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Crimson Mist

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Since her move to New York three months previously Andy Sachs savings had dwindled to almost nothing as she pounded the streets looking for work. She was alone in New York and did not understand why she responded to the compulsion to move from the relative safety of Cincinnati to the city that never sleeps, but it often seemed that her soul was being called towards something unfathomable.

For as long as she remembered she had experienced a yearning for a place she did not know. The first time she had seen images of New York it seemed to trigger the intensity of her longing, which caused tears to fall. It seemed nonsense to cry for nothing, for a place she'd never been, but it was as if her soul was crying, longing for the City that haunted her dreams.

Andy had travelled to New York months after completing her studies at Northwestern. She thought she wanted to be a writer but had no idea where to start. Now New York was the place she called home. At every turn, it seemed like she had been there before, had travelled the streets. Perhaps in another life.

Thoughts of her life in Cincinnati left her cold, considering the loneliness she experienced, even when surrounded by the support of a loving family. The isolation was not something she ever discussed, except with her grandma. She called what Andy felt, Saudade.

Elizabeth Sachs explained the concept to her before she left Ohio for Northwestern. Saudade was a deep emotional state of profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone you loved and the repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return. Her grandma told her that her soul knew what it wanted, and she needed to find the courage to travel toward her soul's calling. That journey would lead her into the life she meant to live. Andy remembered the small smile her grandma wore when she told her the soul's calling was the biggest mystery in the world.

When her grandma passed away the year before, Andy understood she would never return to Cincinnati permanently. It was time for her to move on and explore the world she yearned for.

As she walked the twilight turned to night, she smelled rain in the air. Turning down the dark alley towards the exclusive nightclub she hoped to get a job at, her heart pounded furiously. The fine hairs on the back of her neck rose, and she turned her head sharply over her shoulder. Seeing nothing Andy breathed a sigh of relief. Hearing the click of heels following her she lengthened her stride. She shivered as an icy breeze rushed over her. Within moments heat surrounded her as she caught the blazing blue eyes of an older woman who seemed to appear from nowhere.

"Andréa Sachs?" The older woman smirked as Andy stalled and almost tripped over her feet. She nodded, her eyes trailing from the 5-inch Stilettoes to the knee-length red sheath and up over her face to her silver hair. The woman was beautiful, with her high cheekbones and her imperfectly crooked nose. Andy wondered why she turned her face away from her. "Welcome to the Crimson Mist. I am Miranda. I've been expecting you. Come." The woman's voice was soft and melodious and Andy couldn't help but move towards the woman it came from. As they came abreast, she welcomed the immeasurable sense of warmth and security that enveloped her.

The older woman led her through the club, music blared through the Funktion One Sound System, the bass making the room shake as the DJ set up for the night, and there was loud laughter from the two women behind the bar. Andy eyed the petite redhead and a tall blonde, giving them a warm smile as she passed them. Both gaped at her in her low rise black skinny jeans, biker boots, a plaid shirt and a leather jacket. Sturdy, comfortable clothes and not at all glamorous.

As she looked around, she noticed the winding staircase that led to the upper level of the club and scanned the balcony and comfortable booths where people could sit and chill. There was deluxe lighting hanging from the high ceilings throughout. She knew the dual dance floors on both floors would be empty so early in the night.

Andy knew from research The Crimson Mist was an exclusive New York venue with the toughest door to get through. Actors, musicians, models and the New York elite frequented it. The club only opened Friday and Saturday nights to keep its exclusivity and always drew long lines at the door. Having a tough door policy allowed the club to focus on their elite client base.

As Miranda stepped into her office, she gestured to the seat in front of her wide desk. Moving slowly around she sat down and steepled her fingers under her chin contemplating the brunette in front of her. "So, tell me Andréa, who are you?"

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The force of heat surrounding her when the brunette stepped towards her, as she addressed her, stunned Miranda. She detected the beat of the pure heart and her hunger was almost unbearable. When Andréa stalled she expected to taste the usual fear coming off the younger woman in waves, but there was only trust, acceptance and surprise. It baffled her. The young woman in question followed her wordlessly through the club, seemingly comfortable as she looked around.

She caught the young woman's genuine smile at Serena and Emily and saw as they gaped at her. Andréa wasn't someone she would usually give the time of day to, but she had to admit the young woman had peaked her curiosity. Drifting through the club, so the long-legged brunette could keep up, she made her way to her office. The area was usually sacrosanct, but she did not feel like yelling over the music. Sitting down she steepled her hands under her chin. Andréa met her first question with bewilderment and she pursed her lips.

The brunette sensed her displeasure and babbled. "Um, so my friends call me Andy. I recently graduated from Northwestern University. I'm originally from Ohio and moved to the city about three months ago. I came to New York to be a writer and sent letters out everywhere, but I've had no luck."

"What are you doing here?" Miranda questioned.

"I think I would do a good job, I have a range of experience in bars and clubs, I am a reasonable mixologist and..." Andy faltered at the ice in Miranda's eyes.

"Reasonable. Oh no. No, no." Miranda shook her head forcefully. "Reasonable is not good enough, reasonable equates to inadequate. I do not accept incompetence from my staff, Andréa." Miranda whispered.

"Well, I don't exactly want to blow my own trumpet, but...well, I can read people and that allows me to mould my style of service to a guest's specific requirements. I am calm and that will keep your customers at ease. I am naturally gregarious, I am quick and I am confident without being overly conceited." Andy stated firmly.

The words pleased Miranda and her lips quirked in a closed-lipped smile. The words and the conviction and fire behind them were surprising, but she sensed they were the truth. "Have you ever worked at an exclusive club before?"

"No," Andy muttered.

"And before the call today, you had never heard of me or the Crimson Mist?" Miranda queried.

"No." Andy's emotions swirled as the burning blue eyes of the older woman captured her focused attention.

"It is probably just as well we have a uniform policy, you have no sense of style." Miranda almost laughed as Andréa's jaw dropped at her words.

"I think that depends on…" Andy responded hotly.

Miranda raised her eyebrow, "No, no. That wasn't a question." She looked over the brunette before standing and moving to a closet in the corner of the room, pulling out a black t-shirt with a red wave across the middle, she threw it at Andréa. "A six, I assume?" Andy nodded. "Come, put that on and we shall go upstairs. You will show me your so-called skills. Leave your things here, they will be safe."

Andréa shrugged her jacket and shirt off, leaving her in her jeans, boots and bra. Miranda took in the expanse of pale flesh and sensed the quickening of Andréa's heartbeat and noticed the flickering of the pulse in her jugular. Licking her lips, she saw as the young woman pulled the t-shirt over her head and smoothed it over her toned stomach. Nodding once, Miranda gestured for her to follow.

She did not understand why she experienced the need to give the brunette a chance but leading her upstairs she sat at the bar and gestured for Andréa to stand on the other side. "This is Nigel's bar, I am sure he will be here shortly," Miranda explained. "I am of the firm belief you can judge a bartender on one cocktail. Make me an Old-Fashioned." Miranda demanded.

Andréa looked around quickly, taking in the location of the glasses and ingredients and memorising them. "Do you prefer bourbon or Rye?" Andy asked.

"Bourbon," Miranda stated.

Nodding once, Andréa grabbed an old-fashioned glass and dropped in a sugar cube, she hit it with two dashes of Angostura bitters and a bar spoon of water. She muddled it so the water helped dissolve the sugar cube before adding 60ml of Bulleit Bourbon and stirring the contents of the glass. Taking some carved ice, she dropped it into the glass and stirred again before cutting a slice of orange peel and expressing the oils on top of the drink as she twisted it and placed it in the cocktail. Moving gracefully, she pushed the drink towards Miranda with a wide smile and watched her as she sipped the drink.

Closing her eyes as the flavour exploded on her tongue, Miranda hummed before her eyes blazed open. She caught Andréa's eyes. "Acceptable." She whispered. She hadn't had an old-fashioned as good in over twenty years. She grinned to herself, it was more like fifty years. Looking at the young woman in front of her it was like she travelled back in time. She sighed. "I will give you a trial. One night to prove yourself to me. Do not disappoint." Miranda stood gracefully, her movements fluid. She took two steps with the glass of whiskey in her hand. "See Nigel, he'll do something with that." She waved dismissively at her face and hair before turning away fully and gliding away. "That's all."

"Elizabeth?" The questioning tone caught Miranda's attention, and she turned to look at Nigel as he moved quickly up the final steps.

Miranda turned to the bar and saw Andréa, cast in the low lighting. Her breath caught. It couldn't be, could it? There was something about the young woman, something familiar. Shaking her head, she looked at Nigel as he stood in stunned disbelief. "Don't be ridiculous, Nigel. That is our new employee, Andréa. Do something with her, won't you?"

"Of course, Miranda." Nigel moved towards the bar and called out to the brunette. "Well, hello there, Six. I'm Nigel." She detected the smile in his voice. "Let me look at you." He clapped his hands in happiness as Andréa gave him a bright smile. "Come with me, sweetie. I will make you look fabulous." He drawled the word causing Andréa's explosive laughter.

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The night was busy and Miranda kept a closer eye on the brunette than she normally would. She trusted Nigel with her, knowing he partook in 'little drinks' often. He kept control of his hunger. She had never really had to clean up a mess of his creation, unlike Emily.

She often wondered if she had made a mistake turning the fiery redhead, but her family was complete. Emily and Serena were twin flames and she couldn't sit by and watch Serena fade to nothing as she observed Emily from the edges of her life as she aged and then died as all mortal humans do.

She wondered what it was like, finding your eternal mate. She had once believed she had found it, but it wasn't to be. The young woman, although accepting of their alternative lifestyle, made it abundantly clear she did not want that life for herself. She'd walked away from Miranda, her presence leaving a gaping hole in her non-beating heart.

She had watched as the young woman had married a lawyer and they had formed another relationship of sorts, as pen pals, keeping in touch via letter when she and her family moved from Nashville to New York.

They returned the last three letters to her. In a short note, they had told her the woman had died in childbirth. Holding an uncontrollable rage, she unleashed her fury on the first unsuspecting evil-doer she came across on the banks of the Hudson, draining him to the point of death before ripping his evil heart from his chest and drinking it dry.

That was her exception from being what she was, she only fed on the dregs of society. The evil-doer, rapists, murderers, drug lords and paedophiles. Those with a bright spirit were free to roam the dark nights safely. Children were especially safe from her family. She had rules they would obey. Innocents were not to be fed on. She had seen the effects the transition caused. They had turned her own children at the same time as she, almost one hundred years before. Now they were stuck in a suspended state, at ten-years-old, with no chance to experience the milestones that every other child encountered.

Shaking her head from her dark thoughts she moved quietly through her clients offering her close-lipped smile as people greeted her. Stepping up to the bar she saw Andréa's tip jar was almost full, proving her popularity with the patrons. Looking up she caught the fire in the young woman's eyes as she frowned at something over her shoulder.

Spinning around, Miranda caught the final moments of what was now an unsuccessful drug deal. Before she could call their security, Andréa launched herself over the bar and tackled the perpetrator, twisting his arm up his back as she emptied his pockets and littering the floor with cash and bags of white powder.

"You fucking piece of trash." Andy hissed furiously. The man struggled in her vice-like grip as security ran in and pulled the young woman off the man.

Miranda stepped up. "Take that to my office," Miranda whispered. The two doormen nodded and one dragged the young man away while the other picked up the scattered contents of his pockets. Turning to the young woman she saw the blaze of fury in her eyes and it left her feeling hot. She could hear Andréa's heart pounding furiously as the adrenaline coursed through her. Her hunger burned the back of her throat, returning tenfold. She needed to calm the woman before she did something stupid in front of her customers. "Andréa, look at me," Miranda demanded. As their eyes met, she spoke quietly and firmly. "You will calm down and you will have a drink before you leave for the evening. It is Saturday, I expect to see you next Friday. You will not be late."

"Friday, okay," Andy muttered, taking a deep breath. Her heart returning to its usual pace as she relaxed. She gave Miranda a bright smile. "I guess I'm done for the night. Do you want to have a drink with me?"

Miranda found that smile disarming, and she experienced a jolt of desire which replaced the hunger. "Not tonight, Andréa. Have a good week." Spinning on her heel, she stalked away, moving gracefully down the stairs as a certain pair of eyes followed her every step. She sensed those eyes burning into her back. Gritting her teeth, they pierced her lower lip, and she hissed before swiping her tongue over the pinpricks as they healed quickly. Stalking to her office she threw open the door and glared at the young man tied to her chair.

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The bar was quietening and Andy sat nursing the craft beer whose name she could barely pronounce. As she leaned her elbows against the bar, Nigel stepped towards her and caught her eye. "So, tell me more about yourself, Six."

Andy observed the overwhelming need to tell him her every thought and emotion and frowned. "Well I'm 24, I recently graduated from Northwestern, as a journalism major. I'm from Cincinnati and moved to New York a few months ago."

"And where are your family?" Nigel asked.

"My parents and siblings are still in Ohio..." Andy trailed off and bit her lip. "...I never thought I belonged there, they're supportive but...My grandma was the only one that really understood me, but she passed away just over a year ago."

"Tell me about her." Nigel was curious. The young woman had obviously some effect on Miranda and she looked so much like...

"You don't want to learn about my boring family." Andy laughed. It was a joyful sound that caught a few people's attention.

"Trust me, I do. I want to know everything." Nigel stated firmly, his eyes locked on the young woman, compelling her to tell him all.

"My grandma was called Elizabeth, she was a good woman. She used to tell me about her time living in Nashville before moving to Cincinnati just after she got married. She was a singer in a jazz club down there and cherished every moment." Andy smiled at the memories, not noticing as Nigel stiffened. "My grandpa's family were all professionals, lawyers mainly. She used to tell me I get my artistic side from her. We have a long line of writers, painters and musicians through the Ronel side."

"Your grandmother was called Elizabeth Ronel?" Nigel asked. "And she died last year?" Andy nodded. Finishing her beer, it delighted her when Nigel popped the cap off another and placed it in front of her, waving her money away. "Did she keep in touch with any of her friends in Nashville?"

Andy sighed. "She tried but lost contact after my dad's birth triggered Guillain-Barre syndrome. She was paralysed and never fully recovered. Treatment wasn't what it is today." Andy sipped her beer and closed her eyes to savour the mild hoppy flavour. "She moved in with us after my grandpa died. We were close, my mom and dad always say I resemble her."

"Well, if they say it I'm sure it's true," Nigel stated. "You light up when you talk about your grandma, she must have been a special woman."

"She was always good with me..." Andy faltered as tears pricked her eyes. "...She didn't judge people, she was accepting and...I miss her."

"The ones that love us, never really leave us." Nigel's lips quirked as Andy's eyes brightened before she laughed loudly.

"Well, I never expected a Harry Potter quote from you." Andy continued to chuckle as she swiped under her eyes.

"Miranda's twins are great fans." Nigel's gave her a wide smile as her look of shock at the unsolicited snippet about the older woman's life. She had to admit she was curious. "Now, finish that beer and head on home, the morning will be here before you know it."

"Okey-dokey." Andy offered him a bright smile at his good-natured eye roll and drank her beer down until she placed the empty bottle down. Sliding off her stool she realised she had left her jacket and purse in Miranda's office. "G'night, Nige. See ya next week." She tossed the words over her shoulder before drifting down the stairs.

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Miranda stood behind the drug dealer, his head angled just so. Bending over she licked at his jugular. She had the names and descriptions of his cohorts and now it was time for him to die. Her teeth elongated, and she grazed his throat, tasting the fear that had paralysed him. Biting down she sucked hard, and the blood flowed down her throat. She drank heavily, appreciating the man's weakening pulse as his memories flowed through her mind.

She saw him as a young boy being slapped by an older heavyset man, his chin wobbling as he fought the oncoming tears, knowing it would just make things worse.

She viewed the flickering images with interest as the young boy grew, felt his sadness at watching his mother drinking herself into oblivion as an escape to the life she had tied herself to when she got pregnant and married his father. She discovered the arguments and words of hatred as the young man stood up to his father and protected his mother, using his fists for the first time to beat the man to a pulp, his pledge he would raise himself from the poverty he was born into by parents who could not drag themselves into a better life.

She saw his memories of his first theft, something that was inconsequential but had thrown him into the spotlight of the local crime lord. His life of crime paid for the life he wanted but now his life was in her hands.

The door of her office opening ripped her focus away from her feed as the air crackled with warmth. The involuntary growl that tore from deep within her throat showed her displeasure. Sniffing she sensed the brunette's presence, the pure unsullied soul of the beautiful young woman.

Turning her head, Miranda did the only thing she could. She let go of the man and his life slipped from him, his eyes turning glassy and lifeless. "Get out." She hissed menacingly, unwilling to turn fully towards the young woman and have her see her in her monstrous form. "Leave now.

Miranda caught the disbelief in the brunette's eyes and the jolt of fear rolled over her and watched it overwhelm Andréa's senses as she took in her face in profile. The sunken cheeks, elongated canine's which sat in front of her bottom lip, dripping with blood.

Andréa did what anyone else would, she ran. Miranda fought the overwhelming urge to chase her down. She knew it was unlikely she would see the brunette again and if she was stupid enough to say anything, everyone would assume she was mad.

Growling her frustration, Miranda pinched her nose between two fingers and calmed the beast within her. Her teeth retracted. Looking around she spotted the young woman's coat and purse and frowned. They would need returning to Andréa. Picking them up, she moved gracefully through the dwindling crowd and out to the back entrance.

She could still hear the pattering of feet as Andréa continued to run, she smelt her blood as she tripped and grazed her palms. Using her gifts, Miranda launched herself up into the sky quickly and landed on the roof. Using it for cover she moved quickly and followed the brunette, jumping easily from building to building silently until she reached a small apartment complex above a bakery on Broome Street in the Lower East Side. Using the fire escape Miranda moved stealthily until she reached the window which would allow her to view the brunette as she entered her apartment.

The door slammed shut, and the deadbolt was in place before Andréa slid down the door and wrapped her arms around her knees, hiding her face in her knees as she got her breath back. As the young woman looked up she saw the tears, but what stunned her the most, there was no longer fear clouding her sensibilities. She looked serene.

Miranda watched as the brunette rose to her feet, moving through the apartment as she cleaned and bandaged her hands while muttering. She caught the words. "Grams was right when she quoted Shakespeare. There are more things in heaven and earth, many of which are inexplicable. I wish I'd believed her when she was here."

Moving from the fire escape, she followed someone into the complex and made her way to the third floor. Knocking quickly on Andréa's door she dropped her jacket and purse in front of the door before disappearing into the stairwell. Miranda heard the bolt being lifted and the door creeping open before the gasp of astonishment hit her.

"Miranda?" She left the whispered question unanswered. Moving silently down the stairwell of the building she reached the foyer in a few seconds and caught the whispered. "Thank you."

The gratitude stunned her. Shaking her head, she stepped out of the building and walked sedately back towards the club through the night-time crowds, curious about the young woman she had taken a chance on.

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Chapter Text

Andy slept late the next day, finding that the chance to lie-in was something she relished. Walking up she made coffee and grabbed a bowl of cereal and tried to get her head around what she'd seen in Miranda's office. The fact Miranda had returned her jacket and purse stunned her.

She spent the afternoon unpacking more of her things, having finally gotten around to having her parents' ship them from her childhood home. There wasn't much, some trinkets and photographs, but mainly books, it brought a sense of home to the little apartment.

Taking a break, Andy emptied the notes from her jeans pockets and counted it into piles. It amazed her to realise she had made almost three hundred bucks in tips alone, and that wasn't counting the gratuities she made via the card transactions which would be in her pay packet. The tips she made in just one night at Crimson Mist would be enough to get her through the week without her having to dip back into her meagre savings as long as she was careful.

Moving through the apartment she grabbed a box of books and sat crossed legged on the floor. Andy emptied the contents of the box around her and sorted them by the author into the bookcase she had bought from Ikea the week before.

Frowning, she looked down at the tattered journal in her hands, not recognising it. Opening the journal, she saw her grandmother's neat script. Opening a page towards the back of the journal she read.

November 12th, 1962

Miriam cornered me tonight and asked me not to marry Jed. I had to sit her down and explain why the wedding has to happen, I am pregnant and I love him. And although I love her too, it's not in the way she would like. She was, for want of a better word, stoic. I love the fact she holds no judgement towards me for the recklessness of my behaviour. She knows Jed has a pure heart and he will always take care of me and of this child.

I want this child. I want to be there as he or she takes their first steps and says their first words. As they reach every milestone towards adulthood. I want to be there as they graduate and marry and bear their own precious children. I cannot do so from the edges of their lives. I want to know my grandchildren, follow their lives as they grow into the extraordinary people I am sure they will become.

Miriam offered to wait for me, but I cannot have her watch me as I marry, age, and raise mine and Jed's children. To see her loneliness and heartbreak would hurt too much. I told her to continue with her plans to move to New York. She has been in Nashville far too long, people will question why she never changes, why her twins remain in their suspended state at ten-years-old. There is only so much she can do, and big city life will allow her and her family to remain inconspicuous.

I would never have the strength to live the way Miriam does. The hunger must be a terrible burden, but she says the positives far outweigh the negatives. I'm glad she has Nigel and the twins, they will keep her sane on her travels. I hope she can find other like-minded immortals who will help her expand her clan.

She told me that once she reaches New York, she will change her name. Miranda, from the Latin for admirable, and she is. I admire her greatly. She took a chance on me four years ago, and she trusted me with her secrets once she found out I was impervious to her little mind tricks. I know it frustrates her. I have not told her the reason she cannot use her powers on me. I don't know what it is about this necklace, but when I am not wearing it, I find her much more persuasive. I doubt my Pops would have known although he used to say it would protect me. It's just a shame I can longer ask him more about where it came from.

Andy jumped to her feet and ran to her bedroom. Sitting on her bedside table was a small jewellery box. Opening it up, she rummaged until she found the bracelet her grandma had given her, explaining it was gifted to her by her great-grandfather, who had come by it on his travels to the Orient. It was once a necklace, but it had broken when her dad was born. Andy had worn it often on the smaller chain around her wrist, only stopping when her grandma died.

Sitting on the bed, she opened the journal to read from the beginning.

December 1st, 1959

I auditioned at Midnight Velvet tonight. The Jazz venue has been around for years, and to my knowledge, few auditions reach the ears of the public. It was just lucky I learned of it from the Sachs brothers.

I met the most beautiful woman after auditioning. Miriam was captivating, and her partner Nigel is an absolute doll. It is a strange pairing, but they work well together. It is like they can sense what each other is thinking or feeling without having to say it out loud.

Miriam's declaration I was acceptable and the small close-lipped smile she wore was enough for me to realise I had done something right. She doesn't seem like a woman who delivers praise easily but she appeared happy with my rendition of Peggy Lee's, Fever. Then Nigel asked me to try something different, I belted out Hound Dog along with the band and he clapped happily as he welcomed me to the family.

I think I'll like this new chapter of my life. After this last year and Pa's death, I believe it may be a turning point. I cannot help but believe good things are about to happen. I have hope; I live on it.

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Miranda couldn't get that beautiful woman out of her head. Asking herself what Andréa meant by her thanks. Why would she express gratitude and not fear? No one did once they found out what she was, no one except...but no she would not let herself think of the woman who had left her all those years ago. Looking up she observed Nigel shuffling from foot to foot in the doorway. With a slight nod of her head, she gestured to him to enter her study. "What is it?"

"Emily and Serena are out hunting, the twins are in their rooms and you are hiding down here." Nigel rolled his eyes. "What is on your mind, my friend?"

"I was contemplating certain things?" Miranda admitted.

"Andy?" Nigel queried softly, sitting opposite his mistress. "I sensed your reaction to her, the heat radiating from you in her presence. I have only felt that kind of heat once." He caught her eyes. "When Serena and Emily met."

Miranda huffed. "I cannot say I am impervious to her charms. She is different; however, I do not hold hope." She looked down at her hands. "I terrified her last week before she left the club. She came to my office..." Nigel gasped. "...She'd left that hideous plaid shirt and her purse and jacket in there after I gave her a uniform and..." Miranda licked her lips. "...I was feeding, Nigel."

"And then?" Nigel asked.

"I took her things to her apartment. I did not let her see me but..." Miranda frowned, her confusion clear. "...She knew it was me and she thanked me, she was, somehow, no longer afraid."

"And that has thrown you?" Nigel questioned. At Miranda's nod, he grinned. "She is like Elizabeth, isn't she?"

"She's nothing like her," Miranda hissed furiously. "How many times do I have to tell you not to speak her name in my presence?"

"Fine, have it your way. She is nothing at all like her grandmother, Elizabeth Ronel." Nigel stood and pulled his blazer over hip hips fussily.

"Grandmother?" Miranda whispered as Nigel stepped from the room. "How is that even possible?"

Nigel shrugged. "You would have to ask her. As always, I was uncomfortable using my powers of persuasion on her, but she'll be back on Friday. Your gift makes you extremely hard to refuse." Nigel threw a smirk over his shoulder. Miranda's eye's blazed with fire and the door slammed shut from the force of her mind.

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The days passed slowly and there were times Andy thought she was being followed. Early evenings were the worst as she navigated the foot traffic between her apartment on Broome and her local deli, convenience store or like tonight, her local Thai takeaway. She spent a lot of time considering the tale of love and friendship her grandma had weaved when writing of her time as a singer in Nashville, working for a clan of immortals.

She scoffed loudly causing a few people in the restaurant to turn to stare at her. The word vampire was not one her grandma used, but it did not make the fact any less true. There were vampires in the world and possibly many other creatures that lurked in the darkness, trying to pass themselves off as mere mortals.

Andy had taken to wearing her grandma's charm as around her ankle, secure in the knowledge it would keep her safe from whatever mind control these Vamps could wield over her.

Looking up as the bell over the door rang, she met a twin pair of familiar blue eyes. She offered the little redheads a genuine smile, curious at why they were gaping at her intently.

"Are you Andy?" The taller of the twins asked.

From her grandma's description, Andy knew her to be Miranda's youngest child, Cassidy. Andy nodded as the cashier caught her attention, handing her a bag of food. She looked at the door and saw the twins waiting.

"Uncle Nigel said you were pretty." The smaller twin, Caroline, grinned impishly as Andy's smile bloomed brighter. "I didn't realise he meant pretty average."

Andy's face fell, her smile wavering. "Cassidy, Caroline." She nodded at each of the small children. "If you are done being rude, I will bid you goodnight." She made to move around them as they gaped at her in disbelief.

"How did you...ah, jeez...are you magic?" Cassidy sputtered.

Andy chuckled. "Yeah, I am magical, like the fabled unicorn. I sneeze stardust too." Cassidy looked charmed by the response while Caroline rolled her eyes. "What do you want from me?" Andy asked softly.

"Are you scared of our mom?" Caroline asked.

"A little," Andy admitted. "She's an unusual woman. I bet she's powerful too."

"We overheard uncle Nigel saying you looked like Eliza," Caroline nodded at Cassidy's words. "You have her eyes and smile." Cassidy grinned. "Mom doesn't see it yet, but she will."

"And when she does?" Andy whispered.

"We don't know. Mom's well known for being unpredictable. She may just kill you." Caroline stated.

"I beg your pardon?" The words shocked Andy.

Caroline smirked. "Good night, Andy. Don't let the bedbugs bite." Caroline gnashed her teeth at Andy before Cassidy pulled her away, giggling as they disappeared into the night.

Jesus, what on Earth had she done in a previous life to be a part of this particular Hell?

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Miranda was pacing her office, waiting for Andréa. She needed to find out what was going on in the young woman's head.

Upon her Bobbsey's return to the house the night before, Miranda had detected the scent of the young woman surrounding them. Unable to resist they had told her the tale of their meeting. It had astounded her they experienced the need to engage the woman and talk to her. They explained that they had heard her conversation with Nigel, and when they asked him, he had told them he noticed similarities between her and Elizabeth. They had wanted to see for themselves.

Cassidy had been happy at meeting the brunette, Caroline less so, she was often cautious, and she had taken Elizabeth's rejection of them personally. Miranda had explained multiple times that not everyone wanted the life they had, some people wished to go with the natural progression of the world and many were too weak to cope with the transformation.

Feeling warmth surrounding her, she stopped pacing and turned her head towards the door to see Andréa leaning against the door jamb watching her cautiously. She observed the hint of wariness but no fear. "Good evening, Miranda." Andy offered her a small smile.

"Andréa, come and sit. Talk to me." Miranda waved her further into the room and sat behind her desk. She sensed the woman's nervousness and smirked. "I promise I will not bite."

Andy swallowed her nerves and grinned. "Are you sure about that?"

"Positive." Miranda licked her lips and caught the young woman's gasp. Closing her eyes, she let the pureness of Andréa's heart wash over her, it was deliciously potent. "I must admit, I did not expect to see you again."

"Yeah, well, it seems like I didn't have much choice. No matter how much I tried to talk myself out of coming here, I could not." Andy looked down.

"Look at me." Miranda's request had Andy raising her head, and she saw those beautiful blue eyes blazing from across the desk, as they captured her in their depths. "Why are you here?"

"You told me to be, you said not to be late," Andy stated.

Miranda shook her head. "What do you believe I am?" Her eyes drilled into Andréa's.

"You are a business owner, and you drink old-fashioned cocktails and the blood of local drug dealers. That would make you some kind of Vampire." Andy's words stung Miranda.

"You will forget all you saw last Saturday," Miranda stated fiercely, her eyes blazing with energy as she worked on forcing Andréa to forget.

"I'm sorry, I cannot do that," Andy whispered. "Kill me if you must, but do not try and control me. It will not work."

Miranda sat back stunned. Her persuasion of the young woman had worked the week previously, she was certain, and Nigel's smaller persuasive power had worked to get her to open up to him, so why was it she now could not control the young woman? "Impossible woman." Miranda seethed.

Andréa chuckled and stood. Miranda allowed herself to take in the low-rise dark-wash jeans paired with the small ankle boots and Crimson Mist blouse. She waved her away. "I have told you I do not bite, you are safe. Joaquín, however, may not be, he is allowing his old gang members into my club to sell their filth. Now, I need for you to stay behind the bar, safe from harm. I cannot have innocent blood spilt in my club."

"Okay," Andy whispered.

"I need your word, Andréa." Miranda's tone was firm.

"I promise." Andy reiterated.

Miranda nodded and flicked her hand in a gesture of dismissal. "That's all."

Andréa made to move away. Turning at the door, she glanced at the silver-haired woman. "Do you know why I have such an issue with drugs?" She swallowed a lump that formed in her throat. "My brother, Brad, was an addict. He hurt everyone with his inability to stay clean, he broke promises, stole from us and lied to us. They found him dead, with a dirty needle in his arm in some cesspit in Memphis." Andy turned away from the older woman, her head bowed and moved away quietly.

"Andréa," Miranda called to the retreating brunette. "I'm sorry."

"So am I." The broken whisper had Miranda clenching her hands and grinding her teeth. It took every ounce of control not to rush up to the young woman and take away her pain.

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Andy responded physically to Miranda's presence through the night. She sensed Nigel, Emily and Serena also kept a close eye on her as she worked. Andy welcomed the sense of security and how at home at was the club. She delighted in the people she met as she poured drinks and happily engaged with the patrons. Andy was working Nigel's bar alone as he worked the door with Joaquín and the other security.

In busy moments, she welcomed the press of Miranda's hand on her lower back as she jumped in to assist her with the customers. Rather than the cool skin she expected from reading her grandma's journal, the casual touches were hot, they left her breathless and aching for more. Shaking the sensation away she offered a polite smile to a short man, wearing a well-fitted suit. His eyes roamed hungrily over her face and down to her breasts.

"Ah, fresh meat." She caught his words to his friends, which caused a roar of laughter.

"What can I get you, Sir." Andy pretended she hadn't heard him.

"My friends and I would like a bottle of Hennessy Paradis Imperial." The man pushed his J.P. Morgan Reserve Palladium Card towards her. Looking down she saw the name emblazoned on the card. Irving M Ravitz.

Recognising him as a powerhouse of the New York publishing scene Andy nodded once and forced out a smile. She had applied for a job at one of the Elias Clarke publications and interviewed but had caught the whispered words that the job had gone to a young woman who performed sexual favours on the man.

Grabbing six glasses and the three-thousand-dollar bottle of Cognac Andy placed it on a tray and gestured for a hostess who did the table service. She saw the blonde shake her head and frowned.

Moving quickly, she grabbed the tray and followed the man as he wound his way around people to a booth in a darkened corner. As Andy set the tray down his hand roamed her denim-clad ass. Pulling back, she ground her teeth and regarded him as one of his friends poured the expensive liquor. As Irv raised his drink to his mouth with one hand, his other once again pinched her ass and she reacted blindly, hitting the bottom of the glass with her palm. She watched as it hit his teeth and spilt down his shirt front, but the force of the blow cut his lip. Throwing her bar towel at him, Andy leaned forward. "How clumsy of you, Mr Ravitz." Leaning further in she whispered. "If you ever lay your hands on me or any other unwilling woman in here, I will break them. Do you understand me?"

"You will regret that." Irv stood and puffed his chest out but Andy towered above him.

Looking down at the little man, Andy laughed in his face. "I doubt that very fucking much. Your hands-on attitude, however, would make a delightful story on Page Six. So, sit down, have another drink, and behave."

"Is everything okay, Andréa?" Miranda's voice cut through the tension and Andy relaxed imperceptibly.

"Yes, Miranda." Andy nodded to the stunned men. "Good evening. I hope you enjoy your Cognac." She stalked away leaving Irv sputtering and Miranda eyeing her curiously. As Andy passed the hostess who refused to do the job, she heard the muttered apology and turned her head. "Next time you will do the job you get paid to do. If you are unhappy dealing with certain clients, you need to raise it or get on with it. I will not put myself in that situation twice." Moving gracefully around the bar she saw Miranda speaking with Nigel. In a matter of moments, Nigel had sidled up to Irv and was speaking with him, she recognised the fire in the green eyes behind his glasses.

Smiling, Andy turned to her new customer and chatted happily about cocktail choices. With the woman uncertain, she offered a reassuring smile asking her to trust her. The woman nodded happily as Andy filled a shaker with ice. She added three-quarter of an ounce of coconut milk, half an ounce of blueberry schnapps, and 1 ounce of rye whiskey. Shaking the contents together she, strained it into an ice-filled glass, and topped it with 1 and a half ounces of Izze sparkling Blueberry Juice and garnished it with blueberries. As the woman sipped the drink, she hummed in pleasure and Andy's smile brightened.

Miranda stepped behind her again, her hand coming to rest on her back. "What is that?" Miranda whispered.

"I call it a Blueberry Salute," Andy explained.

"How did you know it was what she would like?" Miranda queried, stunned.

Andy shrugged. "Just lucky, I guess." She frowned as Irv made his way unsteadily towards her.

"Um, hi." He waved his hand to catch her attention, and she rolled her eyes. "I believe I should apologise. My behaviour towards you and the other ladies has been unacceptable." He frowned and clamped his hand over his mouth as if he couldn't believe what he'd said.

"Thank you, Mr Ravitz. Apology accepted, this once." Andy stated before turning away catching Miranda's smirk.

Shaking her head, she heard Miranda's soft voice. "No more heroics, Andréa and please leave the table service to the hostesses."

"Yes, Miranda." Andy grinned as Miranda leaned against the bar and catching her eye ordered a Blueberry Salute.

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The recent acquisition of Andréa pleased Miranda. She was proving to be an adequate addition to the team at Crimson Mist and her mixology, as she had stated, was above par. It was rare she trusted newcomers into her life at the club but Andréa seemed to adapt well, especially after everything that had gone on the week prior. She had to admit, it fired her curiosity.

As they completed the clean down and the last stragglers left Miranda looked at her watch and frowned. It would soon be daybreak, and although she was of an age, the breaking of the sun did not burn her to ash, it left her vulnerable. She would be lucky to get herself and her clan home. "Andréa, how are you getting home?" Miranda asked the young woman.

"Oh, um, well I generally walk," Andy mumbled.

"Unacceptable." The admission stunned Miranda as a blaze of protectiveness unfurled in the pit of her stomach. "That is not safe and I will not have you take unnecessary risks. You will ride uptown with the family, and once we are home, Roy will take you to your apartment." Miranda stated. Her tone was firm.

"That is unnecessary," Andy muttered. "I am used to travelling the city on foot." At Miranda's raised eyebrow Andy bit her lip nervously.

"No arguments. Gather your things while I ensure everyone is ready. The cleaning crew will deal with the rest, they will stock the bar for your return this evening." Miranda dismissed her entirely, turning her back and walking towards Nigel. "Where's Serena and Emily, I think we should leave?"

"They left about thirty minutes ago, they were stopping off to get Emily a snack, the sight of that man's cut lip was hard on her," Nigel stated softly. At Miranda's rolled eyes, Nigel continued to speak. "She is trying to control it, Miranda. Emily is only a young one, not yet five years in the blood."

"I do not remember ever being so unruly," Miranda muttered.

"Would you admit it if you were?" Nigel's smile was bright and Miranda couldn't help but return it with a wide one of her own.

"Probably not," Miranda smirked.

"God forbid our Mistress admits to being anything but controlled." Nigel sassed. Miranda threw her head back and let out a loud peal of laughter.

The muted gasp from behind had her turning and bestowing her wide smile on Andréa. Her smile stretched when she noticed the brunette's breath hitching and her pulse fluttering quickly at her throat. She could smell the desire coming from the young woman in waves. "Ah, you are ready, Andréa. Roy is waiting for us, shall we?" She gestured for Andréa to lead the way.

"Um, ye-yes, Miranda." Andy closed her eyes and tried to control her raging hormones but it was if her body had a mind of its own, reacting to the silver-haired woman's beauty. "You're even more gorgeous when you smile." Miranda watched as the young woman flushed bright red and moved away quickly. She caught the muttered words as she and Nigel looked at each other, their eyes twinkling with amusement. "Yeah, smooth Sachs, I think it's time for a cold shower."

"I sense someone is not as indifferent as we believed." Nigel chimed teasingly. Miranda's glare had him chuckling. This would be interesting.

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Chapter Text

The weeks passed. Andy spent her days looking for a writing position and her evenings, unless she worked at the Crimson Mist, inhaling folklore regarding immortals, much of it held no likeness to the immortals she had been in contact with. She decided it was time for a trip home, there were items she wanted from her childhood home. But first, she wanted to speak with Nigel before she left. He had been friendly with her, and she found in him someone she could talk to easily.

Strolling through the Upper East Side early that evening Andy spotted Miranda walking with her daughters. Her pace sped up to catch up with the family but stalled as Caroline eyed her coldly. Miranda, however, offered her a small yet warm smile. "Andréa, what are you doing this far uptown?"

"Um, well, I was hoping to find Nigel at home and drag his butt out for coffee. I set off for Ohio tomorrow and..." Andy noticed the frown marring Miranda's face.

"You are tending your resignation?" Miranda whispered, her mind jumping to the only conclusion she could fathom.

"Oh, no, most certainly not. I haven't visited my family for a while, and it concerns my parents. It was, me going home for a few days or them coming here." Andy explained quickly. "They understand my need to live in the big city, and they are supportive in their way but they worry because I am alone."

Miranda relaxed imperceptibly. "Good, that's good." Cassidy looked between the two women and untangling her hand pulled Caroline ahead. "Whew, it's warm."

Andy frowned, shivering into the cold evening. She saw Miranda smirk. "We do not experience the cold the same way as we once would, Andréa and changes to the environment affect us more than they would you."

"Oh," Andy did not know what else to say as they ambled towards the Priestly residence on East 73rd Street.

"You are curious, I sense it rolling off you in waves. Perhaps you believe you will find the answers you seek in Ohio amongst your grandmother's belongings." Miranda read her perfectly and Miranda saw the stunned disbelief in the hazel eyes. They had never spoken of Miranda's link to her grandma and it was unexpected. "You will end up with more questions and although I am sure Nigel would provide sufficient information, I may find myself willing to discuss things, should you come to be comfortable enough with me?"

"How do you...Can you read my mind?" Andy remained mystified. She appreciated Miranda had gifts but didn't quite understand how they worked.

"No, darling. I sense certain things, emotions mainly. I find it overwhelming, and where possible I seek to shut it off. You are fairly easy to read, Andréa, your eyes often give you away. Now, if I was to have a little taste, with the flow of blood, I would see memories, glimpses of the life you have led, moments important to you." Miranda's tone was light, conversational.

"Are everyone's gifts the same? I know Nigel has his little persuasive skills, but I have seen little of Serena or Emily. Emily, especially, keeps her distance." Andy was curious. Not that Miranda scared her, but she had taken Caroline's warning to heart about her unpredictability. It made her wary.

"Emily is a somewhat recent addition to our family. She does not trust easily and often she finds it hard to be around mortals. She handles things at the club because most of the clients are happy, their euphoria keeps them safe." Miranda eyed her curiously. "It is a person's fear that feeds our hunger. You are wary but not fearful."

"Oh, I believe you could all easily but the fear of God into me, yet you all treat me respectfully and I sense you are curious too." Andy kept speed with Miranda as they walked.

"Mm, perhaps." Miranda eyed her carefully. "You look like her sometimes. I took a while to see it, but it is there."

"Um, do I?" Andy stuttered. It was not the first time someone had informed her that there was a resemblance, but it concerned her after Caroline's words.

"Yes, you do. It is not a bad thing, your differences make you stand out, you are exquisite." Miranda believed she could trust her with some of their secrets. "There are certain people we meet, and their blood sings to us, there is a warmth that surrounds the two. When it happens legends state, it means we have found our eternal mate, our twin flame." Miranda explained. "That is how Emily came to be."

"Is Nigel your mate?" Andy asked.

Miranda couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity of the suggestion. "No, my darling girl. Nigel was the first addition to my family, he was dying of tuberculosis when we encountered one another, it was in what you would recognise as the Great Depression."

"Was my grandma your eternal mate?" Andy asked carefully.

Miranda frowned. "I experienced her warmth, she, however, did not experience mine. There is a part of me does not wish to believe in such things, however, I have witnessed it with Serena and Emily."

Andy stored that information away for careful consideration. The few times she touched Miranda, a warmth that left her feeling safe surrounded her. "Do you have any other special powers?" Andy was genuinely curious.

"A few." Miranda sighed and grabbed Andy quickly around the waist, tucking her head into her neck. She launched herself into the air and ran over the rooftops until she reached a roof garden and deposited her on a seat next to Nigel.

Andy's breath was coming fast, and she was wide-eyed in disbelief. Getting her bearings, she launched herself up and moved backwards. "A bit of fucking warning wouldn't go amiss." Andy spluttered.

Nigel roared with laughter as Miranda looked flummoxed. "Language, darling. There is no need for such profanity." Stalking towards the brunette she held her hands out placatingly. "I am sorry, Andréa. Truly. I did not mean to startle you." Miranda smiled. "I thought it may satisfy some of your curiosity,"

Gazing into Miranda's blue eyes, she could see the truth of her words. "So, you are strong and so fast it seems like you are flying." Miranda nodded once. Andy turned to Nigel. "Can you do that?" She was still breathless.

"Possibly, Six. Although I doubt I'll ever try it. I prefer moving through life at a more sedate pace." Nigel smirked. "I think it is the first time Miranda has shown someone this ability, although she uses it often."

Andy grinned as she looked at Miranda, suddenly honoured by the gesture of trust. "Well then, I should say thank you."

"You are welcome. Now I will leave you to chat. I will chase up my girls before they persuade that Labrador in the park to come home with us. Patricia was bad enough." Miranda moved away with a speed that was virtually impossible to define. A blur of movement that left the space where she'd been crackling with energy.

Andy gaped. "Jesus, will I ever get used to this?"

Nigel smirked. "She likes you."

"I doubt that," Andy muttered. She caught Nigel's eye. "I realise she loved my grandma."

"And your grandmother loved her, but it was not meant to be," Nigel stated knowingly. "Now what can I do for you this evening?"

"Will you tell me about my grandma's time at Midnight Velvet?" Andy asked.

Nigel's smile broadened, and he launched into his version of the night Elizabeth Ronel auditioned for them at the club and the events that followed.

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Andy travelled back to New York three days after leaving, armed with items she believed would give her the information she wanted. She had found an old trunk filled with memorabilia from her grandmother's time in Nashville and had searched through it finding an old book of her great-grandpa's.

She spent her time travelling on the Greyhound reading his words on her journey home. He raved about the immortals of the Orient and their thirst for blood. Her great-grandpa talked of their ability to speak and understand all languages and to move objects mentally, to manipulate and control objects with the mind. As she walked through the gathering dusk, his words filtered through her mind.

These immortals have a few things in common. They thirst for the blood, they are stronger than ten men, lightning fast, they heal from wounds that would kill normal men, and they have healing powers too. Their senses are better than those of other humans. Unlike the folklore states they are immune to silver and Holy items and depending on their age they can withstand the sun although it weakens them.

They have gifts and use these powers for their own purposes. These powers include a Telekinesis or Psychokinesis and they are Omnilingual. They can hypnotise you and control animals. There is no rhyme or reason to their gifts, each vampire differs.

These beings are beautiful and terrible, they are alluring and devastating. Whether the prey is willing, the vampire must feed. These immortals are, above all, monsters, and they will feed upon the unwilling at random. The sensualism of these immortals can draw you in no matter your sexual preference.

Those even with the strongest will cannot fight the immortal off, any attempt will be in vain. The only thing that will help you stay safe from their mind tricks is Yttrium, and I had a pendant made from this rare material so they cannot control me. They cannot enter a residence unless they are invited although once they hold title deeds this becomes obsolete. Once invited inside, however, they can return whenever they wish, until someone revokes the invitation.

"So, you returned?" The modulated British voice caught her attention as she left Port Authority after 7 pm, and Andy stiffened as the redhead stepped beside her, keeping pace. Emily sniffed. "There is no need to fear me, Andréa. That I can promise."

Andy struggled to keep calm. "What do you want from me, Emily?"

Emily let out a frustrated sigh. "I rarely say this to people who aren't me, but you have got to calm down." Emily licked her lips and Andy experienced a jolt of fear as she saw a flash of fang. "Miranda asked me to keep my eye out for you upon your return. There are things I cannot tell you but she has requested your presence at the house. You are not to go to your apartment."

"But...but...I need...my things..." Andy stuttered.

Emily rolled her eyes. "Serena, my love, will you get your arse down here?" Emily whispered the words and after a few minutes, Andy observed a blast of cold air surrounding her. Looking to her right she saw the tall blonde who grinned down at her, flashing them both a devastating smile.

"You called, Querida," Serena stated.

"Feel it, go on, tell me how the fuck I am supposed to deal with this..." Emily trailed off. "...What was Miranda thinking?"

"Querida, just breathe." Serena stepped in front of Andy and stopped her movements by placing her hands on her shoulder. She shivered into the touch. "Andy, you are safe with us. We would not wish to displease Miranda, she has been fantastic to us both. We are here at her request. Please, do not fear us. You can trust us, we mean you no harm."

Andy relaxed slightly at the genuine warmth of Serena's words. "Neither of you have spoken much before now."

Serena smiled. "That will change, I'm sure. But do not fear, it is not good for us, some of us struggle to control particular urges the emotion creates, it takes time."

"How did you hear Emily," Andy whispered as Serena stepped beside her. She was suddenly calmer.

"There are gifts eternal mates share, one of these is the ability to contact one another telepathically or on the whisper of the wind, even over great distances." Serena looked over at the petite redhead, her eyes holding a blaze of love and affection. The easy admission of their shared gift surprised Andy, and she wondered idly if the power came only when both were vampires. "I surprised Emily when she first called my name and I turned up. She did not realise the strength of her cry would pull me towards her."

"Oh, hush, Andréa need not know about that." Emily's pale skin flushed momentarily before returning to its normal hue.

Serena chuckled and nudged Andy's shoulder and whispered. "Maybe another time."

"Sounds good." Andy grinned as Serena flagged a cab and gave the cabbie the address to Miranda's townhouse.

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Miranda was furious. She'd seen the image of Andréa while she was feeding the night before on a scruffy young man who had a deadly soul.

Nate.

As his memories assaulted her, she saw the young woman as a child, her laughter echoing through his mind as she sailed high in the air on a playground swing. She saw them dancing together, at what could only be their senior prom, heard his angry and hateful words when she told him she was returning to her parents to say goodbye to her grandmother, words that had her shoulders slumping and agreeing to stay with him. Worst of all was the sting of the slap he gave her the moment she told him she was moving to New York, without him, telling him she couldn't love him, she spotted the fear in her expressive eyes but also the determination. The only thing that stopped him from acting on his anger further and forcing her to stay was the baseball bat she brandished at him, knowing, if pushed, she would use it. She tasted the love and hatred he had for the young woman in his heart.

She'd left the young man alive but weak and carried him to a place where he could do no harm, carefully securing him in the basement of the club where Nigel now kept guard.

The fierce protectiveness she possessed for Andréa was unnerving but she would only assume her safe once the brunette was at the house, something she had argued with Caroline about upon telling her Bobbsey's of her decision. For her, Andréa meant warmth and seeing any harm come to her was unacceptable. Caroline was unhappy, believing she would get hurt again, but Miranda assured her she would not allow such a thing to happen.

Her early days in New York had been hard as her heart ached for the woman who had captured it and had been left behind in Nashville. But it wasn't to be, she knew it deep down. The letter she had received from Jed had changed everything. After being told of Elizabeth's death, it was as if her heart shut itself off. It fluttered open slightly when Serena searched her out, begging for sanctuary, a blood sister of sorts having been created by the same monster, and once again when Emily came on the scene, not that she would tell the young women that.

It seemed strange to her, that the blood of both Elizabeth and Andréa sang to her, although upon reflection, the strength of emotion she experienced with Andréa was much more powerful. What she was unsure of was if Andréa sensed her warmth, she had shown no sign, and yet, Cassidy, Nigel and both Serena and Emily had commented on it. She had used the past few days to reflect on it and had decided she would use their time together to work out what exactly it was between them.

If it was the case once again, like with Elizabeth, that this thing between them was one-sided, she would back off gracefully. She would not remove herself entirely from the young woman's life, but she would make herself less accessible. If she was honest, it scared her to let herself hope for more.

She heard Serena's loud laughter and Andréa's low chuckle as they entered the house. Emily's voice assaulted her ears. "My heart, I told you Andy did not need to learn of such things." Andréa's laughter grew louder and Miranda grew warmer as the young woman's presence made itself known. Unable to resist the force of the heat radiating through her home she glided to the foyer and was greeted by a bright smile. She sensed Serena's happiness and Emily's embarrassment and smirked.

Catching the brunette's attention as she moved forward she stalled when she caught her name being whispered reverently while the young woman's smile widened at the sight of her. She moved forward, touching the young woman's arm gently in a gesture of welcome. She did not observe the usual shudder of cold and dread most mortals experienced when touched by an immortal. "Thank you for coming to the house, Andréa. Nigel should arrive soon. Come, we have things to discuss." She caught Emily's eye. "Would you make us a pot of tea, Emily?"

"Yes, Miranda." Emily clicked away on 5-inch heels towards the kitchen, pursued by her mate. She recognised the tea would arrive eventually but not as quickly as she would like.

She led Andréa to her study and the young woman followed wide-eyed, looking around with curiosity etched in her eyes. Letting go of the warm hand she sat in her favourite corner of the wide leather couch and was pleased when Andréa sat at the other end.

"What is this about, Miranda?" Andy whispered.

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The events of the evening surprised Andy. The last thing she expected when alighting at Port Authority, after almost 17 hours on the bus, was to run into Emily and be whisked off in a cab to Miranda. She'd expected to go to her own apartment on Broome, sort her laundry and maybe a shower and sleep.

She settled into the sofa, surrounded by Miranda's unique signature scent and breathed it in. "What is this about, Miranda?" The words came out as a whisper.

"There was an incident last night, and I came across something...well, someone, near your apartment." Miranda clenched her teeth. "He had such a dark aura it made my hunger peak."

"Well, um, why are you telling me this? I mean, I understand you have to drink to survive but..." Andy trailed off as Miranda interrupted.

"It was Nate," Miranda admitted.

"Is he dead?" Andy asked flatly.

"No, but I could not leave him on the streets to cause harm." Miranda turned to her. "He is weakened by the blood loss, a good sleep and a few reasonable meals would fix that, but I will not allow him to harm you or any other dark-haired woman that crosses his path."

"Oth...others?" Andy did not know what to say.

"Mm, yes." Miranda's eyes turned gentle as she saw the disbelief. "It seemed I stopped him while he stalked a young student, she held a slight resemblance to you. There have been three attacks in the last week from what I can find, all similar in style and execution." Miranda looked away. "I can tell you what he does, but it may be distressing."

"No, I don't want to hear it. I've known Nate since I was six years old, we dated through high school and college and...not him..." Andy stalled.

"And he struck you and said disgusting words about how pathetic you were to want to say goodbye to your crazy, crippled grandmother, who apparently wouldn't even know you were there. You broke up with him when you told him you were moving to New York, without him." Miranda told her of the little she had seen.

"She waited for me every day in those final weeks." Andy swallowed the lump in her throat. "She addressed a letter to me, leaving me everything she had, it wasn't much but, she thought of me."

The revelation didn't surprise Miranda, she knew Elizabeth would have treasured being a part of her grandchildren's lives. "I have other news," Miranda admitted. "I spoke with a few of my contacts on Monday evening, advising them I knew of an amazing young woman seeking a writing position. When I mentioned your name, I was met with a blanket of silence but then I was informed Irving Ravitz had put the word out for people not to hire you. He has had you blacklisted throughout the New York publishing world."

Andy closed her eyes, believing Irv had destroyed her dreams, all because she couldn't keep her temper in check all those weeks ago. A single tear escaped from under her lashes to trail its way down her cheek. "It's over then." She whispered. "Give me a day or two to leave the city, then release Nate. He won't find me."

"What? No, Andréa, there are other ways to make your way in the world." The request appalled Miranda. Scooting closer she caught the tear as it dropped from her chin and watched as it formed into a perfect icicle.

"I've only ever had two dreams, Miranda. To come to New York and to write. New York was something I had to do, I have yearned for this city without knowing why, but I cannot make a life for myself here, not now." Andy's heart ached, and she stood, turning her back towards the silver-haired woman. "I will miss you."

Miranda stood up and stepped towards the brunette, spinning her around her hands clutched her shoulders, gentle enough not to hurt, but to ensure there was no chance of her pulling away easily. Once again, there was no hint of the usual shudder, this time she saw the rising blush in the young woman's face and the hint of perspiration forming on her upper lip. Her eyes blazed up into those of the young woman. "You cannot leave."

"You cannot control me," Andy stated.

"This is not about some mind trickery or an attempt at control, Andréa. You cannot leave me because it is not New York you yearn for, it is me." Miranda released her hold as Andy stepped back, her disbelief in her eyes.

"I do...I don't know what you mean, Miranda." Andy whispered.

"Emily could tell you, she travelled to Rio de Janeiro before heading to New York. Her heart yearned for both places, places close to Serena's heart. It is a calling incomprehensible to those who do not possess it." Miranda's eyes softened. "Emily worked for Runway, as an assistant to the editor Jacqueline Follet." Miranda's lip curled showing her distaste for the woman. "One night they came into the club and when Serena passed her a drink their hands brushed and the heat and electricity of their touch told them all they needed to know."

Miranda entwined their fingers and a wave of current moved up Andy's arm, spreading warmth into her heart. Her breath caught, and she picked up the pleasure in Miranda's eyes. "You feel that too?" Andy shook their entwined hand, stunned by the waves of heat coursing through her.

"Yes, darling. I feel it too." Miranda smiled softly. "I didn't expect this, you."

The clattering of feet running through the foyer had them breaking apart and suddenly Andy looked up to find Miranda sat in the same spot as she'd vacated. She encountered the loss of the woman's heat entirely and whimpered softly. Miranda patted the seat next to her, and she took the three steps towards the woman and sat down. As Miranda entwined their fingers Andy hummed at the waves running up her arm, it was intoxicating.

The gasp of surprise from Nigel had both women looking up from their entwined hands. "Um, we have a small problem, Miranda."

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Chapter Text

"Lycanthrope." Nigel's words cut through the room and Miranda shuddered at the word.

"Impossible. I got no sense of this last night." Miranda hissed the words through her teeth as her jaw clenched. She caught Nigel's eyes. "Get me, Jocelyn." Looking beside her, Miranda noticed the concern etched in her Andréa's eyes as Nigel clattered quickly from the room and the young woman's grip on her hand tightened.

"What's a Lyca... Lycanthrope." Andy stumbled over the unusual word.

Miranda gazed at the young woman and saw her confusion. "It is what you would recognise as a werewolf. Some believe they pass the curse along from a bite, much like our own, which can be the truth. There are old legends that suggest there are those who are born with the curse and it is triggered by events later in life. We are not privy to all of their legends."

"And Nigel believes Nate is a werewolf?" Andy let out a bark of laughter as she untangled their hands and stood up but sobered quickly and frowned, disbelief replacing the concern. "I've known Nate since elementary school, and although he's quite the hairy beast, he never howled at the moon or...or..."

A low chuckle escaped from Miranda at Andréa's words. "I cannot say what once occurred, darling and we have no details, yet, regarding what happened tonight, but it is not the first Lycanthrope Nigel and I have come across. Many years ago, possibly before you were born. We were in London and..."

"Was he American?" Andy grinned and sat back down beside Miranda, sitting as close as possible without draping herself over the immortal woman.

Miranda welcomed the warmth of the young woman but rolled her eyes which had the young woman beside her giggling. "As I was saying, we met with one in London, he was quite the friendly mutt. His pack, however, were less than amused when he welcomed us into his little community. We learned things, but they are a secretive breed, they do not trust easily." She pursed her lips as once again they were interrupted by Nigel and a young blonde woman in a flowing gypsy skirt and peasant blouse." Ah, Jocelyn. Thank you for coming so quickly."

Jocelyn looked at the two women and gaped. Closing her eyes, she muttered indecipherable words under her breath before opening her eyes and smiling at them both.

"I was already on my way, Miranda." She watched carefully as Jocelyn took two steps and knelt in front of Andréa. "Andy, it is a pleasure to meet you. May I?"

Jocelyn held her palms out and Miranda noticed as Andréa stiffened and looked to her. Miranda nodded once to reassure her. "You can trust Jocelyn." She marvelled as they joined hands and an aura or yellow light surrounded them.

"The spirits told me I would meet you, and I admit to being doubtful." Jocelyn smiled as if the spirits had granted her the best gift. "You will form an extraordinary bond with this family, Andy, and you will join them as an equal." She frowned. "But not yet. The spirits tell me you have enemies. Two. One holds a darkness and despair deep within, the other a meanness of spirit. There will be hard times for you and for your mate. You must trust one another. Without trust, there is no hope."

"How...What..." Andy stuttered.

"Jocelyn is a Wiccan, Andréa." Miranda smiled at the brunette.

"Oh, so you're a witch?" Andy asked the woman kneeling at her feet.

"I am what they call a white witch. My grandmother forged a unique bond with this family of immortals when they first arrived in New York. Miranda saved my grandmother from a man, who was not always a man. He turned into a wolf upon the full moon. The trigger for his transformation was a curse, placed upon the males of his family, by another witch, a distant cousin of mine, who died at his hands." Jocelyn licked her lips. "Death is the trigger for the curse and the only salvation for these men is the end of their bloodline. Which is a person you are familiar."

"Nate?" Andy whispered.

Jocelyn hummed in agreement and looked towards Miranda before returning her gaze to the brunette. "The spirits are happy you are here with Miranda. Here, you are safe, no one can extinguish the light that shines brightly from within you."

"How...I mean...What next?" Andy asked breathlessly.

Jocelyn stood up and handed Andy her card. "I will leave you two to talk. Call me any time, Andy."

Miranda watched the emotions battling within Andréa as she fought her swirling panic and moved closer to her. "There are certain protections I can offer, Andréa, even while you are still human. But I need your consent to do so. These are steps I hoped to navigate once we had worked things out, given ourselves a chance to learn about each other, but there is no time to waste." Miranda scowled, her displeasure etched in her eyes.

"I consent to it all," Andy whispered.

"No, do not blindly agree to this. You need to understand there will be repercussions for what we might need to do now." Miranda advised. "Let me explain and then you will have the night to decide. What we do needs to be done at the break of dawn if it is to work."

"Okay," Andy agreed, knowing the events of the night would change her life forever.

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Miranda waved Nigel and Jocelyn away as Emily entered the room carrying a tray holding a proper English tea.

Andy looked up and offered the redhead a smile, stunned to see her looking slightly dishevelled. As comprehension dawned on her, the smile widened and Emily caught her eye and blushed again.

As they sat side by side, Miranda poured two cups of tea and handed her a plate of finger sandwiches filled with various meats. Miranda did not drink her hot tea but seemed to take pleasure from the warmth as she inhales the subtle scent.

Andy took a delicate bite of a sandwich as Miranda watched, content to do so. She shook her head when Andy offered her the plate. The immortal woman spoke quietly as Andy washed the sandwich down with a sip of her tea. "As you might be aware, Andréa, we do not need food or water to give us sustenance. Food is unpalatable to us. Alcohol has other effects. It helps to curb certain urges and numb our overwhelming feelings, with none of the usual hangovers."

"Lucky about the hangovers, it's why I imbibe little." Andy grinned and bit into another small sandwich, hungry after her long day travelling.

Miranda took the information in, giving herself a moment to process yet another fact about the woman before continuing her story. "There are two things we can do, to strengthen a bond with our eternal mate while keeping them mortal. The first is making you immune to my compulsions, and those of the immediate clan. Something you have already managed." Andy bit her lip and giggled. "There are other benefits though that you do not have, such as a greater healing ability, a higher threshold for pain and increased strength." Miranda placed her cup down, no longer finding comfort in the cooling liquid. "I could still hear you, but there would be no link to me."

"How is this done?" Andy asked.

"You drink from me," Miranda admitted. "I'd pierce my tongue or wrist..." Miranda faltered, expecting to see the horror in Andy's eyes. Instead, she observed the curiosity.

"And the other thing? You mentioned there were a couple." Andy asked.

"There are things that create a link so you can hear me but I would then, not only respond to your call of my name but see your dreams and read all your thoughts. We would gain the ability to communicate with each other fully, sharing our thoughts, emotions and memories without words. I could even savour the food you eat. It would be intoxicating." Miranda saw Andy blush. "I realise it may sound intrusive, I would try not to breach your privacy unless you called," Miranda stated.

Andy turned toward her. "That's not what concerns me, Miranda, but once you read my thoughts, well, it's kind of embarrassing how much I desire you. You are absolutely beautiful." Andy let out a loud exhale.

Miranda's breath caught. "You can't mean that. Surely you see I am a monster?"

"No, I don't believe that. My Grandma saw your innate goodness too. I remember from what I read you only feed off those who are inherently evil, and by Jocelyn's words and your own, you have saved many people, even unknowingly. I'm sure you didn't ask for this...for your children to be...Jesus." Andy put the plate of sandwiches down and ran her fingers through her bangs, showing signs of her frustration. "So, tell me how this link is formed?"

"I take a small amount of blood from you while you do the same. This opens our minds and we would share the first memories." Miranda frowned. "It may be painful, that initial bite, but some have claimed it can also be arousing. I can heal you after, you would have no permanent scarring."

Andy weighed up the options. "What makes you imagine this link between us would be beneficial?"

"Others, like me, will smell you on me and vice versa, it is a combined scent indecipherable to mortals. The same applies to those like Nate. They will recognise you belong to me, and it would provide you with a security you do not possess now." Miranda stalled. "There are certain rules between immortals. We do not kill an eternal mate, we do not inflict that pain on one another."

"And if I agree to neither?" Andy whispered, unsure she wanted the answer.

"Nate may hunt you down and bite you, claiming you as his own. At that moment, it will break our bond, and I will have no choice but to kill him." Miranda's words were cold and deadly. She looked at the young woman and tears formed. "I hoped I would have time, to woo you and to make you love me."

Andy saw the streaks of red trailing down Miranda's face, tears tinged with blood. Unable to watch the woman fall apart she did the only thing she could think of and pulled Miranda into her arms. The moment her arms surrounded the silver-haired immortal woman, she experienced an immeasurable amount of peace but Miranda was stiff in her arms. "I wasn't saying no, Miranda, to any of it." Miranda relaxed into the embrace. "I wonder what it would be like to be courted by an immortal. I'm sure you have seen some amazing romantic gestures over the years."

Miranda let out a small chuckle. "And some awful ones. There was once a young man from New Jersey who was madly in love with one of my neighbours. One night I detected what I assumed what was a cat screeching. It was, in fact, the young man, serenading his love, badly. She turned him down, flat."

Andy laughed briefly pulling back to look into Miranda's eyes. "Okay, so I shouldn't expect poetry, sonnets or you serenading me with...Oh, I don't know. Bon Jovi?"

"Mm, definitely not. I am more of a Dusty Springfield or The Ronettes type of woman." Miranda's lips quirked as she swiped her cheeks removing the blood tears. "You have time to consider all I have said, Andréa. Take the time, speak to the others. I will await your decision."

Andy was reluctant to break the embrace. Looking at Miranda, she bit her lip and blushed. "May I try one thing?" She inched her face closer, only to have Miranda cup her face and stop her.

"No, Andréa. I do not think it would be wise," Miranda told her.

Andy looked stricken and moved back quickly before launching herself to her feet and leaving the room quickly, tears of embarrassment clouding her eyes as she went in search of Nigel.

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It wasn't Nigel Andy found as she searched the rooms of the house, it was Caroline. Andy stalled as the young one looked up from her book and scowled at her. She tried to engage the girl.

"I realise you probably don't want me here, Caroline, but I wasn't given much choice in the matter," Andy muttered, sitting in a chair opposite the little redhead.

"I wasn't either. It's the first-time mom hasn't considered our wishes." Caroline looked at her. "You're different."

"I doubt that," Andy stated, still feeling the sting of Miranda's rejection. "I don't want to force myself into your life Caroline, but if this eternal mate thing is real, and something tells me it is, I don't want there to be any animosity between us. From the little I have seen of you and Cassidy, given time, we can learn to like each other and perhaps find we have things in common." Andy gazed at the book in Caroline's hands and recognised it was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. She nodded at the book in Caroline's hands. "I remember reading Harry Potter the first time. It opened an entire world of magic I couldn't help but want to experience."

Caroline's head snapped up and her smile was blinding. "I liked the introduction of Ginny in this book."

"A spark of recognition, perhaps? Another smart, little redhead." Andy smiled. "Ginny was the first girl to arrive in the Weasley family in generations, and the seventh daughter which means she would become a gifted witch. I wished she had been a central character from day one."

"Me too," Caroline admitted. "Cassidy prefers video games but for me, reading opens a whole new world. I've seen so much, yet I'm just a little girl."

"That must be hard." Andy tried but could not put herself in Caroline and Cassidy's shoes. To be stuck in a suspended state must be difficult. What kind of monster would do such a thing to children? She swore if she stayed she would be whatever Caroline and Cassidy needed. Andy would give them time to warm up to her, to realise she would not hurt their mom. She understood she would have to try not to rush into things and let them develop naturally. "Um, it was good chatting to you, Caro." Andy shrugged as Caroline looked shocked at the nickname and stared at her, searching her eyes.

"Nigel will be up on the roof or on the back porch, they're his usual spots." Caroline offered a small smile as Andy stood up and made to exit the room. "Andy, mom will try to keep you at arm's length. You shouldn't let her."

"I won't, kiddo," Andy promised. "But we are two different people, inexplicably bonded by something beyond our control. I realise it won't always be easy, but I don't give up easily." She offered the little one a wide smile and a wave and made her way up the stairs towards the roof.

On the next level, she heard cheering and poked her head around the door to see Cassidy and Serena playing FIFA on the Xbox One. Serena's eleven men ran around the field in bright yellow jerseys, showing she was playing as Brazil, Cassidy's team ran around in red jerseys and on closer inspection she saw she was playing as England. Their movements on the controller advanced lightning quick, and they were both concentrating on the screen.

Serena paused the game and stood with feline grace, turning to Andy she smirked and handed her the controller. "I will leave you to talk, Andy."

Cassidy turned to gaze at Andy, smiling. "Yes, I'll whoop your butt."

"Hey, you guys have quicker reflexes. It is certain you'll win." Andy chuckled and folded herself into a sitting position beside the little one and un-paused the game. Within moments Cassidy had taken the ball and was initiating a cross. Her attacker fired the ball at the net. Andy had her goalie launching himself in the opposite direction as the ball hit. Andy groaned as Cassidy roared her success.

"You play okay, for a mortal," Cassidy stated. "Are you going to stay?" She asked.

"I don't know, Cass. I have decisions to make tonight," Andy stated. "Your mom mentioned strengthening our bond. But I'm a little concerned it's not what she really wants."

Cassidy paused the game as Andy tackled the ball from her player. "You may not see it, but she likes you very much. She told us she hoped you felt her warmth." She looked at Andy. "Caroline will get used to your presence should you stay. Deep down we want the same thing, for Mom to be happy. I think you can help with that. She seems..." Cassidy frowned. "...lighter. I can't explain it. You impress her and she is curious why we can't use our skills on you. Eliza was the same, she would tap her nose and say it was a secret." Cassidy smiled at the recollection and Andy grinned at her own remembrances.

"She used to do the same to me and my brother," Andy stated. "Now, how about we finish this game?"

"I think I'll play something else, what do you think of Fallout 4?" Cassidy smirked.

"I must admit I know little about it apart from it is set in a world rebuilt after a nuclear apocalypse," Andy admitted.

"I'll create you a game, I'll teach you how to play tomorrow night." Cassidy bounced where she sat and Andy couldn't help but smile as she left Cassidy creating her Gamertag and setting her up with her own profile.

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Andy spent the rest of the late evening talking to the other immortals, but it was her conversation with Serena and Emily that left Andy stunned.

Nigel had started by telling her what little he knew of werewolves, the bite would either turn her or kill her, he then moved on to tales of the places they had been, the legends of other immortals they had discovered and of his human life as an artist.

When Emily and Serena joined them under the outdoor heater Serena spoke honestly about meeting Emily and wooing her. Emily was quiet while Serena spoke, it was the first time they had spoken of things from Serena's perspective. The hours passed quickly and as the three immortals left her to her thoughts, she reflected on all they had told her.

"You realise, Andy, that a human-immortal relationship is not something easy?" Serena stated. "When I met Emily, I had only recently found Miranda, she is my sister in the blood, sharing the same maker, and she had welcomed me into her family, even though she will have nothing to do with Asher." Serena smiled softly. "It was hard, to begin with. I am so very Latina, and Miranda is still very English. We are polar opposites, brought up in different eras."

"When were you turned immortal?" Andy asked curiously.

"1966." Serena smiled when Andy's jaw dropped.

"I have so many questions," Andy whispered.

"I will answer anything you ask," Serena told her softly.

"How did you become immortal?" Andy asked.

"I met Asher one night, and he held me captivated. I believed in my youthful naivety he loved me. Little did I understand that he was feeding on me like I was a delectable morsel." Serena frowned. "The glamour wore off when I woke one evening with a burning thirst and he explained that I was Vampire. He drank from me almost to the point of death when he then compelled me to drink from him." Serena saw the concern etched in Andy's eyes. "No, Andy, it is not the same as being bonded."

"In what way is it different?" Andy whispered.

"I was not bonded with Asher before that night, I couldn't be because I was not his mate, I was not meant to be his. When we bond it is just a taste of each other, to create a link between our minds. Bonding takes a restraint which is only possible with those who sense our warmth. It is something only they can bring out because we do not want them dead. I have to tell you most of us do not want to inflict what we are on others. We have to work hard to attain the ability to have what we call a 'little drink'. Decades, if ever. And when we reach that point we heal the wounds with our saliva leaving the victim unaware." Serena looked at Nigel. "I have only ever discovered one person asking for immortality, his life was almost over when he learned Miranda's secret. They had somehow become friends, and that friendship has lasted over 80 years."

Andy's head pivoted, and she gazed at Nigel. "You asked for this life?"

"Yes, Six." Nigel smiled.

"Wow." Andy's exclamation was low.

"I will leave you be." Nigel stood and stretched. Looking down at Andy he gave her a close-lipped smile. "You realise, Miranda is not one to act in haste. If she didn't believe in whatever was between you, she wouldn't even consider this. Call her when you are ready, she'll come to you, she can't help but do so." He stepped away, hurrying towards the house.

"Is that actually true, if I call, she'll come?" Andy asked.

"Oh yes," Serena smirked. "Do you not accept what I said earlier?"

"I imagined it was a small exaggeration, to tease Emily." Andy grinned at Emily who rolled her eyes. "It's hard to imagine having that influence over someone so extraordinarily powerful. And in the moment of such pleasure being shocked within an inch of your life to find the focus of your daydreams there in your bedroom."

Serena and Emily chuckled. "True. But the bond between eternal mates is potent. Do you know how Emily came to be immortal?" Andy shook her head. "She was running errands for that woman she worked for. The persistent ringing of her cell took her attention away from her surroundings, the French woman made impossible demands for things you wouldn't believe. As Emily crossed the busy street a speeding cab hit her. I woke that evening to a sense of dread, my name muttered repeatedly. I followed the voice to the Presbyterian. The doctor was in the room, he was speaking to a specialist. They claimed there was no chance of survival and her parents had expressed their wishes to pull the plug on her life support. I persuaded them to amend her records and leave. She would make a miraculous recovery. I couldn't let her..." Blood tears formed in Serena's eyes. "...She couldn't die. She knew the secrets of my heart, we opened our minds to each other. Emily was still calling from the depth of her mind, her body broken, begging me to save her. I unhooked her from all those machines and pulled her from that bed and carried her as quickly as I could back here. I could feel Emily weakening and I understood if she died I would fade away too. Completing the transition strengthened the bond between us."

"Did it?" Andy hated interrupting Serena's tale.

"Yes, we are stronger together and we are equals. When Emily was human, although the bond stopped me from losing control, I had to handle Emily carefully. We do not always know our strength so one wrong move and bones become broken, or the skin is torn. Then there were times she saw me in my monstrous form. When my hunger and the passion I held for her expressed itself."

"The lengthening of your fangs and that...I don't know what to call it?" Andy let out a breath. "It's like your face changes."

"Yes, it is not pretty. It is when we have the least control over ourselves." Emily explained. "I will take my woman for a few drinks. Think about what Serena has told you. This will change your life."

Andy sat under the heater still deep in thought. She knew she could love Miranda given the chance, and she wanted Miranda to give her an opportunity. She knew she desired the immortal woman, she was immeasurably beautiful to her and thoughts of Miranda left her aching. Then there was the peace and safety she felt. She hadn't let herself consider what it all meant over the two months since they met, but she understood it would only be a matter of time until she found herself in a situation like Emily had, calling to the woman in the throes of her own self-pleasure.

She had caught the shock filtering in Miranda's eyes earlier that night as they greeted one another, her mind had whispered Miranda's name as she found herself enveloped by her presence, and Miranda had picked up on it, she was sure. Unable to stop herself her voice rang out, knowing Miranda would hear her.

"Miranda..."

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Chapter Text

Andy welcomed the warmth as a movement beside her captured her attention. She looked up into Miranda's beautiful eyes. Her breath caught and she couldn't stop her smile.

"You called?" Miranda queried.

Andy sat back against the cushions and closed her eyes. "I think the first one is the best option." She stated. She opened her eyes and noticed the shock reflected in Miranda's. "I assume the second option would also give me the added strength and healing too, but..." Andy trailed off.

"But?" Miranda's question was low.

"But you don't want to be privy to my deepest thoughts and desires, Miranda," Andy explained further. "Not yet. They would make you extraordinarily uncomfortable."

Miranda entangled their hands. "What makes you think that?"

The warmth moved up Andy's arm, sending little waves of heat through her. Her brain short-circuited and she spoke without thinking. "Because I do not think you are ready to grasp it all, how much I feel. I don't think you are truly open to this bond."

Miranda scooted away, but her fingertips still touched Andy's. "What feelings do you think I will find unappealing? The unnecessary sense of rejection, perhaps?" Andy nodded, and she shook her head. "Impossible, infuriating woman. I was not rejecting you because I find you lacking. In fact, I believe you may have one of the most beautiful souls I have encountered."

"Then why can't I kiss you?" Andy asked curiously. "And why wait until sunrise?"

"I have never...I do not know if I am able...what if cannot control myself with you, Andréa? I do not wish to frighten you away. I witnessed how careful Serena had to be with Emily, I do not wish to hurt you. That is the reason I said to wait for daybreak, it is when I am at my weakest."

"It wouldn't be intentional if you hurt me," Andy whispered. She caught Miranda's eyes. "It seems you would prefer the second bond to the first, why?"

"I have considered everything while you have been up here. I want whatever you are comfortable with, but find the full bond appealing. You would become stronger and your reflexes quicker, you would heal from the little scrapes and bruises you inflict on yourself in your clumsiness. And I would know you, and you would know me. There would be no secrets between us. No more seeking information from half-truths written in a journal, or from third party witnesses with only a semblance an idea of what occurred."

"Couldn't I ask you the things I want to learn?" Andy asked.

"You could try, yes. However, there are things even after almost one hundred years I struggle to vocalise." Miranda admitted.

"When were you born?" Andy asked inching closer to the immortal woman.

"To life, 1872. To immortality, 1918." Miranda caught Andy's gasp. "I was born into poverty, Andréa, in the midst of the industrial revolution. My mother was a seamstress, my father a labourer on the docks. They sent me into service as a young girl and worked my way up from a scullery maid to a housemaid. I may have made my way to being a housekeeper, eventually. The governess took an interest in me and taught me how to read and write. When the young master of the house returned from Eton, I caught his attention. I had a comely face, strawberry blonde hair and a trim figure. We had a romance, of sorts. I did not realise it was possible to say no, he was in a position of power, while I was a nobody. This went on for many years while he studied at Oxford and then settled back into life as a gentleman farmer alongside his father."

"Will you tell me what happened next?" Andy asked.

"We were found out, and his father cast him out, with me by his side. He talked of us making our way together to the Americas. He was independently wealthy thanks to an inheritance from his grandparents. So, saving myself from ruin I agreed to marry him and we booked passage to Galveston." Miranda smirked. "It infuriated me that Gregory experienced no seasickness, while I prayed fervently that I would never need to board any kind of boat again. I longed to be back in England, anywhere but on the heaving Atlantic. I asked myself why I had done this mad thing, travelling with this man halfway across the world. I did not have an adventurous spirit. And I was no longer a young girl." Miranda's tone turned softer. "The years passed, and we settled into life as ranchers in Texas. We eventually had the twins but there was an outbreak of smallpox, and Gregory passed away."

"I'm sorry," Andy muttered.

"I'm not, not really. He was not always an easy man, and I was never meant to be a wealthy landowner's wife. I sold the ranch, and we moved to San Antonio. That is where this happened." Miranda waved her hand airily over herself. "Asher and I met through a mutual acquaintance. The twins disliked him on sight. I should have listened, but society back then frowned upon women being alone. Even independently wealthy, society expected me to remarry, and Asher seemed like the perfect candidate. How wrong was I?" She stalled and looked at the brunette. Miranda spotted the sadness in Andréa's eyes.

"You don't have to talk about this if you don't want," Andy whispered.

Miranda offered a reassuring smile. "I want to." She looked over the horizon gathering her thoughts. "Asher turned the twins first, to ensure I consented to this development. It has left them unable to grow into the adults I was raising them to become. I can imagine the trailblazers they would have been. The world was changing for women, slowly, but they could have been at the forefront of that change. He took that away from them, and I found I could not forgive him. I hold so much resentment for him. We fought one evening, so I packed up and we left. We moved from place to place, spending only a year anywhere. We eventually reached the West Coast, and I met Nigel on Santa Barbara Pier." Miranda let herself smile. "He became my friend, and the twins looked up to him as an uncle. I shared our secret with him. He asked me for immortality and I agreed. He has been my constant. We worked together to form ways to live this way, without hurting the innocent."

"Wow," Andy exclaimed under her breath, amazed by how open Miranda had been. She caught the woman's eyes. "You really are amazing." Miranda blushed a little, causing her skin to glow. Andy couldn't resist. Swooping in she caught Miranda's lips with her own. Seeing Miranda stiffening at her touch, she pulled away and bit her lip. "Sorry," She muttered breathlessly.

Miranda shook her head; a forelock of her perfectly styled silver fell across her eye. Andy brushed it away, tucking it back into place. "You are a brave, foolish woman." Miranda husked, her eyes darkening and canines elongating. She pounced, pushing Andy into the corner of the couch. "You are playing with fire, Andréa."

"Well if I get burnt, there's someone here who can heal me," Andy muttered breathlessly as Miranda swooped in and ensnared her full bottom lip between her own.

The force of their kiss overwhelmed Miranda. Imperfect, as all new kisses are, they held a passion that was intoxicating and she fell into them willingly. It seemed as if it was her first time being kissed, and in a way, it was. She never held a human this close unless feeding.

What stunned her the most was how easily Andréa navigated her fangs, careful not to catch herself on their sharpness, as their tongues battled. The deep thrum of the brunette's heart surrounded her, quickening as they continued to kiss. It pleased her to know she was not the only one affected by the moment.

Exerting all the control she could muster, Miranda pulled back from the embrace and caught the small whimper from the young woman. "We need to stop." She hissed. With her eyes closed, she willed herself to calm her hunger. Andréa's fingers trailing across her cheek shocked her. She turned her face away. "Don't, Andréa. Don't look at me, please." The plea tore from her unconsciously. The fear that Andréa would find her monstrous and run was immense.

It amazed her when Andréa turned her face and held it in her palms. "You..." Andy kissed her furrowed forehead. "...Are..." Her lips trailed lightly over her closed eyelids. "... Beautiful." Lips pressed chastely against her own and Miranda could sense herself relaxing as her face transformed into its usual countenance and her teeth retracted into their usual small points.

Her eyes blazed open and settled on the young woman hovering over her hesitantly. She sensed Andréa's desire and acceptance and pulled her onto her lap. "The twins are on their way up. We usually spend the last part of the night together. I hope you do not mind?"

"Not at all, they are your children and continue to do what you usually would, but are you sure you want them to view me sat on your lap like this?" Andy yawned, fighting the urge to sleep.

"I do not wish to let you go." Miranda tucked Andy's head into the crook of her neck and heard the sigh. "If you need to sleep, do so, knowing you are safe with me and mine." She whispered.

"Okay," The mumbled words had Miranda smiling as the twins made their appearance.

They stalled at the sight of the two women and Miranda watched as Cassidy nudged Caroline and smirked. "I told you this time would be different."

"Here's your ten dollars." Caroline slapped the note in her sister's hand and caught her mom's eyes. "You are happy, aren't you, mom?"

"Yes, my Bobbsey's." Miranda brushed Andy's hair away from her face, causing her to nuzzle into her happily. "She's so warm."

"So are you." Andy hummed as her lips grazed behind Miranda's ear, earning a gasp, she chuckled throatily before settling in and letting herself sleep.

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She looked down at her twins cuddled up against either side of her. Cassidy had Andrea's feet in her lap as she played one of those handheld games she enjoyed so much. Caroline held a book. Miranda did not wish to disturb the sleeping brunette but there was only a little time left to daybreak and the family needed to settle. Gesturing to the twins they stood and switched off the heaters. Miranda rose gracefully, careful not to jostle Andréa as she followed the twins into the house, watching as they locked the doors and windows before dashing down the stairs.

Miranda looked down at the woman in her arms and saw the soft smile that spoke of pleasant thoughts. She knew it was almost time for them to complete their bond. If only the first stage. She encountered a sense of disappointment that their minds wouldn't be open to one another that she wouldn't spend her day listening to this young woman's dreams.

Andy stirred, and she blinked up at Miranda blearily. "Where are we goin'?" She muttered.

"It is almost morning, darling. It is time for us to settle. I have arranged the guest room opposite mine for your use. When you wake you will find the fridge fully stocked for you." Miranda spoke softly. "There is time to get into your pyjamas while I settle the twins in and lock the rest of the house up securely.

"Okay, Miranda." Andy smiled up at the woman sleepily as they entered a large bedroom. Miranda deposited her gently on the bed and moved to the dresser, pulling out a pair of sleep pants and a camisole for the young woman from her own luggage.

"I will be back soon, you still have time to reconsider." Miranda swept from the room and Andy heard her making her way down to the next floor. Twin giggles assaulted her ears, and she smiled.

Miranda took her time, moving lightly as she secured the shutters on her daughter's windows. They slept together during the day, curled around one another. It was a familiar sight with Caroline curled protectively around Cassidy's back. They were so different, yet very much alike. Caroline was the hot-headed one, but also the deep thinker, while Cassidy was easier going and prone to laughter. Brushing their red hair from their faces she kissed their foreheads.

"Love you, mom," Caroline whispered. "She isn't so bad, you know."

"That is good to know." Miranda's lips quirked. "Sleep now, my Bobbsey's. It's time to ride the rainbow into dreamland, I'll be right here when you wake up." The words were familiar, something she had told them since their change, and something she would continue to tell them each morning as they settled into their day sleep.

Moving quietly, she met Nigel on the stairs. He moved sluggishly, as always, feeling the effects of the early morning, even before the sun rose. "Emily and Serena settled into their rooms a little while ago. Nate had an uneventful night after the transformation and Jocelyn has put protections in place here and at the club. The house is secure, Miranda. I'm ready to climb into my bed."

"What if I cannot control myself, Nigel?" Miranda whispered, concern laced through her tone.

"Serena explained something to Andy earlier, you will find restraint because you are creating the bond with the person who knows your warmth and you do not want her dead." Nigel smiled fondly at his oldest friend. "Go now, Miranda. Get yourself settled for the day. You have but another hour or two until you must sleep. I envy you that power, your ability to stay awake until after the sun rises. It is something I long for."

"It is something I have never understood, my friend. I will see you tonight. Rest well." Miranda offered the bald man a small smile, her concern somewhat eased. She watched as Nigel moved to his rooms before stepping back up the stairs towards her own.

As she stripped away her clothes, she pondered the changes she had gone through over the years. Her sleeping pattern changed 20 years after becoming immortal. The family had recently moved from California to Colorado and she was restless. The flicker of images, that made no sense, replaced the usual sluggishness that affected them all an hour before daybreak. She saw in them the whisper of long, dark hair, pale limbs and eyes like warm molten chocolate. When she met Elizabeth, those images seemed to be brought to life, except the eyes. Elizabeth's eyes were a deep blue, like the ocean. Slipping into silk pyjamas and a robe, it was ridiculous she had not realised sooner. There was only one person those images could relate to...

...Andréa.

The realisation stunned Miranda. She calculated quickly the time of the changes and realised they coincided with Elizabeth's birth.

Stepping from her room she crossed the hall towards Andréa's room. She closed her eyes and inhaled, noticing the subtle change in scents in her home. The sweet aroma of blood came from the room, enhancing the already succulent scent of the woman.

She understood what she could smell was not the pure lifeblood that ran through the woman's veins. It was a blood that religious groups and a patriarchal society proclaimed as unclean. The menses was, in fact, the most energetically powerful substance on the planet with extreme mystical qualities.

Because the patriarchy hated all that has to do with women's genitals, that was not about pleasing a man they allowed society to think of women's genitals as a means for penile penetration and procreation and anything else was a waste or disgusting.

Miranda shook her head, her eyes shut tight, resisting the temptation to swoop into the room, drag Andréa to that large bed and lick the blood from between her nether lips, a way of feeding on the beautiful woman that would not hurt her.

The door opened and Miranda's whole body responded when Andy's knuckles grazed her face before cupping in her open palm. It was an intimate gesture, and she leaned into it, welcoming the heat of the touch against her cool skin. Miranda didn't move, letting Andy trail her fingers through her hair. The gentleness of the touch left her surprised and made her heart soar. "Are you coming in here, or will we do this here?"

Miranda's eyes blazed open at the sound of amusement in Andy's voice. "You really want to do this?"

"Yeah, I guess I do," Andy whispered. Moving her hand down Miranda's shoulder and arm, she entwined their fingers and tugged Miranda's hand, as if to get her to follow.

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Andy led Miranda into the room, closing the door quietly behind them. Unable to think of what to do or where to settle, she stalled.

Miranda recognised her confusion and took over, leading them to a chaise. She lay on her side and patted the space beside her. "I thought this may be more comfortable for us, darling." Her voice was low and husky causing Andy's eyes to darken.

Andy sat gingerly beside Miranda, rubbing her stomach. "How do you want me?"

"Lie down with me, Andréa. I still have a little time before I need to settle for the day." Miranda told her. "If you are sure about this, we need to navigate a way of doing this that you are comfortable with."

Andy settled beside the immortal woman, looking into her clear blue eyes. "You said before a little bite to your tongue or wrist."

Miranda nodded. She observed the waves of apprehension coming from the young woman. "Do not be afraid, darling. I promise this will happen however you wish, and if not now, there are many more nights to come."

"Why are you being so patient?" Andy whispered.

"I have waited almost 100 years for you, Andréa. What are a few more nights in the grand scheme? I remember countless years ago, I had difficulty settling into my day sleep as images formed in my mind." Miranda ran her hand through Andy's tresses. "Dark hair, burnished copper from the sun." Her lips quirked as her fingers trailed along Andy's collarbone. "Pale, unblemished skin." She cupped Andy's face, running a thumb under her eyes. "And dark eyes, reminiscent of warm, molten chocolate."

Andy's breath caught at the words. "You dreamt of me?"

"So, it seems." Miranda smiled at Andy's disbelief.

Andy leaned in and pressed her lips against Miranda's, feeling the immortal woman opening to her as a low growl rumbled at the back of her throat. That growl, along with the opening of Miranda's mouth sent a jolt of desire rushing south instantly. She moaned into Miranda's mouth as it moved against hers before Miranda broke their kiss rested her forehead against Andy's shoulder. Andy took a deep breath as Miranda nuzzled her face against Andy's neck and her cool breath glided against the skin. Andy arched at the awareness of Miranda's lips caressing her jugular.

"What are you doing, Miranda?" Andy husked.

Miranda traced the outline of her jugular with the tip of her tongue, humming in pleasure. "I'm savouring your skin, darling," Miranda muttered. "Don't worry, I will not bite, no matter how potent I find the call of your blood." Andy moved her head, giving Miranda more access, a gesture of trust that left the immortal woman bewildered. Moving away slightly, Miranda inhaled the scent of the desire permeating the room, both Andy's and her own.

Shifting her head, she captured Andy's lips in a searing kiss which she responded to passionately, locking her arms around Miranda's waist and tangling her legs with the immortal woman's. Their kisses deepened, and tongues battled for dominance as Andy kept pushing herself against the silver-haired immortal. As her passion rose, Miranda's teeth lengthened, and she pulled away, unwilling to catch the brunette unaware.

Andy looked into stormy blue eyes and observed the care and desire which resisted the hunger. In that single moment, she knew what she wanted. Lunging forward, she bit Miranda's lip, catching her attention fully. "Will you open your mind and dreams to me, Miranda?" She asked against between heated kisses.

Miranda moved onto her back, pulling Andy with her but ensuring her touch was light so she did not crush the young woman who was grinding herself so wantonly against her.

Miranda bit her tongue and ran it sensuously across Andy's lips before pulling back as it healed and watching as the young woman swiped the blood from her lips, closing her eyes against the flavour.

Miranda worried this was the moment Andy would find herself disgusted, but she leaned forward and brushed her lips hungrily against Miranda's, her own tongue seeking entrance. Rather than taking care, Andy ran her tongue against the sharp fangs, piercing the muscle and filling Miranda's mouth with her blood, Miranda pierced her own tongue again before filling Andy's mouth and they continued to kiss. They swallowed moans and each other's blood as with a swipe of her tongue Miranda healed Andy.

Although humans find that their own blood can seem metallic, like rust or a copper penny, immortals found each human aroma unique. To Miranda, Andy's blood was like sweet honey and cherry blossoms. For her the scent, which also held a hint of cut grass, was addictive and she knew she would remember it forever. For Andy, Miranda's blood was pleasantly sweet, a mix of cherry liquor, and berries with a hint of creamy vanilla. It was unlike anything she had known before. The more she drank the more intoxicating she found it. It made her light-headed and woozy, in a good way. Like having a glass of fine wine after a hard day.

As Miranda began another round of blood sharing, piercing both her own tongue and Andy's, she caught the flickering images from Andy's life, the recognition of her parents and grandmother's voices as a baby, her love of the swings where she got to soar high in the sky. She heard snippets of conversations and saw memories important to her. Miranda understood Andy's relationship with her grandmother was her primary source of happiness throughout her childhood. She saw Elizabeth, her throat scarred from a tracheostomy, her left side paralysed and unable to walk without aid. She experienced the anger that overwhelmed Andy when she found out her brother had taken her meagre savings, made from working weekends at her father's law firm, to feed his drug habit and witnessed the moment Andy found him in that hovel, after three days searching for him, his glassy eyes open and lips blue with his belt tight around his scrawny arm and a dirty needle in his hand. She felt the brunette's yearning for New York and Elizabeth's voice rang out in her ears, just one word; Saudade.

Andy saw images of Miranda in various stages of her human and immortal life. The frightened young girl sent into Domestic Service outside London, her pleasure in learning to read and write, the journey across the Atlantic with a tall red-headed man, the birth of the twins. She saw the moment Asher entered Miranda's life and felt her shock at discovering him in the twin's bedroom that fateful night. Asher hissed angry words at her as she struck the immortal man in her fury before relenting and agreeing to the change, knowing she could never leave her children. She saw the moment Miranda and Nigel met as the man contemplated suicide, watched her grandma auditioning at the club and sensed the deep melancholy that had surrounded Miranda for years after she left Nashville. There were small moments of happiness from the twins, Nigel and when Serena and then Emily came along.

Miranda sucked Andy's tongue gently, once again healing it and Andy moaned when the immortal woman broke contact. "Enough, my darling." Miranda husked, knowing any more might crumble the small restraint she still held.

Andy's whimper had Miranda turning them and hovering over the brunette. Andy's eyes blazed open, and she looked at Miranda as if awestruck. "Why is there a purple light surrounding you?"

"Mm, the same reason I see a beautiful cerulean aura surrounding you." Miranda grinned down at her as her face relaxed. "You can see my aura, and I can see yours. I thought you may be yellow."

"Hey, I'm not a coward." Andy huffed good-naturedly.

Miranda chuckled. "You misunderstand, my darling. When you touched Jocelyn earlier, a yellow light surrounded you, she must have been projecting her aura somehow as she read you."

"I know little about this stuff, but yours is a beautiful colour, purple is my favourite," Andy replied, using her legs to pull Miranda closer. Miranda groaned and closed her eyes.

"I can't seem to help myself. My freaking hormones are driving me insane. Maybe I should apologise." Andy thought.

"So, I noticed, my darling, and don't you dare ever apologise for it," Miranda responded silently as she pulled back, looking into Andy's eyes, which widened in shock.

"You can hear me?" Andy asked.

Miranda's smile stretched as her body relaxed. "Yes, my darling. I explained this would happen." Miranda fought her bubbling laughter. "I think I will look forward to this new ability." She arched her eyebrow and spoke out loud. "Now, are you going to let me up?"

"Nu-uh, I have you right where I want you," Andy giggled before turning serious. "Do you need to sleep?"

"I still have a little time and someone seems extra responsive to my touch," Miranda whispered. "There is something I could do to ease those hormones." Miranda projected the images that had entered her mind before they completed their bond and she caught Andy's gasp. Looking down at the woman she saw her blush.

"Oh God, when she looks at me like that..." Andy's brain whispered the words before she realised and she threw her arm over her face in embarrassment. Miranda chuckled before trailing her lips down Andy's neck, chest and pulling her camisole up to trail her lips over her stomach.

Miranda growled as the scent of Andy's desire overwhelmed her. "If you wish me to stop, I can." Miranda glanced up and saw the acceptance in Andy's eyes. Tearing the cotton sleep pants free, she saw Andy's plain black panties, encasing the part she wanted to taste. She gestured for Andy to raise her ass, and as she complied she gently removed the panties. She inhaled deeply and knew she would never intentionally hurt the woman. Looking up she gave the Andy one last chance to change her mind. "My darling, may I?"

"Yes, Miranda." Andy shuddered as Miranda's tongue swept through her folds, the hum of pleasure vibrating through her. "Oh, Miranda. YES!" Andy's voice echoed through the silent house and Miranda was thankful, for the first time, that her family slept like the dead.

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Chapter Text

Miranda appeared out of the darkness in a field of long grass and let out a startled bark of laughter. Unable to resist she set off at a run towards the sound of flowing water. It was warm and the rays of the sun rolled over her. Coming to a standstill at the banks of the unknown river she looked up and squinted. She studied the endless blue sky and white fluffy clouds. A smile stretched across her face. She caught the sweet laughter coming from a few steps away and looked down into the happy face of her mate. "Andréa!"

"I love it when you smile like that." Andréa's voice reached her mind, and she caught the sincerity in her eyes.

"How am I in the sun, my darling?" Miranda asked. After almost 100 years, to walk in the sun, to have it beat down on her face, was something she never expected. It left her breathless.

"You seem to have invaded my dream." Andréa's smile was wide as she tugged at her and pulled her into her lap. "Not that I'll ever complain about that. I'm glad you are here." Andréa rested her chin on her shoulder and let out a small sigh of contentment. "This was one of my favourite places as a child."

"Tell me why?" Miranda asked. She was curious about the young woman.

"I have told you about my brother. Brad and I were close until high school when he got in with the wrong crowd and his behaviour changed. I did not understand it was drug-related. We lived in a small community on the outskirts of Cincinnati, everyone knew everyone, but there was a darkness in that world I was blind to. This was our place. We used to come here and play on the river. Dad put a swing on that tree there." Andréa pointed to a tree about 500 meters in the distance.

Miranda settled in further, relaxing into the loose embrace. She caught the boisterous laughter of children and flickers of images rushed through her subconscious. The little girl she recognised as her Andréa and a blonde curly-haired boy, with blue eyes like his grandmothers and a smile exactly like that of the woman she was snuggled in to. They stood face-to-face, working their legs as they swung high into the air over the river bank.

Turning her head, she caught the image as it faded and the wind picked up around them, turning the day into night. She experienced a sense of deep yearning as the vista in front of her changed and the New York skyline rose from the darkness under a cover of fog. It was an image she knew, the one she first experienced when she moved from Nashville to New York. "What is this, Andréa?"

"This is from the first dream I had of New York before I even grasped the city existed. I have no idea where it came from. My first remembrance of this was from very early childhood. Each time I saw and recognised New York on the TV, I cried. The intensity of my desire to see this city was overwhelming. My soul cried for the place that plagued my dreams. And each moment I have lived here, it is as if I know it." Andréa seemed nervous. "I think I do because you do."

"Saudade?" Miranda queried. "I heard the word when we bonded."

Andréa nodded. "Yes, a constant feeling of absence, the sadness of something that's missing, wishful longing for completeness or wholeness and the yearning for something mysterious and transcendent..." Her words faltered and she stiffened as a howl rent through the air. "I'm scared, Miranda."

"Don't be. I will let nothing to happen to you." Miranda tried to reassure the young woman as louder howls filled their ears and a large dark brown wolf appeared from the fog.

The wolf shook its wet fur and spotting them, snarled, its teeth bared.

Miranda growled as her teeth extended at the perceived threat to herself and her mate. Inching into a crouched position in front of Andréa a fierce roar of anger tore from her throat.

The wolf tilted its head, looking at her as if searching her eyes and then behind her at her Andréa. It let out a little whine before launching itself in their direction, its claws contacted Andréa's t-shirt as she pushed her away tackling the beast head-on.

"Wake up, my darling," Miranda shouted as she rolled herself and the wolf away.

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Andy woke up with a start covered in a cold sweat. She was unsure of her surroundings and it confused her. The dream had seemed so real, talking to Miranda and then the wolf launching itself at them. Looking at the digital display on the alarm clock on the bedside table she realised it was almost 2 pm.

Sliding out from under the comforter she stalked to the en-suite and flung open the door. Moving to the vanity she caught sight of her reflection and gasped. Something had shredded her t-shirt from shoulder to waist. Pulling it over her head she saw the faint claw marks, not deep enough to draw blood, but enough to leave trails in her pale skin. She caught the scent of wet fur and scrunched her nose up. Pulling her t-shirt to her nose she threw it away, disgusted by the odour that seemed to be buried deep within the material.

Shedding the rest of her clothes she stepped into the shower and adjusted it accordingly. She washed away the sweat and scent of the creature with the expensive body wash provided and while the water washed over her she became overwhelmed by the confusion her dream had caused.

She needed answers yet she understood she would not get them for at least another few hours, not until the immortals rose from their slumber. Worried, she let herself pray for Miranda and her safety as her tears rose and fell.

"I'm okay, Andréa. Please, do not cry for me." Miranda's quiet words entered her mind, and they soothed her. "I am always with you, do not fear."

"Miranda, what does all this mean?" She whispered the words and getting no response tried to send the question through the air, in the hope Miranda would hear it. Waiting for a beat and gaining no answer she finished washing her hair and stepped from the shower. Wrapping herself in a towel she made her way to the bedroom and went in search of clothes. She found, not only her own but a range of new items in her size. She understood it was Miranda's way of accepting her into her home and life, even before the decision was made to further the bond between them.

Leaving a mental note to thank the immortal woman she dressed in new lingerie, a pair of black skinny jeans and a plaid Burberry shirt. The clothes were worth more than her monthly rent but she loved the thought that had gone I to the choices to make sure she was comfortable. She felt as if perhaps she belonged here with the family.

Her stomach grumbled. Rubbing it absent-mindedly she remembered Miranda's words about the fridge being fully stocked for her and went in search of food and coffee. Moving quickly but quietly down the stairs, she sniffed and caught the aroma of coffee in the air. Frowning, she crept towards the kitchen to find Jocelyn sat on the kitchen workbench, swinging her legs impatiently.

"Bright blessings, Andy. I thought you'd never get your butt down here. Thank the Goddess for small favours." Jocelyn raised her hands, palms up and grinned at the brunette.

Andy shook her head. "Jocelyn. what are you doing here?"

Jocelyn shook her head. "There are things I imagined we could do this afternoon, to celebrate and give thanks for your bond with Miranda." Jocelyn searched her eyes and sniffed. "And I sense you may need someone to talk to. But first, there's a fruit platter in the fridge and your coffee is ready. Get something to eat and then we'll get air."

"Seriously?" The offer flummoxed Andy.

"Trust me, Andy," Jocelyn asked. "We'll be here when Miranda awakens."

"Promise?" Andy queried. Seeing Jocelyn's nod, she did the only thing she could. "Okay." She whispered in agreement.

Jocelyn jumped off the counter and moved to the coffee machine. Pouring two cups she set them down at the breakfast bar. "Come on, eat something and then we can get on with the afternoon."

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Jocelyn led Andy out into the back garden and spoke. "Each night I come outside, and I raise my hands so my palms are facing the moon and I thank the Goddess for her blessings in my life." Jocelyn smiled. "You may not be spiritual or religious, but I hoped you may also wish to give thanks to the Goddess."

"What does that entail?" Andy was curious.

"I brought you some night phlox. It is for the joining of two hearts, meaning our souls are united." Jocelyn caught her eyes. "It will encourage family unity and harmony. I thought, over time, we can plant a moon garden, for when you wish to give thanks for your many blessings."

"Won't Miranda mind? I mean, well, this is her house and..." Andy bit her lip as she trailed off.

"No, Andy. Miranda will not mind at all." Jocelyn smiled as Andy breathed a sigh of relief. "She introduced us for a reason, primarily so I can help with the changes that will come. Not the physical ones. There are things in this world, superstitions if you will, that many do not believe in. But those superstitions come from the truth." Jocelyn looked at her and caught Andy worrying her lip. "When Emily and Serena bonded Emily told me how Serena often joined her in her dreams, it was a way for them to learn about each other. Was Miranda with you today?"

Andy nodded. "There was a wolf in my dream, and when I woke up I had s trail of scratches from my shoulder to my stomach, my t-shirt was torn too," Andy admitted.

"A lucid dream," Jocelyn muttered. She looked up. "Possibly the mere suggestion of the wolf attacking caused the symptoms."

"So, you think it's the nocebo effect?" Andy asked.

"I don't know, Andy." Jocelyn frowned. "And where there any other physical manifestations?"

"My clothes stank like wet fur. It was, pungent and unpleasant." Andy's nose scrunched up in remembrance.

Jocelyn closed her eyes. "Sebum, it is not the most pleasant of scents." Her eyes blazed open. "Did you and Nate, ever...well, did he ever bite you or..." Jocelyn blushed. "...this is embarrassing..."

"Go on?" Andy whispered.

"Was he into any form of salirophilia? Urolagnia or coprophilia, spring to mind." Jocelyn caught her eye.

"You're asking if he marked his territory on me? If he peed or pooped?" Andy expressed her disbelief. "God, no!" She hissed.

"Chill Andy, I had to ask, there's a reason this manifestation happened. If it was Nate, he should not be in wolf form right now and he should not be able to reach you in your dreams. I must investigate this and find out how this happened." Jocelyn put her hand in her pocket and pulled out a small box and handed it to her. "Miranda asked me to make this for you last night. She wanted something that would offer you protection so I created an amulet, containing Aconite, it offers protection from werewolves."

Andy looked into the box and found a slender silver ring holding a soft silvery blue gemstone. "It's so pretty. What's this stone?"

"It's a moonstone. People believe it can reunite lovers, heal the wearer, and promote inner emotional healing, it is notably powerful at the time of the full moon. There are certain werewolf legends that state the stone's powers can halt a werewolf mid-shift, leaving him powerless." Jocelyn waved at a cleared area under the kitchen window. "This is where I thought we could plant your garden."

"Are you sure the Goddess really see my bond with Miranda as a blessing?" Andy asked.

"Yes. The Goddess wants you to enjoy your life because she is the reason we experience pleasure and love. Too many people let their day-to-day responsibilities impede accepting that gift. People think by kicking back and relaxing, we are neglecting some responsibility we have." Jocelyn grinned. "The Goddess wants you to experience pleasure, Andy. They are her gifts to us. My advice, exercise self-care every day, even if it's just in the form of an extra-long shower, eating something you love or even masturbating. As long as you exist in those moments fully and completely."

"Mastur...wow, um..." Andy blushed furiously as Jocelyn laughed joyfully.

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Miranda woke shortly after sunset and groaned. She sensed Andréa's presence and the scent of her blood peaked her hunger. It relaxed her, leaving her with a sense of peace.

Miranda felt dirty after the dream fight with the wolf and the flavour of foul blood and wet fur tainted her mouth. She remembered she broke the wolf's front legs while pinning it by the throat with her teeth. She had gotten the better of the beast before darkness descended around her. The final thing she remembered was Andréa's tears and trying to reassure her.

Climbing out of bed she stood still and concentrated on the sounds of her house. Her thoughts flickered to the moments before dawn, to the period after she had bonded with the woman at the centre of her attention, her tongue lapping intimately until the woman climaxed. "Mine." She thought possessively. She wanted to revisit that moment again, soon.

"So, it seems." She caught the amusement in Andy's voice as she responded.

She knew Andréa would have seen the images as they crossed her mind and smirked. "I shall be down once I have cleaned up." Miranda scrunched her nose up at the stench coming off her clothes. "I smell worse than Patricia after she's chased squirrels through puddles."

"I can't wait to meet the canine Priestly." Andy's tone was teasing and she could sense that the young woman's wariness of her had all but disappeared. "I'm sure she's the only one that doesn't want to take a bite out of me."

Miranda stripped out of her pyjamas as she hurried through to her bathroom and brushed her teeth. "If Nigel advises you your scent is delectable, just remind him where the scent comes from and he'll retire quickly enough. We will all have to get used to having a mortal woman near again." Miranda caught sight of herself in the mirror and frowned.

"M'kay," Andy stated.

Taking the time to look herself over, she saw the ravages of the time before she became immortal. The silvery scar caused by the birth of her twins that travelled vertically down from high on her stomach was still clear as were the stretch marks on her thighs and lower abdomen. It wasn't like immortality had erased every imperfection, however much she wished otherwise. She pursed her lips as her eyes continued to view her reflection.

"Wow, is that what you look like under all those gorgeous designer dresses? You are so beautiful." Andy whispered breathlessly. "It's probably a good job I'm all the way down these stairs, I'd devour you in an instant if I was there."

A smile blossomed on her face at the sincerity behind the words and the delicious images that followed. "Really, my darling, I would have never have assumed you were such a voyeur, although I enjoy catching glimpses of your imagination." She caught the clattering of feet up the stairs, a movement so ungraceful it could only be one person. She heard the door opposite her bedroom slam shut and the lock snick into place. "What on Earth?"

"Cold shower." Andy breathed.

Miranda threw her robe on and hastened out of her bedroom. Focusing on the door opposite, she smirked as the lock moved and the door swung open. Stepping into the room she spotted the door to the en-suite was ajar and could feel the cold condensation creeping from the room. She tapped on the door. "Andréa?" Miranda called softly.

She stepped back as the door was flung open and her hand grasped. She saw the slim silver ring as waves of heat travelled up her arm from Andréa's touch. "Get that gorgeous butt in here," Andy demanded.

Miranda let herself be pulled into the bathroom and smirked at the brightness in her mate's eyes. Her eyes travelled the length of Andréa's torso and she took in the faint scratch marks. A low growl escaped at the sight, a sign of her displeasure. Stepping forward, she trailed the tip of her tongue along the four ridges caused by the wolf's claws. She relaxed when the marks faded to leave unblemished skin behind. "That's better." She whispered.

She looked up again into the face of her mate when she saw her lean closer as if to kiss her and saw her nose scrunching up adorably. "We need to get you in the shower, Miranda. You stink like a wet mutt." Andy muttered.

Catching the eyes that had haunted her dreams for almost 80 years she nodded once. "Acceptable."

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Miranda was in heaven as Andréa soaped her body gently, taking the time to map each inch of her skin, removing all traces of the dog. She delighted in the contrasting sensations of warm hands and cold water as her body reacted to the slightest touch given by her mate. She watched as Andréa adjusted the water temperature and grabbed the shampoo she favoured. Standing under the warm spray of water she sighed. "Heavenly." Her brain buzzed around the word as her eyes fell shut.

Andréa massaged shampoo into her hair, her nails scratching at her scalp. Miranda hummed in pleasure as the brunette rinsed her hair careful not to get shampoo into her eyes. "This was not my plan when I came in here." Miranda husked.

"I realise that, but we have work soon and I want to give you my undivided attention when I make love to you for the first time." Andy's words had her breath catching. "Plus, there are things we need to talk about."

"I suppose so. You will not be needed at the club this evening though." Miranda stated.

Her eyes flashed open as Andréa clattered backwards away from her. "What? Why?" Andy demanded.

"Nate is there, my darling, albeit secured. It is not safe." Miranda explained.

"This is my life you are delivering decisions about, Miranda. He killed someone and triggered this curse because of me." Andy stated coldly.

"Andréa, please," Miranda begged. "He could hurt you." She observed as Andréa moved from the shower and took in the sight of her bare, toned calves. She saw the small anklet and frowned. It looked somewhat familiar.

"I need to work, Miranda." Andy's voice was quiet as she wrapped a towel around herself. She knew Miranda would hear her over the hiss of the water. "I still have rent to pay and..."

Miranda shut the shower off and stepped from the glass enclosure. "I'll pay whatever bills you accrue."

"No, I need to work, Miranda. My options are limited, thanks to Ravitz, but I would go stir crazy doing nothing. Staying at the Crimson will allow me to keep your hours, alternate to that I'll get a day job, I'm sure I could get a temp position somewhere." Andy kept her gaze averted as she handed her a towel.

"Stubborn. Just like her grandmother." The thought escaped from Miranda causing Andy to snigger.

"Grandma used to say I was far worse," Andy whispered. "Please, Miranda. I won't go in search for him, I would prefer not to see him, but I need to keep busy, to keep my mind off the confrontation that is sure to come."

Miranda focussed on her feet as she adjusted the towel. "He will sense you there, Andréa." She swallowed. "I want nothing to hurt you. You don't understand, not yet."

"Make me understand then." Andy pleaded.

She placed a hand on Andréa's back. "If you hurt, I will hurt. If you die now, I will fade away, not immediately but, still..." Miranda grimaced realising she wasn't showing Andréa what she truly meant. Her reasons sounded selfish when they were far from it. "...Not that I care very much for immortality but I cannot lose you after only one night, Andréa. I want an eternity with you, but one wrong move and you could die."

Andy spun around and Miranda saw the determination in her eyes. "Miranda, I also want that eternity. I sensed the moment you woke up tonight, and I very much wanted to be in here with you, but I did not know if it was something you can allow. I understand upon walking and sleeping you are at your most vulnerable and uninhibited. I did not wish for my presence to be an inconvenience."

"You would never...I promised myself I would not hurt you." Miranda whispered.

"And you haven't, you were so gentle last night, but I don't want to cause you additional pain." Andy swallowed. "I understand there's a part of you that hungers for my blood. You fight it, but I will not take unnecessary risks or cause you undue emotional or physical distress."

It stunned her when Andréa stepped into her personal space and heat surrounded her as she gathered her in a loose embrace. The scent of the young woman's blood called to Miranda, and she closed her eyes to fight against her natural urges. A small whimper tore from her throat causing Andréa to step back quickly. "Stay." She whimpered, unable to stop the words. Her eyes blazed open. "Stay close to me tonight. Here."

Andréa's answering smile was all the confirmation she needed. "Yes, Miranda. Tonight, and every night from here."

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Miranda led Andréa into the bedroom and was surprised to find heat surrounding her once again as Andréa pressed against her back. Her hunger overwhelmed her.

"Miranda," Andy whispered. "What do you want to do tonight?"

"I need to feed," Miranda revealed. "I usually have a reasonable threshold, but it is not...I'm finding it..." Miranda trailed off and bolted out of the embrace. She saw the flicker of pain in Andréa's eyes as she searched the space near her only to see her on the furthest side of the room. She knew, if she stayed in that embrace any longer, she wouldn't be able to control her thirst.

Andréa spun on her heel and stumbled back to the bathroom, slamming the door with so much force a photo hanging from the wall fell to the floor, shattering on impact. Miranda winced and moved steadily to sit on the end of the bed, waiting for the brunette to make a reappearance. She could hear the slightly muffled words as Andréa paced. Andréa's thoughts were enlightening.

"Goddamnit, this is ridiculous. She asked me to stay close and then retreats." Andy declared. "If she needs something, she only has to say. I would gladly give her what she wants."

"Would you really, my darling?" Miranda couldn't stop the question, and if truth be told, she wanted to know the answer.

"Get out of my head, Miranda." Andy seethed. "That's not fair."

Miranda flinched, feeling the waves of emotions rolling off the woman. "If I could, I would," Miranda stated. "Your thoughts are extraordinarily loud, Andréa. It's hard to switch you off."

Miranda caught the small chuckle coming from the bathroom. "Impossible woman," Andy whispered.

She detected the small click of the bathroom door and looked up into the tender gaze of her mate. "I'm sorry, Andréa." The apology tripped off her tongue easily. "I, well, I did not wish to make assumptions about us, to make you think any of this was something I ever expected. And sometimes I have to move away, so I can stay in control. It is not a reflection on you, I promise."

"I'm sorry too, I over-reacted," Andy muttered, sitting beside Miranda. She placed her hand on Miranda's bare thigh. "I meant what I thought. I would gladly give you whatever you need." Andy stated.

"You." Miranda husked capturing Andréa's lips between hers. "All I need is you, my darling." Miranda caught her eyes and opened her mind. "You are gorgeous and I want nothing more than to rip that towel off, but I know that I have to control myself around you before I end up hurting you."

"I trust you with my life Miranda." Andy's mind whispered.

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Miranda lay between Andréa's legs having moved down after coaxing her back onto the centre of the bed. She threaded her fingers through silken tresses, swallowing her moan in a punishing kiss. Andréa's hands pulled her closer as she deepened the kiss, her tongue hot and demanding. Miranda growled into her mouth as their shared kisses grew increasingly passionate.

She moved down, kissing, nipping and sucking her way over sensitive breasts and down Andréa's toned stomach and thighs, often grazing her sharp canines across the pale skin before soothing her with her tongue. Miranda grabbed and held Andréa's thighs as she kneaded them, lightening her touch as her lips pressed against Andréa's inner thigh, lightly stroking the area. She sensed Andréa's growing arousal as ripples of excitement rolled through her body causing her to arch into her touch and moan loudly. "Spread your legs for me," Miranda said. Andréa didn't hesitate.

Her lips trailed against the pulse in the femoral artery and she told herself to stay level-headed. The scent of the woman below her was intoxicating, and she knew if she should bite it would supply her with oxygenated, protein-rich blood. The thought made her mouth water and her teeth elongated. Miranda understood she would have to be careful not to bite down on the unblemished flesh between her lips. It would be easy to puncture the vein, giving a smooth and constant stream of lifeblood, and it would be safer for Andréa. Safer still would be to feed on the great saphenous vein. She could easily heal the woman as long as she could maintain control.

Closing her eyes, she fought, once again, with her thirst, believing she would never have the control to just have a 'little taste' of the woman writing beneath her. She continued to tease, sinking lower and letting her arms slide under Andréa's thighs.

Andréa's nether mouth demanded to be savoured. Bringing her mouth to her, she swiped along her folds, gently licking and taking delight in the sensation of warm softness under her tongue. Heat surrounded her as Andréa's thighs locked around her head and the young woman's juices flowed into her mouth. Slightly sweet and tangy, it brought an instant sense of calmness to the immortal woman.

Andy moaned and thrust herself into Miranda's face. "I'm coming!" she cried out, announcing it with a deep moan.

"Already?" From the haze of pleasure, Miranda experienced a twinge of disappointment and let it show.

"If you are thirsty, you can..." Andy's thought trailed to a stop as the rapture she experienced overwhelmed her. She was coming hard, Miranda's tongue coaxing noises out of her she had never encountered before.

Miranda didn't need to be told twice, letting her fear go she stopped licking and finding the pulsing vein bit down, moaning as blood gushed into her mouth, hitting the back of her throat.

Andréa's hands tangled in her damp hair holding her in place as she sucked, moaning as the sweetest blood continued to flow. She saw images, moments of delight and despair in equal measures. She saw the young woman holding an old tattered journal in her hands reverently, recognising Elizabeth's uneven script.

Miranda stopped sucking as Andréa became limp underneath her as her orgasm ebbed. Running her tongue over the bite, healing it easily. She looked up into burning hazel eyes. Her gaze fell to Andréa's lips, watching as she licked her own plump bottom one, making it glisten invitingly. It was all she needed to move to capture the beautiful lips in a searing kiss. Her hands moved to cup Andréa's jaw before pulling away breathlessly. "You take my breath away." She husked.

Andréa's hands reach for her but she captured her wrists before they can accomplish whatever they set out to do. She grinned down at the brunette as a low whine escaped. "Please, sweetheart. Let me touch you." Andy whimpered.

Miranda leaned back, a frown marring her features. "I don't know how." She whispered. "I've never..."

Andy freed her hands and ran them delicately through Miranda's silver hair, tilting her head to catch her eyes. "Let me show you." She whispered, moving her hands down to Miranda's shoulders, over her collarbone and down to cup her breasts.

"Yes!" Miranda gasped, arching into the soft touch.

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Chapter Text

Miranda was experiencing a haze of pleasure like never before as the woman above her worked her magic, trailing soft lips along every inch of her skin. Andréa was a maestro, making her body sing in a way no-one else ever had. With her eyes closed and her hips rocking she felt wanton, but the sensations she felt were extraordinary.

When they first bonded, she had heard Serena explain to Nigel how amazing being intimate with Emily was and she remembered she scoffed at the time, but now she had to agree. There was something beautifully erotic about the heat of the mortal woman against her as she moved randomly over her. The emotions she felt were indescribable.

She understood once Andréa became immortal it would add another layer to their relationship, and she wouldn't need to fear the possibility of hurting her, it would allow her to be an active participant in their lovemaking. She looked forward to that moment.

The nip of teeth at her pelvis snapped her focus back to the brunette. Her eyes blazed open and she looked down into an expressive, heated gaze.

"Are you still with me." Andy husked.

"Yesss," Miranda hissed. "Please..." The plea tore from her throat. "Please, don't stop now." Miranda groaned, thrusting her hips, seeking further contact.

"Mm, okay," Andy whispered.

Miranda's eyes fell shut and she growled as Andréa's tongue dipped to lick between her folds, teasing her sensitive clit with warm, firm strokes. Andréa's touch was electrifying and a feeling of fierce desire washed over her when she looked down, with hooded eyes. at the brunette between her thighs. She understood what they were sharing this night was something that would change her intrinsically.

She had never been sexually attracted to women, not even, she realised, to Elizabeth. She had loved the woman all those years before and wanted her companionship, but she had never had this all-encompassing desire for her, not as she did for Andréa.

"Andréa..." The moan tore from deep within as her back bowed. Andréa grinned up at her, entering her with a deep thrust of two fingers and twisting them inside her in a punishing fashion.

Andy sucked on Miranda's clit as she pushed another finger into her centre. Pulling them all the way out, she pushed them back in all the way in firm strokes. She could feel the tightness as Miranda clenched around her fingers and adored the fact that she was coaxing such a strong reaction from the immortal woman.

Miranda felt her fangs elongate and her face change, unable to control it. A fierce rumbling purr escaped from deep within her chest as she rode the currents of the first climax of her existence. As she returned to Earth, her hands moved to run through the silken tresses of her mate as her fangs retracted. "You are beautiful, Andréa. Your heart and soul touch me in a way no other has done before." Miranda whispered.

Andy opened her eyes at those words. "You are the beautiful one, Miranda." She settled her head into Miranda's stomach. "I'm not squashing you, am I?"

Miranda chuckled lightly. "Don't be absurd, my darling."

"Can I ask you something?" Miranda hummed her permission. "What if we eventually decide we don't get along? What if I do something to displease you?" Andy asked nervously.

"We are destined, my Andréa." Miranda's mind answered her quickly. At Andy's small smile as she glanced up into her eyes, her lips quirked up in response and she answered properly. "We still have much to learn about each other, but it will happen over time, our bond will become unbreakable and our love will grow even deeper," Miranda stated firmly.

"Love?" Andy queried softly.

Miranda eased Andy up beside her and turned on her side to face her. "We will fall in love, my darling. I already feel so much love for you and you may not see it yet, but you love me too. If not, you would not have bound yourself to me." She traced Andy's jaw with the tips of her fingers. "Think about it."

Andy frowned in concentration as images of Miranda flowed through her consciousness from their first meeting until the night before. Miranda smiled at the haze of warmth she felt, even from the thoughts of herself entering her mind.

Andy looked up, catching Miranda's eyes. "I told myself when considering this, that I could, given the opportunity, love you. I wanted that chance. You make me know peace and I feel safe with you." Andy admitted. "I don't claim to understand this thing between us but I have responded to you since that first night, I constantly felt your warmth."

"You hid it well, my darling," Miranda smirked. "Now, will you tell me how my little persuasions stopped working?" She asked. The matter had piqued her curiosity. "Not that they would work now we are bonded."

"I found a journal, started by my Grandma the night she auditioned at Midnight Velvet. The first entry I read was one towards the back that explained how she told you she was pregnant and marrying Grandpa Jed. She mentioned a necklace." Andy licked her lips. "She realised it weakened your skills." Andy turned on her back and lifting her leg, removed the fine chain and pendant from around her ankle. She turned and handed it to Miranda. "The chain broke when she was having my dad. The birth was difficult. She turned it into a bracelet and gave it to me for my 13th birthday. It came from my great-grandad, he picked it up his travels across Asia. It's made from Yttrium, which is apparently what stops your mind tricks."

Miranda's fingers brushed against the small metal dragon, its eye set with a precious amethyst. "I knew I recognised this earlier when you stepped from the shower." Miranda placed it around her wrist. "I always thought it quite pretty, it does not deserve to remain hidden."

"You're not mad?" Andy asked.

"No, not mad at all. Amazed in a way." Miranda admitted. "You stared a monster in the eye, without even a flicker of fear and told her to kill you because she wouldn't control you."

Andy sat up. "How can you even say that? That you are a monster?"

"You saw me that night, Andréa, as I fed on that man." Miranda's words were whispered as she also sat up and rested against the headboard. "You saw me in my true form. I know it can be terrifying, it is not pleasant."

"It was your tone of voice rather than anything else that frightened me that night. Yes, your face changed, but you tried to keep it averted and save me from that perceived horror. But I thought you were, as you always are, so very beautiful. When you are like that your eyes shine so brightly, they are almost luminous." Andy tried to reassure the immortal woman. "And honestly, when I have seen you in your true form since that night, I've been a little distracted."

"You have seen the change in my face, and still think me beautiful?" Miranda queried. She held a hand in front of her in a silent gesture to wait when she saw Andy about to speak. Her eyes fell closed as she let herself be seen. Her eyes blazed open.

Without any distractions, Andy gazed at the immortal woman. She was stunned to see the luminous, vibrant hues of blue that Miranda's eyes became with her transformation. They glowed with an ethereal light. Tearing her eyes away she viewed the full change that occurred. Miranda's pale skin seemed almost translucent, her forehead was more pronounced, her eyes sunken and cheeks hollowed. Miranda's canines, usually small and sharp, were longer. She looked ready to pounce and devour but Andy recognised that she was in control and knew no harm would come to her.

Miranda watched as Andréa's expressive eyes took in every change. Closing her eyes, she felt her face change to its usual human appearance. When her eyes reopened, she searched those eyes and found no hint of disgust, only acceptance and affection. She felt an immeasurable amount of relief.

"You are not a monster, Miranda. Not to me." Andy scooted closer. "You told me you did not ask for this change, you were going to live your life and watch your babies grow into women who would change the world." Andy brushed the immortal woman's hair from her eyes. "But if that hadn't happened, we would not have met. And my life would be left wanting, from the lack of you." She offered the woman a bright smile. Now, will you come outside and give a blessing to the Goddess with me?"

"Yes." Miranda stood and held her hand out for the brunette. "Yes, I believe a blessing for the gift of you, is something that is required." Miranda grinned, flashing just a small hint of fang. "I have a moonflower that I wish to plant in gratitude. Your assistance will be much appreciated."

"Mm, maybe we should shower." Andy's smile was blinding.

"That's what got us in this situation, to begin with," Miranda smirked as Andy rolled her eyes at the immortal woman's thoughts.

"Separate showers." Andy reiterated.

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They spent time in the garden together planting some Night Jasmine and the moonflower before Miranda dragged Andy to the kitchen and started chopping vegetables for a stir-fry, admitting she had a serious wish to try many of the dishes she had watched being prepared on Food Network.

"Where are the twins?" Andy asked curiously, she had seen no sign of them that evening.

"We have friends, who are supernatural but not part of my immortal clan. They spend Friday and Saturday nights away from the townhouse as I am usually preparing for my nights at the club." Miranda frowned. "They are not the only immortal children in the world, something I only came to realise a few years ago. I also wanted to be free tonight to test your strength and healing powers, to see if further bonding is required. Moreover, we can do some training."

"Training?" Andy queried as she hoisted herself onto the counter.

"Mm, yes. I assume you know some self-defence, your actions with that drug dealer and Ravitz indicated some prior knowledge. We need to hone it with your newly acquired strength and reflexes."

"I didn't heal after that dream wolf caught me," Andy stated.

Miranda added strips of diced beef to hot oil in a wok and continued to prep Andy's supper. "The wolf was unable to make full bodily contact, and the faint marks I removed were nothing to what they could have been. The slight healing in the few hours we were apart may not have been noticeable to your human eyes."

"Are you saying it could've been worse?" Andy whispered.

Miranda pursed her lips and nodded. "Yes." She admitted, unwilling to hide the truth. "The infiltration of your dreams is being investigated fully by Jocelyn. The wolf should not be able to access them, it is usually only those you are bonded with that have that privilege." As she spoke, she removed the beef from the pan and added the vegetables, stirring quickly before adding a tablespoon of water and covering it.

"I'm going to have to fight him, aren't I?" Andy queried.

"Not if I have my way." Miranda snarled. "You will not take unnecessary risks, Andréa. I forbid it."

Andy jumped down from the counter and ran a hand through her hair, her anger overwhelming her. "You forbid it?" She hissed.

"Yes." Miranda spun on bare feet, her eyes glowing fiercely.

"You are not my master, Miranda. You have no right to forbid me to do anything. Who the fuck do you think you are?" Andy made to move from the kitchen and Miranda stared after her uncomprehendingly.

The realisation hit as the roar of Andy's thoughts and her fury hit her subconscious. "Andréa, I..." Miranda switched the heat off the stir-fry and moved quickly until she was in front of the young woman at the bottom of the circular staircase. She saw the tears flowing freely down Andy's face and pulled her close, tucking her face into Andy's neck and breathing her scent. "I'm sorry, darling."

"Why can't you see I need us to be equal?" Andy asked.

"I do." Miranda pulled back and tilted Andy's head so she could look into her eyes. "Honestly." Miranda tucked her face tighter against Andy's neck, unwilling to let the young woman see her vulnerability. "This is not easy, I never expected my sentiments to be so powerful, so quickly. I am scared, Andréa. I do not want to lose you." Miranda fought her swirling emotions. "Please, don't leave me, not now we have found each other."

"Why not? Why should I stay?" Andy whispered behind her tears. "I cannot stay if you treat me like hired help."

"You are more than my equal. You hold all the power." Miranda's thoughts continued to offer explications. "It would be intolerable, my darling, to have you leave me. To be so near, yet so far away from you, because of an errant statement." Miranda swiped the tears under Andy's eyes and watched as she closed her eyes. "I told you, I feel so much love for you already, Andréa. I love you so much." Miranda swallowed her own blood tears."I promise I will not make demands on you, Andréa."

"Why do you insist on calling me Andréa?" Andy sniffed as she pulled Miranda closer, surrounding herself with the immortal woman's heat.

Miranda pulled back and saw Andy's look of horror and heard the errant thought that Andy believed she was displeased. She needed to reassure the woman. Cupping Andy's face, she leaned in and on tiptoes tasted the salty tears on her lips. "No, my darling, I am not pulling away in anger. Please, come back into the kitchen, I will continue to make your dinner and tell you all you wish to know." Miranda eyed her. "You need to keep your strength up, Andréa, I have fed from you, this will have taken its toll." Andy's stomach growled, indicating her hunger and Miranda smirked. Grabbing Andy's hand, she entwined their fingers as she pulled her back into the kitchen.

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The woods behind Andy had the hairs on the back of her neck standing upright, she felt apprehensive in the clearing, even with the bright spotlights lending artificial light to the area. Miranda stood by her side, holding her hand lightly, waiting patiently for others like her to arrive having explained briefly that she would practice her new skills with other bonded mortals.

Andy felt a sliver of fear make its way up her spine and she was surrounded by repressive coldness.

"Miranda, my dear." A high feminine voice spoke from behind them as there was movement from between the trees.

Miranda spun around and smiled widely at the woman stood behind them. "Caitlín, how good to see you, let me introduce you to my Andréa."

"We have heard a little from the twins." Caitlín's soft Irish brogue was like music, but the woman herself left Andy a little apprehensive. Caitlín gripped Andy's free hand and bent over it. "Enchantée, Andréa." She grinned flashing her perfect fangs and it was all Andy could do to stay still.

"A pleasure, I'm sure. And please, call me Andy." Andy was thankful her voice hid her nervousness and she felt Miranda squeeze her hand reassuringly. She took in the immortal woman's features. The short almost black hair, hazel eyes and ready smile.

"It is good my sister-in-blood has found her true mate. I was worried it would never happen." Caitlín's smile widened. "Asher will be thrilled."

Andy looked at Miranda, startled, and saw her pursed lips. "I would prefer if you did not discuss my personal situation with Asher, of all immortals on this Earth."

"He misses his daughters of immortality, Miranda." Caitlín's tone was pleading.

"You may have been fine with your children being turned, Caitlín. I, however, was not." Miranda was firm and Andy heard her thoughts. "How many more times must I go over the same old arguments? It's infuriating. "

Andy bit her lip to stop her laughter. "I kick her mates' ass for you if you like?"

"Acceptable." Miranda gave her hand another squeeze as the noise from the trees became louder before the footsteps crunched on grass. Only a human could make as much noise. Looking up Miranda saw a young man with long blonde hair and her smile widened. "Ah, Nico. I wondered if I would be seeing you or Rian."

"Rian is busy with the children. They, or should I say, Cassidy, Siobhan and Niamh, are playing those games they enjoy. Caroline is reading." Nico looked at Andy and then towards Caitlín, rolling his eyes. "This doesn't seem as if it will be a fair fight."

"You'd be surprised," Andy stated sweetly. Her mind was reeling insults off quickly. "Arrogant piece of shit. Who the fuck does he think he is? I'll smack the motherfucker into next week."

Miranda hid her smile but she internally cheered. As much as she respected Caitlín her choice in mates was deplorable. Rian was her true eternal mate, Nico was just a passing fancy. "I have full faith in my Andréa." Miranda gave her a slight glance. "He is not bonded, just strong from Caitlín's blood. He also has a weak left shoulder, thanks to picking a fight with Emily." Miranda wanted to see if Andy would use it against him, she hoped she would.

"So why does she need to fight, has Emily threatened to snap her scrawny neck." Nico pushed out his chest and Andy's jaw clenched.

"A werewolf, if you must know. I need to know she is able to defend herself." Miranda was honest.

"A wolf?" Caitlín was stunned by the admission. Even she, as strong as she was, would not willingly go up against a werewolf. "And you expect her to win?" The disbelieving laughter had Miranda glaring at her blood-sister.

"She will not fight the beast alone. But she needs to be prepared. If you are unwilling to help, I will grab the twins and leave." Miranda's voice was icy and it cut Caitlín's laughter in half.

"Now, sister, I did not say I was unwilling to help. I am just stunned. You never ask for assistance." Caitlín glanced at the brunette. "Nico, you will show Andy what I have taught you, and then you will fight. Just so you know, if she wins, I will be very displeased."

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"Little girl, I will end you." Nico taunted as they circled each other. He'd been surprised at how quickly the brunette had picked up what he showed her. He now just needed to prove himself to Caitlín so she would grant him immortality.

Andy sank to a defensive stance, "Wanna bet, fucker?"

"Such a delightful way with words." Caitlín murmured, secretly thrilled. "And you say she wishes to be a writer."

"I'm sure Andréa will do whatever she sets her mind to. She is a determined soul." Miranda's response was all Andy needed to put her fear to one side.

Nico's expression was sneering but Andy just smiled brightly, gesturing for him to make his move with a wave of her hand. He rushed towards her and she stepped to the side, using her elbow to smash the back of his head so he stumbled. She knew she couldn't outwit him with strength alone, but she could try to anticipate his moves. Andy charged, raising an arm as if for a weak punch that Nico blocked easily. As he grinned, believing she was triumphant, she pivoted, sweeping his legs from under him. He hit the ground hard and groaned

The vampire blood had Nico jumping to his feet quickly, shaking off the shock of falling so spectacularly. Shaking his head, he glared at her before making his move, slower this time. Andy feinted with her right hand and then swung her left to catch at his arm. She twisted, yanking it up his back and he howled in pain as she pulled him over her hip so he landed heavily, popping his shoulder from the joint.

Nico moved sluggishly to his knees, clutching his left arm against his chest as he rose, his back to her.

Andy's right arm looped over his right shoulder and she grabbed his jaw with the one hand as the other entangled into the long hair at the back of his head. She yanked his head back. "Do you yield?" She snarled.

"Never." Nico's roar had Caitlín chuckling darkly as Miranda frowned. "Once I am immortal, I will tear out your heart as Miranda watches." He snarled

Andy spun him around and proceeded to offer the killing blow, a solid jab with the side of her hand to his throat causing his breath to leave him. As he wheezed, Andy looked at him balefully, her hand still firmly entwined in his hair. "Do you yield?" She growled.

Nico clutched at his throat as Andy yanked his head back, her other hand ready to strike again. "Yes."

The hiss of words had Andy releasing her hold on the young man. She turned away from him but the sound of his slight movement had her spinning back around, her fist flying as the man made to charge. She connected with his nose, which shattered in a spray of blood. He stumbled back, landing on his ass from the knockout blow.

Miranda stood and stepped towards her, a beautifully fierce smile brightening her face. "Brava, my beautiful Andréa. That was simply magnificent."

Andy grinned at the effusive praise. "Well, I'd hate to be underestimated."

Nico stirred and whimpered. His eyes fell on Caitlín, who had stood at the same time as Miranda. "You would have attacked when her back was turned?" She showed her disbelief. "Oh no, no. That will just not do." Caitlín shook her head. "It seems my lessons have been wasted. What was the one thing I advised we never to do? The one thing you threatened this mortal woman with?" The immortal woman's fury was absolute.

"Thill han hethernal mathe." Nico muttered through the blood and mucus blocking his nose.

Caitlín's eyes blazed as she glared at the young man, compelling him to listen to her words. "Tonight, you will return to your apartment and once you are there you will forget you ever lived with immortals. You will not seek me or any of my kin out. You will forget this world exists. You will find the very idea of immortals roaming the Earth ridiculous, you will live your ordinary life with a modicum of success. If anybody asks the injuries tonight were sustained in a bar fight with a biker in Brooklyn. Am I clear?"

The young man nodded. And stood, wincing as pain radiated through him. He stumbled away following an unknown path through the darkness as Andy watched concerned.

"Rian will be waiting for him," Miranda advised softly. "Come along, my darling. We will get the twins and head back to the city." Miranda turned as Caitlín disappeared quickly.

"Have I made another enemy?" Andy asked silently.

"No, this is Caitlín's usual M.O. She lets them close, with promises of immortality, yet she does not act upon it. You'll see why." Miranda held her arms out and Andy stepped into the circle of her arms, tucking her head against Miranda's neck as she was picked up and carried quickly through the woods. They came up to a large house and Miranda came to an abrupt stop, placing her back onto her feet gently as the doors opened and the twins clattered down the stoop towards them.

Andy looked up and her eyes reflected shock at the sight of Caitlín wrapping an elderly woman up in a loose embrace. Andy looked between the two women and Miranda.

Caitlín released the elderly woman and gestured them over. "Andy, this is my Rian. As much as she loves a good brawl, Nico believed he would be better suited to the task."

Andy glanced down into smiling blue eyes. "It's an absolute delight to meet you, Andy. My word you are stunning." Rian smiled softly up at her. "Now, I believe I met your grandmother once or twice when we visited Nashville. Tell me, did she live a happy life?"

"She took every moment and made it hers." Andy swallowed. "She lived a good life, with happiness in her heart. She saw me graduate before she passed away, that was her biggest wish."

"She always wanted to watch her family grow. We had that much in common." Rian frowned a little. "What do you want from your life, Andy?"

The question stunned Andy and she could only think of one answer. "Miranda." She whispered.

Andy noticed Caroline and Cassidy's small smiles and heard Miranda's gasp. Rian and Caitlín grinned at each other.

"Correct answer, dear," Rian stated softly. "Come, I'll make us some tea and put ice on that hand before you head back." She gestured for the brunette.

"Welcome to the clan, Andy." Caitlín looked at Miranda. "It seems fate kept you waiting for a good reason, sister." She grinned. "Now, tell me, is she as delicious as she smells?"

Miranda's low growl and Caitlín's boisterous laughter followed them into the house. "Better" The unconscious thought hit Andy and her smile blossomed.

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