Blood Moon

The cupola perched on the black shoulder of the cliff was very old, dating back to the Byzantine Empire, judging from the faded murals embellishing worn stone walls. Graceful Dorian columns formed a semi-circle, its front open to a stunning vista of plain and forest beyond the castle, now shrouded in a mysterious veil of mist. Lucian leaned against a mildewed pillar and studied every dip and swell of land with a deep yearning. There was freedom, so close he could taste it in the wind. Even though he had been a slave since birth, something innate in him pined for freedom.

Some of his brothers and sisters knew freedom, and the loss of it drove some to madness. Escape attempts were not uncommon, but none ever got far. The silver spikes of the moon-shackles prevented Lycans from transforming, and on human legs, it was impossible to evade the vampires. The poor wretches who failed escape were marked. Silver needles were driven into the bones of their skulls, often into crude letters usually 'F' for fugitive or 'D' for 'dog.' Lucian rubbed his cheek in sympathy. Having felt the searing burn of silver when taking the brand on his arm, he could only imagine what it would feel like to have it embedded into his flesh permanently, forever burning, forever healing. The hair on the back of his neck prickled and he smiled softly as cool, feminine arms wrapped around his waist.

"What are you thinking of?" Sonja asked, breath warm and intimate on the back of his neck.

"Freedom," he answered.

Sonja sank back onto her heels, put off by Lucian's answer. His hand tightened over hers, feeling the shift in mood. By the Elders, how was it he could read her so easily?

"I have been a slave my entire life. You have seen how we live. Can't you see how wrong it is?" passion colored his words, fierce and soft. Yes, it was wrong. A man like Lucian deserved better. Lucian believed that vampires and Lycans were equal, both descendant of Corvinus. Sonja rested her cheek against the broad strength of his back. She was more singular in her opinions. The rest of the Lycans could spend a merry eternity in Hades for all she cared. It was Lucian who was different and special and perfect.

"It's always been this way," she whispered. The change was immediate. The form that was so welcoming, like a gentle sun that wrapped her in all its benevolent energy, shifted. Sonja scowled at the back of his head. It was a trick of his, he didn't move or change his tone, but his heart and mind were locked away in some safe corner of himself, barred to her.

"Just because it has always been, doesn't mean it should be."

Sonja stalked away from him, her ire rising quick and hot. It was a delicate dance they orchestrated, and these moments were rare. She did not want to spend the time arguing over the different points in their philosophies!

"What does it matter? Right or wrong, it is reality, Lucian. What would you do? Run?" the words rushed out, scathing in their mocking venom. His turned back remained as solid as granite, facing the freedom he craved and forgetting the freedom he had here, with her.

They had been lovers for several sennights now, and had spoken no more of their potent joining in his chamber. The words they exchanged were of the same ilk of husbands and wives and the truth of it lived inside her.

But wouldn't a slave crave freedom above all else, even what she offered? She didn't want to chain him, but paradoxically, couldn't bear the thought of him leaving.

"Perhaps," he replied.

Lucian couldn't bear to look at her. Suddenly, his lover, his Sonja, represented all he did not and could never have. If he ran, he would leave her behind. And that would be like cutting out his heart. By the moon, he loved her. He wished to tell her so, but feared her words in his chamber had been a platitude to placate his accursed need. Her voice, that had risen shrilly with her anger, was now soft as silk, pleading.

"You can't. You'd be hunted down and marked, beaten, maybe killed. What would your precious freedom mean then?" In contrast to the harshness of her words, Sonja's hands stroked his shoulders and she stood on tiptoe to kiss the back of his neck.

"Let's not argue. Please. We don't have much time . . ." the soft plea of voice and hands undid him like a knot on a string. She was right. This was their time, their place. Within the walls of this forgotten ruin of a shrine, he would worship at her altar, and she at his.

"Lucian," she whispered, drawing him back from that faraway place with the tether of his name. She held his face between her hands, every feature as familiar to her as her own. The thick brows that crouched broodingly over stormy blue eyes, the aquiline profile of his nose, the full generosity of his lips hidden under the stiff plush hair of his beard. Sonja tugged his shirt from his trousers.

Lucian saw the evidence of turbulent emotions in her beautiful hazel eyes, but succumbed to the sweet passion she offered. These stolen moments were utter bliss. He pulled her into an ardent embrace, matching her hungry kiss with his own.

XX

He woke to the cool, silken brush of his lover's hair on his face. Lucian growled softly in pleasure, fitting her body into the curve of his, burying his nose in the fragrant hair behind her ear. She hummed and arched against him, like a contented feline. Sleepily, Lucian glanced at the sky. Wait . . . that can't be right, he thought, rising onto his elbow. The sun—the sun!—was rising, the sky streaked with rosy fingers of color. Contentment and confusion disappeared in a sharp, sick wave of fear.

"Sonja! Sonja, wake up!" Lucian shouted, shaking her shoulder, "Sonja! The sun!" she stirred, eyes soft with love as she looked up at him.

"Lucian?" she said gently.

Lucian threw himself over her, to protect her from the sun's deadly rays with his body. The sun burst through the thin veil of cloud and washed over him with gentle warmth. The slender form beneath him let out a soft sigh and melted into ash. His howls of anguish tore the peace of the dawn to shreds.

"Sonja!"

XX

He snapped awake, chest heaving and sweat gleaming on his limbs. The night was still deep and Lucian fervently blessed its cool, protecting darkness. A curt glance around the cupola revealed that Sonja was gone. Still shaken from the memory of the dream, he longed to reach out and touch her, kiss her, assure himself that it truly was a twisted warping of his fears. Feeling bereft and shivering in the rising wind, he wandered over the haphazard pile of his clothes. A folded piece of parchment rested under his boot. He unfolded it, recognizing Sonja's looping hand scrawled with a stick of charcoal.

You looked so peaceful. I didn't want to wake you. If all goes well our mutual friend will be leaving soon for the coven in London. I will meet you here in a sennight.

Carefully veiled lest it fall into the wrong hands. Hmm, Viktor was leaving, was he? Without her father's looming presence casting its tall, thin shadow over them, perhaps he could manage a whole night alone with Sonja. Lucian tucked the note into his boot and began the descent down the sheer face of the cliff, unable to shake off the image of Sonja's ashes scattered to the four winds.

XX

Slavery was the truest test of a man's strength. Like the fire and pressure of a blacksmith's forge, slavery either bent and altered a man into a keen blade, or broke him, rendering him into nothing but a useless piece of metal. Xristo liked to think of himself as the former. He threw the dressed block up into the bed of the cart with a practiced lift and toss. The Lycan assigned to the cart stared blankly ahead—as dumb as an ox chewing its cud. A useless piece of iron, Xristo thought with something like pride. Hate fueled him. He would spite his captors by living—thriving—under their rule. He would outlast them. No matter if the stones he held turned to dust in the wind before it came to pass. What was time for an Immortal?

In another life, he had been a humble cobbler. He had a wife, and a wean not even a year old. A boy with his mother's eyes.

Both were both dust by now, a hundred years later. In the fashion of mortals, their hearts stopped. But now Xristo knew that some creatures lived on after their hearts stopped, cool lithe creatures of unnatural beauty and strength, who fed on the blood of living things. He spat in the dust.

They—the vampires—had come upon him as he pushed his cart home. He was young and strong, so they captured and bound him hand and foot, covering his head with a blindfold. He remembered that long walk well, and the events that followed. The trepidation expanded steadily when he heard wild screams and groans, the snarls of a wild animal. As wild as his fear had been, he hadn't noticed it was a full moon until they tore off the blindfold and a . . . a monster snarled before him, bathed in her milky light. Xristo's brain had known no words to describe its grotesque features, like a man had begun to change to wolf and had been stopped halfway through. Intelligence glowed sharp and clear in the large brown eyes, raw power evident in the breadth of its chest and the ropy muscle cording its arms. The heavy iron chains rattled as the beast took a small step forward.

His captors thrust him closer to the monster, and every fiber of Xristo's being fought against it. Thus tempted by prey, the beast lunged, pinning Xristo's arms immobile with his clawed paws. White teeth sank into Xristo's shoulder, hot blood gushing down his shoulder. Xristo acted without thinking, stabbing out with the blunt end of his silver rosary cross, a gift from his wife. The beast roared in pain and outrage, massive neck reared back to bite. He would have killed Xristo had his captors not moved in and beat the monster with the hafts of their spears. Xristo curled into a ball, half mad with fear and pain.

"Enough! That's the last of them! Enough, Lucian!"

Dimly Xristo thought how odd it was that the men talked to the monster as if it were human. Then the laws of earth and nature were broken. Before his wondering eyes, the beast morphed back into a man! Had Xristo not seen his rosary dangling jauntily from its place in the man's shoulder, he would have thought himself a lunatic.

Xristo grunted as he lifted another block, the rough stone chafing his hands. The muscles of his back and arms screamed as he heaved. The block wobbled and he braced himself for the pain of a crushed foot. Time did not touch them, but Lycans were by no means invincible. Strong hands grasped the other end of the block and helped him push it onto the cart. Xristo exhaled a breath of relief and turned to thank whoever helped him.

And looked into the eyes of the same man who had bitten him all those years ago.

"Thank you," Xristo breathed. Lucian smirked in reply.

"You're welcome, brother. Anytime," he said in that voice of quiet strength. The sharpest of blades, Xristo thought. He had borne the curse of slavery his entire life, but it had not broken him, had not so much as nicked the surface of his impressive mental armor. Lucian moved off, lending a hand here and there, wandering back toward the forge. Saints, you would have thought him a vampire with the fluid ease with which he walked.

Like he was a free man.

Being Lord Viktor's favorite helped things. A burning jealousy seared through Xristo, a resentment aimed both at Lucian and his dark master. He both admired and hated Lucian, for he stood alone in the upper echelon of Lycans. Xristo vented his hate and jealousy in hard, grueling labor, scowling into the dirt. He would outlast them all. It was hours later, barely a watch before dawn, when he noticed that the Lycan who should have been between the poles of the cart was gone. A heartbeat later, the alarm bell began to peal.

XX

"Your blood, my lady," Luka whispered at her elbow, offered her the glass. Sonja accepted it and dismissed her maid with a negligent wave of her hand, eyes riveted on Coloman as he spoke. The words washed over her without meaning and she was deeply glad that it was only her attendance that was required.

Her mind was leagues away, with Lucian. Leave? Was he truly considering it? With his help in rescuing her, some of the more degrading parts of his servitude were removed, replaced with better food, a private room, and access to a warrior's training to sharpen his already perfect instincts. Leaving him sleeping had been in part due to his look of heart-wrenching peace and youth, and in part a cowardly escape from their harsh exchange of words. When passion burned away, she had not wanted to see the accusation in his eyes, for simply being vampire—the species he hated.

The night wore on and Sonja sat in her place at her father's side, enduring the tedium of politics. Her father was set to depart the following night aboard the ship Demeter, bound for the coven in London. True to style, he had left Coloman in command until his return. Sonja herself was considered too . . . unpredictable. Not that she minded. The responsibility of ruling the coven would tie her down.

It was nearing dawn when Janos marched into the room. He knelt between Markus and Amelia's crypts.

"Speak," Viktor bade. Janos rose.

"One of the slaves has escaped, my lord. A Lycan."

Beside her, Viktor made an inarticulate snarl of anger, before issuing a rapid fire bout of commands. But Sonja barely heard. Her world had tilted and now revolved crazily around the axis of a single thought.

Lucian was gone.

With dawn at hand, the vampires began to retire. Sonja begged leave from her father, which he granted tersely. She mechanically rose and followed Luka. Her father would coordinate the search here, using human servants who were not even a fraction as capable as a Death Dealer. He had a chance of survival, if he ran fast enough. Passing strange, that she would care for his safety when he so easily abandoned her.

Sonja let the tears come as dawn greeted the world with birdsong.

XX

As acclimated to the casual cruelty of the vampires as he was, it was rare for Lucian to be truly touched by their acts of violence. But this was different. After running him down, the vampires had attached a rope to the escaped Lycan's moon-shackle.

And dragged him over hill and plain, river and stone back to the castle.

He was still alive when their horses proudly trotted through the gate, his naked body broken and bleeding, long brown hair snarled with burrs. Lucian could distinguish nothing from the shattered wreckage of his features, but his dark eyes were so painfully aware. Lucian's fists balled at his sides, fingernails digging angry half moons into his palms. Thankfully, Viktor had already departed and Lucian did not have to bear his wickedly sharp perusal. He viciously hated that they were treated as animals, dumb beasts to be killed without a thought! He had seen William's beasts be treated with that same terse disgust, but they were mad, without even a shred of human left. These were his brothers they abused!

Viktor's lieutenant Soren strode from the castle, flanked by a trio of Death Dealers. He kicked the inert form with careless disgust. The man emitted a gargling moan, slurring something like a name. Lucian's eyes burned and a single tear squeezed from the corner of his eye. The Lycan's name was Eoin. His wife, Tasha had been taken to the other coven. He had been trying to go to her.

"Damn. He's too far gone to bother with marking him. That's my favorite part. Just kill him," he ordered petulantly.

A Death Dealer drew his sword and plunged it through Eoin's huddled form on the stone, not even pausing his conversation with another vampire. Lucian whispered a prayer for his soul which now rested in freedom and turned back into the hot embrace of his forge, beating out the tattoo of his hate with his hammer.

XX

Sonja entered the stable to ready her horse for patrol. She and her father had found a delicate balance since she took the mission that had nearly ended in her death. She attended Council, but also retained her position of First of the Death Dealers. This busy schedule had resulted in even less time with Lucian. Had he felt neglected? No, he wasn't that petty. It was just her usual bout of self-abuse, analyzing and criticizing every word and gesture.

Mephisto was a fine stallion, Spanish-bred and very fast, a conciliatory gesture from her father. She greeted him with a murmured word, offering a treat in the form of a carrot. As the stallion crunched, Sonja glanced at his left foreleg. He had thrown a shoe a couple nights ago. Lucian had repaired it himself, gaining them another handful of moments together. Sonja's fist shot out, slamming into the wall of the stall. Her mail-backed gloves left indentations in the soft wood around the shapes of her knuckles.

Damn him!

Mephisto shied, eyeing her with suspicion and Sonja sighed. It took a long time for horses to become accustomed to their vampire masters when every engrained instinct screamed 'predator' to their simple senses. The last thing she needed was a spooked mount tonight. On her way to fetch her tack, she passed Cai, one of her Death Dealers.

"Lady Sonja," he greeted with a bow. His armor creaked as he rose, a lopsided grin revealing both winking fangs.

"Cai," Sonja greeted with a cordial nod, "are you riding with me on patrol?"

"Aye, my lady. Have you heard? We brought back the escaped dog." Sonja's expression froze. Icy fingers clenched around her heart. It was only by will and long practice concealing her true emotions that she kept her voice steady.

"I hadn't heard. Did the poor tramp survive the ride home?" Cai laughed, an ugly rasping sound.

"Well, he made it back, alright. It was great; Varos had the idea of tying the mongrel by its collar to the back of his saddle, and dragging it all the way back! Of course, by the time he got here, he was too broken to be of any use so Soren let me kill him. Nothing better to start off the night, eh?"

A small voice in Sonja was screaming and tearing her hair, wild with grief. She let it rage on, battering in ravaging waves against her heart.

One fragile thread of hope persisted.

"Do you remember what he looked like? The Lycan?" she asked casually. Cai shrugged.

"I don't know, my lady. They all look the same to me. As beaten as he was, I couldn't tell anything from his face. Dark hair, solid build, hairy. Like the rest of them, aye?" Sonja managed a dry laugh. It rang tinnily in her ears, as if heard from a great distance. The vital part that had awakened in Lucian's embrace was dying slowly and the world seemed colder and darker.

"Right. Let me tack up Mephisto and we'll be off," she threw the words over her shoulder, rubbery legs carrying her to the dusty quiet of the tack room. Her eyes burned, yearning to shed tears, sobs rising in a hard knot in her throat. But that was for later. Now she had to be strong. Woe to any wolf that crossed her path tonight!

XX

Cai watched Lady Sonja's proud back with naked admiration, his expression thankfully hidden within the confines of his helm. She disdained a helm tonight and the moon caught blue highlights in her black hair. There was something pulsingly beautiful about her air and manner, that pulled like the moon pulled tides. Lady Sonja rode well, directing that twitchy Spanish beast of hers with subtle nudges of thigh and rein.

Cai was drawn from his regard by a chorus of hoarse, undulating howls. Wolves leapt from the shadow of trees. Cai and the other Death Dealers drew sword and crossbow and began to dispatch them from the saddle. Cai loosed all of his loaded bolts, killing three wolves before they had fully emerged from their hiding places. Their pathetic yelps lit some dark pleasure inside him, a craving for pain and blood. A vampire's craving. He jerked his horse around, finding Mephisto's saddle empty.

"Lady Sonja!" he shouted, remembering all too clearly Lord Viktor's warning on what would become of him if Sonja was harmed. A low hiss caught his attention and he looked on mute and dumb from horseback as Lady Sonja battled a dozen wolves by herself, her sword gleaming red in the moonlight. But it wasn't a mad berserker's fury that burned away reason, no, whatever gripped Lady Sonja was as cold as ice and all the more awe-inspiring for its savage control.

She was utterly magnificent.

XX

When his fury had exhausted itself and jangling pile of new chains lay neatly coiled in the corner, Lucian turned to his favorite project, Sonja's sword. Perfect concentration was required, a delicate balance of finesse and force. The blade itself was finished, a hard steel edge mixed with softer silver to keep it from brittleness. Wicked sharp and coldly beautiful. Much like the intended owner, Lucian thought fondly. Lucian set it aside and moved to his worktable. He took up a small chisel and hammer and began the delicate scrollwork along the crossbar.

Hours slipped by without his notice. The sword was his focus, shining and complete in his mind. The dream fell alongside the clumsy reality and his fingers worked to merge the two. The clatter of hooves broke his meditation and he stretched cramped muscles, rubbing stinging eyes. Death Dealers.

Sonja.

Lucian watched through the grate as the vampires trotted through the gate. Instead of cold stateliness, they jabbered on in raucous camaraderie, centering on Sonja. She bore their praise gracefully, but the smile frozen on her face was not true. Lucian had seen the mask fall often enough to know the difference.

There was something tragic in her air that worried him, as if she was staunching a swiftly bleeding wound with ineffectual fingers. Only stiff pride and blind courage kept her upright. Blue eyes raked over her form and found nothing but her supple beauty. He frowned, his hand fisting in the skin covering his doorway. Lucian severely doubted he would be able to maintain his impassive façade, not with Eoin's body cold on the flagstones and his lover's pain screaming at him like a voice crying in the dark. So, like a coward, he hid in his forge, watching Sonja ride past the body of his brother.

XX

Killing the wolves had helped. Some of the wild, vicious anguish had found release in blood and death. The death she had dealt with the same cold efficiency of an executioner. But it took every ounce of her will to trot by the body lying in a pathetic ball on the stone. Her nostrils flared as she passed, seeking one last whiff of his scent. She was rewarded with the scent of blood and misery, stale sweat and fear.

Oh Lucian!

She left Mephisto in the care of a groom and spent the last fragments of her civility in refusing the other Death Dealer's congratulations and invitations for blood and entertainment, Cai's loudest of all. In killing the wolves, she had exorcised the intense desire to avenge him, to drive her blade through Cai's throat and watch him die at her feet.

Her bravado gave out as she crossed the threshold of her room. Her legs simply buckled. Luka, sweet, loyal Luka, was instantly at her side. Hands fluttered like anxious little birds, before at last alighting on Sonja's shoulders.

"Are—are you injured, my lady? Shall I fetch you blood?" she whispered, grey eyes sharp with concern. Sonja found it within her to smile, even as tears streamed down her cheeks. She covered Luka's hand with her own, feeling the warm pulse of her heart.

"No, Luka. I'm fine. It's . . . it's Lucian. He's . . ." the screaming voice inside her wailed and a small sound rose up in her throat. She couldn't bear to say it.

"You loved him?" Luka said gently. Love. By the Elders, it was so wrenchingly simple, so devastating, that little word. Yes, she realized now that she had loved Lucian. Ardently. Enduringly.

And now he was gone. The world was a barren tundra now, bereft of life or warmth.

"Yes," her voice sounded queer, like a ghost's whisper, "I loved him."

XX

At last, the sky began to lighten and this dreadful night was about to end. Weariness fell on him like a sodden cloak, but he ignored it, wanting to feel the warmth of the sun on his face and remember that there was indeed beauty in the world. He wandered aimlessly through the deserted yard, relishing the silence. Nothing remained of Eoin but a bloody smear on the flagstone, a fellow Lycan, a brother, had been given the duty of cremating his body. Lucian breathed deep of the warm night air, letting its cool fingers tangle his hair in a moment of grace. They were few, a moment of stellar beauty that erased the bond of slavery and gifted him with peace. If an Immortal could believe in something higher, it was these moments that led him to do so.

The moment was shattered into glittering fragments with an abrupt impact. Automatically, Lucian fought the clinging purchase of hands, only heartbeats later realizing who imprisoned him.

"Sonja!" he breathed, glancing around, "have you gone completely mad? We are out in the middle of the-" she silenced him with a kiss.

XX

Sun, moon and stars, the wind had brought her the sweetest scent in the world. So hot and pungent and vital. Alive.

He was alive! The joy of it seared away reason and made her fears and doubts seem pointless . . . trivial. She leapt from her window and landed softly, soundlessly on her feet, her gown flaring out like gauzy wings. The predawn light caught the sheen of sweat on his chest, brought sharp contrast to the planes of his face. So beautiful. She paused for not even a heartbeat to admire him before she surged into an embrace, wildly, incandescently happy. His words fell on deaf ears. All that mattered was the soft life breath issuing from his lips, the warmth and flavor of his mouth and tongue. He broke the contact with a gentle push, his blue eyes nearly black with emotion.

"I love you," she whispered. Something leapt in his eyes, tightened in his grip. But he did not answer.

The deadly heat of the gentle dawn along her naked skin obliterated thought with searing pain that defied description.

"Sonja!" her love cried, strong arms circling her.

XX

Fear—panic, wild terror—surged through every cell of him, his feet moving without thought. The reality of his dream surfaced like a tied corpse floating to the surface of a lake, poisoning the water. The forge seemed as distant as the moon and his muscles felt as dense and clumsy as blocks of wood. He threw the skin across the door, casting the room into utter gloom, broken only by the sound of his ragged breathing. Her body was inert in his arms, hissing faintly. He carried her to the rear cot where they had first made love and laid her tenderly upon it, like a queen upon her litter.

"Sonja?" he crooned, brushing her hair from her face. By the moon, her face! Blackened skin mellowed to angry red patches on her face and neck. Her injuries from her odyssey a fortnight prior had been worse, but seeing—and hearing!—her burn was intolerable. Lucian swallowed a sob. His eyes fell on her unfinished sword on his worktable.

Blood! She needed blood!

Lucian yanked his knife from his boot and raked it across his wrist, ignoring the carved line of pain. Red blood welled in the wound, running in warm, tickling drops down his forearm. Cradling her head, he offered her his throbbing wrist.

"Here. Drink," he encouraged. She kissed his wound, the blood dripping uselessly down her chin.

"No, my love. I won't drink from you." the tenderness in her voice brought tears to his eyes.

"Sonja, please. I can't bear to see you in pain."

She made a low sound in her throat, of irritation or surrender, he wasn't sure. The burns obscured expression. Her tongue darted out and grazed over his tender wrist, circling the wound with a warm, damp caress. Lucian dragged in a breath. Instead of pain, arousal stirred at the light caress of her lips. He now knew why some craved a vampire's bite. Sonja brought his hand to her lips and kissed each fingertip, before lazily lavishing attention on his palm. Her tongue lapped up the drops that had strayed down his forearm, nearly purring in delight.

XX

Blood. Lucian's blood. By the Elders, a sweeter elixir had never existed. Among her kind, drinking from humans was reserved to dying slaves. It was simply too troublesome to kill a part of their workforce and spread nasty, taxing rumors about their proclivities. But Lucian's blood . . . its rich, heady flavor lit a wild greed in her and she wanted to drink and drink, devouring the essence of him. His blood slid down her throat like hot wine and was just as inebriating. The pain from her burns disappeared, the skin softening into supple white once more. Dazzling pale blue eyes met his indigo ones and she saw the entranced state of mindless bliss that occurred in some when a vampire bit them. Strange, for she had not bitten him. Sonja kissed his wrist one last time and tore a scrap of fabric from the hem of her gown. Lycans healed fast, but it was better to seal off the temptation.

XX

Lucian floated, suspended in a universe of dazzling beauty. His eyes opened to find Sonja undoing the fastenings of his trousers. His erection sprang free, swollen and turgid and eager.

"S—Sonja?" he whispered tremulously. She looked up at him, her eyes now that soft hazel. A woman, a lover, not a vampire.

"Relax, my love. Let me give you pleasure," she crooned, cool fingers running lightly down his naked length. Lucian whispered a soft prayer, his knees like jelly.

"Lie back," she commanded gently, "I want to take my time." He obeyed, every nerve stretched and quivering, waiting with dreadful anticipation.

Oh, how sweetly she tortured him!

The seductive dance of fingers and lips and tongue made the world spin crazily behind his eyes, brushing aside every foolish notion of control, restraint, or even of self. He was nothing but a shivering mass of sensation, naked and straining under the lash of exhilarating pleasure. The warm, silken suction of her mouth broke, leaving his aching member to the chill of the air. Her face appeared above him, radiant like a goddess. Her lips curved in amusement.

"Lucian, my love . . . you have to be quiet. Someone could hear you," she said huskily. Language eluded him for a moment and he strove to gather his scrambled wits.

"Was I making noise?" he croaked. The smile widened, revealing animal white teeth.

"Yes, you were. I've never heard sounds like that. Like . . . like a dying cow." The amusement was catching, and Lucian felt heat creep up to color his face in embarrassment. He was dryly amazed that his body had blood to spare.

"How flattering," he muttered. He groped for his shirt, which she had miraculously stripped off of him somewhere in fevered bliss of the last minutes. He bit down on a wad of it, tasting the musk and tang of his own sweat. Sonja laughed softly, stroking his face and hair.

"That should work," she said approvingly.

Instead of resuming her pleasurable work, Sonja began the seduction anew, dropping kisses on every inch of skin. She gloried in the power she wielded over him, loving every shudder. Her beloved Lucian, too proud to beg, but too kind to insist. Sonja submerged herself in the sweat and hair, skin and breath, heat and life of him. Utterly beautiful. Utterly hers. When he was wrecked and trembling again, she returned to her work, taking his hot, rigid length into her mouth. Primed as he was, he came almost instantly, in rhythmic spurts wracking his entire body. She swallowed as she had his blood, devouring the essence of him.

XX

"So are you going to tell me why you jumped me as the sun was rising?" Lucian asked, idly teasing the mane of black hair spread across his chest. It was somewhere near mid-morning, and in the deep, cool shadow of his forge, they had barely spoken in the hours since dawn, only crooned endearments and grunting encouragement. Now that the frenzy of passion had cooled, they could clear the air.

Her slender arms tightened around his chest, her voice stirring the tiny hairs on his chest, "I thought it was you. The Lycan who escaped. After our conversation in the shrine . . ." the bleak anguish in her voice shook him.

Lucian frowned. How much anguish has she endured these past few nights? First in abandonment, then thinking he was . . . the vision of her tragic bearing upon riding through the gate. It was his fault she had been burned. If he hadn't been such a coward, he would have saved her pain.

"Oh Sonja . . ." he breathed, kissing the crown of her head. He sat up, pulling her with him. He needed to see her face. The smooth pale oval held no bravado, no coldness, only sad hazel eyes that dominated her beautiful face. He cupped her head in his hands.

"Sonja, do you really think I would simply leave and forget about you?"

"You want freedom more than anything. I couldn't ask you to stay here, especially not for love. It would poison it. I don't want that," she answered with such tragic dignity that his heart skipped a beat.

"I love you, Sonja. That's all I care about now. Freedom can wait," he smiled wryly.

"After all . . . Lycan or vampire, we're Immortals. We have nothing but time."

XX

The day passed in a sensual blur of mindless bliss. Long, tender hours of sleep in each others' arms were punctuated by bouts of passionate love-making. Sonja purred softly, nuzzling the dark mat of hair on his chest.

"Perhaps one day we will make love in a proper bed, with sheets and pillows," she said, tracing the contours of his abdomen and the curve of his hip. His fingers too danced along the curves of her back and buttocks. Even as completely satisfied as they were, neither one could stop touching the other. With his eyes still closed, Lucian grunted in amusement.

"A bed? I'd prefer privacy—thick walls to muffle your screams of rapture and time enough to have my way with you thoroughly." Laughter bubbled up in her like champagne. She nipped his shoulder.

"Have your way with me? Who's to say I'd let you?" she retorted playfully. One callused fingertip circled her nipple, bringing it erect with a sweet burn of pleasure that made her toes curl in delight.

"I can be very persuasive when I wish to be," he whispered.

"Indeed," Sonja agreed. A comfortable silence yawned lazily between them. The sun was setting. She could feel the burning rays dimming as the cool blanket of night rose up to cover the world.

The moment of their parting loomed and Sonja suddenly hated the world beyond, hating it for making their love a sin to be hidden. She rolled atop him; every inch of their naked lengths pressed together, and held his beloved face between her hands.

"I love you, Lucian," she whispered. The knowledge was still so fresh and glittering, the discovery so wonderful that her heart sang every time she uttered the words. She loved also the softening of his expression and the beautiful warmth in his eyes. He was her sun, a sun that didn't burn, and the light and warmth of his love could sustain her.

Lucian's hands came up and stroked her wild hair from her face. Her hair was black silk and her skin the palest satin. Magnificent opulence to his crude senses. Her body felt so perfect nestled atop his and the wild, sex-starved animal within him stirred. Lucian ignored its lure. Their time was so short now.

"As I love you, Sonja. Whatever they say, this is beautiful. This is right," he told her, seeing the vulnerability stark in her face. He laughed at his own foolishness. How had he ever considered her indifferent? Her life and passion blazed, unfettered by the chains her kind tried to impose on her. Lucian sealed the words with a kiss, sweet and slow, savoring the taste of her mouth and the sensation of her tongue stroking his.

They dressed in silence, struggling to recover their composure, their masks. After such intimacy, to look into her eyes and find apathy was a knife to his heart. She moved toward the door. He stopped her with a hand on her arm. A shiver raced through her, confusion flashing in her eyes.

"I have a way where you can go unseen," he whispered, eyes darting toward the moving shadows beyond the skin. Voices were already shouting; whips cracking as another night's labor began.

Sonja padded barefoot after him, realization dawning when he bent and yanked off the loose iron grate.

"A sewer. You want me to crawl around in a sewer." She spaced the words carefully, emphasizing her distaste for the idea. His grin was quick and playful, which raised her mood a fraction. Some part of her would jump headfirst in the sewage if it would make him smile.

"The First of the Death Dealers afraid of a little water?" he teased. Sonja snorted primly.

"That, blacksmith, is not water," she observed. Lucian shrugged as if the difference was minimal.

"I slogged through it to see you." Sonja's eyes narrowed at the implied challenge. She wadded the excess of her gown in her hand, vowing she would not soil a perfectly good nightgown.

"Very well, then," she said, leaping down into the shadowy depths. The viscous sewage was ice cold and reached her ankles. In the muted light cast from Lucian's forge, she could see the half-decayed heaps of bodies and was violently grateful she did not have to breathe. Lucian replaced the grate.

"When will I see you again?" he hissed.

"Three days' time. At the shrine," she replied. Lucian twisted. Already there was a vampire at the door, shouting for him to hurry with hurled insults.

"I'm coming!" he shouted back, turning to find his beloved standing ankle deep in sewage, looking no less like an angel despite it.

"But when is your father due to return?" he asked.

Damn, that was the last of her air. Sonja took in a quick breath through her mouth, nearly gagging. By the Elders, she could taste the rank flavor of this place!

"I am not sure. Now go, my love!"—another snatched breath—"I will not allow you to be beaten on my account! We will speak soon."

With that, she picked her way around corpses, making her way beneath the castle. Sonja found a loose grate with ease, and slipped up into her chamber with no mishap. Luka rose from her kneeling position, her wooden rosary beads knotted around her fingers. Unthinking, she threw her arms around her mistress in a quick and fervent embrace.

"Oh my lady! I was so worried for you! What were doing, jumping out into the sunlight like that? I thought maybe the loss of Lucian had driven you mad!"

Sonja laughed softly, patting Luka's head tenderly. She pulled back, clasping her maid's hands in a rare moment of female camaraderie. A laugh trilled out of her like the pealing of bells.

"Everything is all right, Luka. I was wrong! He's alive! I've spent the day in his arms." She smiled in catlike satisfaction and sighed.

"There are none to match him as a man—as a lover." Then she noticed Luka's stricken expression.

"Oh my lady, please be careful! This is very dangerous, for the both of you. If anyone finds out . . ." half a heartbeat later, Luka was dangling in Sonja's grasp by a handful of her dress, legs kicking vainly.

"Will you be the one to expose us, human? Hm?" she demanded, shaking her a little. Panicked grey eyes found Sonja's inhumanly blue ones and felt that paralyzing rush of fear. Those blue eyes . . . memories of her first nights in captivity, the grabbing hands, the winking fangs, the cruelty wielded so casually. Lady Sonja wasn't like them! She wasn't! Luka vowed.

"N—no, my lady! I will t—take your secret to my grave, I—I swear!" she stammered. Her lady's voice was so cold and sharp, like a blade of ice.

"You'd better. Or you will. He is mine. Who are you—or any other, for that matter—to say yea or nay to me?" Lady Sonja said, voice hushed with trembling passion. She lowered Luka to stand on her own feet. Her knees simply gave out, falling into a quivering heap at her mistress's feet. She crawled forward, touching her forehead to the hem of her gown.

"Forgive me, my lady! I never meant to imply I would betray you! You more than any other have shown me kindness. I would never do anything to-"

"Hush, child. I believe you," Sonja said gently, regretting her outburst. She paced toward the window, savoring the warm wafting wind. When the summer faded into autumn, she and Lucian would have to find another trysting place. The cupola was much too cold for his delicate human skin.

"Trust me, Luka; I know the danger of this . . . this affair. But . . ." she fisted a hand helplessly over her un-beating heart.

"But I love him." For that love, she would defy her father, the Coven, and her entire race to have him.

Luka sighed, eyes misty.

"That's so romantic," she sighed. Sonja laughed.

"It is, isn't it? Romantic and deadly. Come now, Luka. Draw me a bath. My return wasn't as clean as I hoped."

XX

Three months later . . .

Viktor twisted the rein viciously, reminding the willful animal he rode who was master. With a whinny of protest, the beast settled into a prancing trot. The new coven in cool, misty London was forming nicely and he had been pleased by its progress. In the misty annals of the future, Viktor foresaw covens on every continent, in every major city, living as royalty free from any stricture of society or law. An Underworld all their own. Of the Elders, he admitted he was the most ambitious. Amelia, when he woke her in a couple decades, would awe at how greatly he had increased the Coven's holdings.

His entourage fanned out behind him, laden with riches and slaves and livestock from the ship anchored in the bay. For all the success of the venture, Viktor found himself eager to return to his dark mountain castle, named for the ancestor of all the Immortals, Alexander Corvinus. Silver-clad Death Dealers flanked him, crossbows at the ready. With their vigilance all these years, surely William's spawn were nearing their end!

Disgusting creatures, those slobbering, mad beasts.

Viktor's sharp mind turned from the beasts of William's make to the race that he had created himself: the Lycans. Or rather, he had created them, from whatever strange thing was in his blood. Lucian. Some warped thing like affection warmed Viktor's un-beating heart. Something parental had stirred in him from the moment Viktor had killed Lucian's snarling monster of a mother. After all, had he not named him 'Light,' foreshadowing his place as the vampires' daylight guardian?

"Tannis," Viktor said, tilting his head a few spans to one side. The scribe heeled his horse forward to ride at his stirrup. Tannis was a part of the welcoming escort from the castle. Viktor smiled. The ambitious vampire never missed a chance to curry favor.

"Yes, my lord?" he asked, in his slithering, oily voice.

"Was the escaped dog brought to heel?" Viktor asked with careful enunciation. Escape was not an uncommon thing, but his mind swiftly turned over various ideas on how to curb the impulse.

"It was, my lord. Swiftly," replied the historian.

"And what punishment did Soren exact?" A ghost of a smile touched Tannis' thin lips. It was Viktor's way, to want information. Information meant control and control meant power. That was why Tannis made it his business to possess information.

"None was needed. One of the Death Dealers tied the dog to his saddle and dragged it back. It was too mangled for anything more."

Viktor chuckled.

"Most creative," he drawled.

"Indeed," answered Tannis. He paused and Viktor could nearly see him choosing his words.

"Anything more, Tannis?" the scribe raised and lowered one shoulder in a nonchalant shrug.

"Nothing of import, my lord. Only an observation."

"Say on," Viktor urged.

"I hesitate to guess what possessed the Lycan who escaped, but there was some suggestion that he was following his mate." Viktor arched a brow, something in his stomach rebelling at the thought of Lycans making pups.

"Is that so?" he said pensively, long fingers tapping a tattoo on the pommel of his saddle.

"How many Lycans have attempted escape in the past oh . . . century, Tannis?" The historian shifted through the vast stores of knowledge in his mind and Viktor noted just how powerful that knowledge was. He would have to watch Tannis most carefully.

"Five and seventy. Give or take."

"And how many of that number would you hazard were chasing a . . . what was your term? Mate?" Viktor said dryly, his words tinged with humor. Tannis allowed another shadow of a smile, acknowledging the joke. The hazel eyes sharpened as he calculated.

"In my opinion, my lord, two-thirds, if not all. Why else would they so foolishly throw away their lives?"

"An interesting thought," Viktor replied. If their workforce was thus distracted, then Viktor must remove the temptation. Besides, females could not bear as much labor as the males. As the party entered the mountain pass leading to the castle, the sound of hooves reverberated off the canyon walls in a cacophony that made Viktor grind his teeth. With a wave of his hand, he urged his mount into a trot. The last league between him and home would pass swiftly.

The Council stood arrayed in their finery as Viktor trotted through the gate. To his surprised pleasure, Sonja was at the front. Sharp, cold blue eyes raked over his daughter, noting with pride her nimble beauty and sharp intelligence.

Perhaps at last she was ready to claim her birthright!

Viktor fought the tide of emotion that rose in him at the sight of his daughter, smothering it beneath cold reason. He swung down from his mount and handed it to a Lycan groom.

"Coloman," he addressed his regent first, "I trust all was well in my absence?"

"Superb, my lord." the Council member answered, "If you will notice the crossbows atop the walls. I took the liberty of installing them. They were Lady Sonja's suggestion, meant to protect our Death Dealers from the wall."

Viktor followed his gaze and was pleased to see massive crossbows lining the upper wall, each manned by a Death Dealer.

"An excellent idea. Well done, Coloman." He turned and gifted his daughter with a rare smile.

"Sonja." She smirked, one white fang glinting.

The rest of the entourage began to file in and as Coloman and the others returned to the council chamber to be briefed by Tannis. Viktor was content for the moment to watch and supervise the unloading of their new riches. His daughter came to stand beside him, her necklace catching the light of the waxing moon. No matter how often she wore that particular necklace, it gave him an absurd thrill to see it on her, this token of his fatherly adoration.

You, child, are the most precious thing to me in this world.

The words were true, even after all these years. She had grown into a woman in that span of years, a warrior of distinction and a popular figure at council. A rare and potent combination. If only she would set aside the worthless pursuits of youth and accept his tutelage!

"You have been well, Father?" she asked coolly, not taking her eyes from the procession before her. Viktor clasped his hands behind his back, his proud, unbending form like a pillar of marble.

"I have been very well, my dear. How goes patrol? How many scores of those despicable dogs have you exterminated in my absence?" the air of gentle mockery could not be contained. She knew of his displeasure with her insistence on being a Death Dealer. His reckless, contrary Sonja, what need was there for a princess such as her to ride through mud and blood?

"At least seven score, my lord," she said haughtily, acknowledging his displeasure and offering her own crisp dismissal. The affection broadened in admiration. It had been too long since any dared spar with him with words. Viktor reached into the depths of his robe and produced a small jade figurine embellished with gold carved in the shape of a young woman. It had caught his eye, the balance of defiance and femininity captured in her bearing and expression, so reminiscent of his Sonja.

"A token for you, my dear."

Viktor caught a glimpse of her face in profile, the elegant sweep of cheekbone gilded in moonlight, skin as pale and smooth as alabaster. Her mother's face and hair, he thought. There was nothing of his pointed features in the beauty of her face.

His beautiful daughter.

She accepted the figurine carefully, one pale fingertip tracing the maid's flowing tresses, the tilt of her brows.

"It's beautiful. Thank you, Father," she whispered, dazzling him with a bright smile. He laid a gentle hand on her shoulder.

"You are most welcome. Now go on the council chamber. I will be along in a moment."

XX

Lucian narrowed his eyes, gazing down the gleaming length of the blade. With an artist's precision, he dragged the whetstone along the edge, its grating rasp creating its own music. He took up a soft cloth and smoothed away the grit. The sword—Sonja's sword—was the best he had ever forged, and it shone like a bar of living silver in the flickering torchlight. No wolf would be able to stand before it.

He was so absorbed in the sword that he didn't notice the cool shadow darkening his doorway.

"A fine blade, blacksmith." The cold, sardonic voice shattered his concentration and his heart lurched and took up another fevered pace. Lucian leapt to his feet; only then lifting his gaze to Viktor's darkly clothed form.

"Thank you, my lord. I did not know you had returned."

"A wonder, that. Were you so absorbed in your work that you did not hear?" A muscle fired in Lucian's jaw. Viktor had the uncanny talent of finding the chinks in his mental armor and exploiting them.

"I was," he admitted, "forgive me."

Viktor waved off his apology with a magnanimous flick of his fingers. It was a rarity to catch Lucian off guard, and his flustered replies amused him.

"I am curious though Lucian, that you find time to make such a magnificent weapon. Shall I increase your quota so that are not so distracted?" Viktor drawled, needling blue eyes pinning Lucian in place. The fact he had made such a weapon without the knowledge of his superiors worried Viktor. What other secrets did the Lycan hold in those enigmatic blue eyes?

"I made this sword on my own time, my lord. I have not neglected my duties. I have reached my quota and more." Lucian said calmly. He quickly recovered his equanimity, burying the mixed admiration, challenge and resentment he felt for Viktor. One thin blond brow lifted.

"Is that so? Let me see it," he said, gesturing for the sword. With a brisk flourish, Lucian offered the sword balanced on his fingers. Viktor's bony hand closed over the hilt and he waved it about, testing its balance.

"You did not make this for yourself," he commented, "the hilt is much too narrow."

"No, my lord. I did not make it for myself," Lucian agreed. He waited, ignoring the implied question out of childish pique. Viktor exhaled sharply in frustration.

"Then for whom did you make it, blacksmith?" Viktor snapped.

"Lady Sonja," he answered.

The vampire lord went very still, hovering like a falcon preparing to strike. He lifted his brow again, imbuing the expression with a wealth of doubt and wonder. The Lycan had made a sword for his daughter.

Why? Had she commissioned it herself? True, Viktor's old blade was ill-suited for her, but . . . Viktor stifled a surge of hurt at the thought. She was a great enough warrior for such a thing not to hinder her. Viktor's instincts prickled.

No. He is a Lycan. Impossible, he thought.

Lucian stood for what felt like a century, measuring Viktor's reaction. He schooled his expression into one of bemused innocence.

"Why?" Viktor demanded.

"Why what?" Lucian replied, playing the fool. Viktor's eyes flashed in deadly warning, a glint of fang catching the light as he snarled.

"Don't test me, blacksmith. Why would you craft such a sword? What is Lady Sonja to you?" he demanded, almost sneering her name. Lucian's heart squeezed. Had saying her name revealed his love for her?

"When you sent me to find her some sennights back, she told me that she broke her crossbow on the jaw of a wolf. While doing so, the beast pushed her back and she was burned by the sun. I thought, 'How differently would that fight have gone had she been armed with something else?' So I made this."

Viktor's eyes narrowed, a thin smirk of mocking amusement curling his mouth.

"If you remember, Lucian, she was also armed with a sword. Is your craftsmanship so superior it would have saved her?"

Lucian smiled and replied, "I would never claim that, my lord. But this blade is unique. Allow me to demonstrate." He gestured for Viktor to hand it back. The vampire lord did so, frowning. Lucian tilted the blade toward Viktor, pointing out a small lever just below the crossbar.

"It's very stiff, so as not to be trigger accidentally. But with a hard flick . . ." Lucian trailed off and swept his arm in an arc, deploying the discs. They flew with deadly precision and stuck in the stone wall. He glanced back at Viktor and nearly laughed. The expression of wide-eyed surprise sat so ill on his face!

Avid interest quickly replaced the doubt and even the questionable logic of Lucian's motives. A good pet, making a new toy for his mistress. The word 'mistress' hung unpleasantly in the tapestry of Viktor's thoughts, but he dismissed it.

The alternative was too ludicrous.

"Fascinating, Lucian." The Lycan bowed deeply.

"Thank you, my lord. I hope the lady will be of the same opinion."

XX

Sonja threw furtive glances over her shoulder as she glided down the deserted hall. With summer nights being so short, it grew difficult to hold a proper Council session much less a thorough patrol.

Long, lonely sennights had passed since her last tryst with Lucian.

A small ember of anger burned in her stomach, persistent and irritating. She could not speak to him, or even look at him without fearing suspicion. The delirious aspect of their dangerous affair had long since waned. That childish delight had faded as her love for him grew. Now she could not turn her back on him without cutting out her own heart. With Lucian, everything was different. She had found her soul's mate, one she could be herself with. One who loved her without condition, without demand.

Sonja was jarred from her thoughts by the tread of step. She leapt into an alcove and scaled the wall, hanging from the ceiling like a deadly fly. She watched two Death Dealers march by and chided herself. Lucian led her thoughts to distraction and that distraction would get them both killed. She landed soundlessly and sprinted on, braces of candles flickering at her passing. He was already there, waiting for her. If her heart could beat, it would have fluttered and hitched at the sight of his strong silhouette.

Instinct prickled and he turned to find Sonja standing there. The longing that stirred in his belly was mirrored in her eyes. Without speaking, Lucian closed the distance between them. She tilted her head up in sweet offering, eager to be kissed, but he halted her with a fingertip over her lips.

"Sonja," he whispered. One dark brow, as graceful as a raven's wing, swept up.

"Yes, my love? What is it?" she asked, linking her arms around his waist. Lucian swallowed hard, searching for the right words, idly stroking her back underneath the cool weight of her hair.

"You love me." he stated slowly. Now the corners of her mouth quirked up in a bemused smile.

"Yes," she said with equal gravity. Her hand floated up and cupped his cheek, cool and soft.

"Yes, Lucian. I love you."

"And I love you in return, so . . ." Lucian trailed off. Sonja laughed, dropping a kiss on his chin.

"Spit out whatever words are choking you, Lucian !" He tightened his grip, pressing her flush to him.

"Marry me." the laughing light in her eyes died, the smile frozen in place. Lucian forged on, the words tumbling from his lips.

"I don't want what is between us to be just a . . . an affair. I don't want you just to be my lover. I want you as my bride. My wife. So we can have this small thing that makes sense in all this, something that is real and true and ours."

Sonja listened raptly to the impassioned music of his words, every fiber of her being longed for the dream he spoke of. That is what made her reply so heinously wrong.

"I can't marry you, Lucian." She saw the moment he disconnected, the moment he severed the tie of emotion and stepped back from her, retreating into the safety of his own mind. His blue eyes darkened to indigo and nerveless hands fell to his sides.

"Why?" the passion in his voice evaporated into indifference. Sonja fought back tears, rising on tiptoe to frame his face.

"No. Don't do that. Come back. Listen to me." she paused, waiting. He softened infinitesimally, one hand lifting to trap hers against his cheek.

"Don't you understand what I have to do to keep this a secret? Eventually, I will have to show at least some interest in another . . . in a vampire, to appease my father, to erase suspicion. I couldn't do that, not if you were my husband."

"But it is perfectly permissible if I am your humble lover? Your Lycan love-slave?" he snapped, face thunderous with anger. She welcomed it. She preferred it to the blank apathy of his slave's mask.

"No . . . but don't you see the difference? If you were my husband, then I am bound to you by law and duty, not simply by choice." One stubborn tear slipped down her cheek at the sheer unfairness of it. How could her species despise one as kind and wonderful as he?

Lucian erased the tear with the callused pad of his thumb, treasuring her soft cheek, treasuring her. His sweet, loyal Sonja. Oh, how her hazel eyes pleaded with him, begging for his understanding.

"I understand, my love. You don't want to betray me, even to keep us safe. I love how loyal and true you are to the ones you love. But . . . I think I could stomach it, perhaps."

"I would only flirt, or maybe a kiss. Never more," she promised, kissing his thumb.

"I could never lie with another. Not now. Not when I have you." warmth trickled deliciously through his chest, a delightful surge of hope.

"Was that your only objection, my love?" he asked tenderly. Sonja nodded. Lucian released a breath.

"Then I'll ask again," he purred, leaving gentle kisses on the arch of her eyebrows, the tip of her nose, her cheekbones, working his way down to her hot mouth. When he came up for air, he whispered, "Will you marry me, Sonja?"

Greedily, Sonja snatched another kiss, loving the taste of his mouth, the intimate caresses of his tongue. Joy and love tangled within her heart.

"Yes."

Neither Lycan nor vampire would sanction their union, so before nature and themselves, Lucian set his hands on her shoulders.

"Wife," he announced. Mirroring him, Sonja solemnly set her hands on his shoulders.

"Husband," she echoed. With nothing but a bare stone floor for a marriage bed, the two became one with the stars watching overhead.


A/N: Updated version. I realized this section was missing something. Then I realized that in Underworld, Lucian called Sonja his bride. This isn't mentioned in the 3rd movie, so I thought I'd write the scene. What do you think? It didn't take long for Lucian and Sonja to fall in love, in my opinion. They were risking death, and you wouldn't do that for the sake of a fling, or sex, since both of them were strong and beautiful specimens of their respective species. We'll hear more from Xristo later. And Raze.

To explain a few things: for a medieval feel, I used archaic measures of time, distance and so on. For those of you who don't know:

Sennight- a week

Fortnight- two weeks

Watch- a period of a watchman's shift, usually three hours

League- I don't know the precise measurement, but it is over a mile.

Also, the name of Sonja's horse, Mephisto, is short for Mephistopheles, the devil that tempted Faust. Just a little literary humor.

R&R