Maelin left the mansion and headed to the edge of the cliff.
She stopped at the edge.
She closed her eyes and didn’t focus on anything.
The wind blew against Maelin. Her straight hair ribboned and streamered around her head.
She raised her face to the sky. Her wings emerged from her back and stretched their full length. In her imagination, she flew. The moonlight made her red enamel scales shimmer. Her wings moved powerful and strong. She opened her mouth wide and a dragon’s song-filled voice radiated from her throat.
The wind simmered to a quiet breeze.
Maelin opened her eyes. She put her hand on her all-too-human throat.
Her wings retreated into her back.
“So. It begins again.”
The air went still.
“I’m sorry, Jay. I will have to leave you again.”
And this is how it should have been.
Ambrose stroked Barbara’s hair as she slept in his arms. “This is how my first time should have been – something sacred, something beautiful. Not just a hit and miss and I’ll forget all about you. It shouldn’t have been something I’d spend my entire life regretting.”
He kissed her forehead. “If it had been like this, who knows? Maybe I wouldn’t have become a vampire. But then I wouldn’t have met you, Barbara.”
“I’m so glad I met you. I’m so glad and grateful that you took a chance on me. That you stayed with me through all of my ups and downs. That even now you still love me.”
Barbara opened her eyes. “You aren’t sorry that I’m not Elsie?”
“No. Not even a little. Oh, I loved her. Maybe she loved me too. But we were both too combative to make a relationship, much less a marriage, work. I wouldn’t have been careful with her during our wedding night. I would have hurt her. I know I would have. And she would have hurt me. Maybe she would have hurt me the same way Rebecca did.”
She snuggled against him. “Can I just say that Rebecca was an idiot to let go of you?”
He let out a surprised laugh.
“I mean it. I just can’t fathom the whole concept of being intimate with you and then ditching you.”
“That’s because you aren’t her.” He kissed her. “I’m so glad you aren’t her or Elsie. I love you. Every little bit of you.”
She blushed. “And I love you.” She traced the edges of his vampire mark with her fingertip. “You know, I always thought that it would be uncomfortable and embarrassing to let any man see me naked like this. I thought I’d be desperate for a censor bar or two.”
He laughed at that. “A censor bar?”
“Or two. But I’m not embarrassed at all. You and me together like this feels so right.” She traced the line of his neck to his shoulder. “I love feeling your skin against mine.”
“Barbara.” he whispered.
“And I love you. I love you so much.”
“As light loves the day and stars love the night, I love you, Barbara Smith.”
She kissed him, which he thought was a very natural and reasonable response.