Chapter 2 - Micah

As hard as I tried, I couldn't continue my sensual dream with him. The annoying sound of my alarm clock invaded my ears as I slept in the dark closet and it interrupted my peaceful slumber.

I was slightly annoyed that two hours passed by so quickly. I felt like I just laid back down. I guess I should've expected to feel this way considering how easily I fell back to sleep.

It took a great amount of strength to open my eyes. My eyelids felt heavy and my brain told my body to get up but I just couldn't move. I was still worn out from last night and I felt weak. I lost some blood earlier this morning when I allowed the mysterious vampire to drink from me.

I actually felt obligated because he needed to heal the third-degree burns he received as a result of my negligence as his caregiver. I was content to just lie here for a few more hours. It was nice and a bit comforting to have someone sleeping next to me.

After what he and I had been through last night and this morning, I wasn't afraid to occupy the same space as him. I didn't have the fear that he would bite me while I slept.

I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he wouldn't take advantage of me in a vulnerable state. Besides, he was more vulnerable than I was because all I had to do was let some sunlight shine on him and he'd be completely helpless.

I've always tried to be a good Samaritan and I pride myself on not being a typical uncaring New Yorker; the kind who would step over your body or walk past you if I saw you slip and fall.

Under normal circumstances, if I helped a fellow human being who was injured or dying, I wouldn't take them back to my apartment to recuperate.

But the person I met last night who was in need of help was not a human being. And if anyone else came across him bleeding to death in the snow, I couldn't help but wonder what would've happened. What would the police really do? How many news cameras would've shown up? What if a crowd of people gathered around him? How many people with their cell phones and cameras would take pictures of the pale young man with colorless eyes and abnormally long canines who had an uncanny resemblance to a mythical vampire?

Now that I think about it, I'm glad it was just me who found him. I couldn't let him be exposed and I had to hide him away from other human eyes. It's probably what he wanted me to do.

We humans as a race are stupid, panicky and we fear what we don't understand. Not to mention, someone had attacked him so he needed a safe haven for the night. That was something else I had to find out. What actually happened to him on the rooftop last night?

And more importantly...who was this mystery vampire that had his arm draped gently across my waist?

My eyes were opened as I stared into the semi-darkness. I could see a small sliver of light from underneath the closet door. But the light was so weak that I could barely make out the shapes around me. I could hear the vampire's steady breathing behind me and a curious thought entered my mind: If he's dead, then why is he breathing?

The unbelievable occurrences that I experienced last night were just now sinking into my brain. I had to come to grips with the fact that we humans are not alone in this world. Britt was right all along and vampires do exist and they live secretly among us. And I was one of the few people who actually knew the truth.

The alarm clock's continuous beeping was grating my nerves and I was afraid it would wake up him up too; although I seriously doubt it. My eyes scanned over his face, and he looked like he was in a dead sleep...literally.

I slid away from him underneath the comforter and his arm fell away from my waist. Then I scrambled out of the closet and shut the door quickly so the sunlight couldn't reach him.

I was still trying to erase the disturbing imagery in my mind when I saw him being burnt alive by the sun. I've seen it happen to vampires in the movies, but seeing it happen on my bedroom floor was a truly horrifying experience.

I felt groggy as I made my way into the bathroom to get ready for school. As I stood at the sink brushing my teeth, my mind began to wander. All of a sudden, my eyes widened and I paused all movement and stood there with my toothbrush idle in my mouth. Britt told me last night that when the vampire wakes up at dusk, he's going to be extremely thirsty. She suggested that I get him a live animal to feed from because his extreme thirst will cause him to lose all rational thought and attack me.

Well now...we couldn't have that.

But where was I going to get a live animal? Yes, there are plenty of strays in the city but I never tried to pick one up; let alone carry one on the bus and bring it home. What the hell was I going to do? I didn't want the vampire to attack me.

Then I remembered I wanted to replace his torn clothing. I felt relieved because that was an easy plan. I could just stop by Old Navy and pick him up a new shirt and coat. Maybe even a nice scarf and a pair of gloves since the current temperature outside was hovering below freezing. I remember seeing signs in the store windows about a sale going on. With one problem solved, I resumed brushing my teeth.

Even though a part of me was dreading having to confront the thirsty vampire when he awakened this evening, I was really anxious to speak to him. I still wanted to know what happened to him and I wanted to know who he was. Where was he from? Did he live in the city? Did he have any other vampire friends? Was he a friend of Britt and Sebastian? Did he like how my blood tasted?

Oh God, Britt said if he does, then he may come back for more. I laughed to myself as I grabbed my coat out of the living room closet. A humorous thought entered my mind and I imagined him showing up at my door and asking for a quick bite before he went on his way.

More thoughts and images of this mysterious vampire ran through my mind all morning. It was the start of mid-terms and I was having a hard time concentrating. For some reason, I kept seeing his beautiful nude form from my dream. Everything was so vivid and I swallowed thickly when a flashback of our lovemaking entered the front of my consciousness

I could feel myself break out in sweat and I felt stifled with arousal. My breath came out in a rush as I exhaled, and I quickly removed my knit cardigan and put it on the back of my chair.

I was tapping my pen against the desk and staring at my Classical Music History exam. I read the same sentence over and over until the black text was just a blur.

God, he felt amazing inside me and when he bit into my neck, the pain only lasted a second before I was consumed by passion.

Now was not the time to fantasize about sexy vampires making love to me. I ran my fingers through my hair and I kept telling myself to focus.

This mystery vampire was definitely one of the hottest males I've seen in the city in a long time. Of course, he was an import. His British accent revealed that much about him.

I was convinced my dream was a strong indication that I needed to get laid. How long has it been anyway? I opened a mental calendar and started calculating. Two, three years now?

Going to school full-time and working full-time didn't leave much time for dating. My last long-term relationship with a guy ended about two and a half years ago. Even though I have a roommate, living and surviving in Manhattan isn't cheap. Sometimes I have to work six nights a week just so I can have extra money.

My parents died when I was in eighth grade and they didn't have wills so they didn't leave me anything. I'm an only child and I was immediately sent to live with my nonna. She took care of me for eight years before I moved in with Britt during my senior year at Juilliard.

Nonna lives in the city too, and I visit her as much as I can. She lost my nonno six years ago to cancer and I worry about her spending too much time alone. But she reassured me that she had friends.

It wasn't until after lunch that I started worrying about how I was going to feed the vampire currently snoozing in my bedroom closet. I wasn't lying to Britt when I said that being bitten was painful. It was. It wasn't like getting a needle. Vampire fangs are long, razor sharp, and made of bone. And he bit into one of the most sensitive areas on my body... twice.

I wonder if he'd still be satisfied drinking from my wrist, or if he'd go for a more desirable part of me like my neck. I bet the jugular vein is like the 'meat & potatoes' for vampires.

Because I was tending to a recovering vampire, I knew I would be late for work again. I grabbed my cell phone from my purse and called the diner.

Meg picked up and her voice was chipper as usual. "Tic-Toc diner. How can I help you?"

"Hey Meg, can I speak to Burt?"

"Sure, hold on."

A few seconds later I heard his baritone voice on the other end. "Hi Lizzy, how are ya, kiddo?"

"Hey Burt. Um, I just wanted to tell you that I'm going to be late again tonight."

"Problem with the buses again?"

"Well, I don't know yet. But so far, they've been running on time. No, I have some uhh...personal things I need to take care of tonight. But I promise to be there as soon as I get everything squared away."

"Okay, just let me know when I can expect you."

"Sure. And Burt?"

"Yeah?"

"I'll stay late again and make up the time. I promise."

"No problem, Liz. Just take care of what you need to take care of. I'll see you later."

"Thanks, Burt. I appreciate it." We hung up with each other and I was truly grateful to Burt for being so understanding.

After my last class let out, I stopped by Old Navy and picked up a forest-green cable knit sweater and a black turtleneck. In this cold weather, it was important to dress in layers. I also found a black stadium jacket that was thick and heavy, and a black scarf and gloves set. I don't know...maybe I was feeding into the stereotype about vampires, but I just assumed that he liked the color black.

As I exited the store, I stopped and pulled out my cell phone again to check the time.

It was a quarter past three and I had about an hour to make it home before dusk. Right at that moment, I panicked. Where the hell was I going to pick up a stray dog? Just as my eyes were searching for some kind of miracle, I happen to glance at a small poster on a traffic light pole. I trudged over with my heavy backpack and my Old Navy shopping bags to get a closer look.

It was a poster of a missing dog. As my eyes skimmed over the words, I noticed a sentence that said if you find the dog, you can return it to an animal shelter nearby.

Animal shelter? Ha! Why didn't I think of that before? I wonder how much is costs to adopt a dog?

With my destination set, I hailed a taxi over to the animal shelter. When I arrived, I could hear barking from inside.

Reality set in that I was going to have to adopt a dog in less than a half-hour and bring it home to serve as a 'sacrifice'. Immediately, I started thinking that maybe I can ask for a sick dog or one that doesn't have that much time left to live. Then I wouldn't feel so bad about feeding it to a vampire.

When I went inside, a nice woman by the name of Shelly greeted me. I knew her name because of the name tag on her shirt. She had a round face and her brown hair was pulled back into a high ponytail. Her dark blue eyes were sparkling and I could tell she was thrilled to see me.

I guess she would be thrilled when someone comes in and wants to adopt. I'm sure the animal shelter doesn't enjoy euthanizing unwanted pets. "Hello, how can I help you today?"

"Um, I'm looking to adopt a dog."

"Any breed in particular?"

I wanted to say: 'Yeah, you got any sick ones that only have a few days left before they join the big doggy heaven in the sky?' But instead I said, "I just want to look at the ones you have available for adoption, but I'd really like to get one today." I hope my tone of voice didn't make me sound too anxious or suspicious.

I don't think Shelly suspected anything dishonest about me because she replied cheerfully, "Sure, come with me and I'll show you our kennel."

Whew, that was close.

She guided me to their dog kennel and walked beside me as I looked at the different dogs in the cages. She kept babbling about each of them as I passed but I wasn't really listening to her. I was too busy trying to sense if any of the dogs may not be healthy.

I didn't want to ask her flat-out because that would definitely make me suspicious. Who actually goes to a shelter with the intention of adopting a sickly animal?

Since I'm not Dr. Dolittle, I tried to choose a dog that looked kind of pathetic; not the ones that were lively; barking and wagging their tails in excitement.

As I kept walking, I could feel myself getting impatient. None of the dogs looked very sad. There were some that were subdued but they didn't have that 'Please kill me' look in their eyes.

That's when I started another unexpected train of thought. What if I just pick the ugliest mutt out of the bunch? Then maybe I wouldn't feel too terrible about giving him as a food offering. I know it was a cruel way of thinking, but I really didn't want to be attacked by a blood-thirsty vampire.

Imagine my surprise when I saw they had a British Bulldog for adoption. Ugh, I just can't comprehend the appeal of that breed. The dog was short and stocky, with brown fur on its head and back and a white underbelly. Its bottom teeth were jagged and yellow and sticking out past its nose. It was wagging its stubby tail and those beady black eyes were staring up at me.

Geez, you're an ugly fella. Yep, I think you'll do.

Shelly asked me if I wanted a 'doggy transporter on wheels' to take the Bulldog home in. Since I didn't want to walk him in the city and I didn't want him walking around my apartment, I bought the transporter along with the stocky dog.

The taxi was still waiting for me outside with the meter running when I got in with my new 'pet'. The driver put my shopping bags in the trunk before he took me to my apartment.

I was looking out the window and I noticed the sun was already beginning to set. I wondered if I was already too late. What would happen if the vampire woke up and I wasn't there? Would he just go next door and attack my neighbor? The thought caused an uncomfortable chill to pass through me.

It was already dark when the taxi dropped me off at my apartment. I never factored in the possibility that we'd run into rush hour traffic. It was after 4:30 and for the first time in my life...I was afraid to enter my apartment. I didn't know what to expect and I was hoping I wouldn't be ambushed when I walked through the door.

By the time I reached my apartment, I could feel myself trembling as I put my key in the door. I had my hand on the doorknob and before I could even open the door, I started wondering if maybe he had already left. Maybe he was feeling better and decided to go back into the night and drink blood from...whatever or whoever he usually drinks from.

Then I remembered that Britt said he probably wouldn't leave the apartment until he fed. Oh shit.

I turned the key and unlocked the door. The dog started barking in the transporter and I instinctively shushed him. And he instinctively ignored me. Dogs can sense danger, right?

I walked inside with my shopping bags in one hand and my backpack on my back, while I rolled the dog inside the dark apartment with my other hand. I dropped the bags on the floor and as soon as I switched on the light, I gasped in fright. The blond vampire was right there; standing a few feet away just looking at me...with eyes I've never seen before. Black. Dark obsidian pools that were boring right into my skull.

Nice vampire...I'm your friend, remember? I gave you my blood and saved your life.

The dog started barking again and it ended in a low growl. I tore my eyes away from the vampire and looked down and I could see the transporter shaking on its wheels. The dog was trying to get out.

I heard the vampire hiss and I whipped my head up with my eyes wide. His mouth was opened and his sharp fangs were fully extended.

That's when he started to approach me. I was frozen on the spot and trying to think of how to form speech.

Dammit Lisbeth! Say something!

He set his eyes on me as he stalked forward. I say 'stalked' not to be facetious, but because the way he was moving was very slow like he was calculating his movement. He was still shirtless and his black pants hung low on his narrow hips. His blond hair was tousled and wild. At first I wasn't sure if he was going for me or the dog. The dog continued to bark and a rumbling growl came from the vampire.

Now would've been a good time for the dog to shut up. But of course...it didn't. I swallowed against the lump in my throat and my feet started backing up towards the closed door.

Yeah, that's real smart, Lizzy...just corner yourself. Make it easy for him.

The vampire ignored the dog completely and within the next second, he had me pinned up against the door. He moved so fast it was like a blur to my eyes.

My body was pressed up against the door so hard it was almost like I was trying to fuse with it. He had both of his arms on either side of my head and I felt trapped.

But to my surprise, he didn't touch me. And he didn't attack me. I stood there trembling; my eyes just staring up at him. Another growl rumbled in this throat again and I watched his onyx eyes scan my face.

He cocked his head to the side like he was curious. I noticed that every part of his eye was black and glossy; there was no white as far as I could see. I had to assume that his midnight eyes meant that he was very thirsty. He leaned his face closer to mine and I froze instantly.

Then he inhaled deeply.

For a moment I thought: Does he even recognize me?

I cleared my throat and attempted to speak as the Bulldog continued to bark and growl next to me. Be nice, be calm. Don't panic, I thought to myself. "Um, hi there. It's nice to see you awake. You look like you're feeling better. That's definitely a good sign. Um, do you remember me? I'm Lisbeth. I helped you last night and this morning. I gave you my blood, remember? You're in my apartment. You do know where you are, right?"

"Yes," he whispered.

I sighed a breath of relief.

Then he spoke quietly in his sexy British accent, "I know who you are, Lisbeth. And I remember everything you've done for me. I haven't forgotten."

"Um...then why are you pinning me against the door?"

He didn't answer my question. And he didn't move. Instead, he reached out and trailed his icy finger down the side of my cheek in a feather-light touch. Then he said, "I can smell your blood." Oh God. "It smells as delicious as it tastes; like sweet ambrosia."

He inhaled again. "You're scared, aren't you? I can hear your heart beating wildly in your chest." His lips peeled back to reveal a smile, but I was still frightened because his fangs were unsheathed; looking like the lethal weapons they are. He growled again and this time he gently cupped my face in his freezing hands.

Dog. Dog. Remember the dog. He should bite the dog...not you.

"Errr...uhh...I brought you something," I said in a trembling voice.

I darted my eyes down towards the barking dog. I wondered if the vampire was even listening to me because he began to slowly turn my head to the side so he could have better access to what I think he really wanted.

When his blond head began to descend towards my neck, I thought I was going to be his dinner. But to my surprise, he put his nose to my skin and just sniffed me again. "Mmmm...my sweet Lisbeth."

I tried to distract him again so I said in gentle voice, "I have a present for you." His jet black eyes met mine for a brief moment before he averted them to look down at the dog in the transporter. Then he finally moved away from me and stood in front of it. He crouched down and cocked his head to the side. "It's for you. Enjoy." He looked up at me and raised a questioning eyebrow.

The dog wouldn't stop barking and I braced myself for what was about to happen. The vampire hissed again and revealed his fangs. Then he slowly reached his arm out and lifted the safety latch on the transporter. I thought the dog was going to lunge at him, but it didn't.

The transporter was shaking again. I was standing behind it and I couldn't see what was going on because only the front of it had metal bars so you could view the animal inside.

All of a sudden, the dog stopped barking and let out a low, steady growl. The vampire growled back and I found his feral sound to be much more menacing. There was no mistaking him for a human when he was like this. Right at this moment, he revealed his true nature to me.

He was a dangerous predator.

I think I blinked or something because before I knew what was happening...the vampire snatched the Bulldog right out of the transporter with lightning-fast speed. The dog let out a whimper and in the next second, I thawed my frozen form away from the door and ran full-speed towards my bedroom.

I really didn't want to see him feeding or hear any of the horrible sounds. But as I was running, my ears caught the sounds of struggling; like the dog's toenails were scraping against the hardwood floor. Then I heard a wet, juicy kind of sound followed by an awful crunch. Oh dear God.

I'm sorry dog, but it was either you or me.

Once I made it to my bedroom, I slammed the door shut. I was out of breath and panting. "Oh my God...oh my God...oh my God," I repeated rapidly. My chest was heaving with every breath I took and I quickly covered my mouth. I was trembling from head-to-toe and I slid down the door until I was sitting against it. I squeezed my eyes shut to block out the unpleasant images I just witnessed and then I covered my ears. Oh God, was it over yet?

There was a long silence and soon my breathing began to steady. And just when I was beginning to relax, I heard a knock on the door. I yelped in fear but I quickly covered my mouth again.

Another knock. I stood up swiftly and hesitated for a split second before I opened the door. What was I going to see on the other side? Was he going to be covered in dog's blood? I shuddered at the thought. He knocked again and I slowly opened the door.

The vampire stood there in the semi-dark hallway. The light from the living room provided limited brightness so I switched on the light in my bedroom. It was then that I saw him clearly. I was relieved to see his eyes returned to their natural shade of green. He also looked slightly flushed in the cheeks. We stood there just looking at each other. Then he took a step towards me but he didn't enter my room. He just stood in the doorway; his gaze on me unwavering.

I was gaping at him in shock but my eyes traveled south to his lean, bare torso. He whispered my name and my eyes snapped back to his, but I happened to notice some blood on his lips. That's when I started wondering if there was a gory mess in my living room.

My eyes became fixed on his bloody lips and I think he noticed my stare because he reached up and quickly wiped his mouth. Then he licked his lips to remove any lingering trace. "I'm sorry," he said quietly.

My voice was almost lost again but I was able to respond meekly, "It's okay."

He took another step closer to me and I immediately took a step back. He noticed my reaction once again and stepped away from me. I guess he realized I was trying to keep some distance between us. I wasn't even trying to hide it. I was afraid of him now. After seeing what he was capable of doing with just a dog, I couldn't help but wonder what he could do to human flesh. His voice was still quiet when he asked, "Do you want me to get rid of it?"

"Is it...dead?" I croaked. He nodded. "Is there a lot of blood...like, on my floor and everything?"

"No, I drained it. And I didn't spill a drop. I swear." He smiled slightly and I noticed his fangs had retracted back to what I had to assume were their 'normal' size.

"Okay, then yes. You can uh…get rid of it."

He looked like he was about to turn around but then changed his mind. "Do you have a trash bag? Preferably a large one."

I nodded once and I walked out of the bedroom and headed towards the kitchen. I didn't dare glance in the living room. He followed me into the kitchen and I handed him in a big, black garbage bag. "Thanks," he said as he took it from me.

He was gone in a flash and I heard the rustling sound of the bag as he disposed of the dead Bulldog. I put my arms out and braced myself on one of kitchen counters. I started contemplating what was going to happen when he came back. He was coming back, right? He wouldn't just leave without even telling me his name, would he?

The vampire was pretty quick because one minute I heard the front door close and I assumed he went outside to get rid of the dog. And the next minute, he was approaching me while I stood in the kitchen.

I looked up at him and he kept walking until he was standing right in front of me. His expression was one of concern and I could tell he was trying to be cautious with me. I broke the silence between us so I could ask the one question I was dying to know. "What's your name?"

He answered immediately. "Micah."

Micah. That's an interesting name. And not a very common one. I found that it kind of suited him being that vampires aren't very common. "What happened to you last night?"

This time he hesitated. He also seemed to be interested in my cabinets. But after a few seconds, he responded. "I was attacked."

Yes, that much was obvious. "Who attacked you?"

"A Made vampire by the name of Balthazar."

I gave him an expected look and tried to hint that I'd appreciate a little more elaborate explanation. He let out a soft sigh before he said, "He used to be my master a long time ago. Balthazar is a coward, and he and his coven of Made vampires attacked our coven while my father was away. But instead of killing me, he made me his slave. But one night he became very angry with me for killing his horse. It was sort of a burst of adolescence behavior, a rebellion, I suppose. So I escaped my prison cell and wandered into the stables. I killed his prized horse; a black Arabian stallion. When he found out...he was livid. And in his anger, he revealed to me that he was the one who killed my father. I suspected as much, but no one ever told me the truth. But when I finally learned the truth from the murderer's own lips, I was devastated and I plotted in secret to escape him again. So when I felt I was strong enough...I did. But this time...I escaped to America."

Micah stepped away from me and leaned against the counter. He crossed his arms over his chest when he said, "He's been looking for me for over a century but I've been able to elude him. But he found me last night and asked me to come back to him. He wanted me to be his slave again. I told him 'no'. I told him I'd rather die. And he said he'd grant my request."

I shuddered internally. This vampire Balthazar sounded like a major asshole with a superiority complex. As I was processing everything Micah just told me, he continued. "I was never trained to fight, and he's stronger than me because he consumes human blood and I don't."

That was an eye-opener. "You don't drink human blood?"

He shook his head. "I don't like to kill humans. In order to feed from them, we have to kill them afterwards. And I can't do it."

"Can't you just erase their memory or something like that? Then they won't remember what happened to them and you won't have to kill them."

To my complete surprise, he smiled beautifully and chuckled softly as he shook his head. I'm sure my lack of knowledge about vampires was amusing him. "We don't have the power to control your mind." Then he said something that I believed was an afterthought. "Not in that way."

"What do you mean...'not in that way'?"

"We can't hypnotize you like you see in the cinema." Another smile played at the corners of Micah's sexy lips. "It's more like...seduction." Of course. That made perfect sense. "It's sort of like..." He cast his eyes towards the ceiling. "An offensive weapon we have at our disposal to use against our prey."

I swallowed hard before I asked my next question. "Have you ever killed a human?"

A real intensity was swirling around his green irises when he said, "Yes I have, Lisbeth. And once was enough for me."

Then I asked another question I was very curious about. "Why didn't you kill me?" I guess my question made him uncomfortable because he dropped his gaze. "I have a friend...my roommate actually...and her boyfriend is a vampire. And she told me that vampire law is to kill humans who witness them..." What was the word Britt used again? Oh yeah. "Vamping out." I paused before I said, "You revealed yourself to me last night. I saw you for what you really are. So why didn't you kill me when you had the chance?"

Micah's voice was barely above a whisper. "Because you saved my life." He started moving closer to me until he had invaded my personal space. And I noticed his eyes hadn't lost any of their intensity. "How could I kill you when you saved my life? I am forever in your debt, Lisbeth."

Uh, no thanks. I don't want a vampire indebted to me. It's a nice idea though; like maybe I could hire him for protection. But I didn't feel comfortable knowing that someone felt they owed me something because I saved their life. I was just doing what any decent human being would do. I shook my head and said, "You don't owe me anything, Micah. I wasn't going to let you die. And it didn't matter to me that you were a vampire."

He touched me again but this time he caressed my cheek. His hand was warm but I still went rigid and just stared at him with wide-eyes. He smirked, and I think it's because he noticed that I was blushing. I heard a low growl rumble in his throat and I swallowed nervously. "Don't worry, Lisbeth. I'm not going to hurt you. I'm actually full."

His last sentence broke my defenses and I laughed out loud. "Well, that's a relief. I was wondering if you were looking for seconds."

He smiled. Then his expression changed like he was pondering something in his head. He spoke quietly again. "Can I ask you something?"

"Yeah, sure."

"Why did you get me the dog?"

"I...uhhh...didn't want you to attack me. My roommate said that you'd be very thirsty when you woke up and you'd probably attack me."

This time Micah laughed lightly. "Your roommate must think that all vampires have no self-control."

"Actually, I thought you were going to attack me too. All that growling and your black eyes were pretty scary."

Micah decided to turn on the charm when he said, "I wasn't going to attack you, love. I was just going to ask you politely if I may have another taste of your sweet ambrosia." Then the smile disappeared from his face and he closed the distance between us and put his arm around my waist. Oh my God. His bare chest was pressed against my breasts and my hands itched with the desire to reach out and caress his pale skin.

"I have to tell you, Lisbeth...your blood tastes so much better than the Bulldog's." I was already lost in his sea green eyes. Was he seducing me? "Like the sweetest nectar from the most beautiful flower."

I can't even remember the last time a beautiful man was this close to me or even standing in my kitchen. I moaned softly and my limbs seemed to have a mind of their own because I reached up and I was about to put my arms around his neck.

But he stepped away from me suddenly. He was looking down at the floor again when he said, "Believe me...I would never attack you, Lisbeth. But I won't deny that I wanted to taste you. My growling towards you was a sign of arousal, love." He looked at me, and to emphasize his point...he growled again as his eyes raked up and down my body. "I was confused when you offered me the dog because you let me feed from you before. I was hoping you would offer yourself to me again."

My brain pressed an internal rewind button and once again I imagined him showing up at my apartment for my blood. Maybe Britt was right and he'd come back for more.

Micah paused for a beat before he added, "By the way, that was a very interesting dream you had last night."

I gasped loudly and I could feel blood rush to my face. I knew I was blushing furiously. "How do you know about my dream?! I thought vampires can't get inside people's heads like that."

I surprised to see that he was enjoying my embarrassment because he was actually grinning from ear-to-ear. But he explained quickly before I became too defensive. "When we drink someone's blood, we gain their knowledge and their memories."

I narrowed my eyes at him because that sounded an awful lot like an invasion of privacy. "You were looking at my memories?"

"No, they just came to me the moment I drank your blood. It's like in influx of images going through my mind like a photo album. I remembered it would happen if I fed from a human so I trained myself to ignore most of it. But..." He paused again and his tone of voice lowered. "I couldn't ignore that one. I tried and I couldn't. Honestly, I played it back to myself over and over and over again." His eyes looked transfixed now; like he was zoning out. "I'm playing it back right now."

I laughed again and hit him on the arm playfully. "Cut that out! My dream was private!"

Micah's laugh was boisterous and it definitely eased the sexual tension in the kitchen. I was looking at his bare chest again; particularly his Celtic cross tattoo when I asked a question that had an obvious answer. "You're not vulnerable to crucifixes?"

He looked down at himself for a moment and then he smiled. He really did have a beautiful smile. "No, I'm not." He stepped closer and cocked his head to the side. He wore a curious expression when he said, "Is there anything else you want to know about vampires?" I could detect the amusement in his voice again. "I can tell you that holy water doesn't burn us and garlic doesn't affect us either. And we can't be killed by silver bullets."

"Silver bullets? I thought that was werewolves."

"Depends on what film you're watching." He gave me sly look and I smiled.

"What about a stake through the heart?"

"Yes, that works. Or if you remove the heart or the brain completely from the body. And as you already know...sunlight is deadly to us." This time he grinned.

I smirked when I added, "Don't forget bleeding to death from a neck wound."

He chuckled humorously. "Yes, you are correct again."

My mind was racing and I was going through an internal catalogue of all the vampire films I've seen over the years. "What about fire? Can fire kill you?"

"No."

"Decapitation?"

"Yes."

"I heard that once you become a vampire, you can't have children because your human body dies. Is that true?"

Suddenly, his expression was void of all humor. "It's not true for me," he said in a low voice. My eyes widened in shock and I opened my mouth to speak but he continued. "I'm not dead, Lisbeth. I never died because...I was never human." He paused and I was hanging on his every word.

He's not dead? Huh? But he's a vampire.

I was totally confused but he clarified by saying, "I'm a Pure Born."

Now, I've heard those words before. Britt mentioned something about Sebastian not being a Pure Born. So, was that the difference between the two kinds of vampires? One was dead and one wasn't? Perhaps Micah could shed some light. "What's the difference between a Made vampire and a Pure Born?"

"Well, the ability to procreate, for starters. And the fact that I age and they don't."

My eyes widened at this new revelation. I thought that was the one aspect that made vampires so glamorous: immortal youth. "You age? How old are you anyway?"

He chuckled again. "Does it really matter?"

"No, I guess not. But you look like you're nineteen or twenty." He smiled again. "Even though you could be like five-hundred years old."

Micah laughed and I found it to be a very pleasant sound. "Oh God no. I'm not that old." I laughed too. "You see, when we're born...we age like a human until we reach adulthood. Then the aging process slows down considerably; almost at a snail's pace." He looked up at the ceiling again and bit his bottom lip as he thought. "Wait no...what's slower than a snail?"

I laughed again. "Are there any other differences?"

"Maybe we should continue this conversation another time. Don't you have to be at work?"

How did he know that? I narrowed my eyes in suspicion for moment. "Yeah...I do," I said slowly. I glanced at the current time on the microwave. Whoa. I was really late. "Shit! I have to start getting ready." His semi-nudity distracted me again and that's when I remembered the Old Navy shopping bags that were still sitting by the front door. "Oh! I have something else for you."

I dashed into the living room and picked up the bags. As soon as I was standing upright, Micah was next to me. I jumped and let out a sound of surprise. Then I put a hand to my chest to steady my heartbeat. "Jesus! Don't sneak up on me like that."

He smiled sheepishly. "I'm sorry. That's just the way I move. Usually I'm conscious of the way I move because I don't want to freak out humans or draw attention to myself. But with you...I just feel like I can be...well...a vampire."

I tried to display some tenderness behind my gaze and I spoke softly. "Hey, it's okay. I want you to be yourself." He gave me a dashing smile but his eyes shifted to the shopping bags as I pulled out his new clothes. "These are for you. I couldn't salvage your other clothes because they were ripped so severely. So I bought these for you." I handed him the black turtleneck first. "I hope everything fits. One of the salespeople was a guy about your size so I used him as a comparison."

After I handed him the shirt, I reached back inside the bag to show him the scarf and gloves. But when I looked up at him, his expression caused me to pause all movement. He was just staring at me with his eyes wide in disbelief. And as we held each other's gaze, his expression changed again and I saw pure adoration in his eyes.

The emotions he was feeling were reflected in his voice when he asked quietly, "You bought these for me?" I smiled and nodded. "Lisbeth..." He was still holding the turtleneck in his hand, but he reached out towards me like he wanted to give it back.

I started shaking my head. "No, I want you to have it. I don't want you to go out into the cold without any clothing. I take you into my home, but let you leave without even a shirt on your back? What kind of person do you think I am?"

"Please don't misunderstand, Lisbeth. I meant you no offense. But I want you to know that I don't feel the cold like you do." Then he surprised me when he hugged the shirt to his bare chest. I felt warmth flow through me and I could tell Micah was touched by my kind gesture. "I'll accept the clothes if you insist because the last thing I want is to hurt your feelings. It's just...I have a hard time accepting people's generosity because..." He dropped his gaze and whispered, "No one has ever given me anything...not since my father."

He slowly lifted his head and I saw unshed tears in his lovely spring green eyes. I was suddenly filled with deep concern for him because now I knew there was a crazy Made vampire out there named Balthazar who wanted him dead. How would he handle the news that Micah was still alive?

Micah was taking out his sweater, gloves, and scarf from one of the shopping bags when I asked, "Hey, are you going to be okay? I mean...do you have some friends you could stay with? Or are you just going to keep running?"

The idea of never seeing Micah again upset me a little. I'll admit that I was beginning to like him. Yes, he was drop-dead gorgeous and attracted me physically, but he seemed like such a gentle soul; despite the fact he was a lethal killer. But he was a vampire and I believed it was in their nature to be predators.

He pulled at my heartstrings when he admitted quietly, "I don't have any friends."

Now I was filled with sympathy and a lump caught in my throat. "What? You don't have any friends? None at all?"

"No. I've been running for decades and I never stay anywhere long enough to make any friends."

I gaped at him. I can't imagine what his life must be like.

Forever running; trying to elude a crazy madman who's still holding a grudge over his dead horse and runaway slave.

I think Balthazar really felt like he owned Micah and the thought made me sick to my stomach. That's when I made the decision that I would try to offer a little peace and normalcy in Micah's tragic life. "I'll be your friend, Micah." His expression lit up right before my eyes. "That is...if you want one. I just hope you stick around long enough so that we can get to know each other." He smiled widely and nodded enthusiastically. "Good." I sighed in relief. "Well, I have to change my clothes and uh..."

His smile faltered and I noticed he looked upset. His voice was soft when he said, "Yeah, I should leave now."

I handed him the bag with his coat because he was already holding his turtleneck, sweater, scarf, and gloves in his arms. I was expecting him to start putting the clothes on, but instead he walked away...towards the window.

I yelled out to him and ran in front of his path. "Where are you going?!"

He smiled and gave me a look as if to say: 'Uh, duh! Where do you think I'm going?' But Micah was a sweetheart and he replied simply, "I'm leaving."

Even though he didn't give me a sarcastic reply, I didn't hesitate to give him one. Besides, sarcasm was a part of my personality. "Most people use a door." And I pointed to the front the door which was actually the way he came in last night.

He shrugged nonchalantly. "I'm not most people. And I like the window." He moved around my body and lifted the window like it weighed nothing. A rush of chilly, winter air entered the living room and I wrapped my arms around myself. I watched the ice-cold breeze sweep though Micah's blond hair and he seemed totally oblivious to its effect.

His back was to me when I gave him an important safety warning. "Micah, I don't have a fire escape."

Maybe he'd use the door now. He was perched on the window sill when he turned his head and looked at me over his shoulder with a smile. "I can see that."

My eyes were wide. What the hell was he going to do? Jump fifteen stories? "Micah-"

"Thanks for everything, Lisbeth."

Why did that sound like a 'goodbye' to me? "You're welcome. And please...take care of yourself."

"I'll try."

I blinked. And just like that...he jumped. I rushed to the window and looked down at the street. Nothing. Where did he go?

Oh no way.

I looked up at the night sky and saw nothing but stars.