Teren woke me up the next morning with soft lips on my neck. Murmuring good morning, he sighed a content, cool breath into my ear. I smiled and shivered, twisting to wrap my arms around him. Exhaling in a long, satisfied way, he squeezed me so tight I had a little trouble breathing.

Pushing him back a little, I laughed when I could breathe again. "Good morning to you, too." Glancing over his shoulder at his clock, I frowned. "It's so early, why are you up?"

He shook his head, his pale eyes glowing with phosphorescence and happiness as he watched me in our still dark bedroom. "I just couldn't sleep anymore."

I frowned, my glowing eyes flicking over his face. "I know yesterday was hard for you, are you okay?"

He inhaled a deep breath, letting it out in a rush. "Yeah, I feel great. Like a weight has been lifted, a weight I didn't even realize I'd been carrying. I feel...free." He chuckled and rubbed his nose along mine. "And I owe it all to you."

I giggled as his nose ran along my cheek, his lips running up to my ear. Sliding my hands up his back, I pulled his body into mine. "I didn't do anything, Teren. Last night was all you."


I smiled as I remembered his last moments with Carrie. Halina had looked her in the eye and calmly given her a new life. She'd been told that she'd never had a serious boyfriend in high school, that she'd never been pregnant before, that the name Teren Adams meant nothing to her, and upon leaving our home, she would forget everything about the man standing before her.

Under Teren's guidance, Halina then told her that she was going to stay in the city, enjoying the remainder of her two week vacation, then she was going to go home and enjoy her life. Teren also threw in that she was going to confidently ask her boss out on a date. He'd smiled widely after Halina had rolled her eyes and imbedded the suggestion.

I'd been a little shocked with the ease that Halina had wiped her clean. Once Carrie had been escorted to a cab and sent to a hotel that Teren had reserved for her, I'd made the mistake of proclaiming my surprise at how simple it was to Halina. She'd looked at me like I'd offended her. "You expected something...grander?"

Shrugging, I'd only managed to come up with, "Well, yeah, actually."

Her response, as typical, had been better than mine. "The human mind is exceptionally pliable. All I have to do is tell you what to believe, what to do, and you do it." Smirking, she finished with, "Truly, you are not much different than the cattle."

I was still trying to not be too offended by that.

Teren paused in sucking on my earlobe. "You did so much for me, just by being there." He pulled back to look at me, his playful eyes suddenly serious. "I don't think I could have done it without your support." The glow highlighted our sheets as he looked down. My vamped-up vision could make out a section of the glow that was brighter, a ring directly around the iris. It was beautiful.

"I should have done that ages ago, but I was so scared to let go." He smiled and looked up at me. "But it was easier than I thought it would be." His fingers came up to caress my cheek. "Because of you. I didn't really lose anything, because I still have you." Tilting his head, a look of pride on his face, he added, "I kind of feel like I grew up last night."

I laughed softly. "Well, welcome to being an adult."

Chuckling, he kissed me softly. "That's what I get for marrying an older woman." I gently smacked his arm and he chuckled again. "What? You are almost out of your twenties."

He raised an eyebrow and I smacked him again, harder. "And you already are, even if you still look perfect."

His grin turned devilish. "Perfect?"

I sighed and looked him over. "Yes...perfect."

He looked me over as well, the thumb on my cheek stroking my skin. "Not as perfect as you," he whispered.

I sighed softly again, placing my hand over his on my cheek. He leaned in and we kissed tenderly, arms and legs and bodies tangling together. Just as I was pulling him on top of me, our light kissing getting more intimate, a foot kicked me in my rib. Breaking apart from his lips, I glanced over at my son beside me. I'd nearly forgotten that I'd told them both that they could sleep with us. Quite a feat, since I could feel them in my head. Without looking, I knew with certainty that Nika was on the other side of Teren.

He glanced over at her fast-asleep body, then shifted to my side. Grinning at me crookedly, he shrugged. "Want to go outside? It's been a long time since we've had sex in the car?"

I laughed out loud, then slapped a hand over my mouth. It was too late though. Nika immediately sat up and looked over Teren's shoulder. "Morning, Mommy!" she exclaimed brightly. Inwardly, I groaned. If was too early for me, it was way too early for them.

"Morning, sweetheart," I whispered, hoping that at least Julian was still sleeping. No such luck.

"Quiet, Nick," he mumbled, sitting up and rubbing his eyes.

Teren chuckled and rolled onto his back, Nika immediately scrambling on top of him. He looked over at me, twisting his lips and shaking his head. "Nice going...Mommy."

I rolled my eyes and smacked his shoulder. "Quiet, you. You're the one that was up before the dawn."

Chuckling to himself, Teren squeezed Nika to him in several short bursts, making her laugh; Julian sleepily laughed too.

Since we were all up, we decided to have a nice filling breakfast together. Humming to himself, Teren finished off the kids' pancakes by adding strawberry eyes, whip cream mouths and a blueberry nose. The twins giggled in delight at their pancake people and I smiled at the peace on my husband's face. Snipping that last piece of his childhood away had certainly freed him. He was lighter than I'd ever seen him. Well, it rivaled when the children were born, at least.

Still having to go into work before me, he kissed all of us goodbye, lingering on me the longest. His fingers clutched my face while he gave me an intimately deep kiss, for a morning farewell. My heart was a little fast when he pulled away.

He smiled as he discretely ran his fingers over my heart, copping a feel in the process. "I love that I can still do that do you," he whispered.

I bit my lip, squeezing his bottom. "Maybe later, you could do a bit more?"

He glanced over at the kids making bubbles in their glasses of milk. Laughing huskily, he turned back to me. "They'll probably be passing out earlier than usual tonight." The edge of his lip curved up as his pale eyes flicked down my body. "I'm sure I can come up with something."

I had to stop biting my lip as I momentarily lost the hold on my teeth. Nearly slicing my skin, I quickly slipped them back up, but Teren noticed the loss of control and smiled devilishly. Smacking his shoulder, my face feeling overly heated at slipping up in a way that I hadn't slipped up in months, I shoved his cocky butt out the door. Laughing, he kissed me goodbye a final time then practically skipped to his car. I smiled and shook my head at his good mood.

His good mood stayed with him throughout his day at work, where he called me and told me about Ben and Tracey wanting to take me out tomorrow night. I matter-of-factly told him that I was backing out of those plans, that I didn't want to make a big deal about my birthday. A quiet weekend at the ranch with my family sounded ideal to me. He laughingly told me that he and Ben had already made all of the arrangements. It was a done deal. I sighed, irritated at his good mood.

Saturday morning found Teren and me heading to the family ranch, like typical, just with plans to leave it for a few hours in the evening. I wasn't too thrilled about it, and told Teren that we weren't leaving until after bedtime, so I could still tuck the kids in.

Grinning ear-to-ear, he only said, "That's fine, the fun doesn't start until later anyway." I twisted my lips at him, wondering just what he had in store for me. Smiling secretively, he would say nothing more on the matter.

Shutting the car off in the drive of the palatial Adams estate, he chuckled at the look of curious annoyance on my face. "We're here kids," he proclaimed brightly as he opened the door.

Rolling my eyes, I opened mine and went about the task of unbuckling the kids. No sooner were they free than they were surging to the open front door, Alanna bent over on her knees awaiting them. I blinked in surprise when I saw Imogen standing back in the recesses of the entryway. Imogen didn't come out during broad daylight, it was too painful. She was standing a ways back from the open door, none of its indirect light reaching her, but the home was loaded with wide windows and she was drenched in the sunlight streaming through them.

Teren stared at her, shaking his head. "I'll be damned," he muttered. "He did it." I glanced up at Teren's stunned face, then remembered what Gabriel had said before he'd dropped the Carrie-bomb on us. He'd developed a protective coating that blocked the harmful side effects of the sun from mixed vampires. He had offered to have the Adams home fitted with the new glass and apparently he had. I shook my head as I grabbed Teren's hand. Gabriel worked fast; that had only been a couple of days ago.

We walked into the home and Alanna shut the door behind us. Imogen was smiling and laughing, frolicking with her grandchildren, chasing them around the fountain of a woman crying that took a place of prominence in the room. My eyes stung watching the bright rays streak over Imogen's dark hair. She hadn't had a moment like this...her entire life.

Alanna smiled at her mother, pink tears down her cheeks. All of us silently watching Imogen play tag, happy, content, and most of all, pain-free, she quietly said, "She's been like this ever since Gabriel finished with the windows." Twisting to smile at Teren, she shook her head. "She won't go back to her rooms." She laughed on the end, wiping her cheeks dry.

Teren and I laughed as well, Teren slinging an arm over his mom's shoulders. When the kids eventually tore off to play in another room in the house, Imogen stood up and walked over to us, her face more alive than I'd ever remembered seeing it. "Teren, Emma...it's so good to see you out and about on this fine morning."

She laughed as she embraced me in a cool hug. I laughed as I wrapped my arms around the grandmotherly woman, my joy for her causing the tears stinging my eyes to splash onto my cheeks. Darn emotional vampires.

"Imogen...I'm so happy for you." I pulled back from her to stare at Alanna as well. She had an arm around her son's waist and was standing in a bright shaft of light under a large sun-filled window. She'd been standing there for awhile, perfectly free from pain as well. "Both of you."

Alanna sighed, glancing up at her son and then down at the floors to where I could feel Halina's still presence. Her eyes swinging back to me, she looked over my body. "Gabriel...he's done so much for our family. I really don't know how we'll ever repay him."

I swallowed a little nervously. I'd wondered that myself.

Imogen, Alanna and I spent a good chunk of the afternoon lazing in a bright patch of sunlight in the living room. Stretching languidly, I sort of felt like a giant cat, sleeping in the sunshine. Both vampire women giggled and sighed contently. I had to imagine that the heat that I could feel caressing my skin, felt even better to their cool bodies, especially since they'd never really had the chance to revel in it before.

Teren laughed at the three of us, shaking his head before heading outside to go fishing with his dad. The kids went with him. They found it enormously funny, using their enhanced abilities to snatch up the fish bare-handed, just like Daddy.

It wasn't too much later when I felt Teren and the kids zooming back to me at lightning speed. A little alarmed, I sat up on my elbows. More alarmed when I could hear my children crying, I jumped up to my feet. Alanna and Imogen sprang up with me, both looking like they wanted to rush out to Teren. Knowing he would be in the house in a matter of seconds, we made ourselves wait. Even though I only counted five of those seconds, it felt like five years.

When he entered the room, Teren immediately met my eye. "They're fine, more upset than anything."

Believing him, but needing to see for myself, I blurred over to them. The tang of blood was in the air and my heart rate spiked. Both kids reached out for me, both crying. Smelling the blood on Nika, I only grabbed her. It hurt my heart to choose, but she was the one that smelled injured. Imogen snatched up a crying Julian though, patting his back as he clung to her, sobbing. My heart racing as I held my crying daughter, I peeked up at Teren running a hand back through his hair, his lips twisting in what almost seemed like amusement.

"What happened?" I snapped out.

He shook his head and started to answer me, but my crying daughter beat him to it. Pointing viciously at Julian, she wailed, "Julie bit me!"

Julian covered his ears and sobbed harder. Blinking at a shrugging Teren, I looked over Nika. Sure enough, she had fang marks on her arm. I looked over at Alanna. Never having raised vampiric children before, or any child before, I wasn't quite sure how to handle it. She smiled softly, wisdom in her youthful eyes, and reached her arms out for Nika. "Come here, sweetheart. Grandma will clean you up and then we'll have a nice cup of cocoa."

Nika perked up, her sobs shifting to sniffles at the thought of a chocolate treat. She practically leapt from my arms into Alanna's. Hugging her tight, Alanna nodded her head at Julian. "You two may want to have a talk with him."

Imogen smiled and kissed his head. As Nika's emotions calmed down, so did my son's. When I could hear her giggle as Alanna tickled her, Julian even smiled. At that point, I figured he was probably more upset at feeling how upset Nika was. It sort of put a whole new meaning to the word guilt, when you could feel the pain and distress you caused someone.

Setting him on a chair, Imogen kissed his head again, then blurred to the kitchen with Alanna and Nika. Hearing them begin a conversation with her on biting, I started my own with my son. Teren and I squatted down in front of him as a few last sniffles escaped him. His eyes red and watery, I stroked his cheek. "Did you bite your sister?" I asked quietly.

He nodded, his lip quivering as he looked between Teren and I. Teren ran some fingers through his hair. "Why?" he asked, equally as soft.

Julian looked down and shrugged. "I was hungry."

I bit my lip. This was not the sort of thing that most mothers had to deal with. How do you tell your child that feeding off your siblings was just not okay? Especially since it was in their nature to do so. Even if we wanted to ignore it, being attuned to blood and heartbeats was just a part of being a vampire. Sure, it was easy for an adult to make the conscious choice to not attack the meals walking past them, but three year olds?

Sighing softly, I cupped both of his cheeks. "If you want some blood, you come to Mommy or Daddy, and we will get you some." Shaking my head at him, I firmly said, "You don't ever bite people. Understand?"

He nodded in my fingers, then frowned. "Daddy bites you?"

Removing my fingers, I felt my entire body flush. We tried to keep that part of our relationship hidden, but they'd apparently caught on to that little fact. As I stammered for something to say, Teren filled in for me. "I only bite Mommy because she said it was okay. You never bite someone without their permission."

His face serious as he gazed at his son, I realized that this was a conversation Teren must have heard himself as a child. He didn't have siblings to nibble on, but he'd probably been warned anyway. Julian's face got equally serious and he nodded, just once. "Okay, Daddy."

Hearing Nika laughing and telling Alanna and Imogen that she wouldn't ever bite someone, that it was icky, Teren and I smirked. Julian brightened when he saw that we weren't mad. "Can I have some cocoa?" he asked, his pale eyes hopeful.

I nodded and he dashed away, giggling like his sister. As I looked back to Teren, he started laughing. "I had no idea that he'd ever seen me bite you." I closed my eyes and shook my head. No, I was pretty sure regular parents didn't ever have these kinds of conversations.

When dusk settled in and our children were sleepily huddled off to bed, we reiterated that biting was not something that they should do, especially with each other. Halina laughed for ages when she was filled in on the situation, especially after Julian repeated to her that Daddy bites Mommy because Mommy says it's okay. I wanted to crawl into the earth and never come out again.

Once we'd said our goodnights and tucked them into their joint bed, my daughter's arm thoroughly covered up in Hello Kitty bandages, Teren scooped me up and told me to change into something nice. I smirked at him as he dragged me into our bedroom. "I didn't bring anything nice."

He smirked right back. "I did." Grinning crookedly, he pointed over to a garment bag that I hadn't packed.

Frowning as I unzipped it, I muttered, "You all know my birthday isn't until Tuesday, right?"

He laughed as he slung his arms around my waist and kissed my neck, the unscarred side. "Yes, but it's typical to celebrate the weekend before, when the date falls in the middle of the workweek."

Groaning as I pulled out a sexy little black dress, I mumbled, "Thanks for the tip, Mr. Birthday Etiquette."

I listened to my children say goodnight to each other as I slinked off my clothes. When I was just in my bra and underwear, I posed for Teren, thinking that maybe if he was wrapped around me, he'd ditch this idea of going out. His eyes did lock onto my body, but he stubbornly kept getting ready, buttoning up a black shirt that complemented his dark hair.

Cocking an eyebrow at me, he waited for me to cover up my body once he was finished. Rolling my eyes, I slipped on the dress. It fell mid-thigh and slinked so low in the back that I had to take my bra off. I sexily removed it and flung it at him. He caught it one-handed, baring a fang at me as he did. I bit my lip, wanting to stay for another reason and he chuckled, slipping his teeth back in as he walked over to my bag on the dresser. Rummaging for the supplies, he prepared my daily shot for me. When he had the syringe ready, he gave me a questioning look, as he always did, and I nodded.

Silently he walked over to me, shot in hand. Stepping behind me, his fingers ran up my thigh. I closed my eyes as his other hand rested on my hip. I could feel the desire rising in me as his hand rose higher up my leg, the syringe enclosed in it barely scraping against my skin. A low growl escaping him as he sensed it, he drug his teeth over my ear. "Stop that," he murmured. "We have places to be."

I let a small moan escape my lips as I leaned back into his body, grinding my hips into his. "Then stop teasing me...and do it."

He groaned a little bit as his free hand slipped under my dress, cupping the back. "You're too sexy..." Then he stiffened and pushed me away from him. Surprised, I twisted to look at him; his eyes were narrowed at me. "Are you trying to turn me on, just so we won't go?"

I smiled and shook my head. "I don't know what you're talking about, Mr. Adams."

Shaking his head at me, he grabbed my hips and pulled me into him. He injected me just as our bodies lined up. "There," he whispered, "I did it...we can go now."

Gasping as the heat of the shot flowed through my hips and desire pooled through my body, I grabbed his face and kissed him. He kissed me back just as hard and fierce as I kissed him. His hands ran up my legs, fisting my underwear at both sides. I whimpered as his cool tongue stroked over mine. Then he jerked away from me.

Blurring to the other side of the room, he panted lightly as he stared at me. "Hmmm, you're good, but we are going." He raised an eyebrow at me, his face playful, but serious. Smirking, he put the empty syringe back into our belongings, where our children wouldn't find it and accidentally hurt themselves with it.

After slipping on my family locket, I took a few minutes to readjust my hair and makeup, but we were still on the road to destinations unknown in no time. As I sighed, Teren chuckled at me. "What about this are you not looking forward to?" he asked with a smirk. "Spending some quality time with your friends...or your husband?"

He raised his eyebrow and I laughed, relaxing. "You're right. I guess it's just turning thirty that I'm struggling with a bit."

He furrowed his brows, his Prius flying down the road without him even looking. "You don't have to, you know. Turn thirty, I mean."

I relaxed back into the seat, watching the headlights light the road before us, much like our eyes did in pitch-black darkness. I knew what he meant, he meant I could stop taking the shot. I could die and stop my body from aging. I knew that, I just wasn't ready for it yet.

"No, I want to. Really, I do." I looked back at him as he twisted his head back to the front. "It's just the end of an era. I wasn't expecting that to bother me, I'd even been looking forward to it up until now...but, I don't know. I guess I just wanted to celebrate this milestone quietly."

Teren frowned, looking back at me. "Do you want me to call this off?"

I shook my head, feeling silly for objecting, now that we were out of the house and free for the evening. Putting my hand over his, I smiled widely. "No, I want to spend a night out with my husband, celebrating the fact that I'm still alive."

He grinned, placing a cool kiss on the back of my hand and stepping on the accelerator. "Good, because I think you'll like this."

While I was expecting to pull up in front of some packed club or maybe a swanky bar, he ended up driving us to the San Francisco Symphony. I stared at him open mouthed as we parked. "You got me tickets to the symphony?"

He tilted his head and nodded at my astonishment. I hadn't been to the symphony since my mom had taken me when I'd graduated from college. It was one of those things that I'd always wanted to go back to, but it always seemed to slip through the cracks.

"I asked your mom what you might like to do and she said the last time you were here, you teared up." He shrugged. "I thought you might appreciate this more than Tracey's plan of getting you smashed and making you sing karaoke."

I shook my head, my eyes already brimming. "Oh my God, I love you."

He chuckled against my lips. "See what I'm willing to sit through for you." I laughed when I pulled away from him. I had a feeling that Teren wouldn't mind sitting through the symphony. He was just more open to culture than most men.

Stepping out of the car, I heard Hot Ben's grumble before I saw him. Turning around, my flirty black dress swirling around my thighs, I watched as the modelesque man walked up to us, his fiance on his arm. While Hot Ben had a slight grimace on his sculpted face, Tracey was ear-to-ear smiles, eager to try something new. The perky blonde immediately engulfed me in a hug when she saw me. "Happy birthday, Emma."

The scent of freshly applied hairspray stung my nose, but I managed to hold in the sneeze. "Thank you, Tracey." I pulled back from her, my own face nearly splitting open with the wide grin on it. "You realize it's not today, right?"

She shushed me in the air with her hand. "Close enough. Can you believe the guys are taking us to the symphony?"

She started going into detail about how thoughtful our boys were and how romantic the evening was going to be, but from behind me, I heard Hot Ben grumbling to Teren and I couldn't stop myself from eavesdropping.

"Dude, I cannot believe you talked me into the symphony. I mean, aren't you supposed to be a badass, soulless, bloodthirsty monster?" Sighing softly he muttered, "I can't believe I was ever terrified of you."

I inadvertently laughed, causally switching it to a cough in my hand, and looked over my shoulder at Ben. Looking quite dashing in his semiformal suit, his light eyes and blonde highlights made him seem more like a movie star than a substitute kick box instructor and former vampire hunter. He was the one human outside of my family that knew without a doubt what the Adams clan was. The only reason he still knew was the fact that he'd earned their trust, earned it and kept it. He still hadn't told anyone about what he knew, not even his clueless bride-to-be.

He shrugged sheepishly at me as Teren clapped him on the back. Sometimes Hot Ben forgot just how good our hearing was. Actually, I think sometimes Ben forgot what we were entirely. A fact that made my husband exceptionally happy, as he sometimes liked to forget what he was too.

Just as the four of us started walking towards the front doors, a familiar car rumbled into the parking lot. I heard its particular jumble and smiled at my husband. "You invited my mom?"

He smiled and shrugged, squeezing my waist. "And your sister." Shaking my head at him, I leaned in to give him a light peck. Mom and Ash found a spot near the front to park and Tracey finally noticed they were here when Ash stepped out of my mom's compact. Grinning through her disfigured lips, Ashley waved at our foursome. We all waved back, Tracey breaking free from Ben to give Ashley a sisterly hug.

Tracey had always had a soft spot in her heart for Ashley, even trying to set her up with a cousin of Ben's once. The not-too-bad cousin that she'd once tried to line up for me. Apparently, he was still looking. Ashley had politely refused though, telling Tracey that she was perfectly capable of finding her own dates. I hadn't heard of any yet, but if my sister had proved anything to me, it was that she was indeed capable of doing anything. I was sure that meant finding a man too.

Wrapping her in an embrace when Tracey was finished, I ran a hand through one of the soft curls that were flowing down the hair-growing side of her head. "You're beautiful," I whispered.

She grinned and hugged me tight. "So are you, although..." She studied my face in the parking lights and for a moment I worried that the glow of my eyes was visible. Then she grinned crookedly. "I think I see a wrinkle."

I smacked her shoulder just as my mom came up to hug me. "You're not funny," I said, breaking into laughter before I even finished saying it.

"Sure she is," Teren said, filling in for me as he warmly hugged my sister. She wrapped her arms around him like he was just another family member. Of course, my sister had been the first one to know about him and completely accept him. The two of them shared a certain bond. According to the world, they were both monsters, Ash on the outside, Teren on the inside.

As our expanded group sat in the plush box seats that Teren had procured for me, I started listening to the swirl of conversations going on among the crowd assembling. I started to worry that my enhanced hearing would be overwhelmed by the noise a full symphony produced.

Teren noticed me worrying my lip and squeezed my leg. "Don't worry. Focus on one instrument at a time, until you can handle them all together."

I smiled over at him, relieved and warmed that he knew what I was thinking. Clutching his arm tight, I leaned into his side, feeling my heartbeat slow as peace settled through me.

As the music started, I realized that Teren was right. I was afraid it would be overwhelming for my sensitive ears, but I could actually hear more levels of the music than I ever could before. My attunement to sound could pick up highs and lows that normal humans could not, and it added to the piece in a way that had tears ruining my mascara in no time. I couldn't help it, it was just...the most beautiful thing I'd ever heard. Each note was distinct. Each individual instrument could be distinguished. Yet, at the same time, it was a beautiful, perfectly synchronized sound that blended together effortlessly. My vampire ears were in heaven. Glancing at Teren as I wiped my eyes, I smiled at the look on his face. Eyes closed, peace on his features, he absorbed the music into himself, relishing it in a way that only we could.

Either that...or he was sleeping.

After the show, we went to a martini bar and everyone tried a different flavor. Except Teren, of course. He faked sips left and right, but never actually took a drink. And I helped with the deception, finishing off mine and the one he'd ordered for himself...and the second round he'd ordered for each of us.

By what I thought was maybe my fourth martini, I was completely game for singing karaoke with Tracey, who was also feeling no pain. But our stubbornly responsible men called it a night. It was probably for the best anyway, since once Teren scooted me into the car, I had a little trouble holding my fangs in. Really though, just remembering how to walk straight when you're tipsy is hard enough, having to constantly hold in your supernaturally long canines? Well, it's nearly impossible.

Teren expertly kept Tracey away from me as we said our goodbyes. My mom and sister only laughed, since they knew about me anyway. Hot Ben laughed at me too, until I gave him a big kiss on the cheek and told him, "I love you, Ben, because Teren loves you...and that makes me love you, so I love you."

He blushed horribly after I slurred that out and told me to go home and sleep it off. I gave him a thumbs up as he shut the door on me.

Driving back to where my sense could feel my sleeping children, I leaned back in the seat and giggled. It had been a long time since I'd been drunk. Pre-pregnancy for sure. Running my hands up my body, I stretched out my limbs. Every inch of my vampiric flesh tingled, especially the good spots.

"Teren...?" I mumbled, closing my eyes.

"Yes, Emma," he said back, a tremor of laughter in his voice.

"Can we have sex in the car when we get there?"

His laughter filled my ears, making me laugh as well. "Why would you want to do it in the car, when we have a perfectly spacious bed?" he murmured.

I looked over at him, my eyes hooded and my vision wavering in and out. "Because you said it's been awhile since we've been naughty in a car." My eyes drifted down his body and I sighed. "And you're right, it's been awhile."

He smiled at me, then shook his head and fixed his eyes to the road. My light-headed mind surprisingly pieced something together while we drove along. One, we had at least a half hour drive ahead of us, a half hour in which my foggy head would start to clear. And two, my husband knew this empty stretch of road so well that he really didn't need to see it, to drive it.

Giggling at what I wanted to do, I unbuckled my seatbelt. Teren immediately looked over at me, his brow furrowed. "Emma, what are you doing?"

Still laughing, I ran my hands up my flirty dress and pulled off my underwear. Teren's eyes widened as he drove the way I knew he could, without looking. "It's my birthday," I got out around giggles. "I want my present."

He dragged his eyes back up to mine. "And that would be...?" I laughed even more as my fingers started in on his slacks. "Oh, uh, Emma, I don't think..."

As my mouth replaced my fingers in his lap, he found it hard to finish that. Actually, he found several things hard...

His hand clutching my hair, he started breathing heavier. When he was as ready as I was, he moved his seat back as far as he could while still keeping his foot on the pedal. "Emma... " was all he got out before I straddled him, taking him in.

There was something about doing something highly illegal that made it all the more exhilarating. Or it could have been that the drinks I'd had were really strong and I was high off my butt, numb in all of the right places. For whatever reason, the feeling of him inside of me was unlike any other time before. Thanks to my mouth, he was warm, and incredibly hard. Filling the small cabin with the sound of my ecstasy, I jerked my hips back and forth over his. He laid his head back, trying not to close his eyes, trying to still drive. I wasn't sure if he would, or if he'd just pull over. I sort of wanted him to keep going, I sort of told him that too.


His voice was tense with the restraint he was maintaining, focusing intently on doing two opposing actions, driving and lovemaking. While I stared down at him, I watched his fangs slip out. I smiled, working over him harder, turned on even more by the fact that he couldn't maintain three all-consuming activities. He sucked in a quick breath as his hand tightened on the steering wheel. I could hear the leather creak in protest at the amount of pressure being applied to it. A part of me hoped he didn't break it; most of me didn't currently care.

My drunken body wasted no time getting to the good part and before I knew it, I was exploding, clenching him tight to me as I ground myself into him. He panted and groaned with me, his free hand on my hip fisting the loose material of my flowy dress as he released too. The car sped up and swerved, just fractionally, before he got it under control again.

Kissing him languidly as we both came down off our high, I thanked him.

He laughed while he fought to regain his breath. "Um...you're welcome?"

As I slid off of him, fixing his pants, he groaned and laid his head back. "Oh my God." Adjusting his seat back to where it had been, he looked over at me with a forced scowl, his fangs tucked away again. "While I'm not complaining, remember what I said about you worrying about yourself? I could have wrecked us."

I giggled, completely satisfied with my evening. "I trust your abilities."

He rolled his eyes but smiled charmingly. Under his breath I heard him mutter, "I need to get you drunk more often."

By the time we got to the ranch, my high had faded, but I felt no regret over my actions. Nothing I did with Teren ever made me feel anything but happy, not even when we'd christened Hot Ben's car or had sex beside a dumpster.

As we pulled up to our beautiful second home, a vehicle turned into the mammoth driveway behind us; I could hear its tires crunching up the road, even under the soothing low jazz playing through the speakers. Halina rushed out from the main doors and tilted her head at us, then at the car as it came into view. I couldn't sense any other movement in the house and figured every other immobile blip on my radar was asleep.

Teren's brow furrowed as he looked over at a black sedan with dark tinted windows pulling up beside us. Looking at me for just a second, he opened his door. Feeling my head clear considerably, I got out of my side as Teren walked around to join Halina. The ranch didn't often receive visitors during the day, and as it was well after two in the morning, it was a little outside of standard visiting hours.

The car's taillights brightened then blinked out as the vehicle was shut off. Just as I was planning on how to grab my kids and get out of here, if things turned violent, the sedan's doors opened. Surprise flitted through me at who stepped out. Surprise and a trace of fear.

Her face splotched from what looked like hours of crying, her eyes completely bloodshot, an obviously distressed Starla stumbled out of the door. Blinking at seeing her, I watched as Gabriel popped up from the other side. Stepping out of the driver's side was a familiar blond mixed vampire that I'd briefly met in L.A. a few years ago, Jacen.

Looking between the three of them, I felt a sobering ice flood my veins. They all had serious expressions and glum faces. Starla sniffled, seeming to be on the verge of losing the tenuous hold on her composure.

"Gabriel?" Teren asked.

"What is it?" Halina immediately added.

Gabriel smiled briefly at her before swinging his emerald eyes to me. My heart nearly stopped from all of the anticipation swirling in the air. "Emma...we need your help."