrowing'

company equipment and supplies repeatedly. The company records

showed he made a big stink at the time, going on about being so

religious and how he never steals. There were also several reports

about his harassment of other employees always talking to them

incessantly about his religion, the end of times, and how computers

were the 'Beast' in Revelations. In speaking with supervisors, Nick

found out that he had a reputation at the company for being the most

untrustworthy employee there.

"Found her," claimed Schanke triumphantly. Nick looked up at

Schanke and moaned. "I left a message on her voicemail at work to

call me tomorrow ASAP. Now we're getting somewhere. We'll probably

be able to question her tomorrow," he said smiling at his

accomplishment. Schanke pushed his chair away from the desk,

satisfied. Standing, he grabbed his jacket and gloated, "Well I'm

done for tonight. How about you?"

"I'm still going over this file, Schanke. Just in case your theory

doesn't pan out," Nick said sarcastically. "I'll see you tomorrow


Schanke turned to leave, as Nick called to him, "Schank?" The

sarcasm had left his voice. Schanke turned. "Thanks. Thanks for

listening earlier," Nick said.

Schanke smiled and gave a thumbs-up gesture, "No problemo, Partner."

The beat of the music vibrated through the club as the throng of

bodies filled the room. Tables lined the dance floor, where light

beams glided across it. The mood was tense and energized as keyed

up women gathered in constant chatter, filling up on favorite drinks

and waiting for the show to begin. Toward the back of the main room

was the bar, populated by bartenders and waiters retrieving drinks

and male patrons watching the crowd of women.

Grace and Natalie had arrived before the club was full, and were

able to make their way to the front line of tables at center stage.

Natalie couldn't believe it when Grace pulled into Descubierto

Club's lot. Grace just grinned when she shot her that look, the one

Nat always gave her when she did these things. Natalie sank a few

inches in the seat and held her forehead, as she anticipated the

night ahead. Yet it also piqued her interest. She hadn't been out

in a long time and was looking forward to some time with Grace away

from work. Not to mention, she felt sexy wearing this new clingy

dress. She wanted to feel good around other men, to feel desirable.

She chuckled to herself as she looked up, smiling at Grace. "You

are one scheming lady," she accused.

"You betcha. And I guarantee that before the night is over you will

have had fun," Grace promised. "I told you that dress would be

ideal for tonight," Grace added teasingly.

'This table was perfect,' thought Grace. 'The tables in front

always get a lot of attention from the dancers. Natalie will be

forgetting everything except the gyrating flesh in front of her,'

Grace deliberately planned.

"Grace. Wait. This is too close. I can't sit up here," Nat begged

as Grace sat down, looking up at her like some alien who couldn't

understand her.

"Too late," Grace finally stated as she looked over to the club

entrance where other patrons were filling the tables quickly. "We'd

never find another table now."

Nat, resigned to her fate, sighed and sat down. No sooner had she

sat, a waiter came up to take their order. Nat looked over and

gasped, unprepared. The waiter's body seeped through the very

little tight clothes he had on, as they molded to his form. He wore

black Spandex shorts, showing off his endowment, and no shirt - only

white and red suspenders across his firm muscled chest. His face,

as chiseled as the rest of him, smiled at them with a twinkling in

his eyes.

'What can I get you ladies?" he intoned with a flip of his chestnut

locks. He took their order as they unconsciously worked their eyes

up and down his body. He turned to retrieve their drinks displaying

the Spandex shorts molded to his firm ass. The ladies exchanged

glances and sighed.

"Grace, you were noticeably sizing him up and down. You kept

staring at him," Nat leaned over to whisper to her friend.

Grace looked at her serious expression, and let out a huge laugh.

Nat didn't even realize what she had done. "Honey, you're a real

gem," she said before laughing some more.

Before Nat could respond, the lights dimmed and the evening's show

was introduced. A Latin beat throbbed through the room and sculpted

men pranced onto the floor as strobe lights created an illusion of

enticing movement. The girls were definitely sidetracked from their


The show's flair prompted adult women to giggle, laugh, yell and do

a lot of whooping. The beat permeated the room to the rhythm of the

grinding hips of the men. Nat finished her second drink and let out

a loud whoop with the crowd, waving her money in her hand. She was

really getting into this. The dancers tossed sweatbands, scarves,

and other tidbits soaked in their male sweat as they stripped them

from their bodies.

The blonde dancer in the detective fantasy strutted in his long

black coat over the floor, triggering warm stirrings in a certain

lady watching. Stripping the coat off in a puddle on the floor, he

moved along the line of tables by the floor. He jerked his hips,

gyrating for the women, teasing them with the handcuffs hanging from

his G-string. As Nat howled, he made his way to her. He paused

inches in front of her, gazing into her enlarged eyes with a

sensuous grin. He gyrated and grinded his hips as her heart

fluttered and hands shook, stuffing the bill into his G-string.

Grace flashed a bill in the air with the next dancer, a cowboy

fantasy. He gyrated his way across the floor and Grace boldly

stuffed the bill into his G-string, lingering ever so slightly. Nat

stared at her, stunned at her boldness.


"Nick, you better be there. You've been acting like we are working

on two separate cases," Schanke threatened. "I have it all set up,

she'll meet us tonight at her job. She's a bartender at some bar

across town. It's a second job for her and its hard to reach her."

Nick sighed. He thought this angle Schanke was following was a

waste of time. But he had been ignoring him on this case a lot.

And he owed him something for being such a good friend over the

situation with Nat. He had even invited him over for dinner earlier

that evening before work. Of course he couldn't eat anything. Nat

would always help him fake such things, eating off his plate.

'Natalie,' he sighed longingly.

"O.K. Schank, I'll be there. But I have to check on something I'm

working on. I'll just meet you there," Nick suggested.

"Fine," Schanke said, grabbing a piece of paper to write down the

location. He thrust the paper at Nick. "Eight-thirty." Nick

looked at the address and stuffed the paper into his leather jacket

on the chair.


Nick worked his way to the back of the club through the crowded room

and made his way to the bar area, figuring that's where Schanke

would be. He didn't know this place would be so busy. It would be

hard to question anyone. But as he moved closer to the bar, the din

was much less, no noisier than at The Raven. The acoustics

surrounding the floor must have had something to do with it.

He saw Schanke's head at the other end of the bar, talking with a

blonde female bartender. Nick worked his way forward and Schanke

spotted him, nodding towards him.

"Hope I'm not too late, Schank."

"No. Just got here myself. This is Lisa. She was Kristin's

friend," Schank explained. "Lisa, this is my partner, Nick Knight."

Nick nodded, acknowledging her.

Lisa was a beautiful buxom blonde, with flirty eyes and a sensual

smile. Her hair was very puffy and big. Nick backed up a step as

she flipped her hair about, showing off her ample cleavage and

dangling blue dolphin earrings.

'Wow,' thought Lisa. 'This one is hot. I didn't know detectives

could be so cute.' She stepped closer to the new arrival and

reached her hand to run her fingers through his hair. "You have

such beautiful hair, Detective," she cooed, as she continued to size

him up.

Nick backed up, startled. "Maybe you could tell us about your

friendship with Kristen," Nick said.

Lisa, disappointed in his reaction, began, "We kept in touch

occasionally. Had lunch, but mostly just girl talk on the phone."

She watched Nick as she spoke.

"When was the last time you talked with her?" Schanke asked.

"Saturday afternoon - that night she was killed," she answered

Schanke, eyes still on Nick. She made another attempt. Gently

touching the arm of Nick's jacket, she continued, "I couldn't

believe it. Who would do such a thing? She was a well-respected

woman, a good friend," she added.

Nick quickly pulled his arm away from her touch, asking another

question. "Do you remember the conversation?" He was not in the

mood for this woman's flirting.

"Oh yeah," Lisa smiled sensuously. "She had been aching for this

one man to notice her for more than a friend, but he didn't. She

had decided to give up waiting for him; said it was too much of a

heartache," she whispered to Nick. Schanke just rolled his eyes at

the scene before him.

Nick bit his lower lip as the story unfolded, sounding so familiar.

He begged her to continue.

"Well, she was going to meet with an old flame of hers that night.

A guy she dated years ago. Anyway, I know he still wanted her. I

know him sort of. A friend knows him. I knew things would finally

work out for her. But some wacko has to go off her just when it was

going to turn around for her," Lisa commented.

Schanke anxiously asked, "And?"

"And what?" Lisa asked, looking back at the forgotten partner.

Schanke smiled in frustration. "His name? Who is this


"Oh. Tim. Timothy Clayton," she added as an afterthought.

After Schanke told Lisa he needed to talk to his partner, Lisa

offered, "I'll just take care of these people over here and I'll be

back." They both nodded in reply as she left to help the customers.

Schanke pulled Nick aside and said, "The same blood type. A motive.

He was second choice and he knew it. Maybe he even knew about the

letter, thinking Frayne would be implicated."

"Playing the concerned friend. Betrayal," Nick added. Suddenly

Nick sensed something very familiar.

"I think we need to ask a few more questions of her before we go,"

Schanke said. He looked over at the bar where Lisa seemed tied up

filling orders. "We can wait around for a few minutes," he added.

Relaxing a moment, Schanke glared around the room. "Damn, Nick

would you look at this place. It's a regular meat market!" Schanke

glanced at his partner, who was in a daze about something and

probably hadn't heard the last few things he said.

Nick took a good look around for the first time since he entered the

club. He had been trying to block out as much as possible with all

the human heartbeats pounding. There were a lot of increased

heartbeats up by the floor in the main room. He leaned to the side

and peered around some heads, when he singled out a familiar


"Would you look at that, Nick. It's a strip show." Schanke saw

Nick staring, mouth hanging open.

Nicks eyes stayed locked on what he saw straight ahead. Schanke

followed Nick's gaze and saw her too. "Ohhh..." was all he could

say for a moment. Schanke noticed how Nick was fixated on the scene

playing out before him, his muscles tense and hands drawn into


The woman in Nick's sight, the woman whose heartbeat he had targeted

was laughing excitedly as she stuffed bills into the man's G-string.

The man that was mere inches in front of her, taunting her with his

sensual movements. The woman's heartbeat increased as the blonde

detective fantasy man excited her.

" about I get the warrant, and you take care of some

business when we're done here?" Schanke stumbled uncomfortably, with

a sheepish grin at his partner.

Schanke was asking Lisa a few last questions, but Nick couldn't

concentrate and kept watching the table in the main room, much to

her disappointment. The last dance had finished, but the

temperature of the room did not drop. Then Nick saw a couple men

standing by their table, talking to them. Nat giggled, smiled. The

dark Latin man handed Nat a drink. 'They were flirting!' His jaw

locked in tense determination. Enough was enough. She was going to

listen to him, no more excuses.

Never taking his eyes off her, he walked through the crowd towards

her, boring his eyes into hers when she finally looked up and saw

him coming. He blocked out everything around him except her,

including Schanke as he shouted after him, "Hey Nick, we're not done


People gawked as the determined Nick Knight crossed the room.

Chills coursed through Natalie's veins as his gaze bored deep into

her very soul. The men flirting with the two women quietly backed

away as Nick approached, emanating such power and determination.

"We need to talk, Nat," Nick stated harshly. "We need to talk now."

Only a few feet away, he now scrutinized her form in the tight

fitting maroon dress. Clinging to her curves, the dress accentuated

her features and the plunging neckline boldly exposed Nat's


Nat, a bit taken aback by his resolve, boldly turned her head away

from him and started to say something to Grace.

"Nat," he barked again.

She turned back, annoyance expressed in her eyes. "Nick, I am here

on my night off with a friend. You have no right to interfere. I

don't want to hear anything you have to say," she said curtly.

The people near their table were taking notice of the jealous

detective, demanding the attention of the auburn-haired beauty.

They loosely circled the scene and watched it unfold, whispering

among themselves. Schanke had made his way across the room, having

finished with Lisa.

"I have every right," he growled huskily. "And you will hear what I

have to say. You are going to listen to me one way or another."

Nick grew enraged as he watched her heaving chest in the formfitting

dress. 'Just what was she trying to prove wearing that dress at a

place like this,' he thought furiously.

Nick grabbed for the handcuffs in his jacket pocket, quickly

snapping them on a shocked Natalie. He picked her up, throwing her

over his shoulder. Grace and Schanke exchanged smiles. The patrons

grew wild, applauding the caveman tactics.

Grace grabbed Natalie's coat and purse and rushed to hand them to

Nick, grinning at him. She just knew that Nick had to love her as

she suspected all along. He took the coat and purse in his other

arm and started for the entrance, Nat's rebellion in full force.

She pounded on his back, and alternately grasped at his leather

jacket, pulling, kicking and screaming as he carried her out the


Nat was totally humiliated. All she wanted to do was get away from

him. "Nick! Put me down!' she screamed. "You won't get away with

this. Put me down! Now!"

Nick just ignored her ranting as she continued to rebel in his arms

all the way to the car in the cold night air. 'Nat is a

strong-willed woman. I'll give her that,' he admitted to himself in

admiration. Despite his anger at her flirtatious behavior, Nick

hoped he could break through the wall she had erected between them.

When he reached the car, he deposited her on the pavement. It was

her only chance to escape. She darted away as he turned to open the

door, but he was too swift. He wrapped his arms around her waist

and bound arms from behind, as she kicked and squirmed.

'You can't outrun vampires,' she told herself. But she wasn't

giving up yet.

Nick turned her abruptly to face him and held her arms tightly as

she still struggled against him. He smelled her excitement, her

arousal as her body betrayed her rebellion. Lifting her onto the

hood of the Caddy, he moved closer between her legs. Continuing to

hold firmly to her arms, he prevented her from wriggling free.

Nat leaned in and angrily bit his shoulder before she realized her

mistake. Nick growled at her attempt, starring back at her with his

golden eyes. He concentrated to push back the burning desire he

felt for her. She was so alluring in that dress, cut low enough to

expose the creamy upper curves of her breasts. He struggled to

ignore the aroma of her arousal. If he took her in pure lust while

she still believed he didn't love her, it would only serve to prove

he was using her. They needed to talk first.

"You will listen to me tonight. You will hear what I have to say.

That is the only way I will let you go, the only way to be free from

the handcuffs," he pronounced, as he leaned between her legs,

pressing against her.

"You may talk, but I will not listen to you. You can't make me,"

she insisted, incensed at his actions. She continued to battle her

submission to him, as tears welled in her eyes. She saw the intense

anger in his eyes at her resistance.

The growling grew deep in his chest as his anger was near the edge

of control. He tightened his hold on Nat's arms and pressed the

bulge in his pants against her.

Nat shivered at his response and the coldness that seeped into her

body from the winter night. Sitting on the cold metal hood of the

car in the cold air of the night had chilled her. Tears spilled out

onto her cheeks and Nick quickly pushed the anger aside, reacting to

her discomfort. He grabbed her coat, heaped on the pavement, and

wrapped it around her. Reaching for his handkerchief in his pocket,

he tenderly dabbed her tears away.

"Nat, I need you to hear me out, " he started more softly. "I will

open the car and we will sit and talk. I'll have the heater on so

you won't be cold. And I'll take the handcuffs off after you

listen," Nick promised.

Nat nodded, resigned at having to listen to him. She stopped

fighting outwardly, but still resisted in her heart. He lifted her

from the hood and opened the door for her. She quietly sat on the

front seat, cuffed hands in her lap, and waited as Nick went around

to his door.

As Nick sat down on the seat, Nat scooted closer to her door,

pulling her arms close to her chest. Nick sighed, noticing her

obvious body language. He turned on the seat to face her and took a

deep breath before beginning.

"Nat, the other night...when we made love..." he started. Nat

snorted at his mention of 'making love'. Nick ignored her reaction

and continued. "We talked about the Legend. Of One Love. To the

vampire, the One is who will take away the eternal darkness. I

started to explain how some interpret that, Nat. But I don't

believe it means some mystical cure. I've wondered if you are the

One since I met you. The One I love. The One who could love me.

Do you believe in love at first sight? Do you believe in fate?"

Nick probed.

Nat started to soften at his words and loosened the arms she had

drawn close to her body, easing away from the door in a more natural

position to face Nick.

Encouraged, Nick scooted an inch closer. "I didn't make love with

you because I thought it would make me mortal, like some pill to

cure a disease. I took a chance at loving you because I wanted to

love you. The broadcast only reminded me that I might lose you if I

waited too long. I've already loved you for so long. I couldn't

lose you now," he confided.

Nick eased even closer, reaching to hold her hands and gaze into her

eyes. "Do you know why I was able to finally make love to you? I

was able to love you because of your complete love for me. Do you

remember when we first came into the loft the other night? When I

asked if you were afraid?"

Nat nodded at the memory; she licked her lips at the memory. She

leaned a bit closer to Nick, remembering that night well. Her body

would not let her forget it.

"You accepted both the man and the vampire. You wanted both. The

man and vampire were not struggling with each other for control and

were at peace with each other in your arms. I had never felt that

way before, where they were both content. It was always one or the

other," Nick said, the memory burning a fire inside him. "You have

taken away my eternal darkness by bringing light to my darkness."

It started to make sense. Why he attempted to love her that night

and was able to. He had kissed her before, only to turn away when

his eyes turned golden. But there was something about the

explanation that wasn't quite complete. Something wasn't right.

She pressed her fingers to her forehead, as her head started to

pound in pain and she tried to sort it out.

She abruptly looked up at him, accusing, "But there's more to it,

Nick. Isn't there?"

"What do you mean, Nat?" Nick asked, confused. "I wasn't using you

like you thought. I love you. And I know you love me. Don't you

believe me? What's still wrong?" he begged, squeezing her

handcuffed hands.

"You don't love me!" she said, raising her voice and pulling her

hands away. "I heard you say so."

Nick wrinkled his brow, wondering what Nat could be thinking of.

"You heard me say I don't love you?" he questioned. And as he

finished saying it aloud, he remembered.

"Yes. You said you do not love me. That you were humoring me so I

would continue to help you find your mortality," Nat continued. The

words formed on her lips, but it seemed foreign, like someone else

was talking. She didn't understand what was happening.

Nick's face lit up. "Nat, it all makes sense now." He scooted to

her and cupped her face in his hands. She tensed at the motion, but


"Something happened almost a year ago. I need you to know about it

now. The day before Valentine's Day, I told you I loved you. We

talked about our future together and expressed our love. I had

never been so happy" he said, smiling.

Nat looked puzzled as she tried to remember. Brief flashes that

didn't make sense. Nick at her apartment. A tender kiss, deepened

with passion. Soft whispers near the window.

Nick gently draped his arms over her shoulders and explained the

fateful evening. "The next day, you received an invitation for

dinner at Azure. You thought it was from me, But it was from

LaCroix. He lured you there to take your life in repayment of an

old debt. I had made a bargain with him a long time ago when he

fell in love with my sister."


"My mortal sister," Nick replied. "I couldn't bear for him to have

her, to take her life like that. In my desperation, I promised that

if I ever truly loved a mortal that he would take her from me. He

meant for me to suffer as he had. I just never thought I would love

like this. Like I love you." Nick softly pressed his lips to her


Roses. White roses. A tall stranger. Wine. That soothing voice.

The sensation of drifting away, an intoxicating feeling. Nick's

words continued to produce images in her mind's eye. These things

happened to her? Tears began to form in her eyes as the memories


"When I realized what had happened, I rushed to the restaurant. I

had to do something," Nick uttered, the original panic present in

his voice. Nick took a deep breath and continued, "So I convinced

him I didn't really love you, that I was playing along, using you.

That's what you've been remembering. Drinking your blood the other

night, sharing a link probably brought some of it to the surface.

When did you start getting these memories? The day after we were

together?" he asked.

Nat thought back. It did happen the day after they made love. She

had never had those thoughts before then. "I remember cold fingers

and breathing on my neck. It felt so intense," Nat recalled aloud,

tears spilling over her cheeks. All this time had lapsed and she

didn't know he loved her. All this time he kept it in anguish to


Nick reached to wipe her tears. "Yes. He tested me by demanding

that I bring you across. I allowed the beast to absorb your

intoxicating scent, caress your neck and prepare to bite you. I

almost did bite you. But LaCroix stopped me, convinced that if I

was willing to bring you over I really didn't love you. After he

left, I was so relieved. I couldn't endure it if I had drained you,

killed you."

Nick remembered that night well. He had never been so relieved when

LaCroix made him stop. He almost couldn't rein the beast in; he had

almost let it go too far. And when LaCroix left, holding her dazed

form close, she was finally safe in his embrace. He couldn't

imagine what would have happened if LaCroix had not stopped him.

Nat burst into tears at the emotional onslaught, as that evening's

sensations returned to her. She sobbed into his shoulder and he

embraced her, comforting her. She remembered how she had wanted

Nick to bring her across. She wanted to be his, to be with him


Nick continued in a whisper against her hair, "So I altered your

memories of the last few days to protect you, convinced it would

make it all go away. I would remember the events, but you wouldn't.

And I was determined to live with that to protect you. I thought

you might even drift away and find love elsewhere," Nick reasoned.

Nat sat up and looked at him, saying "Nick, just taking my memories

didn't stop me from loving you. I just kept it hidden, hoping for

clues from you that you loved me. It didn't solve things. Please,

Nick, never manipulate my memories again," she begged with pained


Nick nodded in agreement. After a long pause, she asked, "What

about LaCroix now?"

"I don't know, Nat. I really don't care," Nick replied, resting his

arms around her neck. "I have been afraid that if I continued to

keep you at a distance like this past year, I would lose you for

good. I was either going to lose you to LaCroix or as a result of

my own neglect. I'd rather deal with LaCroix than live with the

fact you left me for another or pure frustration," Nick said,

pulling Nat back to his shoulder.

"I don't know what his part is in all this," he thought aloud. "I

suspect he did that broadcast purposely, but I don't know why yet.

Maybe he has suspected my true feelings. But we can deal with it

together." He turned Nat's face up, and he captured her lips in a

short tender kiss.

Their desires, suppressed for days, finally awakened now that things

were clear. He caressed her shoulder softly, watching for any

positive reaction. Nat smiled and purred softly against his chest,

turning into him. He pulled her face again to his in a searing

kiss, full of want and need.

Realizing that Nat still had the cuffs on, he reached into his

pocket. "Oh, you still have those things on. Let me..." He

stopped, grinning sheepishly. "Uh, Nat. I don't have the keys."

She cocked her head, smirking in disbelief.

"Really, I think they are in my other coat pocket at home," he

explained. "Nat I'm really sorry I put those on you. I had to find

a way to make you listen. We'll go home and get the keys, now."

Nick scooted back to the steering wheel and pulled the car out onto

the street.

Nat grinned at their predicament, and started kissing his shoulder,

arm and anywhere she could get close. Her hands glided softly

across his jeans-covered thigh to cup his rather enlarged manhood.

"Nat! I'll have an accident," begged Nick.

"Then pull over," she commanded.

Nick did as she demanded, pulling over to the curb. It wasn't as

bright as Yonge Street, but there were a few lamps illuminating the

street. He didn't care.

She reached up and placed her bound arms around his neck, drawing

him close. Nick leaned into her, pushing her down against the car

seat, claiming her lips with his. Leaving her lips, he planted a

series of kisses along her cheek, her chin, along her neck to her

cleavage. He licked between her breasts, generating a moan from


He looked up at her in a golden haze, teasing, "Did you like the

detective fantasy, Nat? Did you like the power he represented? The

loss of control?" He pushed her arms up over her head and held them

in place there.

"Yes!" she screamed. "I could only think of you in your long black

coat. Imagining you wearing barely anything underneath, just for


He captured her lips in a searing kiss, plunging his tongue into her

mouth. He licked along her chin and neck to her breasts. He

teased her nipples to tight points through the thin material. He

grasped one fabric-covered breast in his mouth, teasing it with a

gentle bite. Nat squirmed under his enticing attentions.

Nick looked up at her face, relishing the pleasure there, and

continued his glorious assault against her. His hand traced along

her form, reaching for the hem of the dress. Caressing her thigh,

his hand slid towards her heat and his hand touched the dampness

between her legs. He growled deep in his chest, as his hand cupped

her mound in satisfaction. Pushing his fingers through the nylons,

he tore them and flicked a finger into her abundant moisture within.

" feel so good, so wet," he whispered, smothering her

mouth with his. Nat moaned and whimpered as she tried to pull free

to touch him. She couldn't even hold him tight against her as he

kissed her. He totally controlled what she felt, how close he was

to her.


LaCroix was aware of Nick's emotional rant with the first twinge of

jealousy. The madness of his son's feelings grew quickly and

LaCroix stepped from The Raven to explore. He landed on the top of

one of the buildings lining the street. He felt the lust emanating

from below. The need. The love. His son was passionate for her


LaCroix recalled that night a year ago and the words said. Nicholas

had convinced him he did not really love her, not like he loved

Fleur. But maybe he had been wrong. He had been wrong indeed.

'You have not quickened with such passion, ached with such

sorrow...' These past few days had proved him wrong.

LaCroix watched the lovers under the illuminated street lamps,

feeling his son's intensity. Revenge boiled in his fevered mind,

while the couple below savored their desire for the other. The

elder vampire flew away, his plan set.

Nick eased his throbbing cock into her tight warmth, closing his

eyes at the intensity of the movement. He reached between their

bodies and continued caressing her engorged clit. Her arousing

sweet scent assaulted him. He slowly pulled his shaft outward and

plunged deep into her again, pounding against her.

"OhNick...Oh..Yes." she begged as he increased the rhythm of his

sweet torture. Her dress had been pushed up over her head and

dangled at her cuffed wrists. The luxurious feel of his chest

against her flesh tormented her, as she wanted to touch him


He reached out to touch her mind, stroking her with his love. Nat

felt something caress her, an overwhelming warmth enveloped her,

touching her deep inside. She asked, "Is that you? Inside my


"Yes," he mumbled against her lips, kissing them. He moved slowly

to her neck, kissing and licking. The throbbing vein, her heartbeat

called to him as he neared his climax.

"I've missed you," Nat whispered, panting breathlessly. The

intensity exploded on her as she came.

Nick sank his fangs into her neck and drank, her release exploding

in his veins. Her feelings poured into him as he found release.

Her pain of the last few days, thinking he didn't love her. Her

relief as she found out why. Her anger at him for taking the

memories. Her happiness at finding out how much and how long he has

loved her. Her desire that Valentine's night to be with him

forever. Surprisingly, it excited him.

As his fangs sank into her neck, Nick's intense love flooded her

body. His confusion these past days and his hurt at her rejection

flowed into her. She felt his wild jealousy, his anger, and his

arousal at her rebellion at the club.

Nick pulled his fangs from her ivory flesh and licked the twin

wounds. He gently kissed her neck before lifting his head to kiss

her lips. It seemed to her that their link had grown stronger, as

if it had become more tangible.

"Yes, it is stronger, Nat," he whispered against her lips. He still

lay over her naked form, relaxing in the afterglow of their

lovemaking. His jacket lay on the floor; his jeans were pushed down

around his ankles and shirt open.

Then there was a sudden rapping on the car window.


The officer coasted down the deserted street. It was quiet so far

tonight. Then he spotted the moving car under the lights. It

rocked and bounced as if it were traversing a bumpy road without

shocks. As he slowly approached where the car was parked, he saw

that the windows were fogged up too. He pulled over, chuckling to

himself. It had been a while since he interrupted something like

this. Not since he patrolled near the college community.

He approached with his flashlight and rapped on the window of the

now quieted car.

"Police. Step out of your car, please," he demanded.

The window rolled down as a rumpled blonde man peeked through the



Nick quickly pulled Nat's dress back over her head and threw her

coat over her to cover Nat's nakedness and bound wrists. He placed

his jacket over his lap to hide his exposed state and, pulling his

shirt closed, lowered the window.


The officer shone the light inside, and saw his suspicion was right.

A couple who didn't know what a bedroom is for. "Sir, this is not

the place for such activities. This is a public street. You'll

have to move along."

"Oh, yes officer. Sorry, we got carried away," Nick said

sheepishly. Nick was glad he was just making them leave, and not

making them get out of the car or reporting the incident. He

decided to play dumb and not mention who he was. Just what he

needed --to have this get around.

Suddenly the officer caught a glint in the car by the woman. "Hold

up. What is that?"

The handcuffs on Nat's hands, were peering from under the coat

thrown over her. Nick looked over to Nat to see what the officer

spotted, and cringed inside when he saw the cuffs exposed.

Nick smiled and laughed nervously, like a kid caught with his hand

in the cookie jar. "Just a little fun, officer." He hoped the

officer would accept that and still want them to move on.

The officer stepped back and commanded, "Step out of the car, sir."

He wasn't going to take any chances. She could be in danger.

Nick just couldn't be lucky enough for the officer to have let this

slide. And he couldn't do anything about whammying him at this

distance from inside the car, so he slowly opened the car door. He

held his jacket over his crotch, pants still pushed at his ankles,

as he stepped out of the car. The officer noticed his predicament

and shrugged, chuckling again. He started to reach for the jeans to

pull up, when the officer grabbed him and pushed him against the

car. The jeans fell again to his ankles and the jacket fell away,

leaving his bare ass and legs to the winter night. Nick couldn't

believe this was happening. He just had to wait for the right


But it wasn't yet. The officer pulled Nick's hands behind him,

cuffing him behind his back. Although he wasn't really cold being a

vampire, he was rather embarrassed by his exposure on the late night

Toronto street. The fates were getting back at him for cuffing Nat.

Nat pulled the coat to her face, hiding her snickering. She thought

he looked so cute, standing there naked. Nick peered through the

window at her, feeling her amusement. 'Nat!' he exclaimed through

their link.

The officer, certain he was safely secured now, turned the

practically naked man around and demanded, "Why do you have her in

those handcuffs? Who are you?"

Finally. He was looking at him. Nick latched onto his heartbeat,

grasping control of his mind. "There is nothing to see here except

two lovers carried away in their passion." At least Nick knew that

if he believed that, he would let them go.

"Lovers," he repeated in monotone.

"You will tell us to just move along," Nick suggested.

"Move along."

"But remove the handcuffs first," added.

"Remove handcuffs." The dazed officer took the keys, opened the

handcuffs and took them back to the car and drove away.

Nick sighed a deep breath and finally was able to pull his jeans up,

as Nat moaned disappointed, "Oh no, don't do that!" and broke into a

gale of laughter. He sneered at her enjoyment of the situation and

buttoned his shirt before getting back in the car.


After driving for a brief moment, Nick looked over to Nat with a

silly smile before bursting out in laughter himself. Nat curled up

next to him.

"Oh, Nick! That was so hilarious. But I am glad it was no one who

recognized you. We would never hear the end of it," she admitted.

Nick chuckled and wrapped his arm around her, pulling her close.


Nick pulled the caddy into the garage, as they still chuckled and

giggled, talking and playfully chiding each other on tonight's

escapade. They rode the lift holding hands and still laughing.

As they neared the top, Nick realized the loft was not empty. Nat

noticed his alertness, as in an animal sensing danger. Nick slowly

slid the door open and LaCroix turned as they stepped out of the


"Welcome home Nicholas. Natalie," LaCroix drawled. He could smell

their sex still lingering on them. He noticed the handcuffs still

on Natalie's wrists and cocked his head in amusement. "Nicholas, is

that the only way you can get women to come home with you?" he


Nick reached for the coat hanging on the tree. "What are you doing

here?" Nick demanded, his mood suddenly changed. "No one has

invited you here." He pulled the keys from the pocket, and unlocked

the cuffs, rubbing Nat's wrists.

"My, how we forget. I have an open invitation," taunted LaCroix.

Nick placed the cuffs and keys back in the coat pocket. "What is it

that you want, LaCroix?" Nick asked, irritated at his presence.

"Ahh, its interesting that you phrase it that way," he said leering

at Natalie. He walked towards her with outstretched hand as she

stood by Nick. "You are such an captivating woman," he whispered,

touching her cheek. "I have come to see why Nicholas is so

enthralled with you."

Nick jealously barred his master's access to Nat, stepping between

them. LaCroix chuckled at his jealous reaction, and turned away.

"You know you lied to me, Nicholas," he said accusingly.

"Lied?" Nick asked, afraid where this was going.

LaCroix turned enraged. "Lied, deceived, cheated me of my

retribution," he growled. He advanced towards Nick. "I do not love

this woman," he mocked, repeating Nick's own words. He grabbed Nick

and threw him against the wall. Nat backed away from the two

vampires stunned, falling over the arm of the couch. "Do you think

I can not take her life here now, tonight? You took the love of my

life from me and now I will have yours," he promised.

Nick forcefully grabbed his master and twisted him around, slamming

his back against the brick wall. "I will not let you have her," he

howled, with fangs bared.

LaCroix pushed Nick away, knocking him to the ground. LaCroix

advanced towards Nick as he started to get back up, kicking him

repeatedly. Nick fell back to the floor. "The choice is not

yours," LaCroix bellowed.

LaCroix, taking advantage of Nick's momentary lapse, quickly flew to

Natalie on the couch and lifted her into his embrace from behind.

Tilting her neck to the side, he brushed her hair back. He hungrily

licked at her neck, watching Nicholas for his reaction.

Nick rose and flew to LaCroix as he held Nat. "LaCroix...Please!"

he cried as he fell to his knees in front of his master. Nick knew

that he held Nat's life in his hands. He knew there was nothing he

could do fast enough to stop him. "Please," he implored.


LaCroix' vengeful plan became clear as he watched his son begging

for his Love's life. LaCroix took a moment to savor this wonderful

creature in his arms, drinking in her spicy scent, her fear. An

evil grin crept across his face. "A choice."

He spun Natalie away from his cold embrace towards Nicholas. Nick

quickly captured her in his arms and thrust her protectively behind


"Natalie will spend one night with me of her own free will. I do

admire your taste, Nicholas. I can see now, why you are so

attracted to her," LaCroix said, laying the condition before them.

"You said there was a choice," Nick bellowed as jealous rage

emanated from him. Nick could feel Nat's intense repulsion at

LaCroix' words.

"Or you will never see her again," LaCroix hissed, matching his

son's anger. LaCroix explained the consequences, "I will not kill

her. I will alter the memories of your years together. She will

not remember your love. She will not know anything about vampires.

She will only remember you as a friend she worked with. She will

live the rest of her life never remembering your shared secret...or

that she loved you. You will suffer the rest of your days

remembering every nuance of your years together with perfect vampire

memory, while she lives out her life never aware of your love." He

paused before adding, "Just like my Fleur."

Nat clasped onto Nick's arm tighter at LaCroix' words. Tears

streamed down her face.

"She is a resistor," Nick countered, knowing full well his master

was capable of doing as he threatened.

"You know I have ways around that," LaCroix spit at him. "You know

I can deliver what I promise."

"No," Nat said boldly, stepping aside from Nick. "You can't take my

memories. Please. Nick is everything."

He gazed into her eyes, repeating the choice. "Then tomorrow at 11

p.m. come to The Raven and spend the night with me and I will

release Nicholas from his debt," he said wickedly, as his plan of

revenge was laid out before them.

Nick grew more enraged as he spun out of control, flailing his arms

and body around. "Noooooooooo..." He crashed tables and lamps,


Nat went to him, trying to calm him, "Nick, Nick..." He slowed and

she went to capture his face in her hands. "Nick, look at me." Red

eyes slowly calmed to gold. "You know I don't want to do this, but

if this will release you... Look what this has caused already. You

taking my memory of last year, how it has kept us apart so long; we

almost lost each other. It is one night to 'sacrifice' for

forever," she reasoned.

"Nooo" he resisted, trying to pull his face from her hands but she

held firmly. "He can't have you. I won't have him touch you." He

looked over to LaCroix, accusing, "All you have ever done was take

away any happiness I have found in these nearly 800 years. All you

want is to take her from me for yourself!" He finally pulled away,

starting towards LaCroix to attack again, as the elder vampire stood

there chuckling at his son's display.

Nat followed to stop him. She boldly stepped between them. "Nick,

this won't make it go away. Just like taking my memories last year

didn't make my love disappear. Do you want me to never remember us?

Do you want me to live my life out somewhere far away from you;

never even knowing there was a you? I can't bear the thought of

it," she cried.

Nick stopped at her words and gazed in her tearing eyes. "There's

more to it than that. He might drain you," Nick countered. Nat

stopped to consider what Nick said. She hadn't thought of that.

LaCroix interjected, "If Natalie comes to me, she will stay the

night with me." The two lovers turned to face LaCroix as he laid

out the conditions, "I will not drain her. I will not bring her

across. I will have her for one brief night, in which she will

indeed live through, rather pleasurably I might add." He felt a

surge of jealousy from Nick again, as he goaded him. Nick glared at

him with fiery redness.

LaCroix added a special warning for Nicholas in a low and calculated

tone, "And if you dare to interfere after she has arrived, Nicholas,

I will drain her on the spot. I will drain her the moment I feel

your approach." Nick backed off at his threat.

"But if you stay away and do not interfere, you will be free from

your debt to me and she will then be yours for as long as you desire

without any interference from me again. That is, if you still want

her..." he taunted. "And is that not what you have always desired,

Nicholas? No interference from me?"

A heavy silence filled the expanse of the loft. "Well, I do have

things to attend to this evening yet. You apparently have a choice

to make. Remember, sweet Natalie, no later than 11 p.m. or the

default choice will be selected for you." With that, he was out the


Nick pulled Nat to him, wrapping her in his embrace. "Oh, Nat. How

foolish I was, thinking I could love you, have you without LaCroix


Nat pulled back to look at him. "But you can."

"You don't understand, Nat. When he bites you and drinks your

blood, you will have a link with him as you do with me. You will

feel the rush of memories and he will see into your deepest desires.

I don't know that I could stand that he has looked into your soul."

It was his greatest fear-that LaCroix would take her from him. Take

her and make her belong to him.

"Would you rather not have me at all?" she said, hurt at the

implication of the other option.

Nick hung his head and replied, "Yes, I want you. But if you go on

without me, you won't have to be with LaCroix. You won't even know

the love we had to be able to miss it."

"My heart will know," she said, stepping closer to cup his face in

her hands. "I want to be with you Nick. After this we can be."

Nick looked up as tears streamed down his cheeks. He enveloped her

in his arms protectively.


They had been sitting on the couch talking about the options before

them. They talked rationally and irrationally, schemed how to

escape LaCroix' plan, and were saddened by their impossible

situation. Sometimes they argued, sometimes they just held each

other in comfort.

"Nick, it is my choice. I want to be with you. With no more

hiding, no more games," Nat insisted, trying to explain to Nick what

it meant to her. How could he even think LaCroix taking her

memories of his love, his very nature was an option.

"But you don't know LaCroix," Nick countered. "The way he loves to

torment, to control and manipulate. There will be no end, Nat." He

was terrified that even if Nat sacrificed that one night for their

love, that LaCroix wouldn't let go. That he would always find a way

to torment them. He meant for Nick to suffer because of Fleur. He

would never let go of it.

Nat sighed at their stalemate. Nick brushed his hand against her

cheek and she leaned into his hand, falling into his arms. He

pressed his face into her hair and relaxed against her.

The time was so short. Less than 24 hours. No matter what they


After a few minutes, Nat pulled away, and held his gaze, imploring,

"I need to go home tonight, Nick. I need to think things through.

Please understand."

Nick suddenly panicked inside. He had been trying to convince her

not to go ahead with the plan to see LaCroix. The only other option

would be that they would never see each other again. And now she

was having doubts about seeing LaCroix. What was he doing? But no,

he couldn't encourage her to go to LaCroix.

Nat, noticing his pained expression, reached to caress his cheek.

"Ahh, Nick. It's O.K. I will see you tomorrow. I just need to

sort things out for now."

He bit his lower lip and nodded. "I understand," Nick said, forcing

a smile for her.

Nick watched at the curb as Nat entered the apartment building. She

hadn't wanted him to come up with her. Nick felt hurt and alone.

He worried that she would choose to give him up. He worried that

she would decide to go to LaCroix. He wanted to be with her, to

hold her. When she was safely inside, he pulled away from the curb

and drove home.

Nat ran on automatic as she went to her floor, put the key in the

lock and entered her apartment. The familiar welcome from Sydney

was comforting, as he rubbed against her legs and purred.

"Hi, Sydney," she said, reaching down to pick up her feline friend.

She walked to the kitchen, holding and petting Sydney. "Just what

am I going to do, Sydney?" she wondered aloud. She set her cat on

the floor and started opening a can of his favorite cat food.

Sydney gobbled at the food in his dish, as Nat slid to the floor

leaning against the cabinets. Drawing her knees to her chest, she

rested her face on her legs and watched Sydney eat.

"I get myself into such situations, Syd. Why can't I just have a

normal life?" she mused. As Syd finished, he meandered his way over

to his mistress and rubbed against her. She reached to stroke his

thick coat as she continued to think over the events of the evening.


Nick paced the loft floor. He could think of nothing but Natalie

alone in her apartment. He wanted to be with her. Needed to be

with her. In less than 24 hours he could lose her for good. If she

decided to not go to LaCroix, he would alter her memories. If she

went to him, he might lose her to his master.


Nat lowered herself into the warm soothing bath water. The

emotional evening, the love finally found, only to perhaps again be

lost. The feelings flooded over her and she wept in solitude,

crossing her arms across her chest. 'Why, Nick? Why do I love you

so much? Why can we never win?'


He couldn't help but feel her weeping release, the emotional barrage

let loose. He sat on the edge of the chair and wept into his hands.

Why did he have to finally find love? Why did it have to be her?

How could she really endure spending the night with LaCroix for him?


Nat turned in bed wide-awake. She felt so much better after her

bath and her healing cry fest, but she couldn't sleep. Not with her

life about to change so drastically. She turned trying to get

comfortable, but her position in the bed had nothing to do with her

discomfort or alert state.

Suddenly Sydney meowed loudly, hissing and running from the room.

Nat drew the covers to her, heart racing at the unknown that had

frightened away Sydney.

"Nat, it's just me," the gentle voice came from the shadows, feeling

her fear. "I didn't mean to frighten you. I just couldn't stay

away." He slowly stepped from the darkness into the light from the


"Damn it, Nick," Nat cried, holding her hands to her chest as she

sat up in bed.

"Do you want me to leave? I know you said you wanted to be alone to

think. I'll understand if you want me to leave," he rambled,

secretly hoping she wanted him to stay.

Nat stood, wearing her cozy kitty nightshirt, and stepped into

Nick's arms, wrapping her arms around him in a huge bear hug.

"Don't you dare leave," she begged. She snuggled her head into his

chest, as he pulled her even tighter in relief.

He whispered against her hair, "Nat, can I stay with you today?"

She mumbled a yes against his chest.

They held each other for a long time there in the moonlit room.

Finally, Nick cupped her face and kissed her. "Let's get some

sleep," he suggested.

Nat pulled down the heavy shades and closed the specially made

drapes as Nick stripped down to his shorts and waited for her under

the covers. She climbed into bed and cuddled up to him, playfully

running her fingers over his chest.

"Nat?" he asked. "We shouldn't do anything more tonight."

Nat peered up at him, with a questioning gaze.

"If you do go to LaCroix, you will need your strength. It'll be too

much blood taken in such a short period of time," he explained

followed by a tender kiss on her lips.

Nat smiled. "You accept my decision now?"

"Is that what you have decided?" Nick asked, wanting to know for


"I feel a lot of things about it, Nick. The thought of going there

disgusts me. But the thought of losing you forever terrifies me,"

Nat admitted. "Now that I have you, I can't let you go. Yes, I

think I have chosen to go to him."

He pulled her to his chest and whispered, "I know. There is no real

choice. I accept your decision, Nat. Whatever it is. I will stand

behind you." He ached at either choice's outcome. But it was for

her to choose. He had to trust her.

"Do you promise not to interfere?" she asked.

"I promise."

She kissed his chest and squeezed. "Thank you. I needed that from

you so much." She knew that it was hard for Nick to say that. He

always wanted to protect her, make decisions for her.

After a long silence, she asked into his chest, "Will you still love

me? After I'm with LaCroix?"

Nick pushed her over on her back, propping himself on his elbows

over her. He gazed into her eyes, emanating such deep love for her

it made her gasp. "I will always love you. Forever," he cooed as

he captured her lips in a passionate kiss. Nat ran her hands up

through his hair, pulling him closer.

When Nick broke the kiss, Nat moaned. "Nat, we really can't

tonight. I don't want you to die because you are low on blood."

Nat swatted at him and complained, "Then stop teasing me."

Nick acted rejected and lay on his back again. Nat smiled, curling

into his protective arms again.

Nick only hoped that Nat would still love him. He thought of

Clayton and his apparent inability to forgive Kristen for leaving

him. And even though she had planned to return to him, the pain of

it was too much. His own love for Natalie was stronger than that.

He just silently hoped that LaCroix wouldn't be able to twist her

mind and take her from him, making her desire him instead and losing

her forever. It was his greatest fear.

"So, tell me all about it," Grace teased. "What happened after you

two left the club?"

Natalie smiled devilishly at the memory. With the heavy decision

Nick and she were faced with when they returned to the loft, she had

almost forgotten.

Grace saw the lights flickering in her head and commented, "Oh my!"

Then it became apparent as Nat smiled distantly. "Oh, he kept those

handcuffs on you, didn't he? You had wild passionate sex with

handcuffs on?" Grace probed.

Nat looked up at her, and said matter-of-factly, "Oh, he had to keep

them on. He lost the keys. As for the wild passionate sex..." Nat

glazed over with a dreamy look in her eyes.

Grace laughed, covering her mouth at her outburst. "You believed

him about the keys?"

"They were in his other coat, Grace. He took them off me when we

got back to the loft."

Grace placed her hand over her chest to help contain the heart

flutters she was having. "You did it in the Caddy?" Grace was in

shock. She had been trying for years to get these two together.

And look at them now. These last few days had been nearly enough to

give her a stroke.

But Grace noticed Nat's mood turn solemn. She put her arms on her

shoulder. "What is it, love? Why so sad?"

"Oh, it's nothing, Grace." But looking at her friend, she knew

she'd have to say something more. "I really can't talk about it

now. Maybe in a few days, after I sort it all out," she offered as

a compromise.

Grace rubbed her back. "That's ok, Hon. I understand. But if you

need someone to talk to, you know I'm here," she offered.

Nat shook her head at her friend's offer. Troubled over her

dilemma, however, she decided to ask, "Grace?" Her friend listened

attentively. "What would you do? If you had finally found your

true love, would you do anything to be with him?"

"Well, maybe not murder," she replied. "Well, yeah, I probably

would do that too," she chuckled. She was sorry the moment the

words left her mouth. Nat was serious. "Nat, what's happened?"

"I can't really say. But something has," Nat assured her. "How far

would you really go to keep your man once you had found him?"

"Honey, with a man like Nick, anything. I only hope I have a love

someday like you two seem to have. If it were me, Nat, I'd walk

through fire," Grace said seriously.

Nat hugged her friend. "Thanks, Grace. I needed to hear someone

else say that." Nat knew she was doing the right thing.


Schanke finally got the warrant. But apparently Clayton had been

clued in on it. He wasn't at home, or at his office, or any of the

hangouts that friends knew about. They had an APB out on him and

had regrouped back at the precinct to try to glean some clues from

their notes in talking to friends and those that knew Clayton.

Nick suddenly realized they hadn't talked with Lisa or her friend

who knew Clayton. He abruptly picked up the phone to call the club

where she worked. Schanke perked up at Nick's unexpected and

excited activity.

"What do you have, Nick?"

Nick motioned him over to his desk and pointed to the scrawled name

"Lisa". Schanke slammed his hand into his forehead at his


'Good. She was working tonight.' After Lisa came to the phone,

Nick introduced himself, "This is Detective Knight. From last


"Oh, hi sweetheart," she purred.

Nick ignored her tone and went straight to the question. "We need

to talk to Mr. Clayton. Do you know where he is?"

"No. Well, not really," Lisa replied.

"Not really?"

"Well, my friend-the one that knows him will be here at the club in

a few minutes. We were leaving on a weekend trip to the country

straight from work. She might know," she offered trying to be


"Don't go anywhere. We'll be there at ten," Nick stated.

The woman on the other end of the phone chuckled, "Where have you

been Sugar? The Twilight Zone? It is already eleven?"

Nick turned quickly to check the wall clock. 11:02 P.M. His heart

sank. He had wanted to call Natalie or even stop at the morgue

before she left. But tonight had been crazy trying to track down

Clayton. And now it was too late. If she had decided to go through

with it, she would already be there. And he wouldn't see her again

until morning.

"Detective? Hello? Are you still there?"

Her voice snapped him back to the present. "Oh, yes. Sorry. Um,

we'll be there in fifteen minutes then," he said before hanging up.


Nat left work earlier than she needed to drive to The Raven. She

knew she had to be there on time and needed the time to gather the

courage to walk through those doors. She had been sitting in the

car across the street from The Raven, twisting at the steering wheel


What if she gave Nick up? Would it be so bad if she never knew what

she had lost? 'No. Stop that,' she chided herself. That was

Nick's reasoning because he blamed himself. No, she would fight for

her life with him. But why hadn't he called tonight? It was

probably best he hadn't; it would only have made it harder. With

determination, she exited the car and entered the club at 10:58 p.m.

She walked towards the bar where LaCroix sat with a drink. Hearing

her heartbeat as she drew near, he turned to watch her approach. He

signaled Miklos for a glass of white wine without taking his eyes

off her.

When she was directly in front of him, LaCroix whispered, "You came,

Natalie." He offered her the wine and she took it in her hand,

somewhat glad at his offering. She really needed that wine.

"Yes. I came here. For Nick and I," she answered.

"Does Nicolas know that you have come here?" he asked curiously, as

she drank from her stemmed glass.

"He knows. It is my decision and he stands by my choice. He won't

interfere," Natalie assured him.

LaCroix' lips curled upward in a mocking smile. He took her empty

glass and set it on the bar with his. Capturing her eyes in his

gaze, he held his hand out to her. "Then come with me," he


Nat placed her hand in his and went with him to his private

quarters. After they both were inside, he closed the door behind


Nat watched him as he closed the door and informed him rebelliously,

"You may have me tonight. But I belong to Nick. And I don't have

to like this, LaCroix."

He turned away from the door, his menacing gaze freezing her to the

spot as he approached. "Oh, but you will like it, my dear," he

countered in a low sensual drawl.

He circled around her and stopped directly behind her. He pressed

his face against her hair to savor her sweet fragrance. He traced

his fingers along the side of her face and down to her neck. He

paused at her neck before brushing her hair aside to caress the full

column. Her blood called to him; her scent was intoxicating.

Leaning to her neck over the pulsing vein, he licked and kissed her

skin in anticipation.

She gasped at his first touch. Shivers coursed through her as she

endured his hands stroking her. Disgust filled her as his tongue

licked her neck. How was she going to live through this night? But

she had to. For Nick and her life together. It was the only way.

So she stood there suffering and loathing at his touch.


Nick drove with Schanke to the club, trying to concentrate as the

links he had with both LaCroix and Nat flooded his senses. LaCroix

had left his link open, sharing his thoughts and feelings.

Tormenting him. He felt his master's desire for his Natalie, his

desire to possess her, control her, make her his own.

When they arrived at the club, Nick took a deep breath to gain some

control before exiting the car. As they entered the club, they

could see Lisa arguing with a woman at the bar. But as they got

closer, the two had calmed down.

Lisa introduced her friend. "This is Gloria, the friend that I told

you about."

Gloria forced a smile and a hello. "What can I do for you


"Nick Knight. This is my partner, Don Schanke. We had a few

questions about Mr. Clayton. Timothy Clayton," said Nick, getting

straight to the point.

"I'll help if I can. What do you need?" she asked innocently.

"Do you know where he is?" Nick asked.

"Did you try him at work or home?" she offered.

"Of course we did!" Schanke replied tartly.

Gloria looked dumbfounded. "I have no idea where he would be. Did

he do something?"

Nick was stunned at this woman. Surely Lisa told her what they were

investigating. This didn't feel right at all.

"When was the last time you saw him?" Schanke asked.

After pausing a moment, she answered. "It was last night. Yeah,

last night. I ran into him at his favorite bar, The Celtic Knot."

Nick and Schanke exchanged glances. The place across the street

from the crime scene. The place that Clayton had been at so

conveniently the night of the murder.

Schanke quickly ended the conversation, saying, "Well, thank you

ladies for your time. That is all we need for now." The two

detectives walked briskly from the club, waiting until they were

outside to speak.

Suddenly Nick was overtaken by strong feelings of disgust coming

from Nat. Disgust at LaCroix' touch. He took a moment to steady


"You O.K., Nick?"

Nick shook his head, as he gained control. "Gloria is lying,

Schank," he stated, trying to get his thoughts on the investigation

again. He had to stay in control tonight. It was the only way he

would get through it.

"I know. What do you say we tail them on their little trip to the

country?" Schanke said grinning.


LaCroix' hands ran over her shoulders and down her arms as he

continued his attention to her creamy white neck. He slipped his

hands under her arms to her front and cupped her breasts in his

large hands.

Nat abruptly pulled away, turning to face him. "Exactly what are

you going to do tonight?" she demanded. "You call yourself a

father? A true father would never torment Nick the way you do. A

true father would want the best for his son, would sacrifice for his

son's happiness. But you torment him as no one else ever has."

"Enough!" LaCroix shouted. Natalie abruptly stopped her tirade,

shocked at how bold she was being. LaCroix, somewhat amused,

answered the first question, "As for what I am going to do tonight-I

am going to make love to you, my dear. What did you expect?"

Nat stammered, "I...I...thought. I thought that you would bite me.

Isn't that the way vampires have sex?" Nat asked.

"Is that the way Nicholas made love to you?" he asked mockingly,

stepping closer. "Yes, the bite is the ultimate part of the sex act

for a vampire. And it alone is all that is necessary for sexual

release." He reached a hand to stroke her cheek, and Nat gasped in

astonishment. His gold-streaked eyes held her gaze as he added,

"But, just as with mortals, sex can be so much more. I want more."

"You didn't say anything about that," Nat complained, pulling away

from his touch.

"Do you want to leave? Do you want to forget about this new

bargain? Do you wish to never see Nicholas again?" he goaded,

gazing at her in a golden haze.

She closed her eyes, shaking her head side to side.

"Good," he said with a smirk. "It is your choice, Natalie.

Remember that."


Driving in the car, Nick could barely concentrate. He felt his

master's desire burn as he caressed her, wanting her blood. And

then he sensed an altering of the bargain. Or at least an

understanding of it. LaCroix wanted to do more than take her blood.

He wanted mortal sex. Nick's eyes turned golden, incensed at the

thought of LaCroix having her that way. But if he went after her

now, she would be dead before he arrived. He tried to shake the

vampire away before Schanke noticed, swerving on the road.

"Nick, where the hell did you learn to drive?" shouted a shaken


Correcting his direction on the road, Nick turned to his partner and

said apologetically, "Uh, sorry, Schank. I was thinking about

something else."


Instead of coming closer, LaCroix backed away and sat lazily in the

overstuffed chair facing Nat. With his legs outstretched in front

of him, he rested his chin in his hand and grinned at the tamed prey

standing in front of him. He admired her spirit, but it was now

time to show her who was in control.

"Take your clothes off."

Nat bit her lower lip as the command hung in the air. She slowly

unbuttoned her jacket and let it slide to the floor as he watched.

She removed her slacks, blouse and shoes as if undressing for bed.

She stood in front of him as he appreciated the view before him.

But she had left on her bra and panties.

"Take it all off."

She shot an icy glare at him as she removed the remaining clothes.

LaCroix watched intensely, licking his lips. Natalie was nauseated

by his reaction to her. Yet, with her nakedness exposed to him, her

senses were heightened and her most sensitive parts tingled.

After several moments of watching the uncomfortable doctor, LaCroix

rose and slowly circled around behind her. She started to turn

around to see what he was doing. But he stated firmly, "Do not turn

around. Stay facing the chair."

She shivered nervously as she heard him strip the clothes from his

form. She closed her eyes as she felt him press his nakedness

against her back, as she felt his large cock pressing against her

and he held her around the waist. She shuddered at the feel of him

and at the knowledge of what was to come. He trailed his hands up

from her abdomen to her breasts, holding them firmly in his palms.

Nat panicked and tried to pull away again. But LaCroix only held

tighter, growling. He whispered in her ear, "You had the chance to

change your mind before. It is too late now. You belong to me."

When she had quieted in his arms, he slid one hand down over her

abdomen. She grasped his arm in response to stop his hand from

going lower to her mound. At her daring attempt to stop him, he

briefly halted his descent.

"Do not stop me again, Natalie. I am warning you," he whispered


He continued, breaking free from her hand and cupped her mound in

his hand. With the other hand, he pinched a nipple and twirled it

between his fingers.

Tears spilled over her cheeks as her body betrayed her, as her

nipples became erect and sent shivers of arousal to her core. As he

pushed his fingers into her folds, she clamped her thighs tightly

shut without thinking.

"I warned you Natalie," his hissed at her neck. "If you do anything

to thwart my attentions again, I will forget all about our bargain.

I will alter your memories and be done with it," he threatened. She

slowly released her thighs and allowed him access to her inner

folds. She had to be careful not to resist anymore. This last

time, it had been a purely automatic response. She couldn't let it

happen again.

His fingers glided over her clit and her body reacted, apparently

not aware of her hatred for the beast touching her. Natalie was

devastated at how her body could respond to his touch. How could

she react to his caress when she loved Nick so much? 'Stop it. Oh

please, I can't feel this way,' she tried to tell her body.

"Do you like what I am doing to your body, Natalie?" he taunted.

Between tears, she mumbled, "No." She felt such overwhelming anger

from Nick. His uproar over the betrayal. Oh god, he hated her for

this. He must have felt how she was responding to his touch; he

would never forgive her.

"No? But your body seems to respond so well. I think you like it,

Natalie. I think you love it," he tormented her.

"No. I hate it," she insisted.

Pulling her hair aside, he licked and kissed at her neck. Natalie

was burning at his touch; her body reacted as the moistness between

her folds flowed onto his fingers. He felt her clit becoming

engorged as her breathing became heavy and her heartbeat quickened.

Yet, he felt her fight it in the depths of her soul. That didn't

matter; he would still have her. And she would feel pleasure from

it whether she liked it or not.


Nick and Schanke slowly hiked through the trees and bushes as they

approached the cabin, remaining hidden from view. The cabin had

only been about an hour and a half away from the city, but was well

secluded on an old graveled road and private dirt lane. Lights

shone from the windows, illuminating figures inside. They waited

behind some bushes close to the house, watching to discern who the

figures were. Schanke could tell Nick was growing impatient.

"Schank, I know he is in there," Nick whispered, anxiously. "Why

don't I go around the back and you go in the front. We'll have


Schanke wasn't sure yet. "Nick, we just need to watch a bit longer.

If he's in there, we'll see him or some evidence he's there. They

have no idea we are here. Be patient."

Suddenly Nick doubled over, holding his head. Schanke reached to

touch his shoulder, "You O.K.?"

Nick growled, "Leave me alone." He shook his head and faced away

from his partner, hiding his changed eyes. The things LaCroix did

to her, places he touched her, the enjoyment he received from it.

He couldn't bear it. And LaCroix made her feel guilty about her

body responding. It was so much like the games and taunts he had

subjected him to in the past, constructing a situation that prompted

him to react according to his nature, then blaming him because he

did. But this time it was his Natalie. And he had promised her

that he would stand by her decision. Her very life depended on it.

He'd have to live with it as much as he hated it. Yet he had to get

this rage under control with Schanke next to him and with a murderer

to arrest.


LaCroix lifted Natalie and impaled her on his throbbing cock,

entering her from behind. He continued his ministrations to her

engorged clit as he slowly increased the rhythm inside her. She

tried hard to resist the sensations he produced in her body, to

fight the building tension. The increased thrusting into her core

was just too much. Nick would never believe that she truly loved

him. She hated herself as she came under LaCroix' touch.


They had finally seen Clayton's form in the window's light and they

planned to enter the cabin at the same time, with Nick coming in

from the back and Schanke from the front. Nick waited at the door

for the agreed time of their entrance when he felt his master invade

her body and an explosion rocked into his senses. He felt her

orgasm through their link. An orgasm he did not bring about; an

orgasm LaCroix did. He felt her deep sense of loathing, not just of

LaCroix, but also of herself. Why did she agree to do this? Why

did she subject herself to so much? For him? He didn't understand

that someone could love him that much, sacrifice so much.

He bounded into the cabin in a rage and pinned Clayton to the floor,

pointing the gun to his head. Nick's eyes were again blue, but his

rage was not under control. Ignoring the women cowering in the

corner screaming, he concentrated all his attention on Clayton.

With the gun in his shaking hand, he demanded loudly, "How can you

call yourself a friend? You took from him the woman he loved! You

betrayed his trust as a friend!"

"Then he should have done something about his love for her!" shouted

Clayton, boldly and callously. "I loved her more than he knew. But

she didn't want me, she was settling for me. She wanted Tom."

Schanke ran in on the shocking scene and screamed, "Nick! Back


LaCroix felt her release as the tension building in her body

disappeared. He pulled his cock from her and turned her in his

arms, supporting her. Carrying her further inside his quarters to

the bed, he laid her gently on the cold sheets.

Natalie looked up at him standing naked, staring at her. He had

only been behind her before and she hadn't seen him, only felt him.

She couldn't help that her eyes rested on the large cock protruding

from his wiry curls. She knew it was not over.

He joined her on the bed, positioning himself over her. Pinning her

arms down and holding her gaze with a burning glow, he pressed the

tip of his cock against her hot entrance. With one smooth movement,

he pushed all the way into her, watching her face closely. She

closed her eyes at the intensity and endless confusion from her

body's responses.

He increased the stroke of his thrust and leaned in close to capture

her lips. She abruptly turned her face away. LaCroix loosened his

hold on her hands and grabbed her head, turning her back to his

fiery eyes and restrained her firmly. Crushing her lips in a

searing kiss, he probed deeply with his tongue.

Natalie had barely been able to withstand him fucking her from

behind. At least that had been impersonal, even though he'd made

her body react to the point of orgasm. But kissing her like this

was more than she could bear. 'Oh please let this be over soon.

Nick, please forgive me.'

He reached to her clit between their bodies and again teased and

massaged it. Her body continued to deceive her and her tension

built as he probed her and pleasured her. "Come for me again,

Natalie," he begged.

She tried to stop it, but couldn't. As she came again, she

screamed, "No!" And with a final thrust into her, LaCroix plunged

his fangs into her neck, tasting the rush of her orgasm and bringing

his own release spilling into her core.

She felt him invade her mind, provoking and intensifying her

orgasmic response. Her body shuddered with an intensity she

couldn't stop. She felt such hatred, loathing for the vampire on

top of her. She felt the intensity of Nick's emotional state, his

anger, loathing, and bitterness.

LaCroix tasted the strong emotions she had. Her hatred of him, her

love for Nicholas, her fear that she has lost him. He tasted the

memories of her lovemaking with Nicholas. How Nicholas had changed

her life. He tasted her strong spirit and determination, while he

reveled in the self-disgust she felt for reacting to his touch, his

triggering of her orgasms.

Natalie clenched her fists as he drank from her, trying to stop his

thoughts from invading her mind: his pleasure at having her; the

feel of his orgasm inside her; his intoxication at controlling her.

But the thoughts and feelings flooded into her anyway.


They secured the weeping women with handcuffs in the other room.

Nick returned to a restrained Clayton to move him to the car. As he

walked into the room, he felt LaCroix' pleasure at his release,

pouring his seed into her and tasting her blood, her life, her very


"How could you claim to have loved Kristin and then do that to her?"

Nick demanded, rushing a cuffed Clayton. Eyes red with intense

anger, he grabbed Clayton by the shirt and shook him violently as

the man trembled in terror.

"What's going on in there? Nick?" Schanke shouted from the other


Hearing his partner's voice, Nick snapped out of his rage quickly

and looking into the man's eyes, captured his heartbeat as he held

his head firmly. "You will forget what you saw when I came into

this room just now."

"Forget what I saw," Clayton said in monotone.

Schanke came in the room just in time to see Nick holding Clayton's

head in his hands tightly. "Just what in hell is wrong with you

tonight, Nick? You gone nuts or something?"

Nick relaxed and backed away from Clayton. "Let's just get out of

here, Schank."

As they locked the three into the back seat of the car, Schanke

pulled Nick aside and asked, "Do you want me to drive? Something

really has you shook up."

Nick stared incredulously at Schanke, "You do remember what happened

the last time you drove, Polka King?" Nick cringed at the memory of

that horrifying ride in the trunk, the polka music blaring in his


Schanke became embarrassingly uncomfortable. "Yeah, well. That

was... you were...ok, but are you sure you're O.K.?

"I will be, Schank. Let's get back," Nick said, slapping him on the



He had accomplished his goal. He had his revenge. He took

Nicholas' lovely Natalie, and produced enough response out of her

for two orgasms, and he had tasted her orgasmic blood. She was

soiled and doubted his son would truly love her after this. Not

after all that his son felt tonight through his link to him. And

through his son's link with her. He had even made her feel guilty;

making her fear that Nick would never forgive her.

After several minutes of relaxing along side her, LaCroix rose from

the bed. He reached for his robe and putting it on, made his way to

the chair across from the bed. Natalie stirred at the weight lifted

from her body and saw him sitting in the chair, book in hand.

Somehow it made Nat feel so dirty and used.

He looked up from the book when he felt her watching him. "You may

go now, sweet Natalie. We are done. Nicholas is released from his

debt. I assume you will tell him when you see him?" he teased. He

pushed into their link, revealing to her the power of it, reminding

her that the night was not truly over and that he would be in her

mind even when she was no longer here with him. 'You are mine,' he

said through their newly formed link.

She scampered off the bed to her clothes, throwing them on as

quickly as possible. She turned back as she neared the door and saw

him coldly grinning at her. Having her attention, he blew her a

kiss and she ran out the door of his quarters in tears.


She drove the streets as the sun rose over the city, tears streaming

down her face. She unwillingly relived all the terrible moments of

the evening. She had done this so Nick and she could be together as

lovers, not hiding it from anyone.

Now she couldn't bear to think what Nick's face would tell her when

she returned, if she returned. 'Oh god, Nick! I didn't realize.

I'm so sorry.'

She felt LaCroix' mocking tone in her mind. 'I think you like it,

Natalie. I think you love it,' he repeated to her through their


What time was it? Where was she? She didn't recognize where she

was. She had been driving aimlessly for hours, with no destination

in mind. She didn't know what she was going to do.


Nick paced the loft floor, stopping every minute to look out the

windows, to check the monitor for signs of her. Where was she? He

had waited patiently for her return. He had felt her anguish, but

hoped she was on her way to the loft soon. Did LaCroix turn her

from him? No. That wasn't possible. Maybe she had stopped at her

apartment first. No. She was deeply troubled. She needed his

help. He sat down on the edge of his chair, holding his head in his

hands, and concentrated. He pushed into their link and felt

scattered emotions. Confusion. He called to her, quieting her

somewhat. He tried to guide her home.


She drove around in a daze, not knowing why she turned when she did

or continued straight on the same road. She finally pulled into a

lot and stopped. Hanging her head against the steering wheel, she

sobbed at what LaCroix had taken from her. Nick.

She was startled when the car door suddenly opened. A man stood

hunched over, covering himself with a long coat pulled over his

head. It was Nick.

The coat and heavy clothes only protected Nick somewhat as he

smoldered, leaning at the open door. He reached for her shoulder as

she sat still startled and dazed, facing the open door.


Where was she? She looked around and recognized the familiar

warehouse lot. She was at the loft. How did she get here? The

last thing she remembered was driving on unfamiliar streets feeling

very lost.

"Nat, " he called again.

She looked back at Nick. His face held a look of worry, not one of

anger. But he had been angry. She had felt it.

He finally saw a spark of recognition in her face and he eased his

arms around her to help her from the car. "Come on, Nat. Let's go

inside," he whispered soothingly.

He guided her gently from the car as she slowly stepped out onto the

pavement. Lifting her in his powerful arms, he cradled her body

close and rushed with her into the building's shadows. She rested

her head against him, feeling his warm and calming influence.

As they entered the lift, she realized the warmth she felt was from

his smoldering flesh. He had come out into the sun to get her. "Oh

Nick," she whispered. "You're burning. You're hurt."

"Shh, I'll be alright. Don't worry about it," he soothed.

She murmured, "I'm so sorry Nick."

He pulled her tighter against his chest in a hug, "It's not your

fault. Isn't that what you are always telling me?"

Nick carried his bundle out of the lift and directly to the couch,

setting her down gently. "I'll be right back," he promised as he

went to the kitchen to drink his much needed healing blood.

Nat leaned against the back of the couch, facing towards the kitchen

watching him. "But I...I felt your anger, feelings of betrayal?"

Quickly swallowing the remaining gulps, he set the empty bottle down

on the counter. He looked over at his troubled Natalie and saw such

pain in her eyes. Peeling the coat and heavy sweats off, he tossed

them aside and made his way back to the couch in his black pajamas.

He sat on the couch and cupped her face in his hands, certain that

he had her attention before speaking. "I was angry at LaCroix. He

is the one who betrayed me. Not you," Nick said, smiling

sympathetically at her doubts. He knew what that was like when

LaCroix played with your mind.

"Not me?" she asked doubtfully, certain he was angry with her.

He caressed her cheek. "No," he replied emphatically, trying to

ease her confusion.

Nat was troubled. What was it that she had felt? She was feeling

so guilty at what she had done, as if she deserved his hatred.

Nick said her thought aloud, "You thought I stopped loving you."

She hung her head at the words. "That's why you were afraid to come

home. Nat, what makes you think I could ever stop loving you?" he

asked tenderly.

"LaCroix said you would," she spoke into her chest.

Nick hooked a finger under her chin and lifted her face upward to

see his smile. He leaned in to softly press his lips to hers. "And

you believed him?" he asked.

"But you don't know how I...My body..." she countered, her lips


Nick pulled her to his chest protectively. "Nat, LaCroix had his

link to me open the whole time," he explained. "I know what he

felt, what he saw, what he did. And I felt you, too. You fought

him, resisted all the way."

Nat pulled back, eyes wide with shock and terror. She realized all

that Nick seen and felt. "Oh god, Nick, I'm so sorry."

"You responded to his touch because he wanted you to. He has been

seducing women for 2000 years," Nick reasoned.

"But it was my choice," she countered weakly.

"No, it wasn't. You had no real choice," he insisted. "He

manipulated you into thinking it was your choice. He made you

believe that you responded to him because you liked it. But I know

what you felt about his touch, Nat. I felt your disgust at his

first touch. You allowed it to happen, sacrificing last night so we

could finally be together." Nick's eyes tinted with gold as he

recalled what LaCroix did to her. "Nat, you don't know how badly I

wanted to rush to you and stop what he was doing. But you would

have been dead before I got there," he admitted, his expression one

of agony.

Trailing her hand along his cheek, she realized the torture he had

also endured. She watched as his blue eyes blotted the gold away.

She understood the games LaCroix had played on her. Nick was

finally breaking through the barrier of guilt and blame LaCroix had


"You don't hate me? You're not disappointed in me?" she asked


"Of course not," he replied promptly. His mouth turned slightly

into a smile, and he added, "Although I was incredibly nutty last

night. You'll probably be hearing a story or two from Schanke." He

cringed at the thought of hearing Schanke's stories about last


His smile was contagious, as she responded with a small smile.

"What did you do, Nick?" she asked playfully.

"Well, we tracked down and arrested Clayton last night. I took a

lot of my anger out on him, had to do some whammying to cover up..."

explained Nick with a devilish grin. Nat's hands covered her mouth,

hiding her surprise.

The momentary relief from their anguish ended and their smiles

disappeared, as the recent events invaded their minds again. He

broke the silence to calm her fear, "And there is nothing to

forgive. It wasn't your fault." He cupped her face in his hands

and said the words slowly and deliberately, "I love you."

Tears erupted down her face at the relief she felt at his words. He

wiped the tears away with his thumbs, only to have more tears

replace them. She buried her head against Nick's chest, finally

seeing Nick's undying love. The power of it made her shudder.

The series of emotional episodes had drained her and she grew tired.

He pulled her head onto his lap as she drifted into some healing

sleep. He didn't move from the couch; he sat continuing to stroke

her hair, calming her as she slept.


"Hi there, sleeping beauty," he whispered when she woke, looking up

at him smiling.

Suddenly it all rushed back, all that had happened, and Nat bolted

to a sitting position, facing away from Nick. LaCroix was still

probing into her mind, taunting her. She wept and Nick turned her

to cradle her against his chest.

"Shhh," he murmured, pressing his face into her thick hair.

Unexpectedly he pulled back, his eyes red. 'LaCroix!' he shouted

silently. He had sensed LaCroix on her when he helped her from the

car, but this was so much more overwhelming. Pressing his face

against her hair, her neck, it was too strong. Rage consumed him,

as his nostrils flared at the intruding stench.

Nat felt Nick's disgust, his hostility as she stared into his

glowing eyes. Embarrassed, she muttered, "I feel so dirty" and

pulled away, running. She bolted up the steps, peeling her clothes

off along the way.

Nick shouted after her, "Nat, wait. It's LaCroix." He hadn't been

able to stop his reaction, his aversion to LaCroix' smell on her.

Eyes blue again, he followed behind her, feeling terrible about his

uncontrolled reaction. Feeling terrible that she saw it.

As he approached the bedroom, he heard the water running from the

bathroom. He removed his pajamas, entered the bathroom and stepped

into the shower. He saw her already under the stream soaking and

washing herself with the soapy sponge. He slowly stepped behind

her, wrapping his arms around her.


She turned in his arms and he held her close as she sobbed against

him. Pressing close to her, he was still overwhelmed by LaCroix'

scent, even under the wash of the water. He couldn't stop the

change of his eyes to a golden glow. He gently took sponge from her

and started to rub her body, washing his smell away, the smell on

his Natalie. He wanted her back.

He knelt to the floor of the tub in front of her as his scrubbing

worked its way down her body. He paused when LaCroix' stench again

assaulted him, permeating from her core. Grasping Nat by her hips,

he leaned his forehead against her abdomen.

He washed her abdomen and watched as the soap was rinsed away under

the stream. Her legs parted as he washed between her thighs. She

grasped onto his soaked hair as he rinsed her clean. He ran the

sponge along her folds, rinsing away his smell, to again smell only

the sweet spicy scent of his Natalie. Nick kissed her abdomen, and

whispered against her skin, "You are mine."

Nat still felt LaCroix' presence in her tortured mind. "He won't

leave me alone, Nick. Help me." LaCroix taunted her in their link,

saying that she would never be free of him. She begged, "Take me,

Nick, make me yours again."

"Nat, it'll be too much."

"Please," she begged in desperation.

"The other night in the Caddy and now last night with LaCroix. Even

a short bite will be too much blood," he said, resisting.

"I don't care. I need you," she pleaded with him.

He fought his desire to take her, but holding her naked in his arms

and with his intense longing to weaken LaCroix' hold on her, he lost

the battle. He paused slightly before reclaiming what was his,

sinking his fangs into her exposed neck.

Nick tasted the intensity of her encounter with LaCroix. It had

been hard enough to feel it through the link with LaCroix and the

lesser link with her, but it was so strong in her blood. He tasted

her arousal, her guilt at her body's betrayal, her revulsion at

LaCroix' touch, her sorrow and fear that she had lost him. Yet, he

felt her love for him, her sacrifice for their love, and what she

had endured so they could be together at last.


LaCroix lay awake irritated at what he felt through Nick. He was

bombarded by the intensity of Nicholas' emotions for Natalie.

Nicholas still loved her; wanted her. He felt their combined

torment through the two links, their combined love. All that he put

her through, put Nick through, he still had not torn them apart. He

had taken Natalie in repayment of the debt, in his search for

revenge. And he felt the strength of their love instead.

Rising, enraged at the development and unable to sleep any more, he

poured himself some blood and paced his bedroom floor. Pausing at

the bedroom door and staring at the spot he took her, he sipped from

the goblet. He had already released Nicholas from the debt, sure

that he had taken his Love from him, sure that he would not be able

to love her any longer. Sure that she would not be able to accept

any of his love due to her guilt.

He walked back into the bedroom, pacing as Nicholas' love radiated

strongly in their link. His thoughts wandered to Fleur. He closed

his eyes, picturing her lovely face, her unquestioning love. He had

been consumed so many years in revenge for his loss. Now that he had

collected his debt from Nicholas, it finally occurred to him that it

would never bring her back.

His eyes opened, tortured and angry red, pushing any remorseful

thoughts firmly from his mind. Nicholas had taken Fleur, his Love

from him. And he had foolishly released Nicholas from the debt

prematurely. Nicholas would not keep his mortal love. He would see

to it.

He took another sip from the stemmed glass and suddenly felt

Nicholas bite Natalie. "Noooo...," he howled enraged, crushing the

goblet in his hand. How dare he reclaim her? How dare he take back

what he had spoiled and destroyed?


Nick quickly stopped when he felt her body go limp in his arms.

Pulling his fangs from her neck, Nick howled, "Noooo..." It had

only been a short bite, but it had been too much.

He carried her out of the shower and lowered her gently on the floor

of the bathroom, all the while calling to her, "Nat wake up!

Please, you have to wake up!" And then he heard her heartbeat start

to fade.

Panicked, he bit open his wrist and held it over her mouth, his

blood dripping down her throat. "Come back to me, Nat. Be with me

forever. Please, Nat, come back..." he sobbed. The moments passed

slowly for him.

His panic subsided when her lips finally started to move against his

wrist. Relief washed over him as her sucking became stronger and

she grabbed his wrist hungrily to drink his blood. He allowed her

to drink what she needed before she fell back into a deep sleep.

Nick pulled her from the floor, cradling her naked form tightly

against his chest. He kissed her on the cheek, relieved, even

though he still felt the overwhelming rage that had burst through

his link with LaCroix as he drank from Nat. LaCroix had not tried

to hide his outrage at Nicholas' reclaiming of her.

After drying her wet body, he carried his precious Natalie to the

soft bed and covered her with the silk sheets, making her as

comfortable as possible. He towel dried his damp body and slipped

his pajamas back on before leaving the room to collect supplies he

would need when she woke.

"Sleep, Natalie, sleep for now," he commanded softly.


As Nick set out several bottles on the table in preparation, LaCroix

whooshed in through the skylight. Nick, enraged by the audacity of

LaCroix' appearance tonight with all the events that had occurred,

pushed him violently into the brick wall.

"How dare you come here!" Nick growled from deep in his chest.

LaCroix grabbed at Nick's shoulders and spun him around against the

wall, demanding, "How could you love her? Want her? She is a slut,

a whore who responds to anyone touching her!" LaCroix goaded


Nick enraged by his comments, matched LaCroix' power, pushing him

away from the wall. LaCroix still held to Nick's shoulder, pulling

him along as the vampires battled for control. "You know she is

not. You manipulated her into accepting this bargain; you

manipulated her into her guilt. You nearly destroyed her," Nick


"I am not the only one who has used vampiric powers on her," LaCroix

spit as he maintained his hold on Nick. "You called her to the

loft, tugged on her mind to bring her where she did not want to go,"

LaCroix taunted.

"I did not manipulate her. I brought her home so I could talk to

her, calm her from your evil invasion into her soul. Her confusion

kept her away. I released my hold on her as soon as she arrived

home. But you already know that don't you, LaCroix?" Nick sneered.

LaCroix curled his lips into an evil grin. "My, Natalie has had such

a disheartening influence on you, Nicholas. You are able to see

through me more quickly now, the games I play with you."

"Games, LaCroix?" Nick said loathingly. "Games are entertaining

children's activities. You torment. You manipulate. You destroy."

"Destroy? And just what did you think you were doing taking her

blood so soon again? Is that an act of love?" he accused.

Nick's eyes flared as LaCroix hit close to the mark. Nick felt

unsure of what had happened in the bathroom; unsure it was the right

thing bringing her across. LaCroix chuckled at his son's

conditioned response.

"Enough!" Nick shouted, pushing him back. "We have kept our end of

the bargain. You have released me from the debt. It is over! Now

leave this place and never return. You are no longer welcome here.

I will NEVER forgive you for what you have done. Leave!"

Looking at the enraged power emanating from his son's eyes, power he

had never seen before, he decided to put this issue aside for

another day. He whooshed through the skylight and was gone.

He would have to confront Nicholas again. How could he have

predicted that calling for repayment of the debt Nicholas owed would

lead to bringing them closer together? Even more so, it had given

his son the courage to bring her across. Now he would be tormented

for an eternity watching their love, mocking him.


Nick returned with bottles of human blood he had been stocking since

that night when they first made love. It seemed like ages ago. He

set the bottles on the floor near the bed, and pulled the chair


He sat watching her sleep, as she tossed restlessly in the bed. He

was worried, as her sleep seemed to be troubled with fever. He had

not seen this reaction before and reached out to stroke her hair.

Closing his eyes, he reached into her mind, trying to calm her. She

was still struggling against what LaCroix had planted in her mind.

Nick's attempt to soothe her did relax her somewhat. Encouraged, he

climbed under the covers and pulled her close into his embrace, his

presence consoling her.

She awakened with what felt like a huge hangover. Sounds pounded

into her head, lights were so bright. But no lights in the room

were on. What sounds did she hear? When she looked up at Nick

through a golden haze, she smiled.

Nick murmured, smiling back at her, "You came back to me."

"I heard you calling me," she said.

Suddenly she grasped her stomach, bending over in the sudden pain.

"OhhNick..." she screamed, her eyes burning red.

He jumped up and sitting on the edge of the bed, grasped a bottle

from the floor. As he pulled her nude body to the edge of the bed

next to him, he pulled the cork out with his teeth, spitting it

across the room.

"Here. Drink this."

She looked at him and then the bottle, and quickly grabbed the

bottle from him. Her first gulp was slow, hesitant. But when she

felt the soothing fire coat her throat, she upended the bottle,

gulping as fast as the thick fluid flowed into her. She grabbed

the next bottle from the floor and consumed that one just as fast.

She was already on her fourth bottle before she started to slow


After the last bottle fell to the floor, she looked over to Nick and

asked in disbelief, "I drank all that?"

"It's first hunger, Nat. It's always like that the first time. All

vampires experience it."

"I am a vampire," she told herself aloud. She reached her hand to

her mouth and felt her fangs. She looked around the room with her

new vision, as if looking at things for the first time. Everything

was much clearer; so much more detail to see. Her hearing was so

much more acute.

"I hope I did the right thing, Nat," he said uncertain. " I thought

I had tasted in your blood your desire to be brought across

someday." He hoped he hadn't misread her thoughts, like he had


"Yes, Nick, I wished that. I'm glad you brought me across," she

replied thankfully. She leaned against him, relishing in the feel

of him close.

"I'm sorry, Nat. I never meant it to happen this way," Nick said

regretfully, holding her in his embrace.

Nat peered up to meet his eyes, feeling the blame he was placing on

himself. "It's not your fault, Nick. I begged you to take my

blood. I needed you."

"I should have known better," he countered. He had known that even

a small bite would be too much blood loss. Yet, he bit her anyway.

He had needed to reclaim her as his.

After a long pause, she probed, "Are you sorry you brought me


Tightening his embrace and kissing her on her forehead, Nick

replied, "No. I'm very glad you came back to me. I just wasn't

planning it to happen this way. I wanted to talk it over first."

"Nick, I have known you and of vampires for six years," Nat

reasoned. "I have seen you in a rage, pulled slugs repeatedly from

your body, covered up evidence of vampires' existence at the morgue,

and studied your blood and physiology. I think that I could

probably say I knew more than anyone what to expect before being

brought across."

Sighing at her reasoning, "You're right."

Suddenly she sat upright, realizing, "Nick! I don't feel him

anymore." She held her hands to her face in shock at discovering

LaCroix' absence from her mind.

"I know. I don't feel him either, Nat," Nick admitted. "But I

don't think he is gone permanently. His whole plan was to break us

up, destroy our love. But he lost," Nick said, a smile spreading

across his face. "His plan backfired and he brought us closer

together. Now that you are a vampire, we are together forever and

he can't stand that. We won, Nat."

Nick leaned to press his lips to hers. His eyes shone gold as he

deepened the kiss, running his tongue along her lips.

He removed his lips from her mouth as she whimpered in protest.

"Ready to complete the circle now?" Nick enticed her.

"What circle?"

Nick drew her near and kissed her again. He explained softly

between feathery kisses, "The blood circle. The strongest bond that

there is. A link between master and child. When we both bite each

other it completes the circle of the bond. It is strong and

permanent." He gazed at her, his gold eyes now streaked with red


Nick gently pushed Nat back on the bed and Nat turned her neck,

exposing it for Nick. He rose from the bed, shedding his pajamas

before joining her on the bed. He accepted her alluring invitation

and leaned over to kiss her exposed neck, lingering there.

"You are my master," she stated, submitting to his desire. She was

uncertain about this master-child relationship, unsure of what would

be expected of her.

Nat prepared for his bite, but he removed his lips from her neck and

kissed her tenderly on her mouth, and pulled her on top of him and

into his arms.

"And your lover," Nick added sensuously. With his hands behind her

head, he pulled her mouth to his and captured her lips in a deep

probing kiss. When his lips left hers, he flipped them over,

resting on top of her.

Gazing into her gold eyes, he said, "I want to make love to you


"Lover before master?" Nat asked playfully.

"Both at the same time," Nick replied. Then he crushed his lips

against hers with burning desire. He slipped his tongue into her

mouth, exploring. He twirled his tongue over her fangs, generating

a moan from her lips. She pushed into his mouth, exploring with her

tongue, before stroking his fangs as well.

Removing his lips from hers, he trailed kisses down her neck.

Sliding downward, he positioned himself over her breasts, fondling

them with his hands. He lowered his mouth over one, flicking and

licking her erect nipple. Teasing with a gentle bite, Nick then

sucked as Nat moaned and held his hair firmly squeezed between her

fingers. Then he moved to the other breast, repeating his

attentions. She growled deep in her chest at his sensual assault.

The sensations were almost too much. She felt his naked body

against her, his engorged cock bumping against her leg as he

concentrated on her breasts. She ached for him, ached for him to

possess her. She longed for the feel his cock inside her, of his

blood inside her. She startled at the sound emanating from her


Nick smiled at her growl and kissed her between her breasts, peeking

upward to catch her red-tinged eyes watching him. He slid down her

body, kissing his way lower. He paused over her mound and breathed

in deeply, pressing against her auburn curls. She smelled so

exquisite to him, a sweet spicy scent that belonged to him.

Again he peered up at her, as her breath became ragged with desire.

Watching the pleasure on her face, he invaded her folds with his

tongue. She closed her eyes in ecstasy, grasping at her own

breasts. Nick probed his tongue into her opening, tasting her

juices, drawing them out. His tongue slid up to encircle her clit,

gently sucking.

Nat screamed at the sensation. "Nick, Ohh, It's too much." Her new

heightened senses were driving her to the edge of sanity.

He pulled away temporarily and licked the moistness on her thighs

between her legs. He pushed his fingers into her and rubbed around

her clit. He lightly scraped his fangs along the flesh on her inner

thighs and licked the blood droplets released, tasting her exquisite

pleasure. The droplets were only a teasing taste. He sank his

fangs into her leg and drank to taste more. When he removed his

fangs, licking the last of the blood on her skin, he looked up at

her sheepishly. He no longer had to be afraid of hurting her in his


"I love the taste of you, the taste of your pleasure," Nick

whispered against her thigh, kissing the wounds as they quickly


He crawled up along side her and pulled her on top of him,

straddling him and sitting against his abdomen. Holding her by the

waist, Nick reveled in the moist feel of her soft folds opened

against him. She felt his engorged cock under her, as Nick pressed

upward against her. How she ached for him to be inside her! She

leaned over to kiss him and he pulled his arms around her neck,

holding her in a deep passionate response. He slid his arms down

her sides and grasping her hips, lifted her and lowered her onto his


She growled her pleasure into his mouth. Nick wrapped his tongue

around her fang, teasing it. Then he caressed the other one. She

burned from his touch. She pulled away, raising her head over him

looking at him in a red glow. She bared her fangs, growling and

needing release.

Nick flipped her over to gain better control. He wanted them to

both enjoy their release together. He slowly pulled his cock out

almost entirely and rapidly pushed into her again, closing his eyes

at the sensation. Slowly he increased the rhythm, sliding against

her sensitive clit as he filled her.

Nat's increased sensitivity brought her close to release quickly.

He offered his neck to her as she neared her climax. Her fangs

ached for release and she sank her fangs into flesh for the first

time, and her orgasm peaked as she drank his blood.

He opened himself to her and allowed her to taste everything. He

held nothing back. Not even the evil things he had done over the

centuries. The things he had never let her know about before. The

worst of the violence, the disregard for human life, the relishing

of human fear when being hunted. He let her see when it started to

change, when he started to question the violence, the feeding on

human existence. And the day he was brought to her table, how he

really knew what she wanted. What he also desired from the


Thrusting one more time, he sank his fangs into her opposite

shoulder and drank, exploding in his release. Her orgasm was still

fresh in her blood from a moment ago. The circle was complete;

their blood flowed into each other, they were one. The power of

their bond together consumed him.

She had never felt anything like it, had not dreamed it could be so

intense, so passionate. His earlier bites had done nothing to

prepare her for the intensity of the bond created between them.

Nick's essence flooded into her and she knew him more than ever

before; he was inside her very soul.

He pulled his fangs from her, licking the wound briefly before it

disappeared. Nat released his neck, licking the remaining droplets

there. He gazed into her returning blue eyes, smiling with

contentment and pressed his lips against hers. She met his kiss,

overflowing with the ecstasy of their mingled lives.

After leaving her lips, he rolled his weight off her and pulled her

to his chest and held her in his embrace. After a few quiet

moments, he implored, "Promise me something Nat. It's important."

She tilted her head to his, waiting for him to continue.

"Don't leave the loft. Don't talk to anyone until I say so. You

have a lot to learn as a new vampire before you do," he lovingly

insisted. "Not even on the phone. Not Grace to let her know how

you are."

Panicked, Nat leaned up on her elbow to see him better and asked,

"Are you going to leave me alone?" She was suddenly afraid because

of what happened to Richard.

"Je ne te quitterai jamais," Nick murmured, pulling her down to kiss

her lips. He explained the reason for his admonitions, "I won't

leave you alone, but if I'm in the shower or if I am upstairs when

you are downstairs, don't answer the phone if it rings or buzz

anyone into the loft. Things like that. Not until I say. Until I

am sure you can handle it."

She relaxed at his explanation. "I promise, Nick."

"Tonight we start learning about the link between us. Tomorrow

we'll start other things," he said kissing her. "Do you remember

this morning driving around and feeling lost?" he asked.

She nodded and he continued, "I used the link we had then to bring

you home. The link can be used to express feelings, to call someone,

to provoke emotions in them."

Confused, she asked, "That's how I got here today? Why didn't I

feel you, know you were there?"

Nick explained, "The link we had before was between a vampire and a

mortal. It's different. You could only feel strong emotions from

me, not the gentle tugging on your mind like this morning. At least

not feel it and be consciously aware of it. It is how a vampire

calls his prey, draw them back to him."

"And now?"

"Now you can feel, sense it all," Nick explained. "All that I want

you to see," he added with a teasing smile.

At Nat's puzzled look, Nick continued, "I can still block things

from you. Embarrassing jealousies, surprises I might be planning

for you, among other things."

"No fair," she teased, lightly swatting him on the shoulder.

"It's more than you had before," Nick reasoned. "Seriously though,

everyone should be able to have a bit of privacy." He caressed her

cheek and confided, "I didn't hold back anything from you tonight."

"But how do you do that? You can see everything in me if you want


"Yes, now I can. You don't know how to block yet. But I'll be

teaching you how to do that," he replied. "LaCroix never taught me

that skill and I had to learn over the centuries from others and my

own experimentation. And I still have trouble blocking from him

sometimes. He thought he could control me better if he knew all my

thoughts and I couldn't hide from him," he confided.

Astonished at Nick's willingness to teach her to block even him, she

asked, "You'd give up that control?"

"That's not the proper control a master should have over a child.

It's pure manipulation. Many vampire masters control and teach

their fledglings very well without manipulating them like that,"

Nick reasoned passionately.

He reached into their link, gazing into her eyes. He caressed her

with the depth of his love, his bewilderment at her sacrifice, what

she had endured for their love.

She smiled at the warmth of his touch. She had tasted his love for

her in his blood, but she thought that would be the only time she

could see it like that. She had not felt it that strongly in a link

before. And it was theirs. Forever. It was more than she had

imagined, could imagine. He entered her mind and infused her with

internal warmth she had never had in all her days in the sun.

"You try it now. Reach out to me," he encouraged.

She fell away from his arms onto her back chuckling, "I can't do

that. I don't know how."

He turned over leaning his upper body over her, cupping her face in

his hands. He demanded, "Try. Reach out. Concentrate. Pretend

you are telepathic, like you did as a child." He grinned at her

startled expression.

Nat closed her eyes and concentrated, trying to block out the

remaining sensations around her. Damn, it was hard with Nick's

naked body against her. She tried reaching out, like she had done

as a kid when she pretended such things with her best friend. Nick

must've seen that in her blood. She thought of Nick and how much

she loved him, how she would have endured absolute agony to be with

him, how happy she was now that they had forever. Then she felt his

soft lips against her mouth, as he whispered, "You did endure

agony, Nat. I love you too. Tu seras toujours la mienne."

She opened her eyes to stare at his electric blue eyes. "Can we

learn about our link, our bond every night?" Nat asked with a

teasing smile.

"Tonight isn't over, mon amour." He leaned over her and captured

her lips.



"Je ne te quitterai jamais." - I will never leave you.

"Tu seras toujours la mienne." -- You are mine forever.


Comments are welcome at NiteMar@w...