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    CHAPTER 1

    The wind whipped through Amelia’s hair as the door opened. She felt alive; pure adrenaline pumped through her body. It was a dizzying and exciting kind of rush. One she had never experienced before.

    Mitchell’s hands grasped her shoulders so tightly that she winced. He whimpered, and she was pretty sure she heard a shriek, a sound that she had never before heard from him. She glanced over her shoulder and reached up to squeeze his hand. She couldn’t stop the burst of laughter that erupted from her belly.

    The sounds of her laughter were drowned out by the rumbling engines of the plane and the windstorm that blustered around them, and she wondered how on earth she had heard his shriek. Then she noticed his slightly pink cheeks and the emanating feelings of embarrassment, and she realized she was feeling it through the bond.

    You’ve got to be kidding me? she sent through her sidesplitting laughter, as she took in his ghostly complexion. You’re scared?

    We’re really, um, high, Mitchell whimpered into her mind. He sounded like a scared little child, and he took a few steps back, pressing his body firmly against the wall. I don’t think I can do this. What if my parachute doesn’t open?

    Oh, honey, Amelia said, crossing the short distance between them and caressing his pale cheeks. She smirked, dropping her thoughts to a gentle whisper. You know you’re a vampire, right? Even if it doesn’t open, you’ll be fine.

    She felt Mitchell groan. You really aren’t helping, love.

    Suddenly the plane hit a bit of turbulence, jostling them around, and he screeched, an ear piercing, little girl kind of sound. He pulled her into his arms, holding onto her so tightly, as if she was the only thing that could save him—his stable rock.

    She squeezed him back just as firmly, feeling the fear tremble through his muscles and the panic that he pushed into her mind. She stood up on tiptoes and kissed the tip of his nose. Now, this is new, she pushed the thought to him. I think I could get used to being the strong one.

    He chuckled, or at least that was what Amelia thought he was trying to do. It sounded more like a gurgling sob. He rubbed his nose, side to side against hers. In case…In case… He shook his head, as if he couldn’t bear to finish the words. His lips twitched up into an unconvincing smile. I love you.

    Amelia almost laughed again. Who would have thought that Mitchell, of all people, would be scared of heights? Or scared of anything for that matter. But before the giggles could explode, he silenced them with a hungry kiss. His lips worked over hers with such an urgency and fierceness that Amelia was quickly swept away, forgetting the plane, forgetting the wind, forgetting everything around them. It was just them. Together. Nothing else in the world mattered. Not a single other thing existed apart from him.

    “If you’re going to jump, you’ve got to do it now,” the coach shouted, ruining the moment.

    Reluctantly, Amelia pulled her lips away, panting. She locked eyes with Mitchell. “We don’t have to do this,” she yelled, although it floated through the air like a hushed whisper, thanks to the almost deafening wind blowing around them, and she tried to hide the disappointment in her voice.

    His gaze shifted quickly to the open doorway, and then back to her. He took a shaky breath, cupped her face with his soft and clammy hands, and a scared thought trembled into her mind, Can you push me out?

    Amelia grinned and nodded in response. Her heart swelled and jumped around in her chest. How had she gotten so lucky? How many other men would jump out of a plane, just because their girlfriend wanted to?

    “Guys, you really have to jump, like now,” the coach shouted again.

    Mitchell visibly shivered. What if I land on a twig and it pierces my heart? He sent the thought through their bond, and she could tell he didn’t trust his voice.

    I’ve got it covered, honey, Amelia sent back, coating the thoughts with a soothing tone.

    How? he breathed.

    Amelia leaned into him, stretching up and brushing her lips against his ear, as if she was going to whisper a secret. But even this close and with his enhanced hearing, she knew she would have to yell to be heard over the noise. We’re going to land in the lake. That’s why he’s rushing us.

    Mitchell looked more horrified than reassured. But what if we get tangled in the ropes, what if our parachutes drag us underwater, what if…

    Amelia cut off Mitchell’s rambling thoughts and again reassured him, Shhh…We’ll be fine.

    It had taken some arranging, but using her magic to pull on Mitchell’s power of persuasion, she had managed to arrange for them to jump alone, over a lake. They wouldn’t have an instructor, and they didn’t have to be secured together, although, she planned to use a little magic to keep them together as they fell through the sky.

    He took her hand, lacing their fingers together, and inched towards the opening. Don’t let go? he said, as if it was a question.

    Never, Amelia answered, and she meant it. Never again would she let him slip away. They locked gazes, and together, they jumped.

    Amelia was the first to scream as they tumbled, but it wasn’t from fear. Mitch, you’re going to break my hand, she sent in a panicked rush.

    He loosened his grip to a bearable tension and sent a blast of shame through the bond. I didn’t want you to know I’m such a wuss, he sent.

    With her free hand, she pulled him closer to her, lacing their hands together with steamy golden strands of power that wrestled against the wind that tried to rip them apart. You’re not a wuss, she pushed the thought to him. You’re the strongest person I know, and I love you, Mitchell Lang.

    He gave her a genuine smile, and for just a second, the fear vanished from his eyes. Bright, warm sunshine poured through the bond. Amelia soaked it up, basking in his love. The emotions wrapped around her, seeped into her skin, and filled her soul. Mitchell leaned closer and kissed her with just a light peck, and then he cleared his throat and yelled, “Can we pull the cord?” The fear crept back onto his face.

    She reached to her side and he mimicked her movements, clasping the cord tightly, and together, they pulled. As the parachutes opened, the wind caught them and they jerked up. Mitchell screeched and Amelia grinned, keeping a tight hold on his hand. It took a moment for the ballooning chutes to fill out, but when they did, it was amazing. Floating down over the crystal clear lake, the world around them was breathtaking. A sight that Amelia was sure was now etched into her mind. The glistening water, the rolling hills, the little cottage. From above, it was just all the more beautiful. She lost herself, allowing the vastness of the earth below to fill her soul and the closeness of Mitchell to warm her heart.

    This past week had been wonderful, and floating from the sky seemed like the perfect way to end their perfect vacation. Amelia had been a little apprehensive when Mitchell had suggested that they go away—just the two of them. To her pleasant surprise, without all the stress of running a town full of vampires and dealing with an amazing, yet demanding family, they actually had a great time. She would have sworn it wasn’t possible, but this time with him had brought them back to the dreams. Back to the times when all that mattered was each other.

    The time alone had been full of firsts: their first real date—alone; the first time to the movies; he even bought her flowers for the first time. It had been more than she could have ever imagined. And for the first time since they had met, she actually felt like they were just a normal couple, having a normal life, and best of all, she realized how much she truly loved him. The way he smiled at her, the way he caressed her cheek. How his eyes sparkled when he laughed, and the way he always opened the door for her. She loved him. Everything about him. Would it be like this when they got back? she wondered, as the ground approached. Mitchell tightened his grip on her hand, pulling her from her musing.

    Amelia squeezed back, trying to reassure him, and then she focused on the fall. She gathered up her magic, pulling the energy together and letting the golden strands wrap around both of them. Their momentum slowed, and she felt like a feather drifting in the wind as they descended the last few feet. When they landed, the cool lake water gently splashed up around them.

    “Mitch, you can open your eyes,” Amelia said, as the parachutes billowed around them, landing in the hip-deep water.

    “Is it over?” he asked, keeping his eyes squeezed tightly shut.

    Amelia laughed. “Okay, now you’re acting like a wuss.” She gave him a playful nudge and then unclipped the chutes. She was about to start wading in towards the beach, when suddenly his lips were on hers, in a hard, breathtaking kiss.

    “I can’t believe we actually did that,” he said when they finally came up for air. And then a grin spread across his lips, and he scooped her up in his arms. Amelia gawked at him in amazement as he carried her out of the water. She had never seen him so happy before. So content. And seeing him like this made her happier than she had ever been before.

    Mitchell was still grinning as he set her down on the beach, and she smiled up at him. “I’m the luckiest girl in the world,” she said, and then giggled at the amount of emotion that came out in her words. “I love you.”

    “I love you, too,” Mitchell said, leaning down, pressing his warm lips to hers. And in that moment, everything melted away. The sounds of the chirping birds and the soft crashing waves were gone. All that was left was him. And he was all hers.

    CHAPTER 2

    Looking back, Amelia figured she should have known that the honeymoon phase wouldn’t last. She had really wanted to believe that maybe, just maybe, the vacation had worked. Perhaps the magical perfection they resurrected while they were away would remain, and it did–sort of. They hadn’t fought for about three weeks, but realistically, long-term bliss didn’t seem entirely possible now. Something was definitely different, something seemed wrong, and no matter how hard she tried, Amelia just couldn’t put her finger on it.

    They fought. That’s just what they did. It wasn’t something to be proud of by any means; she hated to admit it, but their squabbles made them work, and she kind of, sort of, missed it. She had always believed that fighting was healthy to a certain extent. Yell a little, say what’s on your mind, and with it out in the open, it’s easier to get over the issue and move on. But since they had returned, Mitchell had been distant, on edge, and overly sensitive.

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