This one shot was part of a great compilation called SALIGIA, seven authors writing the seven deadly sins. All of the writers involved are incredible, and I'm honored to be a part of this amazing group of women, and this fabulous offering. You can find the link on my profile or in my fave authors.

With much love, I thank Robsmyyummy Cabanaboy - Greed, DazzledIn2008 - Pride, SexiLexiCullen - Sloth, JonesnDaHood (Jonesn and Hoodfabulous) – Wrath, and GothicTemptressEnvy for making this so much fun to be involved in.

Huge thanks to LayAtHomeMom – Gluttony - for coming up with this brilliant idea, asking me to contribute, and pre-reading my sin.

And always, thanks to CarrieZM for taking out her holy water and following me wherever I go to make my words pretty for you.

Here is my take on the sin, Lust.

Lust: noun \ˈləst\ (Latin – Luxuria)

- a strong feeling of sexual desire

- a strong desire for something

The air swirls as the train car speeds by to my left, the passengers inside blurred and watery as they fly through the station. The machine nor the platform across the tracks holds any interest to me, so I concentrate only on what I'm here for.

The middle-aged man in the navy suit who is about to have a heart attack.

I wait, biding my time until it is the correct moment to make my presence known. I see the clutch of his hand to his chest, the red face that beckons my call, and I move calmly to him.

As he collapses onto the gray cement, I hover over him, waiting for that perfect second. His eyes lay upon me, frightened and unsure, and I do my best to comfort him. The passers-by go on with their daily lives, until the woman next to us notices he's fallen.

She shouts out for medical assistance as a small crowd forms, and I lean my face over his, watching the serenity that comes to the surface as he sees me smiling above him.

Gently and peacefully, I lower myself to whisper in his ear, those soothing words of completeness and fulfillment I give to all.

I pull back from the side of his face after I've said what I always do, what they all want to hear, and keep my eyes steady on his as I tilt in to him once again, the scent of soap on his skin invading my nose as I breathe him in.

With one subtle movement my lips meet his, and I feel the warmth of his life, letting it slide through my body like a secret whisper. The glory and understanding washes over him as I slowly pull away, but never leave his side, even though there are others now trying to assist. To anyone watching, the space next to him is empty where I am, as they unconsciously avoid the spot that looks vacant.

People bustle, calling for help on cell phones or ogling with their hands over their mouths, but I know it's over, that he's breathed his last breath and will now be falling deeply into the most tranquil, forgiving slumber.

I step back and watch from afar as he sinks into his final rest. It's not a melancholy meeting for me, I'm pleased that he's accepted it as well as he has, and I smile slightly, knowing with all of my being that he left this life absolved and calmed.

I take in the scene a moment and glance at those surrounding the man. No one notices me, no one wants to see me, and no one wants to imagine I'm walking among them. But I do, day after day.

For I am death.

I love the spring, the splendor of new buds on trees and stalks of flowers starting to break free of the ground, working hard to stand tall and reach the sunlight that gets warmer every day while feeding off the rays that will make them strong and hearty.

This particular afternoon, I walk through the fresh grass where people lounge as they read, talk, or just let the pleasantness of the day wash over them, grateful smiles on their faces that winter has pulled its cold fingers away for another year.

Climbing over a small hill, I reach the crest and turn my eyes towards a group of children gathering. Their laughter reaches me over the slight breeze as they toss coats and sweaters on top of the benches that sit nearby. The sound makes me smile, and I pause, enjoying for a moment the unmistakable happiness that comes with such childhood noises. I let myself get swept away for a bit, luxuriating in the life that surrounds me.

I breathe deeply as I return my concentration and let my eyes roam, searching, until my already still body becomes even more fixed as my examining gaze falls on…the one.

My breath stutters, caught in my chest as I watch her move so languidly, so fluidly, her body stretching and reaching like a swan. She laughs, she cuddles, she enjoys. Every one of those little children mimics her movement with delight as she leads a silly game on the bright green of new grass. Just like them, my eyes don't leave her, don't waiver from the extraordinary force that is emanating from their guide. Wild colors surround her, fluttering and swaying in the breeze, ribbons waving on the poles she holds, in a dance so choreographed it almost looks like she's an angel herself.

But she's not. She's next.

A deep burning begins to grow within me, of feelings long forgotten, feelings I have no use for any longer. There's an odd stirring of physical need pounding through me so dramatically that I double over from the strength in which it encompasses my body. It slams against the walls of my skin, trying to find a way out and I instinctively wrap an arm around my abdomen. I feel it flow through me, rapid and foreign, like the descending zigzag of a lightening bolt. I lift my head and pry my eyes open, forcing myself to focus on the task before me. A thought I've never had before rushes to mind, causing me sudden distress.

Not this one…anyone but her.

However, it's not my choice to make. I know she's my next soul. I don't call them victims. What I provide isn't punishment, it is release. She's the next creature I am to expel from the complicated compound they call 'life'.

I remain watching for timeless minutes, through the slits my eyes have become to help guard against her luminosity, and feel myself easing, smiling as the children gather around her, their jubilant cries permeating my thirsty ears. I focus on this, moments I take delight in, the moments of life that surround me, move through me, touch and dance upon me every day.

While I help deliver death, I am most certainly a lover of life.

I love everything about it; its beauty is a sight to behold when it's being used so thoroughly.

And this one, oh, she does.

She radiates an existence I've long forgotten, an exuberance I remember faintly. I feel the love she has for her own life, one made of power, of energy, as it soars all around me. She is drenched in passion, and it makes my body pulse.

The gentle sway of her body captivates me, calls to me, and for the first time in the hundreds of times I've narrowed in on the soul I'm to take, I hesitate. Just so I can bathe in her and continue experiencing this newfound energy within myself.

I remain fixated; observing her, as there is no obvious sign of sickness, of impending end, although I know it's there. Her soul is filled to the brim with the act of living, and I'm finding it hard to ignore, hard to fathom that it's her time. It's not that I haven't experienced souls so full it's a shame to take them, it has happened before, and those are the hardest. But her…this time, the drive to not take from her is unparalleled.

I move closer, hoping to gather myself before the time arrives that I must spend with her, time dictated not by me, but by the universe itself. I'm just a worker bee, doing my job.

The children say their goodbyes and move to join their waiting, smiling parents; I can see the bright life in each of these children, all with many years ahead of them before they must meet one of my kind. As they go, I wish for all of them to live those lives fully with a silent prayer.

She's alone now, gathering the things that make her children happy, the sweat on her neck glistening in the sunlight and proving that she is alive, that she has blood flowing through her veins and oxygen fueling her body.

I slink, I glide, always thoughtful in that moment I know has to come, one I know I can ease; it's a moment I do not take lightly. Each soul is a gift to me, and I respect even those that may not have lived a life to be proud of.

The perfume of her lifespan hits me first. It's not something I'm unfamiliar with, for I've sensed it many times before, a particular fragrance on others. It's an aroma of what their time on earth has been, it tells me much about them, a blueprint of the life they've led.

But hers...

It's like I've been jolted awake, resurrected and resuscitated. Her smell is fire, red and bursting, a pulsing crimson wave of scent that makes me swallow and blink my eyes. I'm filled with wonder, and I need more.

Once I compose myself enough back to the cautious state I usually exemplify, I move closer, tempting the timetable that warns me I'm early. As I pause behind her, she stands straight, as most do when they have that sixth sense of me. Hands usually falter before returning to a chore with a sudden rising of the hair on their arms, but instead of continuing on as others do after they feel me near, she turns.

She stares right at me with penetrating brown eyes, and meets my gaze, not in oblivion or fear, but in absolute knowledge.

I stop, oddly unsure, as she looks at me fully, not as a passing thought or as a shiver on skin, but as a human looks at another.

"Hello," she says, and I know instantly that she is conscious of everything I am, even though that clot of blood that's waiting to seize her brain is still moments away and she is unaware of it's impending journey.

I say nothing, as she ponders me, and I marvel at her fearlessness. The life standing before me isn't wavering, isn't weak, and I question as to whether I've got the right soul. Her eyes trace my body, taking in my humble uniform of simple black pants and white shirt that covers my skin.

Skin that vibrates fresh under her perusal.

"Hello," I reply in kind, my voice ancient with uncommon words. It's not that I can't speak other than that comforting final phrase, but it's a foreign sport to me. Being seen by those not in their final moments and having conversation is something different. She has remarkably given me something new.

"Is this it, then? I didn't expect you to be so handsome," she says, as her head tilts to the right.

I'm thrown. Souls eye me first with dread as I get close, which turns to faith and enlightenment once I'm about to kiss, taking the life they're ready to give. It's a look of adoration that shines on their faces as they slip softly on after my lips claim them. Those are the looks I'm used to.

I'm overcome with the loveliness that is her skin, the palpitating life that rushes in the vein of her neck and lies beneath the transparent covering of her insides. No one has ever looked at me as she does, as a man. For I am a man, just one not many want to fathom.

But her…she sees me, she covets me, and I am lost.

The hunger in her brilliant eyes as they dance with mine is overwhelming, and I'm momentarily stunned silent by the uniqueness of her gaze. Not in apprehension, not in relief, but in unmistakable want. Heat comes off her in waves as her eyes darken and her breath hitches, causing me to pause at this revelation.

"Yes," I finally answer, but make no move to rectify the situation I've found myself in. I make no stride to walk away and wait for the job I am to perform, even though I should.

"Well, what's it supposed to be?"

Her eyes search mine as her voice asks, taking on a husky quality. I'm struck again by her casual attitude towards me, a contrast to the life that still beats within her, the life that needs to be lived. For the first time, I'm wary of what I do.

I feel remorse.

The bubbling of the event that wants to claim her starts to emanate towards me, the mass of blood she is oblivious to that has been travelling towards her brain for days. I feel its electric vibrancy throbbing and stretching towards its target, the central nerve that will cause her passage into whatever her afterlife is beyond this.

Suddenly, her eyes squeeze tightly and she gasps, bringing a hand to her head. I take a step nearer, and she gazes at me through slit eyelids.

This is my sanction; this is what I must do. I help those that are destined to pass. I am a savior, even if many don't agree.

But in this moment, I fail. "I'll return," I say, and move quickly to cross back over the hill, away from her, away from my duty.

I observe her unfairly in the time following my failure in the park, the days of her life that she shouldn't have. It's unprecedented, this long observance of a soul, days stretching to weeks.

Staying far enough away to go undetected, for now I know she can detect me, I watch her from the shadows as I go about my other assignments. There is no sign in her that she felt anything but a strong migraine that left her in bed for a few days, and I feel relief that I did not cause undo stress or long-term disability from my inability to do my job. For that would pain me, greatly, to watch her suffer. I do not know what the consequences are though, of having her here, walking and breathing and living beyond what was mapped for her.

Time stretches, turning to hot summer days, and she still plays with the children in the park, new props of sparkly foils and water-filled batons get thrown high in the air and caught in her masterful hands. As she twirls, her hair streams behind her like a beautiful cape of the deepest mahogany. Her tanned legs flow out from beneath shorts, shoes are left to the side as she slides her bare feet across the earth, toes painted red to match the fire that still burns inside her.

She runs errands with a bounce in her step, a song on her lips, and a kind word for every shopkeep. She never misses the opportunity to crouch down to play with an animal, making conversation so easily with the owners of these pets. She spreads warmth towards the many people she encounters in her day which always leaves them smiling after she goes.

I find myself getting more and more transfixed as I follow in her wake, watching her love fully and live greatly. She's kind. She's generous. She's unselfish and without pride.

She's exquisite.

While I feel deeply for those I release lovingly, taking in the joy, pain, and hope that they are all filled with, no one has come close to how I feel for her. The way she moves, the way she lives, the way she just is. I'm selfish in my aspiration to let her retain her verve, just so I can enjoy her. But I cannot help myself.

Her vigor makes me yearn for a life I once had, for the man I once was, but I know she is the reason I want these things at all.

Only if I can share them with her.

The time is fading all the while I'm soaking in her, and I understand that soon I will be called to make myself known again. The tiny sparks that are shimmying in her brain are muted, but they won't be for long. I see the signs in every wince on her face as she reacts to what she thinks is a light too bright, or when she suddenly can't read something right before her, despite her lack of needing glasses her whole life. She laughs these moments off, claiming to not be a teenager anymore, while I hazardously ignore a foreign entity within me.


It's with no surprise that I see her one afternoon, visiting some of the elderly in the nursing home where I've been dispensed. My essence is wired to her, aware of her every movement; I can always feel her when she nears.

I spy on her from my corner as she walks from bed to bed of those that lie near death, but will fall after her, as she fills them with another moment of vitality due to her presence. She paints the room in vivid orange, placing sun and heat where it's lacking, and turning these sad, withered faces into radiant beams of light. She is so caught up in entertaining others that I thankfully go unnoticed.

I cannot forget why I am here, as I watch her, so I commence in my mission, saying the words of comfort to an aged man, spotted with time, who holds my hand as he goes. I'm dedicated as he smiles brightly and whispers his long gone beloved's name as I press my lips to his with a faint touch. Right now, it's this wonderful man's moment; so I forget her for the time being and let her go on her way. Off to spread her fire among the inhabitants of this world.

Time is inconsequential to me for the most part, but I sense another week or two passing, more hours that rush away as I continue my vigil of her, waiting until her time is to come around again, to finally be final. I grow impatient in my need to be in her presence and contemplate approaching as an ordinary gent towards a woman he fancies. My abhorrent thoughts define and mutate, causing long dormant need to rise and flow through my bloodstream to make itself known; triggering me to feel biological musings of humanness I've not had a use for in a very long time. The strong pull to be with another, not just in company, but also in companionship and all that the word brings.

I know these thoughts aren't random; it's not just anyone I desire, but her alone. It is from my obsession with her that I've gone rogue.

I make the choice, finally, one rainy day when autumn rainwater shines on her magnificence, encapsulating and warping the aura that surrounds her into tiny, shiny, fragments of life, of light. Making a choice is an odd sensation, but my heart feels lifted at the prospect of what I'm about to do.

I admire the way she doesn't pretend I'm not there, that she doesn't know me as she gets her coffee the way she likes it, two sugars and a splash of milk, as she has every day that I've watched her since I failed. Her first glance of me is one of shock; until quickly her face turns to something I shouldn't wish for. Pleasure.

Her eyes dance with excitement as she approaches, and my throat tightens as her confidence scans my form, dressed as I always am. It's her probing eyes that make me wonder if she sees more. Her gaze is powerful, making me feel naked and exposed. "It's you," she says simply, as she steps to the table I've occupied while drinking up her energy, waiting for her to see me. I am relieved as she pulls the chair out across from me, the one I've been willing for her to take since she entered the shop.

"It is," I reply, watching every movement of her hand as she stirs her drink, the crutch she feels she needs to get through her morning. I curtail the overwhelming need to take that hand in mine and caress it. "Don't I scare you?" I ask instead, folding my hands together to keep myself from what I know I shouldn't do.

"No, should you?" Her smile over the cup as she blows the rising steam thrills me in a way I haven't known for ages, not since I was once like her. This smile is mine alone, made for me, and I revel in it. I feel what others must experience when she unleashes that visage on the fortunate she meets each day.

"I don't bring joy." A warning, a chance for her to escape me for now settles in her ears, but she doesn't take the opportunity I offer.

She tilts her head in concentration, looking at me with eyes of someone that knows and feels so much more than the average person. She is not like everyone else, that's a given. "You do, to some, I'm sure of it. Do you think I'm ready?"

"Is anyone ever ready?" I question, the corner of my mouth turning upwards in a humor long since overlooked.

"I guess some are, but I'm not yet," she places her stirrer on a napkin and continues. "What is your name? Do you have one?"


"Edward," she repeats, my moniker rolling off her tongue like honey, honey I want to lap up and enjoy along with her. "I'm-"

"Bella. Yes, you certainly are," I interrupt, hoping she doesn't think too hard about why I have this information already.

She smirks at my poorly disguised flirtation at the meaning of her name, and tilts her head back, taking a sip of hot liquid I'm suddenly shocked to feel coating my throat, as if it were my own that was welcoming the drink.

I'm stunned, floored at the sensation of physically feeling what she is so acutely. It's unusual, not expected, and I stand quickly, removing myself from the intensity of the connection between us that must be a mistake.

"I…must go." And with that, for the second time, I turn to quickly leave her warm body and her heated mind behind.

Once outside, away from her, I reflect on this newfound information as I walk at a quick pace, a briskness I am not used to. The knowledge that I can feel her begins to ease my guilty thoughts just a bit as I slow my frenzied gait. Perhaps this is the way it's supposed to go in her case. Surely everyone is different, yes? Perhaps I haven't failed so spectacularly. Perhaps she is just that special.

Rambling through the crowd of carolers that prepare themselves for the celebration of their religious icon, the man they embrace as saving them from all sins, snow starts to fall and I know I've done wrong, bent and deformed my role. When I watch her, I'm sure of my new theory, when I'm alone, I doubt.

She permeates my ethereal thoughts, enlivens my physical body, until all I can see is her in every hour of my day, in every facet of my irresponsibility. I've deftly avoided my job, lost in the foreign feelings one human can have for another. It's been…freeing.

I've abstained from further contact, but just because I haven't approached her again doesn't mean I've left her.

I look on as she continues visiting the elderly, souls that should be on my list but because I've become irresponsible, now lie on the list of others that share my undertaking.

I watch her body move as she gives her precious hours to those that need shelter, clothing, and food like she has all the time in the world to help others.

I feel her love as she dotes on a mother that will succumb after her, but won't, even though her weak figure and declining mind should say otherwise.

My elders have begun to question me, to call me to task and decipher why I've failed at my assignment. I give petty excuses, ones that are human and not of what we know.

"It's beyond time," I'm told. "You're not saving her," I'm reprimanded. "It's coming, it's not up to you."

I try to explain the revelation I had in that coffee shop, the physical feelings that told me perhaps this is destined to be her way, but they look to each other with concern for me, passing between these higher entities as a silent conversation. They don't see what I do, a soul so beautiful that my gift is a waste.

I get angry, as I think of her and the passion for me I know is in her that's awakened my own. The present I once gave lovingly now seems a harsh fate, one that should be destined for others. There are many other people that life should end prematurely for. Those that rape and kill and abuse, but that isn't how this works.

For the first time, I question what I do, for she is none of those.

To me, she is light. She is life. She is love.

They tell me perhaps I require time to reflect, to rejuvenate the honor I once felt for what we do within myself, but I deny their cautious suggestion of help from another.

It can't be anyone but me…I won't let it.

She is mine.

While I comprehend what I need to do, why I'm here, I still defy it.

We begin to walk on the days where the weather doesn't impede her travels, when there is no rain or snow that keeps her inside in the comfort of what she believes is a life fulfilled without a partner. Her meals for one make me lonely; they make me want to be the one to share them.

We stroll side by side leisurely, her knowing what I am and what I'm here to do, but accepts regardless.

"So you're not a man?" she asks, and I scoff, correcting her.

"I'm very much a man. Flesh and bone as you are. I just go through existence unobserved by most."

"Except me," she says, the hair not caught in her jacket flowing around her in the breeze that kicks up around us.

"I am a living thing, but most refuse to see me." I answer in avoidance of the real issue. I'm not quite sure how to explain something I'm not sure of myself. "You weren't supposed to see me for this…long."

I watch her eyes as my words catch up to her thoughts, and she nods. "That day in the park, was that the first time?" I hum in affirmation. "I would've gone with you…willingly," she says almost shyly as she averts her gaze.

"You wouldn't have been able to refuse me, had I done what I was supposed to."

"How could anyone refuse the beauty that is you?" she asks suddenly, turning and looking at me with those eyes so full of lust that I want to come back as the man I once was, and be cherished by them in the most basic, instinctual way.

"I am not," I say, hesitantly, knowing I'm about to cross a line; one that I'm not sure has ever been crossed. "You. You are the beauty."

Feelings stir within me, long inactive, feelings I haven't felt since I was in her place, going to work and existing among these people. Meeting someone, loving and touching, sharing myself in that way.

A stomach that still exists but rarely surfaces twists, as her cheeks heat and her eyes sparkle, her lips turning into a deathly sexual smile under my compliment.

The kiss I wish to give her is not the kiss I should.

A new, unwelcome feeling I've not had to suffer in decades surges through me as I wander among those still with their colors glowing and not yet nearing empty.


It floods me. Feelings surface that I know I should ignore. Lust is at war with the pull of what I must do, both just as strong as the other. The strange sensation of my body awakening as I think of her presence exacerbates my ire. My mind yearns to hear her thoughts, longs to see her visions, and I can't deny that my otherworldly life craves her very much concrete one.

I want her. The way a red-blooded male seeks his prey.

An ache so inflamed, so vibrant and saturated invades me when I'm apart from her, but isn't satiated when I give in and spend the fleeting moments I allow myself with her.

I want to touch her, to lick and consume her. Every part of her.

Her neck when she moves her hair as she reaches to pick up a fallen leaf to twirl between her fingers, her stomach as her shirt lifts while she strains for a balloon that's lost its way in a tree, her legs as she walks next to mine, unafraid.

I think of nothing but her, of having her, in these moments when I know our time is running out. It's my fault this is preposterously tardy but I'm defiant, I can't let her go. Not until my skin meets hers, until I've felt all of her physique under mine. It's impossible, it must be, but the need doesn't change within me as much as I'd like it to.

The lust I have for her is as strong as her lust for life.

These are the thoughts I fight, as I relapse time and time again from staying away from her until it's time.

"Tell me about what your world is like," she asks, as we sit in an empty bistro, hot soup in front of her to warm her body of the chill that's settled over the city.

"My world is effervescent. It is completeness," I answer, watching with desire-filled eyes as they follow the movement her mouth makes while it welcomes the fuel she needs.

"Completeness," she laughs, the sound tinkling through my body and enrapturing me, catching me in its spell. "How can one feel complete when they don't know love?"

"Why do you assume I don't know love?" I ask, itching to touch the cheek that she rests in her palm. Creamy in texture, pink from cold, and perhaps, from my closeness as well.

"I don't know what you've come from, what you've experienced," she shrugs, the shoulders under her blouse rising, causing the fabric to ripple and beckon my hand to reach out and smooth it over her collarbone.

I resist, yet again. "I was a man. I had love. I'm not immune."

"So you've been in love?" she asks with eyebrows raised, the sparkle in her eyes jumping in fascination.

"Most definitely. One doesn't move to where I am without knowing what loss is about. To know loss, you must know love."

She contemplates me, and I watch as her mind turns and her body shifts, taking in and working through what I've revealed. "So, did you have a family?"

"I did. I had a wife," I answer, recalling in the hazy mist that is a memory the face that always smiled at me.

"And what happened there…to bring you here?" she asks hesitantly, and I wish to grab her hand in reassurance that I want nothing more than to share myself with her.

I choose my words carefully, not wanting to bring sorrow to an evening I'm enjoying. "The time was not right for us, to have what we had. We died, and for whatever reason they," and I look up to the ceiling of the restaurant, "decided I could do good here, releasing others."

"Not her? Why you?"

I can't remember a time I'd had to think of any existence but this one, and I collect my thoughts for a moment before answering. "I…was a healer. A doctor. I lived my life to save others. Children, which would've had more time had they not been brought to life in the famine stricken countries I found myself working in. I saved many, some that unnatural medicines should perhaps not have saved, causing more strife and elongated pain, more than was necessary. Prolonging death that was inevitable. I suppose, in a way, I now give them relief as a gift."

"Has anyone ever told you how remarkable you are?" she puts her spoon down and asks suddenly, making my insides jolt, the newly found itch in my quiet body flickering anew.

"No, most see me as a cruel end."

"I think you're stunning," she whispers, and we both see our hands inching towards each other, the spark between our fingertips almost visible as they rest inches apart.

"And I think you are magnificent."

My lungs fill as she takes in a large swallow of air. "Is that why you haven't kissed me yet?" she asks, laying it all out on the table with our reaching hands.

I look at her bright eyes, so willing to listen, to accept, that I can only tell her the truth.

"I haven't kissed you yet because I don't want this to end."

I decide to not stay away and spend every day with her that I can, every moment, our bodies craving the closeness. She asks when and where she'll see me next at the parting of each evening. Her breath quickens at my nearness when we say goodnight at her steps, her body showing signs of excitement that are impossible to ignore. My eyes burn into hers, and she must see what she does to me. Like the swallow of coffee and the lungful of air, I feel my body responding to her arousal, as a man will when he wants another. I find myself wanting to fill her body with my own, but scared to push my form against hers regardless of the way she looks as if she wants to embrace me, for fear she'll feel the hardness I've currently come to expect when she's near. The physical stiffening that gives me the idea that perhaps I can have her the way I want.

It's a Sunday as we stroll through the light snow that's falling, down cobblestone streets that beckon me to hold her elbow lest she slip on the wet pavers. Instead, I guide her with a sway of my hand to a grassy patch along the street, barely dusted in tiny white flakes, and she steps gladly, following my direction as we walk for a while.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to bring you to your place of business," her sudden giggle surprises me in the quiet that fell upon us as we enjoyed the empty street.

I look up to see the open, wrought iron gates of a cemetery, gray in its marble, green in its earth, and newly white in its air. I feel her move next to me and she passes under the arch with the scrolling ivy and lettering, so I follow.

"Ah, you see? This is not my office, merely the warehouse."

She turns to me, smiling wildly, brows quirked and her eyes wide. "Did you just make a joke?"

"I think I might have," I say, just as confused.

She turns then and continues her stroll down the lane we've found ourselves on. She is careful not to step where they lie beneath, but leans over to catch names, dates, and salutations of those that reside here. "I don't want to end up here."

"No, you don't belong here."

"Where do I belong?" She moves to a large monument, running her fingers over the smooth white marble. Fingers that taunt, fingers I want touching me in much the same way. I almost see the heat she leaves behind, a red handprint and the ghostly neon trails that follow as she glides her hand around a sharp corner.

You belong with me.

"You belong elsewhere, a place where you make children laugh, make the sick feel better, the sad…happy. Heaven. That's where you belong."

"Is that where you are?" She stops as she rounds the side of the massive shrine and presses her back against it. Snow clings to the hair flowing out of her knit cap and catches on her red lips.

"No, I'm very much here with you."

"Prove it," her breath teases as it flows out in a puff of white air between us. "Touch me."

I stare at her, moving my eyes from hers and down her cheeks to her dewy lips. Over the skin of her exposed neck and across the breasts that push out her coat. I feel my blood race to the part of me that has recently remembered what its use was.

"Can you not touch me? Is that the deal?" And I see the remorse in her eyes; hear the panic that has risen in her voice as it traces against my ears.

I raise my hand quickly, holding it just over her face, hesitant, yet aching. When my fingers faintly touch the delicate part where her frosty cheek meets her jaw, a burn crawls up my arm and ignites my entire body.

"Oh!" she cries as her eyes close, and her hand instantly comes up to where I'm touching her, hovering over where we're finally joined.

"Please, open your eyes," I beg, needing to see how she feels, how I feel on her where I lay my hand, as my skin touches hers.

"I can't," she barely moves her lips as she speaks, "I'm afraid you're not real. If I don't open them, I'll feel your hand on me forever."

"Does this feel real?" I grow bold and place my entire hand against her chilled face, cupping the skin that I'd just touched like a feather strongly in my palm.

Her head tilts to lean against my hand, and her eyes flutter open. "Feel me."

These two words light a fire within me that I don't know I've ever known. Not even…then. The smiling face from my dim memory isn't attached to the fire I feel now.

Only her.

My other hand moves to the button of her coat, and I unlatch one, then the next, my fingers dexterous in the cold where another man's might not be. I slide my hand beneath the wool and skim the inside, curving around her ribcage right under her breasts, but not touching the fabric of her sweater. I move lower, catching the hem with two fingers to delicately move the cloth so my hand can reach under. I look at her eyes to see any hesitation, and what I see there is that red passion fully engulfing her.

Like a hot branding iron over a cow's hide, my hand sizzles against her skin, and a moan escapes me.

The hand that still rests on her face drops to the shoulder below as her hand slides up between us and rests on my coatless body. She startles at the feel of me. "I didn't think you'd be cold, but I didn't think you'd feel so…warm."

"That's you. That's the passion that lives in you that you're feeling, entering and heating me."

"Feel my cheek now," she says, and takes her hand to pull the one lying on her shoulder back towards her face. My fingers press under her guidance and the skin that was cold from a winter's day is as fiery as the sun in summer.

"This is lust, your lust for me, that I feel flowing through myself, isn't it?"

"It is."

Blood surges through me like it used to, pumping in my ears and causing my wrist to pulse with the beat of my heart.

She's taken me to her apartment, a cozy nook where her displays of art and eclectic furnishings speak of a home. There are pictures of the elderly mother I've seen her with, next to a man with a mustache in a dated wedding photo.

Other scenes from her life play out before me, a happy girl in pigtails, a puppy licking her young face, a family vacation to a beach.

Books line the walls, some standing upright, others lying on their sides, making an unsorted display. I feel her watching me as I inspect the things that she feels close to, the things that she feels the need to own.

"Do you remember much…from before? Like favorite books or anything?" She asks as she slides closer, filling me with the sense of her. I watch as her fingers trace the cracked spines of well-read novels, much like they trailed over the monument just before. She leaves her red trails here, too.

"Not really. I believe I liked to dance." I cock my head to the side, wondering where that might have come from. I don't really have a memory of dancing, I try to picture that smiling woman, try to see if I've twirled her around a floor, but all I have is the sense that I remember it.

She turns, taking her coat off as she walks, throwing it onto a chair. She turns on her stereo equipment and selects a classical station. The sound is pleasing, and I smile as she turns back to me. "Dance with me?" she asks, and moves towards me with arms spread, inviting me to take them and guide her.

"I'm not sure I know what to do." I move slowly, and my hand rises to catch hers in midair, suspended between us. Just like the other times I've had the pleasure of feeling her, the electricity between us makes itself known. My fingers curl around hers, and she drifts closer still. My other hand raises and hesitantly touches the sweater on her back, and I feel her hand rise to my shoulder and I know this is a classic dance position.

She begins to move, and I have no choice but to follow. We are light as air as we circle, step, and glide across her floor slowly, her eyes closing while a smile forms on her ruby lips. I take my time to look at her then, at every part that is so close to me, her hair, her skin, her ears, she's undeniably perfect.

She catches me gazing at her lips once she reopens her eyes and I feel her hand leave mine to slide up the front of my crisp, white shirt. She moves impossibly closer, and I feel her breasts press against me. "I have one regret."

No, no regrets. Not for her. "What is it? I'll do my best." I try to reassure her.

"I'll never feel your lips on mine, until…then." Her eyes are all at once sad and lustful, and I'd do anything to take one of those away.

The hand she left empty moves to delicately take the one pressed between us, and I watch her intently as I lower my head slightly while bringing her hand to me. Her eyes are on fire as I press my lips to her knuckles. She sucks in a breath at the feel of me, and I marvel at the way her skin feels so achingly soft as I press my mouth to her hand, opening slightly to taste her. I pull back and see she's still concentrating on me intently, so I flip her hand over slowly and cradle it in my own as I press my mouth to her open palm.

"I guess I was wrong," she says breathily, as if under a spell, as she watches my mouth move across her hand towards her wrist. "Can I…" she trails off and I cease my actions, pulling my face back from where it was traveling.

"I beg you to." I hear the intensity in my own voice, and my body vibrates, waiting for her to move. Desire flows over me, pours out of every cell of my being, as this moment becomes the most important moment I've ever had. Touching her is splendid, but when she presses her lips against the opening of my shirt, warm and soft on my throat, I know the reason for all of this. Why I've let her live, why I've let her consume me the way I have. While most need the phrase I utter and the comfort of my touch as I send them on their way, she needs more before she goes.

She needs me as much as I've come to need her.

Gone is the hesitancy when I wrap my arms around her, giving in to the feel of her mouth as it plays up towards my neck. My hands move to her silky hair, massaging and getting lost. She moans against me as I hold her closer, and her head tilts up, her lips on my chin, across my jaw…until suddenly.

"Stop!" I cry, afraid she's come to close. "Not there. Not yet," I say as she looks at me dazed until understanding crosses her features.

I feel her chest heaving against mine, her fingers folding and grasping the fabric of my shirt where they still rest on my shoulder. "Not yet, no," she agrees.

She steps back and slides her hand to catch mine, her feet beginning to move backwards, guiding me to follow. We step through a doorway and the late day winter sun casts a gray and ice blue shadow across the place she rests each night.

"I want you…to love me, as much as I love you." She moves her hand and I swallow as I watch her lift her sweater from her body, up over her head, catching her hair and causing it to swing down freely with the scent of vanilla as she pulls the garment completely off. She's left in a thin white sleeveless shirt, and my eyes fall to her breasts, pointed and needy. Needy for my touch, for my mouth. I stop her as she's about to pull off her undershirt.

"Please, let me," I ask, searching her face for any sign not to proceed, but she agrees with a nod of her head.

Wanting to draw out our time together as much as possible, I move both hands to her waist and slide them gently up the sides of her ribcage under the shirt, feeling her warm and soft and alive. Her breathing escalates slightly, as my hands move higher, my thumbs brushing the underside of each breast. "You feel so…good," is all I can say, before I move gently to capture each breast fully in my hands. I marvel at the sensation of hardened nipples under my palms, and my eyes widen as she moans, enjoying the feel of me just as much.

She encourages me to undress her fully, and I thank her, as I adore every inch of her that I uncover. When she stands before me, glorious in her nudity, I move to kiss her stomach, my mouth tracing over each rib, before circling behind her to press my lips to each vertebra. She's hot on my lips as they explore, turning her body around to face me again so that I can taste each beautiful breast.

Her hands slide to my hair as I lick and suck each nipple in turn, my fingers cascading up and down her back. She moves to the buttons of my shirt, and I remove my mouth from her skin with a moan of loss at missing her taste, to allow her to slide my shirt down my arms and off my body.

"You are perfect, you are a God," she whispers, her fingers tracing over each defined muscle and ripple of my chest.

"No, merely an angel," I answer in the same whisper, my thoughts becoming muddled as the sensation of her hands on me takes over and I feel myself letting go, letting myself get lost in her attention; letting myself feel like a man. She removes the rest of my clothing, and I stand before her, completely at her mercy. I've never felt so exposed, but I've also never wanted anything more than her eyes on me.

"You're not the angel of death. To me, you're the most wonderful, my angel, Edward." Her lips press forcefully against my heart, beating solely for her, before moving on to touch and kiss and lick me much the same as I did her. I tip my head back as her hands and mouth explore my back, feeling each tendon and muscle.

I've never felt so alive, so full of life, her life, and I turn quickly, startling her, and press my mouth against her neck in a sudden act of desperation. I lick, I taste, I want to sample every bit of her. I'm completely submerged in the feelings of lust that devour me.

Her moans fill the room as I use my mouth on her in only the safe places, reveling in the feeling of her blood racing to the surface under each spot I visit. My mouth won't relent its adoration of her as she tilts herself back on her bed, pulling me down on top of her.

Skin on skin, her life completely pressed against whatever it is that I have. Every inch of her that touches me sparks and ignites my long lost soul; her body makes me feel more human than ever before. I don't know that I've ever felt as alive as I do now, even in my dim memories of what I was before I was this entity.

Our mouths worship greedily, our hands grip fiercely, clinging to any part of the other that is hot and needy. I feel her hand graze my hardness, impossibly causing it to want her more, and she strokes, she grasps, until my mind is filled with nothing but entering her body. Her breath warms me, her scent envelops me, her sex welcomes me, wet and desirable as I find myself stroking her in return. I shift down, wanting every bit of her that she'll allow, and when my mouth lands between her parted legs, beautifully splayed open to let me in, I know what heaven tastes like. I become voracious, licking and sucking on her, lost in the headiness that is her. No fruit was ever as succulent, no dessert ever so sweet. Her body writhing from my touch is powerfully seductive, until all I know is that I need to take her within me, feel her spirit and know her in the most ravenous, intimate way.

"Edward," she moans and the sound of my name coming from her is the most beautiful sound I've ever heard. I use my tongue to bring her over the edge she needs, her body jumping and slithering from my moans that vibrate against her, as I taste the orgasm she rides. My mouth returns to her skin to guide myself back to her, coveting her tempting body with licks and nips as I go. "Give yourself to me, as I will to you. There is more than one gift that only you can grant me."

My heart stops briefly, my eyes shutting tight at the thought of entering her body and joining us as one breathing, living thing.

My hands run against her arms up to her shoulders, my fingertips tingling with need, desire, and gratitude towards her, this beautiful, perfect soul that sees me in a way no one else ever has.

With a lingering kiss to her throat, I feel her hand as she guides my stiff cock to where she wants me most, and within moments, I'm deeply filling her.

My mind explodes with unfamiliar feelings, all flickering through me like light shines from a prism. Brilliant, flashing plumes of emotion wrack my usually calm demeanor, causing my body to buckle and shudder in excitement. Being inside her is like nothing I've ever known. It's elation; a thousand times brighter than the sun, more spectacular than what lies beyond, and it's all from being contained within her. She is all that is right and good on this earth.

And she's mine.

We move together as my feelings war within me. Consummate joy at the sensation of sliding in and out of her. Envy towards those that get to feel this fulfillment everyday. Wrath towards what I am and what I do. Greed in wanting something so much you can't ever imagine it coming to an end. Gluttony is the desperation of never getting enough of her. They all flow through me as they taunt and show me what it is like to truly live.

I feel a burning in my abdomen, a feeling so foreign yet so correct; I'm having trouble controlling it. I pull back on my knees, grasping her ribs and bringing her with me; the tension that surrounds me as she gathers her legs to hold my body close to hers lets me know she's having trouble as well. Eyes weeping with pleasure meet my own, as I guide her body tightly against mine, her lithe form undulating and pumping itself over me.

Her voice grows louder as she slides up and down my cock, her body hot and open with mine as we dance together so entirely. My mouth clamps onto a reddened nipple with a tug, which makes her cry out, my name falling from her lips repeatedly as she moves faster and holds my shoulders tightly.

I feel it growing, like a thunderstorm beginning to form, until I'm a raging inferno, every point in my body connecting all at once to match hers, and we both shout out, fire like hot lava throbbing through us as we melt together, burning and writhing in what must be the most ultimate feeling a human can have.

Pure ecstasy. I'm blind with it, deaf and mute.

My arms constrict around her, keeping her close, not letting her go and I feel her body begin to quiet. Her breath warms my ear as her hands slide over my smooth skin, still surging and ticking from her nearness.

Words are useless tools, so we don't try to give this a voice. I know she feels what I do; we're now bound together in every way imaginable. Her life will always pump through me as her gift to me. I will always have this experience to take with me, as I continue on with what will continue to be. Sadness crawls over me, resolve at the knowledge that she will soon no longer roam this earth, allowing me covetous glimpses of her as she lives a long and healthy life.

The small pricks in the back of my head cause me to still, fear flowing through where passion resided just moments ago. Like ivy on brick, like shadows on pavement, needles of sensation begin to crawl through my head, racing towards a target that doesn't live in me.

I open my eyes to look at her, dewy skin flushed and freshly heated, and she meets my stare, a look of wonder and satiation on her face, a look that I've been the one to give.

Those same eyes that look at me with such tenderness suddenly pinch, her pupils turning to pinpoints as she feels the shockwave in her brain that mirrors my own. Her body stills at the feeling, her hands gripping my shoulders tightly as her eyes search mine, and I know it's resolution that she sees reflected back. I lay her down gently, my hands cradling her head that's raging inside, and as I do so a small smile forms on her face. Her lips part, as if wanting to speak, but instead they allow the smile to broaden as she looks at me with pure, unequivocal trust.

A tear from somewhere above her lands on her cheek, and I find my lips kissing it away as I move towards her ear. I inhale her scent, the goodness that she's lived, and I swallow, prepared to say the words I know I must. While it's a phrase I say to all that gives every human the knowledge that they've succeeded in life, these words have never felt more true than when I whisper them into my beautiful Bella's ear.

"You are loved."

Her body relaxes as I hover over her, taking in her beauty one last time. My head lowers, ignoring the pain that ruptures inside me, and I press my lips to hers, not gently, not as a whisper, but as a man kisses the woman he loves.

The sun rises and sets, the ocean crests and falls, and I continue sharing my gift with those that are due. Walking beside those that aren't ready is still a thing of beauty, an enjoyment I don't take for granted.

Trees are greener, the air is cleaner, and I am lighter.

She now walks with me, among those that prefer not to see, and her goodness and love helps those that fight their last moments. She calms them, comforts them, and kisses them with pure, absolute forgiveness, taking their sins and absolving them of their burden.

I'm prideful as she gives her gift to those whose time has come, her heart showing and beating with each life she releases. She's enlivened my own, and I know in her lips they find what they're looking for as they move beyond this world.

I look up to the sky, the heavens, the afterlife, and smile at my elders for their own gift to me, the most precious gift. An existence that's no longer lonely and filled with the weight of what I do.

They have given me her.