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DISCLAIMERS: All characters, settings, and events are the creations and property of the author and may not be used or reproduced without her consent.
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Forbidden Pairing
Part 1
By
Lady Archanna
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When telling a story, the best place to start is at the beginning; yet for some strange reason, that's also the hardest place. Even though the tale has already been written and the consequences realized, figuring out how to relay those events leaves many staring at blank pages for hours on end. Some opt for the ever popular "Once upon a time", but that gives the impression of a fairy tale with princes and princesses engaged in battles with the likes of witches, dragons, trolls and evil step mother's.

While my tale is one of good and evil, littered with demons from your darkest nightmares and angels sent straight from heaven, it's no fairy story. It's not about good facing up and overcoming evil; it's about what happens when the light succumbs to the darkness.

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Chapter 1

When the fear of death isn't something that enters the realm of your imagination, time passes differently. One does not think in terms of days or weeks, or even months when one has eternity in front of them. Instead you remember it by events, by seasons, by things that stick out in a mind that holds memories of a thousand lifetimes. However, after so long, even the sharpest of memories begin to fade and meld together, making it hard to differentiate one from another; there is however one exception to this, no matter how long one walks the face of the earth. The moment one falls in love, time seems to stop, and every detail of that moment, from the sounds to the smells, are embedded forever into your memory, never to fade, never to change.

Of course, as Trinity watched the dark-haired figure move through the deserted temple, she wasn't thinking about that, nor was she aware of the fact that she was carefully and methodically memorizing every detail about the scene before her. If anything, she was telling herself it was so she'd be able to tell the others later, but of course the first person we lie to is usually ourselves.

The soft moonlight cast a silvery glow on the marble path leading up to the altar, each of the stranger's steps echoing in the near silent night. Curious, sapphire eyes watched the stranger's movements, wondering at how he seemed to move from shadow to shadow as if he were trying to avoid the light. As silently as possible Trinity moved forward, her slippered feet not making any sound in the soft grass that ran alongside the walkway.

In the same way the man she watched avoided the light, she seemed to revel in the soft rays that fell upon her porcelain skin, casting a golden glow on the dark-blonde hair that fell in soft waves down her back. Trinity was genuinely captivated by this man's presence, and indeed it was a man. The broad shoulders and back beneath the black silk shirt he wore told her that much. Taking another step, she inched closer. She sucked in a breath as her foot came down on a branch, the small sound like an explosion in the near silence. Freezing, she slipped quickly behind one of the large, stone pillars that lined the path hoping she hadn't been spotted.

The figure halted immediately at the sound, but he didn't turn around. He'd known someone was watching him, but until they tried to interfere it wasn't worth concerning himself over. Dark brown eyes narrowed as he looked in front of him, his gaze falling on the granite altar that sat at the end of the walkway within the shrine itself. He quickly ran slim fingers through his midnight black hair, his lips suddenly feeling dry as he realized how close he was to his goal. Relaxing his shoulders, which had unconsciously tightened at the noise, he began moving forward again, wondering if his watcher would try and stop him.

Trinity's lungs were screaming for air when she finally allowed herself to take a small breath. Licking her lips, she turned and peered carefully around the pillar, surprised to see the stranger was still walking into the shrine. Her brow furrowed, wondering how he hadn't heard the branch breaking, but that only concerned her for a moment before it dawned on her where he was going, with no signs of stopping.

'He can't go in there!' She thought, stepping away from the pillar and moving forward again, her heart racing. She had to stop him, but she also wanted to continue watching him. She didn't want to have to play the shrine maiden and make him leave when all she desired was to find out who he was.

As he crossed the threshold of the shrine, Trinity's sense of duty finally won and she moved quickly. "You can't go in there!" She called out, stepping into the middle of the walkway, only steps away from the mystery man.

He let out a low growl, his fists clenching at his sides as the clearly feminine voice called to him. Without turning around he spoke, "But I'm afraid you're too late, I'm already in."

"You can't go any further ... I'm sorry." She replied, feeling a flush rising in her cheeks. She wasn't sure if it was embarrassment or anger or something else, and didn't really care.

The stranger could hear the hesitation in her voice, and turned to face her, a cold smile playing on his lips. "And who's going to stop-" As blue eyes met brown the smile faltered slightly, his chest tightening as he studied her slender form bathed in the soft moonlight.

Trinity could have sworn the world had stopped spinning the moment he turned around, everything simply disappearing as their eyes met across the short distance that separated them. She couldn't help but study his features, a chill running down her spine as she became aware of him doing the same to her.

"I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to ask you to leave." She managed to force out, surprised at how dry her throat suddenly was.

Tilting his head, the stranger took a step forward then bowed gracefully before her. "You can ask, but that doesn't mean I'm going to listen." He said, flashing her a fanged grin as he straightened.

Trinity's eyes widened and she took a step back, her hand moving toward her chest and grasping the silver pendant that hung there. "You're going to have to. I can't let you stay here."

"And why not? You don't even know who I am," he said smoothly, taking another step forward as his gaze remained locked on hers.

"Who you are doesn't matter -"

"I think it does," he cut her off, reaching out and grabbing her hand, pulling it to his lips and kissing it gently. "My name is Dameon."

Trinity suddenly couldn't breath, but she could feel his hand holding her's firmly and she could feel his lips as they gently pressed against her skin. She opened her mouth to say something, but she quickly found herself drowning in his nearly black eyes.

Dameon still held her hand, amazed at how small it was and how soft her skin felt against his fingers. The fragrance of lilacs surrounded her, intoxicating him as he breathed it in. Running his finger lightly over the back of her hand he smiled again. "And do you have a name, my dear?"

"Trinity ..." Her voice was barely a whisper as she steadfastly ignored the voice in her mind telling her to pull away.

"Trinity, a rare name for a rare work of beauty." Dameon could clearly see the blush rising in her cheeks, finding it simply added to her beauty. He loosened his grip on her hand, but she made no move to pull away.

"Thank you," She finally managed, noticing he'd stepped closer but not caring. He was only a few inches taller than her, but she felt so small standing so close to him, imagining that he could easily hold her at bay if he choose to. That thought, as well as the faint memory of a fanged grin finally forced Trinity to pull back, crossing her arms.

"Something wrong, my dear?" Dameon asked, noticing the sudden fear that was creeping into her eyes.

Trinity shook her head, stepping to the side of the doorway. "No, but I do need you to leave. No one's allowed in here."

"Ah, but shrine maidens such as yourself are always coming in and out of here." Dameon replied, not moving. "What harm can I do by simply looking around?"

Trinity's eyes narrowed, "The shrine maidens have reason to be here, you do not."

"And how do you know that?" Daemon said, turning his back on her and stepping closer to the altar.

"Because your kind doesn't belong here." Trinity said finally, her stomach tightening.

He stopped, his eyes hard as he turned back to face her. "'My kind'? And exactly what am I, Maiden?"

"You're a shadow walker," she said quickly, finding it difficult to meet his gaze. She trembled at the cold look that suddenly fell across his face, and before she realized it, he was in front of her.

"And what," he began, putting his hand against the wall behind her, blocking the doorway, "does a Shrine Maiden know of Shadow Walkers, my dear?"

Trinity's breath caught in her throat, anger and a sense of defiance rising up in her. She noticed the surprise in his eyes as she boldly met his gaze. "Shrine maidens know almost nothing of shadow walkers. But I never said that's what I was." As she spoke the pendant around her neck beginning to glow softly.

"Wha-!?" Daemon stepped back, his mind racing as he watched a set of white wings unfold, spreading out behind Trinity. When she looked at him, her eyes glowed a soft violet and her face was no longer that of a flustered child. 'Angel...!' He cursed silently to himself, taking another step away from her. He eyed the doorway, painfully aware of how close he was to his goal, but he could also feel the power emanating from her.

"I will ask you one more time to leave," Trinity spoke with an authority she didn't feel, wishing there was another way. "If you choose not to, I'll have to make you."

Dameon quickly began weighing his options, cursing himself for his blind arrogance. If he hadn't been so taken with her, he would have realized she was more than some maiden. "I wouldn't want you to dirty your hands on one such as me, my lady." He said finally, with a smirk and a quick bow. "We'll save that for another night."

Before Trinity could respond Dameon disappeared, leaving her standing alone in the shrine. Letting the pendant's glow die down, she walked to where he'd been standing. All that remained was the lingering scent of sandalwood and a memory of hypnotizing eyes. Shaking her head she stepped forward to the altar, quickly inspecting the object that lay on the granite surface. Shaped like a key, made out of hematite, lay the talisman that would unlock the Gates allowing the holder to travel freely from dimension to dimension.

Reaching out she ran her fingers gently over it, trying not to think about how close she'd come to letting it get away. With a soft sigh, she folded her wings comfortably behind her and left the temple. The sun's rays were starting to creep over the horizon, Dameon wouldn't be back.

'At least not today ...' She thought as she moved down the path. Had she been thinking about it, the small amount of disappointment that rose within her at that thought would have scared her; but when one is in love, one doesn't think clearly.

Dameon watched from the safety of the trees as Trinity walked back toward the main house, knowing as well as she that the impending sunrise would keep him from completing his task this night. As she quickly disappeared into the gardens that lay between the house and the shrine, Dameon had the sudden urge to go after her. Something remembered about her gaze, the way she looked at him, that pulled him toward her. Shaking his head, he turned away, knowing it was foolishness to even think it.

"Perhaps not," He said aloud, a grin spreading across his lips as he remembered how she'd trembled when he touched her and the way she'd looked at him. With a smirk and a plan forming in his mind Dameon disappeared, deciding there were two treasure here worth taking.

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Chapter 2

As morning dawned, Trinity found herself sitting in her meditation room, doing everything but that. Every time she closed her eyes she'd see Dameon looking back at her. If she willed his gaze away, she'd feel his hand on her's, the memory of the gentle touch summoning unfamiliar feelings from deep within her. She couldn't understand it, these strong emotions were new to her, confusing. If anything she should be concerned that a shadow walker had managed to find them, and had dared intrude upon the sanctity of the shrine. She should have been informing the others and making sure that necessary precautions were taken to prevent him from returning.

Rising from her knees and spreading her wings, she sighed, shaking her head. "The problem is ... I think I want him to come back..." She finally admitted to the empty room. Walking out onto the balcony that overlooked the valley in which the shrine was hidden, Trinity found herself wondering what he would have done if she had been just a shrine maiden? Would he have hurt her? Or worse ... would he have tried to kill her?

"No ..." She whispered, shaking her head. She didn't know why, but something told her he wouldn't have. When he closed the distance between them, he could have easily grabbed her by the throat or done any number of things, but he didn't. "He didn't want to hurt me -"

"Who didn't?" A voice asked, causing Trinity to start as she turned back toward the room, seeing a man dressed in a soft gray kimono standing there, studying her. His silver eyes were warm, but she could see concern in his gaze and in the way his smile faltered slightly.

"Alexander, you startled me!" She said, laughing lightly as he leaned against the doorway, still looking at her, arms crossed loosely across his chest.

"I apologize, but ReAnne said she'd seen you coming from the shrine just before sunrise, and I was concerned." Alexander explained, pushing a strand of white hair behind his ear.

"Oh! I didn't realize anyone had seen me ..." Trinity said, smiling and shaking her head. "The full moon was too beautiful last night to miss, so I decided to take a walk to the shrine to enjoy it."

Alexander nodded. "That doesn't surprise me, but who were you talking about?"

"Eavesdropping isn't a very desirable habit, Alex," Trinity chided lightly, folding her wings and leaning back against the railing of the balcony.

"It wasn't intentional, believe me - but nevertheless, would you care to explain?" He pressed, still studying her face.

Trinity faltered slightly. "It's really nothing of importance."

Alexander stepped forward, reaching out and touching the side of her face gently. "Its not like you to avoid the question, Trinity. If it was truly so inconsequential, you'd tell me."

For the briefest moment Trinity found herself thinking about how different Dameon's hands had felt. Where Alexander's were smooth, soft like her own, Dameon's had been rough and harder. With a shake of her head, she quickly pushed that thought out of her mind, her heart sinking as she began to speak. "There was a stranger at the shrine ... I happened upon him while I was walking."

The concern in Alexander's silver eyes suddenly became worry as he dropped his hand to her's. "What happened?"

Trinity began to speak, then stopped, finding herself at a loss for words. Every thread of her being was pushing her to tell him exactly what had happened, but something else, something stronger held her tongue. When she did finally speak, she almost couldn't believe it. "He was just a traveler who'd spotted the Temple from the ridge and wanted to take a look. When I came up to him, I surprised him and he nearly attacked me with his staff. Fortunately I moved quicker than he did, so no harm was done."

Alexander's hand tightened around her's. "What became of him?"

"Well, after he apologized, I explained that the shrine was protected and that he shouldn't be here. We spoke for a few moments and then I directed him to Artine village for the rest of the night." Trinity finished, silently amazed at how easily the story came.

"Perhaps we should post some guards there tonight, just to be on the safe side," Alexander thought out loud as he released her hand and moved to look over the balcony, studying the landscape.

"That's not necessary," she said quickly, stepping next to him and smiling. "He was on his way to the coast, Alex. He won't be returning."

Silver eyes studied her carefully, then he nodded slowly. "As long as you're sure. I'll trust your judgement, Trinity."

Despite the nagging doubt in the back of her mind, Trinity smiled and placed her hand on Alexander's shoulder. "Don't worry. You know the safety of the shrine is my first priority, Alex."

He turned and smiled at her, leaning down and kissing her forehead lightly. "I know, Trinity." He pulled back and started back into the room. "I'll leave you now to finish your meditation. We'll talk later, perhaps?"

Trinity nodded, watching as he disappeared into the hallway, letting the door swing shut behind him. With a sigh of relief she leaned back against the railing again, closing her eyes and turning her face up toward the sky. 'What was that...?' She asked herself silently, shaking her head. 'Why did I ...'

"Lie?" Her brow furrowed as she opened her eyes, a burning feeling rising up in her stomach. Suddenly Trinity felt very cold, despite the sun that shone brightly in the clear sky. While the word was familiar to her, and she knew quite well what lying was, it wasn't something she did.

Of course, love can sometimes make the impossible possible.

Trinity pushed away from the railing and walked slowly back into the meditation room, fingering the pendant as she moved toward the hallway. She knew she shouldn't go just yet, she needed to think about what she'd just done and, more importantly, what had happened just before dawn. However her mind didn't seem to want to dwell on what had already happened, instead it was contemplating what was still to come.

When night finally fell and life within the walls of the manor began to settle in for the night, Trinity couldn't help but begin to feel restless. She found herself staring out the windows in the direction of the shrine, and more than once she was asked if something was bothering her. Each time she simply smiled and shook her head.

Finally, as midnight approached and the moon hung high in the night sky, Trinity found herself sitting on the roof, her knees drawn up to her chest as she watched the shrine closely. As the lights throughout the house slowly began going out, Trinity could feel her curiosity growing stronger, along with something else she couldn't quite identify.

Sighing she slowly stretched her wings out, the moonlight glinting off them and the soft night breeze rustling them gently. Her sapphire eyes seemed troubled as she shifted on the roof, wishing she could sort through the chaotic and contradicting thoughts that were running rampant through her mind. Innocence, while a virtue was also a hindrance; because what is innocence other than an absence of knowledge. Perhaps if Trinity had been able to recognize the longing, the curiosity for what it was, she would have gone back inside, found Alexander and told him the truth.

But of course, that would have happened under perfect circumstances, and since perfection tends to be nothing more than an illusion, Trinity found herself floating through the warm night air toward the shrine. Within moments her feet came down in the soft grass just beyond the entrance to the garden. Turning, she looked back at the house to make certain she hadn't been seen before starting toward her destination.

She moved quickly and quietly, sticking close to the trees to avoid any chance of being spotted. As the shrine came closer, she felt her heart beat quicken with anticipation. Patience was something she had an over abundance of, but something pushed her on and made each second seem to stretch on for an eternity. When she did finally set foot on the marble walkway, she felt as though she'd walked forever, the quickening of her breath only adding to the sensation.

'I'm simply here to make sure he doesn't come back,' she told herself as she passed through the entrance, quickly scanning the inner chamber for any signs of movement. The only sign that anyone had been to the altar were the fresh flowers that surrounded it; white lilies that seemed to give off a glow all their own. Walking over, she leaned down, inhaling the flowers's fragrance, letting it relax her somewhat tense nerves.

"Don't know what I'm so worried about," she kept her voice low as she moved over to examine the key. "He's probably not even going to show ... Only an idiot would try again-"

"Then I suppose I'm an idiot." The voice nearly caused her to jump out of her skin, a surprised squeak slipping past her lips as she turned around. There, silhouetted in the doorway, stood Dameon, his eyes shining even in the darkness.

Trinity found herself fighting back a smile when she saw him, having to remind herself that he wasn't supposed to be there. "You shouldn't have come back." She said finally, shaking her head.

Dameon studied her carefully as he leaned against the entry way, finding it hard to take his eyes off of her. The soft white wings were not hidden this time, and he wondered if they were truly as soft as they appeared. Her hands were at her hips, only helping to accentuate the curves her lavender shift attempted to hide from prying eyes.

Trinity shifted uncomfortably when Dameon didn't make a move to reply, but simply stood there. Though the shadows cloaked his face, she could feel his eyes on her and she felt a shiver run down her spine as a grin slowly appeared on his lips.

"You were expecting me to, though," Dameon said finally, straightening and taking a step into the shrine. "If you hadn't been, you wouldn't be here."

"If I had been expecting you, there would have been guards here," Trinity said quickly, crossing her arms.

"Is that so?" Dameon asked, raising an eyebrow as his grin widened. "Why don't I believe you?"

"Perhaps its because your kind is so used to lies and deceit that you simply expect it." Trinity bit back, her lips tightening into a frown as she began wondering exactly what she'd gotten herself into.

Dameon's smile faded slightly. "Or maybe its because your eyes are telling me something else."

Trinity scowled, looking away. "No idea what you're talking about. I've no reason to lie to you."

"But you are. Something I thought your kind wasn't capable of doing," Dameon smirked, the distance between them now no more than a few feet.

"You haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about!" Trinity huffed, taking a step away from the altar. "You also need to leave, now. Before I call the others."

"Why should I? I'm already here, and only a few steps away from grabbing what I came for - what's to stop me?" He laughed, pointing past her to the key that still lay upon its stand.

"I won't let you near it." Trinity said firmly, taking another step forward, trying not to let the fact that she was less than an arm-length away effect her.

Dameon, of course, saw this and took the opportunity to quickly close the distance between them. Before Trinity could protest his arm was around her waist, pulling her close. His eye met her's, their lips only inches apart as he spoke. "Again, I ask, what's to stop me from taking what I want?"

Trinity suddenly found it hard to breath, her heart feeling as if it would burst from her chest as she looked up at him. She moved her hands to his chest, meaning to push him away and then call for help, but before she could do anything his lips gently brushed across hers.

"Don't-" She breathed, turning her head away from him, finally managing to try and push him away.

Dameon paid no heed to her words, his lips leaving a blazing trail of fire along her jaw line. He heard her suck in a breath when he pressed soft kisses against her exposed neck. He felt her body tense, her hands pressing more insistently against his chest. Pulling back, he reached up and gently forced her to face him. "Sure you want me to stop?" He whispered, running his thumb over her bottom lip, fighting the desire to kiss her again.

Trinity didn't know what she wanted, she was somewhere between wanting to cry and wanting to scream, knowing that neither would get her what she wanted. Still trying to catch her breath, she finally managed to force out a strangled, "Yes!"

Surprised by how hard it was to do, Dameon released her waist and let her take a step back. When their eyes met they could clearly see the fire in the other's gaze. Trinity found herself both repelled and excited by the way Dameon was looking at her, as if he'd try and devour her on the spot. Dameon, on the other hand, saw the innocence and uncertainty battling with desire in Trinity's crystal eyes. She was scared, but something told him she wouldn't run.

"Do you still want me to leave?" He asked, his voice low and soothing as he reached out and brushed a strand of hair out of her eyes.

Yes. Yes was the answer she needed to give. Yes was the only answer she could give; one simple word, three letters and this would all be over. "No ..." Trinity heard herself say as she dropped her gaze to the ground.

Dameon grinned, lifting her chin so their eyes met once more. "That's what I thought." Still holding her chin, he leaned in, teasing her lips once again with soft kisses.

Trinity reached up and grabbed his wrist, pulling away from him with much effort. "I don't want you to, but that doesn't change the fact that you have to." She said, wishing she could will her voice to sound more convincing.

"Hm, that does pose quite a quandary, doesn't it?" Dameon considered, studying her face for a moment before using her grip on his arm to pull her to him again. "Let's see if we can't come up with a compromise."

His smile sent chills down her spine. "There can't be compromise ... You're not allowed to be here."

Dameon nodded, slipping his wrist out of her grip and grabbing her hand. "Then let's retreat to the woods behind the temple. Surely I can't do any damage out there."

Before Trinity could consider it, Dameon was already leading her outside and toward the west, where the forest began. When they were safely under the canopy of the trees, Dameon stopped and quickly pulled her toward him. This time, Trinity was ready and she resisted, pulling her hand roughly away from him, taking several steps backward; she stopped when she felt the trunk of a tree press into her back.

"Dameon, you can't ..."

"Can't what?" Dameon interrupted, closing the distance between them, placing a hand on either side of her small form.

"You can't-" Trinity's protest was cut off by a kiss, more demanding than the previous ones.

"Can't kiss you like that?" Dameon asked, breaking the kiss and looking down at her.

"N-No," Trinity stuttered, turning her eyes away from him.

Moving his lips next to her ear, Dameon grinned. "What about like this?" He whispered, his tongue darting out to gently trace the contour of her ear. Before she could answer, his mouth slid down, his lips and tongue leaving a trail of fire down the side of her neck.

Trinity's eyes closed, her hands moving to his arms, meaning to push him away, but she couldn't find the strength. Her head was swimming with desire and she found her senses drowning in his presence; his scent, his warmth blocking everything else out.

Dameon grinned, one hand moving to her waist and the other to her shoulder, sliding gently down her bare arm. She seemed so small at that moment, and if he truly wanted to, he could very easily incapacitate her and go grab the key, but something held him there. However wrong it should have been, this felt right, as if she belonged in his arms, belonged to him.

"Do you still want me to leave, angel?" He whispered against her neck, his tongue sliding over his fangs as he fought with the desire to truly make her his.

"I ... I ..." Trinity shook her head weakly, a tear slipping down her cheek. "I don't know."

Dameon pulled back, kissing away the tear and looking down at her. When she turned to look at him, she couldn't help but notice his tongue sliding over elongated fangs. Suddenly, as if a curtain had been raised, she realized what she'd been doing, what she'd been thinking.

"Oh god-!" She breathed, using her returned strength to push him back. "You need to leave now!" She said, her voice trembling.

Dameon took a step back, studying her flushed face and shaking hands. He knew he could press it, knew she wouldn't fight, but that's not what he wanted. While the realization struck him as strange, he thought better than to question it. Nodding, he bowed smoothly before her, brown eyes meeting blue. "As you wish, angel."

Trinity blinked, surprised at the lack of argument, almost wishing he had argued. "I-I..."

Dameon reached out and took her hand, kissing it softly. "I will see you again, Trinity." Releasing her hand, he stepped back and then disappeared, leaving her alone under the protection of the trees.

Trinity stood there for a few moments in complete silence, her arms wrapped tightly around her body. Then slowly, she slipped to her knees, her wings joining her arms as she began to sob quietly, terrified by what was happening, but at the same time not wanting it to end. Her wings folded neatly around her, blocking out the night as she reached her fingers up to her bruised lips. She could still feel him, could still smell him, could still taste him, however faintly. Her reason told her this should worry her, that she should not want anything like this to happen again, that it couldn't happen again. Her heart, on the other hand, was giving her every reason why she wanted it, and why it had to happen again.

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Three

Some say that life doesn't begin until one discovers love, however its truly the discovery of the other half of one's soul that sparks life. Angels, spirits, divine creatures, they know love. Love for nature, love for their creator, love for the planet which the protected, love for one another, but all of that is much like the love one feels for a friend, a family member. They're created to be pure, complete souls free from human faults such as longing, desire and a need to have that love returned.

As the days passed, Trinity was beginning to understand why that had always been so and wondering why it was suddenly changing for her. As she moved day to day, hardly noticing anything else around her, she felt as if something was missing. Though the sun shone brightly and she was surrounded by people who had been with her since the beginning, she felt very alone.

"Trinity?" Alexander's voice was gentle from behind her.

Raising her eyes from the pool in front of her, she turned to look at him, smiling. "Yes, Alex?"

Alexander moved fluidly forward, settling himself into the soft grass beside her, stretching his legs out in front of him. "Trinity, are you okay?"

"Of course I am," she replied softly, turning her attention back to the calm waters, watching the small fish that darted quickly below the surface.

"Then why are you suddenly so quiet?" He asked, still looking forward, listening carefully for her answer.

Trinity drew her knees up to her chest, resting her head upon them. "I've just been thinking a lot lately."

"But its not like you to be this quiet," Alexander pointed out, turning and studying her profile. "Usually you'll speak to me about what's on your mind, no matter what it is."

Trinity looked at him, her blue eyes slightly darker than he'd remembered them ever being. "I just haven't felt like talking, I guess."

"That's not the only thing you've been doing strangely, Trinity." Alexander's tone hardened slightly, pushing. "When was the last time you slept through the night? When was the last night you actually spent in your chambers and not wandering around the gardens?"

Trinity couldn't hide the surprise in her expression. It had been nearly a week since Dameon had last appeared, but she hadn't stopped going to the temple in hopes of seeing him, if only for a moment She thought she'd been careful not to be seen. "I-..."

"Trinity, do not speak unless you plan on speaking the truth." Alexander said quickly, trying to ignore the tears that rose in her eyes. "What is it in the night that calls you out? What is it that's drawing you away from us? Away from me?"

Turning away, unable to look at him, she heard a soft sigh escape his lips. "Alex, there's nothing, I swear to you."

"And I know better than to believe someone that can't look me in the eye," Alexander's voice was sad as he shook his head.

His words stung, Trinity's eyes closing as a tear slid down her cheek but she said nothing for a long while. When she finally spoke her voice was low, tired. "Have you ever felt like something was missing? A part of yourself? Something that you can't quite identify?"

Alexander shook his head slowly, leaning back on his hands. "Missing? Trinity, there's nothing that we need that we don't have. There's nothing we desire that hasn't been given to us."

"But what if there is something?" She asked, turning to look at him. "What if there's something we haven't been given ... we just don't realize it?"

"That's not possible. There's nothing we need to survive that has been kept from us..."

"Alex!" Trinity's voice was more insistent. "How would we know if we were denied the knowledge of its existence?"

"I'm afraid you're going to have to be more specific, Trinity. I don't see what you're getting at," he said, shaking his head.

"You spent many years walking among humans, watching them live, watching them die," Trinity paused, "watching them fall in love."

"Of course, that's part of what it is to be human." He replied, nodding.

"That love ... that they spend so much time searching for ... have you ever wondered what it was like?" Trinity asked carefully.

"No, because we know love, Trinity. Probably in a truer and more pure form than they ever will."

"But is it the same?" She asked finally, tilting her head. "The love we know, the love we give - is it the same love that draws them to one another, that prompts them to spend their short lives with a single person, putting them above all else?"

"We have a capacity to love that exceeds that of humans, Trinity. As much as they give love, they need it just as badly in return. That is why they spend so much time trying to find that one person, the person that shares their soul." Alexander leaned forward, looking into her eyes. "We don't have a need for that, we are complete even on our own."

"How do you know that?" Trinity pressed.

"Because that is how it's always been. We were created the way we are so that we might give ourselves wholly and without reservation to our creator and so we could unselfishly share our love with everything we touch, and not expect anything in return." Alexander explained, looking toward the pond.

"But what if that completion is only an illusion? An ignorance of what's missing? What we're being denied?" Trinity's question actually caught Alexander off guard, causing his head to turn back to her quickly.

"The love that humans share isn't something we need, Trinity," he said quickly, shaking his head. "That type of love invites things such as selfishness, desire, envy, deceit. Emotions that we're not meant to have."

"Not meant to ... but that doesn't mean we can't."

"We were created without human faults; without envy, greed, desire, the ability to hate."

"What about the ability to love? Doesn't that bring with it a form of desire? Perhaps an inkling of greed? Don't we place ourselves above mortals in the eyes of the creator?" Trinity's voice was both sad and insistent.

"What does that have -"

"Doesn't the fact that we do indeed have the capacity for such human traits as pride, lead one to believe that we might also be able to love as humans do? That perhaps we have more in common with them than we were allowed to believe?" Trinity paused, noticing the surprise in Alex's face, but continuing despite it. "That maybe, there is another part of ourselves somewhere, residing in someone else?"

"That's just foolishness, Trinity." Alexander said, shaking his head.

"Everything has its compliment, Alex. The sky has the earth, the sun has the moon, the light has the dark. One would not exist without the other. We are embodiments of everything that's pure...that's good, but alongside the good, there has to be ..."

"Trinity, stop it!" Alexander said, roughly grabbing her shoulder. "You're speaking foolishness."

"Am I? Or am I speaking the truth?" The calm in her voice surprised them both.

"I don't know what's gotten into you, but its scaring me, Trinity." Alexander quickly stood up, looking down at her.

'Its scaring me too,' Trinity thought to herself, not moving from her spot.

"Trinity, listen to me," Alexander's voice softened, "don't worry yourself over matters you have no say in. True, while we exist, so exists evil - but the two are meant to forever be separate. If brought together, they wouldn't compliment one another, as you've said ... They would simply cancel each other out."

For a moment, Trinity's mind jumped back to that second night and the fire she'd felt between them, the heat in his touch. Shaking her head, she met Alexander's gaze. "I don't think so ..."

"Or, if not cancel out, one would simply overcome and destroy the other," he added, his tone serious. "Trinity, let it go. I don't know what you've gotten yourself into, but don't let yourself fall in too deeply - you won't find much sympathy for fallen angels."

With a low sigh he turned and finally left her to be alone with her thoughts once again. Trinity's fist slammed into the ground next to her as she found herself even more lost than before. Why did he have to ask? Why had she argued with him about something he didn't ... something she didn't even understand?
"I need to see him again," she whispered, absently picking a small purple flower from a patch beside her feet. Twirling it between her thumb and forefinger, Trinity knew without a doubt that she needed to see Dameon again, needed to speak to him.

"But what do I want to say?" She asked, brushing the soft petals of the flower against her lips. "I want to know why he came back ... why he ki-.." she found she couldn't even finish the thought without a chill running through her, a longing rising within her.

Sighing, she tossed the flower into the pond, watching as it sent ripples across the smooth, glass-like surface. She couldn't help but wonder how one little thing could have such a far-reaching effect. How a single kiss, a single touch could have so quickly and easily sent her world spinning out of control, showing no signs of stopping.

"I can't let it continue ... I have to do something about it," she said finally, though there was little conviction in her voice. "Tonight ... if I see him."

Standing, Trinity stretched her wings and brushed off the grass that clung to her pale yellow gown. Walking out of the clearing, she knew that if she was going to do anything at all, she'd have to be prepared to stand up to him ... to say no.

"And that, is going to be the hardest part." She sighed, walking down the small hill and toward the manor house. It's a pity Trinity didn't know more about what she was dealing with, how strong a force temptation could truly be; if she had, she might have known that the only way to she could rid herself of it, was to give in to it.

That night, to Trinity's dismay, Alexander watched closely and remained by her side until she finally sought sanctuary in her room, claiming she was exhausted and needed to rest. As she shut the door, she could hear Alexander in the hallway, talking in hushed tones to two of the Maidens that had rooms on either side of hers. Her heart sank, knowing he was more than likely asking them to watch her. This would, no doubt, make getting to the shrine more difficult but not an impossibility.

As she suspected, several times over the next three hours, one of the two maidens would gently knock on her door, asking if there was anything she needed. Each time, Trinity politely declined. Finally, near midnight, she went to each of them, telling them she would be going to sleep and wished not to be disturbed until morning. Once that was done, Trinity once again locked herself in her room to wait just a little longer.

Midnight came and went, and Trinity no longer heard any sounds from either room. Knowing they'd more than likely fallen asleep, she slipped out onto her balcony. The night air seemed cooler than usual against her bare arms. She should have grabbed a cloak, but that would have meant making more noise than she dared. Instead, she climbed up onto the railing, letting the cool wind move over her wings before jumping down.

"I'm sorry, Alexander." She whispered into the night as she set herself down on the west side of the temple. Folding her wings forward, she used them to temporarily stave off the cold that seemed to be creeping in rather quickly. She might have found it strange if her mind hadn't been otherwise occupied, wondering if Dameon would show up.

Indeed, he was already there, propped carefully within the branches of a tree only feet from where she stood. Her cheeks were flushed from the cold wind, and for the briefest moment he wished instead of her wings, his arms were around her, fending off the cold night air. Shaking his head, he quickly pushed that thought to the back of his mind, instead wondering how it was she'd made it out again. He'd been here, every night, watching her from a safe distance as she wandered aimlessly around the temple. He'd watch her tend the altar and finally settle down upon the steps that led away from the shrine and toward the mountain ridge which kept the valley mostly hidden from prying eyes.

Each night he'd wanted to reveal himself to her again, to take her in his arms and claim her as his, but he held back. He couldn't help but wonder what would happen to her innocent beauty once he touched her. It was something he didn't want to destroy, but he desperately wanted to posses. As many hours as she'd spent trying to get a grasp on what was happening, Dameon had spent wondering if she had even the slightest clue what she was getting herself into.

She knew what he was, and what his kind was capable of, that she'd already made clear. But he had to wonder if she understood what that truly meant; if she was ready for it.

"Dameon?" At the sound of her voice speaking his name, he decided he'd find out, tonight.

"Yes, angel?" He said, his lips just inches from her ear as his arm snaked around her waist, pulling her back against him.

Trinity tensed for a moment, then relaxed, a small smile tugging at the edges of her lips. "You came.." she said, trying to keep the excitement out of her voice as her hands moved to the arm that held her.

"Of course," he said with a smile, kissing her neck, "I don't think there's much that could have kept me away for too long."

Trinity's eyes closed slowly. "I was beginning to wonder." She said with a small laugh. "You haven't shown yourself in nearly a week."

"Oh?" Dameon grinned, turning her to face him. "We're keeping track of these things?"

"No ... I mean ..." Trinity's cheeks flushed red, embarrassment creeping up on her. She'd never much cared for keeping track of time, finding it to be somewhat useless, but every day that passed without seeing Dameon seemed to drag on for an eternity.

Dameon leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose. "Its okay, my dear, I missed you as well."

For the first time in days a true smile light up Trinity's face, her eyes meeting his. "Really?" She couldn't help but ask, the idea that he'd actually missed her seeming too good to be true.

Pulling her closer, he captured her in a gentle yet demanding kiss that left her breathless when he finally pulled away. "Yes, really." He said, reaching up and gently stroking the side of her face.

Trinity could have lost herself right then and there, happily falling into his gaze and surrendering to his touch, but she still had enough sense to fight it. "Why did you come back?" She asked, not making any move to pull away from him.

"The same reason you came looking for me?" Dameon answered with a gentle shrug of his shoulders.

"I doubt that..." Trinity said, dropping her gaze as her hands played lightly along his arms.

"Then why did you come?" Dameon asked, tilting her chin up so she was again looking him in the eye.

"I came to warn you ... To tell you that you shouldn't come back," Trinity whispered, her insides twisting into knots at the thought of not seeing him again.

"Why not?" He asked, reaching up and gently stroking the side of her face. "You don't want me here?"

Trinity sucked in a breath, closing her eyes and shaking her head. "I ... Its wrong for you to be here," she managed to force out.

"Trinity, look at me," Dameon instructed, his voice low. Obediently she opened her eyes, and he could see the tears shimmering in them. "I know as well as you do that my being here is wrong, on more levels than we could possibly imagine, but that's not what I asked you."

Trinity responded with a look of confusion.

Dameon's eyes locked on hers, his arm tightening around her waist. "I asked you what you wanted."

Trinity's small hands pressed against his chest, her fingers cautiously playing with the fabric of his shirt. She remained silent for a few moments before she spoke, "What I want doesn't matter."

"To me it does." Dameon's words seemed to echo through the night, thrilling and terrifying her in the same breath.

Trinity felt as if she were on the verge of tears, her hands closing into fists to hide their shaking. "What I want ... I can't have."

Dameon's hands moved, reaching for hers. "What is it you want, Angel?" He whispered as their fingers intertwined.

As a creature of myth, one that sees things that humans experience only in their wildest dreams, Trinity had witnessed many events and forces that were beyond imagination, but never before had she felt something as overwhelming as when their hands touched. In that instant, she felt that loneliness, that emptiness that had been plaguing her disappear. She couldn't explain it, and dared not to; all she knew was she didn't ever want to let it go.

"I want this," she breathed, leaning forward and gently kissing Dameon's lips.

"Just a kiss, my lady?" Dameon whispered, feeling her hands tightening around his.

Trinity shook her head, licking her lips slowly. The words were there, she just didn't know if she could speak them, if she dared to.

Dameon smiles softly, his eyes silently encouraging her. "Then what else do you want, Trinity? Tell me, and I'll do everything I can to give it to you."

"I want you." Trinity's face flushed and she could hear, somewhere in the back of her mind, a voice telling her just how wrong this was and how it couldn't be.

Dameon couldn't help but chuckle softly, bringing her hands around his neck and then wrapping his arms around her. "I'm your's, Angel ... but are you sure you know what that means?"

Trinity frowned, looking up at him. "What do you mean?"

Dameon grinned, his fangs glinting in the faint moonlight. "Are you sure you understand exactly what it is I am? Do you know what you're getting yourself into?"

Trinity began to say yes, but then she paused, considering. Dameon was, for all intents and purposes, a demon. He lived in darkness, dealt in miseries and represented the basest form of evil that roamed the earth. But where this should have repelled her, brought her screaming back to her senses, it only added to the pull she felt drawing her closer to him. It shouldn't have, but when there's love involved, the world rarely makes sense.

"No," she answered finally, truthfully, "but I'm willing to find out."

Her words both thrilled and surprised Dameon, as did the trust he saw in her eyes as she looked up at him. "You sure about that, Angel?"

Trinity hesitated, then nodded slowly. "Yes, I am."

Dameon grinned, his hands moving casually up her sides and along her arms. "We're going to have to see about that." He said, and in one fluid motion he grabbed both her wrists, bringing her arms behind her back and pinning them there with one hand.

Trinity sucked in a breath, trying to pull her hands from Dameon's grip. "What are you -" her words were cut off as his lips roughly claimed her's, his tongue expertly sliding into her mouth, tasting her, claiming it as his.

As quickly as the kiss had begun, it ended, leaving Trinity fighting to control her breathing as Dameon slid behind her. "I'm dangerous, Trinity. You say you know it, but do you truly understand what it means?" His lips were beside her ear, his hot breath scorching her skin.

"Of course I do!" She shot back, trying to turn and look at him, but his other arm quickly pulled her back against him, making it nearly impossible.

"I don't think you do," he said, licking his fangs.

"If I was that ignorant, don't you think the choice would be easier?" Trinity struggled against his arm, wanting to face him.

Dameon released her wrists, but the arm he had locked around her kept her from moving. His free hand moved up and forced her head to the side, giving him access to her neck. "But perhaps desire has clouded your judgement, Angel," he whispered against her skin, feeling her entire body tense as his fangs brushed threateningly against her exposed neck.

Fear gripped Trinity's mind, but there was something else too, an anticipation that Trinity didn't quite understand. "Dameon, don't do this ..." she whispered, trying again to pull free.

"Isn't this what you want?" He whispered, his mouth sliding down along her neck, finding this cautious taste quite intoxicating.

"I-I don't know..." Trinity gasped as she felt his fangs press into her neck and his tongue snake out to gently taste the droplets of blood that seeped from the small wounds.

Dameon's head swam at the taste of her, however faint, immediately wanting more. The tremor that passed through her body before it froze in fear of what was to follow only added to his desire to have her. With great effort he pulled his lips away from the wound, knowing that even a second more and he'd find it impossible to hold back.

"I think you do know," he whispered, kissing her shoulder, "I just don't think you're ready to face it."

Trinity nearly stumbled as he released her, her head swimming and her skin burning where he'd bitten her. His hand reached out and grabbed her arm, steadying her for a moment before she turned a burning gaze on him.

"And what if I am?" She hissed, pulling her arm out of his grasp.

Dameon moved forward, his hand cupping her face and forcing her eyes to meet his. "Then maybe you can have what you want, if you're willing to reach for it; but first we have to find out if you're truly ready."

Trinity's eyes were alive, burning with defiance and silently challenging Dameon's gaze. "And just how are we going to do that?"

Dameon leaned in, gently kissing her lips. "Meet me here, tomorrow, at sunset and you'll see."

"Sunset!?" Trinity's eyes went wide, her head shaking quickly. "I can't -"

Dameon released her, stepping away. "If you're that certain of what you want, then you'll find a way, Angel." Before she could reply Dameon disappeared, and to her surprise, Trinity could see the first light of morning peeking over the mountains.

Blinking, she stood there for a moment, her mind still reeling as much from Dameon's actions as from how she'd reacted. Absently her hand moved up, her fingers finding the small punctures that were already healing. If she closed her eyes she could still feel his fangs and couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if he'd actually bitten her.

"That can't happen ..." She whispered, shaking her head and turning toward the manor. She knew that with his bite, he'd claim her and she'd lose everything she'd ever known to the darkness.

Her mind was spinning as she began walking back toward the manor, hoping to slip in unnoticed. Somewhere, between now and sunrise, she'd have to decide which mattered more; the life she had now or whatever force it was that drew her toward Dameon.

As she moved silently under the quickly fading stars, a small voice in the back of her mind dared to put a name to that mysterious feeling that was pulling her ever closer to her own undoing. Love it whispered in both fear and amazement, but for the moment Trinity ignored it, not ready to fully face what she was dealing with.

{~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~}
Four

Living forever means one learns to deal with change; for if you don't learn to change with the world around you, in the end, it will break you. Trinity flowed with the changes the centuries and even the millennia brought gracefully and without hesitation, but this time the change was threatening to consume her from the inside out. After living since nearly the dawn of time itself, how does one suddenly deal with a force as strong and overpowering as love? Especially when one has been told for all their existence, that it was something they didn't need?

What you end up with is a constant battle between heart, mind and soul - none of which are truly in the right or wrong. When tearing down beliefs held for a thousand lifetimes there is no right or wrong, all that exists is confusion, a state of mind love is notorious for causing.

When Trinity finally fell upon the soft mattress of her bed, she felt as if she'd been awake for weeks on end but she wasn't tired, physically. In fact, her entire body was energized, every nerve alive and responding to each small sensation, but at the same time her mind was exhausted.

She'd been arguing with herself since she'd stepped foot out of the woods, and there was no end or resolution in sight.

She knew what she wanted.
She knew what she needed.
She knew what she should do.

The only problem was, all the things she knew didn't seem to agree with one another, leaving her guessing and hoping there was one, simple answer. Laying on her bed, staring up at the white ceiling, she knew on some level that there was nothing about this situation that was simple.

"We need to speak, Trinity." The knock on the door and the sound of Alexander's voice told Trinity that things had just gotten more complicated.

Sitting up with a quiet groan, Trinity felt her stomach tightening. "Give me a moment, Alex," she called through the closed door, getting up and going over to the vanity against the opposite wall.

"As you wish," his voice was somber, and Trinity knew she wasn't looking forward to what was coming. Lifting her hair off her neck, she carefully inspected the area where Dameon had bitten her, relieved to see no marks remaining. The last thing she needed right now was to have to explain those.

Sighing heavily, she took one last look at herself in the mirror and moved to the door, unlocking and opening it so Alexander could enter. His gray eyes greeted her cooly as he moved silently into the room.

"Good morning, Alex," Trinity offered tentatively, watching his face closely.

Alexander looked at her, shaking his head quickly. "Where were you last night?" He asked, surprising her with his bluntness.

"I was at the Temple," she replied, closing the door and stepping toward him.

"No, actually you weren't," he corrected, his arms crossed over his chest. "I went down there myself just before dawn and you were nowhere to be seen."

Trinity's hand came down on the table just inside the door, her eyes narrowing. "Were you trying to spy on me, Alex?"

"No," he said, his head tilting slightly, "I was trying to protect you."

"I don't need protection," she replied quickly, shaking her head.

"Yes you do, whether it be from whatever outside entity that's influencing you, or yourself," Alex sighed, turning his back to her and walking toward the balcony. "Either way, you need protection before you make a mistake."

Trinity moved forward, grabbing Alexander's shoulder. "Alex, there's nothing going on that I need protection from. I just ... I'm finding myself with a lot of questions and very few answers."

Alexander stopped but didn't turn to look at her. "And why is it you think the night holds these answers for you? What is it out there that lures you to walk a potentially dangerous path?"

"These are answers I can only find on my own, Alex." Trinity said quietly, dropping her hand to her side. "The quiet and solitude of the night gives me a chance to think and clear my mind."

"That's what morning mediation is for," Alex shook his head, finally turning to look at her. "You never had difficulty finding your answers by the light of day before, what's changed? What 'questions' are plaguing you?"

"Ones that are of my own making," Trinity's eyes dropped and she moved toward the bed, Alexander's hand grabbing her arm and holding her where she was.

"Don't run away from me, Trinity. Doing that won't make your problems disappear."

"Alex, you have to understand, no one can answer these question for me. I'm not trying to run away, I'm simply trying to handle this the best way I know how." Trinity felt tears rising in her eyes as she turned to meet Alexander's gaze. The sadness and hurt that reflected in his eyes was like a physical blow, but she had to stand her ground.

"How do you know these questions are known only to yourself when you won't even tell me what they are?" He pressed, reaching out and gently stroking her cheek with his free hand.

Unintentionally, Trinity drew away from the touch, pulling her arm from Alexander's grasp. When she realized what she'd done, she wrapped her arms around herself and turned away. "Alex, this is something you can't help me with."

Alexander stood there for a moment his hands hanging at his sides, clenched tightly into fists. "I only can't because you won't let me, Trinity."

When she turned back to face him, Trinity's eyes shimmered with tears and her face was flush. "No, Alex, you can't help me, not with this. To help you'd need to be able to understand it-"

"I might be able to if you'd tell me what it is!" Alex pressed, his tone bordering between frustration and anger.

"How can you understand it when I'm stuck in the middle and I don't?" Her voice trembled, her eyes pleading with him to drop it. "Alex, please-"

"You keep making excuses," Alex said, interrupting her, "but I have yet to hear actual reasons for your actions."

Trinity's eyes went wide, anger coloring her features. "Since when do I need to explain myself to you or anyone else?"

"Since your actions have begun to require questioning and monitoring, Trinity. Since your motives and your words have become suspect and have many people wondering what your intentions are," he explained, his tone turning to that of an adult speaking to a reckless child. "You offer no explanations, therefore they must be sought out, by any means necessary."

"Exactly what does that mean?" Trinity's eyes narrowed, her hands moving to her hips.

"It means, that until we're satisfied that you are not putting yourself, or the temple, in danger, you will be monitored and not allowed out of the manor unaccompanied."

"Alex, that's not fair!" Trinity protested, color rising in her cheeks. "That's ... completely unnecessary!"

"Prove it to me, Trinity," he replied, crossing his arms and looking at her. "Show me that its not necessary and I won't do it."

Trinity's mouth opened and then closed again, her head shaking. "What do you want from me?" She asked finally, unable to find the right words.

"Tell me the truth. You do remember what that is, correct?" Alexander offered cooly, catching the burning glare she directed his way.

"That was uncalled for," she said, gritting her teeth.

"Perhaps, but it seemed appropriate considering the circumstances." Alexander moved forward, holding out his hand. "Give me your pendant, Trinity."

Trinity's eyes darkened, her hand closing around the silver sphere that lay against her chest. "Alex, you can't-"

"If I believe its necessary, I can." Alexander's sharp gaze told her not to argue, but Trinity wasn't going to give in so easily.

"There is no reason to take my pendant!" She said, taking a step back. "Without it, I'm practically helpless - Do you know how dangerous that can be?"

Alexander shrugged his shoulders, shaking his head. "Trinity, the only danger you have to worry about is whatever it is you're allowing yourself to be drawn into. Taking the pendant away is the only way I can think of to try and save you from it."

"But without it, I'm no stronger than one of the Shrine Maidens!" Trinity shook her head, tears rising in her eyes.

"And perhaps you'll act accordingly and be more careful." Alexander said, abruptly stepping forward and brushing Trinity's hand away from the necklace. Before she could do anything more, his fingers closed around the stone and it fell from the chain and into his hand.

Trinity choked back a sob as her wings seemed to melt, several stray feathers falling to the ground at her feet. Immediately she felt weaker, more vulnerable. Without that pendant, she could not exist on this plane in her true form, and Alexander knew it.

"I'm sorry Trinity," Alexander's voice was genuinely apologetic as she sank down onto the edge of her bed.

Trinity looked up at him, her eyes burning with disbelief and anger, but she said nothing. Alexander stood there for a moment before sliding the pendant into a small leather pouch that hung about his waist. He reached out to place his hand on her shoulder, but she shrunk back, turning her eyes away from him.

"Trinity, you will thank me for this when you return to your senses," he sighed, turning and leaving the room.

When the door clicked shut behind him and Trinity was finally alone, the tears she'd been holding back finally came. Sliding off the bed and onto the floor, she hugged her knees to her chest, burying her face in her arms and sobbing quietly.

Alexander wouldn't trust her again until she came back to her senses and acted like her old self again, but how could she do that? How does one forget something as powerful as love and return to an existence in which you're denied the right to have it? She could stand having to choose between a life without Dameon and a life with him, even knowing in her heart which she'd have to choose.

"But he has no right to take that choice away from me," she said out loud, her lips trembling as the tears continued to slip silently down her cheeks.

Morning eventually changed into afternoon, but Trinity felt no better about her situation. Sitting on her balcony, quietly watching the shrine, she couldn't help but wonder what would happen when Dameon appeared and she was nowhere to be seen. Would he think her a coward? Or would he think she truly didn't care, even if she'd proclaimed she did?

"Maybe ... maybe this is for the best," she whispered, leaning her head back against the railing and sighing. "If I don't show up tonight, then he won't come back ... and ..."

Her voice trailed off as her eyes slid closed, trying to hold back the tears she felt coming once again. This ending might have been inevitable, but this wasn't the way her heart had wanted it to come about. She'd wanted it to happen on her terms, when she was ready.

"I just wanted to be able to say goodbye..." She shook her head, her gaze moving toward the mountains that surrounded the shrine. The shadows had grown longer, and their peaks were just starting to turn a golden orange. Sunset was probably less than an hour away and she had no choice but to sit and watch it come.

As her blue eyes drifted back toward the shrine, her heart caught in her throat when she noticed an unusual amount of activity in and around the temple itself. 'What are they doing?' She wondered, standing to get a better view. It was normal for the Shrine Maidens to be there, preparing everything for the night, but as she studied the figures, she realized these weren't Maidens.

"Guardians!?" She gasped, a sense of dread rising up inside her. Would Alexander really go to such lengths to make sure she didn't go near the shrine? She honestly didn't know, but she had to find out. If they were still there at sundown when Dameon appeared ...

"I don't even want to think about it," she shook her head, moving off the balcony and through her room, intent on finding someone that could give her some answers.

Moving down the long hallway that lead to the staircase, Trinity was hoping for the best but fearing the worst. If the guards caught Dameon anywhere near the shrine, he wouldn't escape alive, no matter how talented he may be.

"Lady Trinity, is something wrong?" Lorena, a blonde-haired woman with clear green eyes asked when the angel nearly ran into her.

Trinity met Lorena's eyes and shook her head. "Is something wrong down at the shrine?" She asked quickly.

"I don't believe so," Lorena replied, putting her hand on Trinity's arm.

"Then why are there so many guards down there? Why aren't the other Maidens there preparing for sunset?" She demanded.

Lorena tilted her head, looking at Trinity curiously. "Alexander dismissed us early, saying the guardians needed the shrine by sunset. I was sure you would have been told-"

Trinity shook her head. "Alexander ... hasn't had the chance to speak to me since this morning."

"It must have slipped his mind then, I know he's been concerned as of late..." Lorena smiled, patting Trinity reassuringly on the shoulder. "Perhaps he's looking for you now?"

Trinity smiled bitterly, nodding quickly. "Somehow, I don't doubt that. Thank you for your help, Lorena. I must go find Alexander now."

Before the woman could utter a goodbye, Trinity was already moving hurriedly down the stairs, knowing where she'd find Alexander.

When she reached the ivory doors that lead to his study, Trinity didn't even bother knocking before pushing them open and stepping inside. Blue eyes met gray across the room where Alexander sat behind his desk, ancient texts spread across the mahogany surface.

"Am I no longer to be included in guardian matters? Have my errors truly been that horrendous?" Trinity asked, moving quickly across the floor and placing her hands on the edge of his desk.

"At the moment, Trinity, you have no powers as a guardian," Alexander said calmly, leaning back in his chair and studying her. "Or have you forgotten that small fact?"

Trinity bit back the comment that immediately sprang to her lips, knowing she had to remain calm. "I may not be able to participate in them, but don't I still have a right to know what's going on?"

Alexander nodded, placing the pen in his hand on the desk, beside a small leather pouch that Trinity immediately recognized. "Perhaps if you'd been keeping track of events, Trinity, you would have realized that its time for our Midnight Vigil."

"Already?" Trinity blinked, looking at the small chart that lay on the desk. "The solstice already ..."

"Yes, it seems to have come quickly this year." Alexander confirmed, watching as she stepped back, falling into one of the chairs that sat in front of the desk. "I'm sorry you're not going to be able to participate."

Trinity looked up at him, trying to hide the anger in her eyes. "Its only one solstice, the next will come quickly enough."

"Very true, and from the color of the sky, I'd say its almost time for the ceremonies to begin." Trinity's eyes followed his gaze to the window, her fingers tightening on the arm of the chair when she saw the deep red color of the sky.

"Sunset already..." she whispered, silently hoping that Dameon would not hold true to his promise. 'Please don't let him come ... please.'

"Yes, you seem to have wasted most of the day in your chambers." Alexander said, turning his attention back to the woman who sat before him. "I do hope you had time to think about-"

The sudden, shrill ringing of bells cut Alexander off, causing them both to jump from their seats. "Intruders?" He looked from Trinity to the window. "Not possible!"

Trinity suddenly felt as if she'd collapse right there, knowing that it was indeed possible, and knowing exactly what was going on.

"Trinity stay here, I wish to speak to you when I return." Alexander instructed, moving quickly around his desk.

"Wait!" Trinity grabbed his hand, her eyes meeting his. "Let me come with you. You might need the help."

Alexander gently removed her hand from his, shaking his head. "You'd be of no use to us, Trinity. Besides, I highly doubt this is anything worth concerning yourself about." Alexander moved away, pausing in the doorway for a moment. "I'm sure its nothing more than another one of your lost travelers."

Trinity watched him leave, listening as his footsteps faded down the hallway. "I will not let this happen!" She proclaimed, reaching across the desk and snatching up the pouch before following Alexander to the shrine.

Never before had the distance from the manor to the temple seemed so great, but Trinity gave no thought to it. She had to get there before anything could happen; the voices she could hear as she exited the gardens told her something already had.

"Don't move! You are trespassing on protected land!" Alexander's voice reached her ears, several other voices echoing his command.

"Oh? And I should listen to you because?" Trinity's heart nearly burst when she heard Dameon's voice floating through the open windows of the shrine.

'What is he doing there?' Trinity forced her legs to move faster, knowing that if Dameon was in the shrine, there was very little time left.

"I don't have time to argue with you, demon. Step away from the altar and you will not be harmed." Alexander instructed, grey eyes carefully studying their black adversary. The ease and comfort with which he moved unnerved Alexander, but he wouldn't let it show.

Dameon turned, crossing his arms and meeting the angel's gaze. "And how long will that promise stand, sir? Until you remove me from your precious temple? Until I move close enough for you to slay me? Or perhaps you'll let it wait until morning and simply let the rays of the sun do your dirty work for you?"

Trinity came to a halt outside the doorway, nearly crying out at Dameon's words. 'That idiot! Challenging an army of guardians on sacred grounds? What is he thinking?'

"The promise will hold for as long as I deem necessary and appropriate, demon." Alexander explained, his tone cool as he stepped forward, allowing his wings to open behind him. "You are in no position to question my words or my motives. You either obey or you die. The choices are quite simple."

Dameon laughed, shaking his head. "You must think me quite ignorant as well as quite weak if you think that threat is going to do anything to deter my plans."

The pendant around Alexander's neck began to glow, his normally calm expression hardening into anger. "If my words will not stop you, then surely my actions will."

'No!' Trinity's eyes widened, knowing that Dameon, however strong he may be, was in grave danger. She wasn't about to let this happen. Pushing past the guards at the door, she paid no heed to their warnings.

"Stop this!" She cried out, pushing through the sea of people between her and Alexander.

'Ah ... my other treasure,' Dameon thought, his grin widening. 'Time for action.'

"Somebody stop her!" Alexander called over his shoulder, preparing to immobilize this arrogant demon.

"You're too slow boy," Dameon growled, sending a globe of black energy hurtling toward Alexander before he could finish calling up his attack.

Trinity saw the attack before Alexander did, and her reaction was immediate. Without thinking she lunged at him, putting herself between him and the blast.

In that moment, time seemed to stand still, Dameon watching helplessly as his attack met up with its target. "NO!" He growled, grabbing the key and jumping down from the altar.

Trinity cried out as the blast hit her back, sending both her and Alexander tumbling to the floor in a heap. The heat quickly spread across her back, surrounding and penetrating to her core. "I'm sorry..." She whispered before the pain finally overcame her senses and she lost consciousness.

"Trinity?" Alexander was trying to catch his breath, panic quickly gripping his heart as he struggled to move her limp form off of him; without her pendant for protection, she might have just sacrificed her life trying to save him. "Help me!" He cried out to the others, but before they could move he felt another wave of heat fly past him and heard the guardians scatter.

"Angel?" Dameon whispered, crouching down and pulling Trinity's inert form into his arms before standing back up.

"Put her down!" Alexander cried out, scrambling to his feet, a ball of white energy hovering in his hand.

Dameon brushed a strand of hair out of Trinity's face. "I wouldn't do that unless you want to hurt this girl more than you already have."

"Me? It was your attack that hit her." Alexander growled, holding off until he could get a clear shot. "An attack that could very well kill her if you don't return her to me immediately."

Dameon's gaze rose to meet Alexander's. "That attack wasn't strong enough to kill her, just stun her."

Alexander's eyes narrowed. "You don't understand! She's-"

"Its not up for discussion. I'll be taking my prizes and leaving you to clean up this mess." Dameon flashed a mocking smile in the angel's direction before he, Trinity and the key disappeared.

"My god ... Trinity ..." Alexander fell to his knees, his hands shaking. "What have I done?"

{~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~}

To be continued . . .