Author's Note: Hey, kind reviewers! I just want to thank you all one more time for your enthusiasm and support throughout this whole process. I wouldn't have finished this story if not for your generous reviews. Even after being done with this story for months, I still get reviews from new readers, all of them very kind and very helpful.

I am, however, still working on improving this story. I realize it needs work. I've had some requests that I add more detail to the beginning, particularly the first two chapters, and going back I must say I agree. So here is a complete rewrite of the prologue from Igor's perspective. Let me know if you think the old one was better, or if this one could use some particular improvement.

If you're new to this story, then I hope you enjoy.

The full moon flooded the sky with silvery light—a pristine, calmly beautiful night. The moonlight seeped in through the open window, past the fluttering curtains, and onto the figure of a sleeping young woman.

The man sitting on the edge of her bed—so cautiously that she did not even stir—was watching the slumbering lady intently. She was young—eighteen, perhaps—and vibrant. He could hear every breath with the gentle rise and fall of her breast. He heard that rhythmic pulsing sound: thu-thump, thu-thump, thu-thump. Slow heartbeats. She was dreaming peacefully.

His fists clenched to white as he realized how long it had been since he'd heard that sound. The man envied her that sound—a lump forming in his throat as he listened to it—envied her that blossoming color in her cheeks; the ability to slip into blissful unconsciousness for the night; the freedom to greet her fellow man and receive a friendly smile in return.

So untainted and whole, she seemed. He swallowed with difficulty.

Resolved, he straightened up and strode to the window to exit. He could not go through with this.

Who am I, he thought, to take these things away from her? If I take her life away, she will share the same misery and grief. I'll let her keep her youth, her humanity—she deserves it.

Yet the man's gaze strayed back to the girl.

She was beautiful, this girl, with soft, feminine features, the moonlight bleaching her creamy skin to white. He thought she looked rather like an angel of innocence lying there in her white nightgown, tendrils of glossy dark hair spilling across her pillow. The quilt tucked around her did not completely hide the soft curves of her body—his eyes following them against his will. With her eyes closed, he could only see the dark sweep of her eyelashes, and not their amber irises.

He had never felt so human, not even forty years ago when he had been one. He could not remember ever feeling this longing before, but it surfaced overpoweringly—he had to stifle a moan. She was so lovely.

And there was more—more than the bloodlust and the human desires—more powerful but more difficult to explain: that tugging feeling he'd had the first time he had seen her, that inexplicable conviction that she was innocent, pure, kind, and gentle. He felt drawn to her. She was the right one, she had to be the right one, the woman who could be his companion in the darkness and brighten it with her goodness.

Well, was he not allowed happiness? Just because he had been cursed to a life of shadow, to exile from his fellow man, just because he had not had a conversation with another sentient being in decades, had not touched or been touched in forty long, lonely years, why could he not desperately grasp at whatever joy he could?

He found himself enraptured with the sight of her full, rosy lips—what would it be like to kiss them, he wondered?

His self-control crumbled.

Certainly, she will be as anguished as I was, at first, he thought, but, in time, she will adapt. She will have me. And I will have her.

He glided back to the edge of her bed and sat carefully.

Slowly, he brushed a stray curl away from her neck...ran a cool finger along her throat lightly, tracing it, relishing, the crisscrossing veins underneath...bringing his mouth inexorably to her flesh as though he were about to kiss her—and he did brush his lips against her throat, just to feel the irresistibly silken skin—just holding them there for a moment in agonizing, delicious anticipation, drawing it out for almost pleasurable anguish, denying himself the very thing he wanted so as to want it even more.

He had not indulged himself like this before, not even once—and since this case was very special, he was going to make it a very good once.

But the thirst—the gnawing craving from the pit of his stomach, the temptation he had disciplined so harshly for decades—was washing over him far too overwhelmingly to ignore.

He struck. Her body stiffened as she woke and registered the pain.

He covered her mouth to muffle her scream.