He laid on his side and watched her sleep. Her black curls fell over her pale golden face. She looked like a fallen angel. Reaching out a hand broad and smooth despite millennia of use, he brushed the raven coils out of her closed eyes. Her lids fluttered and she rolled over on the pallet, her back suddenly pressed against his chest and stomach, her curled spine melding with his concave abdomen.

"Cyrilla."

He stood within breathing distance of the evilly black cloud of ash that covered the beautiful city. People pushed and shoved him in a panic to get away, yet still he held his ground, stunned, staring, hands open and hanging at his sides. She hadn't gotten out. He had known she wouldn't, but he hadn't gone back for her. He hadn't stayed. He could have been embalmed in stone with her, but he had been afraid.

"Next time," he vowed.

Next time he found love, he wouldn't run, no matter what the circumstances.