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To burn: to consume; to destroy; to shine.

IV. Smolder

I woke up to a strange ringing. It took me a moment to realize that it was the sound of my house phone ringing. I glanced behind me as I sat up, Godric was still asleep. He didn't even seem to notice that I'd gotten up.

I headed upstairs, grabbing the kitchen phone. "Hello?" I answered, checking the time on the microwave. It was nearly eight-thirty and the sky was a dusty orange. Godric would probably be awake soon.


"Uh, yeah. Who is this?"

"It's Claire."

Claire was my editor at the Mercury. I bit the side of my cheek; she had been extremely hesitant to let me run with this story in the first place. Who knew what she would do once she found out what had happened.

"Oh, hey Claire!" I tugged on the end of my ponytail. "How did you get this phone number?"

"You weren't answering your phone and Riley Peterson said you missed your English Lit class this morning. I have your home phone number on record. Are you okay?"

"Uh-huh, everything's fine!" I flinched at the high pitched tone of my voice. It only got like that when I was lying. Hopefully Claire wouldn't be able to tell.

"Is something going on? It's not like you to miss class like that."

By now the sun had set. I heard the guest room door open and turned around, watching as Godric made his way upstairs. He nodded at me in greeting and I smiled back.

"Yeah, listen Claire, some family stuff just came up over the past few days and I think I'm gonna have to pull out from the story." I gestured for Godric to sit at the kitchen table and he did, waiting patiently for me to finish.

"Are you sure? I know you really wanted to work this story, Spence."

"It meant a lot that you let me run with this, Claire, really. But I just have too much on my plate right now." Godric nodded to me. Apparently he approved of me dropping the story. I couldn't help but smile at the thought of him not wanting me to put myself in danger. For a final push I added, "I wasn't coming up with anything anyway. I probably would have quit it soon either way."

"Okay, if you're sure. I'll talk to you later."

As I hung up the phone, Godric stood to look at some of the family photos we had hanging on one of the walls. He probably felt my eyes on him as I watched him, but he didn't seem to mind so I didn't stop.

Each photo he looked at brought up different memories for me—my fathers holding me the day they brought me home, the first time they took me to see a musical, last Christmas. A small smile flitted onto his face when he came to my third grade class picture. I'd been convinced I could cut my own hair and ended cutting off a big chunk of hair right at the front of my head. As punishment they made me go to class pictures with that hairdo before taking me to a professional salon to get it fixed.

"They refuse to take that one down," I said, unable to contain my own grin when he smiled at me.

Godric returned to the kitchen table. "It is obvious your fathers love you a great deal."

He had no idea how much hearing that warmed my heart. My whole life I'd heard people saying that two men were unfit to raise a girl, that their "lifestyle choices" would ruin me or "turn me into one of them". All that they had done was teach me that love is never wrong, and to accept everyone for who they are, not what they are.

"They will be gone for a while?" he continued when I didn't answer.

I shook my head, "They'll be gone for at least another month, so we don't have to worry about them coming back."

"And I take it they have no idea what you have been up to these past few weeks." There was a teasing look in his eyes that told me know he was referring to my little trips to the Fellowship.

"Er, no," I admitted, fiddling with an old magazine left on the table. "But nothing happened, so why bother?"

Godric frowned, his eyes instantly moving up to look at my forehead.

Oh yeah. I forgot about that.

Not even thinking, I lifted my hand up to test it and flinched at the throbbing that resulted. "Okay, so maybe not nothing, but still, what they don't know won't hurt them."

Judging by the look on his face, Godric didn't agree with that logic, but I wasn't about to let him convince me to tell my parents what happened. I could just imagine how that conversation would end up. Not to mention adding harboring a vampire to the list…

I went into the bathroom, wanting to see the damage to my face for myself. Whatever I'd imagined, I wasn't expecting to see a giant yellow and brown bruise covering my entire forehead or a nasty scab on the side of my upper lip.

"Jeez," I murmured under my breath.

At that, Godric was by my side. I glared at him through the mirror. "Why didn't you tell me it was this bad?"

He actually looked a little sheepish, "I knew you would not believe me until you saw it for yourself."

Fine, maybe he was right.

He was getting to know me a little too well, if you asked me. Or maybe I was just easy to read.

I sighed, hoping my make up would be able to cover up at least a little of the damage. My stomach rumbled and I pressed my hands on to it, frowning as I realized how low I was on groceries.

I couldn't help but glance over at Godric and wonder if he was hungry. "Come on," I announced, grabbing his hand and leading him back into the kitchen. "We need to go to the grocery store. I'm starving, what about you?"

Godric chuckled, watching me move around my kitchen, checking to see what food we already had. "At my age I can go a while without needing to feed. I will be fine for the time being."

Not bothering to push him further (I could secretly find where they kept the Tru Bloods once we got to the store), I went to reach for my keys and stopped dead in my tracks.

"Damn it," I muttered, slamming my fist down on the counter. I turned to Godric, "I forgot Steve took my car and my purse."

"I could carry you there," Godric offered tentatively, almost shy about it.

"Carry me?" I questioned. "Like, a piggy back ride? It's kind of a long walk to carry someone…."

He was obviously trying to hide his smile, and had to try even harder when I narrowed my eyes at him. "Trust me, your weight will be no hindrance for me. And I will not walk, I can move at speeds so fast you would think we are flying. If you give me the directions, we can be there in no time."

I blinked at him, considering this. When I could come up with no reasonable objections I shrugged and gave him general directions to our nearest Piggly Wiggly.

It wasn't until I looked down at my wrinkled clothing that I realized I hadn't showered in days. Not wanting to make Godric put up with however awful I probably smelled, I took a quick shower and changed into jean shorts and a loose floral tank top. Having grown up in the dry Texas heat, I wasn't one to use a hair dryer even if you held a gun up to my head. My damp blonde locks fell in loose waves around my shoulders.

The bruise and cut on my face would surely draw attention, so I made sure to apply extra foundation to both areas. The makeup did little to cover up the injuries but at least they didn't look so apparent anymore.

Remembering I no longer had a purse, I mentally cursed Steve Newlin. Luckily I kept most of my cash in a safe hidden in my closet; I grabbed a few twenties and returned downstairs to lead Godric outside.

I froze at the sight of the banged up van in my garage. I'd completely forgotten about it.

"Do not worry about disposing of that," Godric insisted, pressing a large hand to the small of my back. "I will take care of it later."

With that, he presented his back to me, bending his knees slightly so I could get on easier. I slid my hands onto his shoulders, feeling the strong muscles moving beneath my grip, and with a little hop, jumped onto his back. My thighs pressed down onto his lean hips, but he didn't seem to mind in the slightest. His hands slipped down to grip my knees and I pressed myself closer to him.

"Hold on tightly," he murmured. Before I could even respond, we had taken off.

Godric had said we would be moving fast, but I was not expecting this.

The wind whipped past my face, bringing tears to my eyes and sending my hair flying. I closed my eyes, my stomach no longer able to take the sight of houses and trees moving past us at impossible speeds. My arms clutched at him and I pressed my face into the back of his neck. I was tempted to completely wrap my legs around his waist just to better lock myself to him, but suddenly we stopped moving.

When I finally dared to open my eyes again, I saw we were standing in some trees just outside the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly. Somehow I managed to pry my white-knuckled fingers from Godric's shoulders, my legs sliding down his hips limply. It wasn't until I let go of him completely that we both realized I wasn't quite ready to stand on my own just yet. My legs buckled beneath me and I would have collapsed onto the ground if it weren't for Godric's quick hands grabbing me by the elbows and holding me against him.

"Are you alright?" he whispered into my hair. I nodded against him, keeping my face pressed into his neck as my fingers clutched at the front of his shirt. He pulled away slightly to look into my eyes and I could see the worry on his face.

"Perhaps you were not ready for that," he suggested.

I shook my head, sliding one of my hands up to cup his tense jaw. "I'm fine," I insisted, finally able to find my voice. "That was just a little…I'll remember to keep my eyes closed next time."

We chuckled together and he pressed a loving kiss to my forehead. I stared up at him before rolling up onto my tiptoes and kissing him lightly. My stomach fluttered and I let out a soft sound at the back of my throat before we parted.

I took a step away from him, straightening out my top and running a hand through my hair that was now perfectly dry from all that wind power. Now that I didn't feel like the world was spinning off its axis, I was okay to head into the store.

Godric followed me silently through the aisles, watching as I scanned over types of microwave dinners and boxed meals. Normally my family was big into home cooked meals for dinner, but since my parents had left I found that it was just easier to do the microwave thing when cooking for one.

A large section of red caught my eye and I found the aisle where they kept the packs of Tru Bloods. Godric frowned when he watched me turn the cart down the aisle but he followed me nonetheless.

I stared at the bottles; I hadn't realized they came in flavors—blood types, actually. I turned to him, "Do you have a preference?"

He eyed me for another moment before turning to the selections, reading each label carefully. Eventually he selected a four pack of AB-negative and hesitantly placed it in the cart beside a box of Hamburger Helper.

We made our way to one of the checkout aisles. The middle-aged cashier began scanning my items and I noticed her hand hovered for a moment before she reached for the pack of Tru Bloods. She told me my total and as I counted bills, I could feel her eyeing the marks on my face.

"You do not need to pay for those for me," Godric insisted, placing a hand on my upper arm. I couldn't help the shivers that went up my spine and the woman frowned.

I turned to him, giving him the same look he was giving me. "I don't mind, really. Besides, do you even have any money on you?"

Ha. Got him.

He held my gaze for another moment before nodding and moving down to the end of the conveyer belt to pack all of our items.

The woman glared in his direction as she handed me my change but I just smiled at her, dropping the coins into a can taking donations for some local charity. She didn't even bother wishing us a good night, but I just pretended I didn't notice.

I could feel several other pairs of eyes on us, one man even blatantly glanced at my neck to look for puncture marks as he passed us. Godric didn't seem to pay any attention but I was seriously getting sick with everyone and their judgmental looks.

"Ready to go home, baby?" I asked loudly as I pressed my front against him. He just stood there, looking at me completely lost, holding the grocery bag at his side. One of my hands slid up to caress the back of his neck while I let the other one stroke down his back to slip into the back pocket of his pants.

Godric stiffened and his eyes widened briefly, but he said nothing. At the gasps heard behind us, he seemed to understand what I was doing. I smirked up at him before kissing him forcefully, allowing my tongue to push past his teeth. As we pulled away, I tugged his lower lip in between my teeth.

He wasn't expecting that move, apparently, because he let out a low rumble in his chest. His free hand moved to grip my hip, pressing me even closer to his firm body.

Somebody coughed from a few checkout lanes down and I just grinned up at him, pulling his hand into mine as we walked out the sliding doors.

"You were provoking those people," Godric said softly once we were outside.

I pursed my lips, "They deserved it." Suddenly I almost felt like a child, though. I glanced over at him through the corner of my eye. Maybe I had taken it too far. I was still new to the vampire world and I didn't exactly know what kind of behavior was expected of them in public.

I shyly asked, "Are you mad?"

He stopped walking, turning to me and grabbed my hand. "Not at all; I admire the fact that you can stand up to those who so readily judge you."

"Years of practice," I said with a tired smile. He squeezed my hand before offering his back to me once more. I hopped on, clutching at his shoulders as he held me up with one hand, using the other to hold our groceries.

This time I kept my eyes closed the entire time, allowing myself to feel the wind blowing my hair and listen to the sounds of the world whizzing past us. I lifted my head once we slowed and I could hear the chirping of crickets once more.

My recovery was easier this time as I slipped off his back, smiling gratefully over at him when he kept one hand on my lower back. We were quiet as he watched me microwave a bottle for him and then make one of my Lean Cuisines for myself.

Godric was so easy to talk to, it wasn't until the clocks chimed one in the morning that I realized how long we'd sat at my kitchen table, content to just talk with each other about our lives.

I wasn't really tired yet but I no longer wanted to just sit in my kitchen with him. As I threw away the remains of our meals, my fathers' DVD collection caught my eye. With a silly grin I dragged Godric into our family room and put in one of my dad's favorite movies from the thirties.

I didn't tell him what the title was, wanting to watch his reaction when the menu came on. I couldn't help the pleased giggle that came out when his eyes widened as a pale man with slicked back hair and a long cape appeared in the screen.

"Have you ever seen Dracula?" I asked, trying desperately to contain my girly squeals. I couldn't believe I was acting like this around him, but I couldn't help it. He made me feel like a little girl dreaming of her favorite Disney prince or something. It was really quite ridiculous.

If Godric noticed my sudden giddiness, he didn't show it. He stretched his arm out to rest behind me on the couch where we sat. "Actually, I believe I was there the night it premiered."

He smiled crookedly when I sat there, staring at him with my mouth open. It was strange how easily I could forget just how old he actually was. I don't even know if my grandparents had been born yet when this movie first came out.

Unsure of how to respond to that exactly, I nudged him with my elbow before hitting Play and settling back on the couch. I hadn't watched this movie since I was little and could hardly remember any of it, so I was excited to see the crazy myths they'd included in the film.

Throughout the movie we laughed at the ridiculousness of the characters and the over-dramatization of just about everything Dracula did. Over time we grew more comfortable with each other, as well. Godric's arm had moved to actually rest on my shoulders and I leaned in towards him, resting my head against him.

I grew cold after a half hour—Godric apologized about a dozen times for his cool temperature before wrapping me up in a throw blanket—so I draped my legs over his lap and cocooned myself against him. I played with his other hand in my lap, tracing his palm or linking our fingers together intermittently.

Towards the end of the movie, I started losing interest in what was happening on the screen and found my attention shifting to the man sitting next to me. It started out as flirty playing, finding random reasons to touch each other or get the other's attention, but soon we were sitting there staring at each other.

I don't know who moved first, but one moment I was playing with Godric's hand and the next I was on my back with him hovering above me. My heart was pounding in my chest as our mouths moved against each other. I clutched at his hair, shivering when his cold hands traced down my arms.

That damn blanket was tangled around my legs and I had to pull away from him to kick it aside. He was hoisting my legs around him to grip his hips before the blanket even landed across the room.

Godric pulled away from my mouth to press wet kisses down my jaw to my neck, tracing his tongue along the sensitive skin there. I couldn't help the breathy moan I let out when he lightly bit down. Our hips rocked together as our hands traced everywhere they could reach. My hands snaked up the back of his shirt, clawing down his back when I felt him massage at my breasts through my shirt. I cried out, arching my back into his touch.

He moved back up to kiss me again and I eagerly opened my mouth to him. He tasted different from anything I'd ever experienced, his taste truly addicting.

Sick of all this groping over clothes, I reached down to tug on his shirt. Godric sat up, pulling his shirt over his head and tossing it to who knows where. I stared up at him, his pale skin glinting in the darkness.

Reaching out, I traced the dark blue of the tattoo circling his collar bone. I'd never remembered to ask him about them. "You have a lot of tattoos," I murmured, noting the others on his strong arms.

"Does it bother you?" he whispered. I had a feeling he was talking about more than just the tattoos.

"Not at all," I smiled, reaching up again to pull him down onto me. "You're beautiful."

I felt a little strange saying that to a guy, but he didn't seem to mind. In fact, he grinned brightly at me before pressing a light kiss to my nose. He reached down to undo the three buttons on my tank top and I gasped at the chill of his touch. My stomach clenched and goosebumps littered my skin, but I didn't want him to stop.

I sat up and helped him pull my top over my head, shaking my hair free after the shirt joined our rapidly growing pile. His calculating gaze moved from my flushed face to my breasts, encased in navy blue lace.

Godric smiled softly, cupping my face in his large hands. "You are the beautiful one, little one."

Oh, he was good.

My stomach fluttered and I hastily pulled him closer to me, blindly seeking for his mouth with my own. Our tongues and teeth clashed as we moved together, anxious to feel more skin.

His hands rubbed my breasts underneath the cups of my bra, playing with my stiffened nipples and sending my heartbeat into overdrive. I clutched at his hips with my thighs, grinding against the hardness I felt there.

Eager to keep going, I moved his hands down my stomach to the buttons of my shorts. Together we managed to push my shorts past my hips and Godric rose from the couch to pull them completely off my legs. He was about to climb back on top of me but I sat up, pressing my hands to his lean chest.

"Let's move to my bedroom," I suggested. Godric didn't need to be told twice. He scooped me into his arms and the next thing I knew, he was lowering me onto the soft comforter of my bed. He lowered his mouth to suck at the exposed curve of my breasts and I completely forgot to ask him how he knew which room was mine.

While Godric was busy with my breasts, I reached my head up to pull his earlobe into my mouth, tugging on it lightly with my teeth. He groaned, pressing his forehead into my collarbone before reaching behind me to unclasp my bra. My breasts spilled out and he pulled away slightly to look at them in the pale moonlight.

My chest was heaving as I stared up at him for a moment before he quickly lowered himself on top of me again. I cried out when his mouth enclosed around my nipple, lightly nibbling and sucking. I rubbed my hips against him in time with his mouth, our bodies moving together to the erratic beating of my heart, which I'm sure he could hear.

I slipped a hand down between us to undo his pants and he tensed, pulling back slightly. My hand froze, what was wrong?

"Are you sure about this?" he asked, his voice low and raspy. I was surprised; it probably took a lot of restraint on his part to ask that at a time like this.

It wasn't until then that I noticed how his eyes had darkened to a midnight blue, and his fangs were out. My heart skipped a beat at the sight, but I would not let myself be afraid. Godric had saved my life, the least I could do was trust him with it.

I hadn't had a boyfriend in over a year, hadn't been with a man in months, and Godric was obviously way more experienced than I would ever be, but if I was sure of one thing in my life, it was that I wanted to be with him in every way possible.

Reaching down once more to undo his pants, I stared into his eyes and whispered, "I want you more than anything, Godric."

That seemed to be his undoing, as he quickly kicked off his pants and reached to remove my panties as well. I could feel him, hard and thick against my stomach as his hands traced up my thighs. Breathing heavily in anticipation, I allowed him to part my thighs, gasping when he slid a long finger into my heated core.

The cold temperature was unlike anything I'd ever experienced before. I vaguely thought to myself that I would never be able to go back to the temperature of a human man after this. His fingers moved inside of me quickly and forcefully, crooking to reach that one place inside me that had my mind reeling.

I was so close to reaching my peak, I rocked my hips against his hand, my own clutching at my sheets. Godric leaned down, thrusting his tongue into my mouth and swallowing my cries of release.

Panting, I stared up at him, hoping that he would still want to continue. Seeming to sense that I was eager for more, Godric shifted to lie between my legs again. For a while he just kissed me and let his hands trace across my skin. When I pulled away with a frustrated groan and pressed my hip bones against his, he smirked down at me. He reached between us and pushed into me with one quick thrust. I let out a heavy breath, clutching at his shoulders as we allowed my body to adjust.

He pulled back, leaning up on his elbows, before moving inside me. Every push and pull brought me closer to release. I felt like I couldn't catch my breath as he picked up speed, clutching at my hips and railing into me. I hooked my legs around his waist and threw my head back into my pillows, unknowingly exposing my neck to him.

I hadn't thought about what that might do to a vampire during sex until I realized he was staring at my neck with a dark hunger. Despite the way he vigorously moved inside me, he held back from sinking his fangs into my neck. My chest warmed at the thought of him trying his best not to bite me.

He'd already had my blood once before and nothing bad occurred, besides, if this was going to work, I would have to accept everything about him. Making sure Godric looked into my eyes, I applied pressure to the back of his head until his mouth was poised above the juncture between my neck and shoulder.

"Spencer," he breathed in warning.

"Go ahead," I urged him, clenching my inner muscles around him. His tongue dragged along the length of my neck as he pulled my long hair away.

Right before he sank his fangs into me, he reached down to rub that bundle of nerves that had me seeing stars. I was so lost in pleasure I barely registered the pain that sliced through me when he bit down. I whimpered, dragging my nails down his back, leaving marks that probably faded just as soon as they were left.

I'd never imagined having someone drink your blood would feel so…sensual. He drank hungrily, moving inside me at the same tempo as my heartbeat, pumping blood into his mouth. It felt a little strange, and I had to constantly remind myself not to move my upper body too much, but I knew I could get used to this.

A few more gulps from him and he pulled away, licking the remains away from the bloody puncture holes in my neck. Godric stared down at me with ruby red lips and I was mesmerized. How could anyone look so dangerous and beautiful at the same time?

One more powerful thrust, one more swipe across my clit, and I was lost. I let out a breathy cry as I arched into him, pressing my breasts into his chest, and clutching at anything I could get my hands on. Stars danced in my vision and I was vaguely aware of Godric tensing above me before letting out a low groan.

He collapsed on top of me, pressing his lips against mine. I could taste my blood on his lips and found myself eagerly licking it off of them. Our tongues moved against each other lazily, going back and forth between each other's mouths as our hands danced across each other's skin.

His weight above me made me feel safe and secure. I lowered my legs from his hips but kept my arms locked around his torso, allowing him to rest all of his weight on top of me. For a while Godric pressed his head into the pillow beside me, nuzzling my ear and breathing in the scent of my shampoo.

Insisting he didn't want to crush me, he eventually rolled on to his back and I followed him. I pulled my blankets up to wrap around us as I lowered my head onto his shoulder, pressing a soft kiss to his skin.

As Godric's strong arms came around me, I was hit with a sudden realization.

No matter what happened now, my life would never be the same because of him.

Ehh, sorry for taking so long to get this one out. I've had a lot going on lately and…well I guess sometimes certain chapters just take longer to write. (Yes I realize what a lame excuse that is, just go with it.)

Little tidbit: I found myself searching Google endlessly for Texas dialect websites because I realized that there are certain words in this chapter that may be different depending on where you're from. I myself am from the northern Midwest (Kudos if you can figure out where! I know I've been leaving random little clues here and there.), so obviously some of my words and phrases are going to be different from that of a Texan.

For example, I didn't know whether to say sofa or couch. It's pretty much 50/50 where I'm from, but I wasn't sure what they say down in Tejas. Here's another one that always gets me: pop or soda? Or down south, don't they even say coke for like, anything? Now that's confusing. ("What can I get you?" "I'd like a Coke, please." "Sure, what kind?" "Uh…Coke? I thought that's what I said…") Where I'm from, most people say pop, but my mom grew up in central Wisconsin, so she says soda, which is what I grew up saying. Two of my roommates at school are from there, too, and they call a water fountain a "bubbler". I think that's crazy!

Anyway, the point of this is, do any of you know what people in Texas say? Sofa or couch? Pop or soda (or coke)? Water fountain, drinking fountain, bubbler? I'm sure there are more. (I love the pillow vs. peh-llow, roof vs. ruff, milk vs. melk stuff, too, but those don't really apply here…)