Chapter Fourteen

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He expected to feel her breath tickling his skin, but of course she didn't breathe. The lemony fragrance of the soap they'd used earlier floated up, and he subtly inhaled it. Then Ysanne's lips touched his throat and he almost forgot how to breathe. Her lips were cool, soft, just like he'd imagined, but only for a moment and then she bit down, her fangs piercing his skin.

Edmond had thought it would hurt.

He had not imagined the sudden rush of warmth, the burst of pleasure at his core, the feeling like he was being filled up with light. A soft gasp escaped his lips, and his hand came up to clutch at her shoulder.

Never in his life had he felt anything like this.

His heart thumped, his breath rushed in and out of his lungs, his skin felt deliciously raw, like he was suddenly open to sensations that he'd almost forgotten existed. White lights sparked behind his eyes, and he shuddered against her.

He was on the verge of something he hadn't felt in a long time, something amazing, and then Ysanne pulled away from him, and that incredible feeling faded.

"Wait . . ." he mumbled, leaning towards her, wanting more, but Ysanne put both hands on his shoulders, holding him back.

"That's enough," she said.

Edmond put a hand up to his neck, touching the small puncture marks that Ysanne had left.

She guided his hands away, leaned in once more, and licked the small wounds. When Edmond touched them again, they were gone.

"Are you alright?" Ysanne asked, studying him.

Edmond nodded, unable to find words.

Lucy had given him pleasure before, in the ways that she would allow before their wedding, but it was different with Ysanne – more focused, less hesitant.

He couldn't wait to feel it again.

The next day, they finally planted Julien's apple tree.

Ysanne dug up the frozen earth with her bare hands, and Edmond winced as she scraped layers of skin from her fingertips, and drops of her blood speckled the ground, but Ysanne didn't seem to notice.

When the hole was deep enough, Ysanne lifted the little tree out of its pot and placed it in the ground.

Frankly, Edmond was surprised it had survived all these weeks, untended by the front door, but it was a hardy tree, and the fact that it had survived this far gave Edmond hope that it would survive for years to come, just as Ysanne wanted.

After she had patted the last of the disturbed earth back into place, burying the tree's roots, Ysanne sat back, her hands folded in her lap, her expression bleak.

They had lived together these long, cold weeks, and Edmond was sure that, right now, he knew Ysanne better than anyone else in the world, but they didn't touch often, unless it was necessary. But she had let him hold her hand last night. She had let him comfort her when she needed it.

He didn't decide to hug her.

It just . . . happened.

Ysanne stiffened against him, and he was sure that she would push him away, then a small tremble ran through her body and she sagged against him. She didn't hug him back, but she let him hold her, and that meant more to Edmond than he could say.

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