Underworld - The Turning
Wendy Dale Smith
To Reviewers: Thank you all so much for taking the time to review this Underworld story. You have been incredibly kind and more than patient. My only wish was that you obtain just a small portion of the enjoyment and entertainment I achieved in writing it.
And on that note, I hope you are pleased with the epilogue…
He stood over the bed, watching her sleep, captivated by her timeless beauty. Vivienne de Ursanne had been the kind of human no true immortal could resist. A rare angel that required preservation. Impassioned by the hunt, the newly awakened Marcus Corvinus had been keen for his first taste of human blood in two hundred years. His intensions had not been on the turning, only on death. But when he saw her sweet face, he judged her mortal existence unacceptable. He had felt it a duty to turn her. The callous fool that he was back then had taken her, raped her, right on the monastery floor. He had sunk his enlarged, lust-charged fangs into her beckoning, soft neck, and drank her essence right through her abbess robes. He had almost drained her dry in his eagerness, his lust. He had condemned her to immortal damnation, blissfully unaware he had given up his heart to her at the very moment he stole her soul from the God she so adored.
Marcus smiled. It had taken half a century before she finally forgave him, and another half still before she learned to love him in return.
Sensing her rousing from her light sleep, Marcus stepped back quietly into the shadow of the opened bay window. He watched her silently, waiting for her to become aware of his presence.
"Mon coeur," she whispered softly.
"I am here," he replied.
When she found his silhouette in the window, she smiled sweetly, lovingly. Slowly, she rose from the bed to stand before him, forthright and unashamed of her nudity. She had been waiting for him, he realized. She knew, even as he had not, that he would not be able to resist the need to see her one last time. As always, her beauty took his breath away.
"I had hoped you would see me," she whispered as she took a tentative step to him. "Before you left."
"Don't…tempt me, my love," he ordered, but his desperation was obvious.
"I will tempt, and tempt again, if it means I may be with you," she replied with as much desperation.
"You know we cannot. You're too old, Vivienne," he said gently. "Your blood and body could not handle it, no matter how much I prepare you."
She shook her head and took a step toward him, and he just as quickly took a step back. Tears fell silently down her face. Her usually youthful countenance suddenly seemed much older. "If I die in your arms, so be it. It is my choice, Marcus!"
"Your choice to see me suffer your death?" He shook his head vehemently. "Continue what you have done these last centuries without me. Take lovers, take hundreds if you must, but do NOT TEMPT ME AGAIN!" The Elder's voice was anguished. "I beg of you," he whispered as his face broke from the pain. He stared at the one and only source of true happiness he had ever known. He had held onto the hope of that happiness for so very long, now only to watch as it slipped irrevocably through his fingers. He knew then the hell of abomination.
"I came only to tell you it is done," he said as he turned from her, no longer able to handle the pain of not touching her. "He took her back to the mountains."
Vivienne closed her eyes briefly, taking a small measure of comfort that some good would come from the hell Marcus and she had created all those centuries ago. At least their scheming did not condemn Michael and Selene to their fate.
"They will be happy there," Vivienne said. Her feeling of relief for the young lovers was blatant in her voice.
"For a time," he nodded.
Hearing that, she became alarmed. "You will keep your promise to me, my Lord?" she pleaded. "You will see no harm come to them, or any under my care?"
Hearing her beseeching words, Marcus did look back at her then. His despair was palatable as his adoring gaze wandered every inch of her.
"As long as I live, my love," he reminded her gently in a whisper. He watched her face crumble at the reminder of his mortality, at the thought of him growing old and dying without her at his side.
"As long as I live."
Michael hesitantly entered the bedroom, mug in hand. Just a few minutes earlier, Selene had opened her eyes for the first time in two days.
"It's a little cold in here. I thought you'd want something hot to drink," Michael said softly as he sat carefully on the bed next to her.
She had suffered a high fever for most of the previous forty-eight hours. He knew she was probably going to want to eat soon, but because of her new physiology, he had hesitated giving her plasma, fearing it would draw out her fever longer than necessary. For all he knew, she might be craving meat now. Or chocolate ice cream, he thought, trying not to feel too enthused at the notion. From his own research, he knew a simple glucose drip would hydrate her blood enough for the time being, until he knew for sure what she could tolerate.
He then looked over and noticed she'd already yanked the drip needle from her arm. He sighed, not surprised. Well, so much for that.
For her part, Selene felt fine. She looked about her, realizing she was in Michael's bedroom, in his bed. Her long fingers splayed over the soft white sheets as her eyes quickly inspected his space from this unique perspective. They were back in the valley. They were home. Her nose flared with avid interest as Michael carefully handed the hot drink to her.
His hands gently brushed against hers as she took the cup he offered. The touch shot through Selene like lightening, making her toes curl. Whoa, she thought. This is new. Her nose had picked up the smell of the tea even before he entered the room with it. She had also picked up his smell. That's what had awoken her. His nearness. She could actually sense his approach. Did he know I was waking up? Can he sense me, as I can sense him? Getting an inkling of the excruciating tactile sensitivity that Michael had been enduring since her first bite, Selene felt suddenly in awe of his restraint. I would have raped you a long time ago, she thought as she darted her eyes briefly at him. She took a tentative sip of the hot liquid.
It was good. Really good. The room was cold. She was cold. She shivered as she let out her breath in a whoosh of wonder. I'm cold! She hadn't felt cold like that in well over a century. But the memory of what it felt to be warm-blooded came back in an instant. There was delicious pleasure to be had in regaining what was lost, regaining warmth. She took another sip, closing her eyes in pleasure as the liquid heat made its way down. Her hands gripped the mug tightly as she marveled at the simple sensation.
Michael was mesmerized. Her actions, her movements, the sounds of pleasure as she drank were nothing short of sexual. It was Selene, yet not. He sensed the change in her, her newfound energy, and her wonder at it. Michael looked away and swallowed. He was going to embarrass himself if he continued to watch. He smiled at his own discomfort.
Selene sensed his embarrassment and felt instantly awkward herself. Seeing his smile, she cleared her throat and sat up a bit more in the soft bed. Michael's bed. Funny, she never noticed how utterly wonderful he smelled. Actually, that wasn't true. You did notice. She let out a quiet laugh. He often stank like a lycan. But it had aroused her regardless, just as it was doing now. Now she was part lycan, she realized with a start. Now she was mortal.
She was free.
She couldn't help the sigh of pleasure that escaped her lips. Oh, this feels exquisite. A wave of happiness enveloped her as she watched her lover. He was sitting next to her, pinning her under the bedcover, with his head bent to the floor in his usual submissive manner. He glanced up at her sideways as she placed the mug on the bedside table. She sat back and continued to watch him intently, willing him without words to turn and hold her. His brow furrowed into a frown instead.
"I'm sorry," he said simply, sparing only the briefest glance at her face.
"For what?" she replied, frowning in confusion. What could he possibly feel sorry about? She became alarmed at the thought.
"For hurting you," he whispered, staring fixedly at her shoulder. She brought a hand up to her neck. Frowning, she felt a bandage there, where he had bitten her. Is this what was bothering him, what's keeping him from touching me? Pulling the oversized t-shirt aside with force, she calmly took hold of the bandage and ripped it away, wanting to see his mark on her. Noticing too late what she intended, Michael could only rumble out a feeble protest. He clenched his jaw with a fierce scowl at the sight of the huge jagged wound above her collarbone. Selene poked and inspected the uneven pink flesh with avid interest. Good Lord, he nearly bit my shoulder off, she thought, totally fascinated.
Seeing that her morbid interest in his mark was making Michael very agitated, she pulled the shirt back over the wound. She felt no pain. It was already healing nicely. Getting impatient, she gently touched his chin, pulling him to face her. The look on his face made her heart break.
He shook his head. "I condemned you to die."
So that was it. He looked so miserable. Selene immediately wanted to make it better. "I was a Death Dealer. I would have regardless."
"At least there was the hope…"
"No," she cut him off. Thinking of all those wasted years, she smiled sadly. "Hope was something I never had." Gently, she touched his face with her hands. "You saved me," she said, all her emotions poured into one simple statement. "You saved me." Her eyes smiled into his as she let everything go…the hatred, the vengeance, the pain, and the terrible loneliness.
Looking at her fully, Michael let out an audible sigh of relief, for the moment soothed by her loving attention. Her hand still touching his face, she slowly traced his jaw, his dimpled chin, his lower lip. She seemed completely fascinated. Maybe she just wants the contact. Michael didn't stop her, thinking of all the times he had ached to touch her in just that way. He shuddered. He wanted to growl.
Her eyes softened with desire at his reaction. She slowly turned her eyes up to his. Without him realizing, he had been moving closer. Michael could feel her breath, now hot upon his lips. Want poured from her to him. With excruciating slowness he brought his lips to hers, their hot breath enhancing the contact to an almost painful level of pleasure.
Impatient to feel him, Selene bent in closer. As Michael had shown her their first time, she opened her mouth, kneading her lips over his. With a sharp intake at her aggression, he opened to her eagerly, letting her in. Her hand slipped into his hair and gripped tightly, holding him in place as she slanted her mouth over his almost roughly. The moist velvet of his tongue tasted bitter and sweet on hers. The deepest growl reverberated from his chest. Delighted at his response, she brought both hands up to thread in his dark blond locks. The action caused her breasts to come in contact with his chest and she arched further, the tingling there causing her to draw up her legs with a very specific need.
Convinced he wouldn't last two more minutes if she kept that up, Michael gently pulled back. His patient needed to rest a little longer, despite the look she was giving him to the contrary. He gulped. Selene had the same look on her face that she had in the bathroom in Paris, like she wanted to devour him. His eyes darted around every inch of her, her red swollen lips, her slumberous eyes, her breasts as they rose and fell with every breath, her nipples standing out clearly from the large cotton shirt he'd put on her not four hours before. Now he just wanted to rip it off.
She stared back at him, inspecting him as he did her. "You know what Marcus intends us to do?" she said soberly, the statement at complete odds with the lustful look on her face.
Almost immediately, Michael realized what brought on the question. The inevitable consequences of their lovemaking. However innocent and unintended, it contributed to the Elder hybrid's malevolent and immoral goals, to build up the hybrid species while destroying the vampire and lycan in the process. Like the clarity of an epiphany, he saw their future. Michael knew he would be no trivial lover for her. Selene didn't work that way. This was for life. No half measures. And she was asking him if what they were doing, what they intended to do together, was the right thing.
Michael let out his breath in a rush and erased the myriad thoughts running through his mind. They all revolved around one thing. Selene was his family. Nothing would ever taint what they shared. She could have a litter of his children if that's what she wanted. The irony of that thought brought an inadvertent grin to his face. Realizing she needed him to be serious, he tried to hide it. He failed. Selene raised her eyebrows.
"What are you thinking?" she said warily.
His grin broadened. Michael wondered if he should ask her now, or wait a couple hours. He knew for certain he couldn't wait long enough to get a ring. But he wasn't going to tell her that. Absently, he wondered if vampires even did that sort of thing. But then he realized, they weren't vampires. They weren't lycans either. They were something new. And they could make their own rules.
"Michael, I really hate it when you do that," she said in warning.
Seeing her darkening expression, he raised his hand in apology. "I'm sorry. I was thinking…When have you ever let anything get in the way of what you thought was right?"
She cast down her eyes, brows furrowed. When she looked up into his again, they held a shadow of torment. "Convincing ourselves its right, because we want it to be, doesn't make it so."
She had a point. And he understood her fears. But, for Michael, it was simple. He openly voiced his thoughts. "Do you love me?"
That she was taken aback by that question was obvious. His chest suddenly clenched as a wave of doubt washed over him. Michael watched every emotion play subtly across her face. She was going through her past. Their past. Her eyes then focused back into his, back into the present, and she smiled softly.
"Yes," she whispered. The adoration in her voice was very apparent.
With a silent sigh of relief, Michael wondered how long it would take before it came easy for her to express that emotion. He couldn't deal with having a heart attack every time she hesitated.
"Then trust in that." he said simply. "It's a much better guide than hate."
The statement brought a reluctant smirk to her face. The look Selene gave him made Michael feel slightly abashed for being insightful, like he was too young to have those kinds of thoughts. But he was right and she knew it. Selene didn't try to argue the point. The realization hit him like a bolt of lightening. She was finally his. His alone.
Unbidden, out of nowhere, a wave of intense possessiveness suddenly enveloped Michael. He had her now. No one would claim her but him. His nostrils flared as his senses absorbed her. He'd kill any male who tried to touch her. Just the thought of it set him on edge. By the change in her expression, he realized his eyes had blackened even before he perceived it physically. The lycan in him decided to come out and play.
Her eyes widened in awe. What brought this on? Not afraid of the change, Selene watched intently as he tried to get a hold of his emotions enough to stop himself from turning completely. His mouth slightly opened as he drew ragged breaths. She could clearly see his burgeoning fangs. She wanted to run her tongue along them, feel their sharpness. Later, Selene, she admonished herself silently, stopping her inadvertent forward motion. She knew he wasn't quite ready to believe she found his hybrid state arousing. That would change soon enough. Right now, he needed her help controlling it.
She had never experienced control over another quite like this. That she could do this to him so effortlessly was very provocative and empowering. As she moved toward him again, he clamped his teeth together and growled low, baring his fangs in warning. But that only deterred her for a second. With a slight smile, she bent forward and kissed him gently.
"Shh…" she whispered. Selene closed her eyes as she softly stroked her mouth and cheek against his, reveling in the simple contact. After only a moment, she opened her eyes and found him watching her. As she suspected, her gentle touch brought him out of the dark thoughts that wanted to turn him into his feral state. She stared once again into his beautiful, turquoise eyes.
Selene smiled brightly, her ever-present fangs poking out most prominently. Michael stared back at her, marveling at the sudden evolution of her demeanor. He slowly brought one hand up to touch her face. Gently, he ran a thumb down one of the dimples that suddenly appeared with her smile. He broke into an inadvertent grin at seeing them. You're not so tough, he thought, feeling humbled by her elation. He hoped fervently he could keep her this happy for the rest of her life.
Thinking of the immediate future, Michael had a small idea what was in store for the two of them. He thought of Marcus. Michael knew Selene would not be idle for long, would not let the Elder hybrid get away with whatever he had planned for the New World Coven. He almost felt sorry for the oddly likable madman. Selene had been quite fearsome to behold before all these changes. What could possibly stop her now? He shook his head, bemused, but unafraid. Whatever happened, Michael knew no harm would come to Selene. He would see to that.
Suddenly, Selene's eyes darted to something behind him. Her smile faded quickly, a small frown forming in its place. Curious, Michael glanced behind him, in the direction of her gaze. Frowning, he didn't see at first what was bothering her. Then he found it. A beam of sunlight penetrated through the thick blinds covering the balcony's double doors. It was reflecting brightly off the brass footboard. He'd left one of the blinds half open. He watched her reaction. She looked like she wanted to make a run for the closet, but she was making a good effort at overcoming her instinctive fear.
"It's alright?" she asked quietly. He assumed she was asking if she could now tolerate the day.
He smiled in gentle amusement. "How do you think I got you here? In a body bag?"
She said nothing, just rolled her eyes at his sarcasm. She eyed the beam of light warily. Stress was etched on her face.
He already knew the answer, but he had to ask anyway. "You okay? Want to go to the basement?" She had almost been burned to death two days ago. There was no condemnation in his voice. If he had gone through what she just had, he probably would have buried himself in a hole for months.
Putting on a stubborn, brave face, she still would not take her eyes from spot of light. "No. Of course not."
Thinking it was now or never, Michael decided to change tactics. "It snowed for the first time last night. Snowed quite a bit actually."
"Oh really?" She didn't sound at all interested as he talked about the weather. Undaunted, he continued.
"The storm blew through this morning. The sky is a clear blue."
"I figured that," she barked impatiently, now eyeing the double-doors with wide-eyed trepidation. With that statement, it became obvious to Michael that, until that moment, Selene had not fully realized she was up in the daylight hours. Had she still been a full vampire, she would have been slowly burning to death just from the ambient light now penetrating the room. He didn't share this fact out loud. Taking a deep breath, he pressed on with his ill-conceived plan.
"Want to see?"
Now she eyed him warily. Her brow furrowed deeply at the thought of those two doors opening. She shook her head, a sudden weary look forming. "I'm a bit tired really. Now's not a good time I think."
He turned his head, giving her a look that said he knew bullshit when he heard it. "You weren't a second ago."
"What do you mean, I…" she closed her eyes abruptly, suddenly dropping her blatant pretense. She took a deep breath, opening her eyes with a set jaw. She gazed on the double doors like it was a Death Dealer's enemy. Michael very nearly grinned. She looked so adorable as she struggled to overcome her fear.
"Fine," she said after a moment of mental pep talk. "Let's look at the damned snow."
Michael did smile at that statement. "Fine." This woman had faced the strongest vampires and lycans the immortal realm had to offer. Yet she moved with extreme hesitancy toward a single beam of light.
"Don't be afraid," he reassured quietly.
"I'm not." The contempt in her voice only made him smile further.
He got his thick robe for her and made sure the woolen socks he'd put on her earlier would be adequate when he opened the door. She was warm-blooded now, after all. The breeze was sharp as a knife coming from the northwest. He saw her face darken with impatience at his coddling.
Selene let out a frustrated sigh. "Are we going to do this or not?"
Michael grinned broadly as she swiped at his attempt to help her to the door. Without hesitation, he reached for the door's handle and opened it, letting in the light.