The hour of rising had fallen on Connor with a moonbeam across his face, awakening him like thunder. The drapes were fashioned by hand from soft black leather with Celtic knotting endlessly scrawled across them. With a light gesture of his hand he opened them, letting the pale moonlight, filtered through the oak branches outside, spill into his chamber.

He rose naked and pulled a pair of black leather pants over his legs. He stretched and a dozen

ripples appeared on his back and shoulders, disappearing again as he relaxed and exhaled. Now he reached for the black silk shirt. It was a flat silk, the only shimmer coming from its onyx buttons. He stepped into his soft leather boots and walked out his already opened French doors onto the terrace. He stepped light-footed onto the wall and with another he was on the roof of his home. Ambling across the tops of the Manhattan brownstones, he made his way to Fifth Avenue and stepped down to the sidewalk after assuring his privacy. The oblivion of human perception would always be the greatest ally of his kind.

Central Park was dark and fresh smelling. He took in all the autumn air he could and enjoyed this park. His park. One few others ever saw. They were afraid to see it at night. They never saw it with his eyes. They were afraid of all of the wrong things. Happenstance muggings and rapes. Easily recovered from. At least they would be if their victims knew their other fates. The fates their attackers unknowingly saved them from.

But Connor was not here for that yet. Perhaps later on his way home. Now he was being pulled to the West Side. There was something there he had to fix. Something was wrong in his city. He knew it the moment he breathed the air on his terrace.

He entered the bar he was divined to, and instantly knew the problem. His territory had been breached. He looked for his competition. At the other end of the room he saw her. Her pulse thundered in his mind. The heartbeat was strong. She had just fed. It was evident. A powerful killer. It remained to be seen who was the more powerful, but at the time this was not even an issue. They both lamented, if only for an instant, that the other was a feeder. They each wanted the other to be their victim. The second wish was of course that they could be each other's victims.

She felt a soothing chilly breeze blow through her. He was reading her. She obliged, but sparingly, as did he when she attempted to return the gesture. He had not yet lost his sexuality but was quite old. There was a great body of common ground between them. Their eyes locked and he read her. Maraya, a Turk. Older than he. Equally as strong. More vicious, more violent, and she hated him. She had no respect for the borders of any, and had not yet been forced from any hunting ground, though many had tried.

He approached her with an elegant gate, and she stood still, her eyes the only betrayal of life. They blazed brown and lit her caramel skin. It was smooth and soft yet gave a sense of durability over time…like oiled leather. Her features were sharp, but not dramatic. Her frame was small and curvy. She wore denims and a small shirt with midriff showing and her full cleavage lay between the long suede coat she wore. It was a brown lighter than her eyes and only somewhat darker than her coffee colored skin.

He watched her as he walked. He observed her legs stretching out from under her long coat. No longer feeling his presence in her mind, she allowed herself to be aroused. He was not guarding but she didn't read him anyway. He was not even blocking as a human would. It was old-fashioned flirtation. That, of course, would never go out of style. Not even in their world.

She moved forward. Now her hips held his attention and as they rolled towards him she knew he was seeing it in slow motion. He loved her walk, and made it known. He was thinking of drinking from her inner thigh. His eyes floated further upward over her stomach and chest. He was impressed by both. She was impressed by the way he admired. There was explosive lust, but it was not rooted in the archaic human inclination to simply pass on genetic material. His hormones were in fact reacting to a desire from a higher place; one neither remembered ever having as a human. But who could be sure. It had been so long since then.

Now they were within five feet of each other. His eyes were so different from the last ones. Green and rich. So full of color, for the eyes of a vampire. Still, they were vibrant, though dark. It couldn't be helped really. He had to be taken. Discreetly, he chipped his glass and cut his tongue on it so that she could see it. So unnecessary for them, yet there was such a satisfaction in seeing it with her eyes. He knew this. He glared as she bared her left canine and drew her tongue along it, slicing it down the middle. She then passed it into his mouth. When he pulled away she smiled at his discomfort. She believed he was intimidated. But no sooner had the thought entered her head than she realized he had begun guarding. She realized too, that whatever had happened at his sight of her, arousal was not his intention when he entered the bar. He was not here for blood or lust. He now remembered his purpose.

"Battle." He said.

"Battle then." She replied. And they walked together out the door.

As they crossed Amsterdam, ignoring the rules of the other world a cab screeched to a halt in front of her. The driver got out. "You stupid Bitch!" he hollered.

She said nothing, but instead walked over to him seductively. He melted as this elfin creature, with her short black hair and mischievous eyes, the picture of vulnerability and sexiness, approached. She slipped her arms around him and kissed him slowly, her tongue sliding sweetly over his. She moved her hands up across his chest and touched his face, moving her fingertips through his hair to the back of his head. He had forgotten where he was, his name, and even the absurdity of it all. He was lost in the ecstasy she gave his whole body, through only her mouth on his. Then she lifted his head, smoothly tearing it from his shoulders in one clean motion.

Connor looked about. People had seen of course. It was the middle of the street on the upper West Side, Saturday night. He held her wrist and pulled her into the park.

"Are you mad?"

"Of course not, and why are we running?"

"We have to get out of here."

"They can't do anything, Connor"

"They can make life difficult."

"So, I go. That's all."

"This is my hunting ground. I'd kill you for it if I could."

"Ahh, but you know you can't"

"It doesn't matter now, I may be run off. Discretion has kept my feeding both choice and regular."

By now they were on the rooftops headed for his lair.

"Well I'm sorry to have threatened that. But really, who would think you to be so concerned for me. Ten minutes ago you would have done to me what I did to that cab driver."

"I still might, but whenever necessary I give solace to interlopers. It helps me maintain my cloak."

"Even the threatening ones?"

"Especially the threatening ones. It is far easier than battle. With you of course I knew it was not an option."

They entered home his and he held her by the hair. She yelped and inhaled with a quick lift of her chest.

"You've cost me a feeding and I know you are brimming. Time to share."

They attacked each other. They leapt from one end of the room to the other and crashed together against the wall. There was now a better understanding of each other's strength and they would take full advantage of both that and their natural disregard for the other's safety and pleasure. Still, this was even more possible because of each one's our confidence in the other's ability to accept their…affections.

She grasped the back of his head with her left hand and with her right clasped at his jaw. She tightened her grip until she heard it snap. He backhanded her, crushing her eye socket. Then, as they flew from that corner of the room onto the bed, he held her spread eagle by the hands and entered her. Their hips were locked and she whimpered as she felt her shoulders separated from their sockets. She squeezed his hands until they were crushed and then tore his chest open. She felt him pour onto her. Her head rushed up and tasted his heart before the wound could close up. Her heels dug into his back crushing his pelvis and his huge hands held her just under her shoulder blades, cracking her ribs.

Then they fed from each other. Their fangs pierced each other's throats with exact timing and they gorged themselves on each other's blood. La sangre, la sangre, he thought and as she heard his mind scream the words she came. It was not even close to over. In fact it would quickly become a competition. Both of them, gulping faster. Their throats would thicken and purge into their own bloodstreams. She soon forgot that she was in fact making love and not hunting. She was reminded when she felt his flesh shiver. A deep roar rose up from within him and grew ever deeper as he thrust. Maraya came again and let him read her. He responded and removed himself as she punctured his hips with her nails and pulled him up to her and her down to him, his life flowing between her fingers. She took him in whole and came for the third time when his hot bloodcum rushed into her mouth and down her throat. And he cried out, "Maraya!"

They lay apart from each other, spread out on the huge hotel bed, only touching at the hand. They read each other as they felt the last of their injuries, and each other's, heal.

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