Chapter One

The aching hunger that doesn't go away, the desire that is never fulfilled. The lust...the lust...

It keeps calling me.

He flew, wondering if she'd be waiting for him. She'd know, she always knew. But would she come for him?

I like it when you need me.

I'm sorry I used you.

And I you. We have needs, Nicholas, just as mortals do.

I shouldn't have.

Are you saying that you didn't want to?

No, its not that.

The sound of the gulls, the water, the taste of her blood in his mouth.

Its just that I have to fight so hard to control it. I have to control it.

Not with me. Ever.

She could still make him hopeless with longing. She could draw him in, and it was so sweet. He needed her so badly.

But those are needs you don't have anymore. That's all in the past... isn't it?

No, it wasn't.

Natalie wouldn't understand. It was easier for her not to know.

Natalie prowled around the apartment for the fifth time. Sydney was getting good playtime batting at her ankles. She changed out of her good slacks into her battered 501's, but then put the silk camisole back on. Glancing in bathroom mirror she pulled her thick hair out of it's knot. She brushed it out, finding the action soothing. Perhaps she should get a few beers, go down and look at the water. Try not to remember Nick talking about the hunger, the need to possess, how he understood...

How it made her feel.

How it made her want.

"Screw it," she said aloud. She scooped up her wallet, her coat and her keys and went out the door.

Janette was waiting for him, all paleness and darkness. Her mouth was soft, gentle on his own. The taste of blood on her was earthy, thick and welcome.

Natalie took a perverse pleasure in the fact that were several clubs in Toronto that weren't the Raven. The Morgue was packed with Goths, Slackers, and Strays like herself. Post-instusrial, neo-celt and assorted other music mixed with the usual Gothic flavor. Nat looked around; hell, nobody she knew. She looked up to the upper tier. A tall man with very short fair hair moved into shadow, he looked familiar. She could have sworn he had watched her come in...

Her Corona with lime was set in front of her. She took a fast sip. Nobody to play with. Sounds familiar, Natasha? Oh well, I could go to the Rat's Nest, or I could go to the lake. She swirled the beer.

Enough of these and maybe I'll jump off the bridge again.

A hand touched her silken back with familiarity. A soft, tenor's voice in her ear. "Doctor, doctor, I got me the worst kind of pain."

She swung in the chair, her voice was soft, but she knew he could hear her. "Marcus!"

Her friend was twenty-five, tall and lithely muscled. His face was oval, severely so, with graceful sculpted cheekbones and jaw balanced with a very high forehead and shoulder length mohangany hair. His almond-shaped dark eyes sparkled with delight, and his sensual mouth was in a soft smile.

He reached out with a long, graceful hand and brushed her bangs around his smile growing larger. "Not a trace left."

She pushed his arm away, "No thanks to you. It took a week for that bruise to go away. They were laughing at me all over the office. And I told them I did it just getting clumsy into my car."

He took a sip of her Corona. "Imagine if you told them the truth. Come on, they've got to have at least a little sense of humor."

She gave him a light slap on the stomach and took her beer back. "Oh yeah, I can see it now. How you get the giant bruise on your forehead Nat? Oh, nothing much, I just got knocked unconscious playing Midnight Death Frisbee. Nick and Schanke would have a field day with that one. I'll stick with the car story."

He ruffled her hair affectionately. She liked it. "You're such a good sport. And you were doing great until you got hit."

She drank more of the beer. "No gigs for you tonight."

He leaned back against the bar, the full length leather coat falling open. His silk shirt and dark trousers draped over him in a way too affectionate for Natalie's troubled psyche. "Nope. I spent an afternoon teaching a group of 13 year olds how to accept Bruce Lee as one of their personal saviors and how not to hurt themselves with practice kicks. And then I did two hours of practice for my next belt trial. So, I've been a good boy. No dance class at the moment, so I thought I'd go out and see who's out and about. And here you are." He touched her shoulder as she shifted to face him.

"Here I am. Nobody else is around. I'm glad to see you, Marcus."

"Even though the last time you saw me I knocked you out."

"Even though."

His hand moved down to her hip, lightly, delicately. His eyes lit up and the smile was joyful on his face. "Dance with me?"

She draped her coat over her chair, took his hand and followed.

The kisses fell into each other, Nick couldn't tell when one stopped and another started. The sweet caress of her tongue, light against the gum, brushing a fang, then dancing with his own. I need this, I need her... Don't let go, please, I'm falling in...

Marcus danced as if his bones were made of water. His muscles moved with effortless grace; years of dance and martial arts had rewarded him. His mahagony hair turned red and black in the shifting lights. His hands were strong and sure around her. His eyes shone with the pleasure of holding her. She felt her self-consciousness glide away and they drifted together in perfect time, in perfect rhythm.

She was still amazed by it. Even that first night of the dance class she'd taken, they'd seem to flow together. She answered an ad in the paper; Dance classes, evenings only, experienced teacher traditional and modern call 871-1663. She'd ending up missing some of the classes due to work, and had ended up getting together with Marcus later. They'd hit it off and become friends. He'd shown her a lot of the underground music scene and she'd taught him proper first aid. They had fun together, she basked in Marcus' good nature and high spirits. She could relax and be silly, and go to Jackie Chan movies and get talked into things like Midnight Death Frisbee or the infamous Midnight Babushka Mojo Golf. Even when he'd asked her out for real... She'd tried, she really had, Marcus had been funny, romantic and sexy... It had almost happened...would've happened, she could have fallen head over feet... If it hadn't been..

If it hadn't been for Nick, tell the truth, Natalie, if it hadn't been for Nick. She had told the truth, that she was in love with somebody, and until she had come to terms with it, she couldn't start a relationship with someone else. It wouldn't be right, she couldn't ask someone to be with her with that kind of shadow over them. Marcus had understood perfectly, and stepped aside with admirable grace. He said he still wanted to still be her friend, and meant it, then proved it. After a while, he got involved with a singer friend of their buddy Mags, then that fell apart. He immersed himself with Kung Fu, for the first and then second black belt. He wrote song after song, finally selling some to local bands. Worked on perfecting his jive dancing, which gave him another reason to call her. He had no girlfriend, preferring to hang out with their friend Mags or with Natalie if he wanted female companionship. The divide had never grown uncomfortable.

She'd met him so long ago... No, not really, but Richard had still been alive... and everything before Richard died seemed so long ago.

Tasha, take care of your brother!

Sorta blew that one... She put her head against Marcus shoulder, and blocked it out.

In this dream of life and death
I know so much I will forget
I know your body and your breath
I know your rhythm and your touch
I want you here
I want so much
I fear too much

The cape slipped from Janette's shoulders and pooled at her feet. Nick supported her head with his hands and ran his lips over her throat, her jaw, slipped down to the upper curves of her splendid breasts. She smiled in pleasure, her eyes closing. He drew her close, slipping his hands over her back, roaming over her hips. Her cool hands opened his shirt, hungry across his chest, lightly scratching his nipples. He moaned softly and kissed her dark hair. He dropped to his knees before her, wrapping his arms around her, hugging her. Her hands touched his hair. He slipped one hand under her skirt, the feel of her stocking then her thigh burning into him. She gasped softly, her thighs parting. He kissed her belly, chewing on the suede as his hand touched her intimately, quietly parting her labia. She was so beautiful to touch.

Time, time is stopping.

Two beers, three dances and much laughter made Natalie sparkle. The honest, raw longing in Marcus' face was intoxicating. Desire was spiraling inside, flowing around and beyond the space inside that Nick was carved on, past it, taking on force. Natalie never chose a substitute for Nick, she was too proud to pretend. Marcus made her feel wanted, beautiful... and what? Worthy of desire?

This wasn't fair. Why did Marcus have to have this effect on her? Why did he have to have a crush on her? Why did he have to be so funny, so smart, so young, so sexy? Why was he here when she didn't want to be alone?

She flowed closer to him, their hips touched, her breasts pressed against him. Her lips found his... sweet, so sweet.

Why'd you break up with Rachel, Marcus?

Remember when you told me about this guy you've fallen for? The one you have to figure it all out before you can get honestly involved with anyone else?

Yes, I remember...

It's the same kind of thing. It wasn't fair to Rachel.

Marcus, I'm sorry. Please...

No, no, don't. It's alright, Nat. I can handle this.

Can you, Marcus?

If you can, I can.

She didn't want to hurt him. But the glory of his kiss was indescribable. I want this, I want it so much...

Take me while you can
I can see you standing at the smoky entrance
Giving up your good intentions

Leave the shadows dancing
Dancing on their own
Let the moment free you now
And leave it all behind you
I'll know where you've gone
Let the world go on

Janette slipped down before him, her mouth crushing his. Nick's hand never left her, his thumb rubbing her clitoris as his fingers entered her. She opened for him, wet and hungry. Her tongue ravished his mouth. His other hand supported her buttocks, to keep her balance.

His self-control was fraying. One of her hands moved down, squeezing his erection through his trousers, his entire body jolted with the contact. The smell of blood and arousal was everywhere, overwhelming.

"I want you, Nicholas, I want all of you."

"Take me..." take me over...

They danced out into the parking lot, then Marcus spun her and lifted her onto the trunk of a car. The feel of his fingers on the back of her thighs sparked in her mind. Natalie touched his face, brushing his forehead, touching his narrow nose, then cupping his face. His lips and eyes smiled softly at her, and she made a decision deep within. She kissed him with warmth, with longing, with need. She loved the taste of his mouth, its warmth. He leaned forward into the kiss. She felt a fluttering in her stomach and her nipples hardened. He sucked gently on her tongue, then lazily let his own drift back. They parted reluctantly. She lowered her hands from his face.

"Did you drive here?" He asked.

"Nope, I walked over. If I have too much to drink, I just fall over it rather than run into it." She smiled, and balanced her arms on his shoulders. She waited for his next question, anticipating, with nervousness and desire.

"Why don't I walk you home?" They both knew what was being asked.

"Why don't you?" She whispered. Her mouth closed over his.

He laid back on the grass, crushing her cape under him. She reached for his belt, quickly opening his trousers, freeing his cock. She stroked him urgently, he gasped out her name. She closed her mouth over him, her fangs teasing the underside of the shaft, her tongue lashing the tip. He tore at the grass with both hands.

They walked in circles, pausing to embrace against fences, against trees, against the sides of buildings. Other couples passed them, some also embracing, some not; they all drifted past and were swallowed by the shadows. Nat thought she saw the fair-haired man again, but he moved away so quickly she couldn't tell if she knew him or not. Marcus kissed her again, then it didn't matter. She loved the walk, loved the way his penis hardened more and more every time he pressed against her. She took his hand and guided it to her breast. His touch was warm and sweet, she wanted to purr. She feasted on his mouth. Countless frustrated nights seemed far away now, her body was wide awake.

Wake me with your dark embrace
And make me open in your arms
I want to lose myself within
Leave the person I have been
Let me enter

Janette was too excited to torment him for very long. He loved her arousal, her hunger, it never failed to excite him. She slid over him, pressing against him, the feel of her clitoris against the head of cock was exquisite and unbearable. He dug his fingers into her thighs, the suede soft under his palms. She smiled as she guided him in.

He closed his eyes, feeling all of her. Good, so good... the way it has always been... He was losing himself in her. Yes. She rocked back and forth on him, starting slowly, then building. "Nicholas," she breathed. "Oh, Nicholas..."

Marcus pushed the front door shut with his back, and locked it with one hand. Natalie dropped her keys and leaned into him pulling up his shirt until she felt skin. Their lips sought each other again. He pushed her coat off, because of the wallet it made a thud when it fell.

He slipped a hand between her legs and pressed down. The touch was scorching, her breath caught and her knees went weak. God, she wanted him. But...

He drew back a little, his eyes searching her face. He could sense her conflict, perhaps see it her eyes. He waited.

"I don't want to use you." she whispered.

He lifted a hand to her face, his eyes gentleness and desire. "Use me."

One kiss, and she gave herself over. He supported her back and she stretched her arms behind and then she was on the floor. He slid a camisole strap off her shoulder, freeing her breast, lips closed over her nipple, tongue rasping over it. Her hand slid through his soft, long hair. Her breath quickened as he unbuttoned her jeans. His hand found its way inside, fingers moving under the elastic of her underpants.

Control was lost now, he held her hips with both hands and thrust into her in a frenzy. He turned his head to the side, silently begging. Now, do it now! She leaned forward, and sank her fangs in. The yielding of flesh, the release of blood, this was...was... His hands tightened, if she had been mortal he'd have bruised her. She growled with pleasure, drinking deep, riding him fast, relentless. With a cry, he gave himself up, let go.

The skirt of his leather coat felt heavy on her legs. The touch of his fingers on her lower fur was teasing, electric. The first brush against her clitoris caused her to gasp, he lightly rubbed her labia. She was so wet, she was soaking him. He rose slightly, smiled sweetly, and kissed her harder than ever. His touch became urgent, his thighs were trembling. She rose herself on her elbows, shifting her angle, increasing the pressure. His fingers thrust inside, finding her welcome. The heel of his hand massaged her, it was so intense it was almost more than she could bear. His mouth, his tongue hungry against her neck. He ran his teeth against her throat, and lightly nipped her.

She came.

It was sharp, sudden, uncontrollable, unstoppable. Her head dropped back, her entire body shook. She gasped in sobs, it was so intense it was nearly painful. Her thighs closed tight around that beautiful, tormenting hand.

Nat opened her eyes and Marcus was looking at her with awe, with the expression of having seen something wondrous. She rose herself to him, and kissed him as if she would swallow him whole.

Janette pulled away from him, his blood dark on her mouth. "My chevalier, my brave crusader." She smiled, delighting in the power she had over him, excited by his surrender; he could see it in her face.

Your turn now, love...

His arms slid up from her hips to her back and drew her close. Nick loosened her dress. He nuzzled her large, friendly breasts; teasing with his tongue and teeth. Now that she no longer had to hold him inside her, she moved her thighs back so she could rest more comfortably on him. Her hand ran through his hair and moaned. He bit lightly at her nipples, a few drops of blood flowed into his mouth.

You're just as helpless to it as I am. Yes, love, yes...

Finally, she couldn't take any more. She seized his head with both hands and pulled him away from her chest. She guided him to her throat, whimpering. This is what she needed, what she had to have.

He bit deep, and felt her shudder.

With her help Marcus managed to get her jeans off, her underpants getting lost inside. She kicked off her shoes. He pulled his coat off and started to unbutton his shirt. Natalie didn't want to wait. With a fierce kiss her hands went to his belt. His head dropped back as she stroked him, his cock felt heavy and hot in her hands. One of his hands clumsily dug into a coat pocket, some condoms and a small tube of lubricant fell from his fingers. His breath came fast. He looked so sexy she had to kiss him again. His brow knitted, and he said softly, "Feel what you've done to me? I don't know how long I can last."

"Shh, let me." Nat took the lube from under his fingers. After putting a little into the palm of her hand she stroked him again. Once he was covered with it, she opened the condom and rolled it on. The moisture of the lubricant caused the condom to cling to his penis like a second layer of skin. She continued touching him, enjoying the change in texture, liking how he jumped under her hands.

She smiled, she kissed him and let him push her back down. She opened her legs and he drew over her, pushing her camisole up and baring her breasts. She raised her hips as he guided himself in. She gasped with the pleasure of penetration. He moaned out her name, thrusting eagerly; one hand reaching under them to cup her backside, giving support.

Their position and the hardness of the floor didn't lend itself well for deep penetration, but it felt too good to stop. Natalie laid her hands on his hips gently, gently guiding as he thrust until he pressed against that soft place inside her. Oh yes, there now, yes..."Marcus, oh God, Marcus." The taste of him, the silk friction against her nipples, the feel of his trousers against her calf, the incredible feel of him inside her... Sensations washed over her in a flood, she was drowning, she was falling. She clung to him, burying his face into her hair.

"Beautiful, you're so beautiful." he rasped out. His breath caught, his arm tightened around her as he fell, too.

He held her close, kissing her gently, the taste of her blood a perfection in his mouth. He didn't want to move, didn't want to think, didn't want to breath.

He could hear a voice in the back in the back of his mind. Don't want to wake the conscience, Nicholas?

"I must go." She pulled away, slowly, reluctantly. With an unhappy sound, he tried to pull her back. She kissed him and smiled. "Now, now, cher, I have to put the children to bed. And you may wish to explain our condition to the Park Patrol, but I do not. " She kissed him tenderly. "Come to the Raven and spend the day if you wish."

She rose, and he followed. They fastened their clothes, he shook out her cape and fastened it around her with a flourish. One kiss more, one touch, and she was gone.

When she was with him, he could almost forget. His doubts, his conflicts, his guilts... he could almost lose himself in their existence... be what they were...

Almost. But not completely. And that was the void between them. He could never become mortal without rejecting her, he could not lose himself in the vampire without hating himself, without it poisoning his love for her. He should let her go, get away from her, bury all down, drive her away... He couldn't. Perhaps he didn't love her the way he once had, but she understood him in a way no one else did. And to resist her touch was like attempting to stop the tide coming in. He sighed, the isolation pressing down on him.

No-one can truely understand, is that so, Nicholas? My, the clarion call of the self-piting. How complex you insist on making a bout of sexual excess, simply enjoying passion just wouldn't be enough for you. No, why not analyze it, too.

Suddenly, sharply, he longed for Natalie. Her calm, her warmth, could soothe him.

She could remind him... remind him of what he wanted...

Just to hear her heartbeat... just to be near...

She'd never know he was there.

He took to the air.

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