Francesca woke in Gabriel's arms. Gabriel had remained below the earth for two days, but now his wounds were completely healed and Francesca felt safe calling him to her. She felt she had been patient long enough when everything in her cried out for him. Above them the night was stirring to life and the comforting sounds of her household were settling into the rhythm of the night.
Skyler was laughing in the kitchen with Drusilla. Francesca lay for a moment savoring the wonder of that. Skyler didn't laugh often, and when she did it was brief, but the sound was incredibly beautiful. Francesca was already becoming fond of Drusilla. She was a motherly woman who ran the house very efficiently. She had an open, loving personality. There was ample room in her heart for young Skyler.
Santino was a miracle. He had immediately set to work with the bodyguard to ensure the house was protected inside and out. It would be necessary to change Francesca's manner of living to accommodate a high fence around the grounds now that there were humans to protect also. Santino was quick to find a design that fit the old-fashioned architecture. He had incorporated the safeguards Francesca had chosen to build into the fence itself.
It was already well under construction; Santino didn't believe in procrastinating. Francesca was certain Gabriel and Santino would become good friends in time.
"You are certainly accurate in your thinking," Gabriel murmured, his heart already finding the perfect rhythm of hers. She was his world and he loved waking up with the knowledge that she was there, waiting for him, so cool and serene and beautiful.
Francesca smiled as she turned in his arms, her body molding itself to his, already soft and pliant, her skin warming as his blood thickened and heated. She reveled in the feel of his body; how different he was from her, his muscles so defined and hard. With her hands she sought his hips, the columns of his thighs, smoothed over his chest, lingered over the area where he had been wounded. "You hunger." She made it a statement. She had known he would awaken ravenous, and she was more than willing to provide for her lifemate. She could feel the hunger in him, a growing, living thing.
Gabriel buried his face in the hollow of her shoulders, his mouth moving over her scented skin. His hands shaped her slender body, tracing her perfect form, her lush breasts and rounded hips, her small tucked-in waist. Their child lay beneath his palm and it excited him to think of it growing there, another binding tie between them. A rush of heat hit him with the speed of a fireball, exploding in his lower belly as her fingers danced over him.
"Francesca." He breathed her name against the creamy mound of her breast, his warm breath teasing her nipple into an answering erotic peak. His lips kissed the vulnerable line of her throat, found her mouth, fastened there, his mouth dominating and very male. She was everything to him. "Everything." He whispered it into her mouth, sliding his tongue along hers in a fiery tango.
He closed his eyes to feel her with his body, his hands exploring while his mouth moved along her neck back to the deep valley between her breasts. His body was growing hard and uncomfortable with wanting her, his hunger rising sharply. She murmured something softly against his skin, a little endearment, an enticement even, while her hands moved over his hips and settled with teasing, dancing fingers along the hard evidence of his growing need. His breath seemed to explode out of his body as she moved over him, her breast an invitation beneath his seeking mouth.
Fangs lengthened, grew as his teeth teased and scraped her skin over her pounding, beckoning pulse. Her fingers were inflaming him, teasing and shaping, even as she arched her body closer to his. Fiery heat streaked through her, through him as his teeth sank deep. Whips of lightning danced over their skin as he fed voraciously, her blood, hot and sweet, flowing into the starved cells of his body.
His body. Wracked with fires. Flames that could never be put out. He was so hot he burned with need. Even as he fed, he caught her slender hips and pinned her beneath him so he could surge forward, a powerful thrust, burying himself deep in her tight sheath. She was hot and slick with need, with hunger. Colors whirled and danced and the fire raged out of control. Gabriel just let it happen, let it consume him. Her body was all that mattered in that moment. He would plumb every secret place, delve deeper and deeper until he found complete sanctuary from the host of demons forever haunting him.
He moved harder and faster, long sure strokes designed to inflame her, to bring her to the same burning fever he felt. He whispered her name as he stroked his tongue across the tiny pinpricks, closing the wound in her breast. He gathered her to him, reveling in the mysteries of her wondrous body. He was lost for all time; she was his world and everything good in it.
Francesca looked up at his face above her, etched in sensual beauty, his black eyes glittering with the intensity of his wild lovemaking, swimming in unexpected tears. She gasped, touched a teardrop on his impossibly long eyelashes. His perfect mouth softened, curved in response. "You are just so beautiful, Francesca. I still cannot believe I am here with you, sharing your life, sharing your body. You have no idea what you mean to me."
She leaned up to capture his mouth with hers, merging her mind more fully, offering total acceptance of his wild nature, matching his fiery demands with her own. Long afterward they lay together, listening to their combined heartbeat, savoring the luxury of simply lying in each other's arms, in the differences of their bodies and their ability to be so entwined.
"I love you, Francesca," Gabriel told her solemnly. "I cannot express in words what you are to me." She smiled up at him. "You do a fairly good job expressing yourself."
His eyebrow shot up. "Fairly good?"
"I think your ego is already far too large. I am not about to call you the greatest lover in the world."
His hand cupped her soft breast, his thumb stroking small caresses over her taut nipple. "But you would if it were not for fear of my ego?"
Each stroke of his thumb produced an answering rush of liquid heat and Francesca shifted, rising above him, flinging her abundance of hair over her shoulder as she slowly straddled him, lowering her body over his. He gasped aloud, his eyes closing for a moment in ecstasy, then opening to watch her body as she began to slowly move.
"I booked Brice in at a medical clinic in Milan. I have friends there who will back up my story. I told them he was recovering from an addiction and we were helping him here. They owe me a favor or two," Francesca added when Gabriel frowned. He wasn't used to relying on humans for aid but Francesca slipped easily between the two worlds. She knew the value of money and social position. She knew medical clinics relied heavily on wealthy benefactors. She was very generous in that regard and rarely asked anything in return. If she wanted one of her friends, particularly a great physician, to be booked in as recovering from a violent flu, the clinic was more than happy to help. "And yes, I know you and Lucian will aid in destroying the vampire's hold on him. I read your mind easily, my love; nothing will harm our daughter. Either of our daughters. I will wait until Brice is free of all shadowing before I aid in his healing."
"Yes, you will," he said softly, his hands going to her waist.
She moved her body a little faster to accommodate the sudden erotic picture in his mind. Francesca smiled, a slow seductive smile as she sensed the fire building in his body.
"You believe it is wise to involve another clinic?" Gabriel had to work at keeping his voice natural when she was tying him up in knots again. Her waist was so narrow and her breasts jutted so temptingly over him. "Surely he cannot simply pick up and leave his job when the whim comes upon him."
"Of course not, but it wasn't too difficult to put in a phone call from the clinic inviting Brice to speak at a fictitious seminar. Brice often does such things. I had his secretary arrange for other doctors to take over his patients and then simply followed up with another phone call saying he had become ill but the clinic was taking good care of him. When we heal him, he will still be in good standing in the medical community." She was trying not to smile at his reaction to her body teasing his, at the way his eyes had gone smoky and glazed as he watched her so intently. He was striving desperately to follow the conversation, to maintain interest in it when his body was in ecstasy.
"Do you fix everything for everyone so easily?" Gabriel asked her, bending his head forward to the temptation of her inviting nipple. He couldn't help himself. He had to touch her, to taste her. Her skin reminded him of warm honey. His hands caught her around the waist as she undulated her body, so beautiful she robbed him of the ability to think. He loved her face, her eyes, her lush mouth.
Francesca tossed her head back as she began to move faster, her body hot and demanding, her breasts bare to his sight, while her hair spilled around them in dark silken clouds. She watched his breath shorten and she smiled, moving a little harder, her body tightening around his in response to his evident pleasure. "Actually, yes, I do," she answered slowly. "Particularly you. For instance, I know you like certain things."
He could barely breathe, watching her ride him with that sexy little smile on her face. "What things?" he dared to ask.
She leaned back, moving deeper, teasing him, enticing, watching him watch her. It was wildly exciting the way Gabriel gave her so much power over him. She loved being his partner. His other half. She loved to be in his mind while they were making love, loved the way he thought about her, the way her body pleased him.
"You please me," he contradicted, suddenly moving his own hips into a hard, rhythmic surging. He watched her ride him, the sight adding to his intense pleasure until he could only thrust at her almost helplessly, reaching higher and higher, building, forever building. Her hair brushed his sensitive skin, scorching him, burning him. Nothing mattered except her body over his, sliding wildly, rocking and teasing until he was crying out her name to the very heavens and she was clinging to him somewhere between laughter and tears.
Neither could breathe normally for the longest time. They simply held each other tightly, savoring these moments alone together. Overhead the sounds of the household were comforting to Gabriel. Brice would be seen to as soon as they were able. Skyler was forming bonds. Lucian, his beloved twin brother, slept safely beneath the soil, healing, gathering strength, his iron will renewed. Francesca was in his arms, his body and soul wrapped deeply in hers, and all was right with Gabriel's world.