He pulled off her pajama bottoms and settled between her legs. "Forgive me for taking you so fast." He plunged a finger into her core and stroked her.
Maggie squealed. "Oh, God, you're forgiven."
"You're so wet." He spread her moisture around the sensitive folds, then tasted her.
She jolted, raising her hips into the air. Sweet Mary, he was the greatest vampire lover in the world. She spiraled out of control. His tongue continued to torture and delight her, feast on her and devour her. She screamed when the climax shattered her, immersing her in a flood of sweet throbbing sensations.
"Pierce me." She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and her legs around his waist.
He entered her. "I wish we had all night." A look of fatigue crossed his face.
She felt it, too. Death-sleep was coming, tugging at her consciousness. "Just a little more. Please."
He gritted his teeth and plunged again and again.
She lifted her hips to meet each thrust. Just a little more time. Please. She felt the spiraling sensation building within.
He quickened his pace, his breathing harsh. Then suddenly, with a deep plunge, he stiffened and groaned. He collapsed, his head beside hers. "God, I love you."
"I love you, too." As death-sleep pulled her under, she felt one final sweet throb where their bodies were still joined.
Pierce awoke with the usual jolt that reverberated through his body. He opened his eyes as Maggie shuddered back to life.
A scream erupted behind them.
Maggie's eyes flew open, and she screamed, too. Pierce looked over his shoulder. A young woman at the foot of their bed squealed, then grabbed his mother. Dorotea screamed.
"Enough!" Pierce pulled the blanket up to cover himself and Maggie as he flipped over into a sitting position. Dammit. They must have come in before sunset.
"I thought you were dead!" The young woman pointed at him.
Dorotea pressed her palms together in prayer. "It's a miracle!" She dropped to her knees and burst into tears.
The young woman knelt beside Dorotea, hugging her. She shot Pierce a confused look. "I could have sworn you were dead."
"Who are you?" Pierce demanded.
"Your sister, Rosalinda. Mother told me not to come till after sunset, but I couldn't wait. I had to see you again, but then, I thought you were dead." She covered her face and sobbed.
Great. He'd started his new life by traumatizing his family. He glanced at Maggie to see how she was doing. Her face was pale, and she was busily buttoning her pajamas. His mother and sister were so upset, he could hear their hearts pounding, smell the blood racing through them. He glanced at the half-empty bottle on the nearby shelf. He needed to eat soon.
"Why are you screaming down there?" Aunt Betty yelled from the hatch opening.
"They're alive!" Rosalinda stood, still crying.
"What?" Aunt Betty yelled. "They're not dead anymore?"
"They're alive!" Rosalinda moved to the base of the ladder and looked up at her aunt. "Call nine-one-one and cancel the ambulance."
"It's a miracle." Dorotea crossed herself as she struggled to her feet. "A Christmas miracle."
"I can explain." Pierce groaned inwardly. Could he really?
"No need." Rosalinda laughed, wiping the tears from her face. "It's pretty obvious what you've been up to all day."
Maggie winced. "Actually, we were… asleep most of the day."
"Yeah, right." Rosalinda snorted.
"We were unconscious," Pierce added.
"For thirty minutes?" Her eyes suddenly widened. "Wow. I wish I had orgasms like that."
Dorotea gasped. "Rosalinda!"
A pang of hunger shot through Pierce. He needed to get them out of here quick. "Please, go to the house. Maggie and I will be there soon, and we'll explain everything."
"Very well." Dorotea exchanged a pointed look with her daughter. "We all have some explaining to do."
After they left, Pierce grabbed the bottle from the shelf. He guzzled it down while Maggie drank from her bottle. With the edge off their hunger, they began to dress.
He zipped up his jeans. "I don't know how to tell them."
Maggie took his hand and squeezed it. "I'll be there with you. For good or bad."
"Thank you." He kissed her hand. "Ready to go?"
"Yes." She swung her tote bag onto her shoulder and followed him up the ladder.
As they walked toward the house, Pierce spotted his brother on the porch.
"You're okay?" Patrick ran down the steps, but halted on the last one. A look of shame crossed his face. "I wish I wasn't so damned afraid. You two come in. Dinner's ready."
"Just a minute." Maggie ran to the SUV and retrieved the last two bottles of blood.
As soon as they entered the foyer, Lucy ran up to them with a big grin. "You want to see what Santa Claus brought me?"
"In a little while." Pierce picked her up and kissed her cheek.
Lucy giggled. "You sleep too much."
"I'm afraid so." Pierce carried her into the dining room. She wiggled down from his arms and climbed into a chair with a booster seat.
A tall man in overalls came forward. "I'm your Uncle Bob. I'm glad you're back."
"I'm glad to be back." Pierce shook his hand. "And this is Maggie." He wrapped an arm around her.
Dorotea, Rosalinda, and Aunt Betty finished loading the table with food—turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and salad.
Uncle Bob took a seat at the end of the table. "I hope you two are hungry. The gals have been cooking all day."
Pierce exchanged a worried look with Maggie. She quietly set their bottles of blood beside two plates on the table.
"Everyone sit down." Dorotea sat at the other end of the table with Lucy on one side and Rosalinda on the other. Patrick sat between his sister and aunt. Pierce took the seat next to Lucy, and Maggie sat beside him.
"Let's say the blessing," Dorotea announced, and everyone reached out to hold hands. "Thank you, Lord, for giving us Lucy who has brought so much joy into this house. And thank you for sending us Pierce and Maggie. My son, who was lost, has been returned. Amen." Dorotea crossed herself with tears in her eyes.
"Now, everyone eat." Uncle Bob piled his plate with turkey meat, then passed the platter to Maggie. She passed it on to Pierce who put some meat on Lucy's plate.
"What's wrong?" Dorotea asked. "Aren't you two eating?"
"We're on a special diet," Maggie murmured as she opened her bottle of Chocolood. She poured some into her glass.
"Well, I never," Aunt Betty muttered. "After all the work we did, slaving over the stove."
"Food's great." Uncle Bob wolfed down an entire turkey breast in two gulps.
Pierce opened his bottle and took a sip. "The night I lost my memory, something else happened, too. I was attacked."
Patrick looked up from his plate. "You were bitten?"
"Damn!" Patrick hit the table with his fist. "I knew it. It's that damned curse."
"Please don't curse at the table," Dorotea murmured. "Go on, Pierce. What happened?"
He swallowed hard. This was it. "I was transformed. Into a vampire." He glanced quickly around the table, but was met with nothing but blank looks. At least, they weren't screaming. Or trying to stab him with the silverware.
"Are you sure, dear?" Dorotea asked.
"I didn't think such a thing existed," Rosalinda mumbled with her mouth full.
"It's true," Maggie said. "Pierce and I are both vampires."
Silence descended around the table as everyone stopped eating. Pierce wondered when the screaming would begin.
"Ah, well." Dorotea shrugged. "Nobody's perfect."
"That's the truth," Aunt Betty muttered.
"Pass the potatoes," Uncle Bob said.
Pierce blinked, then passed the bowl to his uncle. "You're not upset? Maggie and I are sorta… dead during the day."
"Ha!" Rosalinda smiled smugly. "I knew I was right."
Patrick frowned. "You're not going to bite us, are you?"
"No. We drink synthetic blood." Pierce demonstrated by taking a swig from his bottle.
A ringing sound came from Maggie's tote bag. She retrieved her cell phone and excused herself from the table. Even though she was talking quietly in the foyer. Pierce could tell with his super vamp hearing that she was talking to Ian.
Everyone else resumed their eating. Uncle Bob was gnawing on a turkey leg. Rosalinda was nibbling at a salad.
"I suppose we should fix up the storm cellar and make it more comfy for you," Dorotea said as she cut up her meat.
"That would be nice. Thank you." Pierce took a deep breath, greatly relieved. "You're all taking the news very well."
Aunt Betty shrugged. "We're family."
"And we thank God you made it home," Dorotea added.
"I have some money saved up," Pierce said. "We could use it for repairs."
"Oh, that's wonderful!" Dorotea exclaimed.
"Or we could buy more cattle," Aunt Betty offered.
"Why should we?" Patrick muttered. "They'll just get eaten like all the others. We're doomed. Nothing can save us."
"Don't say that." Betty sniffled. "He can't help it."
Uncle Bob hit the table with his fist. "I've worked this ranch since I was a young boy. I helped build it with my bare hands. Do you think I enjoy being the one to destroy us?"
"There, there." Betty embraced her husband.
"What's going on?" Pierce asked.
His family grew silent.
"Good news!" Maggie returned, smiling. "I know how you can save the ranch. You can make a bundle selling bat guano for fertilizer."
"Maggie, you're brilliant!" Pierce grinned at her. "Can you still love me when I'm a guano farmer?"
She laughed. "Of course."
Uncle Bob cleared his throat. "I'll be happy to help you shovel that guano."
"Thanks." Pierce turned to Patrick. "You could help, too."
Patrick turned pale. "It's not safe to leave the house."
"I won't let anything hurt you, Patrick. Trust me." Pierce grabbed the fork beside his plate and bent it into a circle.
Patrick's eyes widened. He tried to bend his fork, but couldn't. "Wow, you're really strong."
"I have superior strength, vision, and hearing. I can levitate, teleport, and control people's minds if I have to. You would be safe with me, Patrick."
He glanced at Uncle Bob. "Can you control an animal?"
"I suppose. Will you help me, Patrick?"
He gulped. "I'll try. But we can't do any work on the night of a full moon."
"Why not?" Pierce asked.
"Because whenever there's a full moon, we lose another cow," Uncle Bob said sadly.
"You can't help it," Betty whispered. "If you didn't take one of ours, you'd go to the neighbors, and they'd shoot you for sure."
Uncle Bob was killing the cows? Pierce tilted his head, confused, then suddenly remembered the wolflike creature. Maggie gasped and looked at him. She was thinking the same thing. They turned to stare at Uncle Bob.
He sighed. "That was me you almost hit on the road. I change every time there's a full moon."
"I didn't think werewolves existed," Maggie whispered.
"I didn't think vampires existed" Bob replied. "But I'm not really a werewolf. There ain't no wolves in this part of Texas. It was a coyote that bit me."
Pierce blinked. "You're a were-coyote?"
"Yep." Uncle Bob nodded.
"It's the curse," Patrick moaned. "We'll all get bitten. Rosalinda was bit, too."
Maggie gasped. "You're a coyote, too?"
She put down the carrot stick she'd been munching on. "Actually, it was a jack-rabbit that bit me."
Maggie gasped again. "You're the rabbit from last night?"
Rosalinda nodded with a smile. "I was curious about you."
"Now, all our secrets are out." Dorotea gave Pierce a worried look. "Are you still happy you found your family?"
"Yes. I'm happy you can accept me the way I am."
His mother smiled sadly. "We love you, no matter what. That's how it is in a family."
Pierce stood and pushed back his chair. "Then I hope there's room for one more in this family." He knelt beside Maggie's chair and took her hand in his. "I love you, Maggie. Can you give up the glamorous life of a television star to be the wife of a poor guano farmer?"
"Yes!" She slipped out of the chair and into his arms. "Yes, I can."
One month later
"It's over, Don Orlando." Maggie stood over the fake hospital bed on the set at DVN. Pierce lay there silently, pretending to be in a coma.
"I can never see you again." She turned away from the bed and faced camera two. "I've decided to leave the country. There are so many sick people in South America. They need me."
Maggie spun around to face Don Orlando. "But before I leave, there's one thing I must do." She took his hand and leaned over the bed. "I have to tell you how I truly feel. It was always impossible for us. You're the greatest vampire lover in the world, while I'm a famous, mortal brain surgeon. Our love could never be."