Eventually my back began to hurt, so I disentangled myself from Henry's arms, planted a soft kiss on the corner of his mouth, and slid down to the floor. He tried to hook my belt loop with his finger, but I evaded his touch quickly.

"Ha. I'm too fast for you," I beamed.

He smiled ruefully, "Oh, really? We'll see about that."

Before I could blink, I was swept up in his arms and thrown over his hard shoulder. It knocked the breath out of me; I forgot how hard he was.

He carried me into the kitchen and sat me on the counter.

"Are you hungry?" he asked, opening the refrigerator.

"Kind of. But before we do anything, I need to go back to my place for some things."

He turned toward me slowly with a worried look on his face. "You want to go home?"

"Well, yes. You asked me to saty with you, didn't you? In order to do that, I need clothes and my toothbrush."

"Oh," he perked up.

"I've told you a million times. I'm not going anywhere," I said gently.

He moved toward me and stood between my legs. Taking my face between his cold hands, he tilted my face up to meet his lips. His mouth moved softly against mine, making my lips numb and hot at the same time. My body temperature was somewhere around two thousand degrees and I think he knew that. He pulled away gently, chuckling when I let out a groan of disappointment.

"You're the only human I've ever kissed. I have to be careful with you," he said softly, nuzzling his cheek against mine.

I reared back, shocked. "Seriously?"

"Yes," he said, giving me a dazzling smile.

"Like, since you've been a vampire, or.... ever?" I asked.

"Since I've been a vampire. I managed to get some action during my human years, believe it or not," he laughed.

I blushed and looked down. He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me against him. "You're so delicate," he whispered against my hair, "I could hurt you so easily."

"Which brings me to my next question, do you like.... want my blood? Am I a constant temptation for you?" I asked.

"Yes. You are. The first time I saw you, and I smelled your scent, I was immediately drawn to you. You don't smell like most humans."

"But I will never hurt you. Ever," he said to me, his grey eyes blazing. I think he was trying to convince himself of that fact more so than me.

"I know you won't. I don't think you could."

"Oh, I definitely could," he said, digging his fingers into the granite countertop. I watched his long fingers sink easily into the stone and gaped as it slowly crumbled and turned to dust and gravel in his palm.

"I know you could hurt me, genius. I meant that you wouldn't want to hurt me, therefore you would never be able to. And that was smartto destroy the counter. That won't be cheap to repair," I said sarcastically.

"My sweet Jacob," he chuckled and kissed my forehead,"I have enough money to buy the company that owns the company that owns the company that makes these counertops three times over."

"So I've noticed," I said wryly, gesturing toward the opulent surroundings.

"And it could all be yours, my darling," he muttered.

I was shocked. "Whoa, buddy. It's way too early for that. I'm not that kind of girl," I said with mock haughtiness.

He threw his head back and emitted the sexiest, throatiest laugh I'd ever heard. "I know you're not that kind of girl. I will treat you like a lady," he said, struggling to keep a straight face just like me.

"Okay, I really need to go home now. I need some clothes and a shower badly," I said as I jumped off the ruined counter.

"I'm coming with you," he said in his characteristic authoritative tone.

"You really don't have to--" I started, but he gave me a stern look that silenced me.

"I remember perfectly what happened the last time you walked the streets alone. I'm a vampire, I never forget anything. That WILL NOT occur ever again," he said fiercely.

"Okay," I ceded, grabbing my coat.

He came up behind me, wrpaaing his arms around my waist and pressing his lips to my neck. "I just want to keep you safe. No one will ever hurt you again," he whispered.

I closed my eyes to stifle the omcoming tears. "Thank you. And I understand," I said.

"Are you ready to go?" he asked.

"Sure," I replied, dashing the tears away with the back of my hand.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Mercedes was idling by the curb when we reached the lobby. With his am around me, Henry deftly steered me through the afternoon foot traffic and into the car.

He cuddled me on his lap during the drive, repeatedly kissing my hair.

"You're awfully affectionate today, sir," I said with a smile.

"I know. I guess you just bring out my romantic side," he said.

I rested my head against his stony chest, staring at the endless stream of pedestrians and taxis. That's New York for you; never a dull moment.

We pulled up outside my apartment building sooner than I expected. "How did I know that you knew exactly where I live?" I said sarcastically. Henry gave me a small smile, and I saw Max's ears turn red.

We made our way up the narrow staircase that led to my small apartment and I fumbled around with my keys to get the door unlocked. I wans't embarsssed for Henry to see where I lived. He knew that I did the best I could.

I finally got the door opened and was greeted with a blast of cold air. The one grimy window in my living room was broken. Some hoodlum must've thrown something at it.

"Fan-fucking-tastic," I grumbled. This place had the power to drastically change my mood.

"Jacob. This is where you live?" he asked, shocked. I couldn't blame him for being shocked. None of the furniture matched, the paint was peeling off the wall in some places, and it was drafty.

I knew he didn't ask that question to be rude. He felt bad for me; I fet bad for me too, but it was all I had.

"I know. This is how the other half lives. Glamorous, isn't it?"

I quickly threw some clothes, books, and my toothbrush in a duffle bag and rejoined Henry in the living room.

His eyes were sad. "Let me take you away from this," he said.

"I can't move in with you. I've been independent my whole life; I don't want to depend on someone's charity."

"It's not charity. I want you to be with me, to stay with me," he said earnestly.

"Like a boyfriend or something?" I joked.

"Boyfriend?" he mused, "Yes. I guess that's exactly what I mean."

I was stunned. "I cant. I just can't. Not right now. I'm sorry," I whispered.

He wrapped his arms around me. "I understand completely. At least I know that I have you all to myself now."

I raised up on my toes and pressed my lips to his. "You've had me since the night you saved me."

He buried his face in my hair and inhaled, breathing in my scent. I was sure that my closeness was bothering him, but I couldn't bring myself to pull away.

"This doesn't make you uncomfortable?" I asked.

"Not much. The temptation is still there, but it's worth it to hold you and smell you," he said.

I dont't know how long we stood there in my dingy living room, but the wind whistling through my broken window, and Henry's wintry skin, chilled me to the bone.

"Let's get back to my place," he said softly, gently rubbing my back to warm me with the friction.

"Ok. I'm ready," I replied.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The ride back to his place was quiet. I sat in the seat this time with my seatbelt on. Although I wasn't cuddled in his lap, he grabbed my hand and didn't let go, giving it occasional squeezes.

I felt good about where this was going. I didn't want to move in with him beacuse that was a HUGE step, but I knew that I wanted to be with him.

Lookig at his perfect face in the moonlight, his golden hair glowing from the shine of streetlights, I felt a warm, flutetry feeling in my stomach. And I loved it.

To be continued......

 

Red

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