I felt Rory's hand on my shoulder and my thoughts returned.
And then, he was kissing me.
‘You are the stupidest person I know,' he thought to me. ‘I have fangs for goodness' sake, and I drink blood.'
‘I still know you,' I thought wonderingly. ‘I still know you!'
Rory broke away and looked at me as if I were the most bizarre, complicated yet amazing thing in the world.
"How?" he asked. "How could you accept me?"
"I ... think I love you," I replied.
"Love me? Charley, I'm one of the undead. I've even lied to you - I'm 18, not 17."
"But let me guess: you were 17 when you became a vampire?"
"Then that's fine. And I can love you because you're lonely and I want you to feel accepted, you've been nothing but nice to me even when you scared me, I believe you saved my life and ... this is not your fault. I don't think you asked for this, Rory, and so it would be unfair for me to punish you. I love you."
I stroked his hair, leaving moonbeams in my fingers' wake.
"Your heart is too big," Rory said reprovingly, but he was smiling.
"Thank you for not making me forget," I said.
"Thank you for giving me reason to stop myself."
"You know what? I'm going to prove I trust you completely."
Rory's face turned wary.
"Where d'you drink from?" I asked. "Wrist? Throat? Base of throat?>"
"No," Rory said firmly.
"Yes," I said determinedly.
I pulled a safety pin out of a pocket in my blouse. It was funny - and convenient - how I always seemed to have one on me.
"Go on - pierce yourself. I won't drink your blood."
"Oh, you will," I muttered.
I pricked my finger (which was difficult to make myself do and painful) and shoved it in Rory's mouth.
"Drink," I ordered him.
I could see he was enjoying it but also desperately trying not to swallow the blood which I realised was dripping directly onto his tongue. He seemed to have forgotten he could simply pull my finger out of his mouth - his arms were hanging loosely at his sides.
You could torture a vampire like this, I realised.
Moonbeams appeared in Rory's hair, his wild-looking eyes went the colour of caramel and his skin glowed while his facial features sharpened.
Rory gave in to the sensation. I think my finger healed up because next thing I knew there was a sharp pain just below my nail which instantly disappeared.
"Oh, that doesn't seem like a great place to drink from," I said, concerned.
I slowly pulled my finger out of Rory's mouth and offered him my wrist.
There was a hungry look in his eyes as he bit down. Once again, the sharp pain disappeared almost instantly.
"So," I said conversationally, "when's our next date?"
‘Tomorrow, same time, same place,' came the slightly distracted-sounding reply.
"And is there anything I shouldn't eat for when you do this again?"
‘No; eat whatever.'
Before I knew it, it was over. Rory slowly began to look normal again.
"You shouldn't have done that," he muttered darkly.
"You seemed to enjoy it," I pointed out.
"That's beside the point."
"I don't care about ‘the point'. If you're ever thirsty around me, you drink my blood."
"We are not doing that again."
"Oh, Rory," I said in a tone of mock sympathy which seemed to throw him, "you think you have a choice."
Rory frowned. "I don't?"
"No, darling," I said, leaning in to kiss him.
I let my heart melt and my thoughts run away.
‘I love you,' I thought.
‘I know: I can see it, hear it and feel it. It's so gratifying! I love you too.'
‘Are you still annoyed at me?'
‘No,' he thought-sighed. ‘But I wish you didn't find trusting and loving me so easy.'
‘And I wish you'd just accept it.'
‘Maybe when I trust myself, darling. I don't want to hurt you.'
‘You could never,' I told him confidently.
The rest of the date passed slowly. Throughout we were content, felt safe in each other's arms and were amazed by the feelings we evoked from each other. We didn't touch the food I'd brought along (though I suppose Rory wouldn't have done anyway. Tearing away from each other to go home was almost unbearable.