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I frowned at the narrow beam of sunlight sneaking past my curtains, managing to land directly across my right eye to tell me it was barely noon. With a pitiful groan, I rolled over, pulling the covers up and over my head, wanting desperately to slip back into unconsciousness. I had been asleep a precious three hours, despite having retired to my bed earlier than usual that night. I had needed to think, and my thoughts had kept me up most of the morning until I'd made up my mind, resolving to settle things with Ivy once and for all. My decision had been made, but the anxiety of deciding had been replaced with the anxiety of anticipation, and had not allowed peaceful slumber.

I had planned a girls' night with her, a rare commodity given the constant chaos that had infected my life. Al was leaving me alone, under our standing agreement of "no unannounced appearances by him unless in an emergency," and only an immediate threat to my life constituted an emergency. A real threat, not just walking down the stairs from the belfry or taking a shower - both events that Al had previously argued could be threats to my life if I tripped or slipped. He had received a pretty good verbal lashing from me, showing up in my bathroom while I was naked like that, and despite his leering gaze and suggestive remarks, he obliged and hadn't used any more day-to-day activities as reasons to pop up and inconvenience me.

And so, with that knowledge we had ventured to the video store and returned with a would-be bucket of microwave popcorn and a stack of DVDs covering a host of genres, dominated by safe slapstick comedies but laced with a couple dangerous action flicks. Ivy had selected the comedies. I'd picked the shoot-em-ups. "I'll watch them later, when you're out," I explained when she looked at me like I'd lost my damn mind.

I had, though. I knew what I was doing, daring to play with fire. I was fighting a losing battle. I could feel it gnawing away at me inside my chest. I had to know. It had been keeping me up at night, the thoughts of her swirling through my head.

Her eyes, when they weren't black with hunger...even when they were. Especially when they were? Maybe. I did love danger.

Her touch, and the way I felt her aching to linger when our fingers would brush passing the ketchup across the island in the kitchen, but being afraid to allow herself the luxury, and being respectful of my ultimatum that we would never be more than the friends we were. Are.

Her smell. God, her smell. If I could bathe in that unique incense that was purely Ivy, I would. It tripped every switch I had, signaling safety, friendship, loyalty, and absolute trust...and something else that I had been trying to shove down, deep in my gut to ignore so long that I'd run out of storage space for it. If only I could spindle it like I could line energy, life would be so much less complex than I was about to make it.

Her bite. Or bites. Two bites had been excruciatingly blissful and subsequently terrifying. I'd learned more about Ivy in those moments than I had in the years we had worked together. She hadn't said as much, but I'd bet she could say the same about me. The tiny scar she had left me was a not unpleasant reminder of our experimentation, one that I quietly reveled in whenever Ivy got worked up about something and set it to tingling. I had mandated it never to happen again, despite the euphoria. I had no intentions to change that.

Last, but certainly not least, was her kiss. One lingering kiss from her, which had been anything but tentative. I had been caught up in a vamp pheromone-induced euphoria and the kiss had been electric, my brain unable to distinguish the kiss's effects from the tingling scar. I hadn't known at the time if I genuinely enjoyed it, or if it was just dog-piling on the pheromones' effects. I was straight. Or at least that's what I kept telling myself.

I'd spent the last three weeks agonizing over the decision I had made and was beginning to implement. Some might say three weeks isn't long enough to make a potentially life-altering decision, but in my world, three weeks was long enough to live and die a dozen times. It was this same fact that finally spurred me to quit living in a self-induced purgatory. I could die tomorrow - hell I could die in thirty seconds - and never know what could have been. I had to know, and I had to trust that if the answer wasn't what I...wanted...our friendship wouldn't be ruined. Ivy and I were mature adults. We hadn't let a kiss ruin us before, when it had been on Ivy's terms. Logic said it wouldn't ruin us if it was on mine. Right? Right?


I jerked, Ivy's voice invading my thoughts. I blushed, and I hoped she wouldn't ask what I was thinking of. At least, not yet. "What? Sorry."

"You ready?" She was flipping the shiny black universal remote in her hand with skill akin to a professional drummer, and she wasn't even looking at it. I hadn't heard the popcorn popping that was sitting on the coffee table in front of us, and I certainly hadn't seen or felt Ivy return with it, load up one of the comedy DVDs, and sit down on the end of the couch opposite me.

What a loaded question. Was I ready? Yes. And no. I exhaled long and slow to keep my pulse from racing. "Sure," I squeaked, my voice pitching higher and revealing my nervousness.

"What's going on with you?" Ivy asked coolly, glancing at me sideways as she reached forward to snag the popcorn and put it on the empty cushion between us.

"Just thinking about something Al showed me last week," I said. Liar. There was a 50/50 chance Ivy wouldn't inquire further.

She didn't. Instead, she settled into the couch, lifting a few pieces of popcorn into one of the small bowl she had brought from the kitchen, eating it one piece at a time, sometimes placing it just between her lips, sometimes flicking it into the air and catching it. I didn't even realize she had started the movie until she laughed at something on the screen. I joined in, not wanting to seem awkward. Or get caught watching her. She was an amazing creature. Graceful in every movement, skilled in, well, anything she set her mind to, not to mention the ability to snap a man's neck without breaking a sweat. She was a predator of the utmost kind, the pinnacle of the food chain. I had managed to fend her off with my magic and my negotiating skills more than once when she had vamped out on me, but an enemy didn't stand a chance.

My own popcorn bowl, filled by Ivy when she had initially handed it to me, was empty. I wasn't hungry, but I needed something to do with my hands. I didn't realize they were trembling until they were resting in my lap. I reached to the bucket, pulling out handfuls blindly and dropping the kernels in my bowl. My third trip back, my hand collided with Ivy's. My breath caught, and I forced it normal quickly, hoping she hadn't noticed the change. I hadn't jerked my hand away, and neither had she.

"Oh, sorry," Ivy said, shifting her hand's trajectory slightly to refill her bowl. She balanced it on her knee as she pulled out a wet wipe from somewhere and wiped the excess salt and butter off her palm and fingers before crumpling it and tossing it across the room into the trash can by my desk.

I swallowed, hard. My stomach was in knots. I was going to lose what little nerve I had if I didn't do something, and I certainly wasn't going to wait until we got to the action movie. I collected my thoughts, running an inventory. Ivy's eyes had been a reassuring brown when she glanced at me in apology. My scar was quiet. There wasn't a clatter of pixy wings, or a meowing cat, or a whiff of burnt amber. The church was utterly peaceful, but for the dialogue in the movie. I had the opportunity. I couldn't pass it up and live in quiet torment for another day. I owed it to myself. I owed it to Ivy.

I swallowed again and set my bowl on the table, followed by the bucket. Ivy turned her head in question, and I took her bowl as well. I turned on the couch, pulling my left leg up in order to face her. I struggled to lift my eyes, staring at the worn denim covering my knee. I couldn't back out now. I had to do it. Suck it up, Rache. Be a man.

Full of trepidation, I reached out and touched Ivy's wrist. My fingertips rested there a moment, waiting for a reaction. Ivy didn't move. She might as well have been made of stone. Her lack of immediate rejection gave a slight boost of adrenaline, and I wrapped my fingers around her narrow wrist, lifting her hand from her lap to pull it into the space between us. My pulse was racing, and though I was sure she could hear it, she wasn't acknowledging it. My scar lay dormant. Maybe she just didn't know what I was doing. Yet.

I shifted my light grip, twisting my hand until my fingers slid between hers. I held them there, fingers straight until Ivy moved. It was just a twitch of her knee, but since she was still here, and I wasn't pinned against a wall ready to be bled, I took it as acceptance and closed my hand, locking hers in mine. I kept my eyes on our hands, still too much of a wuss to look up and meet hers. I wondered if she was doing the same, or if she was watching me. A few seconds later, her stiff fingers relaxed and curled over over mine, holding ever so lightly. My breath whooshed out, startling me since I didn't realize I had been holding it. It wasn't like Ivy and I had never touched before, but felt like a first time, like tiny sparks of electricity were going off in me. That was a good sign. I think.

The almost-realization gave me the courage to lift my chin, then my eyes, meeting Ivy's. She had been watching me, not our hands. Her eyes were darker, dilated a little more than they were earlier, but more from surprise than anything else. And my scar was quiet. She wasn't vamping out. I had to do it now. I may never have another chance. I held her hand more firmly and scooted closer, my socked foot bumping hers on the floor.

"Ivy," I started, but my voice was shaky, and I cursed mentally. I cleared my throat and took a cleansing breath, squaring myself to her. "I've been thinking. About things. About you. And me."

"Uh huh," Ivy said, head tilting almost imperceptibly. Her eyes were still a steady brown, but she was looking more and more surprised.

No turning back. "I need...I need to know. Will you let me try something?" I didn't say what, but I figured she had a pretty good idea by this point.

Apparently, she did. Her cheeks speckled red and I felt her grip on my hand tighten as she gave a terse nod.

My stomach felt like it was going to turn inside out, but I shoved it down into the now-empty place I used to shove my feelings for Ivy. "'Kay," I said as I scooted a little closer, until my shin made contact with the length of her thigh. Even that simple contact was heart-pounding. I didn't have to question anything anymore. I knew. I didn't have to do what I wanted to do next. I would know, but just knowing wasn't satisfying. I had to know.

And with nothing but the desire to know pouring through my veins, I leaned forward and brought my lips to hers. I felt her tense, but she didn't pull away. I pressed a little more firmly, instinct itching to take control as I tilted my head a little, trying to turn it into a real kiss. I took another breath, and another inventory. Everything was still in the clear. It couldn't be this easy. Could it?

Ivy's lips were pliant beneath mine, not really committing to the kiss, but not shunning it either. I felt that same ache from her I always felt when we touched. She felt she should stop, for me, but I was the one starting it now. Desire made me pull her by our entwined hands, trying to make her peel herself out of the corner of the couch. She resisted, and I immediately stopped pulling, not wanting to trigger anything. She hadn't broken our kiss yet, though, and if she wanted to sit there like a log, it was fine with me so long we could keep doing this.

My obvious understanding of her setting personal checks and balances seemed to have an effect and suddenly she was kissing me back, almost feverishly. Her lips brushed mine, and then pressed, and then suckled my lower lip in such a way that it drew a sound of pleasure from my throat. I reached up with my free hand, touching her shoulder before sliding my fingers up the back of her neck and into her hair, taking hold and pulling her closer. The move gave her a second's pause, and I seized it, slipping my tongue past her parted lips to touch hers and retreating just as quickly.

My body was on fire. Why the Turn had I taken so long to figure this out? I was such an idiot. Even my mom had known Ivy was right for me. I pushed thoughts of my mother away. I'd tell her about this later, in far less detail of course, after I knew what the final outcome would be. I could end up dead because of this. Or a listless shadow, lacking everything that made me who I was.

I heard Ivy gasp and I pulled back, our lips parting completely for the first time since I'd crossed that final barrier. Her cheeks were pink, and her eyes wide, but showed no sign of a lack of self-control. Her immaculate black hair was tousled only where my fingers were threaded through it. God, she was beautiful. I had to tell her.

"You're so -" I started.

"Beautiful," Ivy finished. "You're so beautiful, Rachel."

I hadn't expected that at all, and I laughed. I sighed, lifting our entwined hands up into view before dropping them to her lap. I hadn't realized how close I'd gotten - my left leg was behind her, foot buried between the cushion and back of the couch, and my right was tangled up with hers. She had apparently turned when my eyes had been closed, and we were so close to...everything that my entire body flushed with heat. I knew she felt my excitement, because she did that single arched eyebrow thing I envied. God, it was sexy when she did it.

"Ivy, I -"

"It's okay," she said, cutting me off. "It's okay."

In her eyes I saw understanding. She knew this had been hard for me, overcoming what I thought I wanted to accept what I needed. And craved. I didn't know how she was controlling herself right now. I was about ready to hit the roof, and I didn't have thousands of years of instincts to reign in. I was tingling everywhere, my scar included, but it hadn't ignited until Ivy started participating in the kiss. I was already a bundle of euphoria before that. It was the kiss that made me feel this way. Not the scar. The confirmation was a relief, but it made me nervous. I was in uncharted territory here. Yes, I'd slept with Kisten many times, so I knew what to do, and more importantly what not to do with a vampire, but my partner being a woman was new. That scared me more than anything she could do to me as a vampire. But, this was Ivy. Just Ivy. My Ivy. She'd been my Ivy for the better part of two years, even though I hadn't accepted it. I trusted her, and I always would.

"Can we do that again?" I asked suddenly, and then felt like a teenager asking such a thing. I rolled my eyes at my own stupidity, and Ivy chuckled. I loved hearing her laugh. It was a rarity. I pulled her forward again with no resistance and I met her half way, a growing hunger in me driving me to kiss her roughly, something that she apparently enjoyed - not that I was surprised - since when I pulled her lower lip between my teeth, her free left hand appeared under my right thigh, lifting my leg up and out from hers to lay across her lap. I didn't understand at first, not seeing what she was doing as the cushions shifted beneath me, sending not unpleasant spikes of heat through me. It wasn't until I felt myself being eased onto my back that I realized the point to all the movement. The back of my head landed on the arm of the couch softly, and then I felt Ivy over me, easing lower until her hips rested between my legs. I groaned at the closeness and shifted my hips, wanting more. I kissed Ivy harder, lifting my head off the couch to claim her mouth. Damn it all, she was mine.

"Rachel," Ivy whispered between my assaults on her lips, breathless.

I yanked myself in, freezing in my tracks. I kept my eyes closed, trusting Ivy completely. "Are you okay?" I said, licking my lips as I panted.

"Yes." I felt my hair being brushed back from my face, a pleasant coolness hitting my slightly damp skin. "Are you?" she asked.

I'd have reached up and smacked her if it wouldn't risk her vamping out. Am I okay? She's worried about me? "Shut up, Ivy," I mumbled and pulled her back down to me with both hands, tying up her tongue with something other than words. I felt primal, like an animal. I'd never felt this way with someone. Not even Kisten. With the thought of him I reminded myself to stop teasing Ivy with my teeth. I wouldn't hurt her, but she wasn't wearing caps and I could trigger her into doing it to me, biting me unintentionally. The thought of it pulsed through me, thrilling me down to my toes, but that wasn't what we were doing. Tonight we're doing this,I thought as I wrapped my leg around Ivy, just below her backside to pull her into me, urging her into a rocking rhythm that was already making my toes curl.

Ivy's pheromones were washing over me, and I felt not an iota of danger from it. Ivy was in the right place for this, too. Perhaps she'd sated her blood lust earlier after I'd proposed a movie night. Whatever. I didn't care. God, it felt good. Courage increasing with every roll from Ivy's hips, I pulled my hands from her hair and ran them down her back, feeling her muscles shifting beneath the over-sized sweater as she moved. I couldn't find the hem of it with my reach, so I scrunched it up with my fingers, pulling it higher and higher in one hand until I felt the bare skin of her lower back. Ivy was always cool to the touch, but right now she felt as hot as I did, and I ran my hands up and under her sweater to her shoulders, feeling the dampness of the sweat she'd broken.

Her mouth pulled from mine and before I could open my eyes in question, I felt it come down high on my neck. Rivers of promise flowed through me to my groin as she kissed my neck, her tongue teasing, tasting, and lips pulling, but never teeth. I dragged my nails lightly down her back in gratitude, and I felt her shiver under my touch, only turning me on more, if that were even possible. I let my hands rest low on her waist, my thumbs tucked just beneath her waistband where I could feel her abs tightening and relaxing, marveling at the way Ivy was rolling her hips into me more effectively than any man had. I felt like I would burst at any moment, but she always cut her motion just a hair short to hold it off. God, she was good. My hands were moving again, this time across her flat stomach, only reachable because she had arched herself up and away from me a few inches to make room, using the opportunity to lift her head and move to the other side of my neck, skipping my mouth in the process and making me groan in ecstatic agony. I felt her ribs under my fingers, expanding with her quick breaths. I could almost feel her heart, and the desire to do so made me slide my hands up higher as Ivy settled herself against me once again.

I was reaching for her heart, trailing my fingertips up her sides, when I hadn't considered what else I'd pass on my way up her body. My thumbs brushed the soft sides of her breasts, drawing a short, "Ah," from Ivy before her lips fell on mine again. My hands hesitated. Yup, definitely uncharted territory here. I didn't know what to do, and yet I knew exactly what to do. My thumbs found and traced the curve of her breasts, drawing invisible lines from the center of her chest outward. She shivered over me again, and I repeated the motion, flexing my hands slightly to use my nails.

"Rachel," Ivy panted between the wet kisses she was giving me. "Please."

Her need fueled me and I lifted my hands from her completely, waiting a moment, just long enough to make her pause before placing them over her small but firm breasts. Ivy jerked, and then moaned, stealing my breath in a more possessive kiss than we'd shared yet. I wondered if that was it, if that's all she'd needed to...but she was still moving against me, her pace not faltering but increasing. My fingertips brushed hardened tips that had pressed into my palms, and she jerked again. Clearly, this was a zone for Ivy. I made a mental note of it for next time. Oh God, next time? My body ached for it already.

More. I needed more. It was the only word in my brain, other than "Ivy." My right hand abandoned Ivy and she whimpered in protest, but I was making a beeline down her side, to her waist and then around, grasping her backside firmly, urging her to keep moving. We were both sweating. I felt like it was 110 degrees in the room, and being fully clothed wasn't helping anything. I wanted Ivy naked. With me. On me. The thought of it zinged through me and made me moan into Ivy's mouth. My fingers fumbled at the waistband of her workout pants, alternately tugging them down and pulling her sweater up, trying to give her the damn hint. Finally, she pulled away from my mouth, her lips bright red, swollen and glistening as she sat up, pulling herself from me to sit back on her knees.

She looked an absolute gorgeous bedraggled wreck, one that I had created. I quirked a half smile, and if I could have, I would have arched an eyebrow at her as I did a half sit-up to grab the hem of her sweater and start lifting it up. I got it high enough to reveal the red gemstone in her pierced navel when I stopped, holding it up with one hand to reach out and touch the stone with my fingertip, watching it dangle and throw the tiniest of red reflections against her. I traced my finger around her navel and her breath slipped out in a huff. Without a word she lifted her arms above her head and kept her eyes on me. I took the cue and lifted her sweater higher, having to sit up completely, my abs straining from the severe crunch I had to do to. I stopped when I had it up to her neck, the fabric blocking me from her view. I stole the moment, leaning back slightly to look at her. She was perfect, so very perfect with the way the top of her chest was flushed pink in a V-shape that started above her collarbones and ended between her breasts.

Ivy wasn't making a move to finish removing her shirt, so neither did I. I wanted my mouth on her flesh. I wanted to taste something other than her mouth and her neck. I didn't even pause to think before lowering my lips to capture the tip of her left breast. Her reaction was immediate, and vocal, her back arching as she pushed herself closer. It felt strange, foreign, but so very right when I brought my hands up to join my mouth, teasing one side and then the other. Within seconds, Ivy was simply writhing on her knees. I hadn't noticed that she had finished pulling off her sweater until her forearms landed on my shoulders, free of the soft material. I opened my eyes and glanced up, seeing Ivy watching me through heavy-lidded, deep brown eyes. I winked at her, the best communication I could manage at this point, before flicking my tongue against the hardened tip in my mouth, making her jaw go slack as she moaned. I felt her fingers clench against my shoulders and I drew back, smiling at her.

"Hi," I said cheekily as my hands lightly gripped her waist.

"Hello," Ivy replied with a breathy laugh as she shook her hair out of her face, though it was too mussed to fall in its usual perfectly straight way.

"How are things?" I asked, edging my fingers under the elastic of her pants, my pulse missing a beat when I couldn't find a second band beneath it.

Ivy seemed utterly...happy. I'd never seen her look so happy, so alive. She smiled and stretched her arms above her head again, arching her back with a few faint pops, taking her time, I think, when she noticed me raking my eyes across her amazing upper body. "Oh, I'd say things are pretty decent. Ahh..."

Her eyelashes fluttered as her sentence drifted off when my hands slid down the back of her pants to hold her bare skin firmly. I so didn't know what I was doing, but Ivy wasn't complaining. In my mind, I had anticipated her to be directing this, showing me what to do. I had failed to consider what more than one person had observed - for some crazy reason, Ivy was submissive to me. The theory wrapped itself around my brain, making me feel powerful when I should feel anything but right now. No wonder I was still fully clothed. She must have been waiting for me to ask, or give her permission or something. I was surprised she had taken the initiative to lay with me that way, but maybe my unspoken demand for her mouth had been permission enough to bring our bodies closer. I was almost embarrassed to ask for it, and then I's just Ivy.

"Help a girl out and save her from heat stroke?" I said, freeing a hand from her to pull my damp shirt away from my skin. Of course, it would have been quite easy for me to remove it myself, but not tonight. Next time I could throw my clothes off and take her, but tonight was about us. That thought of next time flooded me again and I stifled a moan, not wanting to appear as crazed as I felt, moaning over nothing.

Ivy nodded quickly, smiling as she reached for the back of my t-shirt, pulling it over my head first and then down my arms, leaving my chest bare. I wasn't self-conscious, but I blushed anyway, watching Ivy's gaze wash over me as if she had finally found the Holy Grail. I know that sounds really conceited, but that's how she looked. I know I'm no Grail, but she made me feel like it. I knew Ivy had feelings for me, feelings beyond sisterly love, or best friend love, and to be so obviously desired by someone like Ivy Tamwood, well, it was pretty effing amazing. I saw my shirt slip from her fingers to the floor from the corner of my eye and watched her hands move to trace over my body an inch or two above me, not touching but close enough that I could feel the heat from them. Her hands hesitated at my chest and her eyes flicked up for permission, which I gave by grasping her hand to bring it down to my small breast, that one touch enough to re-ignite the heat that had begun simmer while we considered the next step.

"Ivy," I breathed, surprised by the sound of desperation and desire in my voice. I wrapped my arm around her back and used her for leverage to pull myself close, then closer, pausing for half a second to push her hand off me so our upper bodies could align and press together. I held her close, looking up to her eyes. They were getting blacker, but only with the same hunger I knew was reflected in mine. I dropped my head, leaving a trail of kisses along her collar bone to focus in the hollow of her throat. I could feel her heart pounding just beneath the surface, and knowing I was doing this right charged me, and suddenly the lack if friction below my waist made itself known, demanding to be addressed. My hand fell to Ivy's knees, sliding smoothly up the thin material of her leggings to grip high on her thighs. Just a few more inches...

Ivy's smooth breathing faltered and I felt kisses peppering into my hair, my fingers trailing between her legs, only the thin polyester separating me from what I could feel was warm, and moist. The thought made me shudder and I pressed my hand to her, lifting my head to reunite our lips, apart for what now felt like ages too long. I moved against her carefully, feeling in her kiss how much she liked it, giving me the confidence to press my fingers against her firmly, drawing a sharp gasp from Ivy. I wanted, no, I needed to feel her beneath my fingers. I needed to be beneath hers just as much.

I pulled from her, the cool air of the church rushing between our heated bodies as I grasped the waistband of her pants and pushed, working them down her hips until she had to lift herself to let me slip them over her backside and down to her knees where my progress was stopped, her legs still folded beneath her. I was done being cautious, and I gave them a yank, getting Ivy's attention so she'd help me.

I thought she would just sit back and flip her legs out to let me pull them off, but instead she stood, bringing my eyes level with her navel. I sighed, letting my forehead fall against her abdomen to kiss the tiny jewel of her ring as I pushed the leggings as low as I could reach, smiling when I felt Ivy shift from foot to foot, pushing them down and off. I ran my fingers up and down her legs, breathing in the deep incense that was flooding the room. Gathering my druthers, I sat back, keeping a light hold on Ivy's hips while I looked up at her, seeing her looking back at me, her face framed by her perfect hair that just barely touched the tops of her bare shoulders. She bent, grasping my elbows to pull me to my feet. I kissed her without hesitation, bringing one of her hands to the button fly of my jeans. When she didn't undo them immediately, I sent my tongue into her mouth, twisting with hers to steal her breath. That worked, and I felt four quick tugs as she undid the buttons.

Growing anxious, I gave my loosened jeans a shove, feeling them fall to my ankles, leaving me in the lacy black panties I had purposely worn. I had meant for them to just give me the confidence to kiss Ivy, but I was certainly grateful that I was wearing them and not something embarrassing. I felt Ivy's fingers tracing the edge of them, and my knees weakened. I grabbed Ivy's shoulders, steadying myself before lifting one foot, then the other to step out of my jeans and kick them to the side. Without thinking, I took a confident step backwards. Ivy stayed rooted in place, arms extended to not lose contact. I took another step, and when Ivy followed, bringing herself close again, I felt a smile pull at the corners of my mouth. I didn't suppress it, and when Ivy returned it, I felt my smile grow. I found her hands and pulled, walking backwards quickly, trusting Ivy to not let me bump into anything as I moved blindly toward the hallway that led to our bedrooms.

I struggled to decide which room to take us to. When I remembered my unmade bed and dirty clothes strewn across my floor, I angled to Ivy's, my back unexpectedly hitting the solid wood of the door. Ivy kept walking, though, and suddenly she was against me, her hands seemingly everywhere at once as I was pinned. She had pinned me this way before, driven by blood lust, but now it was pure lust that drove her. I fumbled to find the doorknob and turned it, sending us stumbling backwards. Ivy's reflexes and balance caught us when the backs of my legs ran into something firm and unmoving. Her bed, I realized, and I groaned, pressing my hips into her suggestively, beginning to hate the flimsy piece of lace that separated us.

Seeming to read my mind, Ivy's cool, steady hands traced the edge of my panties again, waiting until I pushed into her again, silently begging, before I felt a sharp pressure against my hip and heard the sound of threads snapping. I pulled from her never-ending kiss to look down and see the remnants of my flimsy panties fall to the floor. She ripped them! Those were expensive, and my favorite!

I forgot about my mental protests on lingerie destruction when Ivy pulled my hips forward, registering in my clouded mind that our bodies were touching, everywhere, with no barriers. My knees weakened again and Ivy supported me, and I felt myself in a controlled fall backwards until I felt the coolness of Ivy's extremely high threadcount sheets under me. Her bed was assuredly made when we walked in here, and I marveled at how quickly she had pulled the comforter off during our descent, and I had a fleeting thought that it was probably folded and on a shelf in her closet as well. But then her hips settled between my legs again, this time without the denim between us to muffle the sensation. I felt my arousal spike at the first contact and I gasped, tensing beneath Ivy. I felt myself teetering, but then it was gone. Heart pounding, I pried my eyes open to see Ivy hovering over me on her hands and knees.

"Slow down," she said with a sly smile.

I rolled my eyes. We'd been plenty slow for plenty long. I was done waiting. One hand held Ivy's upper chest, supporting a bit of her weight, keeping her from lowering back to me as I dropped my shoulder and reached for her, knowing exactly what I wanted. I found her easily, biting my lip as excitement washed over me when I felt her arousal. Her eyes slipped closed and her jaw went slack. She felt different than me, as I expected, but not entirely unfamiliar, and I reveled in it, obviously having an effect as I felt Ivy's arms tremble. I didn't want her distracted with having to hold herself up, so I tugged her shoulder with my free hand, shifting as she lowered herself to lie on her side next to me, looking beautiful in the stark contrast between her pale skin and her pitch black linens.

I kept my fingers against her, shifting so I could still easily reach, propping myself up on my elbow to look down at her.

"Ivy?" I whispered. Her face twitched but she didn't respond. "IIIIIIvy," I goaded, drawing my fingers along her languorously. She cracked an eye finally, sighing as her hips followed my touch, seeking it out.

"Hmm?" she murmured, lifting a hand to fall heavily on my waist.

"Still want me to slow down?"

She laughed a breathy chuckle and shook her head, a piece of hair falling across her face. Normally she would move it back into place immediately, but she let it be. I smiled and felt for her hand at my waist, snagging her forearm to drag it down, closer to where I craved it.


Her gaze focused on me again and I stilled my motions against her.

"Please. Touch me," I whispered.

Ivy's eyes flashed in excitement and she moved her hand the rest of the way. I parted my knees and held my breath, feeling her strong fingers reach and find me. A moan slipped past my lips when she slipped inside me in one smooth motion. I felt complete, whole for the first time and I pressed her hand closer, memorizing the quiet entrance she'd made and copying it, feeling myself slide home within her.

"God, Rachel," Ivy said with a groan, and then we were moving together, synchronizing our hands and hips.

It was becoming more and more difficult to hold myself up on my elbow, one shoulder burning from my weight, the other starting to burn from my efforts against and within Ivy. I knew I couldn't keep up our pace much longer, and that Ivy was nowhere near exhaustion, so I gave her a searing kiss and pushed, rolling her onto her back, causing her rhythm on me to falter. I capitalized, moving more firmly, curling my fingers inside her, knowing what the motion could do to me, hoping it could do the same to her. The way her body tensed under mine told me it would, and I surged, ignoring the burn spreading down my upper arm. I heard Ivy whimper, deep in her throat, a sound of utter desperation. I pressed my thumb to the swollen bundle of nerves I had purposely been neglecting, and a faint shudder ran through Ivy, followed by another, stronger, accompanied by a moan that my kiss swallowed. Her body rolled under me in waves, silent but for the preceding whimper and moan.

I eased my kiss until I pulled from her to watch her chest heave as she came down, shifting my focus to her perfect face, completely flushed and glowing from exertion, her plumped lips apart as she gulped air deep into her lungs. Eventually, her eyes opened and though I had expected them to be sleepy, they were alive, more alive than I had ever seen them. A slow smile spread across her face, her sharp but subtle canines showing. I swallowed the surge of fear that they induced. I trusted Ivy. I knew she wouldn't hurt me. Not ever.

I found myself on my back, arms pinned above my head and held by my wrists, and before I could process what was happening, Ivy's lips were against my neck, touching the tiny scars she had given me. I groaned, the euphoria spinning out of control. I felt her teeth make contact, followed quickly by her fingers surging into me again. God help me, I was going to let her bite me. I didn't care if I became her shadow. Ivy would be good to me. She would be careful and not turn me into a shadow. Maybe we could find a blood balance now that we knew we could mix sex with it to keep her instincts under control. God, finally. I wanted that more than anything. A wave of pleasure rolled over me, so strong I couldn't discern if it was coming from my neck or my groin. I didn't care. I moaned, not caring if someone heard me. I felt unleashed, like someone was going to have to scrape me off the ceiling when this ended. I never wanted it to end. I pressed my neck into Ivy's teeth and my hips into her hand, doubling the ecstasy again. I couldn't feel my toes, or see, or hear. There was nothing but Ivy, and then darkness.

"Rachel?" A voice echoed somewhere in my thoughts, and I tried to turn to the source, but my body felt like it was made of lead. I wiggled my nose, catching a whiff of fresh coffee, drawing me back to consciousness bit by bit. "You waking up?"

It was Ivy's voice, filtering through my thoughts, pulling me back quicker than the coffee. I got my eyes open slightly and saw Ivy's profile sitting on the foot of the bed, facing me. I lifted a heavy hand, rubbing my eyes to bring her into focus. Her hair was perfect again, and she was dressed in her black silk robe that likely cost more than I made in a month, legs crossed at the knee. She had a cup of coffee in her hand and a smug look on her face. I looked down to see I was tucked into her bed, and spotted another cup of steaming coffee on the nightstand.

"What happened?" I rasped, eyes widening at my lack of voice. My hand flew to my throat, and then to the side of my neck, but there were no bites, no bandages.

"You're loud," Ivy answered, looking at me over her mug as she took a sip. "I'm honestly surprised Al didn't' show up, thinking you were being murdered."

I felt my face turn beet red and I covered it with my hands, peeking through my fingers at her. "Oh my God."

"That was one of them. There was also, 'Turn it all, fuck me, Ivy,' 'Please don't stop,' 'Harder, please, harder,' and my personal favorite, 'I love you,' but you whispered that one." Ivy was smiling at the shock she knew was on my hidden face. I couldn't believe she had said those words. I could believe I did. I didn't know about that last one, and I opened my mouth to deny it, but it was true. I loved her. I loved her with every ounce of my soul, and even though I couldn't remember my confession, I was glad it was off my chest. Those other statements, though, mortified me. Saying it in the heat of the moment was one thing. Being reminded of it after the fact was embarrassing.

Ivy was holding my mug out, that smug smile making me wonder if it was going to be a permanent fixture on her face. I sighed and pushed myself up, feeling absolutely exhausted. Ivy's expensive linens fell away, the cool air startling me back to full wakefulness. Modesty made me reach for the flat sheet to wrap around my chest, but the fresh air felt good, and the way Ivy was clearly fighting to keep her eyes on my face and not drifting lower changed my mind and I reached for her outstretched hand, brushing my fingers over hers as I took the cup, taking a long sip to set the caffeine working. I wanted to be awake, and I wanted to be energized.

Ivy cleared her throat, settling her cup to balance on her knee as she had done with the popcorn bowl earlier that night, though this was far more impressive. "You blacked out."

"I did?"

"You did."

"I thought you were biting me."

"I was."

My hand went to my neck again, feeling nothing. "But -"

"You weren't thinking clearly. Geez, Rachel, give me a little credit," she said with a roll of her eyes and a nod toward her nightstand. Ivy's little container that I knew held her caps was sitting there by a reading lamp.

"I didn't even see you put them on!" God, how out of it was I?

"I think a train could have come through here and you wouldn't have noticed." There was that damn smug smile again.

I sighed, and took another sip of coffee. "Thank you."

Ivy shrugged and took a sip of her own. "You told me you'd never allow me to bite you again. I'm going to respect your wishes."

Thoughts of Ivy's teeth against me and how badly I had wanted it returned. Now that there could be sex - and plenty of it, if I had any say - we could do it, safely. My scar started tingling at the very possibility and I smiled, setting my cup down.

"Ivy, I've been thinking..."