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Coming To

“Please,” Liberty begged, trying to pry his hands away. “Please, don’t kill me.”

As the words registered in his mind Aric came back to himself.

Looking at what he’d done, at the damage he’d caused, he fell backwards.

Hearing her breathing slow, he returned to her side moving her hands out of the way, examining the torn skin on her neck.

Thinking quickly, he leaned over and licked at the wound, heartened to see them beginning to slowly heal.

It was a trick of vampire saliva that few humans knew about. Despite the fact that they needed human blood to survive, their spit caused their victims wounds to heal making them have to continue to rend the flesh to keep the blood flowing.

In this case, if he was fast enough, it would keep Liberty alive.

Finally the skin closed, leaving only a slight pinkness behind, but it did little to mitigate the fact that he’d nearly exsanguinated and strangled her to death at the same time.

Placing his ear to her chest, he was concerned by the slowness of her heartbeat and breathing.

Feeling the sunrise, he knew he couldn't leave her alone while he slept. Quickly he stripped her out of what was left of her clothes down to her underwear before slipping her into one of his own flannel night shirts.

Maneuvering her into a more comfortable position on his bed, he crawled in next to her, pulling her body against his own, his hand resting on her sternum so he could keep track of her heartbeat.

With his belly full and his heart empty Aric slipped off to sleep hoping he wouldn't wake up with another corpse in his arms.

Slipping into an uneasy sleep, Aric's dreams were haunted by visions of Angel dying in his arms, only to be replaced by Liberty cold and dead, her eyes staring accusingly up at him.

Waking with a start, he noticed the woman in his arms was struggling to escape his grasp.

"Hush," he soothed, sitting up on one elbow looking down at her.

"Please," she begged, her eyes searching his face, "no more."

"Liberty," Aric breathed, relieved. "How do you feel?"

"Thirsty," she said, a violent cough racking her body.

"Stay here," he said, "I'll get you some water."

Liberty simply nodded, confused by his gentleness. When she'd blacked out she thought she was dead only to wake up laying in Aric's bed wrapped protectively in his arms.

When Aric returned, he helped her sit up and watched over her like a mother hen while she drank.

Taking the first sip, she grimaced, her hand going to the deep bruising at her throat.

Waiting until she'd take a few more sips, he took the cup away and set it on the nightstand before returning to sit on the side of the bed, his eyes searching her face.

"Can I look?" he asked, indicating her throat.

Cautiously she tilted her head back, showing him the full extent of what he'd done.

Clear prints of his hand could be seen on the tender pale flesh, made brighter in contrast with her ebony hair.

Not knowing why, Aric leaned in and kissed every bruise on her throat, before his lips found hers.

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