Teren and I kept a mental tab on Halina as we headed over to pick up our kids a little while later. The vampire was quickly streaking away from us, running rather than driving. She did that whenever she was in a hurry, since she could fly faster than any sports car on the planet. It exhausted her on long journeys, but she'd do it if it was necessary. And streaking to Gabriel was a necessity to her.

I thought of the teenage vampire explaining our evening to him and squeezed Teren's hand tighter. Shutting the car off in my mom's drive, he looked over at me. His jaw under that perfect layer of light stubble clenched as he thought about our evening too. Twisting to me, he nodded his head at my mom's house. "Maybe we should have your mom spend the night for a few days...just to help us keep an eye on the kids."

I looked through the warm, cheery glass of my mom's front windows. I knew he wasn't really worried about keeping eyes on the kids. We could sense them. A child of ours being abducted wasn't really a concern for us. But my mom and Ash didn't spout GPS like the rest of my family. He wanted her close to keep an eye on her.

Twisting back to him, I nodded. "Yeah...Ash too."

He nodded grimly, then relaxed his face into a smile. "It's probably nothing, Great-Gran is right, we did our part. He has no real reason to come near us again." His eyes twisted to where we could feel our kids hovering around the front door, waiting for us. "He has no reason to come anywhere near our family."

I nodded and kissed his hand before letting him go. We'd probably never see that vampiric thief again, but I'd sure feel better with my untraceable family members close enough to hear.

Stepping out of the car, we walked up to the door together. It slowly opened as we approached. I smiled at the angelic face of my daughter in the cracked opening. She flung it wide and rushed out to me. "Mommy!"

Laughing, I nuzzled my face into hers as I picked her up. Julian was a step behind her, flinging himself into Teren's arms. "Daddy!"

We looked at each other, squeezing them tight.

My mom showed up a moment later, her face, while not surprised to see us since the twins would have alerted her to our return, seemed confused over why we were back so early. "That bad?" she asked.

I blinked until I understood that she meant the movie we'd been heading out to see. It seemed a lifetime ago, so much had happened that had deterred us from what was probably a horrid remake anyway. I still would have rather seen it than what we had. I frowned as I walked into her house. "Yes and no."

While I vaguely explained what had gone down, mainly that a nice man had given us a message to give to Grandpa Gabby, Teren sped-wrote a note to my mom. He handed it to her while I bounced Nika on my knee. My mom's deep brown eyes widened as she read it.

Teren and I both kept up calm, comforting smiles, not wanting to spook the kids, and my mom sputtered a few times before throwing on her no-care-in-the-world grin. Teren had asked her to come over in the note, just as a precaution, and looking between the two of us, she nodded. Kneeling down to Julian standing by Teren's side, holding his hand, she asked, "Julian, would you like it if Grandma came to stay with you for a few days?"

Julian's mouth dropped open like she'd just asked him if he wanted Santa Claus to come early. Nodding and smiling wide, he broke apart from Teren to clasp her body in a hug. Nika quickly joined him, clapping her hands. Exclaiming their joy and agreeance at her idea, they shifted to me simultaneously. "Can Grandma come over, Mommy?"

Maintaining my smile, even though it felt a little tight to me, I locked eyes with my mom. "I think that would be a great idea." Standing up, I put my hands on my hip. "In fact, we should make it a party. We should see if Auntie Ash wants to come too."

My mother subtly nodded at me as the kids cheered even louder. Once we gathered up all the kids' various toys and treats, and my mom packed up an overnight bag, we headed over to Ashley's. She naturally seemed surprised to see us. "Hey," she looked past Teren and I, to our mom sitting in-between the twins in the car, tickling Julian's belly, "what's going on?"

Sighing, Teren showed her the exact same note he'd shown my mom earlier. Her deep brown eyes widened just like hers had. "Oh, oh, yeah...okay. Let me just get some stuff."

Twisting to head into the house, she paused. Looking back our way, her brow furrowed, she shook her head. "Should Christian come over too?"

I smiled that Ashley had someone to worry about. Shaking my head, I shrugged. "This is just a precaution, Ash. Nothing's going on." I smiled encouragingly. "Your boyfriend's perfectly safe." As safe as any of us are, I guess. I didn't mention that to her though.

Shutting the bright red door of our grandmother's home behind her, Ashley followed us back to our place in her car. Teren unpacked the kids and helped everyone remove their bags from the cars while I converted one of the rooms upstairs from a playroom to a guest bedroom. Against their wishes, Teren and I immediately put the kids to bed. It took some coaxing, since mom had hopped them up on sugary ice cream not too long ago.

After wrangling my daughter back into her bed for the hundredth time, I finally got her to stay there. It wasn't too much longer that I heard the yawns and goodnights start. Knowing their high was wearing off and they'd be asleep soon, I walked downstairs to where I could hear my husband talking with Mom and Ashley in the living room.

Once I joined the trio, Mom put on her serious face. "Okay, so tell me what's going on. The real story, not the one you water down so you won't worry me." She raised an eyebrow at me and I sighed. "Who is having you deliver threatening messages, and why?"

Smiling, I shook my head as I walked over to Teren. "Well, I guess it all started when Teren died." He looked down at me as I slung an arm around his waist.

Enfolding me in a hug, he looked over to my mom. "I may be a vampire, but I was conceived and born in the same way that humans are. For most of my life, I was just as alive as you." My mom smiled tentatively as she sat on the couch, Ashley resting her hand on her arm. Mom knew some of the facts, since she'd witnessed me being an alive vampire, but she'd never been set down and had what Teren and I were specifically spelled out to her.

Tilting his head, Teren listened to the sounds of our children quieting. Letting go of me, he walked directly in front of my mom. He said nothing until the sounds of breathing upstairs was light and even. While we didn't try and hide our history from our kids, we didn't need them having nightmares either. Squatting in front of her, he quietly continued. "Emma and I were taken by a man who," he paused, twisting his lips, "who didn't believe that my kind had a right to exist."

"Taken?" My mom's brows bunched together as she flicked a glance at me standing behind Teren. I smiled reassuringly but she frowned. "You were kidnapped by a man who wanted to kill vampires? When did this happen?"

Teren and I both looked up as I heard my children stir. Mom followed our gaze, knowing we were hearing things that she couldn't. "Teren, maybe we should continue this upstairs," I whispered.

He nodded and stood, extending his hand to my mom. Smiling crookedly as she stood, he cocked an eyebrow. "Want to feel a rush?"

She narrowed her eyes at him, then slowly nodded. He scooped her up and streaked her upstairs. Her early worry gone for a moment, I heard her laughing while I helped Ashley stand. I grinned at her. "Want to try it?"

She looked at our matching height and weight. "Can you lift me?"

Snorting, I easily tossed her over my shoulder and blurred up to where I felt my husband. Both my mom and Ashley were laughing when Teren shut the door. They stopped when they noticed the sounds of traffic and city life stopping. Mom looked around. "Wow, it gets quiet in here."

Teren shrugged. "We had it soundproofed so the kids wouldn't hear us."

Ashley started giggling and I poked her ribs. "When we want to talk, Ashley."

My mom flushed and looked anywhere but our bed. Ashley bit her lip to stop giggling and Teren ran a hand through his hair, avoiding looking at the bed too. Rolling my eyes, I dragged Ash to the edge of it and made her sit down. Once the embarrassment filtered out of the air, Mom sat down on it too.

The seriousness of our conversation coming back to her, Mom asked, "So...you and my daughter were kidnapped. How did you get away?"

Teren sighed and looked down. His shuffled his feet, seemingly unsure what to say. Not wanting him to admit his part in it, I twisted to my mom. "The man was going to kill us...so I killed him first."

Her mouth dropped open as her face paled. Tears sprang into her eyes as she looked between Teren and I. Teren had the look of an objection on his face and I gave him a glance that clearly said, don't say a word. As awful as it was to admit I'd taken a life in self defense, I didn't want him to admit that he'd drained the man of his life-force. I wasn't sure how much truth Mom could take in one sitting...and I didn't want Teren to think about it anymore than he already did.

Ash reached across me to pat Mom's knee and she looked over at her. "Did you know about this?" she whispered.

Ashley shrugged, then nodded. "I knew most of it." She looked back to me. "The rest I...pieced together."

I looked down and then Ashley and my mom's arms were around me. Closing my eyes, I savored feeling comforted for just a moment. Even though the event had happed awhile ago, I did still have nightmares every now and again.

Teren walked up to me and cupped my cheek. His smooth skin bringing my attention to his eyes, he smiled warmly. "She was amazing. She saved my life." He looked back down at my mom. "Well, sort of. The hunter injected me with something that killed me, forced my conversion." My mom looked at him blankly and he explained. "Turned me from a living vampire to a dead one."

Her hand went to her chest as her eyes watered even more. Reaching her hand up to clasp Teren's, she softly said, "I'm so sorry, Teren."

Dropping his hand from my skin, he clasped her hand between his. "Thank you, Linda." Shaking his head, he continued. "Anyway, what the hunter injected me with was stolen by the man we saw tonight." He raised an eyebrow. "He stole it from Gabriel...and Gabriel would like to speak with him about it."

Mom twisted her lips. She'd heard all about Halina's boyfriend from the twins. While Mom had never met him herself, she was aware that he was pretty powerful, and pretty smart. After the birth of the twins, we'd told her about the shots that were keeping my heart beating, shots that Gabriel had created. Mom looked between Teren and I. "This man won't survive a meeting with Gabriel...will he?"

Teren bit his lip. "Most likely not, no. As Gabriel is getting closer to him, he's getting a little desperate. His message to us was to give a warning back to Gabriel, so Gabriel would leave him alone. I don't think Gabriel plans to." A tension filled the chillingly quiet space and Teren threw on an effortless smile as he glanced around the room. "But, whatever bad blood is between those two doesn't directly involve our family, so you really have nothing to worry about." He patted her thigh and then my sister's. "Staying with us is just a safety measure, so we all know where the other is until this blows over. Alright?"

Both my mom and my sister woodenly nodded, each looking thoughtful. Seeing the fear in their features, I slung my arm around each of them; they both shivered as their heat leached into me. "It's just for a few days. Gabriel is close, I'm sure he'll have him soon."

Teren nodded, his hands coming up to rest on his hips. "Especially since he stupidly popped up on Gabriel's' radar. Now that he knows he's in the area...it's just a matter of time before Gabriel catches him."

I nodded, exhaling in a long, steadying breath. "Then this will all be over with."

Having my family close, being able to hear them constantly in my home, was a tremendous relief to me. I stayed up late into the night once Mom and Ash turned in, just listening to everyone breathing. Teren beside me squeezed my hand, still awake as well. "Get some sleep, Emma." Laughing into my ear, he kissed my neck. "You're going to need your strength with a full house."

I twisted in our bed to face him, his arms slipping under me as he held me close. "Maybe we should all go out to the ranch? Maybe it would be better if both our families were together?"

The glow of his eyes washing over my face, he considered silently for a second. "We'll see what Gabriel says tomorrow, after Great-Gran has talked to him." Leaning in, he kissed me gently. "I don't want to disrupt everyone's lives if he is right on Malcolm's tail." He shrugged. "Who knows, maybe all this will be over by the morning?"

I nodded, curling into his body and hoping he was right. Even still, I listened to everyone's breaths for quite awhile longer.

Gabriel called right as Teren would have been getting ready for work; he'd decided instead to work from home, so he could stay in the house and keep an eye on everyone. Shutting our door so he didn't wake our super hearing children, Teren sat beside me on the bed as Gabriel started asking him questions. After inquiring about every detail of our encounter with Malcolm that a person could think of, Gabriel assured us that we would be of no further interest to him.

"You've served you purpose, I don't suspect that he'll bother you again. Besides, we've narrowed down all of his possible haunts in the area. We've cut off every connection he has. We've already ended his monetary source and he's running out of places to hide. Trust me, Teren, this will all be over soon and the person responsible for your early demise will be brought to justice. You have my word."

Gabriel had a reassuring way of talking and I did feel soothed by his conviction. Before hanging up the phone with Teren, he added, "Just for your own peace of mind, I have sent a couple of mixed your way. Extra eyes are always...helpful." There was a smirk to his voice as he hung up the phone with Teren and I raised my eyebrow at hearing it.

Teren shrugged and patted my leg. Feeling a little better about the whole incident with the mysterious Malcolm and his ominous message, I got ready for another typical day of work. I didn't really want to leave my family, but knowing that some of Gabriel's devotees were already on their way to us made me okay with it. That was, until Teren called me later and I discovered just who Gabriel had decided to...saddle us with.

"He what? Are you serious?" Clarice across from me narrowed her eyes and shook her head, like me being on a cell phone during business hours was a sacrilege.

Teren sighed into the phone. "Unfortunately, yes, I'm serious. They're here now...looking through the various rooms." Sighing again, he muttered, "I think they want ours."

I groaned into the phone and dropped my head into my hands. "I can't believe of all the people he has down there, he sent Starla and Jacen to protect us," I muttered under my breath.

Teren chuckled into the phone. "Well, you know how he loves to kill two birds with one stone. This way, he's given us some extra protection, and he doesn't have to listen to them make out...constantly."

I exhaled dramatically as Tracey popped into the room with some reports. Her face was peaceful and serene, like nothing odd or bad had happened last night. I quietly thanked her as she tapped a picture of her finalized choice for the bridesmaid dresses on the top report - they were the teal ones I'd had Halina implant on her. Grateful that at least Halina's powers seemed to be working fine on Tracey, I said to Teren, "Well, I'll help you deal with it when I get home."

He sighed and in the background I could hear Starla smacking her gum and complaining about the firmness of our mattresses. "Okay...please hurry." Hearing Starla loudly exclaiming that she couldn't believe our sheets were cotton, of all things, he added, "Are you sure I can't go hunting with Ben?"

Laughing softly, I firmly told him, "Yes, I'm sure about that."

I almost reconsidered sending Teren out to help get this guy, to get our lives back to routine, when I was sitting at home later in the evening, surrounded by friends and family. Our house was packed. Except for Halina, who was on her way back from Gabriel's, everyone was there - Teren and the kids, my mom, Ashley, Alanna, Jack, Imogen, and even Hot Ben, and then, of course, our vampiric protection...Starla and Jacen. Our home was moderately sized for the city, but felt about as big as a postage stamp with all the noise and movement bombarding my senses.

I did relish having everyone close and everyone safe though. Imogen and Alanna talked with my mother over recipes. Alanna loved cooking, even though Jack and the kids were the only eaters left among us. My sister kept the kids in a constant state of laughter, tickling them or playing hide and seek, which was really unfair when it was the kids' turn, since they could hear the specific thump of Ashley's heart anywhere, even in our packed house.

Teren spent most of the night in his loft office with his dad, discussing details of transferring to the new ranch. Jack wanted to Teren to go, naturally, but wasn't going to push him on the matter. Even though they'd all moved together in the past, things were different now. Teren had a family of his own to consider.

Jacen, the blonde near-twin of his girlfriend, Starla, was walking the inner perimeter of the home with Hot Ben, discussing strategy if we were ever infiltrated. Jacen talked with the air of a Secret Service agent assigned to protect the President or something. Ben eagerly listened to his advice like we were about to have World War III explode on our doorstep.

Jacen would have seemed more credible about his protection plans, if his girlfriend didn't take every opportunity to grab his butt or suck on his ear. It always affected him too. He'd pause mid-sentence and close his eyes before telling her that he had important work to do as he triple checked every point of entry. With his attention to detail, I was a little surprised I hadn't been frisked at the door when I'd come home.

After being dismissed for the third time, Starla sat beside me on the couch, folding her legs up on the soft leather. Popping a bubble in my ear, she looked over at me. I held my breath at the swirl of mint mixed with floral hairspray. Sometimes, I didn't know how Starla could stand the smell of herself; everything about her was so strong.

"So, Father says this dude's as good as toast, so I'm sure we'll be gone by the end of the week."

I nodded at her, hoping that as well. She sighed like she was the one put out though. Propping her head in her hand, she moaned, "I miss my room at the house." Her eyes closed as she began to reminiscence about the luxury she'd left behind in L.A. "I have the softest European sheets you'll every find." Her eyes binged open. "One thousand count." I blinked, not even knowing what that meant.

Starla twisted her lips and looked over at Jacen standing near the elaborate, wrought iron front door with Hot Ben. "Jace and I share a room now, so we'll be sharing one here too...for however long we're stuck here." Her eyes lit up as they traveled down his body. The heat in them was unmistakable. It made me really uncomfortable and I looked away. Not before I caught the equally prissy male vampire look over at her, though. The heat in his eyes was unmistakable too.

Mentally rolling mine, I wondered if I'd have to have the 'no sex in the house' speech with her. I really wasn't prepared to give the birds-and-the-bees speech to my children yet, and I doubted those two would think twice about the tiny, super hearing bodies that were just a few rooms away from them.

Standing to put my kids to bed, I muttered, "Well, the sooner this is over, the better...for all of us." Starla wholeheartedly agreed as I walked away from her steadily thumping heart. The heart I'd decided to help keep beating.

But, lying in bed later, I smiled at hearing the living heartbeats in my home - safe and secure - even Starla's.

A few more nights of family togetherness however, had me longing for our comfortable routine of just the four of us. Our house was in a constant state of flux - someone always coming or going. The Adams clan popped in for a few hours every night, sometimes staying very late into the evening. Hot Ben usually checked in before heading home to guard his fiance. My mom never left our place, sticking to the kids like glue, but Ash came and went for work and to see her boyfriend. She even chose that crazy time to invite the man over.

Pacing a little as she waited for him to arrive for "family movie night," since the entire clan was at our house again, Ashley went over the rules. "Okay, no freaking him out with inappropriate talk." She pointed at Halina, who had stuck pretty close to our house most evenings after returning from L.A. Halina shrugged and smiled wryly.

Ash sighed and looked over at Jacen and Starla. Starla had made a couple offhand remarks about my sister's looks when she'd first shown up, mainly that she knew some really great plastic surgeons. From what was now family lore, Teren had blurred over to her, tossed her on the front lawn, and wouldn't let her come back in the house until she apologized. The sprinklers in our yard had been on when he'd done it. Starla never said another disparaging word about my sister. I kicked myself for missing that little showdown.

Ash gave the two lovebirds a stern glare. "No, sucking face either." Starla bounced on Jacen's lap, crossing her arms over her chest as she pouted. Biting her lip, Ashley reminded everyone to act like regular human beings, so the love of her life wouldn't flee in terror.

Seeing her nerves, I stood up and put my arms around her. "It will be fine, Ash."

She nodded, leaning into me. "I know. I just really want him to love you guys." Peeking up at me, she tilted her scarred head. "Maybe this should wait until things are less crazy around here?"

Teren stood up and circled his arms around my waist. "If we always waited for the craziness to die down, we'd never do anything," he told her. His hand came out to pat her arm. "Everything will be fine."

Ashley nodded as Alanna and Imogen and Jack stood up. "We'll leave you to your evening with your boyfriend, Ashley," Alanna said warmly, giving my sister a hug. My sister started to tell her that it wasn't necessary for them to leave, but Alanna shook her head. "I know how intimidating it can be to meet the entire family at once. You introduce him to just yours."

Alanna tilted her head at Halina, silently asking her to leave with them. Halina frowned as she looked around our house, then nodded. Smiling at our home being just slightly less crowded for one evening, I looked over at Starla and Jacen. They'd tuned out everyone and were making out again. Tossing a throw pillow on them, I said, "Why don't you guys go with them? You could have...a little privacy."

I grimaced, remembering walking in on them "testing" out my soundproof room last night; I'd nearly tossed them out on the lawn myself. Starla smiled brightly like it was the best idea she'd heard in awhile. The grin spreading across her lip-glossed mouth was the exact opposite of Jacen's. While she nodded, bouncing in his lap again, he frowned, trying to still her hips.

"Father told us to stay by your side." He shook his head, his demeanor serious. "He wouldn't approve of us leaving."

Starla twisted to look down at him, her lip twisting into an adorably cute pout. "Babe, it's just one night." She wriggled in his lap, making his face twist and his eyes flutter. "Besides, you talked with Father this morning. Their doing that raid thing tonight." She bent down to kiss his neck and his mouth dropped open. "Malcolm is probably already lighting up the sky," she breathed in his ear.

Swallowing, Jacen's eyes refocused on mine. "Perhaps you're right, one night wouldn't hurt anything." Shifting Starla off his lap, he stood and adjusted the obvious discomfort in his jeans. I bit my cheek to not smile. Sniffing, he causally tossed out, "Besides, Father wanted us to protect all of the Adams."

His pale eyes shifted to Halina. A worried look from hearing the word "raid" instantly evaporated off her face. Crossing her arms over her chest, she leaned back on her hip. "I don't need your protection." Her gaze flicked down Jacen's body, no taller than hers. They lingered on his personal area and a smirk drifted across Halina's face.

Starla stepped in front of her boyfriend. "Hey, Grandma. Eyes up."

Halina's smirk widened and she looked about to verbally rip off Starla's head, but Ashley intervened. "Hey, this is exactly the kind of stuff that I don't want Christian to see." Her hand flicked over to the twins lying on the floor, heads propped up in their hands as they watched the multiple vampires in the room. "Or them," Ash muttered.

Starla lifted her chin and pulled Jacen's hand, leading him from the house. Alanna and Jack said their goodnights to the twins and then followed after the pair that I could hear continuing their make out session in the driveway. Ashley exhaled in relief as a few otherworldly beings left the area. She was fine with what we all were, but she did want Christian to feel comfortable. I understood.

Halina and Imogen said their goodbyes to the kids, tickling them into laughing fits, then twisted to leave as well. Halina paused with her daughter at the door. Looking between my mother and sister, she frowned. She glanced up at Teren, her dark hair swirling around her as she shook her head. "Are you sure about us leaving?" She shrugged. "I could...stay close."

Teren slung his arm over Ashley; she shivered a bit, but smiled. My mother slung her arm around me. Smiling, Teren said," I've got these girls." He nodded his head out the door at the rest of his family. "You go protect them." Halina twisted her lips, then nodded. Looking over at me, Teren added, "Besides, it sounds like Gabriel is making his move tonight. This should all be over soon."

Halina sighed and Teren swung his gaze back to her. "Right, the raid...I should be there. I should be helping secure that...creature."

Teren frowned as Imogen laid her hands on her mother's arm. "Let Gabriel handle this, Mother," Imogen said softly. Halina looked back at her, her eyes torn. Sighing again, she shrugged. "It's probably too late anyway." She looked back to us. "It's probably over with." Halina sighed forlornly, like she'd missed out on the party of the year.

Smiling softly, Imogen waved goodbye and pulled her from the home. As I heard the gaggle of vampires dive off, I exhaled a long breath. With only my mother and sister left to visit, the house seemed three times as big.

When Christian showed up an hour later, we'd already put two yawning-with-exhaustion youngsters to bed. When Julian's last words to me were, "Starla and Jacen always kissing," I was extremely grateful that everything was going to be over soon.

My sister's entire face brightened as Christian stepped into our home. He was tall and lanky, with a fuzzy beard and graying hair, but his eyes beamed at my sister like she was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. Grasping his hand, Ash pulled him farther into the entryway to introduce him to a smaller version of our family.

Our mom was the first to officially meet him. Pleasantly plump, Mom was sort of what Ash and I would have looked like in the future, if life hadn't deviated us. Now, I was un-aging and Ashley's scarred body put her on a different path. But Christian's smile widened as he shook Mom's hand, maybe seeing the resemblance to the woman he loved anyway.

I got a little nervous as he approached Teren and I. Sure, I'd been dead for awhile now, but I hadn't had too much practice touching people I didn't know. Stepping in front of me, his aftershave tickled my nose. Tilting my head, I could clearly hear his surging heartbeat over my mother's and sister's. I listened to it for a second, fascinated, and maybe a little hungry. While his face didn't betray any of it, he was extremely nervous to meet Ashley's family.

Extending my hand to him, I prepared myself for his reaction. "Emma Adams, nice to finally meet you, Christian." My gaze flicked over to my sister before returning to him.

He didn't hesitate to grab my hand, shaking it warmly. As his heat traveled up my arm, I watched his eyes widen, just fractionally. I sniffed for any trace of fear coming from him, but didn't sense any. "Emma...nice to meet you."

Before his skin could linger too long on mine, Teren extended his hand. "Teren Adams, we're glad to have you."

Christian dropped my hand and clasped my husband's. His eyes shifted between my hand and Teren's, but he didn't comment on our temperature. Some people are naturally cold; Teren and I were just colder than most.

Ashley grinned and giggled softly, pulling her honey away from Teren. Christian smiled and looped an arm around her as we moved our meeting to the living room. All of my sister's worry about him meeting me were pretty unwarranted; it was clear that his eyes were only interested in her.

Mom sat next to Christian on the couch, grilling him over the technical aspects of his job. Smiling at my mom ferreting out my sister's potential husband, in her eyes at least, I leaned into Teren's side, only half listening.

Under the human's range of hearing, my husband whispered, "He seems nice...genuinely in love with her."

I nodded discretely, whispering, "Yeah, he seems to really like her." I looked back at him. "I'm glad she has her own version of you to love."

Teren smiled, kissing my forehead. As my mom laughed over a joke that Christian had made, Teren laughed as well. "It's nice, not having so many bodies to block out, isn't it?"

I grinned, also laughing at something Christian had said. In appearance anyway, in truth, I was laughing at my husband's comment. "Yes, Starla and Jacen have been driving me crazy."

Looping his fingers over mine, he murmured, "I know...and I thought we were bad."

I laughed louder than the current conversation warranted and my mom looked at me oddly before asking Christian about his family. Teren chuckled at me as Christian started explaining that his brother was a teacher and his parents had passed away a few years ago. Seeing the flecks of white in his speckled hair and the lines of wisdom in his features, I started wondering just how much older than Ashley Christian was. Not that I'd call them on it. Lord knows Teren and I weren't exactly in a typical relationship.

As Ashley started explaining Christian's scientific breakthrough, Teren sighed wistfully in my ear. Knowing his mind wasn't really following the conversation in front of us, I asked, "What are you thinking about? Cellular degeneration?"

He smiled as he looked at me, then shook his head minutely. "No...the raid. Just hoping that everything...truly is over."

I discretely searched his face, seeing the hope there as well as the longing. Like Halina, a part of Teren wanted to be in on the action too. Squeezing his hand, I reiterated, "I'm glad you stayed out of it. I'm glad you stayed by me, even if it was hard for you." His eyes flicked over mine before shifting back to Christian and my sister. Asking Christian a technical question on his research, he nodded at me.

I suppressed a smile at the duel conversations going on and stroked his hand with my thumb. Once Christian had answered his question, his bearded face as excited as Ashley's when she talked about the hope his work could give people, Teren spoke just to me again. "I'll be glad to have you all to myself again. I've missed you."

Feeling a little saucy, since Teren and I really hadn't had any sort of alone time since Malcolm had shown his haggard face to us, I nestled into his back. Where my sister and her boyfriend wouldn't be able to see it, my hand floated down to rest on Teren's inner thigh. "I've missed you too. I think we'll be testing out the soundproofing tonight."

Teren stiffened a little, adjusting in his seat as he struggled to act like he was paying attention. Under his breath, he muttered, "You're about to give me Jacen's earlier problem."

I throatily laughed. Luckily Ashley had just told a funny story and it was an appropriate moment. To my husband, I whispered, "You have no idea how difficult I'm about to make your...problem."

Teren groaned a little bit, shifting it to a cough when my sister noticed. Her brown eyes narrowed in warning as she glanced between us. I threw on a causal smile, dropping Teren's hand to innocently curl a piece of hair around my finger. The hand she couldn't see however, shifted farther up Teren's thigh.

Christian asked her a question and she ignored us for a moment. Teren shifted me slightly in front of him, making it seem as if he was only interested in seeing everyone better. My hand slid off his thigh as he angled me up his lap a little bit. From what I could feel pressing into me, I knew he was already sharing Jacen's earlier discomfort.

"I can't wait to get you alone," he muttered. "How long do you think we have to fake that we're paying attention?"

I bit my lip and tilted my head, wishing he would place a kiss in the tender spot of my neck; maybe some fangs too. We couldn't exactly hide that though. Sighing softly, I told him, "We have to wait until he leaves...it is our house."

His hand clenching my hip, he groaned under his breath. "Damn..."

Wanting to tease him a little, I rocked my hips, just once, just a tiny little bit. To our sensitive bodies though, I may as well have reached my hand around and stroked him. He stopped breathing, his hand on my hip gripping and releasing, encouraging me to do that again. I waited a few minutes before I did.

"Keep breathing," I muttered, reminding him to keep acting human.

His breath started up again, a little faster than necessary. "Sorry...you're distracting."

Leaning back into his body, I laughed and asked Christian what he thought of the stem cell research controversy. Both he and my sister lit up at what was a passionate topic for them. My mother leaned in, fascinated, and Teren beside me groaned. Normally he'd be just as interested, but we hadn't been together in awhile and as I discretely rubbed against him, I knew I was driving him crazy. It drove me a little crazy too, knowing he was going to rip my clothes off the first chance he got.

It was at least two hours later when he had me shoved against our closed bedroom door. Hearing the sound of my mom and Ashley gushing over how sweet and intelligent Christian was stop as the soundproofing cut off everything outside our room, I finally let out the groan I'd wanted to make all night.

Teren's hands were everywhere as he shed clothes off me. "God, Em, you were driving me crazy."

My hands were all over him, loosening his belt, popping open his buttons. I laughed huskily in his mouth. "I know...it drove me crazy too." His hands ripped open my slacks, running down my thighs as he pushed them off. I leaned back against the door as his lips followed his hands down my legs. Running my hands through my hair, I groaned again. "Oh, god, it's been too long..."

He stood up, twisting me around as he pushed me towards our bed. "I know," he muttered, ripping off his shirt. Bouncing on the bed, I slipped my underwear off as he pushed down his pants. True, with our gift from Gabriel we could have been silently enjoying each other every night, but we'd been a little too preoccupied to think about it. That, and it was sort of an advertisement to every visiting vampire in the house if we suddenly closed our door.

When he was as naked as I was, he crawled over me, his lips dragging up my skin, his teeth nibbling my flesh. I shuddered and sighed, dropping my head back as my back arched. His mouth stopped at my hips. "God, smelling this for hours just about killed me," he groaned.

I was about to respond but his mouth was suddenly right...there. I clutched his head, crying out as the wave of intense satisfaction washed over me, stoked over and over by the soft repetitive motion of his tongue. He moaned into my skin as he savored the desire only he created in me. His hands clenched my legs, pushing them farther apart as my cries grew in intensity and volume. It had been even longer since his miraculous mouth had been on me like this.

Just as he drove a finger inside, I released, gasping as I held him to me. He waited until I came all the way down from the orgasm he'd given me, continually flicking his tongue over me. When the wave passed, he lifted his head and slowly continued up my body. By the time he was at my mouth, I wanted him again.

"I love you," he muttered as he slid into me.

"God, I love you too." I held his body as close to me as I could, listening to the only things I could hear - our bodies, our breaths, our voices. He dropped his head to my shoulder as our movements escalated. Groaning, his body flexed, preparing to release. Our hips smoothly in rhythm, I flexed my body too, wanting to climax again, but with him this time. I was right there, and together, we cried out in unison, clutching the other tight as his body flowed into me and my body clenched around him. Two beings melding perfectly, even if we were deceased.

As the euphoria of the moment mixed with the exhaustion of the last few days, I felt the peace of sleep creep up on me. Teren felt it too, only shifting to my side before he was asleep. Just as I thought to get up and open our door, that slumber pulled me under too.

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