An entry for the Citrus Tree Contest.

All credit for the creation of the character of Eric Northman is owed to Charlaine Harris. Other characters and plot settings are my own.

Beta'd by my lovely lady Jax, thanks be to her grace.

Please enjoy a little Eric historical interlude.

There had been time that morning for a short ride outside the town walls. Even though the weather was crisp and the breath of the horses marked the air in punctuated clouds, she would not be deterred. She had precious little time to herself these days, and the fact that the daylight was so much shorter now as the feast of the Nativity approached made these few hours that much more precious. Her fur robes holding out the chill from her body, Sophia spurred her horse to run so she could feel winter's kiss on her cheeks. Warmth was fine for reading in the library or for filling your stomach: but to feel alive she had always believed the cold made the blood run and the mind waken. It was fair considering the land where she lived, and how desperately cold the winters could become, so cold that even well motivated enemies kept away, afraid that their very marrow would freeze in their bones. She rode the banks of the frozen river where the sunlight made every crystal of ice and frost gleam like the finest jewels, and Sophia knew of jewels. Her guard ran alongside her, faces just as inspired as her own. The horse guard had been billeted for the winter, and men, more used to the saddle than the wooden pallets and stone walls were eager to ride with her when she made the request. It was those memories of the morning and the ride, and the ice that flowed in the back of her thoughts as she made her rounds within the castle. The sting of the chill against her cheeks as she inspected the kitchens, hard at work preparing for the meal, the strength of the mount beneath her as she attended the cellars to ensure enough wine and beer had been rousted from the depths for all the guests. And the pleasant smiles of the horse guard, and their less than disguised attempts to offer her a hand, to steal a touch and caress kept her smiling as she greeted the Princes and their entourages as they arrived before the King and his household.

There would be meetings during the day and feasting at night when the men had finished their business. She and her father had spoken of it at length as she had organized the affairs. He had always indulged her in these conversations of politics and persons, and they shared many of the same opinions regarding their guests; as upstarts and fops, looking for the King's favor only in so far as it would extend their own status and personal wealth. It was a tedious exercise to be certain, but a necessary one. And as Sophia greeted the last man with a gentle curtsey she thanked God silently that her father would never seek to make a match for her with one of these idiots. She had taken her mother's place at his side, and now, approaching thirty, was less than well suited for such things, not that her beauty was in question, especially if you asked the horse guards.

Those duties done, and the men settled in their meetings she checked in on her sisters and brothers, making themselves ready for the feast, looking for their own matches. One brother would become King eventually, and the sisters were no less ambitious, but not Sophia. A title mattered little to her, and though she had one she rarely used it. Princess seemed silly to her, reminding her more of her little sisters and the grief they were giving their maids over dresses and jewels and how their hair should be worn. Sophia was more than thankful that she was not attending them, or she would have had to smack some sense into their giggles and blushes. She looked after her own dressing and adornment, and though it was elegant, it was simple. As she brushed out her long brown tresses before pinning them up with the reflection in her mirror, she continued to replay the thoughts of the cool air and her ride, and the sparkling eyes of the men who had pursued her on their mounts. They were handsome enough, dark hair and dark eyes like her own, and their bodies were well put together. And at least they, unlike the men meeting with her father, did not plan on ending their evenings with as many of the household staff as their intoxicated rods could come to attention for. They had honor, and that was certainly more attractive to Sophia than titles and gold.

She smiled and politely laughed her way through dinner, offering modest retorts, which grew bolder as the men grew drunker. It pleased her to no end when dinner was finally past them and she could take to the periphery of the hall to observe those who wished to dance, and because she was a woman, overhear the covert deals that were being put together. She was sadly underestimated by many of the men, as she kept her true wealth of knowledge and purpose from them. She would report everything she overheard to her father the following day, before the drunks rode off haphazardly on their horses, or perhaps they would ride the day after, since a good many of them were intoxicated to the point of barely making sense. It made her job quite that much easier. Thinking all was done, duty wise for the evening she was preparing to make her way back to her father's side, and perhaps share a dance with the Captain of the guards, when something unusual caught her eyes. Blond.

The people of her land were usually darker of hair and eyes, only travelers from far afield ever seemed to differ, and those brave souls were never seen in the winter months. Yet here one seemed to stand, or rather to tower over the men around him, being at least six inches taller than even the soldiers of the guard, and certainly a good foot taller than the prince with whom he conversed; who, as an aside Sophia had noticed, was wearing boots with very high heels. This blond man had not been at dinner, and he had certainly not been part of the receiving line of midday, and Sophia wondered where he had appeared from that she had not seem him before that very moment. Her mild shock caused her gaze to linger on him longer than it should have, and as if he had felt her eyes, he turned his face away from his Prince, to look straight at her.

Caught, and not willing to shy away like some simpering girl, she smiled politely and nodded her head in acknowledgement of their shared glance. He returned the gesture, turned back to his Prince and muttered a few more words, and then, to her amazement, he walked directly over to her, a path seemingly opening in front of him as he did so. She stood her ground and simply watched him come, a smile curling onto her lips, mirrored by one on his own. The tedious night seemed to be taking a turn for the better she thought to herself; definitely towards the better.

He was striking, even when you didn't factor in the blond hair and icy blue eyes. Sophia had heard tell of his people before, from the lands to the west and north of her own, Scandinavians she thought she had heard them called, descended from the Vikings themselves with all their strength and ferocity. She supposed that the medals that he wore on his black jacket must have been symbols of his own people, because none were familiar to her, and she prided herself on knowing such things. He had the collar drawn up high, as was the fashion, and it only made the blond strands seem even more exquisite in contrast. The braids that ran across his chest were done of gold, and copper threads as far as she could tell, and the shiny buttons a high polished brass. He wore the pants of a horseman, with the same adornment of buttons down the sides of his not inconsiderable legs, grounded with polished black riding boots, no additional heels needed on his. White gloves, also of the current fashion offered his hands to her, palm up, with his head slightly bowed.

"Eric Northman, at your service my lady. I am most pleased to have made your acquaintance."

"But you have not good sir." Sophia kept her fingers firmly locked together at her waist.

"I have not what my lady?"

"Made my acquaintance." She continued to grin at him, hoping he would take up the challenge she had offered him, because she felt that he would be worth her time to explore.

With that sentence and watching her smile, Eric knew the game was on, and that he liked this woman a great deal. He intended to play, and knew he had great skill with words, even if hers were not his first language.

"Then allow me to rectify that error my lady. Your good husband must be very proud of your wit and your presence."

"Husband?"

"Why yes, the King. I have seen how you have worked this evening on his behalf." Because Eric had been watching her for a good hour, not that he made it obvious, as she made her reconnaissance of the room.

"The King is not my husband." She replied.

"Well then you are to be a bride tonight, in your dress of ivory and lace?"

"A bride?" Sophia allowed herself to laugh at the idea. "The only time that I will approach the altar dressed in such a manor and have the priest say words over me will be at my death."

"Hush, you must not speak of such things, you should not tempt fate so my lady."

"If I have half the spirit of my father, the King, then I shall live forever."

"Ah," Eric smiled, "So luck is with me, for you have no betrothed, and you are the daughter of the King."

"And how is that luck good Sir Eric?"

"I shall be free to dance with you, and make such offers to you as I would not dare to a woman already spoken for. It seems to me, my lady, that you speak for yourself."

"Indeed I do. And I am most pleased to make your acquaintance Eric Northman, I am Sophia, daughter of the King and lady of this house." And only then did she hold out her similarly gloved hand for him to take, and bring to his lips to kiss with a slight bow and flourish. For an instant, Sophia felt a trembling she had never before encountered, and found that she enjoyed it very much, especially as he seemed to understand exactly the effect that his movement and his presence had had on her.

"Will you dance with me my lady Sophia?"

"I would be honored."

No one dared approach them as they danced, the first few spins looking more as if they were sizing each other up, than actually listening to the music, which of course was exactly what they were doing. But after several wordless rounds both were impressed enough with the other's prowess to shift into an easy conversation, which Eric moved, quite skillfully first to the periphery of the dance floor, and then, with a beckoning smile, back into the feasting hall, now virtually empty and cleaned from the earlier festivities. Sophia allowed herself to be so guided, knowing that she had desired a similar privacy with her enchanting foreign horseman.

"And why is it Lady Sophia, that you have no husband to attend to?" He guided her to a seat along one of the walls, the cold stone at their backs.

"Because I choose not to have one."

"And your father has permitted this?"

"My father does what makes me happy."

"An intelligent man indeed."

"Shall I tell him you've said that Sir Eric?"

"Only if it will win me his favor."

"Yours more than your Prince, that is for certain."

"He is not my Prince."

"But you have ridden with him."

"His gold flows abundantly, and for that he buys my service for the time being, nothing more."

"And what service would that be?" Sophia looked into his blue eyes, searching for subterfuge, but found none. What was there was a sparkling amusement that was quite captivating.

"Perhaps it is simply intelligence gathering, not unlike yourself my lady?"

"I would really prefer it if you would call me Sophia."

"As you wish."

"So you are a mercenary for hire are you Eric?"

"I am. Perhaps I should come work for your father?"

"My father does not need to buy his loyalists."

"Then he is a great man."

"I shall certainly tell him you have said so."

"I would be indebted." And Eric bowed his head gallantly and took her hand again, bringing the still gloved skin to his lips to kiss again. "Of course, it is your favor I seek most of all this evening Sophia."

"And why would that be?" She asked through a twisted smile. She knew full well what she wanted the answer to be. She was having more fun that evening than she could recall having had in a great many months, and she had no intention of letting it end.

"Because," Eric leaned towards her, and whispered in her ear, his lips almost brushing the pale skin there. "I would very much like to come to your bed tonight. And if I win your favor, perhaps you will invite me." He rocked back to his seated position, smiling at her with the right corner of his mouth just turned up.

"You are a bold man Eric." She answered, trying to conceal the shudder of excitement that had run up her back. But Eric was able to sense it from her despite her efforts.

"And you like bold men, don't you?"

"Bold or not, you simply cannot follow me to my chambers, such things are not done here, and the guards would stop you." He was a foreigner after all; he would not be permitted to simply roam the halls of the keep.

"Then leave your window open for me. I shall come to you that way."

"You would scale a stone wall in your gloves and boots?"

"I would scale more than that."

The comment set her to laughing. She did want him, quite desperately, but the fact of the matter was, while she could bring a man of the guard to her rooms discretely, the servant of a foreign prince, even if he were for hire, would not be so easy. A sigh escaped her lips, one of resignation. And she smiled at Eric.

"Come and dance with me again good Sir Eric. For it may be the only way I am able to touch you this evening." She stood, and offered her hand to him. He took it, but did not rise.

"Which window is yours Sophia?"

"The furthest west in the tower, so that I might see the last of the sunset and the beginning of the moon rise."

"I shall come to you, if it is what you desire."

"I desire that you dance with me again Eric."

"Then it will be so."

Her rooms seemed even emptier and colder than usual when Sophia retired to them that night. It was past midnight, and the men had gotten drunker and drunker, her father being the exception. Eric had been pulled away to continue his work with the Prince, and she had even seen him chatting with her father for a few moments. But at a certain point she knew that it was no longer safe for the women of the house to be in the hall, and she had quietly released them from their duties, and urged her sisters for follow the same cautions. She had no doubt that some of the maids would return, to find themselves a partner for the evening, but that was their choice, she had given them the way out. Only the older men and the soldiers were left to serve and guard their fallen comrades as it were. Sophia had mounted the stone stair with reluctance, but resignation. At least Eric had given her the memory of a spirited conversation, and the butterflies of arousal, which would comfort her as she slept alone. Bolting the door behind herself she cast off her gloves and her shoes and found herself staring at her shuttered window. With a silly laugh, more appropriate to her sisters she opened it and peered out into the darkness. Torches lit the parapets below, and the sound of the revelry and the horses still reached her, but of course there was no Eric. No one could simply climb the smooth face, not even with his determination. The next laugh was at her foolishness and she turned back and crossed to her mirror, beginning to pull out the pins that had kept her hair piled on her head for the evening.

"I would enjoy doing that for you Sophia." The quiet voice made her whirl around astonished to see Eric, perched on her window sill, one leg bent at the knee, boot resting on the stone, the other leg hanging out into the blackness of the night beyond. She was almost too stunned to answer him, or perhaps too excited to see him again.

"How?"

"My desire for you has given me wings."

It seemed more likely to her just then that he had repelled down from a higher point in the castle wall, but questioning him was the furthest thing from her thoughts. He was even more stunning in the moonlight, the golden hair drifting over his shoulders like silken threads, the shadows the moon cast on him darkening his eyes and heightening his cheekbones. His back was straight and his dress still unspoiled, he was every picture the gentleman and she could not help but smile at him, even as she found her want rising again in her chest.

"Are you going to invite me in? Or have I misunderstood your desires?" He asked, again in the low whisper.

"You have misunderstood nothing good sir. Please, won't you come in?"

With the invitation uttered, Eric swung his legs down from the ledge and placed his feet firmly on the wooden floor of Sophia's chambers. Reaching behind himself he closed the shutters, keeping the cold air further at bay and from stealing the hard won heat of the hearth she had glowing.

"Do you know how hard it was just watching you for the rest of the evening Sophia? Wondering how much more beauty I could uncover given the chance?" He pulled off his white dress gloves and stepped towards her, noting that she held her ground firmly in front of her dressing table.

"I have a passing idea." She replied. He could hear her heart beginning to race.

"I am glad." He stepped behind her, and reached up to pull a pin from her hair, staring at their reflection in her dressing mirror as he did so, watching her eyes, and the slight trembling of her lips as he finally touched her. He tossed the pin casually to the box on the table and uncurled the strand, letting it fall across her cheek. He uncurled another and let it fall similarly.

"I was right, you are even more beautiful, I could hardly have imagined it possible." He let his hands rest on her shoulders and breathed in the scent of her hair; fragrant flowers and lavender, it made him close his eyes for a moment, remembering a long passed spring. "I have wanted to truly touch you all evening."

"Then touch me." She turned slowly in his arms to face him, lips parted, deep brown meeting icy blue. He ran his fingertips down her cheek, and under her chin, turning her face up to his just slightly, then he brushed his mouth down over hers, meeting her ready lips, and feeling her warm breath. Letting his long fingers cup the back of her neck Eric pulled her closer to him and pressed more firmly, feeling the shudder that ran across her skin. It aroused him even further.

"I think, perhaps, you could look even more beautiful with a few less pins." She said with a gentle smile as she stepped back from Eric, leaning against her dressing table, and reaching to unhook the gold braids at the front of his jacket, following them with the brass buttons till it hung open over his shoulders, crisp white shirt exposed. He shrugged out of it and tossed it to the table. "Those fastenings are nearly as much trouble as my own." She added, referring to the difficulty in detaching all the adornment.

"Then allow me to save you any further trouble." Eric brought his hands to her bodice, pausing for a moment to feel the breath in her chest, the way it forced her body against the fabric and then shied away. Her heartbeat nearly thudded in his ears, her excitement at his presence tainting the air. "I have some skill with delicate things such as this." He whispered as he leaned into her, noticing she had closed her eyes. Dexterous fingers unhooked each delicate pearl button with his preternatural speed, not tearing a single thread in his own burgeoning excitement. He pushed the dress off her shoulders, just as he had shed his own jacket, and guided it to the floor, leaving her in only her undergarments, a white silk that did little to hide the dark centers of her breasts, and the shadows between her thighs. She stepped from the mass and even closer to him. Her arms reaching out to encircle his waist, searching for the hem of his shirt and pulling it free from the wide band at his waist. The warmth of her body and her hands, now on his skin excited Eric even further. He allowed himself a quiet moan of pleasure.

Hands brought round to carefully grasp the sides of her face Eric drew himself to her, and forced his mouth down onto hers, even as her fingers continued to tug at the cotton of his shirt, encouraging him to remove it. But he would not be deterred from the kiss, and from the sensations of her pulse beneath his fingertips, delicately pressed against the vessels that carried her life-giving blood from her fluttering heart to all points beyond. He had been so enchanted by the awareness of the blood that he did not realize immediately that Sophia had met the pressure of his mouth with her own, and the surprise of her tongue, forcing itself into his depths took him off guard for an instant. It was another event that brought him great joy, nearly as much as having found her in the first place, skulking about the hall. Her hands pressed against his chest backed him up towards her bed where he sat, only to have Sophia force him backwards again so that he lay supine.

Pulling away from him, she let her hands run down the length of his black trousers until they met the tops of his leather boots, feet still planted on the floor.

"And whose bed have these boots been under Eric?" She asked playfully as she pulled them off, Eric flexing his ankles to assist her.

"That is one thing I shall never tell you, a gentleman does not speak of such things."

"An excellent answer." She stood them to the side of one bedpost and turned back to look at him lying over her blankets.

"And what other answers do you wish to hear from your lovers Sophia?" he asked.

"That you will speak to no-one of the intimacies we will share this night?"

"I will not."

"Do you wish to harm me?"

"I do not, I swear it."

"Will you leave my bed as soon as you have had your fun, and go to seek out another?"

"I shall not." He reached out to her, wrapping an arm around her waist, pulling her body to hover over his. "I intend to spend the whole of this night here with you. And I intend to make love to you over and over again until you can think of no other man but me. And I will only leave you just before the sunrise, so that neither of us are caught, and that I bring no shame upon you."

Pleased with his answers Sophia smiled at him, and slung one leg over his waist to come to straddle him. The white shift rode up somewhat, exposing more of her legs to his view, and he let his hands play across the white flesh.

"There is only one thing that might come between us then Eric." She teased.

"And what might that be?"

"Your trousers."

It was a matter simply enough remedied.

Her skin was hot on his, and the fire in her soul made him so hungry for her, all of her. No shrinking flower this one, she had him exposed to all her needs, lying on her bed, her hips teasing his flesh, the silk a tantalizing barrier, her mouth kissing him, trailing her tongue down his jaw and then his neck, following the same paths he might have done himself if their positions had been reversed. But she had made it clear that she would be on top at the outset and Eric had no intentions of arguing with her, there would be time enough for his force, and just then, his pleasures were being well met. Her fingers had twined with his, which meant he could do little to please her but respond to her touches by arching to meet her mouth, or by letting slip the guttural noises of exquisite agony she forced on him. Her mouth played over his chest, teasing his nipples with her teeth and gentle suckling until they stood at attention for her, and he ground his hips against the firm grasp of her thighs. His arousal grew harder by the moment as she gyrated against him, denying him entry into her depths, denying him the pleasure of her completely, but he held firm against her, allowing her to guide their play.

The tender globes of her breasts brushed down his abdomen as her tongue followed, kissing and nipping at his skin, circling his navel, and then splaying his arms out with her own as she shimmied further down his legs, leaving his rod completely exposed to her.

"Sophia." He whispered to her as she brushed her cheek along his length softly, sending pins and needles shocks from his core to the very tips of his fingers. Her eyes were closed as she continued to touch him, brushing her closed lips from the base to the tip of him, eliciting another moan and a desperate flex from his hips against her. It was becoming harder to resist tearing his hands from her grasp and pulling her onto his body. It became harder still when her tongue darted out, like that of a cat to swirl around his head slowly. Her dark hair fell around her face so Eric could not see well as she parted her lips and first kissed and then drew the length of him into her warm mouth. But he could certainly feel it, and again he arched for her, driving himself deeper. She held him fast with her hands, and in her mouth, teasing him with the way she would tenderly bite and then tug at him, till he had to speak, with broken words.

"I want you," spoken in gasps. Only then did she release his hands, and move to stroking the balance of his shaft and the accompanying flesh. His hands went immediately to her head, brushing back her hair so he could watch, as far as he could concentrate, her devouring the length of him.

"I cannot withstand your attentions for much longer my lover." Somewhat to his dismay she released him, sliding her body up the length of his, the silk bunching between them, until she could kiss his mouth quickly and until her hips were lying over his. He had to bring his hands to her thighs, even if it didn't give him any true control over her. Her hands lit on him again, moving him to attention, and then, in slow motion she guided him towards her entrance, brushing across the warmth of her full arousal, and with a deep cry from her own throat she took the length of him, slowly, burying him to the hilt. His hands pushed the hem of her shift up her legs even further, now wanting to watch himself vanish within her body, only to be revealed again in rhythm as she rode him, her head cast back, perfect neck exposed to him. Eric felt the roar rising in his chest and his hands curled into her soft flesh, but she did not flinch, instead she forced herself against him faster, pressing her hands against his chest to leverage her thrusts. Her lips fell apart again and Eric listened to her halting breaths feeling her muscles tense around his body each time she held one. Her heart was racing, her skin vibrating, and she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. It was easy to give himself over to her, and with a powerful convulsion of his loins he emptied himself inside her and cried out, his fangs dropping beyond his conscious control. He did not even have the immediate presence of mind to cover his mouth, but simply rolled her over in a quick twist, his spear still within her, still rock hard in his needs, to begin pounding against her as he tore the shift from her body and drove his teeth into the soft flesh of her breast, pulling the blood into his mouth, feeling her fingernails drive into his back, tainting the air with the scent of his blood as well.

Over and over he thrust and then withdrew, and then entered her again, driven by the taste of her in his mouth, the feel of her flesh against his lips and the scent of her around him. Her moans grew sharper and sharper as he pulled them from her throat until he finally felt her arms stiffen around him, and her sheath contract, holding him deep within until in a wave she came for him, her thighs holding him immobile against her flesh as she rode out the flood over him and through herself, and he could do naught but join her again, letting his own life flow into her body. Only then could he pull his mouth from her bloodied fount, and slashing his tongue he ran his own blood over the wounds and bruises he had left, willing them to heal before she could see what he had truly wrought on her porcelain skin.

She forced her mouth onto his, as her body began to calm from its exertion. Fortunately he had cleaned the traces of blood from his lips first and easily joined her dance, crushing his body against hers, pulling every eddy of heat from her, his own body now warmed by her blood. Only after she freed his mouth did he roll to lie beside her, dragging a blanket over them both and wrapping one arm over her side to pull her body close to his. They lay that way for a few minutes, which her human body needed to recover.

"Your skin is cool." Sophia was running her hands over his chest.

"It is the nature of my people."

"Did you bite me?"

"I was perhaps, a little forceful. Have I hurt you?"

"No." She cuddled herself into his arms and he was only too happy to hold her there, especially as her fingers began to trace downwards again, across his abdomen to play in the curly wisps that crowned his manhood.

"What is it you desire in a lover Eric?" Her eyes were softly lazy as she looked at him; it was so endearing as she repeated his question.

"A beautiful mind, and wit, the ability to make me smile, and to tease me."

"Not beauty?"

"Well, it's certainly a nice addition."

"Are you saying I am not beautiful?"

"Quite the contrary, Sophia, I find you exquisite."

"And you like how I tease you?" She ventured further downward with her fingers, circling the base of his still attentive rod.

"Gods yes." He closed his eyes for a moment to enjoy what she was doing to him. "But." He brought his own arms down her back, cupping her bottom and forcing her hips towards his. "Now I think, it is my turn to tease you." And he flipped her over onto her back, grasping for both wrists with one of his hands, and holding them tightly so that she could not interfere with what he had planned for her.

Her eyes watching his face intently Sophia followed as he brought his free hand to his mouth and slid his first finger into its depths, withdrawing it slowly, the skin glistening with his saliva. He wanted her to see another of his hard digits that he meant to touch her with. He moved that free hand down her abdomen, just brushing between her legs to find the point he sought, the pearl at her center that he intended to mercilessly caress until she gave herself over to the pleasure again. She bucked against him as the cold tip of his finger lit on it, and began to press and circle slowly, but with intent of force. Eric could smell the scent of her arousal rising anew, and could feel the tension of her muscles as she pushed back against him. When she began to softly moan he added his thumb, pulling it across her depths and then plunging it inside her, working it back and forth as he continued to tease her, loving how her body was molding to him, and how he was now able to guide her. As she writhed against him he shared more of her heat, his own body responding to the touch of her skin on his, and in mere moments he was hard again, and wanting her, but still he continued to stroke her, as she came closer and closer to her precipice. When he let her hands free, so that he could curve his around her neck to pull her face to his hungry mouth her hands went immediately to his rod, clutching at it with abandon, pulling and tugging at his skin needing him to be as close as she was. With similar roars and hips ground together nearly painfully, both came to their climaxes again, collapsing, Sophia panting, rolling to look over at him, steadying her breath and then knitting her eyebrows in confusion.

"Am I not enough for you Eric?"

"What?" His own confusion colored his tone.

"My skin glistens with my passions, my chest heaves at the way you have brought me to them, why do you react as if I have not done the same for you?"

"You have Sophia, I promise you that." He tried to reassure her, but he had been so long from practiced love making, that he had forgotten to mimic the niceties of the play, like breathing. He cursed himself internally for that failure, normally he did not linger with his lovers, and normally he would have glamoured them had they discovered anything about his true nature. But he found he did not want to do this for Sophia. In fact, he desperately wanted to share the truth with her, another odd sensation, and perhaps the unconscious reason for his omission.

She put her hand flat against his chest, and crossed brows became widened eyes.

"I cannot even feel your heart." He had begun to imitate the breathing when she had called his attention to its absence, but even that did not seem to fool her. "Your breaths are too regular." She backed away from him in the bed, clutching a sheet to herself.

"Sophia?" He reached for her.

"What the hell are you!" She demanded.

"I promised I would not harm you, I meant it."

"What are you?"

"I am just a man."

"With no heartbeat, who does not need air?" She wrinkled her brows. "You bit me? Are you a demon, an Incubus come to seduce me away to hell?"

"No, nothing like that, none of those things."

"But you are not human?"

"I was." He said sadly, seeing his pleasures and plans falling to ruins around him.

"And now?" Her voice had softened, not that she had meant to let it, but the despair on his face pulled sympathy from her, sympathy she did not have time to examine for its sense.

"Revenant. Perhaps you call it Upyr?"

"Vampire?" A chill ran the length of her back as she looked at him, and as her body betrayed the pleasure he had given her with its now obvious throbbing.

"There are many names my Sophia." He chanced to use the term of endearment.

"But you have promised not to harm me. Can one such as you make an oath like that?" Her heart betrayed her mind as she questioned him, desperately seeking an answer that would validate her feelings.

"The man I am has made it, my nature does not preclude its truth."

"Then you intend to stay with me this whole night, and make love to me, and leave me whole, if not exhausted?"

It was Eric's turn to feel confusion in his chest. "Yes, it is as I have said. I wish to stay the night with you."

"Then you must come to me my lover, because I am not finished with you yet." The same grin lit her face as had when they had bantered in the dancing hall, when she had teased him that he had not made her acquaintance. It had been that, more than her beauty that had smitten him and he greedily pulled her back into his arms and kissed her soundly, receiving her tongue as she forced it into his mouth to taste him. It was his turn to let a shudder run through him.

"You ride, don't you?" He whispered into her ear as he pulled away to let her breathe.

"Many things." She laughed, "Why do you ask?"

"Your legs are so strong. I want to feel them wrapped around me again." And as he spoke he forced himself inside her body again, hiking her thighs up around his hips, feeling her link her legs behind his back, opening herself to him, and yet holding him captive at the same time. He had enough room to grind against her open flesh, teasing her pearl as well as driving himself within and without to his very hilt, letting the tensions take over him as he did so, her cries echoing in his ears. His orgasm rocked him to his core, as he called out her name, clutching the solid headboard of her bed finally to steady himself, and save her shoulders from the bruising he certainly would have inflicted on her. But even when he had finished pumping her she would not let him go, holding him inside her body with a grin.

"I want to see your fangs." She said to him, showing off her own teeth in a playful snarl.

"I don't want to frighten you."

"Have you ever stared into the maw of a white wolf, with no weapon in your hands?" She replied.

"I cannot say that I have."

"I have seen those fangs many times, the intent to tear out my throat, or that of my horse evident in those eyes, I am not frightened of your fangs Eric."

"As you wish then." With a snap they fell into place and he curled his lips so she could see the whole of them. Her smile, and the way she rolled her shoulders at their sight attested to her fearlessness. Watching her, and hearing her next request cemented for him that he was not simply going to disappear at dawn, he had merely scratched the surface of the woman that lay beneath him and he was not about to deny himself the pleasure of going more deeply.

"Bite me." She begged on a heavy breath.

"Gods yes." And he sunk his teeth into her breast again.