Penance
Part Ten
Fall into Me
By: Stephanie J. Bardy

Reese stretched under the silkiness of the sheet. Her body felt heavy limbed and satiated. A smile curved her lips as she remembered the previous nights meal. Darius had been all that he had promised he would be. His fear, his screams had awakened that put away part of her. His blood had filled her mouth like water. She had drank like a woman dying of thirst. Bathed her body in it. When she had finally breathed the last bit of life from his body and he was nothing more than dust on the floor, she had stumbled to the bed. She hadn't slept that well or that soundly in over 100 years. Not since Adrian.

That thought brought her back to consciousness a little more. He had known that she would not have been able to resist. He knew her better than anyone else. That side of her. The wild, uncontrolled chaotic savagery. He had fed it well. They had fed each other well. New Orleans was a good place to live if one wanted to remain anonymous, feed unnoticed. But unlike today's fictional depictions of the perfect hunting grounds for those like her, the French Quarter was not it. Faubourg Tremé or as it was known today, the Tremé, held the best, darkest corners. Adrian had lived in the Tremé and was rumored to have come from a long line of those who practiced witchcraft. Reese had sought him out when she was looking for more like herself. She had encountered many a charlatan and was expecting no less. He was the real deal. His magic tasted familiar but far enough removed from her to be unique and new. She had been drawn to him. A moth to a flame. She had burned at his touch. Ached with every sound of his voice. He had opened a part in her she didn't know she had. Pure predator. They had hunted, they had loved, and they had lived.

She pushed those thoughts back into the corners of her memory and rolled over burying her face in the pillow. The scent of blood filled her nostrils. She pulled her face back and cracked open an eye. It felt crusted with something. Wiping a hand across her face she could feel the remnants of the night before dried on her cheeks and caked in her hair. She almost giggled and she pulled the sheet from her naked body. It stuck in places and that did make her laugh out loud.

"I have missed that sound, cher." Drawled a deep voice from within the room. Reese scrambled up the bed and drew the sheet back around her. She scanned the room and found him. Sitting in a wing back chair just inside the French doors of the bedchamber. The breeze from the balcony ruffled his hair and fluttered the sleeve of his cotton shirt.

"Adrian." She said flatly. "How did you get in? You were bound."

He laughed and a shiver went down her spine and settled low in her belly.

"My love, you bound me from places I did not own. Places I did not live. This Hotel, this whole block, most of the city, in one way or another, is mine." He stood and walked to the small table and lifted the receiver on the phone.

"Hello ma petite, could you please have Carla send up a recovery crew and my special breakfast?" he paused for a moment then continued. "Yes, utmost privacy please. Use the service elevator…No, not that one…yes, the special one." He hung up and walked towards the bed. Reese slide farther away from him.

He laughed again, a deep throaty very male laugh. Heat exploded in her. He paused and sniffed the air, like a dog scenting after his prey.

"I see I still entice you." He sat on the edge of the bed and tugged at the sheet. Reese held tight and her eyes slid to slits.

"You have not changed, so yes, I still find you physically appealing, but do not mistake my biological response for one of acceptance or forgiveness." She tried to look as menacing and as indignant as she could wrapped in nothing but a silk sheet and caked in dried blood.

A breeze wafted through the doors again and Adrian curled his lip. "You need a shower. You smell like death." He stood and walked into the sitting room. He pushed on a wooden panel in the wall and a keypad popped out. He punched in some numbers and the wall beside the bed slid aside.

"You will find all you need in there. My staff must clean the mess you left in the bathroom, and you must shower. Both can not be done in the same room. So, you will use my private suite." He turned as a knock rang out.

"Go. I do not want my staff to see you like this. Some images are harder to fade from the mind than others. I will have breakfast laid out when you are finished. We need to talk." He dismissed her like he always had. When Adrian was done with a conversation and had moved on, you knew. You no longer existed in that moment.

Reese slipped into the hidden doorway and found a full luxurious bathroom. She caught her reflection in the mirror that covered the wall above the double sinks. Her eyes seemed large and round in a sea of dried blood. Her hair was caked to her head and stuck to her back in places. Dried blood trailed down between her breasts and over her stomach. The trail continued down both legs and ended just above her feet. Strangely her feet were perfectly clean. It made her giggle again and she realized that she was in mild shock. Seeing Adrian, being that vulnerable, had shaken her. So had her response to him. She still wanted him, craved him almost as much as she had so many years ago. She was not giving in this time. Not falling for that sweet drawl and those dark eyes. His skin the color of coffee and cream. He had tasted as good as he looked. She shook her head and walked to the shower. She adjusted the temperature to be just slightly cooler than warm. Something had to chase the desire from her, and she hoped cold water would do it. He was a dangerous man. She was dangerous when she was with him. She had no control over her predatory nature when he was around. Had she been paying more attention the previous night she would have sensed the spell on Darius. Adrian's magic was all over the young man. She could still feel it in the dried blood on her body. The spell had weakened her control over that nature. She stepped into the shower and the water fell around her. Reese hung her head and watched the water drip from her hair. Red, then pink, then clear. With each scrub, each lather, she felt more in control of herself. When she smelled of nothing more than honeysuckle, she turned the temperature up and let the heat seep into her. For a moment she let those emotions come. Tears mingled with the water and ran down her cheeks unabashed. She clamped a hand over her mouth as the swell of pain became almost overwhelming. A small whimper escaped before she could pull herself back. She drew a breath and gave into it. No one could hear her when she put up her walls. She let every wound, ever pain, every scar Adrian ever left on her, every crack in her heart, pour out of her and down the drain. Soon the room was steamy and misty. The mirrors had fogged over, and the steam moved in waves from the stall. She had stopped crying and just felt drained. She lathered up the puff one last time and let the soap run down her body. She had her back to the door when she felt a cool wind reach for her. That wind brought a dark magic and her knee's almost buckled at the intensity. She spun around and Adrian stood on the other side of the glass doors. He had a robe in his hand, but it seemed forgotten. He had witnessed her breakdown. The look in his eyes told her as much. He stood staring at her.

She moved toward the glass door and put her hand up to hold it closed as he moved toward it at the same time. He saw her reaching up and thought she was reaching for him and before Reese could stop him, he was in the shower with her. He had her pinned against the cold tile wall, his mouth devouring hers.

She pushed with all she had against him. He didn't budge. She tried to turn her head away from him, but his hands held her firm. She pushed against him again, this time using metaphysical force along with physical. It moved him back just enough so he could see her face.

"Get out." She hissed, fury etching every angle of her face. He looked down at her and smiled.

"Ah cher, you don't mean that. I can feel the heat rising off you. Smell it on you." He leaned in again to kiss her, and she took a quick breath in. He wasn't expecting that and he back up gasping as she pulled the air from his lungs.

"I said, get out." She ground out. He stepped out of the stall and slowly began to remove his shirt. Panic began to flutter in her stomach. "What are you doing?"

This time when he smiled, there was nothing gentle in it. He was the hunter and this time; she was the hunted. "I can not go out there soaking wet. It would make such a mess." He dropped the shirt on to the floor and reached for the button on his slacks. Fear mixed with need raced through Reese and she turned away from him. Once she broke eye contact, she could think a bit more clearly.

"I won't say it again Adrian. Get the hell out!" her voice had risen a few octaves. The air around her started to stir and it took her a moment to recognize her own magic. Once she did, she wrapped it around herself. She was in control again. She turned to face Adrian and found him standing barefoot with his slacks unbuttoned. Water glistened on his chest, and she wanted nothing more than to lick the drops from him, but she pushed that down and pulled her magic up tighter. She turned the water off and stepped out of the stall.

"If you won't leave, I will. I've had enough of these petty games. My body may want you Adrian, but I have no other interest than that, and have no interest in pursuing it any further than acknowledging that fact." She raised her head and strode confidently past him. "You are nothing to me. You were nothing to me then and you are nothing to me now. Nothing more than food." She pulled a towel from the rack and wrapped it around her body. Just as she was almost out of the room, she heard the growl.

"I was more than nothing!" Adrian roared. The room shook slightly. Reese trembled inside but turned to look at him. Disdain all over her face. "Please. You are nothing more than a magic man. A weak one at that. You claim to own half the city? How small minded of you. I own the world. There is not place I can not go that I am not welcome. You are bound to places you must possess. I am the one who bound you. You dare to think you are better than I am? Stronger? You are NOTHING!" Anger had replaced any fear she may have felt. She had created him; she could destroy him. "I made you. I taught you how to increase your power, I taught you how to live beyond the one trick pony you were when I found you. Then you became a bore to me. Do not ever forget that. I made you and I can unmake you." Her eyes blazed and her hair spun around her in the wind her magic created. Her skin shimmered and heat rose off her in waves.

Adrian stared at her for a moment, then burst out laughing. "Sweet Catrina, it has been many years since you fled from me in fear. Yes, fear. I have learned much in that time."

The anger that had swelled in Reese exploded into rage. Emotional control was not something that she had a good grip on when she was around him, time had not changed that. Something close to a screech burst from her mouth and she lunged at him. Her nails had lengthened into her claws, and she swiped at him.

He was almost as fast as she was and was able to grab her wrists as she came at him. The momentum of her crashing into him propelled the two of them back into the glass walls of the shower stall. They shook but held. Adrian pulled her close, pinning her arms behind her.

"No one attacks me in my house. You do not control me anymore." He snarled. He yanked hard on Reese's arms almost pulling them from their sockets, just to prove his point. Rage flared in her eyes, and she leaned her head forward. She clamped her teeth onto his shoulder, and he roared in pain, throwing her off him. She crashed into the mirror above the sink and landed on the counter. The mirror cracked where her body had landed, and a small trail of blood wove its way down the broken glass. The smell hit Reese and it opened that primal place in her that she kept so tightly sealed. The blood in her mouth from the bite snapped something inside her. She bounced into a crouch on the counter and watched Adrian with eyes that were no longer human. No longer capable of rational thought.

Adrian knew that look and countered with one of his own. He pushed himself off the glass wall and stalked toward her. A low rumble coming from him.

"You know how this is going to play out Catrina. One of two things are going to happen." A musk had begun to rise from his skin. A scent. Purely male.

Need made Reese tremble slightly, the smell of blood made her growl. She licked her lips, and the taste of Adrian's blood filled her mouth. That was the last straw. Any humanity left; any semblance of control broke.

"My name is Reese." She purred. A scent of her own now rising from her skin. She leapt at Adrian, all teeth and claws. She wrapped her legs around his waist, bringing one hand to this throat, claws just piercing his skin.

Fire blazed in Adrian's eyes. He swallowed so he could feel the claws dig in a bit deeper. His hands had come up to grip her hips as she had landed on him. He pulled down hard so she could feel just how aroused he was before he flung her into the glass of the shower.

"Reese my darlin', we are either going to fuck, or fight." He walked towards her lying on the shower floor. The glass had shattered, and her back was sliced and bleeding. She healed fairly quickly but not quick enough to stop the blood. The room was filled with the smell of it and pheromones. Reese regained her feet, in a crouch again, and looked up at Adrian.

"Fight!" She again pounced on him but this time she tore his throat open. He dropped to his knees but his grip on her never loosened. As he gasped for air, he ground himself into her. She moaned and breathed into him. His throat reknit and he got to his feet, carrying her into the bedroom. She struggled to get free, but he tightened his grip.

"Oh no love, not this time." He grabbed a handful of her hair and pulled her head back, stretching her neck to the limit. He ran his tongue across her jawline, down her neck and across her collarbone. Then he bit her, taking a piece. The blood ran down her naked breasts pooling between them where their bodies touched. She raked her nails down his back, tearing it to ribbons, letting the blood flow over her hands before she healed him. He threw her onto the bed and tore at his pants. With one swipe she had them off. He fell on her like a man starving. He licked the blood from her, following the trail until it ended. He flicked his tongue over her, and she moaned. He continued his exploration until Reese's legs began to tremble and her hands scrambled in the sheets for something to hang on too. He brought her to climax over and over with his tongue until she could barely breath. Blood and sweat mixed and limbs slid over bodies. The fight was over. Now it was a race. Adrian kissed Reese again and this time she kissed him back, just as hard, just as hungry as he was. That broke any control Adrian had and he dragged her until she was flat on the bed. He pushed her legs apart and plunged into her. A scream tore from Reese as her back arched. He didn't relent. As if he was trying to erase the years they had been apart. She clung to him at first, then, as the pleasure continued to build in her, she brought her hips up to met him, thrust for thrust. Reese screamed again as orgasm hit her. As the waves crashed through her, it sent Adrian over that edge. His movements lost pace and his breathing became erratic. He wove one hand under her gripping her hip, and the other hand tangled in her hair. His own orgasm hit him drawing a guttural primal sound from him. Sending Reese into another wave of pleasure.

When it was over, Adrian collapsed beside her. The two lay still for a long time, catching their breath. Reese was the first to speak.

"Get out." Her voice was flat and devoid of emotion. Adrian pushed himself up and looked at her. Their eyes met.

"Did I stutter?" she asked.

"No ma cher." He said. Adrian climbed off the bed and looked at the destruction in the two rooms. The bed was covered in blood and the bathroom was torn apart. Glass was everywhere.

"You will need to find other accommodation. This room is no longer suitable." He walked naked to the hidden room, pulled a robe from the rack and flipped open another panel full of buttons. He punched in another code and a door at the back of the hidden bathroom opened. "I do not care where you go, but if you plan to keep me away from you, you best be sure I do not own it. Because I will not be kept from you again. You still want me Catrina, Reese, whatever you choose to call yourself now. You still love me. Fight it all you want. I will win." He turned and disappeared into the door and was gone.

Reese lay on the bed staring at the ceiling for a very long time after he had gone. The room had gone from light to dark at some point. She sat up and wiped at her cheeks. They were covered in tears. She would never say the words out loud. Not ever again, but her heart knew. She had never stopped loving him. If that is what you could call what the had between them. She was pretty sure Freud had told her it was more obsession than love, but she had ignored him then. Now she wasn't so sure. No good had ever come from a relationship with Adrian. He hadn't changed. She knew that for fact. She had. She had found a love, so pure, so gentle it had scared her into hiding for a century. It had caused her to run away out of a need to protect him. What she had with Adrian was wild. Dangerous, and oh so addicting.

And she was afraid she was addicted, again. Adrian was one to fall on too, Marlon was one to fall in to.

And she wasn't sure she didn't need both.

-

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