Disclaimers: Well, let's call this one NC-17. Within lies graphic sex, violence, and language that would make a longshoreman proud. It's all in good fun, though, I promise!


As always, I live for your feedback and I do respond. Poke me and see what I say. Or just poke me in general. I'm always up for a good poke.


Disclaiming my disclaimer: Er... sorry about that. It's late.


Feedback will be graciously accepted and given a response at meghan@meghanobrien.com. Or if you're content to simply be a voyeur, my website is at http://www.meghanobrien.com/. Thanks for reading!



By Meghan O'Brien



"Leather goddess is behind me again."

"The chick on the motorcycle?" Dana asked. Her voice crackled with excitement.

Or maybe that's just the shitty cell phone reception out here. Cate glanced in the rearview mirror, taking in the bold presence of the dark woman on a purple Harley who trailed behind her ancient Honda Civic. I'm right about, oh, in the middle of nowhere.

"Yeah," Cate answered. The biker was a foreboding shadow cast against the red mountains behind them. "That's the one."

"Think she's following you?"

Cate allowed an amused grin at the question. "I wish."

Dana's laugh was instant and infectious. "You see a woman on a motorcycle and she's automatically sexy?"

"Pretty much," Cate said. She lifted the corner of her mouth in a lopsided smile. "And, you know, there's the fact that I saw her with her helmet off yesterday, stopped on the side of the road for a drink of water."

"You got a good look from your speeding car?"

"Well, I did slow down," Cate admitted. "Just a little."

Dana laughed some more. "Just a little, huh?"

Hazel eyes darted to the mirror again. The woman on the bike was maybe fifteen feet behind her, in full view of the various bumper stickers that decorated the back of her car. Could I look any more like a college student? Cate watched the dark woman pick up speed and swing out into the left lane.

The biker stepped on her gas and pulled up even with Cate's car. One hand on the steering wheel and the other clutching her cell phone, she blew out a nervous breath. "She's passing me again," she told Dana.

"So smile at her or something," Dana suggested, laughing. "Lift up your shirt, flash her!"

Cate felt her cheeks flush at her friend's suggestion. She turned her head to glance over at the woman who rode next to her. The dark woman was dressed, as usual, in worn blue jeans and a black leather jacket. A shiny black helmet covered her head and obscured her features. The biker turned and flashed a brilliant grin at Cate, nodding her head. Her skin was light brown and absolutely delicious-looking.

"She did it again," Cate exclaimed. She moved her eyes back to the empty road ahead of them. It seemed to stretch all the way up into the mountains and the clouds beyond that. "The nodding, smiling thing."

"She totally wants you," Dana said. "I know she does."

"Whatever," Cate scoffed. The Harley revved hard next to her, sending the dark woman propelling ahead of her small car. A moment later she eased the bike back into the lane ahead of Cate. "She passed me."

"How many times have you seen her?" Dana asked. Her voice was insistent. "How many times has she nodded at you? Do you think she does that with every driver she sees?"

"In the middle of Nevada and Utah?" Cate asked, laughing. "Maybe. There's not that many of us."

"How many times have you seen her?" Dana repeated.

Cate knew the answer without thinking. "Five," she acknowledged. "Twice already today, and three times yesterday. We've been on the same stretch since just inside Nevada."

"You know she's seen your rainbow sticker," Dana pointed out. "Spending so much time behind the intrepid Beast and all."

Cate gave her steering wheel a fond pat, smiling at the old car's nickname. "I know," she acknowledged. She chewed her lip for a moment. "She's got to be a dyke," she said. "I just can't imagine... I mean, she has to be a dyke."

Dana's chuckle floated into her ear. "Of course she is," she said. "Smiling and nodding at a cute brunette in a crappy, rainbow-plastered car, remember?"

The motorcycle that was keeping pace about twenty feet ahead roared to life with sudden violence, and the dark stranger pulled even further away from her. Cate frowned. She frowned even harder when she realized she was disappointed.

"She just left me in the dust," Cate said. She released a wistful sigh, watching the Harley fading into the distance. "So much for that fantasy."

"So catch up to her!" Dana yelled. "Track her down and tell her you want her body."

Cate snorted. Yeah, right. "Sure," she said. "This heap needs to make it from Berkeley all the way to Chicago. I'm only a couple days into this trip and already I'm wondering if I'll make it. This piece of shit wouldn't even start when I got up this morning."

"Cate, that car was a piece of junk when we were in high school," Dana said. "You're just lucky the Beast made it through college."

"And now all I ask is that it gets me back home," Cate said. "I've been babying it. The last thing I need to do is push it trying to race after a woman who probably wouldn't be into anything, anyway."

"Fair enough," Dana said. "Except the part about the motorcycle chick not being into you. It sounds to me like she's sending all the signals she can."

Cate shifted in her seat. "Maybe," she allowed. God, this car gets uncomfortable after a few hours. "Maybe not."

Dana released a long-suffering sigh. "I swear, Cate, one of these days I'll get you to do something crazy and spontaneous."

Cate's mouth curled into a wry grin. "Good luck," she said.

Dana was silent for a few long moments. "Life is short," she said finally. "What are you going to wish you had done when you're at the end of it?"

"Jesus," Cate exclaimed. "Depressing, much?"

"I mean it," Dana said. "Think about it."

Cate shook her head. "Yes, dear."

"You need to get laid, anyway. Big time."

Cate laughed out loud. "What do you know about it?" She looked in the rearview mirror again, and then shifted her gaze to the horizon in front of her. Satisfied that she was alone on the road, she flipped on the cruise control and relaxed her foot.

"I know that you've had a really pathetic love life for someone who just spent four years so close to San Francisco. Only you could be surrounded by lesbians and come so close to being declared a born-again virgin." Dana punctuated this point with a sudden cough.

"Smoking again?" Cate asked.

"Bite me," Dana said. "I'm well aware of your opinion on that matter. And don't change the subject. We're talking about you and your need to lose control just a little."

"Well," Cate sighed. "Maybe I'll do better once I get home."

"At least I can take you to the club, get you out once in a while. Hey, there's this great new... down by Third... I think..."

"Whoa, whoa," Cate said. I can't hear a damn thing. I think the signal's finally dying for good. "Dana, wait... I can't hear you."

"No? Well... when do... a little..."

"Dana," Cate said. God, that's annoying. "The signal's gone. I'll have to call you back when I get to something resembling civilization."

"All... bye..."

"Bye," Cate said. She disconnected with a sigh of relief. "Saved by the middle of fucking nowhere," she muttered. She looked around at the harsh landscape surrounding her. She was well and truly alone.

I might as well take advantage, Cate thought. She reached down and flipped on the CD player she'd had installed in the Beast as a present to herself during her sophomore year. Led Zeppelin blared from the speakers; Cate reached down and scanned through the tracks until she found what she was looking for.

As the opening notes of "Stairway to Heaven" poured from her speakers, Cate reached out and rolled down her driver's side window. Warm desert air beat against her face and blew through her shoulder-length brown hair, and she grinned into the afternoon sun. She sang along with her favorite song with loud enthusiasm, determined to make the best of a long journey home.

I wonder if I'll see the biker chick again?


Cate pulled off the highway a little after one o'clock. It was the first time she'd seen a town with even a small restaurant in over an hour, and her growling stomach demanded that she seize the opportunity.

She saw the motorcycle parked in the gravel lot in front of Harmony, Utah's only diner when she pulled into a spot near the back. Cate opened her car door and crawled out of the small space. She reached her hands towards the sky and rose up on her tiptoes in a grateful stretch. God, that feels good. She stared over at the motorcycle, and then glanced back at the diner. I wonder if that's her.

Cate decided to stretch her legs by detouring closer to the Harley on her way into the restaurant. She kept her eyes forward, but darted quick looks over to the purple Sportster as she passed it. Recognition registered as a sudden fluttering in her stomach.

Cate walked into the small diner, blinking a couple of times as she adjusted to the artificial light. Her heart skipped nervously in her chest, and she fought the urge to survey the booths and tables for the object of her recent fantasies.

"Sit wherever you like, honey." A blonde waitress behind the counter tossed her a crooked grin. "The maitre 'd has the night off."

Cate blushed at the waitress, nodding, and then she noticed the dark woman who was sitting at the counter in front of her. The stranger held a cup of coffee in her right hand and shot Cate a smoldering look, one eyebrow lifted in interest. Her leather jacket hung over the stool next to her, and Cate's mouth watered at the muscled arms a sleeveless grey t-shirt exposed. She was dark-skinned with dark hair cropped close to her head, and she was easily the sexiest woman Cate had ever seen.

Okay, no problem. Cate thought. She gave the waitress a friendly smile. "Thanks," she said. Just act cool. She moved her eyes to give the dark woman a brief parting glance, and then turned to walk towards an empty booth in the corner of the room.

Cate sat down and grabbed a menu in the same motion. Despite all efforts to be cool, she felt a renewed burning in her cheeks. God, she's beautiful. She concentrated hard on pretending to read the menu.

"What can I get ya?"

Cate lifted her eyes and gave the waitress a distracted look. How long have I been staring at this thing? She looked back down at the menu. I haven't even read a goddamned word of it. She scanned the text quickly, looking for something that wouldn't leave her feeling sick during her drive in the desert.

"I'll have the grilled chicken sandwich, please," Cate answered. "Hold the fries."

The waitress - whose nametag identified her as Julie - nodded and scribbled furiously on a small pad of paper. "To drink?" she asked without looking up.

"Water," Cate said. That tall drink of water over there with the leather jacket would do nicely, if you could manage it.

Julie looked up and showed off nicotine-stained teeth. "Coming right up."

Order placed, Cate was at a total loss about what to do while she waited. I wish I would've brought in a book or something. She felt desperate not to look over at the biker who still sat at the counter. Naturally, trying so hard made it next to impossible. After minutes of struggle, she glanced over at the woman who had been traveling along with her for the past day and a half.

Dark eyes stared back at her with undisguised curiosity. Cate's first instinct was to look away, to bury her face in the menu again, but she held strong. She met the dark woman's gaze as boldly as she could, forcing her breathing to remain steady.

The look they shared was pure sex, and it sent a flood of heat throughout Cate's body. After long moments she looked down at the table, gasping. Why do I never meet women like that in real life?

"Grilled chicken sandwich?"

The voice was warm and deep and nothing like the cigarette-roughened rasp of the blonde waitress who took her order. Cate snapped her head up to look at the bold brown-skinned woman standing over her with a plate in her hand, her black leather jacket draped over one arm. Cate's mouth dropped open in surprise, and she flushed when nothing came out of it.

Say something!

The stranger lifted a dark eyebrow, biting on her lower lip and then releasing it. "I offered to do Julie a favor," she explained.

Dana would never let me live it down if I don't even talk to her. Cate managed a shy smile up at the other woman. Hell, I'd never let myself live it down. "That was very nice of you," she said.

The stranger looked relieved, and shot her a playful grin. "Nice, huh? That's a new one."

Cate lifted her eyebrow, mirroring the dark woman's expression. "You're not nice?" she asked. Score ten points for flirty banter!

The stranger chuckled, setting the plate down in front of Cate. She hesitated a moment and then slid into the other side of the booth, pushing her jacket in ahead of her. She looked up at Cate, and the brunette could see the slightest bit of tentative caution in dark grey eyes. "I can be," she said with a meaningful look.

The plain suggestion in the woman's voice made her nervous. Cate reached down and grabbed her sandwich, lifting it to her mouth to take a quick bite. What the hell do I say to that?

The dark woman cleared her throat. "My name's Dyani, by the way." When Cate met her eyes, still chewing, Dyani shot her a sheepish look. "I figure that as long as I'm watching you eat, I might as well introduce myself."

Cate swallowed and set her sandwich back down. She wiped her fingers off on her napkin before offering her hand to the dark-haired woman. "I'm Cate," she said.

Dyani reached across the table and took Cate's hand, which subsequently took Cate's breath away. Her fingers were elegant and tapered, her skin surprisingly soft, and her large brown hand easily enveloped Cate's slimmer pale one. Cate shivered at the jolt of arousal she received at the contact. Dyani refused to release her hand for a few moments longer than was appropriate, still pinning Cate with dark eyes.

"What kind of name is Dyani?" Cate asked quickly, hoping to cover up the reaction she hadn't been able to suppress.

The dark-haired woman's lips twitched in amusement. "Native American," she answered. "My mom was Native American, my dad was Mexican." She leaned down and planted her elbow on the table, resting her chin on an upturned palm. "That left me with an impressive Spanglish vocabulary and a name nobody can pronounce."

"It's beautiful," Cate said, and then blushed. Did that sound too much like 'you're beautiful'? "Very unique."

"Thank you," Dyani said. "So where are you headed, Cate?"

Cate swallowed another bite of her sandwich before answering. "Chicago," she said. "I was going to school in California and I just graduated. I can't afford to live out there anymore, so... well, I've got friends and family in Chicago, and so I'm hoping to get a job back home."

Dyani nodded. "I noticed the UC Berkeley sticker on your car," she said.

What other stickers did you notice? Cate wanted to ask, but the waitress chose that moment to approach their table with a glass of water in her hand.

Julie set the large glass down in front of Cate. "Here you go," she said. "Romeo forgot this."

This woman is going to kill me, Cate thought as she stared up at the grinning waitress. Her cheeks were in a constant state of heat-infused redness at this point. "Thanks," she croaked.

"Yeah, Julie," Dyani said, shooting the waitress an admonishing look. "Thanks a lot."

"No problem," Julie cackled. She walked away and left them staring at one another.

At a loss, Cate reached out and grabbed her glass of water to take a hearty sip. Her throat felt incredibly dry.

"I almost didn't recognize you when you walked in," Dyani said in a soft voice. "I got used to seeing you with that cute bandana you were wearing on your head yesterday."

She thinks that's cute? Cate blushed. She noticed from her bike? She took another sip of her water, swallowing with care. "Oh, that," she managed after a moment. "I was slumming it, thinking I didn't have to look good for anybody out here in the middle of nowhere." She shot Dyani a shy smile. "Of course someone notices, right?"

"Slumming it, huh?" Dyani ran grey eyes over Cate in frank appraisal. "Like I said, I thought it was really cute."

Note to self: wear the bandana more often. "Thanks," Cate said, and allowed her mouth to curl into a delighted smile.

Dyani gave her a courteous nod. "Just the truth, Cate."

Even as she continued to smile at the compliment, Cate felt panic begin to set in. Why is she doing this? What does she want from me? She wasn't a naive person. Out here on the road... we're two ships passing in the night. It would be the ultimate one-night stand. We'd never have to see one another again.

And the horrible truth hit Cate in an instant. I don't think I can do it. The whole situation played into every breathless stranger-sex fantasy she'd ever had, but now that it was staring her in the face - a real possibility - she didn't think she could initiate that chain of events. It's not like I don't have good reasons. It's dangerous. I have no idea who this woman really is. It's irresponsible. She released a nervous breath. Dana would be so disappointed in me, wouldn't she?

"I'm sorry," Dyani said, shifting in her seat. "If I'm bothering you, please just let me know and I'll leave you alone. I don't... I don't want to make you uncomfortable."

Cate suppressed the deep sigh of relief that threatened to pour out of her when the dark woman gave her the out. I want you, Dyani, so bad, but you see... I've always been something of a chickenshit. Of course, she couldn't say that. "I'm sorry," Cate said with a weak smile. "I'm just really tired."

Dyani gave her a sympathetic nod. "It's draining to drive all day," she said.

Cate reached up and tugged on a lock of brown hair. "Yeah, it is. Even despite the beautiful scenery." She tilted her head thoughtfully. "Or maybe because of it." At Dyani's curious look, she explained, "Sometimes it's like cerebral overload, all the beauty."

Dyani quirked the corner of her mouth, her grey eyes wistful. "I know what you mean," she said, and shot Cate a pointed look.

Cate shifted in her seat again. Oh, she's good. Somehow that made her even more desperate to extract herself from this situation. Before I do something crazy. "Yeah, so... I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep tonight. I hope I can find a better motel than the last place I stayed... the air conditioner was clanging all night, and the room still managed to feel so stuffy and hot that I couldn't fall asleep."

Dyani gave her a respectful nod.

I'm babbling, Cate realized. A beautiful woman is basically hinting that she wants me to sleep with her, no strings attached, and I'm babbling about air conditioning.

"You're a good number of hours from any decent-sized cities," Dyani said. "Unfortunately, they're kind of few and far between out here."

Cate smiled. "I noticed."

"Well," Dyani said, and cleared her throat. She met hazel eyes with grey, giving Cate another polite nod. "I'll leave you alone now. I just wanted to make sure you got your grilled chicken sandwich all right." Her mouth stretched into a crooked grin. "Sorry about forgetting the water," she said.

"I appreciate that," Cate said. She looked up at Dyani as she slid out of the booth and stood up. The dark woman eased her leather jacket back over her shoulders, and the full effect of having the gorgeous woman standing above her in all her glory nearly made Cate recant her claim of feeling tired. Almost. "Have a safe journey, okay?"

Dyani nodded, throwing her one last brilliant smile. "You, too," she said. She turned and took a couple steps towards the door, and then stopped to glance back at Cate over her shoulder. "Who knows?" she asked. "Maybe we'll pass each other again."

Cate wasn't certain whether she hoped they would or not.


Cate watched the sunset in her rearview mirror while keeping a cursory eye on the nearly empty road ahead of her. In the hours since she'd left the small diner in southwest Utah, she hadn't been able to get Dyani out of her mind. She was beginning to worry that she'd made a big mistake.

"Maybe Dana's right," Cate said out loud. The beauty of driving across the country, she mused. All the 'talk to myself' time I want. "Maybe I'm not spontaneous enough."

Cate frowned. It wasn't so simple as that, was it?

"But who says spontaneity is such a great thing?" she argued. She glanced out her front windshield again, confirming that she was alone on this stretch of highway. She allowed herself a few more lingering moments staring at the red-purple sky behind her. "Plenty of horrible things have been caused by spontaneity."

She racked her brain. The fact that no specific examples immediately come to mind is irrelevant. "I'm sure that plenty of horrible things have been caused by spontaneity."

Cate reached out and turned down the volume on the CD player. The better to hear myself think. She looked back up at the road ahead, and for the first time in a half hour she saw something in the distance ahead of her. Cate could only see an indistinct black dot set against the backdrop of red mountains ahead of them, but she imagined for a moment that she was seeing a beautiful dark-skinned woman atop a sleek Harley.

Cate released a dreamy sigh at the thought. She frowned a moment later.

"It's not just about being spontaneous," Cate argued. "It's dangerous to just go off with motorcycle-riding women in leather jackets." She squinted at the dot ahead of her, which was growing larger as she pressed down harder on the gas. "I'm sure my mother told me that at some point in my life."

I don't think she's dangerous, Cate acknowledged. She remembered intense grey eyes, soft brown skin, and playful flirtation. I think she's beautiful, and probably just a little lonely.

Cate pushed her Civic much harder than was probably wise in a sudden bid to catch up to the figure ahead of her. As she drew closer she could see that it wasn't a car; after a few minutes it became clear that it was a motorcycle. She didn't allow herself to think as she continued her pursuit.

"Probably some middle-aged guy playing Peter Fonda," Cate mumbled under her breath. She flexed her fingers where they gripped the steering wheel. "She left the diner a good half hour before me. I'm sure I couldn't have caught up."

Hazel eyes stayed riveted to the biker as she inched her way closer. The Beast shook with the effort. Poor car isn't used to me going over sixty-five miles per hour. Ever. The speedometer was slowly inching above seventy.

Cate's breath caught in her throat when she pulled close enough to recognize the Harley and its rider. Dyani looks good from behind.

"I need to slow down," Cate whispered aloud. "I'm going to kill this car, and then what?" She licked her lips and held her foot firm on the accelerator. "This is stupid, anyway. It's crazy just to think-"

Am I going to regret this? Cate wondered. The silent worry interrupted her speech. Am I always going to wonder?

And like that, Cate flipped on her turn signal and pulled into the left lane. She pressed down even harder on the gas pedal. Please, God, don't let the Beast rattle apart. The thumping of her heart mirrored the trembling of the old Civic.

Dyani appeared to slow down as Cate pulled alongside her Harley. She glanced over at Cate and gave her a slow grin. Cate flicked her eyes back to the road stretching in front of them, reassuring herself that there was no oncoming traffic, and then looked back at Dyani with a nervous smile. Dyani lifted her eyebrows in question.

It's now or never. Cate took a deep breath, steeled her nerve, and slammed on the gas. She pulled ahead of Dyani, who helped the fate of the Beast by continuing to slow down to let her pass, and then she swung back in front of Dyani's Harley. She glanced in the rearview mirror, watching the woman behind her. Am I really gonna do this?

Cate flipped on her turn signal and began easing on her brakes as she steered over onto the shoulder of the road. She released a nervous breath when she saw Dyani do the same thing. They paced one another for a good fifty yards before they each pulled to a slow and complete stop. Cate shifted into park, lifting nervous eyes to the rearview mirror.

Okay, what now? Cate felt frozen in her seat. Somehow, my logical thinking never got past the 'being spontaneous' portion of this little adventure. She watched in silent anticipation as Dyani eased herself off her motorcycle, rose up on her toes in a momentary and subtle stretch, and then began a slow amble up to Cate's car.

Cate looked down at her steering wheel, gasping. "Oh my God," she whispered. "Oh my God." She was terrified and so turned on she could hardly stand it.

A knock on her passenger window snapped Cate out of her daze. She jerked her head up to stare at Dyani, who peered through the window with a half-smile on her face. Cate hesitated, biting her lip hard, and then she leaned across the empty passenger seat to unlock the door.

Dyani opened the door and ducked her head inside. "Hello again," she said. She shot Cate a lopsided grin.

"Hey," Cate whispered. "Want to catch a few minutes of air conditioning?" She chuckled as Dyani bent down and folded her long body into the passenger seat. "Or what passes for air conditioning in this antique, anyway."

Dyani settled into the seat, shifting this way and that until she leaned back, rolling her head to the side with a smile. "Not bad," she said. "Very comfortable."

"Good," Cate said. She looked down at the steering wheel again, wishing she didn't feel so shy. Dana should have told me what to do after I tracked her down. She swallowed and flicked hazel eyes back over to take in the powerful woman beside her. "So how've you been?" she asked with a nervous chuckle. "Since lunch, I mean."

Dyani's mouth twitched into a grin. "I've been okay," she said. "A little distracted, but okay."

The flirtatious tone in Dyani's voice left no doubt as to where the discussion was headed. Cate took a deep breath and played along. "Distracted?"

"Well, you see... I met this girl at a diner today, and I haven't been able to get her out of my mind since," Dyani said. Grey eyes were playful.

"Sounds dangerous," Cate murmured. "Being distracted on a motorcycle and everything." She shivered as Dyani reached out and brushed a lock of hair away from Cate's eyes.

"I suppose so," Dyani said. She gave Cate a helpless shrug. "I'm not sure what I can do about it, though. This is the kind of girl that stays with you, know what I mean?"

Cate's face burned with embarrassed pleasure. Oh, yeah... she's really good. She shifted in her seat, half-turning to face Dyani. "Yeah," she said, and pinned the dark-skinned woman with smoky hazel eyes. "I do know what you mean."

Dyani was silent a moment, assessing her with a heated look. After a beat, she nodded at Cate, a fond smile twisting her lips. "The bandana is back," she whispered.

Cate lifted an absent hand to stroke the dark blue bandana she had tied around head after leaving the diner earlier. She gave Dyani a shy smile. "Someone told me it was cute," she said.

"It is," Dyani said. "Very, very cute."

Cate released a nervous chuckle, casting her eyes down to her lap. "I'm not sure how to do this," she admitted in a whisper. "I'm, uh... this is new for me."

A tender hand reached out and lifted Cate's face until she met Dyani's eyes. The dark-skinned woman smiled at Cate, stroking the side of her face. "You're doing just fine," she said. After a moment she looked away, out the front windshield. "I know it probably seems like I must do stuff like this all the time, but..." she paused, and then met Cate's eyes again. "I want you to know that it's new for me, too. I've never done anything like this before."

Cate chewed on her lip. "Why me?" she asked.

Dyani shrugged one shoulder. "You're beautiful," she answered. "I just kept seeing you on the road yesterday, and it made me feel like doing something... impulsive."

"Spontaneous," Cate suggested.

Dyani nodded and gave her a sheepish look. "Yeah," she said. "Once I actually met you today, the urge got even more intense. You're just..." Dyani trailed off and shook her head. "I was pretty sure I'd offended you earlier. I thought you weren't interested."

Cate managed a nervous chuckle. "Oh, I'm interested," she murmured. "How could I not be interested?"

"Nervous, then?"

Cate nodded. "Yeah," she said. "Definitely nervous."

"Would it make you more nervous or less nervous if I asked you if I could kiss you?" Dyani asked.

Cate swallowed. Hard. That's an excellent question. "I don't know," Cate answered honestly. She flicked her eyes down to her hands in her lap, and then again to Dyani's face. "We could always find out," she suggested.

Dyani lifted the corner of her mouth, gazing at Cate with hooded eyes. She reached out and slid her hand around the back of Cate's neck, gripping lightly with her fingers. Cate's eyes fluttered shut for a second, and her heart started pounding double-time. Dyani leaned across the center console as she drew Cate's face closer to her; they met in the middle, lips only a couple inches apart.

"May I kiss you?" Dyani whispered. Warm breath caressed Cate's lips, and it felt like the dark woman was kissing her already.

Cate barely hesitated. "Yes," she whispered back.

Dyani closed the distance between them to take Cate's mouth in a slow kiss. Cate was surprised by the tenderness of the gesture, and by the patience the biker demonstrated. Dyani traced Cate's upper lip with the tip of her tongue; the lower lip was next, and finally she pressed inside of Cate's mouth with a groan of satisfaction. The hand on the back of Cate's neck tightened, tugging on her hair and sending a shockwave of sensation pounding through her body.

Dyani's free hand found Cate's throat a moment later. She pressed her palm against the soft skin of Cate's neck, stroking with her fingertips, and then a moment later she slid her hand down to caress bare collarbones where they were exposed by the collar of Cate's t-shirt. Cate moaned hard into Dyani's mouth, reaching inside of the dark woman's leather jacket and pushing it off her shoulders. Dyani helped her discard the leather jacket, and then she returned her hands to Cate's shoulders. Cate slid her own hands up along bare muscled arms. Her grip tightened on solid biceps when Dyani's fingers slid down to caress her breast.

Cate broke away from the kiss with a gasp. "Dyani-"

Dyani kissed along the curve of Cate's jaw, and then up next to her ear. "You feel so good, querida," she whispered. "You taste even better."

Cate shivered at Dyani's softly spoken words. The dark woman's hand remained on Cate's breast; her thumb circled Cate's nipple, raising it to a stiff peak. After a moment's hesitation, Cate moved one hand from Dyani's arm to her breast, caressing her with cautious fingers.

"You feel good, too," Cate whispered. Her face grew warm with arousal and mild disbelief at her own bold actions. She squeezed Dyani's arm with the hand that still rested there, dropping a worshipful kiss on the corner of the biker's mouth. "I can't believe we're doing this," she murmured, drawing a low chuckle from the woman in her arms.

"You can't imagine how wet I am," Dyani said. "I've been thinking about you all day, really." Dyani captured Cate's nipple between two fingers, tugging and twisting until she squirmed in her seat. She pinned Cate with hooded grey eyes, licking her lips in quiet contemplation. After a moment she whispered, "Are you wet?"

Cate's face grew hotter at the question. "Yes," she whispered. She flicked her eyes to the road, relieved that they were still alone in the desert.

"May I see?"

Cate felt dizzy. "What?"

Dyani planted a wet kiss on Cate's earlobe, and then sucked it between gentle lips. "I want to feel how wet you are," she whispered. She swallowed audibly, and then breathed, "Please, Cate."

Cate felt all rational thought leave her mind. Here? She removed her hand from Dyani's breast and returned it to grip her firm bicep. Cate slid her hands up and down Dyani's arms, enjoying the feel of warm skin beneath her grip. Right here?

"Shouldn't we-" Cate began.

Dyani nipped at her earlobe, cutting her off. "There's nobody out here, querida. I could make you come right here at the side of the road, and nobody will ever know."

"But a car could-"

"They won't pay any attention to us," Dyani whispered. She gave Cate's nipple a final squeeze, and then slid her hand down over Cate's stomach. "We're just a couple of travelers pulled over to take a quick break from driving. They won't give us a second thought."

Dyani's hand found the top of Cate's jeans. Cate turned her head and kissed Dyani's jaw. I know there's a really good reason not to let her do this. She felt strong fingers trace the button that held her jeans closed. I just can't remember it right now.

"May I?" Dyani whispered.

Cate bit her lip and closed her eyes. She could feel herself grow wetter every time the dark woman whispered into her ear. She was so aroused she could barely speak, and she knew in an instant that she had no real choice here.

"Yes," Cate croaked. "Yes."

Dyani thumbed open the button on her jeans with one hand, and then eased the zipper down with excruciating slowness. Cate turned her head and glanced at the rearview mirror; they were still alone. She buried her face in Dyani's neck when the dark-skinned woman slid her hand inside her jeans.

This is crazy.

Dyani's breath hitched as she scraped her fingers lightly over the cotton material of Cate's panties. She traced tickling, teasing patterns over the damp cloth between Cate's legs, drawing deep, gasping sounds from the brunette. Cate held her breath when the very tip of Dyani's finger traced the elastic at the juncture of thigh and hip.

Okay, I don't care how crazy this is.

"Touch me," Cate gasped. "Dyani, please-" She gripped Dyani's biceps hard, lifting her hips up in silent encouragement.

"Oh, ciela," Dyani breathed into her ear. Her hand slipped into her panties, and she moved down until she found Cate's slick folds with her fingertips. Dyani gasped. "You're so wet."

Cate moved her hands from Dyani's biceps up to her shoulders, and then inside her sleeveless t-shirt. She clutched at Dyani's back with her fingers; she could feel that the butch woman was wearing a sports bra.

"It's your fault," Cate managed. She attached her mouth to Dyani's neck for a moment, sucking hard.

Dyani slid two fingers up and down the length of Cate's center, pushing slightly inwards near her opening, and then moving back up to circle her swollen clit. She exhaled warm air across Cate's ear, causing Cate to shiver against her.

"You have no idea how badly I want you," Dyani whispered. "How much I've been thinking of you. How crazy you make me."

Cate closed her eyes at Dyani's words. I can't believe this is happening. She moaned into Dyani's neck, and her hips moved to meet the dark woman's patient stroking. What am I doing?

"I want to take you to a hotel room," Dyani continued in a low voice. "I want to touch you and taste you all night long. I want to hold you down on the bed, querida, and fuck you until you scream."

Cate's clit twitched beneath Dyani's fingers, and she moaned even louder. I'm on the side of the road with a complete stranger. She buried her face deeper into Dyani's neck; pressed blunt fingernails into the bare skin covering Dyani's shoulder blades.

"I want to be inside you," Dyani whispered. She moved her fingers from Cate's clit down to her opening again, this time angling inwards so that she just barely penetrated her. Cate squirmed on Dyani's fingers.

Fucking restrictive jeans. Cate turned her head and kissed Dyani's neck, scraping brown skin with her teeth. She squirmed again, wanting desperately to draw the dark-haired woman's fingers deeper into her. I don't care how crazy this is... I wish she were inside me.

"I want it, too," Cate said, and lifted her hips off her seat.

Dyani managed to press her fingers slightly deeper inside, and Cate gasped at the sensation. "Like that?" Dyani whispered. "Inside you like that?"

Cate nodded, still gasping. "This is crazy," she finally said aloud.

"I know," Dyani said, and licked her earlobe. "I know it is, querida, but you make me so crazy." She pressed the pad of her thumb against Cate's clit, which throbbed beneath the firm touch. "You make me want to be crazy. You're so beautiful."

Cate thought she might cry if she didn't come. "Please, Dyani," she groaned. She moved one of her hands around to slide down the front of Dyani's t-shirt, scratching the front of the dark woman's sports bra with blunt fingernails. "Please."

Dyani trembled as Cate scraped along her stiff nipple. She began moving her hand faster despite its awkward position. "Please, what?" she asked. "Tell me, ciela. Tell me what you want."

"I want you," Cate moaned. She squeezed her eyes shut, concentrating on the sensations Dyani was eliciting with her skillful hand. She could feel the incredible wetness she was producing soak Dyani's fingers; it made her shake against Dyani's touch.

"Tell me," Dyani whispered again. She bent her head and bit at Cate's neck, hard enough to send a jolt of dangerous thrill skittering along Cate's spine. Dyani pulled away, sliding her tongue over the place she'd just marked.

Cate wasn't certain whether she could manage another full sentence. Her head felt fuzzy with the intense, pounding desire she felt, and with the nerve-shattering pleasure that was radiating from Dyani's point of contact between her legs. "I want you to make me come," Cate managed.

"You do?" Dyani asked. She increased her pressure on Cate's clit, speeding up the thrusting of the fingers inside of her.

Cate could feel the dark woman's smile against her neck. "Please," Cate begged. She no longer cared if they were alone, or about what would happen if a car appeared on the highway behind them. She wanted to howl at the moon, she felt so out of control. "Please!"

Cate wasn't sure what it was Dyani did with her fingers, and in a moment she was beyond caring. She opened her mouth and cried out against Dyani's throat as her body quaked with release; she tightened one hand on Dyani's back, and the other on her bare side; she closed her eyes and surrendered to the perfect bliss Dyani had created in her body. Cate clung to Dyani as she recovered from her orgasm; Dyani wrapped one arm around her back, pulling her close, and kept her other hand inside of Cate's panties.

The only sound in the car was that of their labored breathing.

Shouldn't this feel awkward? Cate turned her head to nuzzle into Dyani's neck, flattening her hands against broad, muscled shoulders. It doesn't.

Dyani rubbed her hand over Cate's center, teasing sensitized flesh. "I meant it," Dyani murmured into Cate's ear. She stroked Cate's back with the hand that held her close. "I want to take you to a hotel tonight. I want to spend the night with you."

Cate squeezed her eyes shut, turning her face to smile into Dyani's neck. I'm way past the point of playing it safe, aren't I? Strangely, though, she did feel safe. And she didn't want to say no. Cate barely hesitated before brushing her lips against Dyani's ear.

"Yes," she whispered. "We'll get off at the next exit with a hotel, okay?" She traced the tip of her tongue along a brown earlobe, and the larger woman trembled against her. "Just follow me."


The next exit was fifteen miles down the highway. Cate spent the entire drive with her whole body shaking. She kept glancing back at the rearview mirror every few moments to verify that it wasn't all a dream.

This is crazy, she thought again as she flipped on her turn signal to get off the highway. The small blue sign at the exit to Dark Springs, Utah, advertised a motel, two gas stations, and a restaurant. It sounded promising. Cate blew out a nervous breath and glanced back to watch Dyani follow her. Absolutely fucking nuts... and I wouldn't stop it now for anything.

Cate had tried to call Dana during their short drive from the scene of the most incredible sex she'd ever had to whatever motel they would find for the night. Despite her almost animalistic need to play this out with Dyani, Cate remained aware that this was an extremely out-of-character - and not to mention dangerous - thing for her to be doing. The fact that her cell phone didn't get a signal this deep in the desert was unsurprising.

You know Dana would've just encouraged you, anyway. Cate remembered the many times she thought her friend wasn't thinking clearly before she acted. Maybe not the best role model, but I'm beginning to understand the appeal of not always being rational.

Dark Springs looked deserted. One gas station had an outside light shining, but the store inside was dark and seemingly empty. A beat-up old truck was parked next to the building, in the shadows. The other gas station was totally illuminated, providing a bright beacon in an otherwise dim town, but there was no movement in or around the place. The tiny restaurant that sat at the end of the main drag was almost eerily vacant; only one car was parked in the small cement lot. A handful of dark trailers were scattered around the buildings that comprised the town.

Cate pulled up to the dimly lit motel in the center of town, parking in front of the office. Dyani pulled in two spaces down.

Cate turned off her car and released a shaky breath. This place is going to be a dump. She yanked the keys out of the ignition, glancing over at where Dyani was climbing off her bike. The dark woman pulled off her helmet and rubbed a hand over her close-cropped hair, glancing over at Cate with a dazzling grin. Not that I'll be thinking a lot about the room, of course.

Cate opened her car door and climbed out to stand on weak legs. She surveyed the town rather than look at the approaching biker. She really wasn't sure what to say.

"Pretty dead, huh?" Dyani asked. She stepped up and stood behind Cate, easing a tentative arm around her waist.

Cate leaned back against Dyani. It's impossible to be nervous when she touches me. "I think we managed to find the crappiest little town in the state."

Dyani chuckled, pulling her closer. She bent down, brushing her lips against Cate's ear. "Are you okay?" she whispered.

Cate nodded. She rested her hand over Dyani's, tracing her fingertips over the dark woman's knuckles. "I'm okay."

"Having second thoughts?"

Am I? Cate took stock. "Not second thoughts, really."

"Nervous?" Dyani asked.

Cate smiled into the night. "A little," she admitted.

"So am I," Dyani murmured. She bent down again and kissed Cate's neck. "You're so beautiful."

"You're nervous?" Cate asked.

"A little," Dyani said. After a moment she cleared her throat. "Back there on the road... was that all right?"

Cate grinned despite herself, turning within Dyani's embrace. The dark-skinned woman brought her free hand up to rest on Cate's hip, gazing down into hazel eyes.

"It was amazing," Cate said. She stood on her tiptoes, kissing Dyani's jaw. "So amazing. Crazy." She pulled back and gave Dyani a crooked smile. "I'm looking forward to more, actually."

"Yeah?" Dyani raised a dark eyebrow.

"Yeah," Cate said, and nodded towards the front door of the motel. "Want to go inside?"

Dyani squeezed her around the middle and then released her, taking a step backwards. "Yes," she answered, smiling. She took a couple more steps back, beckoning to Cate with her finger. Grey eyes were playful. "Come on. I have plans for you."

Cate took three confident steps forward, pulling even with Dyani. She raised herself up, leaning over, as she passed the dark woman on her way into the motel. "Would those plans have something to do with holding me down on the bed?" she whispered.

Dyani's voice was rough with arousal behind her. "Those would be the plans I was talking about," she said.

Cate stepped up to the front door and stopped. Jesus, this place really is dead, she noticed for the first time. A small lamp on the front counter cast the office in a dim orange glow, but failed to reach the corners of the room, which lie in shadow. Nobody was behind the desk, and Cate could see a full rack of room keys hanging on the far wall. She glanced back at Dyani. "You think this place is even open?"

Dyani lifted her eyebrows and shrugged, reaching into the pocket of her leather jacket with one hand to search for something. "Try the door," she suggested.

Cate turned back around and grabbed the door handle. She hesitated only a moment and then tugged, slightly surprised when it swung open with ease. She shot Dyani another look. "I guess so," she said.

Dyani produced a battered pack of cigarettes from her pocket with a triumphant little grunt. She raised grey eyes to Cate, giving her a sheepish nod. "Mind if I stay out here for a minute and smoke?"

Cate wrinkled her nose. Well, she's almost perfect.

Dyani bit her lip and kicked at the ground, glancing down briefly. "I'm trying to quit," she muttered. "I'm down to only one or two a day... except in moments of extreme stress or during the afterglow of the hottest sex I've ever had."

You're forgiven, Cate thought. She blushed, looking around at the empty parking lot even though there was no one to hear the compliment. "No problem," she said. "I'll just get a room and meet you back out here."

Dyani shot her a pleased look. "I'll be waiting," she said, smiling, and then turned towards the darkness to light her cigarette.


Dyani leaned back against Cate's old Civic, taking a long drag from the cigarette she held between two fingers. She inhaled deeply, enjoying the distinctive scent of Cate that still lingered on her hand. She smiled into the night.

Well, this evening has taken an interesting turn. Dyani exhaled, looking up at the deep purple sky through a cloud of white smoke. If nothing else, tonight could make this whole trip worthwhile. She shook her head, casting her eyes down to stare at her own feet. And I was sure I'd blown my chance with that stupid line about being nice at the diner earlier.

Dyani shifted on her feet, resting her hip against the rear fender. I wonder if this is as surreal for her as it is for me? She remembered Cate's blushing admission that she wasn't sure what to do. I think it is, and the fact that she's doing this with me despite that makes her that much more attractive. Dyani furrowed her eyebrows, deep in thought. Like, knowing that she's just as scared and excited and turned on as me... it's amazing. She's amazing.

Dyani glanced down at the bumper, running her finger across the rainbow sticker plastered above the license plate. It had been the first thing to catch her eye about the brunette. When she had passed Cate on the highway for the first time in a transparent effort to see the face behind that sticker, she had been dumbfounded.

I never expected to see someone that beautiful... especially not someone who would give me the time of day after that scene at the restaurant. Dyani allowed an amused chuckle at her own expense, the soft noise floating into the night on the tail end of another cloud of smoke.

"Yeah," she murmured aloud. "I'm smooth, all right."

Dyani's voice sounded strange to her own ears. She looked up and out into the growing darkness, straining her eyes to survey the town of Dark Springs once again. Though I'm not sure you could really call this a town, could you? Dyani snorted, the light sound echoing harshly in the dead silence surrounding her. A ghost town, maybe.

Dyani glanced back over her shoulder at the front door of the motel. She could make out Cate's slender form standing at the counter with her hands on her hips, ostensibly waiting. She exhaled nervously, turning her attention back out towards the seemingly abandoned buildings around her.

How far was the next town after this? Dyani's grey eyes flitted over the mostly dark gas station at the end of the street to the abandoned-looking restaurant just down the road, closer to the highway. Seeing nothing, she began to move her gaze over to the bright gas station that sat across the street. Her eyes were sweeping across the area between the bright gas station and the road when she saw a dark figure skitter across the edge of her periphery. Dyani's gaze stopped, frozen, on the dark corner where she swore there had been movement.

She could see nothing.

Dyani took another long drag from her cigarette.


Cate stood at the dingy counter in the motel office, shifting on impatient feet. She glanced down a narrow hallway towards the half-open back door, and then leaned forward and dinged the bell in front of her once again.

Where the hell is an employee? Cate rested her elbow on the counter, exhaling in defeat. Are we actually going to have to drive 37 miles to the next town before we can get a bed? She frowned, standing on her tiptoes and leaning over the counter to glance down the hallway again. That's unacceptable.

She could hear a television set murmuring quietly in a back room she guessed was for breaking employees. Cate sighed, staring down at the ineffectual bell that sat on the front counter. I know you're back there, bastard. The front door was wide open, so accept the fact that you have customers. She turned and glanced out the window at Dyani. The dark-haired woman was leaning against her car in a casual pose, smoking a cigarette and staring out at the town in thoughtful silence. Cate sighed and turned back to the counter. Desperate customers.

Cate looked down and gave the small bell an evil smile. I'm not giving up that easy. She looked down the hallway and gave the half-open door an even more evil smile. And if you don't hear this, I'm coming back there and dragging you out.

Cate cleared her throat, shook out her wrists, and then poised one of her hands inches above the bell. She began a mental count of three, and when nobody had decided to come and help her when she reached the end, she began an incessant banging on the bell.

Hopefully someone will come out just to kick my ass for being so annoying, Cate mused. She grinned down the hallway and waited to see the grumpy employee her ferocious noisemaking was sure to draw out. Her grin faded after long moments when she realized that nobody was coming.

Cate gave the bell a final, hopeful ring, and then dropped her hand to her side. She frowned again. You've gotta be kidding me. She sighed, planting her elbow on the counter and dropping her chin into her upturned palm. She was silent for a moment, and then straightened up in thought.

Maybe he's in the bathroom. She glanced around at the motel's front office. There were no doors except the front one. Maybe it's in the back office. She walked over to the end of the counter, stopping when she reached the waist-high door that swung open to admit people to the back area. She cocked her head towards the hallway just beyond her, listening hard.

Maybe he's sleeping. Cate shifted on her feet, reaching out to put a cautious hand on the small door. Would it be totally weird to go back and wake him up? She snorted a little, imagining the scene. Rise and shine, sir, please... for the sake of my sex life!

Cate chuckled, pushing the door open with deliberate caution. She took a step behind the counter, and then swung her neck around to glance out at the parking lot. She could see Dyani standing straight up near her Civic, her cigarette held absently at her side. The dark-skinned woman appeared to be staring at something in the distance.

Cate turned back and took a deep breath, taking two more steps until she had cleared the door and stood in front of the narrow hallway. This is taking way too long. She straightened her shoulders, making a decision. Besides, she rationalized, as she began a cautious walk down the hallway, maybe he's hurt. I should check on him, right?

Despite the supposedly noble intentions, Cate felt like she was doing something wrong. She crept down the hallway on her tiptoes, approaching the back room in silence. I'll just peek in there and see what the situation is... if it's appropriate, I'll knock.

Closing the distance to the room, Cate stopped and leaned forward on her tiptoes, angling her neck to peer into the room through the half-opened door. She could see the grey-blue glow of a flickering television set and the cracked wood of a battered coffee table. A step closer and she could make out the very edge of the arm of an upholstered chair or loveseat. She strained to hear something other than The Facts of Life - she recognized the childhood favorite - that played on the television.

There was nothing.

Cate bit back a sigh and took one more step closer. She stood on her tiptoes and once more leaned over to peek into the door, and this time she could see a pale, hairy arm resting on the chair. She froze, heart pounding, and kept her eyes on the man inside.

I don't know why I'm so freaked out. He's obviously fallen asleep, and I can't believe it's unreasonable to wake him up. It's only a little after nine o'clock, after all. The sun has barely gone down.

Cate was as convinced as she was going to be and, more importantly, she was desperate to finish what she and Dyani had started on the side of the highway. She raised her hand and, hesitating only a moment, knocked sharply on the door.


It was strange how her voice seemed to echo in such a small space. Cate stepped back from the door and waited to hear the man wake up. The only sound from the room was Tootie teasing Natalie about a boy she liked.

Cate cleared her throat. "Hello, sir? Are you... are you open?" She waited a moment, and then leaned back over to look at the hairy arm again. It hadn't moved. "I really need a room."

Still no movement from the chair.

Cate's shoulders tensed with a sudden, startling thought. Maybe there really is something wrong with him. She turned and looked down the hallway in the direction of the front door, suddenly wishing that Dyani were inside with her. Maybe I should go get her.

Cate dismissed the thought after a moment. No, she decided. I refuse to look that pathetic. Besides, I know I can take care of myself. It's just a matter of not letting myself get the creeps. She reached out and put her hand on the doorknob. No matter how creepy this place is.

The door swung open at Cate's careful push, revealing to her the tiny back office and the sole employee of Dark Spring's only motel. He sat in a battered old easy chair that faced a television set, arms stretched out at his sides and his legs crossed at the ankle in front of him. He had dark hair and a long, unkempt mustache that highlighted the thin-lipped mouth that hung open in a grotesque expression of surprise. His skin was sallow and mottled, and for the first time Cate noticed the sickly odor that hung in the air.

Once she caught whiff of it, she couldn't imagine how she hadn't smelled it before.

He's dead. This man is actually dead.

Hazel eyes roamed the sight in front of her with disbelieving horror. Cate took in every detail with growing terror pounding through her veins. She managed to save the last, and most disturbing, sight for last.

The employee's throat was literally torn out. Bloody strips of ruined flesh hung from both sides of his neck, and it appeared that something - or some things - had tried to devour him alive.

Even as she began to tremble in shock, Cate was aware of a single thought. He wasn't devoured, though, not entirely. He was just... drained of life.

Cate opened her mouth and screamed.


They were standing over in the shadows near the brightly lit gas station, two of them, and they were watching Dyani with glowing eyes. Dyani wasn't sure whether they were aware that she had seen them; she'd noticed them out of the corner of her eye and had willed herself not to react at first. She hadn't wanted to force a confrontation until she had a better idea of their intentions.

I hope it's just two of them, Dyani thought. As much as she wanted to swivel her head around to look for more, she forced herself to remain calm. They look like kids, anyway. I'm sure I'm just reacting to this creepy as fuck place.

They didn't necessarily look dangerous, but Dyani couldn't overcome the vague unease she felt at the way the two young men stood and stared over at her. She thought they were whispering to one another, though she couldn't hear anything they said. She shifted on her feet, uncomfortable under the silent scrutiny. Not really wanting to take her eyes off the menacing men who watched from the shadows, she nonetheless glanced backwards at the motel once again.

Cate was no longer visible in the front office.

Dyani turned back around, still not looking directly at the men. Where is she? She darted a quick glance over next to the gas station, surveying her watchers out of the corner of her eye. Did they come closer?

Dyani's heart began to pound.

Maybe we should just go to the next town, Dyani thought. She turned and shot another quick look back at the empty motel office. Is she getting a room? Sliding her lighter back into her pocket, Dyani turned back to face the gas station across the street and pushed herself off the rear fender to stand up straight.

She was alarmed when she realized that the two men had definitely drawn closer. Dyani couldn't help but dart another surreptitious gaze over at them, trying to decide what they intended to do. They were both dressed in dark clothing; the one wore an ankle-length black coat that seemed disturbingly out of place in the dry, hot desert, and the other was clad in a black t-shirt and dark jeans. Both had skin pale enough to nearly glow in the low light of the evening sky, making them appear far more sinister than their outward appearance would suggest.

My fight-or-flight instinct has never failed me before. Dyani kept her head held high, staring across the street with a confident glare. Her body was stiff with tension; she felt ready to leap into action at the slightest provocation. Still she watched them from the periphery of her vision, feeling a sick tendril of dread uncoiling in her belly. I trust my gut, and my gut doesn't trust these two assholes.

Dyani was certain that they were a threat. She wasn't certain how or why, and that left her uneasy. She felt frozen to the spot with indecision.

Would I look like a total maniac if I ran in there and told Cate that we have to leave this place? She fidgeted with the lighter she still held in her pocket. That's not crazy, is it? After all, she reasoned, keeping wary eyes where she could continue watching the two strangers, the only two people we've seen in this town are staring at me like I'm dinner.

Dyani's mind went wild with visions of what could happen to Cate or her, and she took a sudden step back away from the surrounding darkness towards the motel office. They could mug us, rape us... She looked around at the still black night, swallowing hard. They could probably murder us without attracting any attention at all.

I've got to get us out of here.

Dyani pivoted where she stood, still trying to appear calm, and began a steady walk up to the motel office door. She could feel hateful eyes burning into the back of her head, and she resisted the urge to look over her shoulder. She was sure that they were following her, taking slow and measured steps behind her, closing the distance between them. Dyani was all at once very worried.

Can I find Cate and get us back out here fast enough? Dyani calculated the distances involved in her head. Not if they move quickly.

Cate's sudden scream shattered the silence of the night.

The unexpected noise, ringing in the eerie calm, threw Dyani into an instinctive dead run. Her jangled nerves shattered and she pushed through the front door of the motel with violent force, turning her head this way and that in the low light until she spotted her lover. Cate stumbled out from behind the front counter, her mouth opening and closing in silent horror.

Dyani crossed the room in three steps, embracing Cate as the brunette flew into her arms. Cate was shaking and stuttering, and Dyani's immediate concern was torn between the boys outside and whatever had happened to Cate in here.

"We've got to get out of here," Dyani blurted even as she squeezed Cate tightly against her body. "Are you okay?"

"There's a... he... the motel guy, he's... I found him back there, and his throat..."

Dyani didn't need to know exactly what Cate was trying to say; the sobbing explanation confirmed all of the dark woman's fears in an instant. She turned her head to glance out the motel's front window, squinting into the growing darkness.

The two boys were approaching the parking lot, now only thirty yards away. They strode towards Cate's Civic, taking their steps nearly in unison. Something flashed in the dim lamplight outside; Dyani realized that it was teeth bared by a malevolent grin. Dyani shivered.

"Cate, we need to get out of here," Dyani said in a low, insistent voice. "I think we might be in trouble."

"He was dead, Dyani," Cate mumbled in a shaky voice. "His throat was just... someone just tore it out. It looked like they just drained the life right out of him."

She's in shock. Dyani stepped back from Cate and gripped her upper arms with firm hands. She looked into unfocused hazel eyes, shaking the smaller woman until Cate looked up at her, scared.

"There are two guys, Cate, coming this way. I... I don't like how they feel. I say we make a break for it. You follow me to the highway, and we'll just drive to the next town."

Cate gave her an immediate nod, her eyes clearing. "Yes," she said. "Let's do it."

Relief rushed through Dyani at the brunette's sudden focus. She's tough. Dyani reached out and grabbed Cate's hand, and then turned to the door. "Come on," she shouted over her shoulder at Cate, and then she took off running.


Cate burst out the front door of the motel on Dyani's tail, still clutching the butch woman's hand in her own. Fear was doing funny things to her senses; she felt at once razor-sharp attunement to her environment, the dark, silent threats stark in the cool desert night, but also as if she were running underwater, in slow-motion. She saw the two young men who stalked towards them, understood in an instant what Dyani didn't like about the boys, and yet she felt clumsy as she fumbled in her pockets looking for her car keys.

For a moment she thought she'd lost them.

"Just follow me!" Dyani hissed into her ear, and then let go of her hand to rush to the purple Sportster.

Cate nodded. She heard herself saying, "Yes", and continued to dig through her pockets for her car keys. Oh, please God. Her fingers scrabbled around, finally brushing against a metal key ring. Cate nearly sobbed in relief. She reached the car door and yanked it open, launching herself inside and then slamming it shut behind her. She locked the door, and then leaned over and locked the passenger side. Keys in hand, she sat up and glanced at the side mirror.

The two boys were no more than five feet from the rear bumper of her car. Looking into their eyes, she had no doubt that they were coming for them.

Dyani's motorcycle roared to life beside her, and she could see both boys jerk their heads over to glare in the dark woman's direction. Cate's heart nearly stopped as they both turned to run over to where the Harley was parked.

Who the fuck are these guys?

Forcing her attention away from the scene, Cate put her keys in the ignition and turned them. The Civic sputtered and rumbled for a moment, but refused to turn over. Cate turned the key again. The car refused to start.

Oh, fuck no.

Cate looked up, frantic, to see Dyani speeding from the parking lot with the two boys in hot pursuit. They followed the biker to the edge of the lot, and then slowed their run to a slow trot when they reached the street. Dyani disappeared into the darkness, safe.

Cate had never felt more alone - or scared - in her entire life.

As she watched, both boys turned as one to stare at Cate in her broken-down Civic. Two pairs of eyes glowed in the night.

"No," Cate whimpered. She gave the keys another stubborn turn. Nothing. "Goddamn it, Beast, this is not the time to fucking die on me." She glanced up at the rearview mirror; the two young men moved stealthily towards her. "Please, God..."

It wasn't that Cate couldn't defend herself. She knew she could at least put up a winning struggle, but that didn't seem to matter right now. Her movements felt confused and clumsy; the shock of seeing the dead man with the torn throat had thrown her into a kind of daze. Besides, she acknowledged, out here alone in the desert, with no car... what kind of chance do I have?

Cate kept her hand on her keys, fingers tightening around them as she bit her lip in panic. Another ten seconds and the boys in black would reach her. What the fuck do I do? She looked at the entrance to the parking lot with tear-filled eyes. Dyani, where did you go?

"Hey, bitch!"

Cate's eyes went wide at the aggressive voice at the driver's side window. She turned the keys again, praying to a God she wasn't sure she believed in, and half-sobbed as her car continued to sputter uselessly.

"I'm talking to you, bitch."

"Why don't you get out of your car and hang out with us for a while?"

Almost against her will, Cate turned and looked up at the two young men who were shouting at her through the closed window. They looked even more intimidating up close.

The boy closest to her - she thought it was the one who had decided she was a bitch - was tall and thin. He had on a trench coat, and she could see now that he wore his hair just past his ears, slicked back against his head. His lips were pale and thin; he had a Roman nose, long and curved.

The other boy was more solid. His arms bulged beneath his black t-shirt, the muscles stretching the sleeves in an almost obscene way. He had thick, dark eyebrows that met over the bridge of his wide nose. He stared at her with wild, hungry eyes.

"What do you want?" Cate shouted. Her fear was turning to anger, which was helping to clear her mind.

The stocky boy stepped up to the car, flashed a grin, and said, "You." A beefy fist shot out and punched through the window, and glass exploded onto her.

For a moment Cate couldn't react. She sat paralyzed as broken glass showered her head and lap, her mind still trapped in the moment when she had seen that evil, hateful smile before her car window was smashed.

Fangs. He has fangs.

He had sharp, wicked-looking fangs that glinted in the moonlight. Cate screamed again, and then screamed harder when strong hands reached in and grabbed her. All of a sudden those hands dragged her, one twined in her hair and the other gripping her arm, out of the shattered car window. Cate couldn't stop screaming.

Cate slumped in her attacker's arms as her legs cleared the window, and she squirmed as she tried to get her feet beneath her. She was completely vulnerable in that moment; the larger boy wrapped two strong arms around her chest and stomach, crushing her breasts in a painful grip.

I've got to get on my feet, Cate thought frantically. I can't defend myself if I can't stand up.

Cate grunted, rage flooding through her body. "Get your fucking hands off me, you prick!" She struggled in the boy's arms; he jerked her this way and that, and she had trouble getting her balance. "What the fuck do you want?"

The thin boy stepped up in front of her and gave her a slow smile. He looked her up and down, licking his lips. A pair of inch-long fangs glinted dangerously in the light. He reached out and gripped her hip with cruel fingers. "What've you got?" he asked.

Cate was knocked forward with sudden force as the boy who was holding her lurched violently to the side. She heard a loud growl from behind her even as she stumbled into the thin boy, who had an almost comically surprised look on his face.

"Get your fucking hands off her, asshole!"

Cate felt her mind clear at the sound of Dyani's voice behind her, a menacing snarl. She came back! The will to fight flooded through her body, and she snapped her eyes up to glare at the dark-haired boy who stared back at her. He lifted the corner of his mouth in an ugly sneer, and then delivered a vicious backhand across Cate's face.

Cate's head jerked backwards at the blow, but she stopped herself before she toppled over. She planted her feet on the ground, curled her hands into fists at her sides, and snapped her face back around to pin the kid with furious eyes.

"Now I'm fucking pissed," she enunciated, and then delivered a sharp jab to the boy's solar plexus.

She took him by surprise. The boy's mouth opened and he released a wheezing gasp. As he bent over in pain, Cate followed up her initial blow by driving the heel of her hand hard into his throat. The boy gagged and then fell to the ground. Cate delivered a sharp kick to his ribs for good measure.

Cate spun around, and then cried out when she saw that the larger boy had forced Dyani to the ground. He was on top of her and they were struggling with one another; Cate could hear Dyani's frantic grunts and the boy's hissing threats as he finally pinned her with two hands on her shoulders. He bent his head to her throat, baring his sharp fangs.

Cate reacted. She let out a primal scream, drew back, and delivered a powerful kick to the muscular boy's head. He fell to the side, and Dyani used his momentum to push her way out from underneath his large body. The dark woman scrambled to her feet, wide-eyed and breathing hard.

"Are you okay?" Cate shouted.

Dyani nodded, grabbing her hand. "Come on, get on my bike. Quickly!"

Cate allowed herself to be pulled towards Dyani's motorcycle, which was idling a few feet away. She slowed her steps slightly as she approached the Harley, apprehensive.

"Come on!" Dyani shouted. She climbed on the bike, shooting a fearful look over her shoulder. "Cate, come on! They're getting up."

Cate didn't bother to look. She scrambled onto the motorcycle behind Dyani, wrapping her arms around the butch woman's middle. She took a deep breath, and then shot a quick glance over by her car.

Both boys were struggling to their feet.

Cate squeezed Dyani hard. "Let's go."

"Hold on," Dyani shouted, and then they sped off into the night.


The entrance to the two-lane highway was almost a mile further down the road from where they had taken the exit to come into Dark Springs. Dyani cursed the strange design in her head, ready to be away from the sinister town once and for all. Cate's arms were wrapped around her, a reassuring if not suffocating presence, and Dyani could feel the tension that ran through the smaller woman's body.

She can really fight, Dyani thought with a touch of wonderment. Like a goddamned action hero.

It had been almost surreal when Cate had exploded into violent action. Dyani hadn't had any kind of plan hatched when she went back to that parking lot after Cate. She'd made it almost a quarter of a mile down the road before she had collected her senses enough to glance in the mirror behind her. When she'd seen only darkness and realized that Cate wasn't following her, she hadn't hesitated in making what, in retrospect, seemed like a ballsy choice.

It was particularly ballsy given that Dyani didn't have time to think out the pseudo-rescue. Turning her bike around, she'd returned to the parking lot to see the larger boy literally dragging Cate out of her car window. Cate's screams had filled the night air, spurring Dyani on even though she wasn't sure how or if she could stop what was happening.

Dyani wasn't a fighter. She had been in two fights her entire life, and neither had been her choice. There was the bar fight three years ago - over a woman who had approached Dyani, much to her girlfriend's ire - and she had lost that one. The other fight she'd won; she'd been ten years old and a neighborhood boy had called her a spic wetback. Then she had been fueled by righteous fury, and she had also towered over the boy by a good ten inches.

I don't know what the fuck I was thinking when I rushed that guy. Dyani pushed her bike a little faster when she saw the sign for the highway in the distance. He could have killed me, easily.

If Cate hadn't been such a capable fighter, they would both be dead. Dyani knew that without a doubt.

She felt a tugging on the back of her leather jacket, and then heard Cate's voice carried away on the wind. "What?" Dyani shouted.


Dyani could make out the one word before it was snatched away by the night, and she immediately slowed her bike until they came to a complete stop. She looked down the road; the sign marking the highway entrance was a reflective blue beacon in the distance. She glanced over her shoulder, back at the town; nobody appeared to be following them.

Dyani shifted her eyes to look at Cate. She realized that the other woman was trembling.

"Do you have another helmet?" Cate asked again.

Dyani shook her head. "I've never had a girl on my bike before," she admitted.

This elicited an inexplicably pleased smile from Cate. "Really?" she asked.

Dyani nodded. "Really," she said. I'm not the smooth seductress you probably think I am. She bit her lip, and then reached up and tugged the helmet off her head. She handed it back to Cate, who released her waist to take it. "Go ahead and put it on. You're the brawn of this outfit, apparently, and so your cabeza is more important to protect."

Cate chuckled, a sound that was muffled as she put the helmet over her head. "I don't know about that," she said. "I am the chickenshit when it comes to motorcycles, though, so I'm not going to refuse."

As much as Dyani wanted to discuss what had happened back there - to ask Cate what the hell those things were - she knew that they had to keep moving. They had to put distance between themselves and their attackers.

Dyani remembered a flash of sharp teeth in the moonlight, and the stocky boy's descent towards her neck before Cate had kicked him in the head.

Those aren't normal boys.

"You ready?" Dyani called over her shoulder. "We need to keep moving, find another town." She paused a moment. "We can call the police to help us get your car back."

Cate was silent for a moment. Then, "Dyani?"

Dyani twisted in her seat, looking back into serious eyes. "Yeah, Cate?"

Cate looked down at the seat for a moment, and then raised her head to meet Dyani's eyes again. "Thanks for coming back for me," she whispered. Her voice was shaky.

Dyani gave her an embarrassed smile. "You would have done the same for me. Besides," she continued, giving Cate a respectful nod, "it looked to me like you could have probably taken care of things with or without me. You ended up saving my ass, remember?"

Cate shook her head. "I was just frozen at first, I think from shock. I only snapped out of it when I heard your voice and realized that you'd come back. I..." she shook her head again. "It gave me what I needed to fight back, so I thank you."

Dyani further twisted her body, maneuvering one arm to gather Cate into an awkward hug. She buried her nose in a lock of hair that had escaped from the helmet and inhaled deeply. "I can still smell you on my fingers," she whispered. "You think I'd just leave you to those things?"

Cate's breathing hitched, and then evened out after a moment. "You still up for a hotel room somewhere?" she whispered back.

Dyani grinned. Now that I've got all this spare adrenaline pumping? "Yeah," she admitted. "Somewhere far away, with lots of people."

"Let's go," Cate said. She pulled back from their hug. "Let's get out of here."

Dyani didn't need to be told twice. She turned back around on the bike and, ignoring her twinge of nervousness over not wearing her helmet, started them back towards the highway entrance.

They had almost reached the highway when their headlight illuminated a pair of glowing eyes in the darkness ahead of them.

"Oh, fuck!" Dyani yelled. Another moment and she could see him clearly, bathed in the light from her motorcycle. He stood in the road in front of them, apparently unconcerned about the bike that sped towards him. His pale face was stained red with blood. He tossed something down on the ground and then held up both hands as if to command them to stop.

They were going to hit him.

Every motorcycle safety course Dyani had ever taken came back to her in an instant. She examined and discarded a dozen different scenarios in the blink of an eye, all the while applying both her front and rear brakes in anticipation of the crash. I can't dump the thing to try and avoid him, Dyani thought. I can't swerve out of the way. Everything was happening too fast. We need to slow down.

"Control stop this motherfucker!" Dyani shouted aloud. She pressed on her brakes as hard as she could without locking her tires. "Come on!"

They hit the guy going about twenty miles per hour. The impact threw Dyani up and over her handlebars, sending her tumbling through the air with a surprised grunt.

My first highside, she thought crazily, and no helmet.

Dyani forced her body to relax as she hit the ground. She tucked and rolled, using her body's momentum to carry her away from the scene of the accident. She concentrated on presenting as small a target as possible, praying that her bike wouldn't come crashing down on top of her.

Oh, God, Cate. Even as her body absorbed the impact of the accident, her head bouncing against the dirt road, Dyani worried about her companion. She doesn't know how to land. What if she's hurt?

Dyani finally came to rest, still squeezed in tightly upon herself. She lay there for a moment, uncertain that it was really over, and then slowly uncurled her body. She sat up, head aching, and looked around with dazed eyes.

Cate was all right. In fact, Cate was more than all right. She stood over the injured young man, delivering a vicious kick to his ribs when he moved as if to stand. Dyani could see that her long-sleeved shirt had been torn in the crash; the pale moonlight revealed little else.

"Stay down!" Cate shouted.

Dyani blinked, not feeling quite ready to stand. "Are you all right?" she called to Cate, and then winced at the shockwaves of pain that radiated throughout her skull.

Cate looked up at her with wild eyes. As Dyani's vision adjusted to the dark, she could see that the brunette was scared and... enraged?

"Cate, are you all right?" Dyani called again. Cate's fierce look unnerved her; that it could inspire both fear and an incredible sensation of safety sent her breathing into uncontrolled gasps. Please be all right.

The young man at Cate's feet suddenly gained a second wind, surging upwards and knocking Cate back as she remained focused on where Dyani sat. He released a noise that was between a hiss and a growl, going for Cate's throat with his teeth like a wild animal hunting his prey.

"No!" Dyani shouted. She planted her hands behind her and scrabbled up to a half-standing position. Her ankle screamed in protest. "Cate-"

The slim brunette wasn't going to be taken down that easily. Dyani watched, amazed, as Cate's eyes snapped back up to pin her attacker with a murderous glare. The dark woman fell back and landed on her ass with a muffled thump when Cate suddenly unleashed a furious martial arts attack on the young man, stopping his strike and knocking him backwards a few steps.

Dyani watched with her mouth open as Cate delivered a series of aggressive punches and kicks. Every counter-attack was met with a defensive movement from Cate; she employed a series of holds and throws that visibly weakened her opponent. The guy had obviously been hurt in the accident; even from a distance Dyani could see the blood that covered him and the way he limped around as he fought.

What didn't make sense, Dyani suddenly realized, was how he was fighting at all. I hit him, she thought incredulously. I hit him going 20 miles per hour and he's going ten rounds with Karate Kid Cate over here. She shook her head, feeling foggy and in pain from the accident. What the fuck is going on?

With a sharp cry of triumph, Cate took down the snarling young man with a particularly devastating blow to the midsection. She continued kicking him as he fell to the ground and lay on his side; she swore down at his motionless body, pummeling him with unthinking ferocity. Dyani sat still and watched with wide eyes.

After long moments Dyani came to her senses. "Cate," she said, and scrambled to her feet. She winced in pain as she crossed over to stand next to the furious woman. "Cate, stop," she said. She reached out and put her hand on Cate's shoulder, squeezing gently.

The young man was silent and motionless on the ground. Dyani couldn't see him breathing. After one last kick, Cate stepped back, gasping for air.

"He was another one... of those things," she said, and looked up at Dyani. "They're not normal guys, you know."

Dyani nodded. "I know." She looked down at the bloody young man on the ground, shuddering. "What do you think they are?"

"Vampires," Cate said without hesitation.

Dyani blinked. She looked over at the brunette, who also stared down at the battered young man with something between pity and disgust. "Vampires?" she asked. "For real?"

Cate must have heard the disbelief in Dyani's voice. She raised her eyes to Dyani's. "They have fangs," she said.

Dyani chewed on her lower lip, considering. "This one, too?"

Cate nodded. "Yeah," she said. "He came at my throat and I could see them..." she trailed off, shuddering. "It'd explain what happened to the motel guy."

Dyani took a step back from the dark lump on the ground. "Vampires?" she repeated. "I don't know if I can believe-"

"Believe it," Cate interrupted. Her young face was hard. "We've just stumbled across a gang of fucking vampires."

Dyani believed it. "I saw the fangs, too," she admitted. "I just... I just don't want-"

"I know," Cate said. She stepped closer to Dyani, bringing a hand up to grip the dark woman's shoulder. "I know."

"Fuck," Dyani said, and turned to stumble over to where her Harley lay on its side. Sharp pain tore up her leg from the pressure on her ankle, and she hopped a little as she tried to shift her weight from the injured side. She twisted the handlebars, angling the front tire towards the ground and slightly elevating the frame. With another pained grimace, she squatted down and planted her butt on the seat, and then began a slow backwards walk to right her bike.

It only took a couple of minutes of inspection in the dark to come to a horrible conclusion.

"Fuck!" Dyani said again. She felt hot tears sting her eyes. "It's fucking trashed. We're not going anywhere until I can make some repairs." She took a couple of painful steps back from her bike, resisting the urge to lash out and push it back over onto the ground. "Fuck!"

"And you can't make the repairs," Cate whispered softly.

Dyani shook her head, bringing her hand up to rub at her eyes. "No," she answered. "Not without the right tools and parts. And not in the dark."

"With those things, though? You could?"

Dyani looked over at Cate. "I fail to see how that's relevant," she said. The comment came out sharper than she had intended. She watched Cate's face fall.

"I just wanted to know something about you," Cate whispered. Her voice was so low it was nearly carried away by the slight breeze that broke the stillness of the desert night.

Dyani crossed over until she stood in front of Cate. She swallowed the lump that formed in her throat at the sound of Cate's sadness. She reached out and gripped Cate's arms with her hands, pulling the smaller woman close to her.

"I used to fix bikes at my dad's shop. He... he sold and repaired motorcycles. He had his own place since the time I was a kid and he taught me everything he knew." Dyani cast a sad look back at the damaged Harley. "The Sportster is the only thing I kept after he passed away and I sold the business."

Cate looked up at her with bright eyes. "When did that happen?" she whispered.

Dyani shrugged, looking back down at the still motionless vampire. Vampire? "A couple months back." Sometimes it feels like yesterday.

"Is that why you're on the road?"

Dyani met Cate's eyes, reaching out and stroking her cheek. "Yeah," she said. "It was time for something new."

Cate held her gaze for a moment more, and then gave her a careful pat on the arm. "Are you okay?" she asked. At Dyani's confused look, she gestured at the dark woman's head. "The accident. I was wearing the helmet. Are you okay?"

Dyani brought a hand to her forehead at the question. "I landed okay," she said. "I know I bumped my head a few times, but I don't think it's too serious. My ankle, though..." she lifted the body part in question, glancing down at her foot. "I think I twisted it."

She could see Cate swallow. "Bad?" she asked.

"Bad enough that I'm not going to be running a marathon anytime soon," Dyani admitted. She looked down at the ground, shifting her weight to her good ankle. Her cheeks burned with the shame of feeling so weak.

"Or walking very far?"

Dyani blinked back more hot tears. Goddammit. "Or walking very far," she whispered. "At least not very fast, and not without a lot of swearing."

Cate nodded. A gentle hand stole up and slid across Dyani's back through her leather jacket, patting her a couple of times. "We'll figure something out."

Dyani didn't answer for a moment. Looking down at Cate, she reached out and took the brunette's wrists in her hands. She lifted them slowly, examining her with anxious eyes. "How about you? You weren't exactly dressed for a crash."

Cate turned her arm within Dyani's grasp, and Dyani saw a long, bloody scrape down from her elbow to just above her wrist. "Ouch," Cate said. She sounded as if she had just noticed her injury for the first time.

"Ouch," Dyani echoed. She felt a pang in her chest at the sight of dark blood running down Cate's arm. She closed her eyes briefly, nostrils flaring with emotion. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be silly," Cate said, shaking her head. Dyani opened her eyes to see the smaller woman look up at her from her study of the bloody gash. "It's not your fault."

Dyani didn't say anything. She looked down at the dark figure at their feet once again. "Do you think he's dead?"

Cate shuddered, wrapping both arms around her middle. "I don't know," she said. "He looked like he was hurt pretty bad after we crashed. I managed to get up right away and he was already on his feet again."

Dyani stretched out her leg and poked the body with a tentative foot. She regarded the silent form for a minute, and then glanced over at Cate. "What do you think it takes to kill a vampire?" she asked.

Cate released a hysterical little giggle at that, as if she couldn't believe that they'd found themselves in a situation that would require such a question be asked. She shook her head, staring down at the body. "I don't know," she answered after a moment. "Garlic, holy water? I have a feeling all that is bullshit."

Dyani allowed herself a brief smile. "Maybe all it takes is one pissed off chick with a mean left hook?" she joked.

Cate glanced up at her, rolling her eyes in embarrassment. "Stop."

"You're really a bad-ass," Dyani complimented. She took a step closer to Cate. Reaching an arm out, she pulled the brunette into a loose embrace. "I would have never guessed you could fight like that."

Cate shrugged, leaning into Dyani's body. The dark woman grinned at the shy pleasure on Cate's face, squeezing her around the middle. "Thanks," Cate said. She spent a moment in silent contemplation. "Those guys are pretty tough, though... hand-to-hand, if you hadn't distracted those two at the motel and this guy," punctuated by poking the still body at her feet with the toe of her boot, "hadn't been hurt already... I don't know if I would win."

Dyani chewed on her lip. We better hope you can, she worried. I don't know what choices we have anymore. She tried to push the thought away, and concentrated on Cate instead. "I bet you could. Where did you learn?"

"My dad signed me and my brother up for karate when we were kids. I just... took to it. I've competed since I was in middle school. I've studied judo, aikido..." Cate paused for a moment and then looked up. There was something in her eyes that sparked a little shiver of anticipation deep in Dyani's belly. "Shinkendo," she finished, whispering.

"I'm impressed," Dyani murmured.

"Dyani, how far away is the next town? About forty miles, right?"

Dyani sighed, releasing Cate from her embrace. Back to reality... as fucked up as it is. "I don't know," Dyani said. "I think so, yeah."

Cate turned and looked in the direction of the highway, biting her lip in thought. "And we're about thirty miles past the last town, right?"

Dyani sighed again. She looked down at the ground and kicked at the dirt with her good foot. "Right," she agreed.

"Unless something's changed, there's no cell phone reception out here."

Dyani groaned. "Uh-huh."

"And we can't walk to another town... well, not easily, at least. If we ran into some more vampires on the road, out in the middle of nowhere... we could be in real trouble."

Could she be any better at depressing me right now? Dyani scowled. "Yeah, right. You've got it. We're totally screwed."

Cate's light giggle surprised Dyani, who stepped back away from the amused woman. "Are you worried, biker girl?"

The nickname brought a reluctant smile to Dyani's lips. "I'm afraid I can't protect you," Dyani confessed. She looked down at the ground, drawing circles in the dirt with her toe.

"Who says you have to protect me?" Cate said in a quiet voice. She waited until Dyani looked up at her and smiled, bumping the larger woman with her hip. "Maybe I'll protect you."

Dyani gave her a tremulous smile. "Okay," she whispered. After a moment, she shook her head. "So are you going to tell me why you're not more worried?"

Cate smiled, grabbing Dyani's hand. She interlaced their fingers, tugging Dyani away from the still form on the ground back in the direction from which they'd driven. "Because I know something you don't," Cate said, still smiling.

Dyani watched as Cate stepped over to a small dark lump on the ground. The brunette knelt down, cocking her head as she examined it. Dyani couldn't discern what she was looking at.

"What is it?" Dyani asked.

Cate was quiet for a moment before answering. "It looks like some kind of rodent. I think he was... drinking its blood."

Dyani shuddered. "Gross."

Cate stood up and wiped her hands on the back of her jeans. "Yeah," she agreed. "Really gross."

Dyani cocked her head at the brunette. "So what do you know?"

"What do I know?"

Dyani crossed her arms over her chest, nodding. "Yeah, you said you know something I don't."

"Oh," Cate said. Her lips curled into a satisfied little smirk. "I have a pair of katanas in the trunk of my car."

Dyani blinked at the smaller woman. "You're fuckin' shitting me," she said in a blank voice.

Cate laughed out loud. "I shit you not," she said.

Dyani held her hand up, pinning Cate with incredulous eyes. "You have a couple of Japanese swords in the trunk of your car?"

Cate gave her a sweet smile. "Indeed I do."

Dyani released a low whistle. "Wow," she murmured. "Am I glad I seduced you."

Cate threw her head back and laughed again. "Likewise," she said. "Anyway, like I said... hand-to-hand, I don't know about beating these things. With my katanas, though... well, shinkendo is my favorite discipline." She gave Dyani a bright smile. "Come on," she said, looking down at the unconscious vampire once again. "We need to get away from this thing in case it's not really dead."

Dyani grabbed Cate's hand, pulling her over to the side of the road. "So have we decided how to kill a vampire yet?"

Cate gave her a feral smile. "Dismemberment, maybe?"

Dyani shuddered. The night seemed all of a sudden colder. Is it really going to come to that? She moved closer to Cate's warm body. I don't know if I'm cut out for this action hero bullshit.

"Maybe," Dyani agreed. She took a deep breath, exhaled, and then pulled the brunette further into the open desert. "Come on... I think we need to figure out how to get back to your car."


Cate crept through the dark Utah landscape, circling the dimly lit buildings they observed with cautious eyes. She followed Dyani as the dark-skinned woman moved through the desert, crouched low to the ground. Her movements were quiet and graceful despite her injured ankle.

Cate was following Dyani's lead.

We need to make sure we don't leave any tracks, Cate. Cate had listened to Dyani's instructions silently, trusting in the quiet confidence in the dark woman's voice. Walk like this... yeah, distribute your weight evenly on your feet... roll 'em a little...

They had practiced as they walked away from the scene of the accident, Dyani straying behind to cover what tracks she did leave. The butch woman was remarkably light on her feet, considering her muscular frame, and she reminded Cate of some impossibly beautiful wild creature. She was stunning in the moonlight.

Cate scowled. A bed, she thought, rolling her eyes up to the heavens. I just want a damn bed with this woman.

Dyani led them over to a cluster of dark rock that lay on the very outskirts of town. Cate stayed low to the ground and tried to control her breathing, concentrating hard on being as quiet as her guide. She turned and looked towards the motel in the distance; she could see the two boys lounging near her Civic. To her great relief, the trunk was still closed.

"I don't think we can get much closer than this and still talk safely," Dyani whispered when Cate crawled over to join her. They both squatted behind the rock, and Dyani eased her head out to shoot a careful look towards the boys. "I still only see two of them."

Cate took a deep breath and then peered around the edge of the rock as well. The stocky boy leaned against the side of her car, and as she watched, he reached a hand up to gingerly touch the side of his head. The thin boy lay on the hood; Cate was gripped with a fierce possessiveness that only stoked the anger that had burned in her since the big vampire had pulled her out of her car by her hair. How dare they touch the Beast!

She was certain they were talking, but she and Dyani were crouched too far away to hear them.

Cate eased back around the rock, sitting down and leaning her back against it. "What do we do now?" she whispered up at Dyani.

The dark-haired woman sank to the ground to sit beside her so that their shoulders were touching. She leaned in close and brought her mouth to Cate's ear. "I think we should get closer and try to hear what they're saying. It might give us an idea about what we're up against. After that, well... I don't know how much planning we'll be able to do once we're within earshot, but I figured I could go and create a diversion while you run to your car and get your katanas."

Cate frowned. "Create a diversion how?"

Dyani shrugged. "I don't know. I figured I'd sneak over to an area far away from you, make some noise... I could get away from them before they found me, and meet you back at the car. If they get back before we're gone, you can play ninja. If not, that's just as well. I just want to get us out of this fucking town."

"That's if the car starts at all," Cate said.

"Let's assume it will," Dyani whispered. She gave Cate a wry smile. "And accept that it might not."

Cate chewed on her lip, brow furrowing in concentration. After a moment she shook her head. "I don't like it."

Dyani gave her an exasperated look. "What's not to like? I don't think we have many choices here. We need to get to the car. They're laying all over it. If we can't get them away from it, we'd have to go up against them hand-to-hand. I'm no good in a fight, and you're not sure you can take them without your swords. Am I right so far?"

Cate ducked her head and stared at her knees, rolling her hand in a defeated gesture. "Yes. Go on."

"Okay," Dyani said. She bumped Cate's shoulder lightly with her own, and then leaned over and planted a soft kiss on the brunette's temple. "I'm very good at hunting and tracking. My mom's brothers used to take me every summer, many times. We still go occasionally. I can lose them, and I can make sure they don't find me."

"But you're hurt," Cate complained. She looked down at the ankle in question. "That's going to slow you down."

A brown hand reached over and gripped Cate's chin, forcing hazel eyes to dark grey. "Hey," Dyani whispered. "It's going to be okay. Don't worry about me. I'm a little hurt, yeah... but I can do this. I swear."

But I couldn't take it if you got hurt. Cate avoided Dyani's eyes, unable to vocalize her fears. I don't know what that means, but I know it's true.

"I can do this," Dyani repeated. "This is what I can do... you can get your weapons and kick vampire ass, if it comes to that. But this is what I can do, okay?"

Cate nodded her assent. "I know this is the best way."

"Just remember," Dyani said, and smiled, "when we get out of here, we can find a bed. A nice, big bed, and then we can finish what we started earlier." She leaned even closer to Cate's ear, tracing the lobe with her tongue. "I love how you sound when you come, querida, and I can't wait to hear it again."

Cate shivered in silent pleasure. She's really, really good. Her anxiety melted away to be replaced by desire and, in turn, anger at their interrupted interlude and determination to reclaim her night. This was supposed to be my illicit episode of youthful abandon, damn it. I will not let a bunch of vampires ruin this for me.

Cate looked up at Dyani, shooting her a look of playful reprimand. "You make a good point," she conceded. "I'll keep the motivation in mind."

"And so will I," Dyani whispered. "I'll get back to the parking lot safe and sound."

Cate nodded, rising up on to her knee and capturing Dyani's mouth in a quick kiss. "Let's move closer," she said. It's now or never.

Dyani gave her a crooked grin as she shook off the kiss, blinking a few times before she could speak. "We'll listen, if we can, and unless we hear something that makes this plan a bad idea, we'll go on my signal, okay?"

Cate took a deep breath, slowly wiping her hands on the knees of her jeans. "Okay."

Dyani took off in a stealthy lope, slinking into the darkness until she almost looked a part of it. Cate followed, wide-eyed and attentive to the occasional silent gesture the dark woman would throw back at her.

They made it to the corner of the restaurant without being spotted. The boys were, at most, forty yards away. Cate squatted with her back to the side of the old wooden building, and Dyani crouched next to her, ear tilted towards where the Civic sat in front of the next building over.

Two deep voices were just barely audible from where they stood.

"I'm serious, she broke it. That fucking bitch actually broke my nose."

That must be the big guy, Cate mused. I kicked him pretty hard.

"Shut up about it already. I'm not exactly feeling one hundred percent here, either. Do you hear me bitching about it?"

Ah, the thin man.

"Man, I hope Jeremy finds them. I would love to sink my teeth into that cunt's throat... God, my nose hurts."

Soft laughter. "If he hasn't called us yet, he probably didn't run across them. He would've let us know by now."

Cate directed a panicked look over at Dyani. Did that guy we hit have a phone?

Dyani's expression mirrored her own. I hope he's dead, Dyani mouthed.

Cate nodded, and then turned her attention back to the vampires when they began to speak again.

"Bastard's probably off chasing the wildlife again. I mean... Jesus, we're all hungry, but that's just fucking nasty."

Cate suppressed a smile. At least we agree on something.

"Do you want me to call him?" The thin boy sounded annoyed.

Cate held her breath. No, no... please, God, no.

"Does that mean he'll come back here?" Disdain rang heavy in the larger one's voice.


She listened to a couple minutes of silence. Cate balled her fists at her sides, and her body was racked with tension. She didn't want to move for fear that she would set into motion a chain of events that would lead to their discovery. Cate closed her eyes. Please don't call him, please don't call him.

"Call him," the stocky boy yawned. "Just in case, call him."

Cate's eyes flew open and she shot Dyani a worried look. Holy shit!

Dyani stared back at her with blank eyes. Her angular face was a stony mask, and she held up her hand in a calming gesture. Just hold on a minute, she seemed to say. Wait.

Cate dropped her face into her hands, elbows pressed against her bent knees. Please, please, please. She wasn't even certain what she was begging for.

A beeping noise broke the still night air, and Cate realized that they were using a walkie-talkie. Why didn't we check before we left him? Her heart pounded hard against her chest. I didn't want to lean over and have him pop back up at me like a bad horror movie, that's why.

"Yo, Jeremy. You there?"

Cate lifted her face from her hands and glanced back over at Dyani. The dark woman was statue still, her eyes fixed on some point in the distance.

"Jeremy, you read me?"

Another minute passed without a response.

"I told you. Asshole's out there drinking from some rat or fox or something, when he could have been stopping a real meal from driving right out of town..."

"Shut the fuck up, David, okay? He could just be out of range."

Cate suffered through another couple minutes of silence.

Again, "Jeremy, answer us if you're there. Over."

"You think he's okay?"

The thin boy didn't answer. Dyani reached over and took Cate's hand, and they waited together for the outcome of this discussion. If they go check on him, we can grab the car. Of course, if one goes and checks and one stays... Cate took a deep breath. I could maybe take one of them, healthy, even without the swords.

"I guess we'll find out if he comes back, won't we?" Cate craned her neck, straining to hear his words. "I'm not leaving to go look for him. We're not going to find people out in the middle of the desert. We're going to find them coming into town."

"I still want those two women," David said, his voice grumpy. "They looked like they'd taste really good."

"Think positive," the thin vampire responded. "Jeremy could still come back with them. The night is young, after all."

They were silent for a few minutes. Cate was just beginning to relax a little bit when Dyani tugged on her hand, drawing her attention to the dark-haired woman. Dyani held up her free hand, gesturing out at the desert. She jerked her head in the direction of the motel, and then nodded.

I suppose that's the signal, Cate sighed. I was hoping a better plan would have revealed itself by now.

Cate leaned forward and brushed her lips against Dyani's, squeezing the hand she still held in her own. Pulling back from the gentle kiss, she mouthed, Be careful.

Dyani nodded. I promise, she mouthed back.

And then she was gone.

Cate grew cold as soon as Dyani slunk around the back of the restaurant with silent ease, disappearing from her sight and leaving her alone in the darkness. She rose to her feet as quietly as she could, keeping her back against the wall. With nothing else to focus on, and not wanting to dwell too much on what Dyani was doing, she concentrated on listening to the two boys who still lingered near her target.

I wonder how long this'll take, Cate thought. I should probably get my car keys ready right now, before I've got to run like hell. She stuffed her hand into her pocket, stopping cold when she felt nothing but stray lint.

Oh, you're fucking kidding me.

Desperately, Cate reached into her other pocket. She found the same thing.

You are fucking, goddamn kidding me.

Her keys were missing.


Dyani loped through the scrubby underbrush in the desert, running away from the restaurant and crossing over to the other side of the motel. She sped along on feather-light feet, gritting her teeth against the intense pain the movement was causing in her ankle.

She hadn't lied to Cate; she could do this. It's just that it definitely wasn't easy. But like I said... this is how I can help. If I can't be the muscle, I'll be the sneaky one.

She crept along the outside of the town, always keeping her eyes moving. She flicked her gaze from the restaurant to the gas station; back to the motel and then the desert behind her. She still wasn't certain that there weren't more than three of those things hanging around, and she didn't want to get surprised as she crept through the night.

Dyani made her way to the other end of town, and then out beyond the gas station into the sparse terrain. She tried not to worry about Cate. I hate knowing she's alone back there, in the dark. Dyani shuddered. I can't wait until this whole thing is over.

There was a large rock formation about fifty feet behind the gas station, and Dyani sought refuge behind it. She looked around at the landscape that surrounded her, searching for plants and obstacles and potential hiding places.

The desert's not exactly the best place to try and be stealthy, Dyani admitted to herself. I guess I'm just going to have to hope that I can stay far enough ahead of them that it won't matter that it's wide open out here. She smoothed her hands over her leather jacket, and then her jeans. Glad I'm wearing dark clothing.

Dyani eased her head around the rock and glanced back in the direction of the town. The two vampires were now between her and Cate, who she hoped was still hiding behind the restaurant. The thin boy still lay across the hood of the Civic, and his larger friend was pacing back and forth next to the car.

I hope I can distract them long enough for her to get what she needs. Dyani rolled her neck from side to side, grimacing at the pain in her head. And I hope I can make it back quickly enough so that we can just drive away.

As much as Dyani would have loved to see a couple of slimy vampires wiped off the face of the earth, she wasn't sure she was up for that kind of excitement.

No, best that we just get out of Dodge while the getting is good.

Dyani took a moment and sent a quick prayer up to whatever deity might be listening. Then she set about creating a diversion.


No keys. Cate was ready to have a heart attack. Just great. No keys and Dyani's out there without any idea.

Try not to panic, she told herself.

Easier said than done.

Cate forced her mind to slow down, and held her hands out at her sides while she took a deep, calming breath. She counted to three, and then started to process the bad news again.

Okay, so my keys are gone. That was fact number one.

Where did I leave them?

Cate chewed on her lip in silent contemplation, retracing her movements throughout the course of the evening. I had them when I tried to start the car. After that, I don't know.

She considered the possibilities. Maybe they're still in the car. She closed her eyes, searching her memory. I think I pulled them out of the ignition, but I could have just left them in there when they broke the window out.

Cate's eyes brightened at that sudden thought. Fact number two: the car window is broken. I can run to the driver's side door and pop the trunk from inside. It'll take me a little longer, but... Cate blew out a nervous breath. I don't think there's another option.

That would get her the katanas. She still wasn't certain what would happen after that.

If the keys aren't in the car, they might be on the ground right there. If they're not there, one of those guys could have them. Cate didn't even want to consider the possibility that she'd lost them in the accident, back with Jeremy. I guess a fight is inevitable at this point, unless I can find the keys while I'm getting the katanas. If I can't, I've got to assume someone took them.

She heard the loud noise from the other side of town at the same time David and his thin pal did.

"What the fuck was that?"

Cate stood ramrod straight, straining to hear Dyani in the dark night. She heard another noise; a crashing, thumping sound, followed by what sounded like a faint shout. She leaned as close to the edge of the building as she dared.

"Did you hear that shit?"

Cate heard the thinner boy sit up on the hood of her car, his boots thumping against the slightly rusted paint job. "I heard it."

"What do you think it was?"

There was silence for a moment, and then, "Jeremy, are you there?"

Cate fought the urge to throw up. Stay asleep, Jeremy, or stay dead. Please don't answer them.

"He's not there, asshole! Now what do you think that was? It didn't sound like an animal to me."

Another loud crash, and more muffled yelling.

Cate was tense with anticipation. She leaned towards the edge of the wall, ready to move in an instant. She shot a cautious look over her shoulder, and her stomach twisted with nerves.

"Doesn't sound like an animal to me, either."

Cate heard a loud sniffing sound. "Think it's those bitches?"

"Maybe," the thin boy said. "Maybe Jeremy did find them."

"Or they found him," David muttered, almost too low for Cate to hear.

"That long-haired one was pretty tough," the thin boy admitted. Cate felt a small smile of pride tug at her lips almost against her will. "What do you think? Should we check it out?"

"Jeremy might need help," David said. "And I definitely need to eat. If we don't go and he's found them, you know he'll take first pickings."

The smaller boy grunted. "Fine, then... let's go. It came from over there, right?"

His question was answered by silence, and Cate imagined that the other boy was nodding at his companion. After only a moment's hesitation, she slowly poked her head out from behind the edge of the wall, glancing down the street at the motel parking lot.

David and his friend were walking with their backs to her, out towards the gas station that sat the edge of town.

Please, Dyani, please get away from them.

Without any weapons, lacking real fighting skills, and nursing an injured ankle, Cate knew that Dyani would be an easy victim for the two vampires who now hunted her. They had frightened her with their strength and ability to recuperate during her brief encounters with them; Jeremy had been the most startling, as she'd seen him hit hard during the accident and then get up and fight as if it had been nothing at all. Imagining two healthy and alert vampires finding Dyani in the night caused a sick little ball of fear to form in Cate's belly.

I've gotta get those swords and protect her.

Cate stared at the vampires, wanting to wait until they walked out of sight before running to her car. Now that she was going to have to go through the broken driver's side window to get inside so she could pop the trunk, this little maneuver was going to take her longer than she originally anticipated. Unfortunately, that was also longer than Dyani knew she needed.

I hope I'll have enough time to do this. I wish I knew the exact right moment to run.

But she didn't, and so instinct would have to do. Cate continued to watch the two young men walk towards the edge of town until their dark forms grew smaller and their voices faded away. Just as she was about to lose sight of them, an excited exclamation was carried back to her, floating through the night air.

"I hear her! Over there!"

The two figures disappeared, tearing off into the dark desert landscape.

Oh God, Dyani, please be all right.

With the quick prayer, Cate took off running towards the motel parking lot. She pumped her legs as hard as she could, suddenly realizing some residual aches and pains from her tumble off the Harley earlier in the night. She didn't let it slow her down, however, and she kept her eyes glued to the prize.

The Beast sat in the parking lot, the driver's side window smashed out and the door closed. She went through what she needed to do as she ran, terrified that she would forget the delicate choreography when it mattered most.

Try the driver's side door. If it's locked, reach in through the front window and unlock it. Open the door, and then lean down inside to pop the trunk. Once you've got the trunk, run like hell and open it. The katanas are near the top, I remember that much. Once I've got the swords, I can start looking around for the keys. If I can't find them, I need to lure those guys back and get them. Cate was panting hard, her mouth open as she ran. Above all else, protect Dyani.

Cate reached the car, stopping her sprint with outstretched hands planted on the side window. She stumbled forward and tried the car door, finding it locked. I guess they didn't go in my car at all.

Cate leaned in the shattered driver's side window, crying out softly as her stomach brushed against a jagged piece of glass. She could feel the sharp edge digging into her skin, could feel warm blood running down her belly, but she continued to lean over as she searched for the car lock with a frantic hand.

Fuck, yeah! When she found it, she thumbed it unlocked and then backed up out of the car window. Trying the door again, she released an exhilarated breath when it swung open.

Now pop the trunk.

Cate crouched down, fumbling in the relative dark for the lever that would release her trunk. "Come on, come on," she whispered under her breath. "Piece of cake, piece of cake." She found the lever a moment later, tugging on it and hearing the satisfying click of the trunk popping open.

"Yes!" Cate hissed. She was on her feet in an instant, tearing around to the back of the car.

That's when she saw Jeremy limping towards her with dark blood on his face and murder in his eyes.


He was only fifteen feet away from the back of her car, and while she saw that his movement was impaired due to his injuries, she also knew that he would be upon her within seconds. She didn't slow down as she approached the open trunk.

"Luke! David!" Jeremy screamed into the night. "She's right here!"

"Fuck!" Cate muttered. Hail, hail, the gang will all be here in a couple minutes. She threw open the trunk and immediately began digging through the various bags with both hands.

As she remembered, the katanas were near the very top. They were both sheathed in hard scabbards, and she scrambled to pull the blades free. She forced herself to pay attention to preparing her weapons, and not dwell on the threat approaching her back.

Cate jumped when a large hand clapped down on her shoulder, dropping one unsheathed katana on top of a suitcase that was nestled on top of all her college belongings. A heavy body pressed against her from behind, and she was pinned between Jeremy and the rear bumper of her car. She still held one sword in her right hand, and she twisted her torso, swinging the blade around as far as she could in an effort to hit Jeremy.

Her blind strike glanced off Jeremy's shoulder and he grunted, and then pressed against her even more firmly. He was hard behind her, and she began to panic as her plan unraveled before her eyes.

If I can't take care of him before the other two get back, I'm dead for sure.

Cate struggled against the wounded vampire as he attempted to crush her against the back of her car, forcing all his weight on top of her. She lifted her foot up as far as she could, slamming it down and backwards with all the fury she could muster. She managed to smash into his foot, which startled him into taking a jerky step away from her.

"I'm gonna fucking kill you!" Jeremy hissed.

Hazel eyes narrowed and turned cold. Cate took advantage of Jeremy's momentary loss of balance by thrusting her arm back, catching him in the gut with her elbow. She heard the wind get knocked out of him, and she spun around with her sword once again.

This time she made it.

Her katana swung in a graceful arc, and she watched as it connected solidly with Jeremy's arm. She maintained her momentum even after hitting flesh, effectively slicing off a battered arm just above the elbow. Dark blood sprayed from the severed limb, and she and Jeremy both stopped for a moment to watch in sick fascination.

Jeremy lifted his head and pinned her with black eyes. "You fucking cunt," he whispered. He staggered back a step, and then roared in fury at her. "My fucking arm, you bitch! You cut off my fucking-"

Cate put an end to Jeremy's raging with another vicious blow of the katana, this one sweeping across his shoulders, taking his head off at the neck. His mouth remained open in protest as his head hit the ground.

His decapitated body followed a few moments later.

Cate stared at the carnage in disbelief. I think I'm gonna throw up. She lifted the arm that held her sword, examining her blood-splattered skin in the moonlight. I can't believe I just did that. She dropped her arm to her side, continuing to stare out into the darkness. And so easily, at that.

Distant shouting snapped Cate back into focus.

I'll have to deal with it later.

She whirled around where she stood, reaching into the trunk to retrieve her lost katana. Sword in each hand, the right one covered with blood, she turned back around and stepped away from the trunk of her car. She planted her feet on the ground, several inches apart, and took another deep, calming breath.

Twirling her katanas in front of her in an elaborate kata, Cate turned and faced the direction in which David and Luke had run off after Dyani. We're ending this now, assholes.

Cate listened to distant yelling growing louder. Another deep breath, and then Cate screamed into the night. "Come and get me, fuckers!"


Dyani tore through the desert scrub at breakneck speed. Or at least as close to breakneck as I can get with my ankle feeling like it got smashed with a sledgehammer. She could hear the two young vampires behind her, much closer than she would have liked.

"Hey, bitch!" one of them hissed from off to the side. "We can hear you."

"We can see you," the other one chimed in, "and it's only a matter of time before we taste you."

I don't believe them. Dyani forced herself to keep moving, even though her heart felt like it would explode in her chest with her stark fear. I don't think they see me yet, but they will pretty soon.

For the first time, Dyani wondered if she wouldn't be able to make it back to the parking lot after all. She was running out into the desert, crossing back over behind the motel. She turned and sought out her target with cool grey eyes. God, that's far away. How am I ever going to get there without getting caught?

Dyani's head whipped up at the sudden sense that someone was yelling in the distance. She slowed her steps, cocking her head to listen to the faint noise. "She's right here!"

What the fuck?

The shout had come from too close to town to be either of her two pursuers. In fact, she heard the loud footsteps behind her stop; she kept moving, but listened hard when David shouted to his buddy.

"Was that Jeremy?"

Jeremy! Dyani picked up her pace, intent on making it back into town while the two of them were distracted. Her ankle seemed to throb even more painfully as her heartbeat rang loud in her ears. Please let her have gotten to the car all right.

Dyani veered back in the direction of town, darting quick glances to her left in an effort to spot the two vampires who searched for her. She spotted one dark form in the distance, moving briefly before disappearing into the inky night.

"Shit, it's that bitch-"

"Come on, we're going back! Come on!"

Dyani scanned the area to her left as she ran, searching for the source of the voices. She stumbled a bit when two black figures leapt out of the darkness. They sprinted back in the direction of town, a good fifty feet in front of her. Suddenly Dyani wasn't worried about making it back without being seen; she was terrified that there was no way for her to arrive at Cate's car before they did.

And that meant a fight was inevitable.

Dyani swallowed hard, pushing herself even faster in pursuit of the vampires who raced back into town. She no longer tried to be quiet, certain that the two boys were only worried about reaching Cate and no longer cared about where she might be.

She thought she might be able to take two of them with her katanas, but what about three? Even if Jeremy's hurt, it's not like he's... human. He could really screw this up. Dyani ran as hard as she could, struggling against the growing distance between her and the two young men in front of her. I've got to get back there and help her.

"Come and get me, fuckers!"

Cate's scream cut through the night, causing Dyani to stumble again. She reached out and caught herself on two hands planted in the dirt, wincing at the scraping pain against her palms. With a frustrated grunt, she pushed off and stood up, pumping her arms as she ran as fast as her injury would allow.

I'm coming, too, querida.


Cate kept her eyes moving, scanning the perimeter of the gas station at the end of the town. That's where they ran. How far could they have gotten? She pivoted in a circle where she stood, glancing over at the other gas station, the restaurant, and then behind her at the motel. Where the hell are they?

She had already looked for her keys. They weren't in the car, and they weren't on the ground where she could see. She was unwilling to get on her hands and knees to look beneath the car, and so she was going to have to assume that either Luke or David had them.

That's if the Beast will even start at all.

Cate chuckled out loud, and she was startled by the humorless noise. "This has been one hell of a night," she murmured aloud.

Dyani, you'd better be okay. Cate pivoted again, holding her katanas at the ready. I hope she just hangs back and lets me take care of them.

"Come on, you assholes! Where are you?" Cate screamed. Get away from my girl and pick on someone who can kick your sorry butts!

Cate listened to the desert stillness, tilting her head and biting her lip in concentration. She strained to hear their approach, sweeping her eyes this way and that. She didn't want to get caught by surprise.

She saw the first one as a long, dark shadow that slunk between the motel and the gas station. She squinted at it, trying to discern its shape. Whipping her head around, she surveyed her surroundings to make sure she wasn't being flanked. Not seeing any other movement, she returned her eyes to the area where her enemy lurked.

"I see you, asshole! Why don't you come out and fight me like a real monster?"

Cate kept her voice steady and confident even as her knees began to shake. She knew she was a good fighter, and excellent with the swords, but a combination of fear and rage rattled her to the core. She took a couple of deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling with forced calm.

More movement; the shadow crept even closer.

Cate swiveled her head around again. Where's the second one?

"I'm gonna kick your ass," Cate growled, turning her head to look back at where the vampire approached. "You two fucked with the wrong women tonight."

Hell hath no fury like a horny lesbian denied.

Out of nowhere there was a hissing sound, and then the thin vampire - Luke - sprung out of the shadows and sprinted towards her. Cate jumped even though she had been expecting it, and then planted one foot slightly behind her, angling her body to meet the attack. She took another deep breath, hefting her katanas in her hands.

Luke had just reached her, and Cate had just begun to swing her sword in a wicked arc, when all of a sudden David appeared at her right side. He was wielding a crowbar, which Cate saw just a moment too late. She jumped back to avoid his blow, causing her own strike to fall short of its intended target. Her blade sliced neatly through Luke's shoulder, drawing an enraged cry but not putting him down. The crowbar glanced off her shoulder, sending a shockwave of pain roaring through her arm and into her hand.

Cate dropped the sword against every instinct she had. It was like she had no choice; the crowbar smashed into her and her fingers stopped working for a moment. The katana fell to the ground.

"No!" Cate screamed, and kicked hard at David, connecting solidly with his knee. The larger boy grimaced in pain, and then swung the crowbar at her once again. She dodged his strike, realizing in a panic that Luke was reaching down to retrieve her fallen weapon.

She kicked out at him, catching him on the chin with the toe of her shoe. Luke fell backwards into the dirt, taking the sword with him.

Fuck! Cate didn't have time to dwell on Luke's sudden advantage; she was still dealing with David's furious attack on her right. She swung out with the sword in her left hand - goddamn it, I'm better with my right - and turned towards the boy, slicing into his t-shirt, just above his ribs. He grunted in pain, and then brought down the crowbar again.

Cate blocked his downswing with her arm, leaning into him to deliver a hard punch to his midsection. She felt her hand get covered with hot blood, and she wrinkled her nose in disgust. Looking over her shoulder, she saw Luke struggling to his feet.

I might be in trouble here.

Cate hated to admit it to herself, but these boys were frighteningly strong. Losing her katana right away had been a devastating turn of events. My sensei would be ashamed of that move. Cate allowed a smirk as she executed a furious strike in David's direction, leaving a long slice down his forearm. Of course, he never really trained me to take on vampires.

Still, Cate was starting to feel uneasy about the plan that had seemed so good. She wasn't ready to concede defeat yet, and she was going to fight until the bitter end, but for the first time she considered the real possibility that she could lose. Two armed, alert, and pissed off vampires were not what she ever wanted to face.

Unfortunately, it was clear that she didn't have a choice.

Luke rose to his feet, her sword grasped in his right hand. He held it up, swinging it back and forth with casual ease, and pinned her with hate-filled eyes. Cate took a defensive step backwards, gaining some distance from a smiling Luke and a gasping David. Both glanced down at their own weapons, and then over at one another, before finally raising twin glowing gazes to rest on her. They smiled in concert, baring their inch-long fangs in cruel pleasure.

"That's what you think," Cate muttered under her breath. She adjusted her stance, rolled her neck from side to side, and then released an angry war cry that began the fighting again.


Dyani gasped out loud as she approached the scene of an epic battle in the motel parking lot. To see both boys engaging Cate - one with something that looked like a crowbar, and the other with one of Cate's own katanas - scared Dyani beyond reason. Though Cate's face was set in tense determination, and she countered each of the vampires' attacks with smooth defensive maneuvers, Dyani could see her fatigue and her subtle worry.

She's not entirely sure she can win.

Dyani felt panic engulf her stomach at the realization, and she stopped short in front of the restaurant. She was twenty feet from where Cate was fighting the two vampires, watching from the shadows of another small parking lot. Dyani was frozen to the spot, uncertain of what she could to do turn the tide of the struggle.

If I run in there, I'm just going to distract Cate. She'll feel like she needs to worry about me, and she needs to concentrate on what's doing instead. Dyani clenched and unclenched her fists, arms hanging limp at her sides, and shifted her weight off her injured ankle. If I could just distract those two things and not Cate, maybe she could take advantage of it. She shifted her weight again, considering. Maybe.

Cate threw a series of punches and kicks at her attackers, holding them at bay with her blows and her sword. She could see that Cate had landed a number of hits on the two boys; blood ran down David's arm, and the other one staggered with his injuries.

How can I distract them without distracting her at the same time?

Dyani took a couple of steps closer and then stopped, pacing back and forth for a few frantic moments. Think, Dyani. Think. She looked up at the fight, hissing in sympathy as the crowbar just barely grazed Cate's hip. Come on, baby, look up at me. Just look up so you know I'm here. Come on.

Dyani stared at the brunette with intense grey eyes.

Come on!

Cate ducked below a wild swing of the katana from the thin vampire, kicking out low and catching him in the ankle. He howled in agony and she stood up, turning her head to stare directly at where Dyani was standing.

Dyani couldn't see the look in Cate's eyes and she didn't falter for an instant, already blocking a brutal blow from the crowbar. She gave no indication that she had seen the dark woman, but Dyani knew. It was time.

With few options and unwilling to wait any longer, Dyani opened her mouth and screamed the first thing that came to mind. "Drop your fucking weapons or I swear I'll shoot you both!"

Both boys flinched, and David swung his head around in confusion to seek the source of the noise. Dyani frantically raised her hands in a crude pantomime of pointing a gun as an afterthought. Just in case.

The momentary distraction was enough for Cate. David searched in the darkness for Dyani, and his eyes came to rest on her at the same time Cate made her move. She swung her sword at the thin vampire, catching him in the forearm. Dyani watched in horrified amazement as his sword hand was taken off just above the wrist.

Cate's second katana fell to the ground.

That's right, querida! Dyani pumped one fist into the air in triumph. If her ankle hadn't been swollen and throbbing, she would have broken into a victory dance. You show him!

Dyani's good humor vanished in an unblinking instant when David suddenly turned to face her. Despite the loss of his hand, the thin vampire was still alive and kicking - literally - and Cate was poised to defend herself from David while trying to finish him off.

Nobody was entirely prepared for David to take off in a sudden run towards where Dyani stood and watched.

Stumbling backwards a few steps, Dyani swore and hobbled as she jarred her injured ankle. David was approaching her fast, running at an inhuman speed, and Dyani was coldly aware that she had no chance of outrunning him. Not when I'm hurt, and probably not even if I were healthy.

Dyani didn't know what to do. She could run towards Cate, trying to dodge the boy, and hope that she would make it to the lethal brunette before David could grab her. She could run into the desert, though she doubted she would survive if she chose that option. No, that's what the idiot woman in the horror movie would do. If I want to survive, I've got to do whatever the girl in the horror movie wouldn't do.

Dyani's eyes were riveted on David's form, which grew larger as he moved closer to her. Another ten feet and he would be on top of her.

I could always hope for a convenient deus ex machina.

Five more feet.

Or maybe I'll just over-think the damn thing until I get myself killed.

And then David was falling on top of her, pushing her back a few steps and nearly knocking her over. He didn't hit her with the crowbar, and once Dyani recovered from her shock, she retaliated with a violent shove of her own. David fell backwards and landed heavily on his back; it was only when Dyani heard the sickening wet sound of a blade tearing through flesh that she looked down at his motionless body.

The long, thin blade of a katana thrust up from his chest, the hilt obviously trapped between him and the ground. The sword was covered in blood. Dyani watched as more dark blood flowed from beneath the vampire's body, spreading into a large pool around his midsection. She looked up at David's face, seeing shock and hatred burning there, and watched in silence as a thin stream of blood dripped from the corner of his mouth.

David managed a wet cough, looking up at her. "Bitch," he spat. He released the crowbar from his hand and it clattered uselessly to the ground. Closing his eyes, he muttered, "I'm going to kill you, bitch."

Dyani's eyes were wide as she watched the vampire bleed out. "No, you're not," she answered in a whisper. He's not, she repeated to herself. He can't.

Dazed, Dyani lifted her head and found Cate standing back near the edge of the motel parking lot, staring back at her. The thin vampire lay motionless on the ground behind her; Dyani couldn't count how many pieces Cate had cut him into, but she was confident that he wouldn't be getting back up.

She moved her eyes back to Cate. The brunette was shaking.

Dyani cast one last look down at David, who no longer moved, and then stepped over him to walk over to Cate. The trembling woman watched her approach, staring at her with unseeing eyes.

"I thought he was going to get you," Cate whispered when Dyani reached her. "I thought... I didn't think I could stop him."

Dyani reached out and took Cate's cold hands in her own. "You did," she reminded Cate. "You stopped him." Stepping forward and pulling Cate into a loose embrace, Dyani leaned down and kissed silky hair. "Thank you."

Cate shook her head, bringing her arms between them and wrapping them around her stomach. "I didn't think... I mean, I didn't know that I could do that with a katana, but I didn't know what else to do-"

"Cate," Dyani interrupted the babbling woman. "It's over," she soothed. She reached down and pulled Cate's arms away from her belly, tugging them around her waist so that the smaller woman returned her hug. "It's over."

Cate stepped back and looked up at her, some unidentifiable emotion shining in hazel eyes. She was silent for a minute, and then she nodded up at Dyani.

"It's over," she agreed. Cate cast a suspicious look around, intelligent eyes taking in every corner of the town. "And we need to get out of here before it's not anymore." Looking back at Dyani, she said, "Let's just find my keys and get out of here. You go check the little one - I know he's dead - and I'll take care of this one." She nodded her head down at David, whose mouth had fallen open to reveal grotesque fangs.

Dyani took a step away, towards the car and a horribly dismembered corpse, before stopping and turning to pin Cate with incredulous eyes. "You don't have your keys?"

Cate gave her a wry smile. "Oh, baby, it was even scarier than you realized. Trust me."

Dyani nodded, taking a limping step back towards the Civic. "I've decided that I'm waiting until tomorrow to realize how scary this all was."

Cate chuckled behind her. "That's probably wise."

Dyani managed a smile even as she looked down upon a scattering of bloody vampire parts. It's over, she repeated to herself. Just get through this part, and it's over.

Dyani looked back over her shoulder at Cate. Over.

"Hey," Dyani called out to the brunette. Cate looked up with raised eyebrows, and Dyani gave the smaller woman a casual smile. "So are we still getting that bed?"

Cate rewarded her with a throaty laugh. "After all this?" she asked. "You bet your ass."

Dyani turned around, knelt down, and began digging through a dead vampire's pockets with a huge grin on her face.


She's shaking.

Cate cast a sidelong glance at Dyani, who sat in the passenger seat with her arms folded over her stomach. She looked small and scared, a far cry from the grinningly confident woman who had found the keys in Luke's pocket with a whoop of joy and an impromptu victory dance.

It's hitting her.

Dyani looked out of the window with haunted eyes. Cate glanced over at her again, watching jaw muscles bunch and tense beneath smooth brown skin. The quiet strains of Pink Floyd drowned out the sound of the dark woman's breathing, but she could see the subtle flair of nostrils in the moonlight.

Should I say anything?

They had chatted about all sorts of inconsequential things back in Dark Springs, sitting in the Beast and slowly coaxing the old car to life. Their talking had continued when they stopped at Dyani's Harley, moving it to a safe place where they could direct a tow truck in the morning and grabbing the small bag strapped to it. My stuff, Dyani had explained with a blush. My journal, toothbrush and toothpaste, hairbrush...

And after that, conversation had stopped.

There was a lot Cate wanted to say to her new friend, but she lacked the courage to open her mouth. She wasn't sure exactly how she was feeling - or even how she should feel - and she didn't want to panic Dyani with her jumbled emotions. Cate blew out a steady breath, staring at the strip of road illuminated by her headlights.

I want more than just tonight. She bit her lower lip as she admitted the truth. A woman like her, one night might never be enough... and half of my night was stolen by bloodsucking punks.

Dyani sighed deeply beside her, reaching one hand up and running her fingers over her close-cropped hair. Cate studied her strong profile out of the corner of her eye. The biker was absolutely striking in the moonlight.

Why the hell did I have to meet someone like her under such fucked up circumstances? Cate sighed and moved her eyes back to the road. I wish she'd just been my neighbor when I got back to Chicago, or maybe someone I met at the club with Dana.

Anyone but a one-night stand I've really begun to care about.

All the horror of the night had left Cate hyper-aware of her surroundings, and she was instantly conscious that Dyani was shuddering beside her. Cate flicked her eyes over to her friend and opened her mouth, but closed it before she spoke. The words still wouldn't come.

Instead, Cate reached over with a tentative hand to find Dyani's cold fingers resting on her stomach. The brunette slid her hand over Dyani's, interlacing their fingers without a word. For a moment they sat that way in silence, both of them pressed against Dyani's soft stomach, and then after a moment Cate pulled Dyani's hand over to rest on her lap.

The weight of their entwined hands on Cate's thigh seemed to comfort them both.


Dyani woke up slowly, clawing her way to consciousness through the last vestiges of a vague dream. Her head rested against the seat, and she looked out of the window into the desert beyond when she opened her eyes. It was still dark outside, and a full moon hung low in the sky.

A soft sigh captured Dyani's attention, and she turned her head to stare at Cate. The brunette sat erect in the driver's seat, staring out the front window with a subtle frown on her face. The pensive expression furrowed her brow, and Dyani couldn't help but smile over at Cate with tender eyes.

Dyani opened her mouth to call over to Cate, intent on replacing the frown with a shy grin - and knowing she could do it with just one word - when all of a sudden a hissing sound filled the car.

Dyani sprung up in her seat, leaning forward until she slammed against the dashboard, and turned in horror to watch a vampire materialize from the shadows in the backseat of the car. She couldn't stop the scream that tore from her throat. His face was indistinct and obscured in blackness. He reached around Cate's seat with a muscular arm, grabbing the brown-haired woman around the neck and pulling her back against the headrest.

As Dyani watched with wide eyes, still screaming, he leaned forward and brought his mouth down to Cate's neck, shrieking and hissing-


The dark-haired woman gasped, sitting straight up in the hotel bed with a strangled cry of panic. Strong arms wrapped around her shoulders, and she didn't resist as she was pulled into a tight hug. Her body was tense for long moments until she registered the feeling of Cate's naked body against hers, and then she collapsed into the warm embrace.

"Are you awake, baby? Everything's okay," Cate soothed. She stroked two hands up and down the length of Dyani's naked back.

"I was dreaming," Dyani murmured into Cate's hair. She squeezed the smaller woman against her, and then eased them back onto the bed until Cate's head rested on her shoulder. Dyani tightened her arms around Cate, unwilling to let her go for even a moment. "I was having a nightmare."

"I know," Cate whispered. She turned her head and pressed a soft kiss on Dyani's collarbone; keeping her lips against the sleep-warmed skin, she slowly turned her body until she lay on her side next to Dyani's muscular frame. Cate looked up at Dyani from under tousled brown hair. "I'm sorry."

Dyani shook her head, biting her lip. I don't want to let you go tomorrow, querida. She stared over at Cate's mouth, bringing her hand up and running her finger over a swollen lower lip. "Make it better?" she asked in a low voice.

She watched Cate's eyes darken in the dim light of the coming dawn. "Yes," Cate whispered, and then she crawled up until she straddled Dyani's hips.

Cate placed her hands on either side of Dyani's face, cradling her jaw with gentle fingers, and leaned down to take her mouth in a slow kiss. Dyani groaned into Cate's mouth, reaching up to grip the brunette's hips in her large hands. She pulled Cate down against her body, groaning again at the wetness she felt on her stomach.

Cate was very aroused.

This was worth the wait, Dyani mused. She feels amazing.

Even with only four hours of sleep, Dyani felt more than ready to continue what they hadn't had the energy to finish only a few hours before. By the time they'd reached town and found a hotel, the fear and anger and exhaustion had taken their toll. Cate and Dyani had fallen into bed content simply to hold one another, seeking the comfort of flesh-on-flesh but nothing more.

She was still scared, and angry, and maybe even exhausted, but the adrenaline released by her terrifying nightmare was pounding through her body and she desperately needed an outlet for it all. Cate's lithe body, hot and warm and wet, felt like salvation.

Dyani slid her hands down and gripped Cate's buttocks in her palms, squeezing the firm flesh and pushing her lover even harder against her abdomen. Cate continued to kiss her, sucking and licking at her lips and tongue, and rocked against Dyani's body in a breathless rhythm. Dyani stroked her fingers up and down over silky skin, moving closer and closer to Cate's center at each pass. After a moment she found Cate's wet heat with a searching fingertip; she brought two fingers from her other hand over to share in the discovery.

Cate pulled away from the kiss and threw her head back in pleasure. She squeezed her eyes shut, arching her back and pushing herself into Dyani's touch.

"Yes," Cate moaned. "Feels so good."

Dyani's moan mingled with her lover's. She reached down and dragged fingers from both hands up the length of Cate's center, covering them in her arousal. "Yes, you do, querida," Dyani answered. "So good."

Dyani was surprised when Cate pulled away from her, easing down the length of the dark woman's body until her mouth was even with two firm breasts. Dyani whimpered in disappointment as she lost her grip on Cate's ass, and then cried out in excitement when a hot mouth latched onto one of her nipples.

"Cate," Dyani whispered at the sensation. She reached down and tangled her fingers in her lover's hair, pulling the brunette's mouth even harder against her breast. "Cate, Cate, Cate."

She murmured the name like a prayer.

Sharp teeth nipped at her erect nipple, and then tugged at the sensitive skin until she thought she would pass out. Dyani squirmed beneath Cate's body, one hand still wrapped in her hair and the other roaming her pale skin and intoxicating curves. She was wound so tight that her toes curled from the intensity of it all; she growled deep and low in her throat in an effort to relieve some of the pressure that Cate was creating.

"I need you, querida," Dyani whispered in a broken voice. The confession made her feel weak and strong at the same time; from the throaty moan Cate released and the slick wetness that now coated Dyani's belly, she could see that the words had just as strong an effect on the other woman. "Please," Dyani said. "Please."

With one last lick to a turgid nipple, Cate straightened up and looked down upon Dyani with a hooded gaze. She still straddled Dyani's body, her center hovering mere centimeters over a dark abdomen, and Dyani missed the slick heat right away.

Dyani reached down and found Cate's swollen clit with her thumb. Immediately, her wrist was captured in a strong grip, and Cate dragged her arm away until the back of her hand rested on the mattress next to her head. Cate shook her head in admonishment.

Frowning, Dyani reached down with the other hand. She slid two fingers on either side of Cate's arousal, pinching them together in a gentle caress. Again, her wrist was captured and returned to a position next to her head.

Cate leaned over her, pinning both wrists to the bed, and breathed heavily next to Dyani's ear. She pulled back slightly, giving Dyani a serious look, and then bent down to run her tongue along the length of Dyani's top lip.

Dyani nearly came right there.

Cate moved her mouth back to Dyani's ear a moment later. "Be good," she whispered. Dyani gasped a little at the command, and Cate pushed her wrists even harder against the bed. "Will you be good?"

Dyani didn't trust herself to speak, and so she merely nodded.

"Thank you," Cate murmured. She dropped a kiss on Dyani's ear, tugging at the lobe with gentle teeth, and then straightened up again. She released Dyani's wrists after a moment, raising an eyebrow in warning.

Dyani nodded again. I'll be good.

Cate looked goddess-proud in the pre-dawn light. Her pale body was supple and sleek, and Dyani looked up in awe at a woman who had surpassed every expectation she'd ever had for a cute girl in a bandana. Cate's strength was palpable in the lines of her muscles and in the quiet intelligence of her hooded eyes. Her beauty was undiminished even by the numerous cuts and bruises that littered her body.

Cate raised a hand to her throat, and then trailed her fingers over a collarbone and down to her own breast. The brunette squeezed a pale pink nipple between her fingers, closing her eyes and gasping in pleasure.

Dyani twitched - literally twitched - beneath her. Oh, she's good.

"Do you want this?" Cate said. Her voice was a throaty whisper that sent a renewed flood of wetness between Dyani's thighs. Cate opened her eyes and tugged on her nipple, rolling it between her fingers. She released a deep moan, rocking her hips against the air over Dyani's stomach.

Dyani nodded once more.

Cate shook her head, smiling as she reached up and tugged on the other nipple. She bit her lip as she pleasured her breasts, never taking her eyes away from Dyani's face. "Not good enough, biker girl. I want to hear you tell me." Cate dropped her eyes from Dyani's for a moment, glancing down the length of her own body, and then dropped her right hand between her legs. She looked back up at Dyani, licking her lips in satisfaction. "Do you want this?" she repeated.

"Yes," Dyani choked out. She clenched and unclenched her fingers, hands still pressed to the bed next to her head. She didn't want to move, afraid that Cate would stop what she was doing. "Yes, I want you."

Cate grinned at her, stroking at her center with her hand. Dyani could feel wet fingers pressing against her belly, moving in a gentle rhythm over Cate's clit, and she gritted her teeth in pleasure.

"You do?" Cate asked. She shifted her hand and slid a finger inside herself, moaning out loud and pressing down against Dyani's body.

Dyani felt like she would choke on her arousal. "I need you," she repeated. Her voice was raw and shaky.

Cate must have taken pity on her, because she swung her leg over Dyani's hip and knelt by her side. At first Dyani protested the loss of Cate's comfortable weight on her, and then she fell silent when she realized that the brunette was merely twisting around to reposition herself. Before she had time to form a coherent thought, Cate had straddled her body facing the opposite direction. Dyani moved her hands for the first time since Cate had restrained her, reaching out and lightly gripping the backs of Cate's thighs as they settled on either side of her torso.

"I need you, too," Cate said.

And then her voice was replaced by a buzzing in Dyani's ears when skillful fingers sought out her clit and stroked the length of it. Dyani spread her legs slightly, throwing her head back and moaning her bliss at the intimate touch. She stared up at Cate's slick folds, open and exposed to her, and reached out to feel her lover with a desperate hand.

She was liquid fire, heavy and swollen, and God, she was alive. Dyani rubbed her hand over Cate, feeling her actions mirrored between her own legs. The symbiosis of their lovemaking drove Dyani's arousal to dizzying heights, and she lost track of whose hand was whose, and whose wetness painted her skin. She positioned her finger at Cate's entrance, rubbing gently at her opening. When she felt Cate do the same, she pushed inside of her lover with a loud groan.

Cate met her stroke for stroke, and their bodies moved together as one as they pushed each other closer to the edge. Dyani could no longer keep her eyes open for more than a few moments at a time; she would force them open to watch her fingers moving between Cate's legs, and then they would slam shut at another wave of pleasure delivered by Cate's hand.

Finally, Dyani could take no more. "I'm going to come," she warned Cate. She reached up with her left hand and began rubbing at Cate's clit, smiling at the way the brunette jerked and shook at the added stimulation.

It was Dyani's turn to shake - her legs and thighs, and beyond her control - when Cate moved a second hand down to stroke at Dyani's clit. "So am I," Cate gasped.

Dyani closed her eyes when she heard how Cate's voice echoed her own. The only thing she wanted more than to come was to bring Cate off with her.

"Come on my hand, querida," Dyani panted. She increased the motion of both her hands, fucking and rubbing sensitive flesh. "Cate," she said again. "Cate."

"Dyani," Cate groaned, and then she jerked and stiffened and cried out her release.

Not once did Cate's hands slow, and Dyani came only a moment after hearing Cate's loud noises of pleasure. They both cried out into the early morning silence, continuing to pleasure one another until Cate finally collapsed on top of Dyani's body, exhausted. Dyani kept her fingers inside of Cate and closed her eyes, gasping for air and shivering when she felt Cate's muscles contract around her in a series of aftershocks.

They were silent for a good couple minutes, simply recovering their strength. Finally, Cate pulled out of Dyani, wrenching a disappointed whimper from the dark woman's throat. Regretfully, Dyani removed her own fingers from Cate's center, and then propped herself up on her elbows to plant a worshipful kiss on the soft skin of Cate's ass.

Cate giggled above her. "What was that for?" she asked, glancing back over her shoulder at Dyani with a wide smile.

Dyani lifted a dark eyebrow at the brunette. "'Cause I like you," she answered.

Cate's smile softened. "I like you, too," she whispered.

Dyani beamed at Cate as she eased herself off her body, turning around and settling down beside her. Cate rested her head on Dyani's shoulder again, releasing a contented sigh. She brought her arm up to curl around Dyani's stomach.

"That was even better than my fantasies," Cate admitted.

"You had fantasies?" Dyani asked. She was secretly pleased.

"Yeah," Cate said, and brought her hand up to drag blunt fingernails over Dyani's chest. The dark woman shivered at the touch. "I had fantasies."

"When did you have time for fantasies?" Dyani asked, chuckling.

"I made time," Cate replied. "I never said that I had these fantasies at the most appropriate moments." She grinned against Dyani's shoulder, turning her head to press a kiss into her neck.

Dyani wrapped her arms around Cate, pulling the smaller woman even closer into her body. She bit her lip and looked out the window. The sun was rising, turning the sky a beautiful red-orange that signaled the coming of the new day. Soon enough they would be calling a tow truck to get her bike, and tending to their injuries, and picking up the pieces of the hellish night they'd just survived.

And then?

Dyani sighed. I've got nothing to lose. "I'm not ready to leave you yet," she admitted in a soft voice. She felt Cate's body tense a little against her, but she pressed on anyway. "I don't feel like... well, I don't feel like one night was enough."

Cate pulled back a little, propping her elbow on the bed and resting her head on her upturned palm. She stared down at Dyani with intense eyes. "Especially a night like the one we just had?"

Dyani swallowed, staring back up at Cate with an unflinching gaze. "And especially not with someone like you."

Cate met that with silence, and her mouth dropped open a little in what looked like surprise. She watched Cate's throat work for a minute, and then the brunette said, "Where are you heading, anyway?"

Dyani shrugged. "I was just looking for something new," she admitted. "I didn't have a final destination, necessarily."

Cate's eyes flicked over to the wall, and then back to Dyani's face. Taking a deep breath, she whispered, "Chicago is something new, right?"

Dyani's heart skipped a beat, and then began thumping double-time. I've felt aimless since Dad died... and maybe this is what I was looking for. She looked up into tentative hazel eyes, reaching up her hand to stroke at Cate's cheek. "Yeah, Chicago is something new." She took a deep breath, rubbing her thumb along Cate's lips. "Maybe I could try that for a while."

The corner of Cate's mouth quirked upwards into a careful grin. "Maybe," she whispered back. Her eyes shone with excitement.

"Maybe," Dyani repeated, and then she snaked a hand around the curve of Cate's neck to pull her down into a passionate kiss.

They stayed in bed until the sun rose high into the sky.


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