A/N: Hi there! For those who've wondered where I've been…

See, this is what happened. Muse has been warning me for months (since, oh…March 2020, I'd say?) that she's unhappy. She's been stuck in a cold house crowded with people working from home, people attending classes from home, people zooming up and down the stairs while Zooming from one virtual meeting to another, people demanding her attention for this and her attention for that, etc.

She warned me that these were not ideal conditions for her art, that they were less than ideal conditions in which to create her magic.

Now, Muse has gone ahead and done what she's threatened to do for months. She's packed bathing suit, tanning lotion (with no SPF), and a good book (not one written by me), and she's abandoned me for warmer climates. As I sit here, struggling to string three coherent words together, the bitch is probably laid out on a tropical beach somewhere, sipping on a mango mojito and laughing her ass off at the dry spell she's left me in.

Seriously, guys, I've been stuck in a writing rut. The ideas just aren't flowing. The reasons are plentiful, and some are pretty obvious (months at home, irregular sleeping patterns, a slight bit of depression, etc.). It was just a matter of time before the brain crashed.

Anyway, what follows was my entry for the Thirst Vampfic Contest held a few months ago. I'd planned to post it later on; once I finished the stories I'm currently working on (Two Holidays and a Funeral, Uprising, Thief of Hearts). But, since the words just aren't flowing as they usually do and this story is already complete, I've decided to post it now. This way, I can tinker with it a bit here and there and feel like I'm doing some writing!

Sigh. It's fine. I know Muse will eventually get tired of the tropics and return to me, tanned, well-rested, and ready to get to work. :)

In the meantime, although this was a one-shot, I'll be playing around with it here and there, sort of giving myself the illusion of actually writing and posting daily in a few short installments until we're done. Maybe by then…

Betad by the sweet Donna Dolph Dowling.

This was banner-maker Mina Rivera's pick for the contest! Thank you again, sweet Mina! :)

Summary: "You, Bella Swan, have been forbidden fruit for far too long, and we all know what happens to the forbidden fruit, don't we? It ends up bitten harder than it would've been had it not been so damn forbidden."

Disclaimer: The author does not own any publicly recognizable characters herein. No copyright infringement is intended.

Finally, this will veer deep into 'M' territory. ;)


Chapter One: Prologue – Deadly Miscalculation

"NO!"

He howled and simultaneously lunged. But he was just a fraction of a moment too late to stop the lightning-quick, razor-sharp bite, and jagged teeth tore through my throat like a knife slicing through butter. For a split-second, the sensation was reminiscent of his playful nips and gentle sucking, when he'd offered us both a tantalizing taste of the forbidden fruit without actually biting into its core.

However, unlike then, agony swift and merciless now seeped into my skin and obliterated my bones. It was a torment so utterly excruciating it left me too bewildered to scream and only vaguely aware that somewhere along the way, I'd made a deadly miscalculation.

Just a short while earlier, I'd writhed in unimaginable ecstasy while he hovered above me. Now, I thrashed in inconceivable torture while he balanced himself above me again, in almost the same grassy spot, where the meadow underneath us now relinquished its emerald field in favor of my crimson blood.

"Please don't die, my love," he choked. "Don't die, Bella…don't die…"

A useless plea, as if, like him, I had any control over my own mortality. Of course, I would die, and we both knew it. Nevertheless, I cupped his cheek, feeling merciful in my merciful numbness, in this short reprieve between the spasms of ending life and the oblivion of eternal death.

"I don't want to die...but...but I don't…I don't...I don't want to be like you."

Probably not what he wanted or expected to hear as my final words, but in those few moments, as I gazed into eyes as black as an eternal abyss, my short time with Edward Cullen flashed before me. In those moments, I clearly recognized all my mistakes. I saw all the ways in which I'd failed to see the obvious warning:

Neither arouse nor provoke those creatures who exist on the fringes of life. After all, they remain hidden for a reason.


A/N: Thoughts?

As I said, this story is all done. So there will be daily postings until we're at the end. :)

"See" you tomorrow!