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The Curse of Love

He would do anything for her. He would give her everything she wanted, needed, and deserved. But to do so, he would have to hurt her to save her from himself...

Once forcing the sun's rays into complete submission, darkness reigned supreme. Crowned in its glowing glory, the full moon rested between two mountains like a babe in its mother's bosom overseeing the activity in its surroundings. The hooting owls and the creatures of the night came out of the seclusion to claim their rightful place as kings of the forest. None paid heed to the dangerously low temperature of the season, but continued to howl at the night's chill.

Vincent DeAngelo cursed as the onset of the night's chill overtook his six foot frame. He hated this time of year the most, which was odd considering it fit his personality so well.

Cold, callous, and unforgiving. He sighed heavily at how easily his personality changed over the course of a two years. Flashbacks and sleepless nights overwhelmed him, leaving the floodgate of emotions ready to trample the gate's doors and wreak havoc on him. He shook his head in hopes to shake the feelings. No, he reprimanded himself, stop thinking of the damned past.

In any case, his lack of sensibility because of his rush to the party left him trapped in a thin black shirt that wasn't any sort of barrier to the frigid night.

With the outdoors no longer welcoming him, he gave an acknowledging nod to his friends before stepping inside the cabin.

Everyone's eyes followed as he left, and he hated it.

Pity, he thought with annoyance. He hated the damned pity in their eyes. He wanted nothing more than to fall into a six feet deep hole.

He shook off the cold, and headed for the fireplace. It was the only section in the cabin that didn't have countless bodies gyrating against each other in tune to the T.I.'s Bring 'Em Out. The scratching of the song by the DJ's turntable didn't seem to upset the dancers, they seemed to relish in it.

The close density of all the dancers made it nearly impossible to tell who was coupled with whom, but he knew. The parties always had the same people. Every face was familiar. Every face belonged to a relative, a friend, an ex-girlfriend, a connection. He knew everyone and everything they did. He knew their triumphs, their secrets, their wants, their needs.

Suddenly he stopped in his tracks.

Kate Matthews.

Every freckle, every sensual curve, every devastating soft angle of her face would be forever etched in his mind from that night. He'd forever remember how her dark brown eyes reeled him in with ease, how her lips were a heart-stopping curve, revealing two dimples that were too damn cute for him to stand. She wasn't the prettiest girl that he had ever set his eyes upon. No, not by a long shot, but there was just something about her that made the pit of his stomach churn. It was the dimples, he mused quietly. She had the most amazing set of dimples.

Idiot, he berated himself as he watched her work the room. Stop it, you idiot, stop looking at her.

His heart was drumming harshly to an impossible beat as his eyes followed her every movement. She held her chin up like a princess, and she walked with the graceful steps of a prima ballerina. Afraid that his heart would fail, he downed down the remnants of the beer bottle in his hand to calm his nerves. Its bitter and strong taste made him swallow hard, but didn't do its job.

He set the bottle down and narrowed his eyes back upon her small form. He spied on her as she tiptoed by people to pick a water bottle from off the table. She's too innocent to be part of this world, he thought with annoyance. She was far too innocent for the things he wanted.

Suddenly she looked up at him, as if knowing that he was thinking about her.

She smirked and tilted her head towards the fireplace, calling him to follow.

He raised an eyebrow, but followed like an obedient puppy. He'd follow her to hell in back if that was what she wanted.

He made his way towards her, ignoring everyone else. None of them mattered. Not at this moment, anyway.

The reflection of the flames radiating off of the fireplace lit up her face, giving her the aura of an angel. He wanted to run his hand through her silky chestnut tresses and pull her close. He wanted to caress those rosy cheeks and dip his thumb into the crevices of her bewitching dimples. But most of all, he wanted to press his lips against hers. They would be feather-soft, he imagined. She'd taste of strawberries, too, just like her scent.

God, how does she do this to me? he questioned angrily at how easily she could make him want something so obviously out of his reach.

She'd pound his face in if he tried to do the things he wanted, he reminded himself. If she didn't kill him, her four overprotective brothers would certainly do it. If not them, then her trigger happy father, who would have no qualm when it came to separating his precious princess from a rapscallion.

He took a deep breath and sat down on the floor. He was inches away from her, but was close enough to catch a whiff of her fragrant strawberry scent. It made his insides twist into numerous directions. It made his soul howl for her.

"Well, out with it, how ridiculous do I look?" she asked with a snort.

He wanted to kiss her again. Just one taste, he tried tempting his conscious. A taste couldn't do that much damage, could it?

"You look... very ridiculous," he lied, just so that she could smile. He loved that damned smile of hers.

She had a beautiful face that had no need of make up, but her friends always pestered her to wear something. Bring out those beautiful eyes, they always begged. A thin layer of black eye liner and the mascara thickened out her long eyelashes, and really did bring out those beautiful, dark amber eyes. She was a tomboy through and through, but at this moment she was a woman in his eyes.

He had the sudden urge to look down her body again. He fought every fiber of his male needs to not stare at her chest. She wasn't wearing an oversized shirt as she usually would, tonight she was a princess wearing a tight white shirt and form fitting blue jeans. Either way, the clothes or the make up made any difference to him. She was always beautiful in his eyes. Whether a tomboy, or a princess, she was beautiful.

He couldn't admit that to her, though, that just wasn't how their relationship worked. For years he had to play a charade with her. For years he hid his feelings for her behind pithy remarks and childish teasing. She'd never believe him even if he said she was beautiful.

She chuckled at his response. "That's a great way of letting a girl feel special, Vin."

Vin. She was the only one to call him that. He never let anyone else but her call him that. Not that it annoyed him, but because he wanted one thing with her that no one else could have.

He wanted to pull her against his body and ravish her by the fireplace in response to her statement. He wanted claim her as his and never let her go a day without dreaming of his touch. He knew exactly how to make a girl feel special, but he couldn't do that to her. Not if he wanted to live another day. No, taking her would be the most selfish act he could ever dare to commit.

"I haven't seen you around lately. Does Veronica have you whipped already?" she said with a smirk that was all too much for him to handle.

"I broke up with Veronica weeks ago," he said, trying not to be to solemn or jovial about it, even though all he really wanted to do was jump up and down exclaiming that he was done with that controlling bitch. He had been Veronica for a month. In one grueling month, she tried to break his spirit, tried to change him and control him, tried to manipulate him into giving up his friends, family, and most of all his dreams of becoming the best damned mechanic this town had ever seen.

She raised an eyebrow in skepticism. "Really?"

He narrowed his eyes at her. He really didn't want to talk about another woman with her. She didn't need to know of his exploits. If he was ashamed of them, he couldn't dare to imagine how she would feel.

"So, my birthday is coming up next month. What are you getting me?" she said to change the topic.

He tried not to let a heavy sigh. She'll be legal in a matter of weeks, he realized with unease.

For years, he used her age as an excuse not to touch her. They were only four years apart, and for the past few years he held a secret torch for her, but she was so oblivious. If anything, she probably believed that he hated her. With all his petty jokes and teases, he never led her to believe otherwise.

"You act as if I'm going to get you anything at all," he said to tease her. She was always a good sport about it. She'd retort with some sort of comeback pulled right out her pretty ass.

She snorted at his comment. "Oh come on, Vin, I promise I'll get you something on your birthday. Anything, just name it."

All he would ever want would be her in his arms, in his bed, in his future. No, don't think like that, he berated himself.

"So," she said after a long pause. "What are you getting me?"

He sighed heavily. "I haven't really thought about it, Dimples."

She snorted at the pet name he gave her, but he knew that she secretly loved it. She may act like she hated being called Dimples, yet she never corrected him. Not once.

"Buy me a box of chocolates. I've been dying for a box of chocolates." She leaned against him now. Her body was far too small compared to his. Standing at a mere five-foot one, she was nearly a foot shorter than him. He wanted nothing more than to pull her into his arms and rest his chin right on top of her head. "You know that I've never had a box of chocolates all too myself."

"You were never the greedy sort," he commented as he remembered all her sacrifices for others. Between her volunteer work at the hospital, school, clubs, and doing odd jobs for the elderly in the community, he was amazed that wrinkles from stress hadn't blemished her flawless skin. She gave so much and took so little.

"Never," she agreed with a smile.

He took a silver poker from its basket beside the fireplace, and began to poke the logs. There was no point to the mindless action; he just needed to get his mind off of her.

They sat in silence. It was so cozy and perfect, he never wanted it to end. Rarely had there ever had silence between them. Usually he would find something to tease her with, but tonight was different. Maybe it was his sleepless nights, maybe it was the on her face makeup, or maybe it was the way she was smiling at him, but he just couldn't force himself to tease her anymore tonight.

"Do you want to hear the silliest thing ever?" she asked.

He placed the poker back in its place and nodded.

Taking her cue, she tucked her legs beneath her body and giggled. "Okay, you'll laugh, but remember my grandmother is an elderly woman and she has a odd sense of romance."

He snorted at her comment. 'Odd' was not the word he would use for Kate's eccentric grandmother. It wasn't even scratching the surface.

"When my cousin, Jenny-Anne, came over yesterday she was talking to my grandmother about her marriage to that businessman in New York. Apparently she and my grandmother have decided to play matchmaker. So guess who I have a date with this Saturday?"

He couldn't believe what he was hearing. His little Kate Matthews had a date. No, this can't be happening.

"Come on, guess," she prodded, looking at him expectantly. "Come on..."

He didn't want to play this game with her. He wanted nothing more than to know the name of her date and to release all of his pent up frustration on the man's face.

"You're no fun, Vin. Here's a hint: he's the only redhead in town," she said after getting bored of his silence.

Cody? Fucking Cody David O'Shea has a date with his Kate Matthews? The hell with that! The boy was mere a tot, hadn't even grown his first beard. He was a failed baseball player, placed tenth in the first grade spelling bee, and was a damned fairy in his third grade play. Cody didn't even stand at a full five foot six yet. He was a midget. A fucking midget.

"Yep, Cody O'Shea. I can't believe it either. Do you remember when we used to have snowball fights at his mother's New Years Day party? You hit him square in the face and your mom took you by the ear to apologize to him. He was such a brat back then. I hope he grew up."

He remembered the incident all to effortlessly. Had he known that the stupid little boy he hit with a snowball would grow up and date Kate he would have done a whole hell of a lot more than make him cry. Cody was probably eighteen by now, smashing the boys face wouldn't constitute as hitting a minor anymore. A note to be remembered the next time we meet, he thought grimly.

"He plans on taking me to Nourriture Des Dieux. It's this French restaurant in the city that is so expensive, I can't even afford the complimentary mints." Her eyes were gleaming with amusement. "I'd very much have dinner at McDonald's," she said with a laugh.

It felt like daggers going through his very heart.

Money was another reason why she should never be his. The damned Cody O'Shea could afford all the things she could ever dream of. The O'Shea's practically owned the town. The park carried their name, the town hall had many O'Shea's presiding over local business, and even his favorite liquor store was owned by Cody's uncle.

His family held no firm standing in the town. Aside from his insane great uncle, Tom DeAngelo, that held up the local bank, back in the early 1930s, his family wasn't anywhere close to famous.

Alcohol, smoking, and other devilish addictions were the downfall of the DeAngelo line. None ever made their dreams come true. None ever had the chance. With every generation the family debt continued to accumulate.

Fame and riches wasn't in his future. He already knew that the best he could do would be to continue the family automobile maintenance business and make it to every pay check with a half-full belly.

"Oh, Vin, I'm sorry about mentioning your mom," she said with a gasp.

He looked at her trying not to raise an eyebrow in surprise. Here he was bleeding from the inside because he knew she was out of reach, and she was apologizing for mentioning his dead mother.

"It's alright. I'm over it," he said. The floodgate of emotions opened with a deafening start. He needed to get the hell out of there. He got to his feet and began for the door. He could hear the faint call of his name, but he wouldn't turn. If he did, he knew that he'd never be able to think, no less breath.

He was out the door when he felt her hand slip into his.

Warm, soft, and entirely too inviting. He swallowed the bile creeping up his throat.

"Vin," she whispered his name softly, but they were close enough for him to hear. "I know you miss them. I miss them too. But you have to let it out. I've never once saw you shed a tear--"

"--I--" he tried to cut her off, but she cut him off before he could get a word out.

"Stop being so damned stubborn, Vincent!" she yelled at him. "It wasn't you fault that they got into that car. It wasn't your fault that the truck hit them. It wasn't your fault that you weren't in the car with them. It was their time, not yours. You have to believe that."

He wanted to tell her she was wrong. He wanted to yell at her that if he wasn't so damned pissed off at his father, he wouldn't have let them go home drunk. He wanted to scream at her that it really was his fault. He wanted to make it known that it was all his damned fault.

Instead he pulled her into his arms and was selfish.

He took. He plundered. He never gave her the chance to pull away and breath.

He took her first kiss, but he wanted a whole hell of a lot more. He wanted to lose himself in her and he did.

His hands drifted around her and brought their bodies closer against each other. He loved how so easily she molded into his body. She became putty in his hands. Pliant, and yielding to his touch.

She tasted so damned good, like a mixture of honey and ambrosia. He couldn't take enough of her. The more he took, the more he wanted.

She had no idea what to do when his tongue begged for entrance. She just opened and let him do what ever the hell he wanted. And he did.

She was everything and more than he had ever dreamt of, yet he couldn't get enough.

He kept telling himself that he was being selfish. He kept telling himself that he wasn't good enough. He kept telling himself that she deserved better. But none of that mattered when her hands threaded into his hair and forced him to take more.

He was lost in her.

"Vin," she moaned out his name when he had her pressed up against a tree. He loved the sexy sounds she was making. His name in her lips sent him sprawling.

He gave her everything he had for one last kiss. He knew that after this, he'd never have another chance. Not with her. Never again.

Suddenly he stopped. He pulled away from her and did his damned best to straighten himself.

He did the very thing he told himself he should never do. He touched her.

The look in her eyes was all he needed to know that he made a grave mistake. But he could never take it back. All he had left now was to fix his mistakes.

"Kate, I'm sorry," he said as daggers cut through his heart and made mince meat out of it. He didn't want to hurt her this way, but he had no other choice.

She stared at him, not knowing what to say or do next.

"That should never had happened. It was a mistake. I made a mistake."

Tears welled up in her beautiful eyes. It absolutely hurt knowing that he did that to her. He wanted to wipe the tears away and find a way to make it all better.

But he loved her.

Love, he spat angrily. He was so damned in love with her that he would do absolutely anything for her.

And by anything, he meant it.

If he had to hurt her to save her from himself, he would do it. And that was the worst part of it all. He was setting himself up as a hero, and he wasn't cut out to be one. He was selfish, he wanted to be a selfish prat. He didn't care about saving the day, all he wanted was the girl.

"Vin..."

He closed his eyes tight, pulled his hands away from her, and walked away.

It's better this way, he tried to remind himself. It's just fucking better this way.

He was halfway to his car when he felt a snowball hit him precisely in the back. It would have been better if it were a knife, at least that would have ended it all.

He closed his eyes tightly and continued to walk.

She's going to marry some rich business man some day, have two beautiful children, live in some far off castle fit for the queen she is, and she'll finally get everything she ever wanted, needed, and deserves. And to do all of this she has to forget you, he told himself over and over again. But none of it mattered. All he could think about was his want for her. It was tearing him up inside, making him go insane.

He climbed into his Chevy and turned on the engine. He left the heater off, he didn't deserve it's comforting heat. He was a bastard that deserved to freeze to death.

All he saw were her dimples as he drove away. All he saw was her.

Those dimples, he thought angrily, would haunt his dreams for the rest of his earthly life.

Forever and a day.

The worst part, though, was that he'd still love her a whole hell of a lot longer than that.

- 1 -

Author Note:

I started reading books (wow!) and I had my first Nora Robert's chick book. All I can say is "holy shit". It inspired me to write something that would make me cry. It's quite different from anything I've ever written before... and, damn it, I cried. I never cry... (haha). I hope you girls enjoyed this story. It will probably be a one-shot unless there's a great outcry for it to be continued. Happy Holidays!!!