**This follows after The First Movement: Raenos's Regret, where Raenos ends his life believing that he has killed the only woman he ever loved. Sasha, his lover, survives his bite, and wakes...**
Death lay upon her like a languished lover.
The warmth of his body, the warmth of her blood was gone. Consciousness came and went. Chills swept her body, but her skin no longer held the ability to respond. Her heart scarcely beat, and pumped only ache in a slow dance through inert veins. Breathing took all of her will. Speech would not yield itself, nor would her eyes open to the drama which swept the stage of her hearing.
Sasha was alone, and in torment.
She heard his hymn, she knew his plans. And she was unable to stop him. Raenos was doubly guilty, of his suicide and her inability to prevent it. For though she suffered, lingering near death, she loved him still, no matter his sins. She would have offered her throat had he not taken it; she would have surrendered the sun to live in the shadows with him. But, when he drove that dagger into his own chest, he cut out her heart as well.
His fall was hers.
Raenos had cried out his remorse and fallen silent. A tear slipped down her cheek that she could not wipe away. It trailed down her chin, to mingle in the single track of blood across her neck. Sasha surrendered to the encroaching darkness. She sighed, and fell into the arms of black sleep.
But, her rest was not eternal, as she had hoped.
Hours later, the chill of evening crept through the window and woke her with its icy touch. She shivered, the frigid temperature seeping into the marrow of her bones, shuddering through her limbs. Sasha rolled onto her side, groaning against the pain wracking her. The room spun before her glazed eyes and then righted itself with a sickening lurch. Her stomach convulsed, regurgitating spent acid and clotted blood that had drained into her stomach from Raenos's last kiss. She lay, head hanging only inches above the fetid mess on the floor, the true weight of his attack levied upon her with the sight of her own blood.
Her lover was a vampire. In their passion and his savage hunger, Raenos had lost control of the beast in his blood, riding hard between her thighs as he sank his fangs deep in her throat. His primal instincts drove pain and pleasure through her in rhythmic time as he took her toward climax and death in one.
Bliss burned through her, flooding in waves from her core even as he pulled on the last of her life essence. She gasped once, and her eyes fell closed. Raenos had released her then, his canines, hot as branding irons, ripped out of her flesh. A low moan escaped him as he looked at her pale face, and the thin line of blood which trailed across her flesh. He lifted her head, kissing her lax lips, allowing the metallic spill of her own blood to drain into her gut.
Raenos had stumbled backward, then, tearing at his hair and screaming. He could not forgive himself for his sin; his heart broke with a near audible snap, and, void of emotion as he turned toward his workbench.
Now, he was gone, missing from her side, missing from their bedchamber--missing, she was afraid, from life itself. Sasha refused to believe him dead. She dragged her body off from the bed to fall with a sick thud to the hard floor. The evidence of Raenos's self-afflicted wounds lay in thick pool on the floor, and led in a crimson trail out of the room. Trembling, Sasha followed his path through the hallway, tumbled in a loose mess down the stairs to and came to a stop at the bottom. His blood slick lay atop the fibers of the Persian rug she'd once chose to grace the foyer. Sasha clawed her way across the fibers, over the threshold and out into the shadows of evening.
The truth lay before her.
A scorched ring of black encircled ashes piled in the shape of a man. Sobs wracked Sasha's body, but died in her parched throat. Bringing tears hurt, the moisture stung her dry eyes, yet she cried. She crawled toward the evidence of his demise, her knees rubbed raw, her fingernails broke off, her raw flesh leaving ghosts of red behind as she crawled.
She knelt where his head should be, touching the dust which was once the black waves she loved to run her fingers through. Tears fell freely as his ashes packed her raw wounds. Weak from blood loss and exertion, Sasha dragged her legs beneath her, forced her body into a kneeling position as she pulled her betrothal gift from atop the mound of ashes. She recognized its shape, she had lain and watched Raenos carving it. She stroked its gilded surface with an ash-and-blood fingertip before tucking it into the crook of an elbow as she rescued her lover's dagger from his remains as well.
A spark of light caught her eye. She leaned forward, sifting her hands through her lover's remains until she retrieved Raenos's signet ring. The bauble, an heirloom passed through his family for generations, rested on her palm. A band of warm yellow gold, with a large squared field of red enamel beneath the coiled, black form of a carved onyx dragon. She slipped the ring over the knuckle on the middle finger of her life hand, binding herself to him with what was left of her life.
It was her ring now, his legacy now her burden to bear...
(Copyright, Savannah Jordan 2006)