Aurora's Awakening
Chapter 1

Caution: This Fantasy Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Heterosexual, Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Vampires, First, Masturbation, Petting, Voyeurism, Slow, Violent,

Desc: Fantasy Sex Story: Chapter 1 - She meets a creature of the night, and can't look back.

Darkness painted my days, even when I was a child. This was not a personal affliction; the others in my village lived existences stained with the forbidden knowledge that there were others in our world, others that were never meant to be. We should not have known of their existence, but for some reason they were made known to us. None of our elders ever recalled a time when we did not live in fear of them. It seemed that Darkness was an old, old friend. The beasts of the night had haunted our village long enough for us to assign them a name- Vampire. They were the Undead ... things once human and now cursed with the most vile of afflictions.

For as long as I could remember, garlic adorned our thresholds- they apparently had a pungent earthiness that seemed to repel their other-worldliness. Metal bolts locked our doors once the sun went down, but we knew from an attack a few years before it did little to keep them out. They could not come out in the day; their skin was too fragile, too old, and too dead to withstand the sun's powerful rays. Or so the tales said. Crucifixes hung on the front of our homes, though they didn't do much of anything. They merely stood as a symbol for those who believed God would keep those unspeakable beings from them.

Father was not one of the faithful ones, and he was not alone. Many had been visited by the icy hand of death in the night, losing the ones they loved and needed most. My mother was taken when I was only 3, destroying my childhood and devastating my father. No crucifix hung on our home. My father felt that only he could bring safety and security to us; God had abandoned us to the night long ago. So he roamed when the sun let out its last gasp, taking his chances. He carried a bow and arrow, and assured me every night as he bolted me inside that nothing would harm me. The creatures would never win; he'd take care of me. Others followed his lead blindly, eager to be doing something- anything- to rid ourselves of things surely sent by the Devil.

Of course my father was a fool. He played a game against an unknown competitor, a game with rules he did not nor could not ever know. He walked around their playground with his measly bow and arrow, as tasty to them as a mouse to a cat. Indeed, they played with him much like a cat toys with its prey. He'd hear his name being called; something invisible dragged him down into a pile of mud; a force of wind ripped off the bow from his back. The Vampires must have been incredibly entertained. Luckily they never harmed him. But my father could not have been more wrong when he assured me night after night that no one could get to me, alone in our cottage. He could not have known, nor could I, that my life would soon be changed forever.

I: Dreams

It was customary that the men of our village split into two groups: one that hunted and one that protected. The protectors would watch over the houses the hunters left behind to ensure there was always someone around to watch over the women and children. Designated to certain areas, the men stayed up most of the night and watched for irregularities. Sometimes I would peer out my window at them, watching their tall, cloaked forms pace from here to there, their breath tangling with the fog.

My father always asked William to watch our house. He viewed him as a surrogate son and frequently suggested that we would become betrothed to each other. I found William reliable and kind, and I liked him a great deal, but I envisioned dark lovers who whispered danger and hid amongst shadows. My musings were laughable considering the inexperience I had. William was slender with big blue eyes and blonde hair that hung sloppily but attractively around his face. The girls in our village stared longingly after him whenever he walked through; many referred to him as the "true definition of a man". Strong and fearless, he was one of the few men who put in more than three nights of night-watching a week. People feared him in a respectful way, and parents only wished their children could be like him.

I was the only one who remained unmoved. Girls considered me prissy and selfish, elders shook their heads, certain that the loss of my mother had made me peculiar, and my father just ignored me. I wanted a man who needed me, wanted me ... couldn't exist without me. I wanted him dark and tall, dangerous yet gentle. Possessive but not controlling. William might have found me pretty, engaging, and -in his eyes- a perfect fit for a wife, but he didn't know me at all. He'd marry me, send me off in a small cabin somewhere, have me raise his children, and never challenge me. Never play with me. Never know me.

It didn't matter what I wanted or didn't want, however; if my father had begun arrangements for our betrothal, then betrothed I would be.

My friend Abigail thought he was particularly charming, even though she was due to marry Andrew the next spring.

"Really, you couldn't do any better," she said one cold, late Autumn morning, watching him as he spoke to some of the younger girls. "All of the girls want to marry him."

"Yes, I know," I murmured. Distractedly I counted the number of eggs I picked up from the shopkeeper's basket.

Abigail laughed for a moment but then touched my arm. I looked up at her and was struck by the sobriety of her features. "You should take care with him. He loves you a great deal."

Smiling, I picked up another egg and thanked the man. "How can he love me? He doesn't know a thing about me."

"You've read too many books," Abigail said seriously. "You are too romantic. He knows what he needs to know. Maybe he doesn't speak to you as much as he should, and maybe he doesn't try as hard to let you know him, but trust me when I say he knows you. I bet if we walked up to him right now and asked he'd know what your favorite food was ... when you were last sick ... the book you're reading now ... the--"

"Enough," I interrupted. We were nearing him.

William looked up and caught my eye. He smiled brightly, easily and happily, and greeted us both. I was always struck by his gregarious nature.

"You should have told me you needed eggs," William said, staring into my basket. "I've told you before that you're free to take some from our chickens." He pushed some hair back from his forehead, the hair glowing from the sunlight's touch.

"Thank you," I replied. "I will next time." I always said that whenever he suggested me making the trip over to his farm.

He nodded but I knew he could tell I was just placating him. He smiled and wished us well before we walked off.

"You're right. There's not a hint of love in his being," Abigail whispered sardonically.

I don't have many memories of my mother, but I remember finding her, blue and drained of blood. Her purple, empty veins had stood in contrast to the pale-blue of her skin. She was eight months pregnant. I remember waking up and instantly smelling something sweet, like an ocean of flowers during springtime. The air was too saccharine. Something was wrong. Frightened, I crept out of bed and went to her room. That's when I saw her, draped across her bed.

I screamed and screamed, thinking at first she died giving birth to my baby sibling. Father soon appeared, rushing toward her without hesitation, and cried out when he saw the two unmistakable puncture wounds to her throat. The thing that took her life must have felt some remorse after; it covered her swollen body up in a blanket and fanned out her beautiful hair. Had she not been so blue, I would have thought her in a deep, relaxing sleep.

My father had to be dragged away by my uncle. On and on he raved about how he shouldn't have stayed so late at the tavern. He shouldn't have left us alone. He should have been more careful. In spite of my age, I couldn't help but feel like the guilty one but he would have none of that. He wept his share that night, wrapped in the convenient darkness, and then he never shed a tear again. He turned his pain into something cruel and harsh. Gone was the loving playfulness in his eyes. It was obvious he would not rest until vengeance was achieved. I didn't only lose my mother that night.

Thoughts of that day often burdened my sleep, and I would awake, cold and sweaty and motherless once again. When I was younger sometimes I'd scream and my father would come in, standing helplessly. He never knew what to do to comfort me.

This particular night I jolted awake with a strangled scream, my bedsheets wrapped around my legs so that I felt trapped. I kicked and kicked as sweat tickled its way down my brow and back. Then I instantly became aware I was not alone, but it was too late to scream. The figure was upon me, crushing me with its weight. He spoke to me but I couldn't hear the words; instead I punched and clawed at him, desperate to be free. He released me and stood up, speaking to me in a calming voice. Finally I realized William was in my room.

"I'm so sorry," I heard him say again. "You were having a bad dream ... I thought-"

"No, I'm sorry," I interrupted him, my voice raspy and small. My heart still pounded in my chest, remembering the blood that had congealed around my mother's beautiful, tiny neck. She had been wearing the necklace I made for her. Instead of obsessing over that particular vision, I focused on the man who awkwardly stood a few steps before me. "Did I hurt you?"

He chucked in the darkness. "No. If you had I would have deserved it. I shouldn't have grabbed you like that."

"Please," I gestured, waving a dismissive hand. "I can be quite barbaric in bed."

My cheeks rapidly turned red hot in the blackness of my room. I thought I heard him take a deep breath, but I was too focused on cursing myself for saying such an idiotic thing.

I waited for him to excuse himself and leave, but he continued to stand there. The moon cast lazy shadows about him as he took a step closer to me. I caught a glimpse of the masculine fuzz on his upper lip and felt a strange emotion I couldn't identify.

"Would you like to tell me about your dream? Sometimes my sister tells me her nightmares. It helps her feel better."

That was one thing I could not deny William: he was amazing with his younger sister, Kathleen. I smiled, then remembered he couldn't see me. "Thank you, but I don't think you'd want to hear this particular one."

William dragged my rocking chair over and deftly lit the candle on my night-table. "I assure you nothing you could say would upset me."

Now in the scant light I couldn't hide my embarrassed blush. It wasn't his words, exactly ... it was the way he said them. And there was a look in his eyes that made me tingle. I looked down at my palms. Never one to care much for propriety, I was very aware that I was merely in my nightgown in his presence. I was fairly certain he was also quite aware.

He must have noticed my discomfort, for he smiled at me warmly and pushed his chair back a bit. It didn't really help, but I appreciated his effort.

"It was about my mother," I sighed. I figured it was best I just tell him as fast as I could so he would return to his duties. "When I ... The day I found her."

William's face was expressionless; he didn't seem surprised. "Do you dream of this often?"

Staring at the wall, I nodded. "Nearly every night."

His thumb stroked the satiny skin of the top of my hand. Shocks ran from the point he touched me down to my toes. This was unbearably improper. I softly but directly removed my hand from his and tucked my hands into my arms. He cleared his throat but I didn't dare look up.

He stood and said, "If you can't sleep, or you have another bad dream, or you just want to talk ... Call my name." His dark blue eyes took me in for a moment with an expression so intense that I felt my breathing quicken inexplicably. Thankfully he blew out the candle. "Sleep well. I'm here to protect you."

And then he left me shaking in the cool nighttime air. I snuggled back into my sheets, positive I wouldn't get back to sleep for a while, and thought that those were the most words William had ever said to me.

The next night someone else was blessedly the watchman. The day had been unbearable for me. I had spotted William by the shops and turned ten shades of red when he gave me a warm, personal smile that reminded me of the feel of his thumb and the shade of his eyes in candlelight. I was fairly sure I didn't deserve so nice and intimate a smile, nor if I wanted one. I might have smiled back, but it very well could have been a frown. I was so confused; feelings I'd never known existed were surging throughout my chest and up to my head, only to confuse my thoughts and give me a headache. It was moments like these I longed for my mother the most.

Thankfully I managed to get through the rest of the day without seeing him. Now I dressed in my nightgown and hoped I'd have a better night's sleep. Indeed, I drifted off quite quickly and was dreaming of something relatively pleasant when a crash roused me.

Instantly I snapped upright but it was too late. A giant body smacked into mine, effortlessly pushing my body back into the pillows. Rough hands ran down the length of my body, catching at my breasts and hips. A mouth danced across my throat, and I felt the unmistakable points of glistening fangs against my vulnerable flesh. Horrified, I opened my mouth to scream when the body was ripped from me and thrown into the wall.

I blinked against the darkness, struggling to see the battle that was going on in my tiny room. Grunts, curses, and the sound of flesh punching flesh was all I could hear. Belatedly I fumbled for a match and lit my small candle, illuminating two men rolling together violently on my floor. Or, I should say, two vampires.

My heart raced and a scream rose in my throat. My mouth opened but I couldn't scream; the fear literally had me paralyzed. The sight of them - these creatures that I'd grown up hearing about, the very same villains that threatened my dreams each night, the same monsters that had destroyed the happiness of my childhood - surprised me. We were always told they were hideous and disfigured. Their physical attributes were described as akin to a boar's, or even a wolf's. Never in my most terrifying dreams had I ever imagined they'd be so beautiful. I couldn't get a proper look at either of them, but it was quickly apparent they were handsome. Their pale skin glowed in the moonlight, and in my weak candlelight it looked the erotic skin some of the more tawdry authors of my book collection had described. My poor heartbeat went even faster and I felt some wild urge, some undeniable pull to them. I wanted to tear off my gown, run to them and take my mouth and--

One looked up at me, his fangs fully descended and glittering with saliva. I changed my mind; the look in his eyes rendered him beyond ugly. He gave me an obscene open-mouthed smile and promised me something with his eyes I intuitively knew I wouldn't like. Thankfully his distraction gave his opponent the upper hand. The other vampire's hard fist pounded the other's face in rapid succession.

Swiftly -so swiftly I hardly saw the motion- the victorious vampire got to his feet, produced a large wooden stake, and plunged it passionately into the chest of the other creature. The thing on the floor howled and screeched, emitting the worst sounds I had ever heard. He writhed for awhile, moaning with each thrust of pain in his body. Then he was still, his face still twisted in his final cry.

The other stood staring at him, panting and holding his side. I was in such a state of shock I could not speak, could not scream. All I could do was stare. He truly was beautiful. His hair was dark and thick. His eyes were a chocolate brown, and they seemed more human than the other's as he stared at his defeated foe's body. He was tall and obviously strong, though not overly muscular. To me, he was all man. This thought was ridiculous, however, when one focused on those fangs.

Then his brown-eyed scrutiny flicked up to mine. The fangs slowly retracted, but I barely noticed them now. I was too struck by his gaze ... his hungry gaze.

For some reason I was suddenly unafraid. My pulse slowed down, my head stopped spinning, and my stomach settled. Yet I knew intellectually I should be frightened, that I was frightened. He was staring at me with a yearning I could only assume was part of his bloodlust. Why wasn't I afraid?

I realized then he was doing some sort of magic, the kind of thing the old ladies gossiped about outside the butcher. My mind panicked, but my body would not. I looked at him with confusion.

"I will not harm you," he whispered calmly.

His words broke the spell.

"Help me!" I screamed. "Please!" I jumped out of my bed but tripped on the sheets.

Pain erupted in my ankle, but my desire to live and my fear of this sensuous, magical being in my room was enough to get my body up again. Unfortunately he had reached me and was tugging me to him with relentless hands.

"Stop screaming," he said, sounding vaguely impatient. "No-one can hear you."

So this was it. Was I destined to meet the same fate as my mother? What would my father do? He would never recover. Ever.

He pushed me so that I sat on the bed. He stood over me, not threateningly but as if he desired to put me at ease. His arms rose but then fell once again to his sides.

"I will not harm you," he repeated, his voice sounding impressively convincing. I knew better to believe the word of a vampire's, however. He saw my disdainful glare and let out a derisive snort. "Do you think I would have stopped him if I wanted you dead?"

"You probably wanted the food to yourself," I snapped back, unable to keep the words from thrusting out. I slapped my mouth in horror, realizing that taunting the monster wouldn't do me any favors.

He laughed like I was some amusing child and leant against my wall. "While you have a point, I assure you that this was not my intention."

"What do you want?" I asked, once again ignoring the desire to strip myself of my clothes and suck at his throat.

What was wrong with me? I had apparently become wonton and over a vampire, no less. What would I do, even if I were to rip off our clothes. Something in his dark brown eyes told me he would know just what to do.

"Nothing." He sounded surprised. "I knew that Charles was up to no good tonight. I followed him." He shrugged. I could not get over the gesture. It was so human. Still, I heard a note in his voice that told me he wasn't telling the entire truth. I had a strange sense there was more to his explanation. I couldn't dwell on it; I was still stunned a vampire was in my presence.

I could not get over the fact he was standing in my home, in my bedroom, so serenely. It was as though he didn't know we were enemies, that there weren't men out there with torches and stakes and God knows what else to dispose of him. And that I had never felt more alive or drawn to another person in my entire life.

Except he's not a person.

He lifted a hand to his sharp jaw and rubbed it while he seemed to think about something. The movement was so simple, so casual, and yet it reminded me of how masculine he was. My entire body felt alive. My stomach grew heavy as a warmth foreign to me settled there. My nipples hardened, embarrassingly so, beneath my rough clothing. I was itchy but delicious all over. He watched me the whole time, appearing to be aware of the effect he had on my body. I blushed and looked down.

"Why would you care if he killed me?"

He sighed and crossed his arms. "I'm against the killing of innocents."

My confusion was not relieved by his statement but I let it go. I wanted this strange thing gone. I wouldn't scream for anyone again, only because he had saved my life. That seemed fair, I assured myself.

"You had better go," I told him, lifting my chin and once again meeting the heated gaze he fixed upon me. "You made a great deal of noise. I wouldn't be surprised if they already knew you were in here."

He smiled softly, almost reluctantly. Without another word he walked over to his former enemy and began to drag him towards my window. He lifted him without effort and tossed him out. It was strange; we were always told they disappeared when staked. It seemed this was a fallacy. I wanted to share this little tidbit with the overly eager old women who talked of nothing but vampires in the town but thought it best I keep this a secret.

The vampire looked back at me, surveying me from head to toe. "What's your name?" he asked earnestly, almost tenderly.

I didn't want to answer. In fact, I was positive I shouldn't. Before I could stop myself, however, my mouth opened. I blamed it on the obvious power he must have.


His smile deepened but his eyes darkened. "Ah. 'Dawn'. How fitting." His eyes drank me in and, though I may have been wrong, I was convinced he wasn't being sarcastic. "You look like dawn. Dark red hair, snowy but pink skin, pale blue eyes ... Yes." He nodded. "Dawn." And he laughed before jumping out of the window. I heard him speak two more words before disappearing into the night.

"Goodnight, Aurora."

II: The Vampire

When I woke the next morning I thought for a few moments I dreamt the whole thing. I heard my father screaming at Peter, the poor man who'd watched over the house the night before.

Then I remembered those lips of the vampire's, turned in a sweet smile. Those soft brown eyes, almost tasting me with their glance. I knew I couldn't dream anything so beautiful and yet so deadly.

"Aurora," my father yelled, banging on my door.

I wrapped myself in my robe and went to greet him.

"Are you all right?" he asked, looking me over. "Peter fell asleep last night."

"I don't know how it happened," I heard Peter murmuring from outside. "I never-"

"I will never leave you to someone so untrustworthy again," Father interrupted, his voice flat but firm.

"It isn't Peter's fault, Father."

His eyebrows rose with barely concealed irritation. "Really? Then who is to blame for Peter falling asleep?"

The vampires.

"We're only human, Papa," I said softly. He walked away.

That night I was terrified I would be attacked again. The shock of the whole thing had somehow made me forget how close I was to death the night before. If the vampire hadn't been there to save me...

I stopped thinking that way. I wasn't sure why he saved me, and I probably would never know. It didn't mean he was the vampire, as though he were some champion, or that he was a good person. He was as disgusting as the rest of them. Granted, he was handsome and he elicited some deep-seated urge in me I never knew existed and wasn't entirely sure I disliked. I knew, however, that physical beauty was hardly a measure of one's true self. My body seemed pleased enough with the physical beauty, on the other hand, a fact I detested as much as the thought of laying vulnerably in the dark once more. The only consolation was William was guarding the house tonight, something not altogether comforting in one particularly uncomfortable regard.

Thankfully he had come later than usual so that I hadn't had to greet him or even see him. I knew he was there only because I'd heard my father exchange words with him before leaving to hunt. Also because I just sensed him out there, bundled up in the pervasive cold.

I lay down and eventually fell into sleep, until much like the night I awoke to someone touching me.

Jerking away, my mouth opened to scream but a large hand clamped over it. "Hush. It is only me."

The vampire.

For a moment I relaxed, but my years of schooling that this thing that touched me was my enemy kicked in and I fought again to be released.

"Please stop fighting me," he ordered softly. And I did. Perhaps it was the magic once again. "I'm not going to hurt you." Then he resumed stroking my hair, the very thing that had woken me up.

"What are you doing here?" I whispered. I could barely make him out in the moonlight.

His hand toyed with the end of my hair, tickling his arm with it. "I wanted to make sure none of the others were here. Sometimes we are competitive with our prey. I wasn't sure if he had mentioned you to anyone else, or if anyone else had caught your scent on him."

I started shaking, envisioning an army of vampires bombarding my room and tearing my body apart. He felt my shivers and touched my bare shoulder. With just his hand he pulled me in to his strong body. "Fear not, Aurora," he whispered, rolling my name slowly and deliberately. "You are quite safe."

Am I? I wondered. I'm in bed with a vampire. And why did he care? And more importantly, why wasn't screaming?

I envisioned my mother to remind myself of who- or what- I was dealing with and prepared myself to scream when he touched me.

His hand ran down my arm, causing the skin to erupt in gooseflesh. Jolts of a painfully good energy ran from my heart to my stomach, and there was a sort of tug within my private area. I never experienced anything like it, and while it felt ... unbelievable, I knew that it was bad.

"Stop," I begged when his hand moved to my side.

"Stop what?"

"Don't touch me."

He removed his hands and slid back. He was silent for a moment. Then he let out a deep breath and got out of my bed. "I am so, so sorry. You just smell so delicious."

Swallowing heavily, I sat up against the headboard. "What does that have to do with hands?" I asked curiously, then immediately cursing myself for being interested in someone who was so obviously a tool of the Devil.

He laughed huskily, a sound that sent that pang through my body again. I tightened my legs automatically.

"It is a long and in-depth explanation that I believe you are far too innocent to hear."

"What makes you think I am so innocent?" I asked, unable to stop myself.

He sat on my bed and looked at me hard. I could faintly see the taut planes of his face. "I can smell it on you."

I sucked in my breath. I was simultaneously excited and petrified.

He seemed to deliberate something for a second as he looked me over, taking note of my delicate nightgown. He stood and held out a hand to me. "Come with me."

I had lost my mind. I was following a vampire into the inky blackness, shivering beneath my shawl and dress, totally unprotected and unarmed. I put a hand to my forehead and was shocked to find I didn't have a fever. He seemed undisturbed by the frigidity of the night, something I wasn't at all surprised by, and hardly paid attention to me as he led the way to what very well could have been my death. Wasn't my mother's memory enough to deter me from this? My father's relentless quest? The sights my own eyes saw the night he tumbled with the other creature? The fact that every fiber of me being knew he wasn't natural?

Yet I knew innately he wasn't going to harm me. I wasn't sure I was happy I knew so completely, but I was grateful.

Finally he stopped. We were by the cliff. I could hear the waves crashing below and, when I peeked over, I could see the moonlight skirting along the water. It was beyond beautiful, and so perfect it nearly could have been a painting. Looking up, I never recalled the sky being so bright or clear before. It took my breath away.

He sat on the edge, his long legs gracefully dangling. "Join me."

Something about the way he spoke compelled me to do what he asked. I didn't even think he was using any of his talents on me anymore, if he even had to in the first place. Afraid of slipping, I carefully took my place beside him.

We sat in silence for a long time, staring at the dark sapphire sky. He shifted his arm once and it tapped mine. I was too aware of the shock that brief, accidental touch had on my body, but I instead focused on the waves pulling and pushing to and from the shore, methodically but beautifully lulling me to a pleasant, lazy sleepiness.

"Have you met a vampire before?" he asked suddenly, his voice conversational.

I was too stunned to answer immediately. "You know the word 'vampire'?"

He snorted. "Of course."

"No," I finally answered, feeling silly. "I've never met a vampire before you."

"You appear bizarrely at ease."

I played with the end of my dress. "I know. I can't imagine why."

I felt him looking at me but I kept my gaze on the bright moon.

Eventually I couldn't keep my eyes away and they met his. "I can." He sounded devastatingly confident at that.

"Why aren't you attacking me?"

He smirked. "I told you: I don't attack innocents."

"By innocents, you mean..."

"Virgins." He caressed the word. "And those that are truly innocent. Those that don't harm others, that contribute to the world." He looked out to the sea. "I don't really feed on humans anymore."

My stomach turned. I couldn't imagine this man, this seemingly refined man, this beautiful man, killing and consuming the blood of a human. It made my spine tingle and my hair stand on end. I should have ran away at that statement alone, and at the nonchalance with which he uttered it, but I could only focus on the thickness of his eyelashes ... the perfection of his cheekbones.

I was becoming utterly superficial and truly losing my mind. If he decided to kill me now, I deserved it.

"I'm sorry," he said quietly after a few moments. "I shouldn't have been so crude in my description. What I mean to say is that I abstain from hurting humans, for the most part. I'm not perfect."

"So you still kill people?" I asked snottily, thinking of my mother. How could I have forgotten, even so briefly? I wasn't sitting with a friend. I was sitting with someone like the beast that took away my only ray of sunshine. She wore a beautiful dress that day. My grandmother had scrubbed it afterwards, crying, desperate to get the blood out.

"It happens," he agreed cooly. "It is my nature."

His continued nonchalance infuriated me. "You murder people."

"Not all of us do, Aurora." God, I hated the way he said my name. And loved it. "Some of us do. And some of you humans do it, too. For the most part I feed on humans, but don't kill them. Murder isn't always necessary."

"Were you human once?" I asked, finding myself irresistibly curious.

"Of course," he declared, sounding mildly insulted. "No one chooses to be a vampire. It is unnatural"

So I heard all my life. Yet gazing at this man beside me it was hard to agree that he shouldn't exist. I felt more at peace- more comfortable- sitting with him than I had in ... longer than I could remember.

"You're not at all like how they describe you."

He looked at me for a long time. "I once was."

"You changed?"

Nodding, he turned his head to the stars. They reflected in his eyes. "You never stop being you when you become what I am, but you also turn into something else ... Something demonic. Demanding. Blood, above all things, is the most important. You can't ignore it without a lot of practice. And so you do what you must, until you reach the inevitable breaking point." He smiled wryly. "Of course there are those that do not reach such a breaking point, but I would argue they weren't good people to start with."

I should have stood up. I should have ran and screamed on the top of my lungs. I should never have went with him. What was I thinking? I couldn't act interested in him, even though I was. I couldn't.

But I couldn't help myself.

"What is your name?" I asked, leaning towards him. It felt like I was asking him the most important question of the night, and I guess to me it was.

His dark eyes swept up to mine holding an unfathomable emotion. "Oliver."

It grew colder. Finally he turned back to me. "Perhaps it's time to go back."

He led me back in the darkness, occasionally guiding me with his hand on my back. The light touch blazed on my back. Whenever he took the hand away I had to stop myself from begging him to return it.

We walked carefully around my house, careful not to alert William to our presence. Oliver stopped me just as I made to climb into my room. He put a hand on both of my shoulders and just examined my face. Then he moved forward and gently placed his soft, lightly damp lips on my forehead, giving the heated skin a long feathery kiss. His hands moved on their own, rubbing my cold shoulders. He stepped back and gave me a large smile.

"Thank you for coming with me tonight. It was quite selfish of me to ask you but ... You looked so beautiful."

I was speechless. He laughed and turned my body around so that I could enter the house. Oliver remained outside the window, watching me burrow beneath the sheets before nearly disappearing into the nighttime.

The next day was a blur and I only allowed myself to remember Oliver when night fell. I had agreed to help Abigail watch over some children for the evening, though I wasn't much help.

"You're millions of miles away," Abigail commented.

I smiled and picked up a crying child. "I'm just tired."

She shook her head, knowing me too well, and commanded the children to go to bed. Thankfully she asked no more of my distraction.

His eyes appeared far too often before my own, and I couldn't make sense of my actions. I had spent time with a vampire. I'd spoken with a vampire. I'd laughed with a vampire. I'd had a fairly good time with a vampire. I couldn't reconcile him with the stores I knew, the legends past down. I should have been more shocked or devastated, but really I was calm. Excited, even. I decided I was in denial, or that I really was as peculiar as everyone in our village thought I was.

A few hours later I walked home with her brother, Ronald, ignoring the way he watched me. Instead I focused on the enigma of Oliver- wondering where he was, what he was doing. My thoughts were undoubtedly disturbing, but I couldn't help but think them.

"I hear you are to be betrothed to William," he said conversationally, rousing me from my preoccupation with the dark vampire. Strangely, I decided I didn't like the look in his eyes.

"I didn't hear that." Truth be told, what with having fraternized with the enemy the night before, I had totally forgotten about William. I ducked under a branch and tried to calm my nerves. Ronald was always flirtatious, a trait that Abigail often made fun of, but tonight the tone of his voice almost seemed unkind.

He laughed. "Of course you have." Sighing, he took my elbow. "William and I have a bit of a friendly war going on. We have since we were boys."

I knew that also. William was the village's hero, the ultimate man of knowledge, and the handsome man nearly every girl fantasized over. Ronald was second in every category, a fact Abigail confided in me that he loathed.

Ronald's fingers tightened into my arm. "I've heard from my sister, however, that you're not entirely enthusiastic about the arrangement."

"There is no arrangement," I said curtly, growing annoyed with his impertinence. He'd never been so bold before.

Again he laughed, a hard, mean kind of laugh that made goosebumps rise across my skin. "I guess you're right in one regard- no definitive arrangement. I suppose it would be all right if I did this then." With that he kissed me, startling me so that I lost my balance and he to lift me with his arms. It was a brutal kiss, dominant and hard and not at all as pleasant as I heard kisses could be.

A moment later I caught my bearings and fought him off with my hands, but he was too strong and I was too shocked to truly fight him off. I groaned into his hard lips, and finally he pulled away. His grin was self-assured and cruel.

"How dare you..." I whispered lowly.

"It would be better if we were engaged to be married," he said calmly, ignoring my words and my outraged face. "I would certainly be a better pick than that bore. I could ... keep you satisfied. I know how to. I've done it before, you know."

I took a deep breath and managed to get out of his painful grasp. "I have no idea what has gotten into you this evening, but I think it would be better for the both of us if you did not escort me the rest of the way. I can only hope that for the sake of your family and the friendship I have with your sister you will never mention this night again. I know I won't."

Ronald shook his head as if he couldn't believe me. His grin turned hateful and hurt. "Have it your way, but this isn't over."

He turned and left me alone, defenseless in the dark. My ire prevented me from feeling fear; instead I wanted to rub angrily at my lips, to cry that the man I'd grown up with was no matter than a lecherous brute, to mourn the loss of my first kiss to such a brute, and to stomp home and go to sleep. As I raced home I forgot all about Oliver and the world of the supernatural. Instead I wondered how I would face Abigail and not tell her about Ronald's gross behavior. She knew he was sometimes a terrible flirt, but she had no idea how rough he could be. I decided it was better I didn't tell her; some things are meant to be kept secrets, and sometimes family members are meant to remain strangers.

Lost in my thoughts as I ventured deeper into the wood, I didn't notice the figures ahead of me on the path, watching me with their ancient and deadly eyes. It was only when I was upon them did I notice them, and by then it was far too late to try and escape. They watched me with amusement and scorn as I gasped at them-- three female vampires with extended fangs and sickening smiles.

"It's her," one whispered gleefully.

Another took a step towards me and barked out a laugh when I stepped back. "Fight all you want," she growled almost playfully. "See how far it gets you. We do love to ... play with our food."

The other, most silent one stared with the most hateful glare. "So you're the human who has been spending time with Oliver."

My eyes widened at his name. She looked mildly interested at my reaction, and more than a little irritated.

"He told you his name? Well, I can't say I'm surprised. He is an odd one. Always finding a diversion with the oddest kind of company."

I ignored her dig, more intent on dampening the ever-swelling amount of fear in my chest. "I hardly know him," I heard myself saying.

She laughed. "Of course you don't. You couldn't possibly know him."

The other two stepped back into the darkness, disappearing into the ever-present fog.

The vampire remaining stared at me, seeming to catalogue everything from my hair to my toes. She smirked scornfully and crossed her arms. "This is going to be fun."

"What do you want from me?" I asked, surprised I managed to keep the terror from my tone.

Her smile faded. "What makes you think I'd give you the privilege of knowing? You're nothing- a mere ant, a fleck of dust, a piece of dirt. Nothing."

"And you'll be nothing if you don't disappear this instant," a smooth voice called out from the shadows.

I hated that his voice sent delightful shivers up my spine, but I never thought I'd be so grateful to be in the presence of a vampire.

A corner of her mouth twitched up in ironic humor but she continued to keep her burning gaze on me. "Oliver. Why am I not surprised?"

"I think the more important question is ... why are you so stupid?" He walked out into the moonlight, his eyes on me.

Her head turned, watching his every step, and I knew in that instant what this was all about, just from the look she gave him. She was in love with him.

"I'm stupid?" she spat in disbelief. "You gave out your name to a mortal. A mortal. You know how dangerous that is. You killed another of your kind for," and she turned her hateful eyes to me once more, "nothing."

"I've already explained," he drawled, sounding tired. "He's drew too much attention to us."

Her laugh was brittle and cold. "He never consorted with a human."

"Enough. Go home."

His voice was commanding and hard enough to convince her to back away. She released me from her stare with reluctance, and with one last beseeching look at him, she ran away.

We were silent for a few moments before I noticed he was still looking at me.

"I'm sorry. I told you before we can smell others on our bodies. She obviously caught your scent on me."

I was at a loss for words. In minutes I'd been threatened by a boy I'd known all my life and a strange vampire, who both seemed more than likely to show up again and finish their torment.

When he took steps towards me and touched my shoulders, I realized I was shaking.

"Hush. Sit down on that rock."

He brought me over to a rock and gently seated me there, rubbing his hands up and down my arms absentmindedly.

I focused on his glowing eyes, his dark hair, the faint muscles in his arm and chest. The black shirt he wore only flaunted the subtle strength of his body and awakened a surge of electricity in my chest. My nipples once again hardened in his presence and I could feel myself growing obscenely wet down below. I wasn't exactly sure what that extra lubrication was for but I'd listened to a few maids giggling one day and could only guess. My cheeks reddened with embarrassment and I looked away, staring at the moon instead.

Oliver's chuckle brought me back to him. "It is only in your nature to be attracted to me. Don't be embarrassed; you can't help it. I usually don't take note of things like that anymore."

Of course my cheeks only flamed up further. He was entirely aware of his effect on me! How mortifying!

"As a matter of fact, I delight in your response."

As humiliating as those words were, I felt my belly jump with excitement. Before I could stop the words, I heard myself asking, "Really?"

He nodded slowly, his brown eyes sliding down my shivering body. "Yes. To get such a reaction from such a beautiful woman is ... Well, it's more than exciting. Would it comfort you to know that I'm just as aroused?"

I jolted up and away from him, excited but beyond terrified.

Oliver smiled but said nothing.

"I'm sorry," I apologized, feeling every bit the inexperienced girl I was.

"Don't be," he rasped, his voice deep and piercing. "I said too much." His eyes searched me over and apparently noticed something. "Why were you walking home alone so late? Surely you're not ignorant to what lurks in this forest." With a wry smile he looked back to me. "And now you're even more certain."

"I had no escort," was all I could manage to say.

"What about the man who kissed you?"

I startled and stared at him. "What are you talking about?"

"I can smell his scent all over you."

I shuddered. "He ... It was a misunderstanding." I felt ill all over again.

Oliver didn't appear to believe me, but he took my arm all the same. "Let's get you home."

He did not speak again until we were beneath my window.

"I'm sorry again that she bothered you. I'll make sure she never threatens you again."

"Thank you," I muttered shyly, looking anywhere but at those magnetic eyes.

I felt his coarse, cold hand stroke my cheek. His touch felt so ... safe.

"I'll let you rest. But you should know, Aurora, to never travel these parts in the night alone again. Even in the day, I would like you to take extra precautions. It's a dark world out there." Oliver smiled slightly, patting my lips briefly. The touch alone sent liquid fire to my toes. "Even humans can be evil."

He gave my blushing, soft cheek one last swipe with a lazy finger before he lifted himself easily over my sill and vanished. The reminder of his cold flesh against my burning skin sent tingles down my spine.

III: Desire

His wet tongue traveled eagerly down the expanse of skin between my breasts. Desperately my hands wound themselves in his dark hair, bringing his head closer. His tasted me delightedly, moaning with every writhe and vocal expression of delight I couldn't hide. Slowly- so slowly it nearly killed me- his cool, soaking tongue made its way to my the flesh of my breast, sampling the lightly scented skin. He hummed as he circled around and around, avoiding the pert and desperate point in the center most eager for that tricky tongue. I could have cried I was so desperate for his wicked, icy mouth to clasp on it. Instead of granting my silent wishes, he continued to find my breasts more interesting, examining each inch with his tireless mouth.

And then finally, with a desperate groan that told me waiting had killed him as much as it had tortured me, his vibrating mouth was on my nipple. He seemed to speaking words to it but I couldn't translate them in my haze of pleasure. The wetness between my thighs increased tenfold, yearning for something I didn't understand. There was so much I didn't know, but with his talented mouth possessing me I knew it wouldn't be long until I knew everything. His devilish eyes met mine and I whimpered like a child who has been given a peek of a favorite toy and then denied it.

"You're a desperate little girl, aren't you?" he cooed against my wet flesh. "You'll have your way soon enough."

My hips arched up inexplicably, seeking something, anything. I grew frustrated.

"Please," I begged him, knowing there had to be more and he knew it all.

He laughed breathlessly and then gazed up at me, his expression morphing into one of incredible intensity. "I will show you all you want when you are mine. And you will be. Soon, Aurora."

I woke up gasping, confused, aroused, delighted, hungry, frustrated, needy. I had dreamt of Oliver. It was entirely inappropriate and wrong. I was fantasizing doing sinful things with a vampire.

Standing, I caught a glimpse of myself in my mirror. I beheld the happiest, most fulfilled smile and reddest cheeks on my face I'd ever seen. I had met a vampire. He hadn't killed me. In fact, it never seemed he even debated the idea, and he even saved my life twice. If I let myself actually think it, it seemed he even liked me.

Quickly I shook my head, hoping to shake the ridiculous thought right out of it. He was a vampire and I was a human. I should be craving warm flesh and heartbeats. I shouldn't be lusting over a man who killed and hunted and was obviously not meant to be a part of our world. I shouldn't be wanting to climb inside of someone whose very existence reminded me of what took away my mother and ruined my life for ever.

And yet ... a part of me really wanted him. For the first time since my mother died, since my father went militant and thought of nothing else but destroying the vampire species, since the town became a boiling pot of panic, fear, and oppression ... I felt alive.

Taking another glance in the mirror, I realized I looked alive. Rosy cheeks and red lips and bright eyes and shiny hair greeted me back, reminding me this was me. I wasn't the pale, sallow ghost drifting meaninglessly through town anymore.

Then I remembered those girls, so sure in their superiority and in my inferiority and the unfamiliar surges of jealousy and aching want flared in my belly. I wasn't used to wanting a man, or a vampire, especially someone so obviously desired.What would he want with me? I was God knows how many years younger than him, by no means as beautiful as they, and quite ignorant as to how the world worked in general.

And really, I shouldn't want anything to do with him.

But remembering that tingle on my cheek, that fierce hunger in those dark chocolate eyes, the tousle of unkempt hair ... I did.

"It's been awhile since we invited William to dinner," my father grunted over breakfast.

It was rare enough he stopped to eat with me in the mornings, and even rarer that he'd speak, so I knew the words were obviously significant. I shifted uneasily in my seat, knowing this had to do with the rumors of an engagement.

"Everyone in town has been busy," I stated innocently, grabbing a piece of bread.

My father ignored my comment and stuffed his mouth full with eggs. "You will go down to the blacksmith this afternoon and invite him here properly for tomorrow."

I nodded, but my thoughts were on dark hair, brown eyes, and long tongues that knew the path of my body just right. At least I imagined he would.

I walked slowly in town, trying to put off my errand. The last thing I needed was to have William around and be confused by his, and my, feelings. The night he held me after my nightmare was intense and uncomfortable and I wasn't looking forward to being reminded of it. Up until this point I'd managed to forget them, but that was because I was being distracted by all that the forbidden world had to offer.

All too soon the dark building approached. People milled about, discussing this, discussing that. I stalled again when I heard Mr. Handler's sheep had been murdered the night before and the people were wondering if a rabid fox was around. Someone shakily wondered if it wasn't the vampires. A few men laughed.

"If the vampires were that close, they would have wanted more than the sheep."

I shuddered and reluctantly knocked on William's door. There was no answer, but I knew he was inside. Sometimes his work was too loud for him to hear anything else. I decided to just peer in and see if I could catch him. I didn't see him at his station, nor did I see his father around, but I heard a strange muffled sound coming from somewhere in the back. It almost sounded as though someone were in pain. Slightly alarmed but more curious than anything, I stepped into the darkened room and let the heavy door shut slowly behind me. Dust flew around chaotically in the air, highlighted by the afternoon sun shining through from the small windows.

I walked slowly towards the sound which I soon realized was coming from one of the back rooms- William's office to be, exact. That meant he was here, and that was why he hadn't heard my knock. As I neared I realized the door was open a bit, and the sounds were growing louder and more desperate. I raised a hand to knock and caught a glimpse of peach flesh. My fist remained frozen in air while I took a step closer and beheld the sight in front of me. William was doing something, something unknown and- from what I could sense- terribly dirty, but my eyes could not look away.

I watched from the crack. I was disgusted by myself but helpless to leave. It was fascinating. William was usually so uptight, so proper. Now he stood naked, caressing his body in ways I never knew one could. He shifted so that his back was to me. One arm bent and moved forwards and backwards in a pattern I couldn't quite understand. The skin over the muscles in his back stretched taut and then loosened with each heavy breath he took. It was like his skin was engaged in an erotic dance. The sight was unbelievably pleasing and again I felt that stab of desire in my depths, the one I did not know how to abate.

He moved so that I could view his wonderful physique from the side. What I saw shocked me into a gasp, but he had begun moaning loudly so he hadn't heard me. A large organ extended itself from his tight body. So the rumors were true, I thought. I knew men were different from us but I never quite believed they possessed such ... monsters between their legs. I knew better now. William's was large, thick, and swollen. He moved his right hand rapidly over it, groaning with each stroke and generating a light sheen of moisture. His other hand reached out to slap the wall, and he leant against it to support himself.

"Oh, God," he whispered frantically, his right hand moving now at an unbelievable pace. A drop slipped out at the hard end.

What would happen? He appeared to be building towards something, but I couldn't begin to imagine what it was. All I knew was I felt as eager for him to get there as he was. He looked to be in pain; his face was contorted into a desperate grimace. I almost wanted to rush in and tell him to stop torturing himself.

Then the most unbelievable thing happened. He let out a high shriek as his hand was but a blur on his body. A gush of white goo exploded from him, painting the wall and dripping decadently down the wooden plank. He panted and screeched as he continued to work it out of himself.

"Oh, Aurora!" he cried.

Gasping loudly, my hand slipped from the wall and I lost my balance, tripping forward into the door. It creaked loudly and opened completely. He whirled around and spotted me. A thousand emotions played across his face, and because I was in just as much shock I focused on reading them instead of feeling mine: surprise, desire, humiliation, horror, disbelief, shame, pleasure. The whole spectrum.

"I..." he began. Then he looked down at himself and cursed. He ran over to grab a garment and hastily covered the now softening skin. "Aurora. I--"

"I'm sorry," I nearly shouted, "the door was open and ... My father wanted to ask if you could come to dinner tomorrow night. He says he hasn't thanked you enough for your trouble." With that I spun on my heel and ran far, far away.

I did my best to keep my mind off what I'd seen that afternoon. I dusted the cupboards, swept the floors, met with Abigail for afternoon tea, chatted with some of the neighbors ... I even tried to engage my father in a conversation about hunting. But nothing could drive the image of that desperate fluid ejecting from the most private part of William's body.

And I couldn't help wondering if the same thing happened to Oliver.

I didn't know what to make of it, and laid awake far longer than usual that night pondering it. Finally I fell asleep, managing to put thoughts of sex and the very little I knew of it out of my head.

Then something roused me and my eyes reluctantly fluttered open into darkness. I felt a weight on my bed and glanced over, not surprised to see Oliver hovering there. He sat stiffly, watching me with weary eyes and an emotion akin to regret swam in his eyes. He didn't appear all that glad to see me.

Embarrassingly, especially due to his less than thrilled expression, a wide smile spread across my face. Oliver offered a weak one in return before his features contorted into a much more grave position.

"What's the matter?" I asked, rubbing my eyes like a little girl.

"I'm so sorry," was all he said in return.

"What do you mean?" I was a little more awake, surprised by the obvious torment in his voice.

"I have to do this. They're not going to leave you alone."


He sighed, sounding exhausted and pained. He sounded like a man who'd seen too much, done too much, hurt too much.

And then he was on me, his long, heavy figure hovering on my own. I gasped but before I could speak his fangs were on me, penetrating the tender flesh of my neck so shockingly easily. He groaned as he sucked a copious amount of my warm blood into his mouth. I continued gasping, unable to find the strength to scream. It hurt at first and then it turned into something else- like I was part of his body and he was a part of mine. I felt the hardness of his body and a strange bulge between his legs, pushing into the surprising wetness between my own. He continued moaning, the sound so close to my ear that the wetness increased and my toes clenched together. He writhed against me, slamming against my hips and sucking more forcefully at the holes he made in me.

Then it all faded to darkness. Always to darkness.

When I woke my hands unconsciously went to my throat, the skin there tingling and burning; it felt as though two, angry insistent bees had feasted on the sensitive skin, leaving a heated yet almost numbing sensation behind. I struggled momentarily in the darkness, confused as to where I was and what had happened.

Slowly recollections of Oliver climbing atop me drifted through my consciousness, reminding me of the night prior and filling me with a sense of both fear and sensuality. I remembered his heavy form, the delicious scent of his breath, and the dark eyes that reflected the moonlight.

My heavy eyes blinked in the oppressive opaque room, catching on the shadowy form hunched on my rocking chair.

"You're awake," a satiny voice noted, leaning back and rocking with the chair's sway. "Thank goodness. It's nearly daylight."

His voice was flat but unmistakable.


He stood and made a sound of affirmation in his throat, approaching me as though I'd run away. Lethargic and drained of blood, I could hardly see how I'd manage an escape without capture. Strangely I didn't want to run. I wanted him to come to me.

A few feet away from me he stopped, and though I couldn't see him I could feel his inky eyes appraising me. "I had to do it, you know. They never would have stopped."

I realized, then, that the two incisions in my neck were bite marks. He hadn't been kissing me, doing the the things I'd only dreamt about in books or heard the naughty girls whisper about by the well. Oliver had attacked me.

I sat up, albeit shakily, and glared in his direction. "My protection?"

"I've told you before- my kind are fiercely competitive. They smelled you on me. It was only a matter of time before they ... struck."

The double-meaning of his words sent shills down my spine. "So what did you biting me accomplish?" I asked throatily, wondering where my sudden calm and ability for speech was coming from.

My head swam so I rested it back against the pillow, shutting my eyes to the supernaturalness that had come unbidden and unwarranted into my life.

He stepped closer, near enough so that one slender, chilly finger could run the course of my burning arm. "I've marked you as mine."

"By biting me?"

"They'll believe we've completed the full act of bonding through that," he answered cryptically, stepping away suddenly as though the heat of my body was far too hot to bear. "I must leave you. Sleep well."

As suddenly as he'd appeared before, lashing on my vulnerable neck, he dashed out my window. I was left with my swirling, indecipherable thoughts, desperate to ask questions and too terrified to know the answers.

Eventually I drifted off, recalling the wet sharpness of his fangs, the musk that clung to his clothes, the fierce possessive of his dark, dark eyes...

When I woke it all felt like a dream. I would have continued to believe it was until I peered into my dusty mirror, spotting the faint but unmistakable dots in my porcelain white skin. How would I explain them to my father? To my friends? What explanation could I give them?

And shouldn't I tell them what happened? Shouldn't they be on guard?

Oddly enough, the thought of exposing Oliver sickened my stomach and I found myself saying nothing.

As it turns out, no one blessedly noticed a thing. The holes were so tiny that in the light of day they merely looked like blemishes, or insect bites. No one even spotted them.

I couldn't tell if I were relieved or disappointed.

Later on in the afternoon I strolled with Abigail, chatting idly with some of our friends. Though I laughed when it was appropriate to do so, and made the necessary comments, my mind was on Oliver and his words from the night before. What did he mean by "the full act of bonding" and by being marked as his? The words would normally irritate me but I found myself strangely pleased by the idea of being owned in such a way, even if Oliver didn't seem to really mean it. From the way he spoke it suggested he acted in a way to make the other vampires believe I was his: not that I was his, truly.


Abigail was nudging me, jutting her head out for me to take notice of William striding our way. My cheeks burned crimson at the sight of him, remembering his hands on his hard skin, the way the liquid erupted and pooled at his feet. He seemed to remember, too, and his own cheeks reddened even more deeply than mine. Still he continued walking towards us, intent to speak with me. I looked around helplessly for some diversion, but there was no escape.

Then he stood in front of me, appearing to fight his own battle with meeting my eyes. "I realized after you left yesterday I never gave you an official answer to your offer. I would love to join you and your father for dinner tonight. What time should I arrive?"

Abigail's wide eyes flicked to mine. I hadn't told her, mostly because I'd forgotten. It's amazing what one forgets when one's world suddenly involves a vampire. Additionally it was hard to think of William and not remember him in the soft, flickering candlelight, doing things that would surely make his admirers blush and nearly faint with desire.

My tongue felt stuck to the roof of my mouth but I muttered some affirmative answer and, as quickly as he strode over to me, he was gone.

"You should be making duck," my father noted disapprovingly.

I rolled my eyes discreetly, concentrating on battering the chicken. My father rarely ventured into the kitchen, but tonight he was intent on impressing the man he considered to be his future son-in-law.

"And what kind of muck is this?" my father asked, pointing to the pot of broth I had simmering off to the side.

"Soup," was my answer as I swept past him, opening the wine my father had procured especially for the evening.

My father said nothing; he just watched as I cooked, grunting and making clucking noises with his mouth that subtly noted his disappointment with whatever task I was performing.

Thankfully there was a knock on the door, and though I wasn't looking forward to this dinner, or to facing William again, it would preoccupy my father and give me a chance to breathe.

"Aurora, come greet our guest," my father called out, his tone instantly changing to one of pleasantness and kindness.

Hesitantly I made my way out and paused when I saw William. His beautiful blonde hair was tamed for once and he wore a gorgeous navy coat, bringing out the sapphire of his eyes. He was smiling shyly but happily, and he carried the most beautiful bouquet. I thought with a pang how lucky I was he decided that I was worthy of his affections. If he only knew...

The two bite marks sizzled at the thought.

"Hello, Aurora," he greeted me softly, handing the flowers to me. "These are for you."

"Thank you," I muttered meekly, suddenly unsure of what to do with my hands. I at least remembered to grab a vase and fill it with the fragile flowers, placing it on the table. No one had ever given me flowers before.

I brought the food out and blushed when William stood as I took my seat.

"It smells delicious."

"She is a very good cook," my father added, no doubt for William's benefit. Normally when I cooked he grumbled about it being either flavorless or too salty.

I never blamed the poor man for his behavior. He missed my mother dearly, and even after all this time felt helpless. He couldn't be close to me- what would happen if I were lost to the dark?

The dinner was awkward but nothing overly terrible happened, and when it was finished and the table was cleared I sighed with relief. I heard William and my father discussing some politics of the town and decided to busy myself with washing the dishes.

That's when I spotted him ... Oliver, of course. He stood beneath a tree in our backyard, just staring at me. His face was expressionless. I could hardly make him out in the shadows, but I knew he was watching my every move. I went to the back door and tip-toed out, but by the time my foot touched the cool, wet grass he was gone.

I walked William out due to my father's embarrassing encouraging. We didn't have far to walk, but we took our time. He told me a funny story about a particular client of his that had me laughing easily. He was quite charming, I had to admit, and for the first time I understood his full attraction. I wondered for a moment what our life would be like together- would I grow accustomed to him, as so many had suggested? Or would I forever yearn for something else, something more, something different? Would the feeling that something was lacking from my life ever fade?

Before he left me he took my hand, kissing the smooth skin and staring up at me with his shadowed blue eyes. "Thank you for dinner."

"You're welcome," I whispered.

He reached up gently to toss a piece of my hair over my shoulder, unknowingly running a finger against Oliver's puncture marks. I involuntarily moaned softly, and took a step back, embarrassed by my obvious reaction. I didn't know why I reacted that way and I didn't want to.

Thankfully William didn't mention it. He merely looked at me with a curious expression before his face grew serious.

"And thank you for ... well, for not mentioning yesterday."

I had to put my hands to my cheeks to cool them down. The memories flooded back, and I could almost see that same unquenchable thirst in his eyes again. He smiled shyly and reached for one of my hands, looking down as our fingers automatically laced together. He seemed embarrassed, but not totally uncomfortable.

"I can't imagine how embarrassing that must have been for you to witness, and I apologize. You're a good girl and you shouldn't have had to see that. I'm not proud of what I did, but men sometimes..." He looked me over. "Well, you'll learn about it one day." He said those last few words with severity, like a promise. I shivered. "I'm just sorry you had to see me like that. I hope you don't think less of me, and that you can forgive me."

"Of course," I whispered, naturally not understanding all he had to say in its entirety but not begrudging him in the slightest. The only person he seemed to be torturing the day before was himself, in my opinion, even if he looked elated towards the end.

He regarded me with his kind eyes. "I would like to meet with you again. Perhaps for a carriage ride."

I stared down at my feet. That would be a public announcement we were courting. It was no secret we were practically engaged, but that would put what little doubt there was to rest. Suddenly I felt dizzy; it was all happening so quickly, and yet it wasn't. Hadn't I known this would be coming up?

William hesitated before speaking again, looking around us as though the words he so desperately wanted to say were floating around for him to grab out and hold onto for dear life. Finally he opened his mouth. Now he truly looked uncomfortable, and completely unsure as to what to say. "Aurora, it's no secret that I'm enthralled by you. I believe our village has known it since before I even knew it myself. Still, I won't force you to marry me. I know your father had a lot to do with tonight. And I know that your regard for me ... is not as strong as he'd like it to be. As I'd like it to be."

I squirmed, unable to deny it.

"But I'm not giving up yet," he continued. "I just have this feeling we belong together, you and I. I'm going to try my hardest to convince you of that. Just give me time. I believe we shall take our carriage ride Tuesday and learn more about each other. You may be surprised."

He kissed my hand and walked off, leaving me tired and confused. The William I had grown up with had changed into a man, a man who seemed so incredibly sure of himself. I didn't know what to make of it. He wasn't pressuring me, but he was insisting on making our "flirtation" known. There also had been no question we would be taking that carriage ride, whether or not I agreed. The girls would talk, and likely hate me more, and my father would have a good round of ale with his buddies. He wouldn't have to be responsible for me any longer, in his eyes.

I peeked around as I walked back to our cottage, wondering if Oliver was still lurking in the woods. In spite of all that should have preoccupied my thoughts, I found myself thinking of the creature I shouldn't even know, let alone want to see.

I didn't feel him around, and felt strangely depressed by it. I shouldn't have wanted to see him, especially since he took something away from me without my permission and marked me, but I felt such an incredible pull- a tugging that he should be there in the nighttime with me, by my side. Protecting me.

Something told me no one, not even William with his strong arms and sure words, could protect me like he could.

But I didn't sense him around at all, and with a strange sense of loss I returned home and went to bed.

I awoke to a hand on my mouth and another hand gingerly rubbing my sore neck.

"It's me," Oliver whispered.

I relaxed slightly but he didn't take his hands from me. We were silent for a long time, looking into each other's eyes. I couldn't make much out in the darkness but I imagined he could see far better than I could.

Finally he spoke. "Who was that boy tonight?"

He moved his hand so I could speak. "Just a boy from the village my father is fond of."

I thought I could make out the curve of his cheek. He was smiling. "From the looks of it, he's fond of you, too."

My cheeks heated. There was no point in denying it.

"I can understand why, believe me," he muttered darkly. I could feel him looking me over. "How would you feel about another midnight walk?"

I needed to say no. I yearned to say yes. I didn't know what I wanted.

Normally, I always did what was expected. I was always the good girl. Something in me burned for change, for me to find out whoever I was, and I knew in my heart that Oliver could lead me down that path. The question was whether or not I'd be glad I traveled that road or not. My father once said knowing oneself could be incredibly dangerous, as we're often our own worst enemies. As I gazed unseeingly into Oliver's eyes, I hoped my father was wrong.

Without an answer, Oliver lifted me in his arms and carried us out of my window. I let out a muffled sound of protest by default, but thankfully he ignored me. He walked briskly and suddenly we were back at our cliff, the night darker and colder than the first time we'd been there. He gently put me down and sat beside me.

After a while he asked me if I liked William, too. Something about the way he asked made me feel he'd been thinking on it for a long time.

I thought about it. "He's handsome and kind, and probably the ideal husband. He was especially kind to me tonight, considering our circumstances, and he's offered to be patient with me." I sighed and looked at Oliver's lap, where his pale hands clasped together tightly. "But no. He doesn't understand me. If I told him half the things that float around in my head he'd think I was crazy and never want to see me again."

Oliver relaxed a hand and reached for mine, surprising me.

"And what floats around in that head of your's?"

I inhaled heavily and stared out at the black water, churning this way and that way, as indecisive as me.

"I want so much. I feel so much, and I don't understand it. It wakes me up in the night, like I'm missing something terribly important. Sometimes I feel like running through town naked and screaming on the top of my lungs because I'm so frustrated. Sometimes I want to interrupt the men when they talk and point out how wrong they are about some of the things they say. Sometimes I want to hiss that just because my mother died a horrible death, I'm not some freak people need to whisper around." I let out a deep breath. "Sometimes I want to sit down and write and write but who would read it? Other times I want to run away without telling a soul and never speak to anyone from here again. The saddest part of that is I wouldn't miss anyone. Maybe I'd miss my friend Abigail, but she doesn't really understand me, either. She doesn't know me. No one does."

Oliver was quiet for a time and I wondered if I'd frightened him, then smiled wryly at the thought. Frighten a vampire?

"What would you write about?" he finally asked me.

I leaned back on my hands and stared at the sky. "Other worlds. Other places. Hypocrisy. Forgiving. Death. Love."

His thumb stroked the skin between my thumb and forefinger. "Have you ever been in love?"

"No," I sighed. "But my parents were in love. I remember that."

Oliver looked over at me.

And then, embarrassingly, I began to cry. "I just wish I knew what was the matter with me. I've tried to be so good all my life. I've listened to what everyone's told me. I try to never think of anything impure. I try to imagine a life with William, and try to picture being a perfect wife and mother. I try to stifle the strange dreams I have and the yearnings that don't ever fade ... but the dreams and the yearnings grow vivid by the day. I don't understand any of it."

He hushed me and brought me into his arms, whispering things into my hair in a language I couldn't understand. Finally he whispered, "You're just growing up, sweetheart. This is perfectly natural for humans."

There was a sadness in his voice. A yearning much like my own, but for something different. What that was, I wasn't certain.

I sobbed and ripped away from him. "None of the other girls suffer like I do. They walk around and giggle and flirt and they're just so ... happy with everything. They're happy to be paraded around in their finest clothes and be sold off to men who go out and hunt people like you. They're proud of all of that, Oliver. That's their lives. That's what they want my life to be, and I don't want any of it."

He watched me sadly. "You're so wrong, Aurora, and yet you're so right. I've never met anyone like you." He laughed but it wasn't a particularly happy sound.

I held his hand tighter. "I don't care if you're not human. You are good at heart."

He lifted his other hand to gently sweep some of my wayward hair out of my face, and I could tell he didn't agree with me. I didn't want to upset him further, so I changed the subject.

"How does one become a vampire?" I blurted out.

His hand snapped back. He stood and brushed his pants off, and then offered a hand to assist me in rising. I supposed he wasn't going to answer. We made our way back to my cottage in the quiet night, with only the sounds of the forest about us.

After a long silence, his melodic voice finally answered.

"To become a creature like me, someone needs to make you," he stated simply. "They bite you, drain you nearly dry, pump some of their own blood into you, then you go into a delirium and you die."

There was not a hint of emotion in his voice, and he kept his face partly hidden from my perusal.

He pulled a branch out of my way and I nodded in thanks. "Someone ... did that to you?" He nodded with no hint of sadness or resentment. It was just a fact. "So I understand that someone ... made you, but why?"

"She was lonely," he said, shrugging.

My stomach jumped at the word "she". I swallowed and prepared to embarrass myself, but I had to know. "Were you ... lovers?"

He snickered. "Not at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. She wanted to be more like a mother to me."

"Was that you wanted- a mother?"

"Not as badly as my father wanted a wife. He married her after two weeks of knowing her. No one suspected the contemptible creature she was, not even me- and I had always prided myself on being one of the most astute judges of character- but I never liked her. Once I found out her true nature, I realized why. She should have been dead."

Those last words were uttered with the dryness of autumn leaves. I knew that he was thinking of himself, as well, and my heart felt heavy at the thought of him no longer being around. He toyed with a leaf, lost in the past memories of this woman.

"And then what happened?" I asked quickly, desperate to change his mood and eager to learn more of his past. The need to know his true age gnawed at me, but something told me me to hold onto that question for another time. I was already learning more than I could have ever imagined.

Oliver sighed and sat on a rock nearby. "Shortly thereafter she changed us in our sleep. Afterward, as we writhed and died the most painful death, she spoke to us sweetly, telling us all we could have now. All that we could be. We could see things and know things we never would have been able to before." He stared at the dirt beneath his feet. "She played the role of the snake in the Garden of Evil quite well. My father and I reluctantly tasted the forbidden fruit."

We were silent for a moment. I sensed his sadness.

"What did your father do?" I asked quietly.

He let out a derisive laugh and met my eyes. "He thanked her."

"Thanked her?"

"He was a lonely, simple man. He saw forever in her. She saw an obedient companion in him."

"Well ... why did she change you?"

"She knew my father would want her to. Also I believe she truly wanted to be my mother in our sick, twisted family." He blew out a breath. "Soon we moved. The she met her ultimate death and my father and I were left alone, completely ignorant of our lifestyle. Were there others like us? We didn't know. If we found them, would we be glad? Would they? She hinted there were those like us, but that we were more domesticated, she said. They would not be easy to get along with." Oliver dropped the leaf and watched it fall. "Left with little else to do, we have stuck together. We barely speak now," he whispered, watching the clouds above. "We've travelled here and there for years now."

I imagined him lonely and lost, thrust into a world he never wanted to become a part of, and my eyes watered for him. As much as I liked the Oliver I knew now, I couldn't help but imagine what he must have been like before. I doubted my feelings toward him would be much different, however.

I sat on the rock next to him. "But why come here? There are other creatures like you in those mountains, creatures not like you. Why risk such exposure?"

His eyes met mine for the first time since he began his tale of his past. "I know. At first we were merely passing by, visiting vampires we once knew. But something has drawn me here." His dark eyes travelled down my body and back up again. "I wonder what that is."

I was simultaneously excited and terrified. A man who'd just proclaimed he was undead was suggesting something quite wicked ... but quite thrilling, too.

Slowly- so slowly I could pull back if I wanted to- he laid a heavy hand on my waist, tugging me closer to him on our rock. His eyes told me so many things I didn't understand, yet somehow knew all along. Who knows how long we sat there, listening to the owls hooting, the unknown animals dancing along the twigs. Sitting there next to Oliver, time no longer mattered. Nothing mattered.

He inched me closer and turned my body to his, craning his head toward mine.

He was going to kiss me, I realized. I also knew I had never wanted anything so badly in my life. In a move so quick I didn't even notice it, I was spread on his lap and our lips were a whisper apart.

"I want to kiss you very badly," he confessed.

I sucked in a breath. "Then kiss me."

He debated it for a moment, warring with himself. I could see in his eyes how badly he wanted it, and I'm sure he could hear from my heartbeat how desperate I was to taste him.

Two cold, slender fingers stroked where he bit me, distracting me with the strangely erotic touch, and then his lips were on mine, nudging and soft. They were surprisingly smooth and slightly damp. My body jolted when he let his tongue swipe out and taste my lips. Then his cool tongue was in my mouth, frantically tangling with my own tongue. We moaned into each other's mouths and grasped at each other's clothes. He yanked me closer to his body and I felt that same sense of wetness between my thighs again, only this time a hard pressure from his body seemed to meet me. His lower body thrust up, pressing the hard part of him into my soft wetness, making me moan. He growled and kissed me harder, then let his lips trail to my neck. Briefly I wondered if he'd bite me again, and I felt myself strangely yearning for it.

He pulled his mouth away and stared at me, looking lost and confused.

I was slowly piecing things together.

"What do the bite marks mean, Oliver?"

They were pulsating even then, desperate to be torn open again. Desperate to be drunk from.

He swallowed. "It's to warn others like myself from you," he responded, his deep voice raspier than usual. The hardness between us seemed to stiffen further and he shut his eyes. "You're so tempting, sitting there so innocently, asking the devil about his evil world."

"I have a right to know," I whispered softly. On some compulsion I leaned forward and whispered against his wet lips. "I want to know."

His dark eyes snapped open. "They'll believe we've mated, or will mate."

"Mate." That word again.

"That we've fucked, is that a good enough answer for you?" Oliver was irritated but he didn't push away from me; he held me tighter.

"I think I know the meaning of that word," I murmured, blushing. Oliver eyed me over.

"If you're blushing then you have some idea."

"What does that matter? And why would that stop them?"

"It's a matter of code. If one disobeys, there is a duel. No one would be foolish enough to disregard it."

I stroked his dark hair, hardly realizing I was doing it. In a matter of minutes I'd gone from a shy girl to a girl with her legs spread around a man, touching him intimately.

A thought occurred to me. "What is that hardness against me?"

He groaned and rested his head in the space between my neck and shoulder. "It's the part of a man that becomes aroused when a woman excites him. Sexually."

I pondered that for a moment. "Do all men have one?"

He snorted and looked up at me affectionately, running a hand through my hair. "Yes."

Ah. That explains William.

"What happens? When one fucks?"

Oliver shut his eyes and let out the same painful groan as before. The part between us seemed to twitch a little. "If I weren't dead already, I would be sure you were trying to kill me." He inhaled my scent and exhaled against my skin, causing goosebumps to explode everywhere. "First of all, don't use that word. It isn't a word for ladies and you'll shock your friends. Second of all, you'll find out when you're married."

"Aren't we mated?" I asked, playing with him a little.

He caught my coy smile and paused for a second, then rushed forward like he couldn't help himself and kissed me deeply again.

He pulled my body towards his and then pushed it away, over and over.

"Why are you rocking me like this?" I panted in his ear, clutching at his shoulder desperately because it felt so good.

"I shouldn't be..." Oliver answered cryptically, sounding in pain.

"Please don't stop."


"I thought we weren't supposed to say that word," I whispered, kissing him first this time. My initiative surprised him.

Roughly he brought my body towards him and flipped up my skirts so only my underclothing and his breeches separated us. It still felt like too much, but now I could feel the hard part of him more clearly. When he pushed against my wetness, I whimpered in delight and held on for dear life.

"What do you call it?" I panted "The hard part of you? Please tell me. I won't repeat it to anyone but you."

Oliver hesitated a moment but continued moving me against him. "My cock," he finally gasped, a frantic edge to his voice.

"And the wet part of me? Between my thighs? What shall I call that?" I asked, moving against him of my own accord.

I couldn't explain what was happening to me; it was like he was bewitching me, and if I went according to legend, he very well could have been. But I didn't care anymore- I wanted Oliver to bewitch me.

He let out a series of words I didn't understand at my questions and then finally whispered the answer into my damp neck. "Your pussy."

"And what are we doing?"

He sighed choppily and sucked against the scars he left on me. I knew without asking or without him telling me he was going to bite me again, and I also knew innately he couldn't help it.

"Everything short of fucking," he moaned, dragging me across his cock desperately and rapidly. "I shouldn't be doing this ... shouldn't be..."

"Don't stop!" I begged again. I was tired of "should" and "shouldn't be". This felt so good and right.

We were moving in such a blur I could hardly make out anything except Oliver's face, and the sight of pure ecstasy in his eyes.

"Aurora," he whispered. It sounded like a prayer.

He pushed especially hard against me in a few quick thrusts and suddenly it was like I felt everything and nothing at the same time. My breasts tingled, my pussy (as Oliver referred to it) clenched and grew wetter, my toes curled, and my legs spasmed. I hugged Oliver close.

"That feels so good!" I cried.

"Fuck!" he moaned again, continuing his fast and hard pace. It almost hurt. He leaned forward and bit me again, penetrating my skin and taking a generous gulp. It made that indescribable feeling come back, and again I was shaking from head to toe against him, soaking his cock through the fabric of our clothing as sparks shot down my spine and to my toes. He took another sip. And then he shuddered all over and stopped moving. He pulled his mouth away from my neck and licked the wounds. Hugging me close to him, he breathed my name into my hair.

My body was still tingling as he helped me stand and adjusted our clothing. He took my hand and brought me back home, but every now and then he'd turn to catch my eyes and smile. I'd never seen him smile like this, or so often. I wanted more of it. I wanted more of him.

He brought me inside my bedroom and tucked me in, kissing me deeply before rising to leave.

"Oliver?" I whispered into the night.

He paused and turned but said nothing.

"That was the best feeling I've had in my whole world. Thank you."

He was quiet for a long time. Then he whispered back. "You're welcome."

"Please come back tomorrow," I begged, probably a little too loudly.

He shushed me and then moved closer to the window, preparing to hop out. "You'll see me tomorrow. You can't get rid of me now."

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