She rolls over, wraps herself around the warm body curved into the pillows. His neck smells warm and sweet like cologne and sex and he moans in his sleep when she scrapes the skin of it with her teeth.
Blood leaps up under her tongue...the quickening of his pulse...
"M-mary..." he sighs, unconsciously pushing back into the cradle of her thighs.
"Shhh," she soothes, pressing her breasts to his back, kissing his hair...as if she can absorb him inside her just from touch and taste. "It's all right, Simon. It's all right."
Funny how it was he who gave such assurances when they first met. But now...now they are her words. In the middle of the night, when her mouth tingles and her veins remember betrayal and eternity...she speaks to remind him that the past is over and done with.
Or maybe she speaks to remind herself.
*"I release you..."*
The teeth receded as the body burned. She remembers how her fingers shook as she wrote in her father's journal...she could still feel the points against her lips. She and Simon made love for the first time later that day. With the sunlight pouring into the window as the party raged on in the French Quarter below. Fierce, hot, fast and then slow. He seemed surprised to learn that she was as Virgin as her Megastore t-shirts proclaimed...and pretended not to notice the echo in her eyes that said she'd been saving it for someone else.
He is a good man. A good lover. A hero with the burden of misspent youth and ill-gotten gains who gave it up for her father, for her...to save her.
But she cannot do the same.
*"I release you..."*
So, she licks the salt of his flesh and imagines it flavored red and rich. She closes her eyes and tells him she loves him and lets the sleep drag her down into his arms.
And she wakes early...goes to rest her palm on a cold, silver coffin in the vault downstairs. She remembers the whisper of dark hair against her face...cold breath and sharp fangs and the memory of damnation from two millennia before.
As blood calls to blood...and instinct calls to instinct, she asks, "How do *I* release *you*?"
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