CHAPTER ONE: Never Will Let You Go
Tracy looked down at the beautiful man in her arms. She saw the incredible hair, hair that made her fingers ache to touch it. She saw the lips, sculpted, sensual. She saw the eyelashes, closed, fanning down to his beautiful cheekbones. She saw the stake in his chest, the stake that was just in her hands.
Vachon was gone. And she killed him.
"No...Vachon...Javier...." Tracy stammered as she held him tightly. This wasn't right. Vachon can't die. That's the deal. He paid that price. It was the thing that kept them apart. So he can't die.
Vachon had called her earlier that evening asking for her help. After all the times she'd turned to him for help, she rushed to his side. She found him tormented, in agony. He'd been attacked by Divia, a vampire of true evil, and her evil was running through his veins. No longer able to stave off the evil, Vachon begged Tracy to end his torment, to stake him. Divia's attack had stolen what was left of his soul. Killing him was the only end.
"I can't Vachon," Tracy begged. "Don't ask this of me. We'll find another way."
Lunging at her, Vachon impaled himself on the stake in her hands. Looking into her blue eyes one last time, he whispered, "Wish me luck."
Pain tore through Tracy as realization of all that she lost hit her, and why. She'd lost more than just this beautiful man with the smart ass ways; more than just a friend. She had lost a dream, and the loss was her fault. She lost Vachon because of her fears. She couldn't understand that "immortality" is a lie. Vachon could die like anyone else.
"Why didn't I see? Oh, Javier, forgive me....." She sobbed as she held him closer. "I know it doesn't make sense....and I didn't really act like it....and you probably can't even hear me....but you know? Maybe you can...." Babbling again, Vetter, she chastised herself. Can't you get even this right, when he can't laugh at you...can't reject you....can't hold you or kiss you or taste you?
"I love you, Javier. I'm so sorry I was too afraid." She held him and cried.
Then she prayed. "God....God......please don't let it end this way....he's NOT evil....please God.....Help me...."
Tracy continued to cry and pray and hold Vachon in the desperation of denial. Common sense was gone. The true desires of Tracy's soul were in control. Why else would Tracy plead to God for a vampire?
"This I had to see."
Tracy jerked at the sound of another voice. She held on to Vachon tighter, needing to protect his body, if not his life. "Who's there? I'm a police officer." Even in her tormented state, the irony of THAT statement slapped her upside the head.
"I know who you are, Tracy."
"Show yourself," Tracy commanded in her toughest cop-chick voice.
Light flooded the room. A stranger stood before her, a look of disgust aimed straight through her heart.
"Who are you? Are you a vampire, too?" The man's eyes glowed in anger. A thought came to Tracy, and her bravado faded. "Are you an Enforcer?" she asked in a small voice.
Before he could answer, she added with arrogance "You can't take him. I don't care what 'vampire funeral law' is, you're not taking him. I'll take care of him." The tears flowed down her face, but the anger and the injustice of everything kept her voice from shaking.
"Do not attempt to classify me with those creatures."
The contempt in his voice surprised Tracy. "Who are you then." It was not a question.
"A curious soul, wanting to see who would dare to plead for the life of a bloodsucker." Scorn dripped from each word.
The rage in Tracy was limitless. "How dare you judge him?"
"If he is judged, it is because he is evil. Your words, I believe."
Shame raced through Tracy as she remembered telling Vachon that there was evil in him. "I was wrong."
"No, you were not. He is evil. He takes. He kills. He satisfies himself. He is an abomination."
The fight left Tracy. A strange, numbing sadness remained, numbing everything but the love she felt for her beautiful vampire. "I'm not going to fight you. I don't even know who you are, or care. But you are wrong." She looked at Vachon, resplendent in his unnatural sleep, vulnerable even in death. Tears rolled down her cheeks, dropping onto his.
"He was scared. He was brave. He was an accomplished smartass, and he was gentle beyond words. He killed, but he saved lives, too. I know what he was. And I know he was good."
The man stared at her, the eyes still glowing. "You speak with such resignation. You accept his death, then."
"Never." Her eyes, the pain he felt throbbing from her heart, said all that she couldn't.
The man stared longer, and finally spoke. "Why do you care for this creature?"
"He could have left me. But he cared. He protected me."
"So you love him because he saved you."
"I love him because I had no other choice," Tracy argued. "From the moment I saw him in the wreckage, my heart was changed."
"He could kill you." The man's words were cold, brutal.
"You're wrong. He's not that weak. And he cares more than he knows...cared..." she corrected herself. She realized as she said it, it was true. He loved her, and she loved him. And now it was too late. How stupid she had been.
"His last act was one of sacrifice. His last act was one of defying evil. He did this so that the evil would die. So don't you DARE tell me he wasn't good."
The man's eyes glowed once more. Then a slow acceptance, an understanding began to fill his eyes. They were wonderful eyes, Tracy realized. Shining with a kind of light....
"Who are you? What are you?"
"The One who sent me has far more compassion than I. I didn't want to come. Perhaps I understand better now." He looked at Tracy a little longer. "Guard your soul, Tracy Vetter."
His manner changed abruptly. He stoically issued, "Remove the stake. He will heal. The rest is up to him."
The light was gone. The man was gone.
Tracy gently placed Vachon on the floor, knowing she was going to need some kind of leverage to remove the stake. Asking God for one more favor, she pulled with all her strength, nearly gagging at the sucking sound the stake made as it pulled free of his body.
She looked at the gaping h*** in his chest, and called upon all her faith that he would heal. She held him in her arms once again, whispering, rocking, praying.
She felt a difference in his body. There seemed to be more to it somehow. She looked at the h***. It was closing.
He was healing. There was hope.
She kept talking. She kept holding. She was staring at his beautiful face when the eyes opened, golden in their hunger. She remembered what Vachon had done for Screed when the fever hit. "Don't kill me," she whispered, then offered her wrist. Vachon pierced her fragile veins, and drank.
Tracy began to feel faint, and sensing this, Vachon pulled away. He was weak, but strong enough to have control. He looked into the blue eyes he knew he loved, and now knew loved him.
"Are you okay, Trace? Tracy, answer me."
"That felt....so good." She looked at him with eyes filled with a different kind of hunger. "You give one hell of a hickey."
The smile that broke across his face was real, the one that finally reached his eyes. "What happened?"
Tracy's resolve to finally admit her love for this man skittered away to the dark corners of her mind. "I'm not sure. I need to tell you....I.....I...."
The incredible brown eyes just stared into hers, patient, waiting and knowing. And too damned amused for Tracy to handle. "What are you laughing at?" as she pushed him away from her.
Javier gasped in pain, and Tracy rushed to hold him. "I'm sorry, your wound, I didn't mean-"
Before she could say anything, she found herself flat on the floor with the delicious weight of him on her. "Something you wanted to say, I believe."
Pride warred with desire. The love in her heart slugged it out with the fear of rejection. Fear won.
"I'm glad you're okay."
Javier looked at his golden girl, the one who had fought an angel so bravely in his defense. "I wasn't dead yet, Tracy. The stake didn't kill instantly. I heard what you said." All the love in his heart swelled as the blush that stole across her face tapped the gentleness that still remained in the vampire. Then the sight of her blood racing through her tapped the vampire in the man. Eyes glowing and fangs descending, he licked her neck. "I know you love me. I love you, too. And I'm not going to kill you. But I'll die without another taste..."
He leaned down and kissed her until he felt and smelled her resistance melting away. Kissing and licking her neck, he plunged his fangs in and drank of her apricot blood, singing to him of her fears and her hopes and her incredible love. Taking just a little, he pulled away and kissed the puncture marks. Sealing them. Saving them for later.
"Since I don't want our first time making love to be on the floor, don't you think we should maybe go someplace else." Tracy just looked at him, not speaking. Her heart was too full, her body too hot. She tried to say yes, but no words would come.
Her eyes told him what he needed to know. "I can't believe it," the beautiful vampire said, shaking his head. "I cannot believe I finally found a way to shut you up."
The laughter of lovers could be heard as she chased him up the stairs and into the night