Prologue

Despite the late hour of the evening, the small coffee shop in downtown Los Angeles was far from deserted.

Through the large windows spilling golden light invitingly across the crack pavement several patrons could be observed: a college study-group using the comforts of the shop along with large quantities of caffeine to assist with cramming for an upcoming exam, token hipsters uploading photos of their beverages to instagram with their smartphones, and her.

A willowy blond who had managed to claim an entire window booth all to herself.

Bangs framed her blue eyes, the rest of her pale hair gather back into a ponytail drawing attention to her delicate bone-structure and the smooth curve of her neck. Red lipstick stained the white rim of her expresso cup as she peered intently down at the small leather-bound book she was scribbling in.

Eyes widening in surprise, she looked up to find that someone had slid into the bench of the opposite side of her booth.

He was almost ridiculously good-looking. With artfully dishevelled hair, the perfect amount of stubble dusting his angular jaw and pale green eyes above high cheekbones. He was well dressed in a light button-up, what was undoubtably a cashmere sweater that was the perfect shade of green to compliment his eyes, and a pair of jeans that were just the right amount of distressed.

"Can I take your photograph?"

Her eyebrows rose at his innocent enough query, caught off-guard she blurted out, "Why?"

"Because you are beautiful." Was his simple reply, delivered with a crooked grin.

She was suddenly overwhelmed by a wave of sadness.

A year ago she would've believed him. Before the accident. Before her world, her dreams, crumbled around her leaving her scarred and broken.

"No, I'm not," Was her quiet response, her voice slightly defensive, before she managed to produce a small smile and control of her tone. "But it's sweet of you to say so."

She couldn't blame him for his words, they were intended as kind, flattering – more than likely as a way to get in her pants. Not to remind her of the scars that covered the left side of her body, painstakingly covered up. Hidden. Ignored.

"I'm sorry, it wasn't my intention to upset you."

Forcing her smile to widen, she made her voice light and playful, "So, are you gonna take my photo or not?"

His crooked grin back in place, he motioned for her to turn her head. Raising the expensive Nikon camera her snapped a photo of her looking out the window, the quirking of her lips not quite enough to hide the sorrow she tried to cover up in her eyes.

"So, is there a name to go with that face?" His voice was also light, playful. Though unlike hers, she suspected it wasn't forced.

"I bet you use that line on all the girls," Was her response, white teeth flashing into a cheeky grin that was slowly becoming more natural and less of a struggle.

"Only on Mondays."

"It's Wednesday," She pointed out.

"Ah," He winked. "On Wednesdays I only use it on hard to impress blonds with charming personalities."

Unable to stop herself, she giggled.

"I'm Billie. You got a name there, Slick?"

At the nickname, he threw back his head and laughed. Sobering, he looked her in the eye before extending his hand across the table. "Theo Reynolds. Though, I may just let you continue calling me Slick," He winked again. "Just you though, mind."

That was her cue to laugh.

This encounter preceeded several more over the next few weeks. Both met up at the coffee shop and neither left until well after midnight.

At the beginning they both left with a small wave from her and a mock-salute from him. It quickly progressed to lingering stares until one night her tugged her around the corner of the coffee shop. Partially hidden from the glow of the street lamps he backed her up against the cool bricks of the building. Pushing a lock of hair behind her ear he ducked his head and pressed his lips to hers.

Pulling back and staring intensely into her eyes, she dazedly commented on how her lipstick had smudged bright red against his pale skin. Chuckling his hand curved around the back of her neck and he murmured, "I frankly don't give a damn," before capturing her lips once more.

This became their new farewell, kisses stolen in the shadows and exploring hands growing in boldness. That is, until the night he suggested they didn't part ways when they exited the coffee shop.

And she agreed.

Faster than she expected he had her pushed up against his apartment door. She didn't have time to dwell on it though, as his lips were on her neck and his hand had slipped beneath the light chiffon of her blouse to curve around her waist. Her hands were fisted in his hair, fingers unconsciously clenching as his mouth moved lower and his tongue traced the swell of her breast peeking above the collar of her blouse.

Her soft moan covered the click of the lock and she stumbled as the door swung open, his arm tightening around her waist the only thing stopping her from falling backwards. He backed her into the dark room, kicking the door shut behind him with his foot. She gasped as his hands traveled over her backside, gripping the backs of her thighs to drag her up his body. Wrapping her legs around his waist, she tried to support herself as securely as her left leg allowed – already she was having to push from her mind the dull pain emanating from her knee and hip.

Then he licked a trail from breast to ear and her mind went deliciously blank to everything except his teeth grazing against her skin before recapturing her lips.

Vaguely aware of them moving through the apartment, she still let out a small sound of surprise as he dropped her onto a plush bed. She bounced once, twice, before the weight of him pushed her firmly down.

All too soon there was nothing but skin and a fine layer of perspiration separating the two of them. She mewled as his mouth traveled the length of her inner thigh, his stubble tickling her overly sensitive skin, before stopping just before where she needed him most.

"I want to show you something."

She shivered, partly from the husky tone of his voice, partly from the cool touch of his breath raising goosepimples across her flesh.

His lips pressed lightly against her skin, before he replaced them with his teeth.

She barely had a chance to react to the sharp pain of his teeth piercing her flesh before she was overwhelmed by the ecstasy effusing every inch of her being.

Losing herself to the glorious throbbing pleasure, she didn't realise the slowing of her pulse, the lethargy dragging at her limbs, and the rapid cooling of her once burning skin until it was too late.

With the last beat of her heart, a wet tongue entered her mouth, pushing a thick salty liquid down her throat. Several more times she suffered through this until finally whoever it was curled up beside her, one arm around her waist, and she succumbed to blessed nothingness.