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“How long does it take to come to terms with being a vampire?” I asked softly.
“As long as it takes.” He cupped my cheek in his hand. “I will be here for you. Know that.”
I looked up at him then, at those eyes that had been by my side for millennia. I saw the same expression on his face that I’d seen in my dreams for months, that look of steadfast love that forever brought him to my side.
I stood on my tiptoes and kissed him. He tasted of snow, freshly shoveled after a snowstorm. His arms came around me, and I sank into the kiss. Being with him felt right, like an inevitable destiny. I never wanted to admit that to myself before. But Merrel, for all his flaws, understood me. He understood the dark side of me that had now bubbled to the surface, and he didn’t judge me for it. No matter what awful thing I did, Merrel would be beside me, now and forever more.
I pressed my ear to his chest while he held me. I listened to the undead heart beat in his chest. I listened until the sky lightened in the east. He picked me up and carried me to his rowhouse, and the shadows of the past swept over me.