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Being a private investigator isn’t always boring, but it tends to be predictable. There are always cheating spouses to follow or missing children to find, interspersed with the occasional background check. Nothing glamorous, but it pays the bills. Which is important when you’re keeping one foot firmly planted in the human world.

My current case was proving to be both boring and predictable, with a side order of cold. San Francisco is too close to the ocean to be looking at a white Christmas, unless that white was fog. But the weathermen were forecasting highs in the mid-fifties at best, which made stakeouts all sorts of fun.

So far, my "cheating husband" had been to his office and stayed there. Probably finishing paperwork before the holidays. I really wasn't looking forward to him being done, because he seemed like the type who left his Christmas shopping until the next-to-last minute. There was no way I'd be able to follow him at the mall.

Nor, honestly, did I want to. I had nearly died quite often enough this year. I didn't need to add assault by frantic shoppers to the list.

"Three-fifteen PM," I said, checking the time before writing it down in a small notebook. "Subject in office still, receiving a cup of coffee from another member of staff." I clicked the pen shut, dropping it and the notebook on the passenger seat for the next ten to fifteen minutes. "Which sounds like an excellent idea." I'm not a morning person. Or a daytime person, really. Life just has a way of making me be up and going while the sun is in the sky.

Unfortunately, the Thermos of coffee I'd brought with me was finished, along with the sandwiches that had been packed with it. There wasn't anywhere nearby that I could get a refill from and, considering the premium that parking was at in the city, leaving my spot for some would likely result in me losing my guy. And losing him meant losing my paycheck.

Sighing, I huddled down in the front seat, drawing my leather jacket tighter around me. It was the warmest jacket I had, which was useful since I couldn't run the heater in the car too often. Waste of gas, not to mention looks suspicious. Not that sitting outside a place of business all day doesn't look suspicious, but a good don't-look-here spell tends to help. Not that I'm all that good at it, but I can manage at least a passable one.

That was the other half of my world, the one that was anything but predictable. I'm a changeling, half-fae and half human. Half Daoine Sidhe, to be exact, with just enough magic to make me other than human but not enough to be accepted in Fae society, for the most part.

I shifted, looking at the clock again as the scent of pennyroyal drifted up from the jacket. It hadn't always been mine. It used to belong to the local King of Cats, Tybalt, which was why it smelled like his magic. Still smelled like his even though I'd had it for months now. He'd seen me home after a drunken girl's night out and had been an absolute gentleman. At the time, it had seemed odd. Tybalt had spent much of my life annoying and exasperating me. I'd spent most of my life assuming he hated me. These days, I'm less certain. He's come to my aid too often for me to be anything but confused by him.

Of course, I hadn't seen him since Hallowe'en night, when they broke Blind Michael's Hunt, either.

Wrinkling my nose, I tore my thoughts away from that. What did it matter to me that Tybalt was perfectly happy to leave me to my own devices these days? It wasn't that long ago that I would have been ecstatic at the very idea. The reality was less thrilling.

I blew out a breath and banged my head back against the headrest. "Mind on the job," I reminded myself, reaching for my notebook again to make another note. Then I looked up and had to stifle a scream.

Tybalt stood at the window, eyebrow raised in amusement. He was making the effort to pass for human, which meant that while his eyes were still deep green, the pupil was rounded, as were the tips of his ears. His hair was still brown with black streaks, resembling a tabby's coat, other features blunted from alien to...still very, very pretty. Model agencies would be on their knees for a face like that, not to mention the body.

I dragged my eyes back to his face before I even realized they were wandering, shaking myself hard before reaching over to roll the window down. The car was old. It was what I could afford. "Oak and ash, Tybalt! What are you doing here?"

The King of Cats only raised that eyebrow a little higher. "I've been watching you for a few hours," he said, having let the moment stretch as long as he could. "Why are you just sitting here, October?"

"Stakeout," I replied, trying to keep my tone as pleasant as possible while still managing to sound slightly annoyed. I was confused by him, but it still wouldn't do to make him angry. He was pure-blooded Cait Sidhe and I had no desire to end up gutted because I'd pissed him off. It didn't bother me that he'd seen through the spell but I hadn't seen him. I'm passable. He's a lot better.

Well, it didn't bother me much.

He looked from me to the building across the street and back again. "Stakeout." It might have been a question, but mostly it was just amused again. "I suppose there should be a name for sitting out in the cold, bored stiff when you could be doing anything else."

"I'm not bored." It was an out and out lie, but I didn't have to give him the satisfaction of admitting to it.

"But nothing said of the cold," he noted. Then he surprised me by reaching in and offering me a cardboard cup from one of the local coffee houses. I must have looked it because he shrugged. "You haven't had a drink since I've been watching. I expected you to be having withdrawl symptoms by now."

The scent of fresh, hot coffee hit my nose and I sighed, reaching out to take it. "You didn't have to," I said, skirting the 'thank you' that would have been automatic from anybody human. The Fae don't say thanks. It implies an obligation and fealty and we don't offer that to just anybody. Even when it would be simpler to just come out and say it.

He shrugged, looking at the building again. "How much longer do you think you'll be?" he asked, turning back to me. It's always odd seeing Tybalt looking human. It's not that he doesn't like it. It's just that he doesn't actually care enough about humans to deal with them, normally.

So odd, in fact, that it took a moment for the question to sink in. I glanced at the clock automatically before I blinked and looked back at him. "Depends on the guy I'm following," I said, looking back at the office. He was in the same place, doing the same paperwork he had been all day. "He's a nine-to-fiver, so he'll probably leave just after five. Do his Christmas shopping and go home to a wife who is convinced she's not enough for him anymore and he's having an affair. Personally? I think it's not that he's bored with her, he's just boring, period."

It wasn't a kind assessment of the situation, but it was true, as near as I could tell. "I'm contracted to follow him until he gets home, though. So I don't know when exactly I'll be finished."

Tybalt was looking past me, staring at the guy in that odd way that cats sometimes have. That he could go about on four legs or two never stopped him from being a cat, period. "It's interesting," he said finally, "that their stories so often paint us as the villains for refusing to make a promise we might have to break. But, then, they expect them to be broken, don't they?"

It was a thought I'd had a few times myself, so I only nodded. When you worked as many cases like this as I had, you knew that the marriage vows were only so many words to some people. I had been married for a while. It had been dissolved several years ago, though. It was hard to argue being declared legally dead when you were stuck as a fish, after all. I had pretty much come to terms with the fact that the marriage was over. It was harder knowing that neither my husband nor my daughter wanted anything to do with me.

I blinked out of my reverie to find Tybalt watching me again, human-seeming still in place. There wasn't any amusement on his face. He was just studying me. Finally, I cleared my throat and broke us both out of our thoughts. "So. I'll probably be finished around eight, I think." About another four hours. I wasn't sure I could stand the excitement. "Any particular reason why?"

Tybalt made a considering sound at the back of his throat. "I'll find you then, October," he said, straightening and backing away from the car. I considered going after him, but it would bring attention to me. Not to mention, I didn't want to give him the satisfaction.

Snorting, I huddled down in my car again, fingers tight around the cup to take some warmth from the liquid. "Three-forty-five PM," I said aloud, not caring about anybody passing the open window. Most of them wouldn't pay attention to me, either. "Cats are weird." A glance at the building. "And paper pushers are boring."

It was going to be a long four hours.

*****

My man was utterly predictable. Finished work at five, went straight to the mall and was home by seven-thirty. He had a few small bags when he came out and, given the lack of parking and the streams of people going in and out of the doors, I considered being home two and a half hours after he left work to be a minor miracle.

I hadn't bothered following him in. If he actually had a mistress and wanted a quickie with her in a mall bathroom, who was I to judge? Seeing him home, though, meant I was officially off the clock and could, therefore, go home. Which was great because I wanted nothing more than a shower and a fresh coffee before I was faced with the great unknown and a Cait Sidhe. Especially when that Cait Sidhe was Tybalt.

There were three red threads taped over the doorway to my apartment. Traceries of power flared as I touched them ."Three blind mice, three blind mice. See how they run. See how they run." The wards broke, the scent of cut grass and copper surrounding me. The flavor of my magic, if you will. It meant that nobody had messed with my wards since I'd set them that morning. It also meant that May hadn't left since I'd left, either. Hardly unusual, really. May didn't have to be out and about, after all.

As far as the State of California is concerned, May Daye is my twin sister. Same birthday, same schooling, same life. In a way, they're correct. In a way, they couldn't be more wrong. May is my Fetch, a magical construct sent to let heroes know that their time is coming. She showed up just before my first trip to Blind Michael's lands. I made the trip three times along different roads. I never expected to return, but Fate had other ideas. It left May at loose ends, though, and she'd moved in with me. It's not a bad arrangement and she pays half the rent.

I don't ask where the money comes from. I don't know if I want to know.

Cagney and Lacey popped their heads up over the couch as soon as I came in, then started up a chorus, reminding me how put upon they were and how long it had been since they'd eaten. Seeing them reminded me that Tybalt had said he'd find me at eight and I really didn't want to be in the shower when that happened. Still, some things had to be done, first, or I'd never get any peace.

"You know, you could just go in and wake May up," I told them. They promptly ignored me, jumping down to curl around my feet as I made my way to the kitchen. "She would have fed you. I mean, Spike's gone to sleep with her, right?" Spike being my rose goblin. He used to belong to someone else, but Faerie has a lot of rules. I'd named him, so he now belonged to me. Luna had taken it pretty well, considering how happy she'd been to see me alive.

I did say I'd nearly been killed a lot in the past year, didn't I?

But it was only nearly and I was still here and alive. I got the food out in bowls and down on the floor, just barely getting my hands out of the way before both cats were tail up and nose down in them. "You're welcome," I said, shaking my head as I turned to get the coffee started. Then I headed for the bathroom. If I was quick, I could wash off a day of sitting in a cold car before the percolator was done perking.

Of course, by the time I got out, the coffee wasn't the only perky thing in the apartment. May was up, checking Spike's potting soil and making sure it had water. Cagney and Lacey both accepted the rose goblin well enough. It didn't eat their food so that made it okay with them.

"Evening!" May smiled, pushing a second cup of coffee forward for me. She knew exactly how I took it. Mostly because her memories until a few months ago were mine. Of course, nobody who spent more than a few minutes around us would ever mistake her for me. For one, I'm not a "morning" person.

She paused, coffee halfway to her mouth and looked me over. "You look nice."

"Is there something wrong with that?" I asked, trying not to be overly curt with her. Lack of sleep was going to catch up with me eventually and it wasn't a good idea to take it out on your roommate.

"No, no. It's just that you normally don't try unless there's a reason." Now she looked interested, leaning forward. "Is there a reason?"

May was going to find out anyway, but it still took me a moment to convince myself to actually tell her. Mostly because May knew things about me that I didn't always like facing. "Tybalt asked to see me at eight."

"Tybalt?" She blinked at me, then looked me over again. "Oh." Another pause, then, "Is he wearing the red leather pants?"

I absolutely refused to blush, though it was a near thing. That was what I meant about her knowing things. "I have no idea what he's wearing."

May grinned widely, taking a drink. "Well, one can hope." She had a point and she knew it. "Anyway, I'm going to be out tonight. Probably won't be home until tomorrow. You know how these things are."

The sound I made must have been close enough to agreement because she took it as such. Mostly I tried not to watch the clock or act nervous. My hands were sweating, but if I put my cup down and wiped them, May would know I was nervous. Actually, from the looks I was catching out of the corner of my eye, she knew it regardless.

I don't know how I was expecting Tybalt to arrive, but knocking at the door wasn't it. Which probably explained why I jumped, cup thankfully empty by that point. I glanced up at the clock so that I could ignore May laughing, noting that it was actually a few minutes after eight. I put the cup down, rubbing my hands against my pants before going to the door.

Thankfully, Tybalt wasn't wearing the red leather pants. Though the jeans he'd chosen could have been painted on and I was not thinking about how difficult it might be to get those off. Coffee by itself was not enough to make me admit that out loud, though. If I was careful, I wouldn't end up admitting it at all. The shirt was a bit better. At least it wasn't accentuating the curve of muscles or...anything else.

There was no way I was going to blush now, either. "Hello, Tybalt."

"October." He dropped his gaze to look me over, too. I'm not short, but he still has about six inches on me. And he was still working at looking human, which brought the number of times I'd seen him as human up to a grand total of three. It still looked odd, but I thought I was getting used to it.

May cleared her throat behind me, making me jump. I'd utterly forgotten she was there. "I'll just go ahead and get going," she said, pulling her jacket on and grabbing her purse. If it were any colder, her face might have cracked from the force of her grin. "Places to be and all that. You two have fun tonight." She and Tybalt shared a look that I'm pretty certain meant they were conspiring against me, but damned if I could prove it. I could have been misreading it all together.

May slipped past us both, leaving me standing there awkwardly for a moment. Then I pulled myself together and squared my shoulders. It was still Tybalt. I didn't have a clue what was going on, but when did I ever where he was concerned? No reason to change things now.

"So," I said, turning to grab my leather jacket from the couch. Cagney and Lacey were a respectful distance away, sitting demurely. Spike was less demure behind them. rattling his thorns curiously. I pulled the jacket on, pulling my hair out from underneath as I turned back to Tybalt. "Where are we going?"

There was something odd in his eyes as he watched me. I had seen it before and ignored it then. I was just going to ignore it now. To say that Tybalt's moods could be mercurial was an understatement. Anybody who lives with cats knows how they can be. One minute they're snuggled up beside you, the next you have claws in your leg and are being yowled at. The difference with Tybalt, at least, was that you generally knew what you'd done to get the claws.

After a moment, he shook his head. "Supper," he said, raising his chin a bit. "I thought, after your stakeout, it might be wise. Considering I don't know the state of your kitchen or your ability to use it."

I scrunched up my nose but didn't let loose the sigh of relief that I felt. Insults. That was far more usual from Tybalt and reminded me who I was dealing with. It was comforting, in its way. "I'll have you know that my ability to use the kitchen is just fine." The state of it, on the other hand? Well, that was something he probably had reason to worry about.

Then he ruined the moment by reaching out and adjusting the jacket collar, making certain it was laying properly. His thumbs brushed against my neck, making my breath catch and heat flash down my spine. It had definitely been a while since I'd felt that. "But a supper out would not be such a hardship, would it?"

That one, I had to give some thought. Because dinner out wasn't a hardship, no. Dinner out with the King of Cats, who had been my main antagonist most of my life and who had been throwing around the weirdest signals ever since we'd made it out of Fremont?

I looked up at him and decided. "No," I said, focusing to keep my voice steady. "I suppose it wouldn't be."

The smile I got in reply was one of the few truly real smiles I'd ever seen from him. I don't tend to make him smile much, unless he's mocking me. It was definitely a smile I could come to like.

"Very well, October." He turned, opening the way for me to follow him out. "Set your wards and we will go."

I locked the door and set the wards, then realized my keys weren't in my hand anymore. I frowned, turning to find Tybalt holding them. "You're not driving my car," I told him. I'd lost my last car by letting May drive. There hadn't been a lot of choice in the matter and we WERE being chased at the time, but it pretty much meant that any Fae that hadn't passed a driving test was getting nowhere near the wheel.

Tybalt snorted at the thought, putting my keys in his pocket. "No," he agreed. "I am not."

Blinking at him, I looked at the street, then back. "So how do you plan to get there?"

Me and my big mouth.

*****

Supper was actually nice, once I'd thawed out from our trip through the shadows. I should have known he had something like that in mind, mostly because he takes a certain perverse delight in freezing me near through. Walking shadows is a power that most of the Cait Sidhe have, in varying strength, and it's not my favorite mode of transportation.

My dislike of traveling through shadow has nothing to do with the last time Tybalt did so with me. Absolutely nothing.

At least this time it wasn't so far and the need wasn't so great. It was, however, still damned cold and I let Tybalt know. He didn't seem bothered in the least. He did have good choice in restaurants, though.

The greatest surprise, really, was how at ease he seemed through the whole thing. Tybalt didn't mix with humans, generally. Or he never had that I knew. It's possible it was just a Cait Sidhe thing, though. Cats think they own everywhere they are and act it. And a lot of humans tend to believe that if you act like you belong somewhere, you do, so they'll overlook any strange habits. Honestly, watching the human side of San Francisco react to him was almost more enjoyable than the food.

Then there were the touches. If I left my hand on the table, he'd find a reason to reach over and accidentally brush his fingers over mine. If my hair fell in my face, he pushed it back, careful of the ear tips that my mask hid. Nothing that lingered, but enough to keep me flustered and off balance most of the night. I can't say I didn't enjoy the attention, though. It had been a long time since I'd been on a date.

If that was what this was. Because it certainly felt like a date, but it might have just been Tybalt being nice. Not that that wasn't unusual in and of itself.

Something must have been showing on my face, because Tybalt waited until the plates were cleared before leaning forward. "You're very quiet."

I blinked, rousing myself with a shake of my head. "Just thinking."

"I could practically hear the spinning wheel going in your head."

"Ha ha." I leaned forward on the table, hands back on my side so that he couldn't touch them. I wanted to be thinking clearly when I said this. "I don't understand what's going on here." He went still, watching me. I could almost swear that his masks thinned, enough to let me see the clear green eyes with slit pupil that were his normally. Though it might just have been my imagination. "I don't understand you."

He sat back slightly, then stood, taking out his wallet. I assumed it was his, at least, but don't ask me where it was normally hidden. I certainly hadn't spotted it in his jeans. "I don't think this is a conversation to be had here," was all he said, dropping a half dozen bills on the table. I was positive he'd overpaid, but at least if he came back here, the staff would remember the tip.

"So where do you want to have it?" I crossed my arms, still seated. I wasn't going anywhere without an answer to that.

Tybalt shrugged, offering me his hand. "Your apartment will be fine."

My apartment. Which was empty but for two cats and a rose goblin. May wouldn't be home until late or not at all tonight. Part of me wondered if being alone with Tybalt was necessarily the best idea in the world. The rest of me wanted answers enough to take his hand and grab my jacket. "All right. My apartment it is."

The trip back wasn't any more comfortable, but it seemed faster. It always does when you're going back, at least in the human world. The Summerlands could twist around and make a trip back twice as long as the trip out, but the human world doesn't change like that. And walking the shadows was the quickest way from point A to point B. Even if it meant having to hold your breath the entire way.

The night broke around us, temperature raising to an almost balmy mid-forties. It was late, nearing onto midnight and San Francisco was cold, but not cold enough that the ice on my eyelashes wasn't melting slightly. Tybalt put me down on my feet, letting his hands linger a bit. I wasn't sure what to read it as, so I didn't bother. This night was confusing enough as it was.

I turned, looking up at him. "What is this?" I asked, not bothering with the wards just yet. I needed to know something before I let him into my home, mostly because it felt like it could be a lot more than just a good night coffee. "You've tormented me nearly from the time of my Choice. You've always been there with a barb or a snide comment, almost every time I've turned around. Then you just--disappeared. Twice. I don't see or hear anything from you for months and you suddenly turn up and--" I cut myself off, not certain exactly where I was going with it.

Though that was sort of the question, wasn't it? Where was this going?

Tybalt stood there, letting the silence stretch between us before he answered. I expected him to say something, either to explain or just wish me good night. Either would have made more sense to me than what did happen. Because next thing I knew, his hands were on my shoulders, his mouth was over mine and I was being kissed.

My hands came up as well, pressing against his chest. He tensed, mouth still against mine but waiting. It could go either way. I knew, somehow, that if I pushed, he would yield. This would all end before it began and we would go back to...whatever it was we were doing. I knew he wouldn't walk away completely because he was still in my debt, but this was probably a one time offer, take it or leave it.

I hesitated a second too long and Tybalt started to pull away. I made my decision then, fisting my hands in his shirt and pulling him back. He made a startled noise, but his mouth was over mine again and I pulled, wanting the door against my back. It was practical, really. That way, nothing could sneak up behind me. It had nothing to do with wanting better leverage to kiss him back.

The rattle of keys reminded me that Tybalt had mine. He pressed them into my hand and I fumbled for the right one by counting from the fob. It was safe and I could do it in the dark. Or when I was being kissed stupid. Either worked. I had to break it, though, groaning. "Wards," I reminded him.

He snarled, pushing back enough to be able to reach up, placing one hand over the red threads on my doorway. The scent of pennyroyal and musk nearly drowned out the scent of my own grass and copper as he broke the wards. Normally it was the height of rudeness to break someone else's wards and at any other time, I would have pointed it out. This time, though, I was just glad of the efficiency.

I still didn't understand, but as concerns went, it was kind of low on the list at the moment. Somewhere behind 'get the door open' and 'deal with Tybalt's jeans'.

I turned, forcing my hand not to shake as I slotted the key in the door. Tybalt was good enough not to press up against my back, because I don't think I could have managed if he had. It still took a moment for me to get the door open, then we were moving through into the living room. Tybalt shut the door, the slam reverberating through the apartment. I'd probably hear from my neighbors tomorrow, but that would wait until they actually complained.

I shucked the jacket off, tossing it onto the couch. Cagney and Lacey were off somewhere, probably taking over May's bed with Spike. Tybalt is the King of Cats, after all, and that means all cats in his realm. And if he wanted them to clear out, they cleared out.

Tybalt took my hands, pulling me toward him again before I could walk away. "You still have the wrong face on," he reminded me. "I don't want to see the false face you have to show the world. I want to see you."

I'm not great at magic, but it's always easier to let something go than to bring it into being in the first place. I closed my eyes, concentrating on unraveling the spell and felt it fall away. It left me looking like my half-human, half-Daoian Sidhe self. My face is too angular and my ears too pointed to really pass as human, but not enough for the Fae. It had been a very long time since someone I was going to sleep with had seen this face.

His hands moved from mine up to my face, his own masks dropping. His skin lightened, his ears became sharply pointed and so did his canines. Those teeth scared me as a child. Now they made me shiver for an entirely different reason.

I couldn't tell you how we managed to get to my bedroom. I remember movement and a chill as clothing disappeared. With luck, I wouldn't trip over it in the morning. But then we were on my bed and Tybalt was kissing his way down my neck.

I'm no virgin. I was married, but I wasn't a virgin then, either. But it had been a long time since I'd had sex and that probably had a large part to do with why it felt so damned good. I guess a fifteen year dry spell will do that to a girl. It felt like his hands were everywhere, his mouth close behind. Then his fingers were inside me and I couldn't even keep track of that much. I'd seen what he could do to people if he was provoked to attack. I had never thought about what they would feel like against my skin.

Tybalt kissed me again and I reached up, curling my fingers into his short hair. It was soft and slightly coarse, like the tabby coat it so resembles. I felt him hard against my hip, fingers twisting inside me as his canines dragged hard against my bottom lip. I'm not sure which part did it, but anything else was lost in a flash of heat and rushing blood in my ears as I came.

I came back to myself with Tybalt's arms around me, holding me close and nuzzling at my hair. I reached out, brushing my fingers over his skin, making him groan softly. It would have been nice to lay like that for a while longer, but a question from earlier was starting to push itself forward again. "You left."

The sound Tybalt made was disgruntled, but he didn't hush me. Just let me talk, which was what I needed, I think. "When we went back to Shadowed Hills, after breaking Blind Michael's ride. After you helped to rescue me. You just...left. May said you had other things to do, but it didn't feel right when she said it." I raised my head, meeting his eyes straight on. "Why?"

His hands were steady against my back as he considered the question and how best to answer. "Because you wouldn't stay," he finally said, moving one hand up to brush my hair back. "I know you, October, but I knew why May was there, too. She was supposed to take you when you died and I couldn't stand by to watch that." Tybalt's mouth twisted up in a rueful smile. "I knew you would go back to Blind Michael and likely die in the process. And if I was there when you left, I would never be able to let you go alone."

I remembered, when Blind Michael asked who had come to reclaim me from his Hunt, that Tybalt was there. Tybalt, who said he had a prior claim. And that memory brought another one from the ether of my memories. It was a borrowed memory, read from Tybalt's blood accidentally. I'd needed to know who had hired a Redcap to kill me. Tybalt had killed the Redcap with his bare hands and the blood had been on his shirt. The Daoine Sidhe have the ability to read blood, to taste the memories of the person who shed it. A lot of information is held in blood, after all.

Before I'd seen the Redcap's memories, though, I'd gotten a flash of another one. One of Tybalt's, watching me and noting how I had come back. Or, more importantly, how I had come back to him.

He saw the connections in my eyes and leaned down to kiss me lightly. "I won't walk away so easily again."

I loved Cliff and our daughter and part of me would always mourn what was lost there. But there had been so many things that I'd needed to hide to be with him. I'd lost fourteen years with them and I'd never get that back. Tybalt wasn't always easy to deal with, but I could be myself with him. He would understand being trapped as a fish for fourteen years. Sometimes, Faerie was easier to explain than the human world.

I pushed him onto his back, straddling his stomach. Tybalt's eyebrows hit his hairline, but to his credit, he didn't try to retake the upper hand. I wasn't entirely convinced that this wasn't going to be just a one time thing, so I shifted back, reaching back to take hold of him. Tybalt's eyelids fluttered and I allowed myself that moment to touch and explore. He groaned, rocking up into my touch, which made me a little bolder. I closed my hand around him, stroking slowly.

I was glad to feel that it was pretty much normal. I hadn't exactly thought about it, but when you learned certain things about cats, you sometimes wondered how closely the Cait Sidhe hewed to their feline side.

"October." Tybalt looked at me, voice gone rough. He reached up, resting his hands against my hips. "Teasing doesn't become you."

"Oh, I wouldn't say that." Still, I didn't want to wait any longer than he did. I stilled my hand, holding him steady as I moved back just a little more, holding my breath in anticipation. I got him into the right place, body clenching slightly before I let gravity take over and we both groaned as I slid down onto him.

Tybalt moved, then, curling up to sit and settle me back on his lap. It changed the angle a little and I shifted my hands to his shoulders to help keep my balance. Not that he would have let me topple. That wouldn't be as fun for either of us.

We rocked together, my arms sliding around his shoulders and his mouth making a slow exploration of my neck and shoulder. I slid a hand back into his hair, tilting my head back to open myself to him. The position allowed for a slow build, falling into a rhythm that brought us both as much pleasure as we could manage. Then he slipped his hand between us, pressing his thumb over my clit and the pleasure ratcheted up more.

Tybalt scraped his teeth along my collarbone, then lapped at the spot. The feeling made me clench around him and he paused, repeating it with slightly more pressure of his teeth. I bit my bottom lip, head to the side and exposing the line of shoulder and collarbone to him. I wasn't sure why, but it felt right. Sometimes, you just have to go with it. Another few licks and Tybalt took the invitation and bit down, breaking the skin with his canines.

I felt the blood well up over my skin, but more than that, I felt the power in it. I was only half Daoine Sidhe, but blood spoke to me. And, in the right circumstances, it could provide a power boost for me. The power was there. I could feel that, but there was nothing for it to do. I knew to listen to it, that the blood would tell me what I needed to do. The knowledge came after a moment and made me dig my fingers into his shoulder. Tybalt growled, but I dug my nails in harder until the skin broke and I felt his blood against my fingers.

I brought my fingers to my mouth, pressing his blood to my lips. My other hand urged his head back. Tybalt didn't want to, but I was insistent and he finally did so. Then I leaned in, kissing him hard. I felt the blood spark between us and the magic build, then crashed down around us. I felt him spill into me as the scent of pennyroyal and musk and copper and grass filled the air.

The magic dissipated and I slumped against Tybalt. He managed to remain sitting for another few moments until he fell backward as well. He didn't try to shift me to the side, even if it couldn't have been terribly comfortable for him.

We lay like that for a few minutes, just breathing and enjoying the way it felt. Tybalt brought his hand to my hair, stroking it slowly. "What was that?"

"I have no idea." I raised my head, looking at him. "It just--felt right."

"I suppose, given your penchant for cutting yourself up, this shouldn't come as a surprise." Tybalt snorted, shaking his head.

I slapped his chest. "Hey. In case you didn't notice, Tybalt, you're the one who made me bleed this time."

He raised an eyebrow, then leaned in and kissed me. "I suppose I did. I'd apologize, but it was...quite interesting."

Interesting was definitely one word for it. I yawned, trying to ignore the taste of blood in my mouth. I'd have to go to the bathroom to wash it out and I wasn't up for that yet. Still, there was one more thing that I needed to know. "Are you staying?"

Tybalt went quiet for a few moments, then reached out and snagged a blanket to pull over us. "How could I ever say no to an offer like that, October?"

"I didn't think you would." I yawned again, settling my head against his shoulder.

"Are you saying I'm predictable?"

The very idea made me laugh and I slid off of him, curling against his side. "You, predictable?" I grinned. "Anything but."

"Good." Tybalt sniffed, rubbing the tip of his nose before tightening his arm around my shoulders. "Sleep, October. I will be here when you wake."

It sounded like a good idea to me, so I did exactly that. I haven't slept so well in a very, very long time.