PART V

Later that week

"Stop eating those," I murmured, smacking Ivy's hand as she reached for the package of pepperonis again. She frowned at me and looked down at her hand as if my gentle tap had actually hurt, and then she hopped onto the counter to lounge morosely. I ignored her sulking and went back to preparing the pizzas. The guests would be arriving soon and by god we were going to have something to feed them! Ivy's endless pit of a stomach be damned!

"Being cooped up is making you grumpy," Ivy muttered as I began to grate some cheese. I thought that was rich coming from her, but I refrained from saying so. Ivy had been much mellower since we had become a couple, and I knew that much of her former grumpiness had actually been stress. Monitoring herself constantly while in my presence had put a lot of pressure on her. Also, she was right. Being cooped up was making me grumpy.

"I know," I sighed, watching as the tiny curls of mozzarella fell into the bowl. "I hope David has found something in the insurance claims," I continued morosely. "I know I'm driving you crazy. Hell, I'm driving me crazy."

I hadn't been able to be off of hollowed ground at night for over a week. Someone was summoning Al to get him out of prison, and then not banishing him back to the ever-after, which gave him free reign to roam the city and attack me. I'd already had two nearly fatal run-ins with him, and I wasn't exactly burning with desire for another one. I wanted him gone, and I wanted to be able to leave the church at night, but he was too powerful and it was too dangerous to leave the church after sundown. We had to find out who was summoning them and get them to stop if I was ever going to be able to walk free in the moonlight again, but finding who was summoning him was easier said than done.

"You're not driving me crazy," Ivy said softly, her soothing voice drawing me out of my depressing thoughts. Her words were completely sincere and I felt some of the tension drain from my body. I was being a terror, but she loved me, and love made one tolerate a great number of things.

"I'm sorry I hit your hand," I told her, looking over at her to let her know that I meant it.

Ivy smiled at me and shrugged. "You hit like a witch," she drawled, her cinnamon eyes sparkling playfully as she spoke. "I barely felt it."

I rolled my eyes at her, and after a moment of hesitation, I threw a few pieces of cheese at her. Ivy lifted her hand and waved it, easily knocking the cheese away before it could hit her.

"Why don't you go put on some music or something," I suggested as her hand began to creep towards the pepperonis again. She had meant it when she said that she didn't mind how crazy I'd been acting since Al's nightly escapes from prison, but she'd also been trying to butter me up. I loved her, but she wasn't eating any more of those pizza topping!

"Fine," Ivy muttered gracefully slipping off of the counter. Her tone had been kind of petulant, but once her feet were on the floor, she leaned into me and placed her hand lightly on my hip before she bent down and kissed my cheek. My lips curved up into a soft smile, and as she walked away a peaceful calm settled over me.

A few seconds later I heard the stereo in the living room turn on, and I reached to the side to set the oven to heat before I started to base the pizzas. While I worked, Ivy busied herself in the living room, and before I knew it the pizzas were in the oven cooking, and I was wandering towards the living room in search of my wayward vampire.

When I entered the living room I saw that Ivy was resting in her arm chair reading a magazine. I crossed over to her and then plopped myself down into her lap. I plucked the magazine from her fingers and leaned back and tossed it onto the coffee table. Free of the magazine, I turned back towards Ivy and smiled before I slowly leaned in, pressing my lips against hers, tangling my fingers in her hair as Takata's newest song started to play.

"Do you miss it?" I asked pulling back from Ivy a while later. I was deliciously short of breath and there was only a thin ring of brown left in her eyes.

"It was nice," Ivy sighed, distractedly playing with a lock of my hair. She hadn't been able to hear the female singer on Takata's undead-vamp tracks after Piscary had died and his connection to her had been broken. "It was the only nice thing about being his scion," she said her eyes blackening for a second at the thought of Piscary. "I'm glad I can't hear it," she continued, her eyes lifting to meet mine.

"So am I," I said softly, leaning forward to press a soft kiss against her lips.

I wished that I had taken Trent up on his offer for a pair of his specialized headphones that allowed a person to hear the undead-vamp track. I hadn't wanted to accept anything from Trent at the time, but I wished now that I hadn't been so prideful. The hidden tracks had literally brought tears to Ivy's eyes. She had looked so soft and at peace when she was listening to the mysterious female singer, and I wished that I could have given that to her. I wished that I could have given her that beautiful voice without the pain of being Piscary's scion.

"Next time I'm at Trent's I'm going to steal his headphones."

"Next time?" Ivy asked lifting a perfectly sculpted black eyebrow. "I thought you were never working for him again. No matter how much he offered," she continued smiling a little as she parroted words I had spoken to her the week before back at me.

I stared at her for a moment trying to think of a response that wouldn't make her smirk and shake her head at me, but all I could come up with was, "I meant next time I'm dragged over there and go just so that I can turn him down." I disliked Trent, but he may have been right when he said that I made decisions based on how much they would irritate people.

Ivy smirked and shook her head, and I pouted. I wasn't going to work for Trent again! I wasn't, and I didn't care if she didn't believe me. Only, I did care … a lot. And I suspected that I would end up working for him again which annoyed the hell out of me. He was a bastard, but all of our shit kept getting destroyed and I was constantly in need of large sums of money.

I poked Ivy in the head, and she tilted it to the side exaggerated the force of my push as she continued to smile. The movement of her head exposed the length of her neck to me, and a little tingle ran through my body as I saw the almost healed edges of the new scars I had given her. She had been true to her word and not tried to cover up the marks. In fact, I think that she had been purposely wearing low collared shirts so that she could show them off. I lifted my hand to her neck, and brushed the edge of my thumb against the scar, enjoying the way she shivered at the sensation.

There was no vampire saliva in the wounds I had made, and I had no pheromones to set the scar humming. Ivy responded to the touch because it was me, and because it reminded her of how she got it.

When she turned to look at me again, the smile was gone from her lips and her eyes were completely black. I shivered at the look of hunger in her eyes, and my eyes lifted to the wall to check the clock.

"We have time," I said, brushing my finger against my mark once more.

Ivy's eyes flickered to the clock as well. She looked at it for a moment longer than I did, and I thought that she might dispute my assessment of how much time we had before people started to arrive, but when she turned back to face me, a small growl emerged from her throat and she leaned forward to press her lips against mine.

I gasped at the feel of her lips, and then grabbed her head, holding it firmly as I kissed her back, our passion rising with each sweep of our tongues. Ivy's hands moved from where they had been resting on my thighs settled at the top of my jeans where she easily flicked open the button.

"No," I muttered dropping my hands to push hers away. "You," I panted, shoving at her hands some more until she finally relented and drew them away from me.

Ivy had made love to me in the morning before taking off for a run, and though I was getting turned on again, I knew that it was more important to take care of her. In a perfect world, our guests would have intuitively known that we were doing each other, and would have come late. But in the real world it was more likely that they would show up early. If they did, the last thing that anyone needed was a sexually frustrated vampire roaming the church. Besides, with David coming we'd have to shower again before everyone arrived or he'd smell us all over each other. We'd have to shower together to save time, and if we were in there together there was no way Ivy's hands wouldn't be on me. It'd be the perfect way to kill two demons with one spell.

I slipped off of Ivy and onto the floor. She was wearing black leggings and an oversized gray sweater, her comfy uniform when at home, and I was glad for it since it meant I didn't have any zippers or buttons to mess around with. Reaching for her, I grasped the waistband of her leggings and slowly pulled them down her legs. Her eyes were on me the entire time, and it took all of my control to continue pulling down her pants until they were all the way off instead of just leaving them dangling around her calves while I slid between her legs.

I pulled the leggings over her feet and dropped them carelessly on the floor. I looked up to see Ivy, and when our eyes met she breathed in deeply and spread her legs. I placed my hands on her firm, pale thighs, running them up and down her silky flesh contemplatively. Ivy squirmed and I smiled. I pushed her legs further apart, enough that she would have felt a slight strain and she moaned. I didn't need the extra room, but she liked to be manhandled sometimes. By some twist of fate, I was the dominant in our relationship even though Ivy was usually the top, and exerting my power over her drove her crazy with desire.

I kissed the inside of her thigh, and Ivy purred. I breathed in deeply, and sighed with pleasure. God, she smells good, I thought as I ran my tongue across the smooth flesh of her inner-thigh. I smiled against her flesh, and then took some skin between my teeth and bit down softly, enough for her to feel though I didn't break the skin. She made a soft strangled sound in her throat and squirmed again.

I kissed her thigh once more, and then moved higher towards the place of wet heat where she needed me.

We didn't have time for games.

---

Later that Night

My gaze drifted over to the coffee table and a small smile touched my lips.

Ivy and Marshall were hunched over it, both of their faces masks of concentration as they stared at the chess board in front of them. Marshall had shown up in Cincy about a week before, and though I had been glad to see him, I hadn't thought that he would hang around for long. I knew that he had friends in the city, and I'd been certain that when he had looked me up it hadn't been because he needed another drinking buddy. But, any hopes he had of romance had been dashed when Ivy had slinked up behind me in the hallway, wrapped her arms around my waist and kissed my shoulder in a display of possession. Her little show, in addition to the red rimmed bite marks on my neck, let Marshall know that Ivy and I were more than roommates, and even though he recovered well from his surprise, I didn't think that he would actually want to hang out after that.

I'd misjudged his character however, and we'd actually spent some time together a few afternoons when Ivy was on a run and I was antsy and needed to get out of the church.

"She's scaring the fairy crap out of him," Mom said dropping down next to me on the couch.

"I know," I sighed, though my lips curved up a little.

Ivy was being unnecessarily intense about the game of chess they were playing. I was her girl, but she still didn't like anyone who displayed any sort of romantic interest in me. Marshall had been a complete gentleman, and hadn't tried to make any sort of play for me, but Ivy didn't like him. She was routinely a gloomy Gus whenever he was around, and she usually tried to engage him in some sort of competition so that she could best him, and show me what a better choice she was for a mate. I already knew that she was the best choice there was, but she still liked to show off.

"Marshall knew what he was getting himself into," I continued shaking my head. His male pride made him keep accepting Ivy's challenges. They hauled enough wood, watched enough jeopardy, completed enough sudoku puzzles, and played enough Jenga for Marshall to know that Ivy played hard, and that he would be facing black eyes and a slight aura every time he faced off against her. I didn't know why he put himself through it, but I didn't understand why guys thought it was funny to burp loudly when you were talking to them on the phone either.

"He must be very desperate for company," Mom said, and I looked over at her and shot her an offended expression. I mean, honestly, it was probably true. My life was messed up, being around me had gotten him into nothing but trouble and he had to put up with a hostile vampire whenever he came over, but still it was kind of mean to say so. I looked over at Ivy knowing that she could hear everything my mother was saying, and when I saw her lip curl up slightly, I leaned against the back of the couch and crossed my arms.

Jenks flew over to sit on my mothers shoulder a few seconds later. The two of them were apparently bosom buddies, and I didn't like it. I was especially nervous to see him flying over to her, because he'd been making rude hand gestures to me all evening to indicate that he knew what Ivy and I had been doing earlier, even though windows had been opened, and scented candles had been lit.

Ignoring them, I looked around my living room, taking in the content and happy faces of my friends and family and felt a calm settle over me. David and Glenn were playing pool on Kisten's old table, silent but comfortable as they stared at the balls intensely and calculated moves. Erica was sitting with Ceri and pixie children surrounded them, squealing and braiding their hair. Ivy had mentioned some jazz records she had tucked away in the belfry earlier, and Keasley had disappeared home only to return a few minutes later with a pre-Turn record player. Ivy had retrieved her stash from the belfry and Keasley was currently flipping through them, and had been acting as an impromptu DJ for the last half hour.

I smiled and let my mind drift for a moment, simply enjoying everything. It was one of those perfect moments, where everything in world seemed to slide gently into place and everything was exactly as it should be. I'd experienced very few of those moments in my life and I wanted to bask in the glory of this one. Yes, there was a demon – possibly demons – hunting for my blood, but I had good friends, a great family, and the dreamiest girlfriend a person could hope for.

I reached for my white wine and took a sip. It's a good night, I thought, sighing as the cool liquid trickled down my throat. I lifted the glass to my lips again, and took another small sip before putting the glass down again. It was a good night, and despite how it may have seemed to someone looking in from the outside, it was a good life.

I was happy.

The doorbell bonged, and I sighed. Everyone that I knew, who I also liked, was in the church already which meant that whoever had just rung the bell was likely going to cause me nothing but grief. I just hoped it was a client who would handsomely for it.

"I'll get it," I murmured meeting Ivy's eyes.

She was glancing between me and the chess board and I knew that she didn't want to leave in the middle of the game. It would have ruined her concentration, and I didn't want to be in the church with her let alone sleep in the same bed as her knowing the foul mood she would be in if she lost to Marshall.

I padded towards the front door, moving almost as silently as Ivy in my socks.

"Ugh," I moaned once the door was open wide enough for me to see who was outside of it.

"Goodnight to you too, Morgan," Trent drawled in his annoyingly buttery voice.

"What the Turn do you want?" I asked belligerently, leaning against the doorframe, my posture as uninviting as witchly possibly.

"It's Quen," he said, his face falling for a moment as worry swept over him. "I need you to come with me," he continued, his face hardening again as he looked over at me. He bit the words out if he was chewing on rabbit pellets, and I wanted to go inside and put on my vamp-made boots so that I could kick him in his Elf nuts.

"I'm not going anywhere," I muttered shifting my gaze past Trent to the dark yard beyond. "And next time, call," I continued getting ready to go back inside and slam the door in his face.

"You owe him," Trent hissed, his words halting my progress.

I turned back to look at him and sighed. I liked Quen, and perhaps more importantly I respected him. He had helped me out, and I did owe him, but I had a little demon problem to worry about and I wasn't stepping off of hallowed ground for anything until I was sure that Al was safely locked up in the ever-after.

"You're right. But I've got a little demon problem right now, and I can't be off of hallowed ground while the suns down. You're going to have to find someone else to clean up your mess this time," I told him, with a genuine note of regret accompanying the general disdain that was also in my voice when I had to deal with Trent. I would have helped Quen if I could have, but I wanted to see the sunrise.

"He's dying, and it's your fault!" Trent declared his voice rising. I gaped at him. "The least you could do is listen to what I have to say."

Quen was dying? And it was my fault? I blinked at him, 'Does Not Compute' flashing in my mind in giant bright red letters.

"What are you talking about?" I asked cursing myself even as I asked the question. I did not want to talk to the bastard, but after dropping a bomb like that there was no way I wasn't going to try to find out what he was talking about.

"Can I come in?" He asked, businessman smooth and polite once more.

I stepped back reluctantly creating enough space for him to slip past me and into the church.

It begins, I thought as I closed the door behind him.

Ivy's dark, dramatic figure appeared in the hallway, and I held my hand out to her, calling her over. She would have something to say about whatever it was that Trent wanted.

She silently walked over to me, and pressed herself against my side, her hand easily slipping into my own. Trent looked between us, his eyes focusing on our joined hands for a moment before he very obviously directed his gaze to both of our necks. He smirked, and Ivy's chest rumbled in warning.

Trent quieted down, recognizing the threat. He and Ivy hadn't spent much time around each other, but he had seen enough of her to know that she would, and could, hurt him.

"I asked to speak with you," Trent sniffed turning his attention back to me. "The vampire is not invited."

"The vampire," I said, glaring at him, "is my partner. Where I go she goes. If you've got a problem with that, you know where the door is. I won't stop you from using it."

Ivy's chest stopped rumbling, and though her black eyes remained trained on Trent, I felt her relax marginally against my side.

Trent's jaw clenched. "Is there someplace we can talk, or are we going to have this discussion in your foyer?" he asked, the annoyance he wouldn't let show in his posture and expression, showing through a little in his voice.

"This way," I said tightening my hold on Ivy's hand, not wanting to lose the warmth of her as we started towards the sanctuary. I didn't turn around to see if Trent was following, I knew that he was.

Here we go again, I thought as we entered the sanctuary, here we go again.

The End