The crisp autumn wind edged its way around the abandoned buildings sitting dangerously close to the street and sent out howling cries from the open, yet long empty truck docks. The sound her heels made when contacting the asphalt sent echoes reminiscent of tapping fingernails down the empty street and into the once bustling factory buildings. She glanced around nervously, her blue-violet eyes surveying every corner, every shadowed crevice. The last thing she needed or wanted at this particular moment in her life was some twisted creep to find her and keep her from the reason, the only reason, she was walking down the abandoned road at such a late hour. The sound of glass breaking directly across the street from where she stood froze Rachael in her tracks, nervously watching for the source of the broken glass to show itself. After what felt like several minutes, a large raccoon moseyed lazily out of the dock, trying to find a way to safely climb out. She couldn't help but laugh to herself, realizing the source of her frantic heart rate was caused by a raccoon, of all things. She began to carry on in her trek, hoping to make it sooner, before anyone heard her alone on the streets. After a few minutes, the echoes created by her boots began to ring loudly in her mind, increasing her panic that someone would end her already shortened life sooner and differently than she'd prefer. Sighing, Rachael knelt down on the cold pavement and removed her boots, tucked them under her arms, and set off once again, refusing to allow her fateful decision to be wavered in anyway.

Rachael knew no one outside of her immediate family would ever, and could ever, understand how she had gotten to this particular moment in her life. Admittedly, it was a long time coming, at least for her. From a very young age, she had always wanted to be like her often absent father, though no one, including her closest friends had ever learned the truth about her father, and Rachael had hoped to keep it that way. She'd spent the last hours of the evening with her friends, observing them like an outsider would: taking in their every word, every movement. She knew it was unlikely she would ever be able to see them again, maybe on occasion for a few years, but surely not beyond that, as they would notice her features never changed, despite them getting older. None of them could figure out her distant attitude, and it was not an explanation she was planning to give up any time soon. Not ever, if she could help it.

Her parents had hardly noticed their daughter's absentmindedness throughout the day; they hadn't noticed much about their daughter these days anyways. Rachael assumed they thought she was just being a normal, twenty year old, but none of the twenty year olds she, and they, knew were so reclusive from their parents. She counted it among her good fortunes that her mother never asked, or figured out what was going on, but in the back of her mind, resented it greatly. Holding onto this secret for the short remainder of her life meant there would be no goodbyes; not the her mother, the woman who gave her life, nor her father, the kindhearted man who had raised her as his own child and loved her unconditionally. How would they handle the news their only daughter had disappeared and never reappeared again? How would her mother react if she discovered the truth: Rachael had made the life-altering decision to follow in her birth father's footsteps, completely abandoning the safe, normal life her mother had tried to create for her? How would her mother explain the truth to the man who raised Rachael as his own; not only the truth about what had happened to Rachael, but also the truth of what had happened to Rachael's birth father? Even if she did find a way to explain it, would he even believe her? Or would he believe her to be crazy just as Rachael's grandmother had and try to send her away somewhere to get help?

The idea of her mother having to suffer for her daughter's choice to abandon the life she had led for twenty years to embrace an entirely new, and much more permanent existence was enough to stop Rachael mid-step. She had come so far already, not only in the physical process of reaching her destination, but also mentally. She'd had to listen to her friends talk about their plans to take a road trip over the summer, their plans to take another getaway once college graduation rolled around. Those simple pleasures of living life aimlessly with friends would be taken away from her before she knew it. Even worse, she'd had to knowingly allow her friends to believe she would be joining them in their adventures, when inside all she wanted to do was hug them goodbye and remind them how much she loved them all, in case she never saw them again. Of course, if she did take such action, they would certainly be frightened and never allow her to leave them until they were sure she was fine. Sighing painfully, Rachael pulled out her cell phone and smiled miserably when she saw she had perfect service.

"Hello?" A groggy voice answered on the other end.

"Mom?" Rachael was surprised to hear her mother answer the phone, especially at such a late hour. "Mom…please just listen to me okay?" She paused and knew that when her mother said nothing, her wish would be obeyed. "Mom, do you still love Dad? No matter what?" She did not know where this question had come from, as it was not what she was planning on asking her mother, not now. However, deep down, Rachael knew that the response to her question was exactly what she was looking for.

She heard her mother suck in some air before she replied. "Honey, you know I love your father, especially after everything he's done for us, after he raised you as-"

Rachael interrupted her mother, realizing she was not completely comprehending the question. "No, Mom, not that one."

"Rachael…what…what on Earth are you trying to get at?" She heard the confusion in her mother's voice and knew it to be genuine, not an attempt to avoid answering.

"Do you love him, Mom? Do you still love him after everything he had, or well, hasn't actually, done?" Rachael tried to hide the urgency in her voice, but knew she was failing.

"I always have, and always will," her mother replied softly. She hesitated before adding, "I will always love you too, no matter what you do, remember that. Be careful, baby."

It was Rachael's turn to suck in air: She knew. Her mother knew exactly what had brought on the sudden question in the middle of the night, and to Rachael's surprise, was not raising any objective to it. "I love you, Mom."

"I love you too, babygirl." She paused, as though searching for words. "Don't try and find him yet, learn what you can first. And promise me, promise you'll come back one day and see me. No matter when it is."

"I promise, Mom." A beep rang out in her ear; the battery was dying.

Rachael disconnected the call and continued down the street, hoping she wouldn't have much further to walk, as her shoeless feet were beginning to bother her. Finally, she saw it ahead of her a short three blocks away.

The shipping docks, like the warehouses and factories lining the streets had long been abandoned. Rachael could not even remember the last time she'd seen a ship waiting for its cargo, though the buildings had only been shut down in the last ten years. Though usually empty, the moonlight revealed a lone figure to be standing there, and although she could not see his eyes, Rachael knew he was watching her, likely with a smile on his face.

Until this moment, her entire day played out like a dream from which she must eventually wake. Reality finally hit her when she saw him standing there, causing Rachael to slow her pace ever so slightly. People had always told her she was like her mother, a fact she knew to be true in more ways than one. However, never in her wildest dreams did she think she'd take after her mother in the most dramatic way possible: Falling in love with one of the undead.

"I thought you had changed your mind," the figure called out to her.

Rachael simply smiled to herself and said nothing until she was close enough to see his sharp features in the moonlight. "You hoped I changed my mind, liar."

"No, I actually hoped you wouldn't. Surprised?" He pulled her close to him then, and kissed her gently on the forehead.

The crisp autumn wind edged around the buildings sitting dangerously close to the street; it swirled and sent out howls from the open, abandoned Rachael laid her head upon his chest, and replied softly, "You know I had to choose, one way or another, eventually."

"And by dying, you're choosing to live. I know, you've told me this many times before."

She pulled away from him then and gazed uncertainly into his eyes. "Promise me one thing," she said, pulling her long chestnut locks away from her neck. "Promise me it won't hurt too much."

He couldn't help but let a laugh escape him. "You mean the same girl who let herself get stabbed to save someone who wouldn't even be hurt from such a trifling wound is afraid of…a bite?"

Rachael glared up at him, his hazel eyes teasing. "I didn't willingly get stabbed, entirely. There were circumstances," she pointedly emphasized the last word. She glared harder as he let out another, smaller laugh. "I'm serious."

He nodded solemnly, though his eyes still held a small sparkle. "Then I promise."

She smiled at him, and stretched onto her toes to reach his lips. "Good." She kissed him briefly then and pulled his mouth towards her neck, hardly breathing as she felt his warm mouth clamp onto her shoulder.