His whisper was against the soft swell of her breast, right over her heart. He felt her heart jump and then begin to pound. His hand drifted down her body to slide between her legs. She was damp for him, her arousal evident, but as his fingers skimmed over her panties, her heart accelerated and he felt her force herself to stand still for him. He hesitated, his teeth already lengthened, the taste of her bursting through his mouth. He didn't want her afraid. And she had to be certain.

Once I claim you as mine, there is no going back.

She drew a breath. He felt it in his own lungs. She caught his face in her hands and looked him straight in the eye. Stay with me.

She was afraid, but determined. He wasn't about to be a saint and turn away what she was offering. Life. Emotion. Color. Something for himself. Something all his.

He bent his head and ran his tongue over her frantically beating pulse. He felt the echo of that throbbing beat deep in his own veins, pulsing through his thick cock. His teeth rasped back and forth over her skin, his tongue easing the small sting. Each time his teeth bit gently, he felt the liquid heat dampen her panties in welcome.

"I will say words - powerful words that will unite us. Our souls will become one. I will take your blood and give you mine in a full exchange. This will not bring you fully into my world, but it is our second exchange and you will be more than halfway there. There will be - repercussions."

I don't understand.

"Unlike human marriages, ours are irreversible. Once the words are said, there is no retracting them." His mouth teased her pulse and moved to her nipple, suckling a little roughly, tugging with his teeth, once more moving his tongue in a velvet rasp to ease the ache. "You will always need me near you. I will always need you close to me. Our minds will forever seek to remain locked within the other's. I will never be able to let you be free. Nor will I be free. There will be no Zacarias without Marguarita. No Marguarita without Zacarias."

She took another deep breath, her fingers burrowing into the thick mass of his hair. She closed the strands in her fist and held tightly.

He took that for her assent. There would be no going back for either of them. She was giving him life when she gave herself into his keeping. He pulled strongly at her breast, allowing himself to get lost in the sensations of pure pleasure.

"Te avio p?l?fertiilam,"

he whispered against her pulse. "You are my lifemate." His body shuddered, the fiery streaks of need turning his groin into an inferno. He shed his clothes with a thought and drew her closer, removing the lacy scraps shielding her body from him in the same way. "ent?lam kuulua, avio p?l?fertiilam."

What does that mean?

His teeth nuzzled that pounding pulse. "I claim you as my lifemate." He kissed her soft skin along the curve of her breast and bit deep. Pain flashed through her. He pressed his hand between her legs, caressing with his knuckles, sending shivers of excitement coursing through her. The pain gave way to an erotic rush. She threw her head back and held him to her breast, her fist pulling at his hair.

The essence of her life poured into him, feeding his addiction. He craved that unique, sexy taste that was all Marguarita. All his. Only for him. Created for him.

He switched to the more intimate form of communication while he drank. Ted kuuluak, kacad, koje - I belong to you. He would always belong to her. He always had.

elidamet andam - I offer my life for you. Pes?met andam - I give you my protection. Uskolfertiilamet andam - I give you my allegiance.

Her blood flowed into him, rejuvenating every cell. Filling him - with her. He could feel the powerful ritual words doing their work, binding them together with millions of tiny, unbreakable threads.

Sivamet andam - I give you my heart. He did give her his heart such as it was. Shadowed. Damaged. But it was hers to keep for all time.

Sielamet andam - I give you my soul. His soul was in shreds. So many holes had pierced it. All those kills over the centuries. He had lived for them and each one had taken a toll on the soul he was giving to her.

Ainamet andam - I give you my body. His body craved every inch of her, and he could feel that same craving rushing through her for him. He felt it in her welcoming wetness as he pushed one finger into her, feeling her muscles clamp down on him, desperate to draw him inside of her.

Zacarias lifted his head and watched the ruby beads run down the slope of her breast before dipping his head and following the trail with his tongue. He used his saliva to close the puncture wounds before shifting her in his arms, lifting her and cradling her close to him. Very gently he carried her to the bed where he sat, holding her naked body in his lap.

She was beautiful. Her rounded breasts were streaked with marks from his hands and mouth. His. His mind couldn't believe that someone so much of the light could look at him with such smoldering desire. With such a need burning in her to be with him. A gift. His miracle.

"You will drink, Marguarita. I know it feels wrong to you, but this is our way. You've put yourself into my keeping." He drew a line over the pulse beating in his breast and pressed her mouth to him. "Trust in me now."

Marguarita tried. She moved her lips over the laceration, her tongue tentatively tasting him. He groaned, his erection pressing tightly against her bare buttocks. He had not expected the terrible raw demands of his body, the way she would get inside of him, all heat and fire, melting the ice in his veins, bringing back floods of memories, good and bad, bringing him fully to life. Bringing his body to such a fevered pitch of sheer need. He uttered a command to make it easier for her to accept his gift of immortality.

He whispered the next part of the ritual binding words into the cloud of her hair. "Sivamet kuuluak kaik ett? a ted . I take into my keeping the same that is yours."

Her body would always be in his keeping and he would spend his nights worshiping her in every way he could. He filled her mind with erotic images. His hands roamed over her, massaging her rounded bottom, sliding up the clean line of her back to the flair of her hips and her narrow, tucked-in waist.

One hand tugged and rolled her nipples to keep her stimulated while she drew the essence of his life into her body - while the very blood of the Carpathians claimed her for his own.

"Ainaak olenszal sivambin - your life will be cherished by me for all my time." Cherished. He knew the meaning of the word now, where he never had before. He would cherish her. Protect her. Keep her.

Marguarita was the meaning of life, his holy grail at the end of the centuries-old battle between good and evil. She was the reason. She was what he had been looking for all of his life and never once realizing it. " Te elidet ainaak pide minan - your life will be placed above my own for all time." He knew the moment he uttered the words that he meant them. Her life would always be put above his own. His woman. His personal miracle. A human woman who had found a drowning man and served herself up as a lifeboat.

"Te avio p?l?fertiilam - you are my lifemate . " Colors shimmered before his eyes, glittering and bright. Vivid, dizzying colors. For a moment his world tilted and then righted itself. Those colors pulsed and throbbed in his heavy erection, sending spirals of electrical currents charging through his body.

"Ainaak sivamet jutta oleny - you are bound to me for all eternity . " He had tried to save her, but it was far too late now. They were tied together soul to soul for all time. She would stay with him through both good and bad and he feared, for her, it would be far more difficult than she could ever imagine with her modern mind. She could not conceive of the kind of monster he truly was.