DISCLAIMER: The Hollows and its characters/inhabitants are the property of Kim Harrison. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Eyes Wide Shut
By Janine



I pulled the blanket higher and clutched it protectively against my chest. I told myself it was to protect myself from the chill of the cabin, but the truth was I was using it as a security blanket, trying to sooth myself and hide myself at the same time.

I turned to look at Kisten and my eyes met his back, just as they had the last few times I had looked at him. He was still naked, but instead of lounging beside me holding me, he was sitting at the edge of the bed hunched over with his head in his hands, his back moving up and down slowly as he took deep, measured breaths.

We'd been like this – me clutching the sheet against myself as I leaned against the headboard while Kisten was hunched over sitting at the edge of the bed – for almost five minutes, and the silence and the tension were getting to me. I wasn't good at doing nothing. I wasn't proud of it, but I had accepted the fact that I was not a patient person. I positively sucked at waiting, and could never hold myself back for long.

I shifted on the bed leaning forward with my hand outstretched to touch his back. However, before I was even close to making contact with his skin he moved, using his vampire quickness to elude my touch.

I stared at the empty space where he had been for a moment, and then turned to look at the foot of the bed. The elastic of his boxers was just snapping into place when my eyes found him again, and when my gaze finally landed on his face I wished that I had never lifted my eyes. His jaw was clenched, and the blue eyes that I loved so much were black with anger and misery. He was pissed. No, that was being unfair. It wasn't like he was upset because I had used the last of his shampoo or something. He was hurt; deeply hurt and I couldn't blame him. What I had said … god, I hadn't meant to say it. I didn't even know why it had come out of my mouth. It just had. It didn't mean … I was just … it was just on my mind because of what had happened earlier. It didn't mean …

"Kist," I said softly, hating the wet, wispy quality of my voice as I spoke. I could barely meet his eyes. "It wasn't like that," I continued as he stared at me with dark, unblinking eyes. "It's doesn't mean anything, I was just …"

"Do you really believe that?" He asked interrupting me. His voice was a low rumble. "Do you?" he repeated, his tone hard and more than a bit incredulous.

"Of course I do!" I exclaimed immediately. "I didn't want to … it's just, with everything that happened earlier … I mean it's hard just to block that out! It doesn't mean …"

"Of course it does!" Kisten yelled, his voice surprising me into silence.

I stared at him, my eyes wide with shock as I tried to keep my heart rate down. I had never heard him yell before, and I have to say that I didn't like it. I deserved it, but I didn't like it. It was scary. Kisten was supposed to be the safe one … well, as safe as a vampire could be. I wasn't used to being on the razor's edge with him. Terror warring with affection had always been a characteristic on my interactions with Ivy, not Kisten.

"You said her name," Kisten said a few moments later, his voice softer and calmer, though no less angry and hurt. "I was inside of you, your teeth were at my neck, and when you came you said her name," he continued, his voice dropping as his features contorted in pain. "That means something, Rachel. That means some …" he stopped speaking and angled his face away from mine.

I breathed in deeply and closed my eyes as a wave of shame washed over me. I wanted to deny what he was saying, but I couldn't. I had said Ivy's name. I wished I hadn't, but I did. I could remember it clearly. Kisten had been inside of me, and my body had been flushed with pleasure. My breath was coming in quick pants, and I was nipping at his skin almost uncontrollably as my passion mounted. I'd pulled back and looked at his face, and my vision had blurred and shifted. Ivy's face and Kisten's started to trade places. I would breath in and be looking at Kisten, and breath out and be looking at Ivy. Blond hair was replaced by straight, inky hair with golden tips. I was with him, but I couldn't stop thinking about her. I could feel of her arms wrapped about me in the sanctuary earlier. I was with him, but I couldn't forget the press of her body against mine or her kiss. Oh god, that kiss had been … and then I was cresting, and Ivy's face was in my mind, and as I crashed into orgasm I had clutched at Kisten and moaned Ivy's name as my body shook.

"It was just," I started weakly.

"It wasn't just anything," Kisten said turning around to face me again. There was a ring of blue showing in his eyes, and I breathed a little easier. Things weren't close to being resolved between us, but at least he was clamping down on his anger. He was in control. "You want her," he continued.

"I don't!" I declared immediately, the speed and forcefulness of the response embarrassing me. "Not like that," I added my skin reddening as I acknowledged that I responded with a suspicious quickness. "I don't want to have sex with Ivy."

"Yes, you do," Kisten said, and when I looked up to glare at him indignantly I saw that he was already staring at me intensely. "You do," he repeated softly, before squeezing his eyes shut and angling his head away from me. "Why are you doing this? To me, to Ivy, to yourself?" he asked a moment later, frustration coating his tone as he looked back over at me. "Why do you deny it, when it's so painfully obvious to everyone that you want to fuck her?"

"Kisten!" I exclaimed sounding like a scandalized suburban soccer mom. I didn't like it when he swore.

"What? You're allowed to call out other people's names during sex, but I can't swear?" he asked arching a pale eyebrow at me, his voice positively dripping with sarcasm.

I quieted down and looked away from him. When he put it like that, it did seem kind of ridiculous.

"What are you so scared of?" he asked finally, breaking the silence that had descended between us.

I looked up at him and saw that he was staring out of the small window at the side of the bedroom. He wasn't looking at me, but I knew that he was very aware of me. In fact, because of his vampire senses I was certain that he was probably more aware of what was going on inside of me than I was.

"I'm not scared," I said even though the tightening of my stomach made me suspect I wasn't being truthful with him or myself. "I just don't want to," I continued, shifting uncomfortably on the bed, suddenly very aware of my nudity under Kisten's thin sheet.

"Where did she kiss you?" Kisten asked turning around to face me.

"What?" I asked, surprised into stupidity by the unexpectedness of his question.

"Where were you when she kissed you?" he said, clarifying his question.

"Kist," I started, not sure that it was a good idea to be talking about the kiss with Ivy after what had just happened. He was clearly upset and I didn't want to agitate him. I couldn't say that I had never poked an angry vampire with a sharp stick before, but I was feeling more in control of my need to irritate people than I usually was and I didn't want to irritate Kisten.

"Can you just answer the question, please," he interjected before I could say anything else. He sounded irritated, and I sighed before looking down at the sheet covering me. So much for not irritating him, I thought grumpily.

"The sanctuary," I said softly.

He was already irritated as hell with me, and frankly I owed it to him to see the conversation through wherever he wanted to take it. I didn't mean to hurt him, but I had. He was the injured party, and I had to do what I could to make things better. No matter how uncomfortable it made me.

"Tell me what happened," he said.

I looked up at him then, but he was staring out of the window again. His posture wasn't relaxed, but he wasn't wire tight either and I knew that he was in control of himself and his emotions. I was hesitating because of my own unease, not his. I didn't want to talk this, especially not naked in his bed, but I would.

"We had been talking," I said, my stomach clenching with anxiety. "She was upset because … she was close to me and my scar was acting up. We were talking …" I trailed off and shifted uncomfortably once again. I could practically feel Ivy's fingers on mine again, holding them gently as she had earlier that day and a shiver ran through me. Her touch had been so gentle, and so unexpected. We so rarely touched each other that when we did I couldn't help but be incredible aware of her.

"We were talking about a blood balance," I said, forcing myself to continue. I'd been silent for a while and I knew that it wouldn't escape Kisten's notice. "I wanted to try again, but she was being stubborn as a brain damaged mule about the whole thing," I went on, frowning as I thought back to the conversation we'd had. Ivy was so infuriating sometimes. "She got mad and stormed off into the kitchen," I said, remembering the way her pupils had dilated when I insinuated that she had given me Rynn Cormel's book because she wanted me to seduce her into biting me. In hindsight, it had been kind of an asshole thing to say, but I was angry. "I followed her into the kitchen and pissed her off again and then she ran away into the sanctuary."

Kisten breathed in deeply and his posture stiffened a little, but he didn't say anything so I continued.

"I kept pushing her. I really didn't understand why she wouldn't try, at least just one more time. The effort to hold herself back has been killing her, and … but she kept insisting that it was too dangerous," I continued, my voice trailing off a little as I remembered the pain in her voice, the loathing and disgust directed at herself as she talked about how Piscary had twisted her into something monstrous. How he had made it so that she couldn't separate sex from blood. I wanted to ease her pain. I wanted to show her that she wasn't a monster, that I loved her and trusted her. I wanted to show her that she was beautiful, and that we could create something beautiful together, but … "She said she wouldn't try again unless I promised that I would hurt her," I said, shuddering a little at the thought.

Kisten simply nodded as if the idea made complete sense to him, and I felt a swell of irritation before I forced myself to let go of it.

"She jumped me," I said, my heart spiking at the memory of Ivy suddenly being on top of me, wrestling me to the floor. "She wanted me to prove that I could use my magic to hurt her. But I couldn't. I didn't want to. I don't want to," I sighed. "When I refused to take action against her, she gave me an ultimatum."

"What was it?" Kisten asked softly, speaking for the first time since I had started to recount the story of Ivy's kiss. His voice had a resigned quality to it, and I suspected that he already knew what she had told me. He knew her better than anyone, better than me, I thought surprised at the way the thought made my heart ache. If he understood why she demanded I hurt her, then he was probably able to guess what her decree had been.

"She said that we could share blood without love if I hurt her, or that we," I paused, my breath coming a bit raggedly, "that we could share blood without hurt if I loved her," I finished blinking rapidly, not quite sure why my eyes suddenly burned, stinging from tears that I refused to shed.

"And then she kissed you," Kisten prompted. Immediately I raised my eyes to him, but he still wasn't looking at me. I hadn't even realized that I had trailed off into silence for so long.

"Yes," I said. "She wanted to show me … what I could have," I breathed out, my skin flushing at the words and the heat suddenly flowing through my body as I remembered her kiss.

The kiss had felt sudden at the time, but it wasn't. She had time to pull me to her and to whisper to me how good I'd smelt. I'd had time to turn in her arms so that we were facing each other, and I'd had time to study her perfect face.

Her eyes had been as dark as absolute midnight. They were fathomless and wild and I had felt like I was falling inside of her as I stared at her. Her beautiful lips had been parted, ragged breaths of air escaping from between them, each exhalation pulsing with her desire for me. But deeper than the want, than the lust for blood and sex, had been an aching vulnerability. Ivy didn't just want to sleep with me. She loved me, and she wanted all of the things that came along with that.

The kiss had felt sudden at the time, but there was time for me to think about her in Kisten's van. There was time for me to remember the feel of her lips against my neck, and for my scar to flare to life at the thought of her mouth against my skin and her body pressed again mine. There was time for me to remember the ecstasy of her pulling what she needed from me, and the deep feeling of satisfaction it gave me. There was time for me to remember how close to her I had felt, and how full of love. We had been so perfect at that moment, so very wonderful together and I longed to feel that again.

There had been time for her to talk to me. She had reassured me that she wouldn't bite me, even though she wanted to and I wanted her to. She had moved closer and whispered to me to close my eyes and keep them closed.

I shivered at the thought.

I had to have known what she was going to do, I had to have. She was so close, and her voice was so gentle, and her desire was so very obvious. I had to have known, but I swear that I wasn't consciously aware of it, even after she had made me promise that what she was going to do wouldn't change things between us.

And then her lips had been on mine, and the world had shifted and quaked. I had thought that I should pull away, but my body had just relaxed into her arms, and when she felt my lack of resistance she had deepened the kiss. A few seconds later her hand found my scar and I my body was on fire as I moaned her name, my mind and body swimming in pleasure as she pressed me against the wall and I trembled. I was completely at the mercy of her lips and the aching pleasure they were producing in me, and I never wanted her to stop.

"Tell me you don't want her," Kisten said, his voice a low pained hissed.

He was staring at me, his eyes almost completely black and when he moved towards me I flinched back, pressing myself against the headboard.

"Tell me you don't want her," he demanded more forcefully, shoving something in my direction.

I blinked in surprise until I was able to focus on the object in his hand. It was a mirror. My brows creased in confusion. Why was he showing me a mirror? What did he want me to look at? I stared at my reflection in the mirror for a moment, suddenly realizing what he wanted me to see a few second later. He wanted me to look at myself. He wanted me to see how flushed my skin was, and how dilated my eyes had become. He wanted me to see my chest rising and falling rapidly as I panted more than breathed, and see the thin sheen of sweat that had formed on my forehead.

I looked away from the mirror, shocked at the portrait of desire and arousal that I had just been staring at. I shifted on the bed, and then with an agonizing burst of clarity I realized why I was shifting and forced myself to stop.

"It was the scar," I said softly. "She was playing on my scar. You know what that does to me," I continued trying to ignore the pulsing between my legs.

"Maybe," Kisten said pulling the mirror back from me. I'd seen what he wanted to show me. "But she's not playing on your scar now, is she? She's not even here," he said moving over to his dresser to put the mirror back down. "There're no pheromones coating this room to manipulate your scar," he continued turning back around to face me. What he had produced during sex had long since dissipated, and he hadn't been producing any since then. The boat was a pheromone free zone at the moment.

I said nothing and shifted again unable to help the movement. I was hot and tight, and it was uncomfortable. My thighs squeezed together providing a moment of relief, and I forced myself to sit still again.

"Look at you," he said, his hand flinging out to wave at him. "You can't even sit still. I can smell your desire."

"We were just," I began, surprising myself with how meek my voice was. It wasn't from before and I knew it.

"You know I can tell the difference," he said not willing to indulge my denials. "The whole time you were talking you were thinking about her, and it got you hot. No scar, no pheromones, just Ivy."

I opened my mouth to object, but I closed it before a sound came out. I shifted, tightening my grip on the sheet covering me, and was surprised when a shiver ran through my body as my arm grazed my nipple. It was hard, and sensitive, and as I looked down at the sheet I could see that the firmness of them was visible through the sheet. They hadn't been like that when I started talking and … oh god, Kisten was right. I did want Ivy. For the love of god, thinking about her had been enough to make my nipples hard. He was right, all of freaking Cincinnati was right! I was wet, and my clit was throbbing, and it was taking all of my willpower not to shift on the bed again. I was painfully turned on, and all I'd been doing was thinking about her.

A choked sound emerged from my throat and I drew my legs up and wrapped my arms around them, curling in on myself.

"Go to her," Kisten said softly. I couldn't tell what he was feeling from the tone of his voice, and I refused to look over at him to see if his expression would give anything away.

"I don't know where she is," I said miserably before I could think better of the response. I hadn't seen Ivy since she had fled after she kissed me.

"Then go home," he sighed, his exhalation the very definition of weariness. "I'll get a message to her," he continued softly.

"Why?" I asked finally lifting my head to look at him. He had encouraged me to try deepening my relationship with Ivy before, but that was before we had become lovers and I'd assumed he was just being self-sacrificing, putting the feelings of his friend before his own romantic pursuits. Things were different now, we were together, but he was pushing me towards her again. Hell, he wasn't just pushing he was shoving me at her like she was the exit and I was the last one in the bar after closing.

"Because I need to know," he said. "You need to know. We all do. This situation, the way it is, it isn't fair to any of us." He sighed, and ran an agitated hand through his hair. "I love you, Rachel," he continued, "and I want to be with you. But you and Ivy," he stopped and shook his head as if he wished he could shake whatever thoughts were plaguing him right out of him through his ears. "You need to see. You need know. I can't keep doing this, knowing that you love her … waiting for the day when you finally realize just how much and leave …" he tugged at his hair as his words trailed off, and then took a deep breath. "Go to her. If it's not what you want, then at least you'll have tried and you'll know for sure and we can … move on. All of us can move on."

"And if it is … if I like it?" I asked him, my voice barely a whisper.

"Then … that's that," he said turning his hands up in the air helplessly. "I'd say we could all share," continued running his hand through his hair again. "Ivy and I have in the past, but it's different with you," he said shaking his head. "She loves you too much, and you've never been onboard with the idea of open relationships," he continued. "If it's good between the two of you, you won't want a third anymore than she will."

"Kisten," I said helplessly. I had no idea what I was going to follow that up with, but I needed to say something. "I love you."

"Yes, I think you do," he said, offering me a weak smile. "But you love Ivy too. You love her more," he added softly.

"I don't!" I exclaimed, but even as I did my heart clenched powerfully at the thought of her.

"You do," he said, his voice full of pain but not doubt. "You'll realize that once you two are finally together. I'll be here … but after you two finally … I don't expect you'll come back." He sounded so sure. How could he sound so sure? How could he be more confident about what I was feeling than I was? Hell, he wasn't even just confident about what I was feeling, he was confident about what I would feel, and I was struggling to form a complete sentence.


"Go home," Kisten said moving towards his closet. He disappeared inside of it a moment later and I could hear hangers rustling. "I'll make sure she knows you're waiting for her," called out, his voice drifting to me from the depths of his closet.

When he emerged from the closet a few seconds later, he was fully dressed and I knew that very soon I would be alone.

"Kisten," I said desperately, feeling things begin to spiral completely out of my control.

I didn't know what else to say however, so when he moved towards the bed he did so in silence. He stopped at the edge and stared at me for a moment, and then he braced his hand on the mattress and leaned forward to press a soft kiss to my forehead.

"Go home," he whispered gently, his lips moving against my skin as he spoke, the warmth of his breath and inevitability of his departure bringing tears to my eyes.

"Kisten," I breathed out wetly, my heart pounding beneath my breast.

I looked up desperately after his name had passed through my lips, my hand twitching at against my chest with the desire to reach out for him, but when my eyes lifted I saw nothing but his bedroom wall. He was already gone.



I'd been back at the church for an hour when I heard the front door open and then close. No footsteps followed the sound and I knew that Ivy was home.

When I had gotten home from Kisten's boat, I'd immediately gone and taken a shower. After getting out and getting dressed I'd spent nearly half an hour pacing restlessly through the church. As I walked I tried to dispute what Kisten had said to me earlier. Now that I was home, and fully dressed instead of being vulnerable and naked under a sheet, I thought that my mind would work better. I thought that without the awkwardness and emotional distress that had surrounded us on the boat that I would be able to set things straight inside me, figuratively and literally.

I hadn't been able to.

Our talk on the boat had awoken something inside of me. It had made me think of things differently, and I couldn't pull the wool over my eyes. I thought the words, 'I am straight,' and 'I do not want to have sex with Ivy', but thoughts would come to me of Ivy, and Ivy's hands and lips on my body, and I would tingle. I remembered the sight of Ivy looking like a construction worker's wet dream in her worn hip-hugger jeans and black t-shirt, and it made me press my thighs together. I thought about her lips, and the way I would tremble when a hint of fang would show through her smile. I thought about her in her tight leather pants, and I wanted to run my nails up the length of her thighs and move them around to her ass to cup the perfect globes.

I'd always had an appreciation for Ivy's beauty. More than once I had found myself almost dazed by how incredibly good looking she was, but I had always told myself it was a purely aesthetic appreciation. I'd always told myself I'd feel the same way if I ever got around to seeing the Mona Lisa in person. But it wasn't aesthetic anymore, and I doubt that it ever really had been. It was hot, and sweaty, and left me slick and swollen now. I didn't want to just look at her, I also wanted to touch.


I lifted my head from the arm of Ivy's chair at the sound of her voice. She sounded worried, almost panicked and I wondered what Kisten had told her to get her back here so soon.

"I'm in here," I called out, remaining where I was curled up her chair.

"Are you okay? Kisten called, he said that you needed me. I got here as soon as I could. I …" the barrage of words that had been falling from her lips as she moved towards the living room stopped as she paused in the doorway. She stared at me blinking, and I knew that it was the combination of our scents and the fact that I was perfectly fine that stopped her short. She was probably expecting to find me bruised, or crying or both, or worse. But I was lying in my comfy jeans in her chair looking slightly perturbed … if that.

"You're okay," Ivy breathed out a few seconds later, and I could see that she was taking quick shallow breaths in an effort to avoid taking in too much of our combined scents. I'd rested in her chair before, and normally it wasn't enough to trigger her instincts, but she'd been in a state of emotional distress before, and the lingering effects of that along with our scents combining might be enough to trigger something.

I thought about getting up and moving over to the couch, but I knew that the damage was done, and that to move would probably only make things worse by sending fresh waves of scent out to her.

"I'm not hurt," I told her, not quite able to say that I was okay. My heart was pounding, and I felt a little light-headed. Ivy was dressed in a casually elegant outfit that hugged her curves in all of the right places. She looked absolutely stunning, and in my new frame of mind I was finding it difficult to concentrate on anything but how delicious she looked. I wanted to get up and walk over to her and just press myself against her. The desire to just feel her, to take in her incense, and bask in the warmth of her body was almost overwhelming. I ached, longing just to be closer to her.

"He tricked me," Ivy breathed out. Her tone darkened and she turned to look behind her as if she expected to find Kisten standing in the hallway behind her doubled over in laughter. "I'll kill him," she growled, her body tensing.

I moved drawing her attention over to me. I wasn't actually worried about Ivy killing Kisten because of a bad joke she thought he had played on her. I was however worried about her leaving to go and find him so that she could pound on him a bit. I needed to talk to her.

"He didn't," I said slowly moving into a standing position. "I mean maybe he did. I don't know what he told you, but it wasn't a joke," I said moving slowly towards her.

She stared at me for a moment, and then her lips parted and I knew that she was scenting me, trying to figure out what I was feeling. Her lip curled a little and I knew that she smelled Kisten on me. Showering wasn't enough to remove his scent completely, though it usually masked it enough that she couldn't smell him unless she was trying to. Her expression calmed a second later, and then turned confused as she breathed in again, finally picking up on the conflicting emotions and feelings of anxiety and distress coming off of me. Her eyes blackened and her face became a mask of anger and misery.

"Did he bite you?" she asked softly, the control and lightness with which the question was asked sending a shiver through me. Ivy wasn't scary when she was yelling, it was when that unnatural calm and stillness calm over her that she was truly terrifying. It was the vampire, the predator in her coming out and I usually ended up pressed up against a wall with her teeth hovering near my neck when I heard it.

"No," I said, my voice strong and firm, even as I shifted my legs. I didn't want her to doubt my response, not for a moment. "I swear."

"I don't understand," Ivy said finally, her perfect black eyebrows bunching together as she scowled faintly, a touch of fear also present in her voice. "What's wrong? Why did he send me here?" she asked looking over at me with cinnamon eyes. "Why are you scared?"

"We need to talk," I said softly, my mind spinning as I wondered how the hell to start this conversation. It wasn't an easy discussion to begin. It wasn't something that just naturally kind of flowed into a conversation. What was I supposed to say? 'Knock knock?' Who's there? 'Lesbian desire … for you'. Ugh, terrible. Nice belt. I think I'm in love with you and I want to put my mouth your body. I sighed. This was going to be a disaster.

Ivy's look of confusion and curiosity slipped from her face at my words, and was replaced by a steady blank mask. "You know where I stand," she said, her voice carefully modulated as her head turned towards the door and she prepared to leave.

"But you don't know where I do," I said wanting to reach out to place a hand on her arm, but knowing that I shouldn't. She was agitated and tense at the moment, and touching her might have triggered her instincts. Trying to restrain her would have come across as an act of aggression and she would have responded in turn. I needed to be smart about this.

I didn't need to touch her however, my words were enough to stop her short and she turned to face me again. She stared at me for a second, and then she breathed in and her eyes fluttered and a look of pain flashing across her features before a blank mask settled across her face again.

"I think I do," she murmured, her voice crisp and clear as a winter's day.

"Don't act like you know what I'm thinking," I said irritably, annoyed by her insinuation that smelling Kisten on me meant that I had rejected her offer. I mean, okay, yes, I had gone to him to try and reaffirm my heterosexuality, and to reaffirm my commitment to him, but things hadn't really worked out that way. I had chosen him immediately after her ultimatum, but things were different now. I wasn't trying to leave, or to push her away, I was trying to make things work and draw her closer. I just needed her to give me enough time to tell her that without her getting pissed at me and storming out before I could stop her. Goddamn vampire speed!

"I never know what you're thinking," Ivy muttered in an equally irritable tone of voice. "I just know what you smell like, and it smells like you made your decision," she continued cuttingly.

"Then stop sniffing, because you don't know what you're talking about!" I declared crossing my arms across my chest so that I could glare at her. Stupid vampires and their stupid sense of smell, I thought narrowing my eyes at her. "Also, it's creepy," I added as an after thought, still glaring at her the whole time.

"I can't help it that your senses are dull and underdeveloped," Ivy responded meeting my glare with an increasingly blackening one of her own. "Are you trying to tell me you weren't with him?" she continued quickly, speaking again before I could snap back at her.

"No," I said my glare fading a little bit at the hint of anguish in her voice. "I was with him earlier. We were …"

"I don't want to hear this," Ivy said angling her head to the side her face contorted in pain as if I had just slapped her across the face. "I never need to hear this," she murmured softly, her hand lifting to press against her ear as if she hoped to physically block my words from entering her brain. "I don't need to hear this," she repeated again. "I smell enough of your sex life, I don't need to hear about it too!" she ranted turning to face me, the sorrow in her eyes eclipsing the anger of her words.

"What if it's about you?" I asked flushing as the words fell from my lips.

Ivy's expression gentled, and a look of befuddlement so precious that it would have made a wee little kitten purr covered her features. Her expression was the perfect physical embodiment of 'duh' and despite the awkwardness of our conversation I almost smiled.

"What?" she asked finally as she blinked at me in confusion.

I paused, suddenly realizing how incredibly mortifying the next part of this conversation was going to be. I hadn't really planned on revealing the whole, 'I called out your name during sex thing' to her. I thought that maybe I would just get us talking about the kiss and then ease into an 'I've been thinking' type of conversation. But my big mouth had gone and swallowed my foot again, and now I had to explain how she connected to my sex life. Swell.

"I think we broke up," I said suddenly, having no idea whatsoever where that came from.

"What?" Ivy asked blinking again sounding a little frustrated this time. Ivy didn't like being confused, it was a personality trait I shared, and my cryptic responses were beginning to irritate her.

"Kisten and I," I explained.

"What? Why?" she asked, her irritation fading into surprise. The surprise was only there for a moment before her expression darkened and I spoke quickly, knowing that she was thinking that he had done something to hurt me and that was why he had called her and told her to come to the church.

"He didn't do anything," I said before she could ask. And it was true. Everything that had gone wrong was my fault. If anybody deserved her anger it was me, not him. "It was actually, um," I continued, chewing on my bottom lip for a moment, "more because of you."

Ivy blinked at me again, and then drew back, her posture straightening.

"Because of me?" she repeated, perfect black eyebrows scrunching together as she stared at me blankly. "What did I do?"

I stared at her wide-eyed, my mouth falling open as I looked at her. She actually meant that! She was genuinely asking me what she had done to cause Kisten and me to break up! Unbelievable! She was unbelievable, and this time I wasn't talking about her looks!

"You kissed me!" I declared jabbing a finger in her direction though I knew better than to actually poke her – I wanted to though, I wanted to really badly.

"And after I left you went and had sex with him," she shot back at me, her voice rising as she spoke only for her words to be capped off with a soft, resigned sigh. Her eyes dropping away from me again and her shoulders hunched over slightly as she avoided my gaze.

"Yes, I did," I said seeing her body tighten at the admission that I had run from our home straight into Kisten's arms. "And I couldn't stop thinking about you!" I continued, my voice rising with emotion before I forced myself to calm down. Ivy had over at me at that, but despite what I had just told her she still looked sad and guarded, and her melancholy calmed my momentary ire. "I couldn't stop thinking about your kiss," I went on, knowing that I needed to explain more. "I said your name."

"What?" she breathed out blinking rapidly, her posture straightening as she gazed at me with wide brown eyes.

I stared at her as she blinked at me, and felt an urge to laugh welling up inside of me. Our conversation wasn't remotely funny, but my mind was spinning and everything was hot and my heart was pounding, and I couldn't take anymore intensity. I needed to let some of the tension out or I was going to go insane.

"What?" I choked out, the word coming out half chuckle and half sob. I lifted my hand up to cover my mouth and bit down on my bottom lip to stop the eruption of true laughter bubbling in my chest from escaping.

"What?" Ivy asked her eyes narrowing.

"What?" I repeated pressing my hand against my face more firmly as a smile began to tug at my lips. "What? What? What?" I asked wondering if she was capable of saying anything else. "Do you have any idea how often you've said that since you came in here?"

"I wouldn't have to ask if you'd say something that made sense!" Ivy declared frustration and anger warring in her tone. When I looked up at her I could detect a faint blush colouring her cheeks. She had noticed how often she was saying it, but hadn't been able to stop herself. When she was upset she lost much of her eloquence, and her lack of verbiage only irritated her more.

"I'm sorry," I said, meaning it. It wasn't fair to laugh. She was right, I wasn't making any sense.

She crossed her arms and glared at me, not willing to forgive me until I actually said something that made sense. I stared at her for a moment, trying to decide what to do. I wasn't sure what to say, and talking hadn't really been working so far. In fact, talking looked like it had just crashed and burned. So, I decided to go with what I knew … action.

I took a step towards her and her posture straightened. I ignored the movement and continued to walk slowly towards her until I was standing in front of her. I reached out for her, taking her jaw in my hand, cradling it gently as I looked up at her. She jerked back slightly at the first touch of my hand, but she stilled under it a second later.

"Wha …" she began before trailing off, her eyebrows scrunching together in irritation as she realized what she was going to say. Her eyes lost focus for a moment, and I knew that she was trying to find another way to phrase her question. When she looked up at me sullenly, I knew that she had failed to find another way and I smiled.

"God, you're cute," I sighed stroking her cheek with my thumb. Her eyes widened and I blushed. I'd meant to think that, not say it out loud. "You are," I told her, not willing to back down now. I hadn't meant to say it, but it was true and I was glad my mouth was quicker than my brain. "You're beautiful."

"Rach…" Ivy managed to get out. There was a trace of panic in her voice, and I knew that having me so close to her was beginning to trigger her instincts. She didn't understand why I was so close to her, and she was scared of what would happen if I didn't put some distance between us again, but I wasn't. Ivy could control her instincts, she only lost control of herself when I asked her to separate her hunger from her love for me, and I wasn't going to do that. I wanted her to feel that love, to hold onto it, and to feel my love for her in return. She wouldn't lose control. I was sure of it.

Before she could finish saying my name, I swayed towards her and tilted my head up pressing my lips against hers. This time, there were no vamp pheromones in the room, no scar tingling, and there was no threat of being bitten as I was pinned to the floor. There was only Ivy and I in our living room, my hand on her face as our lips pressed against each other. No excuses, no denials, just Ivy and I kissing.

Her lips were soft, softer than I remembered. But then again, that first time I had been surprised by the kiss, and my body had been assaulted by so many other sensations that it was impossible to concentrate on something as subtle as the gentle press of her lips. When my lips first touched her, her hands automatically went to my waist to hold me, but she remained stiff under my lips, almost frightened to return the touch. I slipped my hand from her jaw to the back of her neck, and allowed my fingers to tangle in her hair as I licked at her lips, playing softly, teasing as I silently asked her to open her mouth to me. She remained stiff for a moment longer, and then her body wilted in my arms and her lips parted.

She moaned softly as I entered her mouth, and I felt a shiver run through my body as I answered her with a moan of my own. Desire pulsed through me, Ivy's unique incense tantalizing my senses as my scar started to tingle as her pheromones began to reach it. I could feel her body, her warmth against the length of me, and I became painfully aware of the press of her breasts, and the way her pelvis was arching into me. My hand tangled in her hair, a sign of my increasing desire, but I tried to keep the kiss slow and loving. I wanted her to know that this was about her and how I felt about her, not just about sex or blood, even though those two things did factor into it.

Ivy's arms tightened around me and she began to meet me. Her kiss began to dominate, and I gave myself over to her, allowing her to explore my mouth as she wanted, as she had ached to for so long. The kiss in the sanctuary had mostly been her, but this was both of us, I was as much a part of it as she was and it was beautiful.

Her hand began to roam as my head began to swim. I needed air. Her fingers slipped under my shirt and I gasped into her mouth as black dots began to swim in front of my eyes. I yanked my mouth away from hers and breathed in deeply, clinging to her as I panted. When my mind began to clear a bit and I no longer felt as if I was on the verge of passing out, I pulled back to meet her black eyes. The look she was giving me was one if aching hope and almost blinding fear and my heart clenched.

I removed one of my hands from her hair, and brought it between her bodies to cover hers. She tensed against me, no doubt expecting me to pull her hand from under my shirt. She expected me to stop her from touching me as I had done in Kisten's van in Mackinaw. But what I did was cover her hand with my own, and lift it higher until her hand was covering my breast. There wasn't much to cover, but what was there was hers to explore and I wanted her to know it. I wasn't afraid of her touch, or the way it made me feel anymore. Kisen was right. I wanted this. I wanted her and I wanted her to have me. I didn't just want her, I needed her. I needed this closeness and her touch more than I had needed anyone before.

Ivy gasped as her hand enveloped my breast and the soft exhalation tore through me as pleasurably as her fangs. Ivy glanced down, looking at her hand where it covered my breast and then glanced up at me again. She looked awed, almost dazed and her expression took my breath away. Ivy wasn't some blushing virgin. In fact I was pretty sure from random comments I'd heard I was pretty sure that she had a reputation for being a goddess in the bedroom. But she was looking at me like mine was the first boobie she had ever touched, and I had never felt more beautiful or desired.

"I want to love you," I breathed out meeting her eyes. My voice quivered, but I didn't care. I was overcome with emotion and I wanted her to know it. I loved her. I was in love with her and that was okay. We loved each other, and there was no reason to be scared. There was no reason to be scared of anyone who could look at me with such aching tenderness. "I want all of you," I whispered, breathing out softly.

"All?" she whispered staring at me, a hint of fang visible through her parted lips. There was only a thin rim of brown left in her eyes.

"All," I confirmed, seeing her increasing hunger.

Her hand moved under my shirt, her thumb grazing my nipple through my bra and I sighed with the pleasure of it. It was a test to see how I would react to her touching me intimately, and I passed with flying colours. Ivy shuddered, and her head dipped down, nearing my neck.

"I can," she started to say, her nose grazing the skin above where my unseen demon scar would have been. Liquid heat poured through me and I held her desperately to remain upright, "have?" she breathed out.

"Yes," I whispered as her tongue brushed against my heated flesh. "Yes, god yes. Have," I moaned as I felt the sharpness of her teeth against my soft, vulnerable flesh. "Take," gasped as she nuzzled my throat, lips, tongue and teeth teasing the flesh she found there. "Yours," I promised, drawing a growl from her that almost made me come on the spot. "Take it," I panted. Take me.

We needed to talk. There was so much more that I needed to say to her. Fears I knew she had that I needed to sooth, fears I had that we would need to discuss together. I still didn't know why she had left the church after promising she wouldn't, and I had no idea where she'd been since she had fled from me earlier. I didn't know where she stood with Skimmer, or where Ivy and I would stand with Kisten after this, but those were things we could worry about later. Right then, I needed Ivy's hands on me and her teeth inside of me, and she needed my blood, and my love and my touch. We had both been waiting too long for this and I wasn't going to stop what was happening between us to talk. We could talk later wrapped up in her silk sheets naked together.

"Ivy," I breathed out, feeling her poised to bite but not.

"Is this real?" Ivy asked, her breath warming my skin and making me tremble.

"Yes," I breathed out. "I won't let go," I continued not knowing exactly what I meant by it. My brain wasn't functioning properly, and it wouldn't be again until she had taken me with all of her.

My words seemed to reassure her however, and a moment after I spoke I felt her slide inside of me and began to suck. I sighed, and tightened my arms around her, holding her gently against me, content and peaceful in the knowledge that at that moment everything in the world was exactly as it should be.



Three Weeks Later

I moved into the living room from the kitchen, my hand gently brushing against Ivy's back before I paused behind her and pressed my lips against her shoulder. She released a soft, content sound and turned so that I could reach up and brush my lips gently against hers. We shared a soft kiss, and when we pulled apart she smiled at me. I blushed and kissed her neck quickly, and then I continued on my way to the couch, spell book in hand. Ivy watched me for a moment, and then she turned back to the pool table and began to calculate her next shot.

I plopped onto the couch nosily, but didn't open my book. I didn't really want to read it. I was just searching for a distraction. My eyes tracked back over to Ivy, watching as she moved sleekly and gracefully around the table, a soft smile coming to my face when she bent over to take a shot.

"What?" she asked, her lips curving up playfully as she glanced at me.

"Nothing," I said smiling at her, probably a bit too widely, but I couldn't help it. I was smitten. "Continue being sexy," I said munificently waving at her to carry on.

She rolled her eyes at me, but went back to playing, and as she lined up her next shot my mind wandered back to the morning after we had first made love. I wish I could say that it had been a beautiful morning; that I'd awoken to the sun streaming into the room warming my face as Ivy smiled down at me happily and kissed me into wakefulness. But, it hadn't been a beautiful morning. I hadn't woken up with the sun warming my face, or Ivy smiling down at me, kissing me awake. I had woken up alone in a cold bed.

At first I had assumed that Ivy was just in the shower, or maybe even in the kitchen playing with her computer as she so often was. But, after dragging my butt out of her bed, brushing my teeth and throwing on a robe, I had wandered through the church to find that it was empty. I'd been devastated to find her gone, and when Jenks had flown in after his afternoon nap to find me curled up in Ivy's chair crying, it had taken him almost half an hour to calm me down enough that he could understand what I was saying through my tears.

He'd been livid when he found out that we had finally been together only for Ivy to take off while I was asleep, without so much as leaving a note. His wings had been a blur of movement as black dust flew off of him. He darted back and forth, unable to stay still in all of his outrage. It had been kind of cathartic for me seeing that since I myself hadn't been able to call up any anger. I'd simply been heartbroken and numb and confused.

It wasn't until thirty hours after I had woken up alone, that I found out why she had left.

I controlled the urge to sigh as I ran my fingers through my frizzy hair. I didn't want Ivy to hear the exhalation and figure out the dark alley my thoughts had turned down. She was relatively calm today, almost happy and I wanted her to stay that way. We'd both been too heartbroken lately, and we had to take the moments of happiness we could find.

I should have realized why she had left without telling me. I should have known that she wouldn't have voluntarily left me, but love is not a reasonable emotion and I wasn't thinking reasonable things when I woke up without her. We hadn't really had a chance to talk that night, only touch, and so I hadn't known where she had disappeared to after leaving the church after the encounter in the sanctuary. I should have guessed that it had something to do with Piscary. I knew that he was out of jail, but all I had been able to do was wonder what I had done to chase her off. But it hadn't been anything I had done. I hadn't scared her away, or upset her enough that she had to run away from me. She had been scared, but not of me. She had been scared for me … which I discovered at Trent's cluster-fuck of a wedding.

When I saw her sitting beside Piscary at the wedding, her face blank but for the traces of pain she couldn't quite erase from her eyes, I knew that Piscary was the reason I had woken up alone. Later, in the calm after the storm, I learned that he had felt it when our souls had merged as Ivy fed from me. Aura's mixing was common during feeding, but aura's combining completely to become one was unheard of. It was powerful when we came together like that, powerful enough for Piscary to feel through his connection to Ivy even though he hadn't actively been trying to read her.

He hadn't been able to get into Ivy's brain when we were making love, her emotions had created an impenetrable shield giving us that little bit of time together. But once we stopped and had fallen asleep, Piscary had entered her brain and called her back to him. She had refused, but he had threatened my life and so she followed his orders until she could of a way to be with me without Piscary coming after me.

He had smiled at me as I glared at him from the stage, knowing that he had taken Ivy from me at the most painful time possible. He had taken her hand in his possessively, gloating, and I was certain that if hatred could have been turned into a physical force that the power of mine would have ripped Piscary into tiny little pieces and then pounded them into a jam.

And the day had only gotten worse, because as much as I loathed the toad-stool I needed him. I hadn't wanted to deal with Piscary. The only thing I wanted to do to Piscary was toss him into the ever-after so that he would know what it was like to deal with monsters, but I needed the Ivy-stealing bastard to protect the Focus.

I shuddered at the thought of the man, and opened my eyes to focus my gaze on Ivy. I watched the pool cue slide easily through her fingers, and saw her lips curve up slightly as the ball she had been aiming for was knocked into the pocket. She knew that I was watching her, and she tilted her head to the side to meet my eyes, showing off her mad skills. I smiled at her, and placed my hand over my heart pretending to faint and she grinned showing some fang before she turned back to the pool table.

Ivy was okay. I was okay. Piscary was dead and he wouldn't be able to hurt either of us again. Skimmer was to thank for that, and I was completely and unequivocally grateful to her for it. Ivy had snapped out of her stupor when Piscary attacked me after I handed over the Focus. She had launched herself at him and began to fight him with a terrifying intensity that I had never seen before. But he was a master vampire, and even with the strength being his scion gave her, Ivy was no match for him. He released me, but he turned his fury on her and as I scrambled for my bag trying to find something in it that would bring him down, or at least slow him down, he unleashed his raw power upon Ivy. She had defied him again for me, and he was entirely focused on making her pay for it. It was horrifying to watch, but it was that single-minded focus on punishing Ivy for loving me that allowed Skimmer to come up behind him and pound him with a paper weight until his head and his body were in two separate places.

Skimmer hated me with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns, and I was only a little less contemptuous of her, but she loved Ivy. She loved Ivy and she had saved Ivy's life despite the fact that Ivy had chosen me over her, and for that I would always be grateful that she existed, no matter how vile she was.

That being said, Skimmer had been arrested after things had calmed down and I was extremely happy, nay elated that she was in jail. Skimmer wasn't the physical threat that Piscary was. Ivy could easily handle her in a fight. But I still didn't want a jilted vampire out for my blood walking the streets. Despite how she tried, Ivy couldn't be around me twenty-four seven and staying on holy ground wouldn't save me from Skimmer's living-vampire ass, which meant that her being in jail was a very, very good thing for me.

"You're thinking unhappy thoughts."

I looked up surprised to find Ivy standing above me. I hadn't heard her move, but then again that wasn't anything usual.

I made a non-committal sound in my throat and reached out my hand for her. She'd been doing her thing before I came into the room, and I didn't want to call her away from it, but she'd left the pool table of her own volition and come over to me, and I wanted her to stay.

"Chase them away?" I asked grasping her hand.

"I'll bury them," she said staring at me seriously, her eyes narrowing as she swore the words like a solemn oath.

I smiled knowing that she was joking, trying to cheer me up. Despite everything that had happened, Ivy had been making an attempt to be less intense over the past few weeks, and I was enjoying the more playful side of her. We hadn't been able to joke around much without me triggering her vampiric instincts before, but now that I could take care of any passions I stirred up in her, we were free to be at ease with each other.

She slipped onto the couch beside me, and I curled myself around her, breathing in her incense.

"Kisten?" she asked. Her voice was soft as she spoke his name and I could hear the pain in it.

"Everything," I said kissing her neck softly, careful to avoid any scars. I didn't want to excite her, only comfort her.

The last time I had seen Kisten alive was when he had told me to go to Ivy. I had tried to call him after she had disappeared again, but he didn't respond to any of my messages and I stopped leaving them. I figured that he needed some time to process everything that had happened, and I didn't want to bother him. He had sacrificed a lot for me, and for Ivy, and I wanted to try and protect his feelings as much as I could in the aftermath.

"I should have checked on him," I said, my thoughts on Kisten now that Ivy had mentioned his name.

"It was a master vampire," Ivy breathed out softly, her voice soft and anguished. She was trying to tell me that I couldn't have done anything, but I knew that she was thinking the same thing I was. I knew that she wished she could have been there and maybe helped him. She was thinking that two vampires, one a scion of Piscary, probably could have taken whoever it was that attacked and killed Kisten. "You wouldn't have stood a chance."

"I could have helped him hide, given him some protection charms. Something," I said miserably. "If I'd talked to him, I might have been able to help, but I didn't even know he was in trouble."

Ivy was silent beside me, and I knew that it was guilt that was keeping her quiet. She hadn't known either. After she had gone back to Piscary she had sublimated her personality so completely that she had barely been aware what was going on around her. Numbing herself had been the only way she knew to hold onto her sanity. After what we had shared the night before, being back at Piscary's side was too much for her, and she needed the protective shell of emptiness to make it through their time together. She'd done what she had to survive, but I knew that she wished that she had been alert, that she hadn't forced herself to go so numb in order to get through her time with him. She thought that if she had been more present that she might have heard something and been able to do something, but the truth was the only thing she would have likely been able to do was get beaten or worse, killed.

Ivy shuddered beside me, and I wrapped my arms more tightly around her and kissed her cheek and then her lips, drinking her tears as they dripped into our kiss. Holding each other, kissing each other, making love to each other and sharing blood couldn't erase the pain we both felt at losing him, but it did make it easier to deal with. Being able to touch made the pain manageable. Kisten was gone, but before he died he had done something beautiful for us.

I brought my hand to Ivy's face and deepened our kiss, relaxing against her when she gave into it. I shifted, manipulating our bodies so that Ivy was resting on top of me. Ivy was strong and powerful, but vampires didn't have any more mass than humans and she was relatively slight. I couldn't exactly carry her to our room, but I was able to lift her for short intervals of time. Her lips fell from mine as she settled on top of me, and I tilted my neck to the side, bearing it to her.

She shivered, and dropped her head to my neck, placing a soft kiss over the scar she had given me. We had made love often since Kisten's death, but sex wasn't always the answer when grief overwhelmed us so entirely. We needed to be close to each other, to love each other, but it was sometimes difficult to make love when sadness and heartache weighed heavily upon us, as it did at that moment. We'd taken to sharing blood at moments like that, the act giving us the closeness we needed, binding us together and bathing us in each others love without trying to force arousal. Ivy had told me before about how sharing blood could be an act of comfort, how it could simply be about being there for someone you loved and offering a part of yourself to them to show that you cared. But with us in the past, it had always been tied to desire and physical ecstasy, no matter how much I had tried to deny that in the past. Over the last few weeks, I had learned about the less amorous but equally beautiful nature of blood sharing.

I sighed as Ivy's fangs slipped into me. My fingers tangled in her hair, holding her against me like a new born to its mother's breast, and her arms wrapped around my waist, holding me securely. My blood began to flow into her, and soon I felt the warmth of her aura sliding towards me, and tears formed in my eyes. Her lips shifted against my neck, and my fingers moved against her scalp, massaging gently in a way I had discovered made her literally purr. Her fangs dug in a little deeper, and I sighed in contentment. This is love, I thought as her tongue played against the broken flesh at my neck. I gasped as warmth spread throughout me, and I felt our aura's merge into one. This is perfection.

Ivy's lips stopped working at my raised flesh, but she did not remove her lips or fangs from me. We lay there, connected spiritually and physically and I felt myself relax, something deep inside of me easing and ebbing away. I knew that the pain would come back eventually, but for a moment I was at peace.

Once Ivy stopped drinking, our auras couldn't maintain the connection for long. The longest we had ever remained connected once the feeding stopped was three minutes. I felt as if we were nearing that this time, and thought that we might go longer. The more we merged like that, the longer we seemed to be able to hold together the next time.

We didn't get to test our limit, however. Almost as soon as I wondered if we would be able to go longer, Ivy's aura began to pull away from me and when I was able to open my eyes again I found her glaring over the arm of the couch into the hallway.

"What is it?" I asked, still a little shaky and breathless.

"Someone's at the door," she muttered darkly, an adorable pout touching her lips.

"I didn't hear any …" I started to say, but the doorbell bonged interrupting my words. "Oh," I muttered, and she turned to look at me and smiled.

I leaned forward and pressed my lips against hers, kissing her despite the blood that lingered on them. She had tried to stop me from kissing her after she had bitten me at first, and I had humored her in the beginning. But it began to be too much for me, and I decided to try it even though she said not to. It was strange the first time, there was more blood on her lips than I had tasted when I had bitten Kisten, but I didn't mind it and I'd kissed her ever since.

Ivy struggled against me, but instead of letting her go I fought back maintaining the contact between us. Stupid vampire, I thought. I wasn't going to not kiss her just because she had a bit of blood on her lips.

"Rachel," she moaned piteously, and I could hear a touch of desire in her voice. I trembled slightly as I realized that my struggling was exciting her. Midnight black eyes met mine, and I felt a jolt between my legs at the sight of her naked desire. It had been a couple days since we had been together physically, and I suddenly wanted something beside her fangs inside of me very badly.

"If it's important whoever it is will come back, or call," I said kissing her as I brought my hand up to play with one of her scars. "Calling before showing up actually would be the polite thing to do," I muttered against her lips as she shivered and moaned.

"Inside … already," Ivy panted, desire robbing her of her usually eloquent speech.

"Not yet, but soon. I promise," I teased, surprised to see Ivy's eyes lift from mine and move behind me. Oh! I thought. Oh! She meant that whoever was at the door was already in the church.

I frowned. Who would do that? It was incredibly rude, not to mention dangerous. Ivy was a Tamwood vampire. People didn't just walk into our church whenever they wanted unless they had a death wish or were a demon. Even Ceri always rang the bell.

"Oops!" An amused voice rang out. "Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt!"

My eyes widened in horror and Ivy backed away from me like I had tapped a ley line and was looking to loose it upon her.

"Mom?" I said, almost terrified to turn around. I glanced at Ivy, but she had settled herself at the other end of the couch and was sitting demurely, avoiding my eyes as she tried to surreptitiously dab the last of my blood from her lips.

Oh god, it was my mom! I mean, I knew it was my mom, I knew her voice, but seeing Ivy so flustered made it real. If it was anyone besides my mom there, the intruder would have discovered six feet of sexually frustrated, pissed off vampire in front of them and would have been lucky to only end up in traction after Ivy was done with them.

I turned my head to see my mother staring down at me with an amused smile. I felt like crying and was certain that I was going to, but my mom distracted me by holding out a handkerchief.

I stared at it blankly for a moment, utterly confused.

"I don't have a cold," I started to say, and then my eyes widened as I realized why she was holding it out for me. My neck was still bleeding! I was sure there wasn't much blood, Ivy always bit me cleanly, but there was usually some leakage afterwards. Usually, Ivy would lick my neck gently until it stopped, but … Oh god! I slapped my hand to the side of my neck covering the wound from my mother and then promptly turned an unflattering shade of red.

"Oh don't be ridiculous," my mother said shaking her head at me as I stared at her and contemplated tapping a line and trying to fling myself ever-after to escape the horror.

We weren't naked, but she had just walked in on Ivy and me. She knew what we had been doing because of my neck, and if she had seen Ivy's black eyes when Ivy looked at her before scampering off of me, she knew exactly what we were about to do.

My eyes widened, and I wondered if she had heard me teasing Ivy about being inside of her. I had to think that she hadn't. I would never be able to look at my mother in the eyes again if I thought that she had heard me promise to finger my girlfriend. Ignorance was bliss, even if it was forced ignorance, and I was going to hold onto mine like it was the only thing standing between me and Al.

"That's not going to work," Mom continued removing my hand from my neck and placing the handkerchief in it before she placed it back against the raised skin at my neck. I was too mortified to think, and simply lay there holding her handkerchief to my neck as I blinked at her blankly.

"Oh!" she declared a moment later, her eyes tracking back over to Ivy. What now? What now? I thought piteously. "I'm sorry, that was terribly rude of me," Mom continued, and despite my own embarrassment a little smile spread across my face as I saw Ivy flush under my mother's gaze. "I should have checked with you first. I could go busy myself in the kitchen if you want to take care of it," she said her eyes still on Ivy before they shifted back over to my neck. Oh god, she knew about the licking! How? Why? What kind of world was this!?!

Ivy's lips parted but no sound came out. She stared at my mother with her with unnaturally wide brown eyes, and then, with her lips still parted, she shook her head slowly and then looked down at her lap.

"She's shy," my mother whispered to me, sounding utterly charmed by Ivy's bashfulness.

She was speaking softly, but Ivy was close enough that she could hear everything and she flushed an even deeper shade of red, and fidgeted uncomfortably.

"Mom, she can hear you," I complained shifting into a seated position on the couch. "You're embarrassing her," I muttered.

"No I'm not," Mom declared as if that settled that, though it actually settled nothing. She moved around the couch and sat between Ivy and I, and I just wanted to die. "It's perfectly natural, isn't it?" she said turning to look at Ivy who nodded though I was certain she had no idea what my mother was talking about. I knew I didn't.

"What are you talking about?" I moaned pathetically, wondering why I asked the second it was out of my mouth. I didn't want to know, I really didn't want to know, but I'd asked and I knew I was going to get an answer.

"Sharing blood," my mother responded sounding surprised. She looked at me searchingly and I really wished that David or Ceri, or hell, even Al or Minias would show up. Where were the cast of crazies that usually took over my life? Crazies? Crazies where are you? I sighed. Nothing ever went wrong when I actually wanted it to.

"It's a beautiful way to express your feelings for each other," my mother said. I looked around but the crazies weren't coming, at least not any crazies that hadn't given birth to me. "It's also a very effective method of foreplay," my mother continued slyly. Oh God, strike me down now! "She must have had you in quite a state," Mom went on laughing, reaching over to squeeze Ivy's shoulder teasingly.

Ivy blinked and looked over at me helpless. "Ah," she managed to choke out, but before she could get anything else out she gave up and went back to staring at her lap.

"Mom!" I exclaimed my outrage even more pronounced because I had been working Ivy into quite a state before she had shown up. I did not want my mother knowing things like that! And I certainly didn't want her joking with Ivy about all of the different ways I managed to turn Ivy on! It was creepy, dammit! It wasn't right!

"Oh, she's an attractive girl," my mother said waving a dismissive hand at me. "Very attractive," she added almost as an afterthought. "You two might live in a church but I don't expect that you live like nuns," she said her gaze drifted pointedly over to the coffee table.

Ivy caught her look and though I didn't think it was possible she managed to blush more. Surprised by her look of horror I followed her gaze, my heart dropping as I looked at the coffee table. A magazine of Ivy's was lying on it, and the cover story was SIX WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR LIVE-IN BEGGING AND BREATHING. A week ago I had been praising that magazine as the greatest thing ever written after Ivy had used a few of the techniques it recommended on me. But this time I looked up at the ceiling and begged for Gaia to open a giant hole and swallow me up in it. My mother did not need to know these things about us!

"There's a book too, you know," my mother said looking over at Ivy. She sounded like she was telling someone that she had a sugar-free lemon square recipe that was to die for, not recommending sex aids to my girlfriend. I shuddered. I was never going to be able to wash myself clean. I could never unhear this, no matter how hard I tried.

"Rachel has it already," Ivy said speaking for the first time since my mother had entered the room. I glared at her. If that was going to be her contribution to the conversation she could as well have not spoken at all. Oh, yes Alice. Rachel already has the vampire sex guide. I gave it to her the day after she moved in so that she'd have plenty of time to study it before we studied each other … naked! Bow chicka bow wow. I narrowed my eyes at Ivy, intensifying my glare. My mother didn't need to know these things about us!

My mother nodded as if that made perfect sense. Ivy continued to stare at her like a Were caught in headlights.

"I do hope you're eating your cookies," my mother said turning to look at me.

My mouth fell open. "How do you know about those?" I asked looking over at Ivy accusatorily. However, when I got a good look at her face I knew that she hadn't been the one to tell my mother. She looked just as mortified as I did. The Brimstone metabolism booster's were a bit of a secret. Vampires didn't really want it to be known that they had to give their live-ins and shadows metabolism boosters to keep them healthy enough to drink from.

I sighed. My mother probably didn't need Ivy to tell her about the Brimstone laced metabolism boosters. She seemed to have a wealth of knowledge already about being in a relationship with a vampire, I thought sourly as I remembered her offering to leave so Ivy could tend to my neck. Still, she had called them cookies, which Ivy had only done to get me to eat them the first time I had been bitten, and my mother wouldn't have called them that unless …

"Jenks," I whispered, my head shooting to look in the direction of the backyard. I was going to throttle him. I didn't know how, since he was four inches tall, but I would find a way. I'd turn him big again if I had to!

"It's all fun and games, until someone is hospitalized due to exhaustion," Mom said, her tone almost philosophical. "And I don't think it'll be her," Mom continued shoving her thumb in Ivy's direction.

"I'm very careful, Mrs. Morgan," Ivy said straightening a little, my mother's insinuation that she would one day drink me into the hospital getting her hackles up. She was telling the truth. Once we had shared blood with love, Ivy hadn't had a problem controlling herself. In fact, she usually stopped drinking before I wanted her to. Most of the time she took so little blood that I didn't even need the cookies. "And I make sure she eats them. Even though she complains … all the time," Ivy continued moodily, the very last part being tacked on for my benefit.

My mother stared at Ivy for a moment, and then nodded to herself before saying, "Good girl." She then patted Ivy reassuringly on the arm, apparently mollified by Ivy's answer, "As long as you're being responsible."

She parted her lips to say something else, and I cringed in anticipation of whatever was going to come out of her mouth next. However, before my mother could mortify us any more the doorbell bonged and Ivy moved into a standing position with vampire quickness.

"I'll get it," she said, smiling pleasantly at my mother before she disappeared from sight. Damn her! She was free!

"So," Mom said lightly once Ivy was out of the room. I bit my lip and tried not to whimper. Whatever she was going to say would be something I didn't want to hear, I knew it, I just knew it. "She's probably a tiger in the sack," Mom said, smirking as she knocked my arm like we were drinking buddies.

I moaned softly and wondered how many extra runs I would need to do a month to pay for a therapist.



Later That Night

Ivy was already tucked away in her bed when I emerged from her washroom and climbed in beside her. Once firmly on the mattress I shimmied my way over to her, and threw my arm across her waist as I settled my head on her chest, above her heart. She dipped her head down and pressed her lips against the top of my head, and I smiled and closed my eyes, concentrating on the steady pounding of her heart beneath my ear. I loved listening to her heart beat. The strong, steady rhythm soothed me, and the way my heart would begin to beat in time with hers always made me feel warm and content.

"Alice dragged you off for a chat, didn't she?" I asked a few minutes later, breaking the comfortable silence that had descended between us.

David had showed up after my mother arrived, and then Ceri dropped by shortly after. Jenks and the other pixies had woken up from their afternoon nap and joined us soon after that, and consequently the church had been filled with people, conversation, squeals and far too much food for the most of the day. It had been great.

"Uh huh," Ivy murmured lightly.

I lifted my head so that I could see her expression and saw that she was smiling. I rested by head back down and relaxed.

"What did you talk about?" I asked, already knowing that our relationship had probably dominated the conversation.

I hadn't needed to tell my mother about the change in my relationship with Ivy. She'd seen the bite marks, and from the blush that came from me after she looked at them she had seemed to intuit what had happened. Seeing understanding dawn in her eyes, I had started a rambling explanation, but she had put her hand up in the air silencing me. I had gazed at her with more than a little trepidation, not knowing how she would take to the news that not only was I dating another vampire, but a female one at that. My anxiety was misplaced however. She had simply smiled and said, "It's about time. I mean, really. I don't know what you've been waiting for, Rachel. The woman has been panting on your neck for a year." I'd gaped at her, and she got up to make some coffee while I stared at the space she had vacated torn between relief and humiliation.

"Oh, lot's of things," Ivy said playfully, knowing that her vague response would annoy me.

"Such as?" I prompted in an annoyed tone, not wanting to disappoint her.

"Us," Ivy said softly. "She thinks it's very charming how smitten I am with you," Ivy continued and I knew that she had rolled her eyes without looking up at her. "She thinks we compliment each other well," Ivy went on, her voice more serious as she said this, and I shifted closer to her. "And, if I do anything to hurt you she will come after me all of the magic she has and find a way to kill me twice."

I lifted my head up at that, surprised by her words, but when I saw her expression I knew that she was being serious. My mother really had threatened to kill her twice. I didn't know how I felt about that, but Ivy didn't seem perturbed by it, so I decided to figure out whether I was touched or pissed later.

"She only said it because she knows she won't have to," I breathed out, pressing my lips against Ivy's, wanting her to know that I knew it would never come to that. "What else did you talk about?" I asked knowing that their whole conversation couldn't have been so dire. Ivy was in a good mood when she emerged from wherever my mother had dragged her off to so the whole conversation couldn't have been that heavy the whole time.

"Muffins," Ivy responded and I blinked at her. "She's going to bake some for me," she pronounced almost proudly.

If my mother was baking for her, it meant that she liked her, and though she hadn't said anything about it, I knew that Ivy was worried about how my mother would react to our new relationship. They had always gotten along. Ivy's devotion to me had immediately endeared her to my mother, but being my best friend and being my lover were different, and it was not guaranteed that the fondness the first engendered would carry over to the other.

"Strawberry ones," Ivy continued, and I sighed. My mother thought I was a bad girlfriend. I'd been promising to bake Ivy muffins for the past week, but something always came up and I hadn't gotten around to it. I sighed again. I was a bad girlfriend. I should have found the time, I'd promised and freshly baked goods made Ivy ridiculously happy.

"I said I would," I complained lightly, my guilt making me grumpy. Ivy laughed softly.

"I know. You still can. I like muffins. I'll eat them all," she said, and I smirked knowing that she would. Ivy was slight, but she had a vampire's metabolism and she could pack it away like a football player. She didn't usually eat large meals, but she ate constantly throughout the day, and I was jealous. Even with a daily workout if I ate like her I'd be as big as a house, but Ivy stayed trim and perfect. Sure, I got to enjoy the benefits of that perfection, I thought as I ran my hand up her side, but it would still be nice to be able to have a piece of carrot cake for breakfast without feeling guilty about it for a week.

"It's not fair," I moaned dropping my head back down to her chest.

"Aw, poor dear heart," Ivy cooed not really meaning it. She'd heard me complain about the how unfair it was that she could eat whatever she wanted and not gain a pound many times in the past and she was immune to it now. In fact, the last few times I'd complained she'd responded by finding some particularly tasty treat in the house and eating it front of me, which was just lovely. God, she could be an ass sometimes, but I loved her, and it made me feel all tingly when she licked her fingers clean afterwards. "I'll help you work off a few calories if you want," she added, her voice dropping into the gray silk purr that made my knees weak.

I shifted against her, my thigh rubbing against hers.

"Mm, yes please," I murmured, lifting my head so that I could press my lips against her collarbone. She sighed softly at the feel of my lips, but her body was tense under mine and I lifted my head to look at her. "Ivy?" I asked softly, my fingers playing lightly against her shoulder.

A little shiver ran though me at her hesitance. The only time she got like that when we were making love was when she wanted to ask about trying out something new – which had happened a surprising amount of times given the relatively short period of time we had been a couple. Ivy was a fantastic lover, and quite smugly I thought that I was going to be the most sexually satisfied witch in the world for the rest of my natural life.

"Do," she began to say before trailing off, a shadow crossing over her face. "Do you still have them?" she continued a few seconds later, her voice shaking slightly as she spoke.

"What?" I asked, genuinely not knowing what she was referring to.

She breathed in deeply, and one of her hands fluttered up by her neck, unconsciously fingering one of her scars.

"The caps," she breathed out, looking back over at me. "The ones Kisten gave you?" she added. There was only a thin ring of brown in her eyes, and it made my heart begin to quicken.

I nodded, not trusting my voice to speak. I hadn't been aware that she had known he had given them to me, though I don't know why I thought that she didn't. They were close, and I knew that they shared more with each other about me than I was aware of or probably would have been comfortable with. Ivy loved him, but she was not always rational when it came to me, and he had probably mentioned it to her before buying them for me out a sense of self-preservation.

"Would you?" she asked softly, her voice hopeful as the last vestiges of brown disappeared from her eyes leaving them completely black.

I nodded again, and slipped from the bed. "I'll be right back," I said softly, and then headed for the door.

The caps were in my room, tucked away securely with the bracelet that Kisten had given me. I hadn't thought about using them with Ivy, but as I walked to my room, I realized that the idea didn't disturb me as much as I thought it would. Kisten had told her about them. They weren't a secret that I had to keep from her. And he had wanted us to be together, and to be happy. He had bought the caps to be used, and while I had only gotten a chance to use them once with him, it didn't mean that they had to be buried and forgotten.

When I came back into Ivy's room, I had already fitted the caps onto my teeth, and when I smiled at her as I climbed onto the bed the sharp points showed, and I saw her breathe in deeply.

The moment I settled myself on the mattress, Ivy flowed towards me and leaned over me, dipping her head down to press her lips against mine. I sighed into the touch, her eagerness sending a pleasant shiver through my body, and when her tongue slipped into my mouth and began to play with the caps, I moaned and grasped at her arms, squeezing them tightly as arousal spiked inside of me.

She's wanted this for a while, I realized as Ivy's tongue pressed against the sharp tip of one of my caps. Ivy hadn't been with anyone but me for sex or blood since returning to the church after Piscary's death, which meant that it had been at least three weeks since she'd felt fangs on her. Ivy was a dominant, but I'd seen bite marks on her and I knew that she allowed herself to be bitten, and not just by master vampires looking to mark their territory. I thought about how I'd feel going three weeks without her fangs on me, and I realized that I should have done this for her before. Biting just wasn't something that I was used to thinking about when it came to satisfying a lover, and it hadn't occurred to me. I wouldn't overlook it in the future however.

"Lie down, baby," I said softly, drawing back a bit from her mouth. I wasn't really one for pet names, but 'baby' had slipped out once when we were together, and Ivy had been surprisingly responsive to it. I didn't use it much, it wasn't like I had become one of those people that would be like, 'baby, can you pass the milk', 'baby, the fire's going down', 'hey, baby how was your day?', or anything sickening like that. But when we were alone together, and our bodies were pressed against each other, she was my baby and I called her that.

Immediately, Ivy pulled away from my lips and lay back on the mattress, her obedience speaking to her great desire for this. If I wanted to touch her, Ivy always complied with whatever I asked her to do, but usually she was playfully resistant at first, making me physically push her onto the mattress, or making me push at her hands, brushing them off of me before I could put them on her. It excited her to have me fight her, even if we were just playing, and it excited me too. But this, submission, was extremely arousing as well.

"Rachel," Ivy breathed out overcome with emotion, as I moved so that I was leaning over her.

I leaned down and pressed my lips against the column of her throat, drinking in the shiver that ran through her body like a fine white wine.

"I know," I whispered, meaning it with every fiber of my being. "I love you too," I continued looking up to meet her eyes, the look of adoration and love in them nearly taking my breath away. "Oh, Ivy," I sighed, the backs of my fingers stroking her cheek before I leaned down to kiss her.

She met me, and we kissed for a long time, my hands securely at her waist as hers ran lightly up and down my back. I loved kissing Ivy. She was very good at it, and she liked doing it. Ivy's hunger and her desire had always seemed such forceful things to me, and it had surprised me the first time we had kissed like this before making love. Truthfully, I hadn't thought that she'd had the patience for it. As time wore on, I realized that Ivy had quite a bit of self-control however, when she knew that she didn't have to restrain herself. She would have my blood, and she would have body, and the knowledge of that allowed her to go slowly. She was actually quite a tease sometimes, but I didn't mind because she always came through.

A while later, I pulled away from her and trailed my lips down the column of her throat, and Ivy relaxed back against the pillows and tilted her head to the side, offering her neck to me. It was the first time she had offered herself to me this way, and I suddenly realized why it was such a turn on for vampires. The sense of power her surrender sent through me was positively intoxicating.

I leaned down and ran the flat of my tongue over her pulse point. She shivered and then twisted underneath me in anticipation.

"Rach," she began to say as I opened my mouth, "el," she finished as I bit down and the sharp points of the caps pierced her skin. Ivy's body arched, and remained tight as a bowstring as it hovered in the air for a moment before she collapsed against the mattress again.

Wow! I thought as I moved my head a little, shifting the caps inside of her. She moaned and I pressed them in further. I couldn't suck at her like she sucked at me. I didn't mind the taste of blood, but I didn't want to ingest large quantities of it. I knew that took something away from the biting process, but I wasn't a vampire and even though the caps helped me simulate the feeding experience, I couldn't recreate it entirely.

"Again," Ivy breathed out, "Bite me again," she panted when I hesitated for a moment.

I pulled out of her, realizing how it would work between us with the caps. The initial penetration had been extremely good for her, and repeating that over and over again would ratchet up the sensations inside of her, just like drawing blood from her would have.

"Your neck," I breathed out, drawing a finger across one of the puncture marks I had just left, making her shiver. If I was going to bite her multiple times there was no way I'd be able enter the same points every time no matter how hard I tried. She'd have multiple wounds and possibly multiple scars – though vampires tended to heal from minor bites much better than humans or witches.

Ivy smiled, and stretched luxuriously beneath me as my thumb unconsciously ran over the raised skin again.

"It's fine," she said softly. "I don't mind," she purred, drawing my eyes up to hers. Surprise must have shown in my eyes, because she reached out for me, and touched my face gently. "It's your mark," she breathed out holding my eyes. "I'll wear it proudly."

I leaned my head into her touch, but was still confused as I looked down at her. "You've covered up your bites before," I said. I'd seen bite marks in the past, but not because she wanted me to. It was only on the rare occasion when her collar shifted when I was close to her that I had been able to see them.

"I wasn't proud of those," she said softly, her eyes falling away from mine as she spoke. A shadow crossed her features, and I leaned down to kiss her and bring her back to me. "I love you," she said when I pulled back, and the wetness in her eyes nearly undid me. "I want people to know I'm yours."

My heart clenched, and I stared down at her, wanting to say something but there were no words. Realizing that I wouldn't be able to express what I was feeling verbally, I bent my head back down to her neck, and bit her again, my arms tightening around her waist, holding her securely as she bucked.

She's mine, I thought deliriously as our legs tangled together anxiously, and I'm hers.



Later that week

"Stop eating those," I murmured, smacking Ivy's hand as she reached for the package of pepperonis again. She frowned at me and looked down at her hand as if my gentle tap had actually hurt, and then she hopped onto the counter to lounge morosely. I ignored her sulking and went back to preparing the pizzas. The guests would be arriving soon and by god we were going to have something to feed them! Ivy's endless pit of a stomach be damned!

"Being cooped up is making you grumpy," Ivy muttered as I began to grate some cheese. I thought that was rich coming from her, but I refrained from saying so. Ivy had been much mellower since we had become a couple, and I knew that much of her former grumpiness had actually been stress. Monitoring herself constantly while in my presence had put a lot of pressure on her. Also, she was right. Being cooped up was making me grumpy.

"I know," I sighed, watching as the tiny curls of mozzarella fell into the bowl. "I hope David has found something in the insurance claims," I continued morosely. "I know I'm driving you crazy. Hell, I'm driving me crazy."

I hadn't been able to be off of hollowed ground at night for over a week. Someone was summoning Al to get him out of prison, and then not banishing him back to the ever-after, which gave him free reign to roam the city and attack me. I'd already had two nearly fatal run-ins with him, and I wasn't exactly burning with desire for another one. I wanted him gone, and I wanted to be able to leave the church at night, but he was too powerful and it was too dangerous to leave the church after sundown. We had to find out who was summoning them and get them to stop if I was ever going to be able to walk free in the moonlight again, but finding who was summoning him was easier said than done.

"You're not driving me crazy," Ivy said softly, her soothing voice drawing me out of my depressing thoughts. Her words were completely sincere and I felt some of the tension drain from my body. I was being a terror, but she loved me, and love made one tolerate a great number of things.

"I'm sorry I hit your hand," I told her, looking over at her to let her know that I meant it.

Ivy smiled at me and shrugged. "You hit like a witch," she drawled, her cinnamon eyes sparkling playfully as she spoke. "I barely felt it."

I rolled my eyes at her, and after a moment of hesitation, I threw a few pieces of cheese at her. Ivy lifted her hand and waved it, easily knocking the cheese away before it could hit her.

"Why don't you go put on some music or something," I suggested as her hand began to creep towards the pepperonis again. She had meant it when she said that she didn't mind how crazy I'd been acting since Al's nightly escapes from prison, but she'd also been trying to butter me up. I loved her, but she wasn't eating any more of those pizza topping!

"Fine," Ivy muttered gracefully slipping off of the counter. Her tone had been kind of petulant, but once her feet were on the floor, she leaned into me and placed her hand lightly on my hip before she bent down and kissed my cheek. My lips curved up into a soft smile, and as she walked away a peaceful calm settled over me.

A few seconds later I heard the stereo in the living room turn on, and I reached to the side to set the oven to heat before I started to base the pizzas. While I worked, Ivy busied herself in the living room, and before I knew it the pizzas were in the oven cooking, and I was wandering towards the living room in search of my wayward vampire.

When I entered the living room I saw that Ivy was resting in her arm chair reading a magazine. I crossed over to her and then plopped myself down into her lap. I plucked the magazine from her fingers and leaned back and tossed it onto the coffee table. Free of the magazine, I turned back towards Ivy and smiled before I slowly leaned in, pressing my lips against hers, tangling my fingers in her hair as Takata's newest song started to play.

"Do you miss it?" I asked pulling back from Ivy a while later. I was deliciously short of breath and there was only a thin ring of brown left in her eyes.

"It was nice," Ivy sighed, distractedly playing with a lock of my hair. She hadn't been able to hear the female singer on Takata's undead-vamp tracks after Piscary had died and his connection to her had been broken. "It was the only nice thing about being his scion," she said her eyes blackening for a second at the thought of Piscary. "I'm glad I can't hear it," she continued, her eyes lifting to meet mine.

"So am I," I said softly, leaning forward to press a soft kiss against her lips.

I wished that I had taken Trent up on his offer for a pair of his specialized headphones that allowed a person to hear the undead-vamp track. I hadn't wanted to accept anything from Trent at the time, but I wished now that I hadn't been so prideful. The hidden tracks had literally brought tears to Ivy's eyes. She had looked so soft and at peace when she was listening to the mysterious female singer, and I wished that I could have given that to her. I wished that I could have given her that beautiful voice without the pain of being Piscary's scion.

"Next time I'm at Trent's I'm going to steal his headphones."

"Next time?" Ivy asked lifting a perfectly sculpted black eyebrow. "I thought you were never working for him again. No matter how much he offered," she continued smiling a little as she parroted words I had spoken to her the week before back at me.

I stared at her for a moment trying to think of a response that wouldn't make her smirk and shake her head at me, but all I could come up with was, "I meant next time I'm dragged over there and go just so that I can turn him down." I disliked Trent, but he may have been right when he said that I made decisions based on how much they would irritate people.

Ivy smirked and shook her head, and I pouted. I wasn't going to work for Trent again! I wasn't, and I didn't care if she didn't believe me. Only, I did care … a lot. And I suspected that I would end up working for him again which annoyed the hell out of me. He was a bastard, but all of our shit kept getting destroyed and I was constantly in need of large sums of money.

I poked Ivy in the head, and she tilted it to the side exaggerated the force of my push as she continued to smile. The movement of her head exposed the length of her neck to me, and a little tingle ran through my body as I saw the almost healed edges of the new scars I had given her. She had been true to her word and not tried to cover up the marks. In fact, I think that she had been purposely wearing low collared shirts so that she could show them off. I lifted my hand to her neck, and brushed the edge of my thumb against the scar, enjoying the way she shivered at the sensation.

There was no vampire saliva in the wounds I had made, and I had no pheromones to set the scar humming. Ivy responded to the touch because it was me, and because it reminded her of how she got it.

When she turned to look at me again, the smile was gone from her lips and her eyes were completely black. I shivered at the look of hunger in her eyes, and my eyes lifted to the wall to check the clock.

"We have time," I said, brushing my finger against my mark once more.

Ivy's eyes flickered to the clock as well. She looked at it for a moment longer than I did, and I thought that she might dispute my assessment of how much time we had before people started to arrive, but when she turned back to face me, a small growl emerged from her throat and she leaned forward to press her lips against mine.

I gasped at the feel of her lips, and then grabbed her head, holding it firmly as I kissed her back, our passion rising with each sweep of our tongues. Ivy's hands moved from where they had been resting on my thighs settled at the top of my jeans where she easily flicked open the button.

"No," I muttered dropping my hands to push hers away. "You," I panted, shoving at her hands some more until she finally relented and drew them away from me.

Ivy had made love to me in the morning before taking off for a run, and though I was getting turned on again, I knew that it was more important to take care of her. In a perfect world, our guests would have intuitively known that we were doing each other, and would have come late. But in the real world it was more likely that they would show up early. If they did, the last thing that anyone needed was a sexually frustrated vampire roaming the church. Besides, with David coming we'd have to shower again before everyone arrived or he'd smell us all over each other. We'd have to shower together to save time, and if we were in there together there was no way Ivy's hands wouldn't be on me. It'd be the perfect way to kill two demons with one spell.

I slipped off of Ivy and onto the floor. She was wearing black leggings and an oversized gray sweater, her comfy uniform when at home, and I was glad for it since it meant I didn't have any zippers or buttons to mess around with. Reaching for her, I grasped the waistband of her leggings and slowly pulled them down her legs. Her eyes were on me the entire time, and it took all of my control to continue pulling down her pants until they were all the way off instead of just leaving them dangling around her calves while I slid between her legs.

I pulled the leggings over her feet and dropped them carelessly on the floor. I looked up to see Ivy, and when our eyes met she breathed in deeply and spread her legs. I placed my hands on her firm, pale thighs, running them up and down her silky flesh contemplatively. Ivy squirmed and I smiled. I pushed her legs further apart, enough that she would have felt a slight strain and she moaned. I didn't need the extra room, but she liked to be manhandled sometimes. By some twist of fate, I was the dominant in our relationship even though Ivy was usually the top, and exerting my power over her drove her crazy with desire.

I kissed the inside of her thigh, and Ivy purred. I breathed in deeply, and sighed with pleasure. God, she smells good, I thought as I ran my tongue across the smooth flesh of her inner-thigh. I smiled against her flesh, and then took some skin between my teeth and bit down softly, enough for her to feel though I didn't break the skin. She made a soft strangled sound in her throat and squirmed again.

I kissed her thigh once more, and then moved higher towards the place of wet heat where she needed me.

We didn't have time for games.

Later that Night

My gaze drifted over to the coffee table and a small smile touched my lips.

Ivy and Marshall were hunched over it, both of their faces masks of concentration as they stared at the chess board in front of them. Marshall had shown up in Cincy about a week before, and though I had been glad to see him, I hadn't thought that he would hang around for long. I knew that he had friends in the city, and I'd been certain that when he had looked me up it hadn't been because he needed another drinking buddy. But, any hopes he had of romance had been dashed when Ivy had slinked up behind me in the hallway, wrapped her arms around my waist and kissed my shoulder in a display of possession. Her little show, in addition to the red rimmed bite marks on my neck, let Marshall know that Ivy and I were more than roommates, and even though he recovered well from his surprise, I didn't think that he would actually want to hang out after that.

I'd misjudged his character however, and we'd actually spent some time together a few afternoons when Ivy was on a run and I was antsy and needed to get out of the church.

"She's scaring the fairy crap out of him," Mom said dropping down next to me on the couch.

"I know," I sighed, though my lips curved up a little.

Ivy was being unnecessarily intense about the game of chess they were playing. I was her girl, but she still didn't like anyone who displayed any sort of romantic interest in me. Marshall had been a complete gentleman, and hadn't tried to make any sort of play for me, but Ivy didn't like him. She was routinely a gloomy Gus whenever he was around, and she usually tried to engage him in some sort of competition so that she could best him, and show me what a better choice she was for a mate. I already knew that she was the best choice there was, but she still liked to show off.

"Marshall knew what he was getting himself into," I continued shaking my head. His male pride made him keep accepting Ivy's challenges. They hauled enough wood, watched enough jeopardy, completed enough sudoku puzzles, and played enough Jenga for Marshall to know that Ivy played hard, and that he would be facing black eyes and a slight aura every time he faced off against her. I didn't know why he put himself through it, but I didn't understand why guys thought it was funny to burp loudly when you were talking to them on the phone either.

"He must be very desperate for company," Mom said, and I looked over at her and shot her an offended expression. I mean, honestly, it was probably true. My life was messed up, being around me had gotten him into nothing but trouble and he had to put up with a hostile vampire whenever he came over, but still it was kind of mean to say so. I looked over at Ivy knowing that she could hear everything my mother was saying, and when I saw her lip curl up slightly, I leaned against the back of the couch and crossed my arms.

Jenks flew over to sit on my mothers shoulder a few seconds later. The two of them were apparently bosom buddies, and I didn't like it. I was especially nervous to see him flying over to her, because he'd been making rude hand gestures to me all evening to indicate that he knew what Ivy and I had been doing earlier, even though windows had been opened, and scented candles had been lit.

Ignoring them, I looked around my living room, taking in the content and happy faces of my friends and family and felt a calm settle over me. David and Glenn were playing pool on Kisten's old table, silent but comfortable as they stared at the balls intensely and calculated moves. Erica was sitting with Ceri and pixie children surrounded them, squealing and braiding their hair. Ivy had mentioned some jazz records she had tucked away in the belfry earlier, and Keasley had disappeared home only to return a few minutes later with a pre-Turn record player. Ivy had retrieved her stash from the belfry and Keasley was currently flipping through them, and had been acting as an impromptu DJ for the last half hour.

I smiled and let my mind drift for a moment, simply enjoying everything. It was one of those perfect moments, where everything in world seemed to slide gently into place and everything was exactly as it should be. I'd experienced very few of those moments in my life and I wanted to bask in the glory of this one. Yes, there was a demon – possibly demons – hunting for my blood, but I had good friends, a great family, and the dreamiest girlfriend a person could hope for.

I reached for my white wine and took a sip. It's a good night, I thought, sighing as the cool liquid trickled down my throat. I lifted the glass to my lips again, and took another small sip before putting the glass down again. It was a good night, and despite how it may have seemed to someone looking in from the outside, it was a good life.

I was happy.

The doorbell bonged, and I sighed. Everyone that I knew, who I also liked, was in the church already which meant that whoever had just rung the bell was likely going to cause me nothing but grief. I just hoped it was a client who would handsomely for it.

"I'll get it," I murmured meeting Ivy's eyes.

She was glancing between me and the chess board and I knew that she didn't want to leave in the middle of the game. It would have ruined her concentration, and I didn't want to be in the church with her let alone sleep in the same bed as her knowing the foul mood she would be in if she lost to Marshall.

I padded towards the front door, moving almost as silently as Ivy in my socks.

"Ugh," I moaned once the door was open wide enough for me to see who was outside of it.

"Goodnight to you too, Morgan," Trent drawled in his annoyingly buttery voice.

"What the Turn do you want?" I asked belligerently, leaning against the doorframe, my posture as uninviting as witchly possibly.

"It's Quen," he said, his face falling for a moment as worry swept over him. "I need you to come with me," he continued, his face hardening again as he looked over at me. He bit the words out if he was chewing on rabbit pellets, and I wanted to go inside and put on my vamp-made boots so that I could kick him in his Elf nuts.

"I'm not going anywhere," I muttered shifting my gaze past Trent to the dark yard beyond. "And next time, call," I continued getting ready to go back inside and slam the door in his face.

"You owe him," Trent hissed, his words halting my progress.

I turned back to look at him and sighed. I liked Quen, and perhaps more importantly I respected him. He had helped me out, and I did owe him, but I had a little demon problem to worry about and I wasn't stepping off of hallowed ground for anything until I was sure that Al was safely locked up in the ever-after.

"You're right. But I've got a little demon problem right now, and I can't be off of hallowed ground while the suns down. You're going to have to find someone else to clean up your mess this time," I told him, with a genuine note of regret accompanying the general disdain that was also in my voice when I had to deal with Trent. I would have helped Quen if I could have, but I wanted to see the sunrise.

"He's dying, and it's your fault!" Trent declared his voice rising. I gaped at him. "The least you could do is listen to what I have to say."

Quen was dying? And it was my fault? I blinked at him, 'Does Not Compute' flashing in my mind in giant bright red letters.

"What are you talking about?" I asked cursing myself even as I asked the question. I did not want to talk to the bastard, but after dropping a bomb like that there was no way I wasn't going to try to find out what he was talking about.

"Can I come in?" He asked, businessman smooth and polite once more.

I stepped back reluctantly creating enough space for him to slip past me and into the church.

It begins, I thought as I closed the door behind him.

Ivy's dark, dramatic figure appeared in the hallway, and I held my hand out to her, calling her over. She would have something to say about whatever it was that Trent wanted.

She silently walked over to me, and pressed herself against my side, her hand easily slipping into my own. Trent looked between us, his eyes focusing on our joined hands for a moment before he very obviously directed his gaze to both of our necks. He smirked, and Ivy's chest rumbled in warning.

Trent quieted down, recognizing the threat. He and Ivy hadn't spent much time around each other, but he had seen enough of her to know that she would, and could, hurt him.

"I asked to speak with you," Trent sniffed turning his attention back to me. "The vampire is not invited."

"The vampire," I said, glaring at him, "is my partner. Where I go she goes. If you've got a problem with that, you know where the door is. I won't stop you from using it."

Ivy's chest stopped rumbling, and though her black eyes remained trained on Trent, I felt her relax marginally against my side.

Trent's jaw clenched. "Is there someplace we can talk, or are we going to have this discussion in your foyer?" he asked, the annoyance he wouldn't let show in his posture and expression, showing through a little in his voice.

"This way," I said tightening my hold on Ivy's hand, not wanting to lose the warmth of her as we started towards the sanctuary. I didn't turn around to see if Trent was following, I knew that he was.

Here we go again, I thought as we entered the sanctuary, here we go again.

The End

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