Chapter 4

Stark

The drive home was torture. Three and a half hours with her pressed against my back. She felt so small and warm and this soulmate principle is making me lose my mind. What happened on that plane that made it so bad? I tried making conversation to distract myself, but she stubbornly remained silent. Was she really that mad about the bike? At least she was behind me, down wind. I wasn't sure the fact that she was a vampire could still keep her scent from affecting me.

I pulled off the main road twenty minutes north of Florence onto the packed dirt path that led back to the house and felt her stir behind me. The house set back behind a copse of trees, so you couldn't see it immediately, but once I crested the next hill I heard her sharp intake of breath, and I couldn't help grinning. Though they'd never married, my father took wonderful care of my mother. The house I grew up in was a sprawling manor with a small on site vinyard, lemon and olive groves, and acres of rolling hillside. It also helped that the sun was just coming up, setting the whole countryside aglow.

As soon as I pulled to a stop in the gravel drive, the front door burst open, and I barely had time to get up and remove my helmet before my sister launched herself into my chest, followed closely by my three-year-old niece who wrapped herself around my legs.

"Joseph!"

"Unca Doe! Unca Doe!"

I hugged my sister, then bent down to pick up my niece. "Have you heard anything about mom lately?"

"She'll be in the hospital for a while longer, but they say she'll be fine."

"That's good. That's good. Have you been handling things here, okay? Where's Marco?" Despite the early hour, Mina's husband Marco should've been the first one out to greet me.

"He's in the city taking care of some business. He should be back sometime tomorrow."

I nodded. "That makes sense. I'm sure he'll-"

"Who's 'at?"

Mina and I turned to look at Skylar, standing there awkwardly by my bike while we ignored her. "Oh. Guys, this is Skylar. My fiancée." Her eyes narrowed at me slightly, but I ignored it and went on. "Skylar, this is my older sister, Emmalina, and her little girl, Arampph-"

She smashed her little hands against my mouth and squirmed in my arms until I let her go. Then she walked over to Skylar and held out her hand. " Awabewwa Mawia de Wuca. Pease to meet you."

Mina and I tried not to laugh as Skylar knelt down in front of Ara and shook her hand. "Pleased to meet you, too, Arabella. That's a very pretty name." The warm smile she gave my niece made my heart ache. I wanted to see that smile as much as possible. I wanted to cause that smile, and have it directed at me.

I shook my head just in time to catch Ara turning around and loudly whispering, "I wike herw." We all burst out laughing, and she looked around like she'd missed the joke. "What?"

I went over and picked her up, shaking my head. "Nothing Ara. Why don't we take Skylar in and show her the house?"

"Otay!" She squirmed out of my arms again and ran to grab Skylar's hand. "Tome on! I show you my woom!" She took off running, dragging Skylar behind her.

"A vampire, Joseph? Really?"

I looked over at Mina and shrugged. "I didn't really have much of a choice."

"Joe?"

I blatantly ignored her and headed inside to rescue Skylar from Ara. As I'd expected, I found them in Ara's room, Ara trying unsuccessfully to teach Skylar how to play with dolls.

"No, no, no. You have ta make her tawk, ike dis. 'Hey frwiend! Wanna do soppin?'"

"I'm sorry, Bella. I just haven't played with dolls in a very long time."

"Okay Ara. I have to take Skylar now and show her the rest of the house."

"Aww... Doe!"

"It's okay, Bella. We'll play later. Promise." It caught me off guard that she'd say something like that, and I caught myself smiling for a second.

"Otay, Kylow!"

I snorted at the face she made when Ara messed up her name, and couldn't stop chuckling even after she punched me hard in the arm. I didn't do much explaining as I led her through the second floor, only pointing out Mina and Marco's room, then took her up to my wing of the house on the third floor, which, to her dismay, only had one bedroom.

"Can't I just sleep somewhere else?"

"Not if you don't wanna draw attention."

She growled low in her throat. "It wouldn't be a problem if you would stop telling people we were engaged!"

"Shh! Don't yell. Someone could hear."

"Good. Let them. Maybe it'll put an end to your nonsense."

"Nonsen- It's not nonsense, Skylar. We're soulmates. You know this."

She was quiet for a long time. "You're sleeping on the floor."

"Skyla-"

"Floor!"

I growled and threw my hands up in resignation, giving up and going into the bathroom to take a shower. I always did my best thinking in the shower. Why was she fighting me so hard? I'd been with my fair share of women, but none of them were as complicated as her. And wasn't this soulmate shit supposed to work both ways? Why wasn't she being drawn to me the way I was to her? She's so beautiful and so fragile, and I just wanna hold her and make everything better and make her mine. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was losing my mind. But at the same time, I didn't mind so much. And the more I thought about it, the more I was starting to like the idea of marrying her. I just wished she'd tell me what happened in her past. Maybe then I'd be able to figure out how to handle her.

When I came out in a pair of light flannel lounge pants, the room was completely dark. She'd drawn the curtains, and it took my eyes a minute to adjust before I found her sitting on the bed, her legs pulled up and her head rested on her knees. It killed me to see her like this. She seemed so afraid.

"Are you okay?"

She jumped, accidentally slipping off the edge of the bed and hissing reflexively. I rushed over to help her up, but she pushed me away. "Don't touch me." She climbed back onto the bed and curled herself back into a ball. "No, I'm not okay. I'm stuck here with you, I'm about to be deported back to France for the first time in almost 400 years, and I'm running for my life from a dragon. It's when I am okay that you should be worried."

I sighed at the unshed tears in her voice and tried to think of something I could do to help. "Stand up."

She looked up at me with a deep frown. "Why?"

"Stand up."

"No."

"Stand up, Skylar."

She stared at me for so long I was starting to fidget before standing up. "What?"

"Turn around."

"Why?"

"Just do it. And don't punch me." She gave me a look but turned around, and I slowly lifted my hands to rest them lightly on her shoulders. She tensed, and her hands did clench into fists, but she didn't hit me, or pull away. "Relax." I'd been told I can give quite the back rub, so it was worth a try. Slowly I began to knead the tight muscles in her shoulders, and slowly she did start to relax under my hands.

Gradually I trailed my hands down her back, caressing her sides with my fingers as I worked the muscles of her back. It made me want to hold her even more, and I had to tense myself to keep from leaning into her. I worked my way back up and into her neck, and she reached back to move her hair out of the way, now fully receptive to my ministrations. My contact with her skin made my fingers tingle, and despite my efforts I began moving closer to her, smelling her hair and her skin. She was no longer a vampire. She was just a woman, and she would be mine.

I slid one hand up into her hair, gently massaging her scalp. She dropped her hair and her head lolled forward, and she sighed, but it came out sounding like a purr. I let my other hand drop and wrapped my arm around her waist, pulling her back against me. She gasped, and for a second I thought she would pull away, but instead her hands clamped over mine that rested on her stomach, and she leaned back into me, seemingly caught in the same haze I was.

Without thinking I pulled her hair out of the way and bent down to press my lips to her neck. She moaned softly as my mouth found the sensitive spot and I gently nibbled on it. One of her hands came up and laced into my damp hair, and she pressed back into me. I hadn't even realized I was hard until her ass brushed against me, making me groan and my cock jump. I let my other hand fall and slipped it up under her shirt, letting it skim over her soft skin as I reached up to cup her breast. She moaned again and her head fell back against my shoulder, and I took the opportunity to kiss her properly. She hummed against my mouth and spun around, wrapping her arms around my neck. Both my hands slid up the back of her shirt, seeking more contact, and she pulled away. I almost gave up, until I realized she was taking her shirt off. Then she slammed back into me so hard I had to take a step back, throwing her arms around my neck and kissing me hard. All the skin to skin contact between us made me shiver as electricity sparked through me.

For a minute I wondered just what'd come over us and whether I should put a stop to this, but then she took her bra off, and I decided I shouldn't give up the opportunity to have her. Without breaking our kiss I bent and scooped her up into my arms and laid her on the bed, climbing in over her. My hands found her breasts, and I took advantage of her gasp to slip my tongue between her parted lips. She moaned, arching into my touch, and I gently rolled her nipples between my thumbs and forefingers. I broke away from her mouth to trail my kisses along her jaw to her neck and ear, trying to pull my head out of this soulmate induced cloud of attraction and arousal.

"Sky...?"

"Hmmm...?" She trailed off in a whimper as I bit on her earlobe.

"Tell me to stop."

"No. Please. Touch me. Make me feel good, please."

I groaned and buried my face in her neck. So much for that... I slid my hands down her sides, feeling her slender curves, then reached up to unbutton her jeans. I didn't even get the chance to pull them down before she was wriggling out of them herself. But if she wanted to feel good, I would damn well make her. I slipped my fingers into her underwear and couldn't believe how wet she was already. And the moment I touched her she gasped and started whimpering heatedly, and I had to force myself to pull away, afraid that the spell would be broken if she came so soon.

"Shh... Relax," I whispered, catching her mouth again as I slid first one, then two fingers up into her.

She was tight, to say the least, and her hips bucked up at the slightest movement. At first I was afraid to touch her clit, afraid of setting her off early, but then I realized that through the soulmate principle I could feel every spike of pleasure as I sent it through her, and probably vise versa, so I used it to my advantage, slowing down every time I felt her getting too close. After a few minutes, though, with her so worked up, I could hardly stand it. I had to taste her.

I pulled my hand away, despite her protests, and slipped my two sticky fingers into my mouth. It was the nectar of the Gods. I barely managed to pull her undewear off without ripping them. Then I made the mistake of looking up at her as I moved over her. Her eyes were wide with what in any other circumstance I would've called terror, and her teeth dug into her bottom lip so hard I was afraid she'd draw blood.

I sighed disappointedly. "I'll stop."

I started to get up, and suddenly her hands jumped from where they clutched the sheets at her sides to my shoulders, stopping me. "No. Please."

"You're sure?"

Slowly, much too slowly, she nodded.

Then I realized that maybe she'd never had a man's mouth on her before. I fought hard to keep from laughing and smiled up at her reassuringly. "Don't worry. I won't hurt you. You'll enjoy it, I promise. Relax."

I waited as she slowly laid back and took a few deep breaths and this time I did laugh softly. Her head whipped up to glare at me, but I took the opportunity to spread her with two of my fingers and snake my tongue out to tease her. Any reprimand died on her lips as her head fell back, and she collapsed onto the bed, gasping and whining with every flick of my tongue. I could've died happy with my head between her legs, feeling her pleasure spike through me like the best kind of drug, but she apparently had other ideas.

"Stark, please... Hmm... Oh, please..." Her hands pulled roughly at my hair, and her writhing seemed more agitated than anything, probably because I wasn't letting her cum. And I had to admit, her begging was very erotic.

When I managed to pull away and look up at her, her chest heaved with her heavy breathing and her body shimmered with sweat, but I could read frustration on her face plain as day. Part of me wanted to keep tormenting her, but a much harder part of me was as ready to get on with it as she was.

"You want me to fuck you?"

"Yesss..." she gasped in relief, hissing out the end as I nibbled her clit one last time for good measure before moving away to take my pants off.

As I moved back over her I took the opportunity to take a good look at her. Her face was a forced calm, but I could read anxiety in the way her hands gripped the bedding and the tension in her body as she tried not to tremble. I reached up and pushed her hair out of her face, and her eyes fluttered open, revealing more nerves. Holding her gaze, I slowly, one at a time, freed the sheet from her hands, lifting her arms onto my shoulders. I reached down to steady her hips, lifting one of her legs to wrap around my waist, and again her teeth began to dig into her lower lip, her eyes squeezed shut.

I sighed and reached up to free that poor lip, drawing her attention. "Relax."

I caught her mouth in a slow kiss, a distraction tactic, and pushed into her. Her hands flexed on my back, her nails biting into my shoulder blades, and she pushed harder into the kiss. If I'd thought it felt good just to touch her, being inside her was the most intense, complete feeling, and I knew that I could never give her up, and if I wasn't sure I did already, I would love her with every fiber of my being. But apparently that wasn't enough, because as I began to move inside her, it multiplied tenfold.

I thought I'd die, or pass out, or something-anything for more of this forever. Our bodies moved in perfect sync, fit perfectly together. Time stopped, and nothing mattered but her, taking her higher and higher, feeling her, hearing her. Her release meant mine, and her every whimper and moan pushed me to thrust harder, faster.

And then, like a dam breaking, it happened. Gasping and tensing, she convulsed around me, trembling and moaning beneath me, and I had no choice but to cum with her, white light exploding behind my eyes.

I may've blacked out, because as suddenly as it began, it was over, my wobbly arms barely supporting me over her and both of us panting. I lowered myself to my elbows for a little more stability, and reached up to wipe a bead of sweat off her forehead. Taking a deep breath, she opened her eyes and looked up at me with an expresson I could only call astonishment.

"I... I've never... That's never... I've never released like that before... I never knew it could be...like that."

I laughed softly and leaned in to kiss her, but rather than holding them, she pushed against my shoulders, stopping me and pushing me away. Instead I moved over on the bed to lie beside her, but the loss of contact suddenly made me very cold. I sat up and reached for the discarded blankets, not missing her shiver as she sat up, pulling her knees to her chest again.

''It was definitely intense," I said as I pulled the blanket over my lap and offered it to her.

She took it, and held it tight to her chest, refusing to look at me. "I... That's not what I meant, I... Never mind."

"Sky?"

"Never mind." She laid down and turned on her side, putting her back to me.

"Skylar..." I reached out for her shoulder and she flinched before I even touched her. At first I was hurt that she'd snub me after what we'd just done, but then my anger flared. Not at her, at myself for thinking that just because we'd fucked something would change. No, she's still just a frigid bitch to whom soulmates means nothing. I sighed frustratedly and flopped back onto the bed, turning my back to her, not that it made any difference.

After a few minutes I felt the bed shift as she got up, and I almost turned over, but forced myself not to. I listened as she gathered up her clothes and went into the bathroom. When I heard the shower turn on I sighed and flopped over onto my back, staring up at the ceiling. My anger had fizzled out about as fast as it'd come on, and now I was left with a hollow feeling. But anyone would feel bad if their soulmate didn't want them. I considered trying to not care; sending her back to the states at the hands of a dragon and Internal Affairs, but I couldn't do it. Despite the fact that she most certainly hated me, I'd do whatever I could for her. It was my job to protect her, after all.


A/N: Please review. It makes me write faster.