Warnings: Blood playósheís a vampire, after all.


Orithain and Rina

June 2005


Rick York drummed his fingers on his desk as he watched the strange readouts on his computer.

"Casey! Where the hell is she, and why the hell did I agree to let her work hereóoh yeah, Carlyís on her damn honeymoon."

"Keep your pants on, cute stuff. Or better still take Ďem off, and we can go for it right here." Casey sauntered into the inner office, legs looking a mile long between her four-inch heels and four-inch skirt.

Rick groaned and shook his blond head, though he did have to admire the bare legs and tight body as Casey strolled toward his desk. "You do realize if Hal was here, his pout would kill us both?" he commented, then pointed at the screen. "Just what did you do to the identity files?"

Casey shuddered at the thought of Halís reaction if he thought his lover was cheating on him. She did not need to feel like the person who shot Bambiís mother. Straightening up so Rick was no longer looking down her cleavage, the redhead frowned at the monitor. "I havenít touched those files. At all."

"Shit." Rick scanned several other files and cursed again. "Well, you didnít, and I didnít; that means we have a mouse looking around where it shouldnít be. Just great."

"A mouse? Could you please just speak English?" Casey grumbled, peering over his shoulder. "And are you going to tell me what the fuckís wrong?"

"Someone has been looking around where they shouldnít be looking." At Caseyís blank look, Rick growled. "Technology is a wonderful thing, but it makes it hell for us to stay legally alive, can you understand that?" At her nod, he continued. "Someoneís been sniffing around the programs I have for getting us new identities."

Her green eyes widened. "Someoneís trying to track us... you?" she amended, knowing that she and her street family were too young as vampires to have attracted attention. Some of the others though, they were far from young, and her eyes narrowed again. "Someoneís trying to fuck with my family."

"Possibly not," Rick murmured, hitting a series of keys, his frown deepening when he saw how deep the probes had gone into his systems. "It could be someone looking for a hacker, but this isnít good."

"We all need to get the fuck out of Beantown," Casey said instantly. "We can live anywhere."

"Why would we need to do that? Vampires, remember? A little mind mojo and poof, the mousie goes bye-bye."

"And just how exactly do you plan to do Ďmind mojoí on a hard drive or tape back up?"

Rick chuckled. "We find the person behind this and mojo him or her; after that, the computers are easy enough to deal with."

Casey shook her head. "Yeah right. Iíve seen Wargames and 2001."

"Oh ye of little faith," Rick sighed. "Would you feel better if I let you mojo whoever it was checking us out while I handled the electronic end?"

"Iíd feel better if the sonovabitch were dead!"

"Only if he or she threatens us, my little bloodthirsty bitch," Rick chuckled, shaking his head. Baby vamps... always thought they were crusaders.

"And what is this if not a threat?" Casey demanded. "We donít need people poking around in our business."

"It could be someone doing their jobówhat Iím doing is illegal if you recall."

"Yeah, so? This is someone who seems to be finding out way too much about us. Even I know there really are vampire hunters out there, idiots who think theyíre Van Helsing or something. Iíd rather not see some of them messing with my family."

He sighed again. "Casey, all this person knows right now is that Iím creating identities, not who or what we are. If you go in guns or fangs aíblazing, what happens when the people he or she works for decide to see what happened?"

"We have a buffet instead of a snack."

He looked up at her, suddenly serious. "Not something to joke about, Casey. Thatís the first step to being declared rogue."

"Hey, Iím not talking about turning them! Donít even try to tell me youíve never killed a human Ďcause I wonít believe you."

"I never said that, but going on a witch hunt before you know the facts is just as bad."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Can tell you never had to live on the streets... Your Highness."

"No, I just had my uncle lock me in a tower to prepare to kill me. Trust me, Casey, I donít trust this either, but we are not going in there and killing blindly. Can you do that, or do I need to send you home now?"

"Oh fine, I wonít kill anyone unless you say itís okay or theyíre trying to kill me first. Should I intervene if youíre about to die?"

"Hal will pout at you if you donít."

"Shit. That kid is nuts. I donít know how you put up with him full time."

Rick smirked. "Heís a tiger in bed."

"Really?" She suddenly looked interested, red eyebrows rising inquisitively.

"You touch him, Iíll tear your tits off," he added in a conversational tone.

Her jaw dropped as she gaped at him. Finally recovering, she said wryly, "Possessive much?"

"Never before this," he admitted, grinning wryly. "Guess heís the one for me."

"I hope you know what youíre getting into. Heís cute enough, but heís a fruitcake. And what is with everyone pairing off? Itís as bad as being on Noahís Ark."

"Donít knock it Ďtil you tried it, sweetcheeks," Rick laughed, pulling Casey into his lap and patting her hip.

"But you just told me I couldnít," Casey pointed out. "Which isnít fair. Doing both of you would be fun."

"Falling in love," he laughed, standing up and bringing her to her feet as well. "Besides, you had both Ned and I more than once."

"Mmm, you were very good," Casey purred, leaning into him.

"And Iím going to keep being good so I can keep my crazy lover," he answered, kissing her on the forehead. "Now go file or something so I can do some work and figure out whoís checking up on us."

"Am I distracting you?" She bit his chin lightly, just drawing blood, and lapped it away.

He groaned and shook his head. "What do you think? But itís not happening, Casey, so let me find out whatís going on, and you can try your seduction technique on them."

"Gee, can I watch?" Hal asked from where he leaned against the doorjamb, having come in while the other two were distracted. He gave Casey a smug smile and wormed his way between them, pushing her away from Rick, and tangled his fingers in Rickís longish blond hair to draw him down for a kiss.

Rick slid a hand behind Halís head, holding him into the kiss and praying that he wouldnít see hurt in the young manís big brown eyes when they broke apart. "Hey, baby," he murmured. "How was class?"

"Bo-oring. The prof was sick, and his TA subbed for him." Hal rolled his eyes. "I could have done a better job. I donít think he knew a Tory from a Whig. But at least it gave me lots of time to dream up things for tonight." He grinned at Rick. "I think I may have come up with something new to you."

Casey groaned. "Fuck, I need to get more batteries for my vibrator!"

Rick tossed a twenty at her. "Why donít you take a long lunch, Casey, and call before you come back!"

"I thought we were supposed to be finding the person hacking your files!"

"Hacking your files?" Hal stepped back, looking from one to the other.

Now it was Rickís turn to pout. "A guy has to have priorities!"

"Iím fairly certain that the others would think the security of their lives is a higher priority than fucking."

"I hate to say it, but she has a point," Hal said.

"Thatís the first time anyone has heard Casey say anything came before fucking," Rick sighed. "Okay, the two of you can deal with the filing and leave me to track our mousie in peace."

Casey eyed Hal and licked her lips.

Eyes widening, Hal moved closer to Rick. "Isnít there something I can do in here?" he asked nervously.

Rick growled. "Remember what I said Iíd do to you, Casey? I will."

"Aw, I wouldnít hurt him," Casey grumbled.

"Rick!" Hal moved to put Rick between himself and the female vamp.

"If dear Casey touches you, sheíll need plastic surgery before she can wear any of her tops again," Rick promised. "But yeah, you can deal with the mess in here while she works out thereóalone."

Rolling her eyes, Casey headed back to the outer office. A moment later her head popped back in. "I hear any thuds or moans and Iím coming back to break it up!" she warned.

Rick sighed when she closed the door again and pulled Hal into his lap. "Why the hell did I agree to this?" he moaned.

"Because youíre a nice guy and you know Iíll reward you tonight." Hal snuggled against him, perfectly happy. "Iím impressed, by the way. Saying no to Casey intent on seduction? My hero!"

"Youíve reformed a rake; Anne will roll on the floor laughing at me."

"Let her reform her own rake and leave mine alone," Hal snorted.

Rick chuckled. "It would have served her right if sheíd ended up with a shy virgin."

Hal stuck his tongue out at Rick. "Are you complaining?"

"Baby, you may have been a virgin, but you werenít shy once I got you in bed," Rick chuckled, nipping Halís tongue before kissing him. "And I suppose if I ever want to find out what you thought of in class, Iíd better get some work done."

"And I guess that means I have to move," Hal sighed, standing up and pushing tousled dark hair out of his eyes. He looked around the office, his eyebrows rising. "Rick, I love you, but youíre a pig."

Rick shrugged grandly. "The price of growing up with servantsóand if you throw out my comic collection, I wonít bite you tonight!"

"Youíre assuming I could even find it without heavy equipment!"

Rick stuck his tongue out at Hal, then began to work at following the trail back to the person who had found them out.

Shaking his head, Hal busied himself trying to organize the chaos that was Rickís office. He wondered how Rick ever managed to find anything, but he supposed the older vampire kept anything he really needed on the computer, which he seemed to love.

"Okay, if this takes any longer, someoneís going to have to dust me," Casey announced grumpily as she came back into the office some time later. "Tell me youíve found something, anything."

Hal raised his head and peered over the end of the couch at her. "Dunno, Iíve been napping since I donít expect to get much sleep tonight."

"Fuck you."


Casey burst into laughter. "You know what, youíre all right."

Rick looked up from the screen and rubbed his eyes, smiling. "I taught him everything he knows."

"Oh, donít start that again," Casey groaned. "Iíll be sick if I have to listen to any more billing and cooing."

"Weíre not turtledoves!" Hal exclaimed, insulted.

"Weíre pit bulls compared to the others, including your sister, and you know it!"

"Uh huh." Casey didnít seem convinced. "So have you found anything yet?"

Rick looked insulted. "She wants to know if I found anything, Hal."

"So do I!"

"Nyah!" Casey muttered.

"I traced back the probe, so I have an address, but I want to talk this over with the others before we do anything, so Iím not showing it to either of you."

"Donít you trust us?" Casey asked while Hal pouted.

Rick just looked at them.

Halís lip crept out a bit more.


"No?" Hal repeated while Casey tried not to laugh.

"No, because I donít want either of you to getting the notion to go find this person and deal with them."

"You would just have to make sure to keep me close," Hal suggested.

"And what about Casey?"

"Be careful how you answer that," Casey growled.

Hal eyed her warily again. "You could just tell me."

"I could just tell neither of you until everyone else hears it," Rick countered.

"I donít really like that plan. Iím your lover; you should tell me things first," Hal shot back.

"And what are you going to do if I do tell you?"

"Kiss you."

Casey rolled her eyes and made gagging noises.

Rick sighed. "If either of you go near this place before I can check it out, I will strangle you myself. Do you understand?"

Both of them batted their eyelashes at him and tried to look innocent.

"Now Iím the one who needs to gag," he grumbled, then told them the address. "But Iím serious, if either one of you went there and hurt someone or got hurt... just donít."

"Look, I already said I wouldnít kill anyone without your okay," Casey snapped.

"And Iím not going anywhere without you. I leave the heroic shit to you royal types."

"Fine, now can we get out of here? All this dust you two stirred up is giving me a headache, and I know Iím never going to be able to find anything again."

"No, we cannot get out of here. You havenít told us yet what you found," Casey pointed out, Hal nodding vigorously.

"Just what I thought Iíd find," Rick said in exasperation. "Someone has been following the additions Iíve made to the DMV lists and traced them back to the Social Security add-ons I inserted years ago. Whoever they are, theyíre good, and whoever they are, we need to stop themówithout killing them unless itís necessary."

"Whoever they are?" Hal repeated. "You mean you still donít know?"

"I have a search going; the apartment is leased to a MIT professor, but I really doubt one of those eggheads would be living there."

"Iím sure a lot of people said the same about Derek," Hal shrugged. "But who do you think itís going to turn out to be?"

Rick scratched his head. "Possibly a student, unless the eggheadís got a love nest where he does hacking work."

"An egghead hackerís love nest. Gee, that sounds appealing," Casey snorted.

"Oh, would you just quit bitching already," Hal said. "You know nothing could keep you from going."

She glared at him.

Rick pressed his lips together to keep from laughing, pleased that Hal was beginning to stand up for himself to others. "When we go, and that when hasnít been decided yet."

Hal snorted. "You know we will. We have to do something about this. Besides Caseyíll scare the poor guy to death."

"Fuck you."

"Sorry, thatís reserved for Rick," Hal retorted, smirking.

"Exactly," Rick chuckled, though he kept a close eye on the other two. "No visits until we talk to everyone and get more information."

A couple of hours later Casey slipped out of Xioís mansion where the others had gathered to plan their next move. Whoever was digging into their backgrounds was a threat to her family, and Casey knew how to deal with threats.

Not bothering with a car, she ran through the streets to the address Rick had discovered and knocked on the door.

"Thatís why I gave you a key, Jon!" a voice yelled from inside, followed by a number of thumps and curses. "God, ask a guy to get you a coffee, and he makes you get up and open the door..." The voiceís owner was still grumbling when he undid the lock and pulled the door open, hopping back out of the way on the crutches he was using.

"Sorry, not Jon, donít have coffee, and definitely not a guy," Casey drawled, strutting through the open door.

The young man stared, open-mouthed, before peering around her. "Okay, this a take pity on the cripple gag?" he asked before frowning and looking at her closer. "Do I know you?"

"Does that line actually work?" Casey started to scoff before frowning as well. "You do look kinda familiar." She shrugged, figuring heíd been a john. "Got a name?"

"Yeah, Josh. What about you?" He hopped back from the door.

"Casey, but I used to go by Sugar sometimes," she added in case he knew her by her street name. Perching on the arm of the couch facing him, she crossed her legs, knowing the micro mini skirt and spike heels showed them off to advantage.

He blinked, blue eyes moving quickly up from her legs to her face. "Casey... Do you have a sister named Carly?"

Frowning, she stood back up. "How do you know my sister?" she demanded aggressively.

"Did you go to West Junior High?" he continued, settling some weight on his right leg regardless of the large brace immobilizing it.

Her frown deepened. "For all of a year." She stared at him searchingly. Her eyes widened. "Wait, you canít be that scrawny kid, Jack, John, something like that?"

"Josh," he repeated, this time with an air of resignation. "Only time you ever could remember my name was when you were shrieking at Carly to get away from me or sheíd get called a nerd too."

"Holy shit!" She eyed him up and down. "You definitely improved with age."

He snorted and shook his head. "And you still have the same way with words."

She shrugged. "Then letís not waste time. Why the fuck are you hacking our database?"

"Hacking into your... what the hell are you talking about, and what gives you the right to barge into my place acting like you own it?"

"What gave you the right to hack the York Agencyís files?" she snapped back. "Or doesnít other peopleís privacy matter?"

"What the fuck?" he asked, now staring openly at her. "Obviously Iím not the only one doing some snooping if you found out where I live."

"You thought weíd just ignore the invasion?" she demanded, not seeing the need to explain that it had been Rick who traced him. "And you havenít answered my question."

"Better me than the cops," he retorted, limping over to the table and leaning against it. "Hacking the DMV is a hell of a lot more illegal than looking to see who was doing it."

"What are you talking about?" she asked in annoyance.

"I donít know, what are you talking about?" he parroted back.

"Look, itíll be a lot easier if you talk to me," Casey warned.

"Or what? Youíll go to the cops?"

She laughed as she resumed her perch on the arm of the couch. "We prefer to handle problems ourselves."

He sighed. "And who is this Ďweí? You in the mob or something? I canít figure who else would need so many fake identities."

"You wouldnít believe me if I told you," Casey chuckled, recrossing her legs.

"Witness protection? If you are, you have shitty firewalls."

Snickering, Casey gave him a smile that bared her fangs. "Vampires."

Joshís expression turned flat, and he lifted a crutch, pointing it toward the door. "I think you can leave now."

"íFraid not. You know too much. Besides, they should have noticed Iím gone by now, so the others will be here any minute."

"You know, you always were bitch to me in school, but this takes the cake."

Not bothering to argue with the bitch comment since she knew very well she wasnít very nice to people she didnít care about, Casey raised her eyebrows. "Lemme guess, you donít believe me. Would you like me to bite you to prove it?" She eyed him. "It wouldnít be a hardship, believe me."

He glared at her and moved back over to the door, nudging it open again. "Say hello to your sister for me."

"Gee, thanks for the invitation," Kel said, strolling in to stand beside Casey, several of the others following him. Kel eyed the stranger. "Iím impressed, Case, no damage. Unless youíve been here long enough for him to already have a brace on it." The violet eyes sparkled with laughter.

"I thought you promised to wait," Hal said quietly.

"Geez, youíd all be still back at the house yakking away if I hadnít done something," Casey retorted.

"Told you we needed to tie her up," Rick growled.

"Okay, thatís it. I want all of you out of here, or Iím calling the cops," Josh stated, heading for the phone.

"God, what a mess," Kel sighed. "Youíre the old-timer here, Rick; what do you suggest? Shut up, Casey; I wasnít asking you," he added immediately, not even needing to look at her to know her mouth had opened.

Grumbling, Casey subsided, arms crossed over her chest.

"What have you said so far, Casey?" Rick finally asked.

"Well, I agreed to say hi to Carly for him, forgot his name again, agreed I was a bitch to him in junior high, and told him I was a vampire, but he doesnít believe that part."

Hal groaned and covered his eyes with a hand while Kel rolled his eyes. "Way to go, Casey," Kel sighed.

Josh edged closer to the phone and picked it up, starting to dial 911.

"Sorry, child, canít let you do that," Rick said quietly, appearing at his side and taking the phone from his hand.

"And Carlyíll kill us if we hurt him," Casey sighed. "She liked the little twerp back in school. So time to do your mojo thing, Rick."

"What the hell is going on here?" Josh yelled. "You people are fucking around with the DMVís files, and you act like Iím the one who did something wrong!"

"Not wrong," Kel sighed, "but definitely something you shouldnít have seen. Itís not safe for us to have anyone know that much about us. Which means we definitely need better security," he added, glaring at Rick. He knew that he and the other new ones were safe since there had been no need to change anything for them yet, but the older ones, including Xio, were in danger of exposure.

"There wasnít anything wrong with my security," Rick growled. "One of you deal with our mouse while I undo what he did." As he spoke, he dropped into the chair at the computer desk.

"Get away from that!" Josh yelled again, feeling afraid for the first time that evening.

"Just relax, Josh," Casey said almost sympathetically. "It wonít hurt a bit, and you wonít remember any of this. Iíll tell Carly you said hi, though. She might arrange for you to meet Ďaccidentallyí when she gets back."

Letting the crutches fall, he moved into a defensive posture. "Just because I knew you once doesnít mean I wonít hurt you if I have to."

She sighed, wondering why the others werenít saying anything rather than leaving her to deal with this on her own. "You canít hurt me, Josh. Nothing you could do could ever hurt me. Or any of us." She stood up, moving slowly toward him. "It really would be easier if you would just relax."

Hal watched wide-eyed, darting a questioning glance at Rick.

Rick shrugged and started to work on getting into the computerís memory. "She wanted to deal with him; she deals with him. You and Kel just make sure she doesnít go too far."

"I mean it, Casey," Josh cautioned. "Donít make me do this."

"I really am kinda sorry about this," she said, moving suddenly faster than he could see. Grasping him from behind, she bit into his neck, wanting to at least give him that pleasure as she took his memories away.

Rick spared a glance when he smelled blood, then went back to his work, nodding absently when Hal murmured to him that it was done. Several hours later, he sat back and groaned, smiling when Hal rubbed his shoulders. "That looks like itís all of it; I give him credit, the boy was good."

"Donít get too interested in the boy," Hal murmured jealously, fingers tightening momentarily on Rickís shoulders.

"I hope youíre right. I donít want to have to mess with his head a second time," Casey said, glancing toward the bedroom where both Josh and his friend Jon, who had finally shown up with the coffee, rested asleep, neither of them having any memory of the vampires.

Rick chuckled and turned his head to kiss Halís hand. "Only one boy Iím interested in and you know it, baby. Iíll make a few changes in my worm, and that should keep Caseyís boyfriendís sniffer from finding it again if he decides to go looking around where he shouldnít be."

"Heís not my boyfriend!" Casey growled.

"Ooo, touchy, touchy!"

"Smart ass." She glared at him. "Can we get out of here now? Kel had the right idea when he left. I still donít think you needed me to stay here till you were done."

"Why? You have a hot date or something?"

"I could have found one!"

"I dunno, you looked sweet sitting there with his head in your lap..."

She bared her fangs at him. "Keep it up and youíll see just how sweet I am."

Rick chuckled and slid an arm around Halís waist. "Weíre out of here. Lock up behind us, then come out the easy way, okay?"

She saluted himówith one finger. "Oh go home and try not to break any furniture. Remember the kidís breakable." She ignored Halís glare. "I know how to leave."

Sweeping Hal toward the door, Rick hustled him into the hall before calling back over his shoulder, "And be sure you check on your boyfriend before you go!"

Rubbing his forehead, Josh King looked up from the lines of code he was debugging, noticing absently that it was eight in the morning and that he probably should get some sleep as heíd been up all nightóagain. Of course sleep in and of itself had become a strange experience the past few months, plagued by strange dreams that were part nightmare, part erotic fantasy.

It didnít help that his knee still wasnít one hundred percent, so he couldnít practice tai kwan do as he usually did, something that made both his body and mind feel sluggish. "Maybe thatís where the weird dreams are coming from," he muttered, pushing back from his desk and hobbling to the fridge in search of some orange juice. Of course, there wasnít any, so he grumbled and pulled on a sweatshirt and jacket against the chill early spring air before heading out to the small corner grocery store to get some.

Watching him from an alley across the street, Casey finally made a decision and followed him to the store. Sheíd been intrigued by him and surprised by how much heíd changed from the Ďninety-eight-pound weaklingí she remembered, and she wanted to find out if he remained interesting on closer inspection.

She glanced down at the black leather mini-dress she was still wearing from last nightís clubbing, realizing it was a bit much for early morning in a residential neighborhood, but she shrugged and went into the store anyway, not letting a little thing like that stop her.

Casey sauntered down the aisle directly toward the cooler filled with milk, juices, and other cold drinks, remembering how thirsty she used to get after a night dancing. And there he was. She bit back the sultry smile that wanted to curve her lips as she stared at him, pretending confusion.

"Donít I know you? Josh, right?"

Looking over from the juice selections, Josh frowned as he experienced what could only be termed deja vu when he saw the gorgeous redhead standing there. Nodding, he managed to keep from giving her a once-over even though she certainly merited one. "Yes, and I hate to say it, but I donít know who you are, though you look familiar... I just canít place the face."

"Well, it has been about eight years. Carly and I looked a little different back then." She grinned. "And you probably tried to forget about me."

He looked closer at her, frowning slightly. "Carly... Hang on, are you telling me youíre Casey? The two of you just vanished one day! I missed her," he added, before clearing his throat, feeling self-conscious. "So, howís she doing?"

"Well, I suppose you get points for honesty. Weíre both doing fine, thanks. Now. She just got married a couple of months ago; she and her husband split their time between here and Texas." Casey leaned against a shelf, not hiding the appreciative once-over she gave him.

"Youíve certainly changed," she said, licking her lips.

"And you still say exactly what youíre thinking," he returned. "Iím actually amazed you even remembered my name; you certainly never could before. It was always, ĎHey, geek, get away from my sister!í"

Casey shrugged. "We had enough problems without being unpopular too. And I usually do say what Iím thinking. It saves a lot of wasted time." She ignored the comment about remembering his name since she wasnít about to explain that sheíd been reminded of it fairly recently.

"I suppose thatís true, if not tactful," he allowed, taking a half-gallon of orange juice from the cooler. "Did you need anything in there?"

She reached in for a bottle of water. "Dancingís thirsty work. Thisíll keep me going till I can get a cup of coffee and some breakfast." She eyed him again.

Giving in to the all too obvious hint, Josh chuckled. "Well, if youíd like some coffee, I can offer you that; I just live down the block from here." As they walked up to the counter to pay, he shrugged out of his coat. "And here, that dress looks amazing, but it canít be keeping you warm."

She smiled as she pulled it around her shoulders. "Thanks. I hadnít even noticed, but youíre right." She paid for her water and waited for him, then left the store walking companionably at his side. "So what do you do now?" she asked curiously. She knew he worked with computers but not what he did or why.

"Iím working on my masters at MITócomputer science," he answered, giving a rueful smile. "You can take the boy out of the geek and all that. In my free time I compete in martial arts tournaments; thatís how I wrecked my knee, tore the ACL a few months ago."

"Tore the what?" she said blankly even as she wondered what on earth heíd been looking for when he hacked Rickís system.

"The ACLóanterior cruciate ligamentóthe one that keeps your knee stable." He chuckled and looked over and up at her. "So I take it you arenít in med school then."

Casey just looked at him. "I spent five years on the streets clawing and scratching to stay alive. Right now Iím just enjoying having a roof over my head and not having to worry about where my next meal is coming from. Iíll probably decide to go to school eventually, but right now I like being able to just relax and have fun."

"Oh." Josh seemed at a loss as to what to say after that, and he fumbled for the keys to unlock the outer door to his building. "Are you going to ream me a new one if I say Iím sorry you and Carly had to go through that?"

"Iím not that bad. No, Iíll thank you for the thought. Coulda been a lot worse than it was," she shrugged. "Fortunately, I happen to like sex, and Iíve always been big on safety, so no big. I was even sorta engaged for a while after we got off the streets, but it didnít work out." She smiled crookedly. "He was too nice for me."

Deciding he really needed to change the subject before he swallowed any more of his foot, Josh managed a nod. "So, you said Carly got married? Is he a nice guy too?"

Casey chuckled. "JTís a real live Southern gentleman. He kept calling her Miss Carly and maíam till I wasnít sure if she was going to marry him or kill him. But he really loves her, and she loves him. But it still feels weird not having her here all the time."

"I can imagine." Josh led Casey up the stairs and unlocked his door, holding it open for her. "Sit down if you want; Iíll get the coffee going. Sorry about the mess, Iíve been working a lot lately."

"You should see my room, that is if you could find it under all the mess." Casey sat down on the sofa, looking around curiously. "Looks like you spend a lot of time here."

"Crutches plus snow and ice arenít a good combination," Josh called from the small kitchen. "Iíve been working on my dissertation, but Iím not getting anywhere."

"Whatís your topic?" Casey replied curiously, getting up to explore the apartment.

"Iím working on anti-hacking measures, but my big test bombed massively, so Iím back to square one."

Caseyís eyes widened as she realized what he was referring to. "Oh fuck," she breathed. "Shouldnít you try again?" she asked faintly. "I mean, donít results sometimes get skewed so you need to run a test more than once?"

Josh shrugged as he came out of the kitchen and leaned against the doorway, watching Casey prowl around his apartment. "No point; I sent in hacking probes to the target running my program, and it didnít even pick them up. So, like I said, back to square one." He chuckled ruefully. "Good thing I donít have a life."

She stared at him in dismay. Theyíd never thought that his hacking might have so innocentóand importantóa reason, and theyíd screwed up his life and his education. "Maybe... maybe the person you hacked spotted it and blocked it?" she suggested weakly.

"Itís a nice thought, but even if that happened, there would have been a record of the hit on Matilda over there." He gestured toward the array of computers in the corner of the room. "No hits equals I messed up somewhere; it happens to everyone."

She groaned, slowly sliding down the wall to sit on the floor, knees pulled up to her chest, indifferent to the view she was providing in the mini-dress. "Not necessarily," she muttered.

Coughing, he looked anywhere but up her dress, feeling very warm all of a sudden. "Thanks for the vote of confidence, but it didnít work. Hell, even Steve Jobs fucked up a program once in a while."

Casey chewed her lip, trying to figure out what to do. "Is it going to take long to start over?"

Wondering just why she cared, Josh ran a hand through his dark hair. "Yeah, this was three yearsí work; thatís the problem with these programs, they work in all the trials then boomócrash and burn.

"Anyway, itís only time; Iíll figure it out eventually."

"Three years?" Casey let out a heartfelt groan and thumped her head against the wall a couple of times. "Shit, shit, shit!" She stared at him and realized that she couldnít let him waste that much of his life and throw out something that had worked to start all over from scratch.

"Actually, uh, it didnít. Crash and burn, that is."

"I think itís time for some coffee; youíre dreaming." Josh vanished into the kitchen again and poured them both mugs. "Milk or sugar?"

"Okay, I did this; I can undo it." Casey pushed to her feet and followed him into the kitchen. "Okay, try to remember, Josh. A horde of people bursting into your place, you threatening to hurt me," she grinned at that, "vampires."

He stared at her over the coffee. "Uh huh, hordes of people and vampires? How about I give you this coffee to go, call you a cab and ask you to give me Carlyís e-mail or phone number on your way out?"

She sighed. "Am I going to have to bite you again?"

"Now itís really time for you to go."

"Oh, for crying out loud, Iím trying to fix what we messed up, so stop being so damned antsy! Just listen to me. Kel remembered once something triggered it, so having me here again should do it for you when Iím telling you what happened."

"All youíre telling me is that you havenít changed a bit since school," Josh snapped, turning and glaring at her. "Yeah, itís a blast to make fun of the geek, I know, but the geekís had enough."

Casey let out a growl and just like the last time, moved faster than the human eye could follow. One moment she was standing across the room, the next she was behind Josh, holding him still, her tongue licking the side of his neck over his jugular.

Josh froze, overwhelmed by conflicting memories that poured over him. "Oh my... you were here before, and those guys you brought trashed my program."

"Now youíre getting it," she murmured in his ear. "You picked the wrong people to hack, and we had no idea why you did it. Guess we should have asked. But when you told me what it meant to you..." She let go of him and backed up a step. "I couldnít leave it like that."

He spun and swayed, momentarily off balance, and stared at her. "So now you leave me with remembering that my fucking program worked and I trashed it because you did whatever the fuck it was to my head because I caught you where you werenít supposed to be?"

"You trashed it?" Her eyes widened again. "You donít still have it... backed up or something?"

Joshís face was expressionless. "I was a little upset when it failed. I have earlier copies somewhere, I think."

"I... Rick might be able to help. He was impressed," she said helplessly. "And it wasnít because we were somewhere we werenít supposed to be. You hacked into our identities. You could have exposed who we really are, the older ones, that is. We thought you were a vampire hunter."

"So it was easier to erase me than to find out anything about me."

She flushed with embarrassment. "Rick wanted to. Hell, all of the old ones and even some of the other new ones did. But... Oh fuck, itís my fault, okay? I go off the deep end when I think people I care about are in danger, and I jumped the gun, and they didnít have any choice after that."

"Noble reasons and all that, fuck them before they fuck you," Josh muttered.

Casey stared at him. "It kept us alive, all of us, when other kids ended up in dumpsters."

"Well, good for you." He went back into the kitchen and poured the coffee down the sink.

She winced at the sound of the splash. "Iím sorry," she whispered, something sheíd said a bare handful of times in her life.

Josh sighed, looking back over his shoulder at her. "So why did you come up to me today?"

"Because I havenít been able to stop thinking about you... and not just because youíre hotter than hell."

"Feeling guilty or just sympathetic?"

"Umm, well, neither actually till you told me what youíd lost," she admitted. "Intrigued. I liked what I saw when we were here, the way you refused to give up and were ready to fight us all."

Josh leaned against the counter, staring at Casey. "So you came back to get to know me better?"

She shrugged and nodded. "Sex figured in there somewhere too."

"Oh, so you wanted to fuck me, great..."

"You didnít seem to mind that so much half an hour ago."

He looked at her incredulously. "You think I invited you up here to fuck you?"

"No, I think you invited me up here because I made it obvious I wanted to fuck you, and you hadnít decided yet if you were going to let me seduce you today."

Josh sighed. "Okay, I wonít say it didnít feel good to have you look at me that way, but honestly, the main reason I asked you up was to get Carlyís number. Now... So, are you going to tell your crew I remember?"

"Of course. And Iíll sit through all the I-told-you-soís," she sighed. "But if youíre going to recreate your test, you may want to try a different target. Rick beefed up the security. It is peopleís lives weíre talking about here."

"No matter what you think, I didnít target your friend or any of you; my program followed taps back to their point of origination; I hadnít even pulled the information from it yet."

She groaned again. "I think Rick did mention something about that being a possibility. I thought he was just wasting time." She couldnít look Josh in the face.

"So, youíre really... vampires?" he asked, frowning.

"Yup, fangs, drinking blood, immortal. Vampires."

"That mean you donít sleep a lot?"

"Hardly ever. Just when we want to relax. Itís kinda like bio-feedback for vampires."

Josh slowly smiled. "Good, then you and your friends wonít have a problem helping me recreate my work."

She winced, imagining Rickís reaction. "The least we can do," she sighed, knowing she was going to hear about this until she wanted to kill someone.

"Cool, so why donít you give them a call, and then we can get to work; Iíll start to look for my printouts and CDs."

"So much for sex," she grumbled. "Hell, Iím going to have to pay for it at this rate!"

Josh snorted. "Poor baby, and if one of your friends wants to oblige you, you arenít going near my bed."

Casey rolled her eyes. "Most of them are so possessive itís not funny. Hal would flip if anyone looked at Rick. Some of the others donít mind an occasional playmate, but Iíve never liked being a fifth wheel, ya know?"

"I thought you said you were engaged?"

"No, I said I had been, and it didnít work out. Carly was right; I just said yes because he was safe, not because I wanted to spend forever with him. Once I realized that..." She shrugged.

"Back to being a fifth wheel?" As he spoke, Josh sat down and set a large pile of papers on the table in front of him. When Casey didnít join him, he looked up at her. "Well, going to join me?"

"Uh, lemme call Rick. I just answer the phones for him when Carlyís away. I know shit about computers."

"Iíd rather not have the whole vamp squad here right now; guess Iím a little twitchy."

"Well, Rickís the one who can help. Best I can offer is to keep the coffee coming. And can I have a cup now?" she asked plaintively.

"Sure, go ahead." Josh was already digging through his printouts, searching for relevant data.

Sighing, Casey went into the kitchen, where she called Rick on her cell phone and explained the situation to him, adding that Josh wasnít ready to deal with any of the others yet.

"Huh? What time is it?" Josh mumbled, wincing when he lifted his head from the keyboard, realizing heíd fallen asleep there.

Casey lowered the book sheíd been reading and peered over at him. "Almost noon. Good thing you have some good books."

"Whatíre you reading?" he asked, sitting up and yawning.

"Time Enough for Love," Casey replied. "Itís always been my favorite book, ever since I first read it when I was thirteen."

He smiled. "Funny, I canít picture you as reading anything but Teen Beat back then."

She laughed. "I read that to know what the other fluff heads were talking about. I read Heinlein and Cherryh and Bradley because I loved them. Even on the streets, I picked up books whenever I could. It was great when I could get at the garbage from a bookstore after they stripped the paperbacks."

"A woman after my own reading tastes, but you donít have to stay here, you knowówhatís it been? A week? Donít you have to go hunt or eat or something?"

"Well, first of all, I figure I sort of owe you. And secondly, Iím not moving till you finish with that so I can get your attention long enough to seduce you."

He looked a little more awake at that. "I didnít realize you were still trying to do that."

She gaped at him. "One of us has a serious problem then."

"Well, I have been a little distracted, and then there was the whole making me lose my memory thing."

"Okay, let me put this in a way you can understand. I want you. I want us to fuck until we break that bed and push the debris out of our way to keep going. I want you to fuck me till neither of us can walk."

"Oh." Josh scrubbed at his face and stood. "Be right back." Saying that, he walked into the bathroom and shut the door.

"What the fuck?" Casey stared at the closed door in disbelief.

Taking five minutes to wash his face and brush his teeth, Josh came back out, feeling much more awake. "So about what you just suggested..."

"You mean I actually dragged your attention away from your computer?" Coppery eyebrows shot up, and Casey rose to her feet in a single catlike movement.

"I even brushed my teeth and gargled," he said wryly.

"Oh, canít waste that." Casey pulled her halter-top over her head and unzipped her skirt, letting it fall to the floor where she stepped out of it.

"Holy shit..." Josh murmured when Casey was suddenly standing naked before him. "So is this a you-want-to-be-in-charge thing because if you do, I think Iím okay with that."

"How Ďbout we try it both ways and see which we like better?" Casey purred, pacing toward him.

"That I know Iím okay with," he rasped, pulling off his own shirt and tossing it away before realizing his sweats were going to prove difficult unless he got his knee brace off first.

She grinned as she reached out to run a hand down his bare chest. "Mmm, whatever youíve been doing, keep it up. Youíre gorgeous."

Raising a hand to trail his fingers through her hair, Josh gave a breathless chuckle. "And I guess could say being dead agrees with you."

"At least you didnít say it becomes me." Casey laughed as she moved closer, rocking against him. Josh groaned and tangled his hand in her hair, pulling her down for a kiss to keep her quiet.

Casey groaned into the kiss, arms wrapping around his neck and pulling him closer. "We need to move this to the bed or couch or table or floor," she panted. "I donít want to hurt your knee."

"Iím betting the bed would be best, and Iím hoping you donít mind being on top; less chance of me having to stop because something turned the wrong way." Josh stepped back, trailing his hands down Caseyís arms to catch her hands and lead her toward the bedroom.

"Do I mind riding a gorgeous guy? Hmm, let me think about it." She rolled her eyes. "Idiot. What do you think?"

He chuckled. "Well, unlike others, I donít assume anything."

"Iím never going to live that down, am I?" she sighed. "However, when a woman is naked and trying to climb up you, itís a fairly safe bet that sheís not going to say no."

Josh got them into his bedroom and backed toward the bed, having to let go of Caseyís hands so that he could sit down without falling over. "Iíll just keep that in mind the next time a gorgeous woman is naked and trying to climb up me."

"Gorgeous, huh?" She knelt on the edge of the bed, straddling his lap, only the thin cotton of his sweats between them. "The clothes have really got to go," she panted.

"Gotta get the torture device off first," he groaned, feeling her heat and wetness soaking through his pants. "And yes, gorgeous, as if you didnít know that already."

"Itís still nice to hear from a man whoís been ignoring me for weeks." She twisted to the side and slid down to the floor, reaching for the brace to help him remove it.

Josh gave a weak laugh as their fingers bumped and slid together, working the heavy Velcro straps. "Ignoring, yeah, right."

"Sure seemed that way to me." Since she was on her knees in front of him, Casey leaned forward and mouthed him through the soft cotton.

"Oh God..." he groaned, his hip and leg muscles tightening. "And later, ask me how often I beat off when you were gone."

"What a waste. Iíll have to make sure you donít have the energy to do that any more." Casey nuzzled him, nibbling gently, tasting him through the worn fabric.

"Good thing I found those back up drives so I donít have to start from scratch again because I have the feeling Iím going to be too tired to do anything else for a while."

"I certainly hope so." She smiled up at him, her hands resting on his thighs. "But if not, Iíll just have to try harder."

He gave a pained chuckle. "I think if things get any harder, Iím going to have an aneurysm."

Casey snickered. "Seems just about right to me," she decided after rubbing her cheek against him.

"Keep that up and it wonít be for much longer."

"Oh, we canít have that. I have plans for this." She petted him lazily before her hands rose to his waist and gripped the top of his sweats, slowly tugging them downward.

Josh groaned, sitting up enough to reach for Casey, pulling her in for a kiss even as he felt her body slide over his now bare flesh to settle on top of him.

She moaned into his mouth, rocking against him, teasing them both with the merest hint of contact as she knelt over him.

Getting a hand between them, Josh slid a finger against Caseyís wet slit, rubbing her clit and swallowing her cry, needing her to feel as out of control as he did.

Caseyís arms went around his neck as her back arched, and she clung to him, moaning as he drove her crazy. Tremors of pleasure rippled through her, and she started to sink down, unable to hold herself above him any longer when what she really wanted was Josh inside her.

"Doóis biting part of this?" Josh rasped, moving his hand to his cock and steadying it as Casey sank down onto it, encasing him in wet heat.

"Not if you donít want it to be, but believe me, it feels incredible." Casey shivered, remembering the first time sheíd experienced it, and moaned as she felt Josh fill her.

He swallowed and bucked upward as Casey took him in completely, his eyes locked on hers the whole while. "Asóoh fuckó" his hands closed on her hips as they moved together. "Bite away as long as itís not going to kill me."

"Only with pleasure," she whispered huskily, licking his throat but not biting yet, teasing herself with the promise of what was to come while the pleasure mounted in each of them, their bodies moving in perfect counterpoint.

"R-rather not die just yet, thanks," he gasped, sliding his hands up to cup her breasts, rubbing his thumb over her nipples.

"Good Ďcause weíre just getting started." Casey groaned and thrust her chest forward, breasts filling his palms. "Oh fuck, even better than I thought!"

He nodded and sat up enough to suckle at her breast, on the edge of orgasm but striving not to fall.

Casey panted, pressing closer as her hips sped up, and she nuzzled against his throat, licking again and then biting down.

Josh gave a strangled cry when he felt the fangs pierce his skin, and he bucked up under Casey, barely noticing the twinge his leg gave. He managed a few more thrusts as she sucked on his neck, then he was coming harder than heíd ever dreamed.

Casey reached for his mind, feeling Joshís pleasure and letting it carry her to climax as well, his blood in her mouth making her shudder with pleasure. After a moment, as the spasms ebbed, she forced herself to stop and licked the marks, healing them.

Looking up at her with dazed eyes, Josh smiled blearily. "Casey, that was... wow."

Casey grinned at him, bit her lip, and had to say it. "I told you so."

"So is that why you... you know, got changed?"

"No, I did that because half my family already had, and I wanted us to stay together. Even managed to convince myself I was in love with one of the vamps who hung around a lot, but I wasnít. He kept trying to Ďimproveí me." She made a face.

"Was he the one who, you know, changed you?"

Casey shook her head. "No, I asked him to, but he was being all gentlemanly and trying to save me from myself, so one night I got really pissed off and asked Marc to do it. Marcís Angelís mate and was the one to help him and teach him about being a vamp after he was attacked and turned. I couldíve asked Derek or Xio, theyíre older, but well, I like Marc, and one night I was in bed with him and Angel and Kitten, and well..." she shrugged. "Kittenís majorly pissed that he wouldnít turn her too, but she really is still too young."

Casey had lost him somewhere along the way with all the names she spouted off, so Josh just nodded, looking dazed.

Recognizing the glazed expression, Casey chuckled. "If youíre going to stick around, youíll get to know them all. As for the other..." she shrugged. "I donít think Iíll run into him too often. He wasnít too happy with me when he left, especially that Iíd had Marc turn me. Coulda been worse though; I might have actually married him." She stretched out on top of him, shifting till she was comfortable, long red curls covering his shoulder and falling to the bed beside him.

"Which would definitely have nixed any of this happening," Josh chuckled, stroking a hand over her back. "And not that I guess Rick isnít hot if you like guys, but thereís no chance heíd be here with me now."

"Even less than you think," Casey snickered. "Hal does everything but pee on him to stake his claim.

"And for the record Iím glad Iím here." She tilted her head to look up at him.

"Quite a change from junior high," he murmured. "And after hearing that, I donít think Iíll ever be able to look Hal or Rick in the eye again."

"You donít need to tell Rick I said that," Casey said hastily, easily able to imagine his reactionóand revenge. "I think weíve both changed a lot since junior high," she added, raising her head to run admiring eyes over him.

"Some of us more than others," he murmured, grinning.

"And very nicely too," she replied, running a caressing hand over his chest. She chuckled suddenly. "Youíre going to have fun shocking everyone the first time you go to a high school reunion."

"If I go. Honestly, aside from a few people I still see anyway, I didnít like anyone there much."

"Hmmm. Others may have changed too, you know," Casey pointed out. "But since this bed really isnít big enough for anyone else, maybe you should stay away after all." She eyed him. "Assuming Iíll be invited back, of course."

He frowned. "Why do you think you wouldnít be?"

"Just trying not to make assumptions. I know I wasnít very nice to you when we were kids. And this could have been a one-shot deal for you," Casey said with a slight shrug. "Itís not like we made any promises. Iíd like it to be more though. I like you."

"Like you said, Iím not the only one who changed." Josh stroked a hand over Caseyís back, staying silent for a moment. "Iím still not thrilled with what you did to me, but I can understand why, and the fact that youíre trying to help means a lot. Yeah, I didnít like you before, but thatís changed, and Iím willing to see where this goes if you want to give it a try."

"I think Iíd like that," she replied, nails idly tracing patterns on his chest. "I never expected you," she said, half to herself.

He smiled. "See what happens when you break into peopleís homes and mess with their minds?"

"Technically, I didnít break in, you know. You opened the door. And I have to admit I nearly drooled when you did."

"And you had no idea who I was."

"I knew your name started with a J," she offered a bit sheepishly.

"A one out of twenty-six chance."

"At least I remembered that much," she retorted, getting a bit defensive but too comfortable to react as much as she normally would have.

"True," he chuckled. "Better that than what you called me in school."

She groaned. "Iím never going to live that down, am I? Iíll just have to work on making you forget... It would be much easier if I could do just that, but I have a feeling youíd kill me."

"Probably," he admitted. "But itís the past; Iíd rather deal with the present."

"I can do present." Casey raised her head to kiss him lightly. "I like the present."

Josh smiled. "Me too."

"Have you ever thought about living with someone?" Casey asked out of the blue one afternoon. It had been a quiet day with Josh working on his program and her reading a book until sheíd started to think. And being Casey, once she thought of something, she had to act on it.

"Hmm?" he asked, looking up, then processing the question sheíd asked. "Well, that depends on which someone you mean. If itís Rick and his psycho boyfriend, no, but if itís you..."

"I didnít really think Rick and Hal were your type, fool." Casey shook her head at him. "Of course I meant me!"

"Not in the least, gay on top of geeky would just have been too much a cliche, donít you think?"

Casey groaned. "Would you forget Rick and Hal already? I just asked you if you wanted to live together, and youíre rambling about two guys!"

Josh quirked an eyebrow at her. "Iíd have thought the answer was pretty obvious; what do you think weíve been doing the past month anyway?"

"Oh. Well, I have been going back to Kel and Xioís place..." She trailed off as she tried to remember the last time sheíd done that and couldnít. "Or maybe not. So, uh, youíre okay with me officially moving in?"

"To quote the ROG, Ďmi casa es su casaí."

"The rug?" Casey eyed him oddly. "Your floor coverings talk to you?"

Josh groaned. "The R-O-GóMethos? Ever seen Highlander??"

"Sure, the same time you did, when they took a bunch of us to see a movie. I remember Connor MacLeod and Sean Connery looking really hot. No Methos though."

"Movie... Well then, if youíve never seen the TV show, Iím going to have to plan a viewing marathon for the two of us, and so you know, Methos is the oldest of the Immortals, as in 5000 or so."

"Like Tarik, huh?" Casey laughed before remembering that Josh hadnít met him yet. "Oh, youíll probably run into him eventually. Tarikís about five or six thousand years old, I forget which. Looks about sixteen though, which pisses him off in clubs," she snickered. "And of course, Derek and Anne are about three thousand, and Xioís about two. Lots of oldsters around here."

Joshís jaw dropped, and he stared at Casey. "Thousands of years old? Fuck."

"Yeah, they do a lot of that." Casey grinned at his expression. "Didnít you realize that except for the few of us who were together on the streets, all the others are older, some a lot older? Here, Iíll freak you out even more. Rick, the guy you like to drive nuts, and his brother Ned are the Princes in the Tower, you know, the ones Richard the something locked up to be king way back when? Weíre not kidding when we call Ned his majesty. And Marcóyouíve met him, havenít you? Angelís guy? Well, heís a bastard son of that French king they called the Sun King." She started laughing at the look on Joshís face.

"I feel like Iím in a walking history book," Josh muttered, glad that he hadnít known all this before heíd met some of the vampires in question.

Casey shrugged. "Theyíre still the same people youíve gotten to know. They just have rather longer lives than you realized. Which explains some of their attitudes. And really, I doubt youíre going to stop needling Rick because of it, are you?"

"Hardly," he smiled. "I have the feeling he walks all over anyone who doesnít give it right back to him, and since we just agreed weíre living together, why are you sitting way over there?"

"Because you were working and I was trying not to distract you." She tossed her book aside and crawled along the couch toward him.

"Casey Benedict behaving: who would believe it?" he chuckled, gathering her into his lap once she left the couch and moved over by his computer chair.

Straddling him comfortably, she smirked and rocked her hips slightly. "I have my moments. Just donít expect them very often."

"Now thereís a shock," Josh chuckled, circling her waist with his hands.

"Very funny." She let her nails bite slightly into Joshís shoulders. "So does this mean youíre finished working for now?"

"If I wasnít, I would be now. No way I can concentrate on anything except you."

"Oh, good answer," she praised, her lips brushing his as she leaned toward him while speaking, then covered his mouth in a deep kiss.

He chuckled as they kissed, holding her close, loving the feel of her in his lap and the way she wrapped herself around him.

"I hope this chair doesnít tilt back, or weíre going to be in trouble," Casey chuckled.

Josh pushed a foot against the floor, rolling the chair back against his desk. "There, no tumbling us anywhere."

"Oh good. We need to be careful since youíre breakable," Casey murmured against his throat as she licked it.

Josh grew serious for a moment, before smiling. "Only one part of me, Casey."

She placed a hand on his chest. "I would have said that thereís only part of you that will never be hurt."

Not wanting to pressure her, he grinned. "The one youíre sitting on?"

"Okay, two parts. The two best parts," she decided, "though that brilliant mind of yours is a close second." She wished Carly were there to talk toóphone calls just werenít the sameóbecause she wanted to ask her twin how sheíd known for sure JT was the one for her. Sheíd never felt like this with anyone before, and she was desperately afraid of screwing it up and driving Josh away.

He paused and looked at her closely. "Youíre serious, arenít you?"

"You think I ask a lot of guys if they want to live together? Of course Iím serious. Forever kind of serious."

"I like the sound of that." He raised a hand and stroked her long red hair, tangling the curls around his fingers. "I may have hated you in school, but I think Iím falling in love with you, Casey."

She stared at him, wide-eyed. "I... Iíve never been in love before, so Iím not sure what it feels like, but, well, I like being with you. I miss you when weíre not together. I think I love you too."

"Good." Josh leaned in and kissed Casey gently, not allowing her to deepen the touch, this once, wanting to romance her.

When Josh drew back, Casey stared at him searchingly, her green eyes wide. "I donít want to lose you, Josh," she whispered.

He frowned slightly. "Why do you think you would?"

"Youíre mortal, Josh. Human. Someday you will die, from age if nothing else happens first." She shut her eyes as if to close out the idea.

"And you wonít," he said after a long silence.

"And I wonít." She looked at him searchingly. "Have you ever thought about...?"

He shook his head. "Donít ask, Casey, not now, okay?"

She nodded slowly. "Not now then," she agreed. "But I will ask eventually, Josh. I do not want to lose you now that Iíve found you."

"Well, as long as no more pissed off vamps come banging on my door, I should be okay."

Knowing that Josh wasnít ready to consider the other option, Casey didnít push the issue, but she promised herself to keep a close eye on him. No random traffic accident or mugger was going to take him from her if she could prevent it.

"No more pissed off vamps," she promised, brushing her lips lightly over his. "And you realize, of course, now that youíre officially my boyfriend, itís your duty to help me pack and move my stuff."

Josh groaned at that. "And just how much Ďstuffí is that?"

Casey smiled sweetly. "Well, Iíve been living with Xio for about a year or so, and heís richer than God and let me use his money to shop."

"Good God, thereíll be no room for us!"

Bursting into laughter, Casey slumped in his lap, shaking with her mirth. "Iím not that bad," she gasped out a little later. "Besides, my clothes donít take up much room; theyíre all pretty small."

Josh nodded in appreciation. "Yeah, I kind of noticed that."

Casey grinned. "Which is why they keep getting smaller."

"Any smaller and you may get arrested, babe."

"Iíll keep the smaller stuff for when weíre alone at home."

"I prefer nothing at all for then," Josh grinned.

"And here I thought you liked the unwrapping." Casey smiled wickedly as she squirmed in his lap and lightly ran her nails over his chest.

Josh groaned and moved his hands to her hips, holding her in place. "I do, but I like what I find at the end even better."

"Good answer." She exerted her strength enough to move again, now rocking against him and smiling as she felt him rouse to her. "Feel free to unwrap me any time you like."

"Oh, I plan on it, but not here in the chair. Letís go to bed, Casey; I want to touch you all over."

She shivered with pleasure, the green eyes darkening with arousal. "Good plan," she said in a low, sensuous purr. "But you have to let me go if you want me to stand up," she pointed out with a wicked chuckle.

"You sure about that?" Josh asked, tightening his arms around her waist and carefully standing, gauging his kneeís strength, then grinning when it held. "I may not be huge or a vamp, but I can carry you." Proving this point and helped by the way Casey wound herself around him, Josh started toward the bedroom.

"Mm, my hero," she murmured, ducking her head to nip gently at the side of his throat.

He chuckled and tightened his hands on her ass, squeezing the firm globes as he walked into the bedroom and carried her over to the bed. "I do try, and next time you can carry me." Grinning as he said this, Josh carefully laid Casey back down on the bed and stretched out beside her.

"Donít say that to anyone else, or theyíll want pictures!" Casey laughed, shifting with sensual delight against the soft comforter. She rolled toward him, her tiny skirt riding even higher as she hooked a knee over his hip, pressing against him.

Josh sighed, pretending to be disgusted. "Casey, I love you, but you have a very strange family." He grinned after that, and pulled her in for a kiss, his hands roaming over her bodyóover her clothes for now.

More interested in what Josh was doing than in talking, Casey abandoned the conversation in favor of dragging her fangs over his throat, not biting yet, but letting him feel her hunger for him.

"Mmmm," he moaned, cupping her ass with one hand and rubbing her against him.

She raised her leg higher, pressing harder against him, already wet for him. "Want you in me," she rasped. "Want to drink from you while you fuck me."

Josh shuddered and rolled them both over so that he was on top of Casey. Rearing up on his knees, he shoved her short mini-skirt up to her waist with one hand and his sweats down with the other then thrust into her wet heat, groaning at the sensation as they began to move together.

Casey cried out at the sudden entry, her body clenching around him, and she arched up to meet him. "Love you," she gasped an instant before her fangs sank into his throat.

"Ditto," Josh gasped, trying to hold his head still as he thrust into her, knowing he wasnít going to last long, Casey felt too damn good to even consider it.

Casey could feel how close Josh was, and she swallowed hungrily as her body spasmed, the first shock of pleasure washing over her. She reached down, fingertips lightly flicking his balls as they slammed together.

Josh groaned, his back arching as he pounded into Caseyís pliant body, her orgasm triggering his own as her tight sheath rippled around him.

"Josh!" Casey wailed his name, only slightly muffled by his neck, writhing beneath him as they came virtually together. The heat of his seed filled her, making her cry out again, her legs tightening almost painfully around his waist.

"Mmm," Josh murmured some time later when heíd recovered and pushed up on his elbows to smile down at Casey. "You rock my world, Casey Benedict."

She returned the smile, one hand rising to brush his hair back and remaining cupped over his cheek. "Likewise, Josh King. Weíre going to have fun together."


  Since 10-29-06



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