Disclaimer: If I was Rachel Caine, would I bother with the Disclaimer? No. Then I obviously do not own the Morganville Vampires Series.

Shane always knew it would come down to this. A battle of heart and soul. A battle of morals. He knew what it was like to feel as though someone was standing on top of your chest, cutting off your air.

He always felt the pain of loss and disappointment whenever he dared to breath. Shane had lost count for every time he'd believe he'd won, only to be dragged right back down in literally the blink of an eye.

For everything he'd said and done, he lied. His actions spoke louder than his words, and they screamed at him. They told him he'd lost. Yet, he'd always refused to believe.

So, Shane always knew it would come down to this. Claire kissing him, holding him, dragging him.

Just one clear thought, and he could win, he could leave. But his mind refused to process this fact.

Here was the most beautiful, brave, and reckless girl he had ever known, and she loved him. He knew this.

There had to be a way to win without losing her. Without losing this, right here, right now.

He couldn't breath, he didn't want to. He had to push her away, but he couldn't he just couldn't.

Screw the morals to Hell.

Shane would live in the here and now, he had to. It's the only way to really live in a place like Morganville, and if that meant losing then so be it.

He kissed Claire over and over, only to realize a few minutes later there was a pillow in his arms and light shinning on his face. Not to mention pants on his legs and no Claire in his room. Not even the scent of her.

He didn't dare to breath in the early morning light, for fear of the pain that would surely come with it.

Shane realized that the winning after-taste was in no way nearly as good as it had felt to lose.

How sad they were, the games he played.