Vicki stirred, there was a slight shift in her breathing, a miniscule increase of her heart beat, her lips parted and the softest breath sighed from her lungs. Vicki stirred in his arms.

The vampire, had been at rest, not precisely sleep, for that respite was forbidden his kind, but travelling the paths of his memory. The current moment had faded until his only connection to the present was that his senses monitored the human that lay in his arms.

As she stirred the vampire returned, the lids slowly dropped over the ebony of his eyes and a gusting sigh escaped him. He retreated behind the mask of humanity, and when his eyes swept open again it was Henry Fitzroy, who lay with his love in his embrace.

Vicki stirred, she wanted to stay here, she was safe, safe and loved and warm. She shifted; she was curled on her side, her shins pressed against long cool thighs and her arms folded across her breasts, her head pillowed on a cool smooth chest. She sighed deeply and snuggled closer, delaying the moment that she left the shelter of sleep. Her breathing deepened and slowed and she floated between sleep and wakefulness her mind twisting and turning like a leaf flittering through the air. A pair a smiling blue eyes, a heart shaped velvet box of chocolates, Coreen's face below bobbling sequined hearts, the long low red rays of the sun slanting across the roof, the cold damp feel of the concrete as she sat on the stairs weeping…and his voice, 'Oh no my love, I am here with you.'

When she opened her eyes it was to the dark, though she knew instantly that she was in Henry's arms. The scent that was uniquely his flowed around her, and as she listened she heard a single slow contraction of his heart beneath her ear.

She did not uncurl her body, or move from his embrace, but tilted her head slowly back until she could look up into his face.

He looked down at her and spoke softly as though he thought he might frighten her. "I am here, my heart."

There was the whisper of sheets as his arms loosed her and he shifted and rose to one elbow to bend over her, tousled curls hung about eyes that were full of love and fear.

She shifted to her back; her head now pillowed on his arm, and sighed, turning her face to his chest again, resting her forehead on the cool flesh.

She spoke into that dark and intimate space, her warm breath passing over his skin, and the vampire attended her whispered words.

"I thought you were gone, Henry." She sighed. "I thought you had given yourself to the sunrise, like you said in your letter." He shifted slightly, drawing in a breath to speak, but then…did not.

"I had a d-dream, that you were gone, and that there was nothing left of you, but ashes on the roof and even then, even then the wind had swept most of them away…and I knew, I knew you had been alone and you had given up your life, alone, and that now we could never be together the way…the way I wanted…"

The vampire drew inwards on himself, as though he was stricken with a sudden deep pain, and then he straightened and lifted her chin, bending to kiss her lips tenderly. Leaning over her, he rested his head against her shoulder, hearing the pounding of the blood racing though her, beneath him. "I am sorry my love, I never meant to hurt you, I didn't…I didn't know."

"She shook her head slightly. "How could you know? It wasn't real; it was just a dream, made from the awful things I said and my own stupid fears, those fears, are what had deprived me of the thing I want most."

Henry's eyes searched hers; he was stuck to silence by her admission. She lifted a hand to trace his jaw, and said. "That is, if you still want a grouchy, stubborn, half blind PI who…" Her words were cut short as his lips crashed down to hers. She shifted towards him as he rolled to lay his body over hers.

He was curiously heavy, solid and her body responded immediately to his cool length as he covered her. She opened her mouth beneath him and he entered, his tongue exploring her as though he were starved, then as he withdrew he inhaled the air from her lungs, drawing her own life's breath into his body. She gasped at the intimacy of that act, he tossed back his head, rising up off her to his elbows and her sex flooded with heat as his weight shifted, pressing her down to the mattress beneath him.

Instinct drove her as in response she opened her thighs and her hands came up to grasp his slim hips. He stilled in her grasp, though she could feel his hard length across her belly, and she tightened and loosened her buttocks, creating a sweet torture of friction between their bodies.

"She panted out the question, "I take it… that's a… yes?"

Henry dropped his head forward his eyes meeting hers, bleeding from blue to black and back to blue, she could feel the tremor in his body, the shifting and flickering of his skin as he held himself back by iron will. His response when it came was borne on a rumbling low growl, as he ground himself down against her "Yessss…Vicki?"

She knew he was waiting, in deference to her needs, and she lifted her knees in response, feeling him slide lower until his was positioned at her entrance.

"I want you Henry, I want you as close as close can be, as close as you can get, please, Henry I n-need you." She was driven under by her own admission of dependence, her own surrender and her sex grew slick at the exposure of her truth.

He entered her smoothly in a swift thrust and she angle her hips upward to meet him, tightening her grasp on his hips as he withdrew and then with a growling groan thrust deeper and again deeper still, working his hips side to side until he could go no further. Then he stilled and she felt her internal walls accommodate to the pulsing breadth of his need. He filled her, and she held him tight in that intimate embrace.

"I am with you, my heart." He whispered in her ear as he bent to kiss her lips and jaw and then to nuzzle the hollow below her ear, where her pulse sang it's distracting and taunting song.

She sighed out her own groan as she felt his lips questing across the skin of her throat and chest, dipping to briefly taste her nipples before rising again back to rest at the pulse of her life once more.

She reached up to wrap her hands in his curls and pulled up his face until they were eye to eye. "That's not close enough, my love, I want all that you are with me Henry, I want you to…" she paused as his eyes darkened to obsidian, bottomless and shining moist with tears.

"I want you to be joined to me in every way, every way possible, Henry…please." She shifted her hips beneath him, as his fang lowered into view, sharp and deadly. She released his face and lifted her chin, exposing the long column of her throat.

The sound he made was a low muffled whine, a sound balanced between pleasure and pain as his cool lips travelled over her shoulder searching.

She felt him withdraw and thrust and withdraw and thrust, slowly and then more quickly and she clutched him to her, meeting him with her own crashing rhythm. She could feel his panting breath on her skin as he twisted now lifting his body higher up so that his lips and tongue worked in unison laving a point just below her jaw.

"V-Vicki, my own…my own heart." He moaned and then she felt a sharp and delicious pain that sent her body spasming against his as he molded his lips to her flesh and…drank.

She bucked upwards lifting her shoulders from the bed and he lifted with her, sliding his arms under and around her, holding her to him. He felt her walls clamp down on him and all conscious thought fled, as they merged for those few fleeting moments into a single being, and he lost himself within her.

"Henry? She could feel his weight on her and the slow expansion of his chest, when she came back to herself. She could hear the soft sounds that he made as his throat worked and he continued to feed for a few more seconds, before withdrawing his fangs from her flesh, then there was the cool press of his lips as he placed a gentle kiss over his bite. He turned his face to the hollow under her chin, pursing his lips against her skin once more.

Vicki tightened her arms around his strong back and then loosened her embrace. Henry interpreted this to mean that she wished him to lift his weight off her and her indrawn breath as he did so, confirmed his assessment. He slid lower to ease himself away from her, relishing her small moan of protest as he left her; he turned on his back to lie at her side, her head still resting on his chest. Her leg came up to loop over his hips and thighs possessively, her arm curled over his chest.

He lifted the hand of the arm beneath her, to stroke her hair, twisting and turning a strand of the golden silk as his other arm ran softly up and down her forearm.

Eventually he spoke. "It pains me love, that my words have caused you this harm. I meant only to declare my love and intention to protect you and instead…instead I have done the exact opposite."

"I told you, it's not your fault, handsome" she said as she glanced up. "Where were you though? I really only freaked out when I saw that you weren't here."

"I was with Augustus, negotiating some permissions for the book tour…" Henry began.

Vicki levered herself up so she was leaning on his chest, "You told me that. You told me that you were meeting with Augustus when was it, last week? I forgot." She grimaced, "I can't believe I forgot… What about the phone? You never answered my calls or my messages."

"I'm sorry love, the evening, when I left you, I was angry, and I thought that if I answered we would quarrel again. If I had known…" he sighed and then continued, "And then when I was with Augustus my phone died. It didn't occur to me that…"

"Vicki tightened her arms around him, "Don't Henry, don't make everything your fault, as it turns out, you can protect me from everything but myself."

His only response was a low grumble that she felt rather than heard.

They were silent for a few moments, Vicki running a lazy finger around and around his nearest nipple.

After a moment she said, "Well, you got my Valentine's gift, though not exactly as I intended," here she dropped her hand to rest briefly on his inert manhood. He exhaled softly as she moved on. "So what about…"

Henry sat upright tipping her over, bouncing once as she settled on the bed. "Oh, Vicki, I had forgotten," he switched on the lamp, and then padded, naked, away from her across the room. He crossed into the living room out of her view, she heard him moving about and then a moment later came striding back a small square velvet box in one hand and a large glass of orange juice in the other.

Suddenly her throat was dry, as she reached out for the juice; she tried for a light tone. "Man, I thought the view was good going away, but it was even better coming back!"

Henry smiled widely, but instead of blushing simply said. "I thank-you milady."

"Uh huh…there is that nagging self doubt" she said. He settled on the edge of the bed beside her and she rose up onto one elbow, her hair falling forward around her shoulders.

Henry held out the box to her conscious of the way her nipple brushed against the skin of his forearm.

"I would be very pleased Victoria," he said, "if you would accept this ring, as a token of my, regard?"

When Vicki had snapped open the case there on a white silken lining was a tiny filigreed ring in which was mounted a ruby the color of a drop of blood.

She held the ring up where it glistened and caught the lamplight. "It's beautiful Henry, but and don't take this wrong, it is so tiny."

Henry nodded, "When I was ten, my mother sent this to me as a New Years gift, while I was at court. She said that I should remember that the blood of the Blount family also ran in my veins, as red as ever was this stone." His eyes grew distant at the memory and as she stirred, he took the ring from her and slipped it on to her baby finger. It settled smoothly into place. "It would …please me if you would wear it now and again."

"I will," she said closing her fingers to a fist, "thank you." She smiled and rose to kiss his lips. He reached out to embrace her, but she placed a hand against his chest, "Wait, Henry." She slid past him down the bed and jumped, agile to her feet. "I have something for you as well."

She sped out of the room in a flash of long legs and swinging hair only to reappear a moment later with her, in Henry's opinion, enormous purse.

She settled on the bed again and dug unceremoniously through her bag eventually retrieving the white plastic bag from the hardware store. She pushed her hair behind her ear and with a serious expression on her face, presented the bag to him. "Happy Valentine's Hank." She said wiggling as she settled back, her breasts bobbing in a most distracting manner.

Henry opened the bag and reached in to extract the contents, with a puzzled look he said courteously enough, "Why thank you love, it's…?"

"Vicki grinned, "It's duct tape Henry, well more specifically, it's red duct tape, for Valentine's, a whole roll just for you."

Henry's brows rose, approaching his hairline; finally she took pity on him. She lifted the roll from his hand.

"Look Henry, you are a romantic," she ran her fingers down his chest pausing for a moment to watch his nipple harden and rise. "That is a fact that I am learning to … appreciate. And we both know that as hard as you try, sometimes…most times I open my mouth and ruin things. THIS, is your own role of 'Shut-up Vicki Tape.'" Here, she paused to tear a six inch piece off the roll, and then said. "It's not hard Henry, it works like this…" She plastered the tape over her mouth, "MMMFFnnMMM!!"

Her laughing eyes, over the edge of the tape, were more than he could bear and he reached out and rolled her to the mattress once more beneath him. She wriggled below him, as he ground his hardening manhood against her.

"MMMFFnnMMM" she groaned, her eyes full of love.

"Hush my love, I'm here with you."