Human

My life has always been lived in the dark, from dusk till dawn. But then she came into my life, and it was like walking into the sunlight for the first time in my two hundred plus years of life. I know that doesn't make much sense, but it will in a moment. My name is Leslie Anne DeMoore-Desmond, and I was born in 1764, and I'm a vampire. I was born from a long line of vampires, all belonging to the house of Desmond. My cousin, Erin, is the Queen. But that wasn't what mattered to me. What matters to me, is the love of my life, my soulmate, Marie. But let me start at the beginning. I'm part of a band called Nosferatu, and we were just finishing up our tour in America, when I picked up my mail at home and found an invitation to a party for a Desiree Bonnelaux. I had known her husband's family for over a century, so I rsvp'd the invitation and set aside an evening gown for the party. I returned to the band so that we could finish our tour. We only hit a few U.S. cities because we weren't very popular, though we had a major following overseas. Every year, we had over a hundred tour dates in Europe and Asia. I, myself, was rich, because I was cousin to the Queen, and part of the Vampire Nation, and because my parents and grandparents and on back were all rich. Even so, I did this because there were others who needed it that really relied on the income and because I really enjoyed it. Desiree's birthday celebration was the day before we were to go overseas again. I wasn't really looking forward to the party, but it was impolite to back out, especially since I had already reserved a seat. After more than two hundred years, life was extremely tedious, which was another reason for the band. They helped alleviate the tediousness of my life. The high octane energy of our performances kept me going. I showered and dressed, then sat in front of my vanity to apply my makeup. And, contrary to popular myth, we do show up in mirrors and other reflective surfaces. Not even the ancients knew where that myth started.

Once I was presentable, I headed downstairs to the limo I had rented for the occasion. As a vampire, my eyes are so light sensitive, that if I go out at all during the day, I have to have sunglasses with the darkest tint available. Or, as on this occasion, keep my eyes closed and use my mind to find my way. I lived in a good-sized loft in the heart of the city, and the Bonnelaux's lived a few miles out of town, and it took around fifteen minutes to get there. When we arrived, I did the same thing, again, keeping my eyes closed until I was inside. There was a family dining room and sitting room on the first floor, and a formal dining room and sitting room upstairs, presumably with bedrooms on the third floor. We were escorted to the dining room first, which was directly above the kitchen, with a dumbwaiter to carry food up and the butler to serve us. For this many people, they really needed one more server. All but one member of the Bonnelaux family was in attendance. The elder daughter had gotten married and moved away last year. The moment I walked in the room, my eyes locked onto the other daughter. I didn't know her name, but suddenly, I desperately, wanted to know. In fact, I wanted to know everything about her. I had never felt anything like this before. I had no idea what to make of it. I would have time

to examine the feelings later. Desiree greeted me and introduced everyone. The girl that I felt drawn to was Marie; she was the middle child. She was exquisite and I really wanted to get to know her.

After dinner, we all retired to the sitting room, but after only ten minutes, I was so sick of the sweet, polite society gossip, that I felt like gagging. So I got up and left the room, heading out to the balcony to get some fresh air. I heard footsteps behind me, clicking in a rhythm you could almost dance to. I closed my eyes as I stepped outside the door and rested my hands on the railing. Even though the sun was setting, it was still too bright for me to open my eyes. A few seconds later, someone stepped up next to me and, when she put her hands on the rail, it felt like an electric current passed through my body. I took a deep breath and recognized Marie's unique scent. Purple lotus, wildflower, passion fruit, and Jasmine. It was a beautiful smell that, combined with the scent of her body, made head spin and my heart beat faster. I said hello and we talked for a bit before I left. I had to finish packing up my equipment and my clothes and everything, because our flight was at six a.m. It was an eighteen hour flight, and we were all going to be bored to tears by the time we got there. Plus, I needed to have time to go out and feed before we left, cause it had been a long three days since I had my last meal. See, I only hunt once or twice in a week, depending on how busy I am, and I only take about three pints from my victims. But that was plenty to last me until the next time. I very rarely killed those I fed from, and when I did, I was careful to choose the dregs of society, the ones that didn't have any friends or family to miss them. Our ability to enter people's minds helped with that. It was partly personal preference, but it was also an edict from the Queen, set over a century ago.

Once I satiated my hunger, I headed back to my loft to start packing. I would have finished in just a couple minutes, but I enjoyed taking my time with it, especially since I had all night. I finished packing and loaded up my Vette, before heading back upstairs to change into street clothes. I had a 1963 Corvette hard-top convertible. I didn't own a limo, I just reserved one when I need it. Once I finished changing, I headed back down to the parking garage, got behind the wheel, and headed out to the airport. It was two hours before our flight. That gave me enough time to get there, get through security, and have a few minutes on board before takeoff. I could use that time and the flight to analyze the feelings that had risen up since I met Marie. I still wasn't sure what I was feeling, but it wasn't unpleasant. I wanted to feel it again. Due to the lines, it took almost an hour to get through security, and by that time, I was getting cranky and irritable. We don't like crowds of humans; we get claustrophobic. Since it was a private jet, we could just skip security, but I insisted that we not do so. Helped put everyone around us a little more at ease to see us get scanned just like everyone else. After 9/11, the entire world was paranoid about terrorism, but especially the Americans, so I ordered everyone to submit to security, just like commercial passengers.

All my gear was stored and I took my usual seat near the middle of the plane. Only Amy, our main bass player was already on board. 'Hey, Leslie, how's tricks?'
'I'm alright. Feel kinda strange, though. I'm having thoughts and feeling I've never had, before.'
'Hmm. What kind of thoughts and feelings?' So I let her examine the pertinent information. I mean, if anyone could understand, she would. After all, she had two wives and a husband. Within the Nation, polygamy is not illegal. Sometimes humans can be so backward. After a few moment's examination, she raised her eyebrows and took a deep breath. 'You're in love. You've fallen in love with a human girl.'
'Is that what it is? I've never been in love before, so I had no idea what it felt like.'
'She must be the one, the one you've been waiting for all this time: your soulmate. I don't see any other explanation for you falling so completely, so quickly. That's interesting. I mean, I've heard about it happening, but it's rare. Do you want to see her again?'
'Oh, yes, definitely. She's so beautiful, so graceful, and her scent is intoxicating. A lifetime wouldn't be long enough.' Amy smiled and nodded. Just then, Lori boarded the plane, and I quickly caught her up on what was happening with my life. After Lore was Roger, an old and dear friend of mine that I had saved. He'd been shot near the end of WWII by his own countrymen, and to reward his sacrifice, I gave him a new life. He and I started this band almost forty years ago.

Katy, John, Damon and Maria finally boarded just a few minutes before we were scheduled for takeoff. Right at six, the pilot announced our departure, and began taxiing to the runway, while we fastened our seatbelts. Even with as resilient as we are, a crash would likely still kill us. We can fly, but depending on how high the plane was when it crashed, it would explode, or we'd be crushed when the plane collapsed like a tin can. One other thing we're capable of is putting ourselves into a state of suspended animation to preserve our energy, or to help pass the time, so we set our minds to revive ourselves when the intercom went off, and reduced our bodily functions to almost zero for the duration of the flight. When the intercom crackled to life, announcing our landing, we slowly brought ourselves out of suspended animation and prepared to land. We taxied to our designated debarking location and Katy opened the door, letting down the stairs. Our agents met us in the terminal and led us to the buses. If things worked out the way I hoped they would, we'd have to add another bus to our fleet. But I knew better than to get my hopes up. Still, I really wanted to be with Marie. Especially if Amy was right about us being soulmates. I asked her, 'Did you find your soulmate?'
'Yes. Why do you think I married Danielle?' Danielle was her third spouse, but Amy always considered her to be her primary, or alpha, spouse. Now I knew why. 'So that's why you're so certain that I found mine. You recognize the way it feels.'
'Yes.'

Three months later, I was furious, and everyone stayed away from me. We were in our hotel and the snow was piled four feet deep. There was no way we were getting out, and I wanted to get back for Marie's birthday, and no matter how I blocked the windows in my room, I couldn't create a dark enough shadow. So, I was understandably pissed. It snowed for a week straight, and even after the weather cleared, it took another two days to dig out. By then, my initial anger had passed, but I was still fuming. I had missed Marie's birthday, and now it would be next ear before I got to see her again. We were scheduled for a twelve month world tour, with only a couple days of break at a time, for traveling. There wasn't going to be enough time to get back. I did some quick figures and realized that I'd have almost a full forty-eight hours to return home for her birthday. That cheered me up a bit. 'Look, if it means that much to you, we can postpone one of our concerts, or do one a little earlier, so you have time to go to her,' said John. 'That means a lot to me. The concert in Prague. We have time, so if we do it the night before, I can be there on her birthday.'
'I think that we can swing that. We'll just talk to our managers, and get them to bump up the date of that concert, so you can get back.'
'Thank you. Let's talk to them, get it over with. Plus, if we get it done now, it gives the people of Prague a chance to be there on the right day. And it's not like we're losing money.'

Our agents, Dianne and Devon, were human. Humans have a greed for money that, for some reason, we lack. That greed came in handy for the poorer members of the band that really needed the income. Now, the vampires in the band could always fall back on the Nation for support, but we are a proud people, and asking for help is anathema to us. That was why so many of the poorer people joined our band in some capacity. We had road crew, security, band members, producers, scouts, and so on. We also had human road crew and security, though the majority, especially the head, were vampires. The only position taken up entirely by humans, was the agent, which booked our shows, scheduled appearances, and so on. We knocked on the door to Devon's room and when he opened the door, we saw that Dianne was already there, as well. "Ah, we wanted to talk to both of you," I said. "We were wondering if you would mind bumping up the concert in Prague to the previous day. There's a birthday party back home for a close friend of mine the same day that we're currently scheduled to perform. I missed it this year, because we were snowed in. I don't want to miss it again, next year." Dianne took a deep breath and asked, "John, how do you feel about it?"
"I'm the one who proposed it. If we leave on time, we'll be pulling into Prague around four, which gives us around four hours for setup, and everyone who's not driving can rest on the trip, so that we're ready to go when we get there, and the drivers can crash once we arrive." Devon and Dianne exchanged looks, then he replied, "Alright. I don't see any problem with it. As long as we can change our reservation for the stadium. If we can't, it's gonna have to stay."
"I understand, thank you. Will you let me know what happens?" I asked. "Yeah, we will."

Three and-a-half hours later, Devon called my hotel room and said, "We were able to change the reservation to the day before, so we won't have a problem, there. We'll tell the entire crew once we're ready to leave here."
"Thank you. You have no idea how much this means to me." Twelve months and over a million miles later, I got my chance to return home and found an invitation to Marie's birthday party that night. It was already eight o'clock, and I still needed to shower and dress, do my hair and makeup, then drive over there. It couldn't come soon enough. As soon as I was ready, I drove to Marie's home as quickly as possible. With all the speed and silence of my people, I walked up next to her and said, "I was worried I'd be late." I asked her for the next dance, and she agreed. So when the band started a slow, sensual melody, I took her hand and led her onto the dance floor and drew her into my arms. She fit my body like a puzzle piece, like she was made just for me, and I felt a sense of peace settle over me like I'd never felt before. She told me how beautiful she thought I was, and I thanked her for the compliment. When the waltz ended, she invited me out to the garden so that we could talk, and we conversed as we walked, but when we came to a stone bench, we sat down. When she looked into my eyes, I took the opportunity to mesmerize her and took a walk through her mind.

I had to be slow and gentle, otherwise I would permanently damage her mind. I couldn't bear to do that to her. I would hate myself forever for hurting her. I started with her most recent memories and worked my way slowly deeper, past her permanent memories, to the older, more primal part of her mind, which housed her emotions, and controlled her biological responses to stimuli, and I examined what I found in detail. What I found made my heart soar. She had been thinking and dreaming about me, and she felt a real connection and definite attraction to me. She wasn't fully aware of it, yet, but she wanted to be with me. I was overjoyed at that discovery, and paused to examine her dreams in greater detail. What I saw shocked me. Somehow, some part of her unconscious mind knew what I was, because she kept dreaming about me biting her neck, and every time my fangs pierced her skin, she'd wake up. So, just maybe, she would adjust to the idea more easily than I initially suspected. When I left tomorrow, I would be gone for six months, I'd be back for about a week, barring anything unexpected happening. I retreated from her mind and removed the mesmerizing effect on her. She said, "Good. I'm glad." I told her that I was only going to be here through tomorrow and asked if she would like to have dinner with me tomorrow. She agreed and I said that it was getting late, and asked for one more dance before I had to leave. She didn't believe it was that late, but I had her look at the stars, to prove it, and when she realized just how late it really was, she became concerned about the guests, and what they thought of her absence. I told her that her guests were no more aware of the passage of time than she was. But where she was out of it for the entire time, the guests were simply too wrapped up in the party to notice how late it was getting. So we returned to the dance floor, for one more dance. When it was over, I said farewell and disappeared into the crowd.

I started prepping the chicken for supper around two, cooking it relatively slowly, so that it would be done before I had to go pick up Marie. The chicken was finally cooked all the way through about four-thirty, and I put it back in the fridge and headed over to pick her up. I pulled up in front of the house at around 4:45, and she came out to meet me, seemingly in a daze. I opened the passenger door and handed her in, then walked back around to my side and got in. When we got back to my place, I turned the music on and turned it down so that she wouldn't be blasted out, cause I figured she had never listened to metal. Once she had changed into some of my street clothes, I began to fix supper. It was only about another ten minutes before it was finished, and I poured her some wine to taste. After supper, I grabbed my ax, checked the tuning, and began to play the song I had written for her last time I had been back. Not long after, we left. She enjoyed it, and I couldn't wait to see the lyrics John would write for it. Then we went to the theater and chose a comedy that was playing. I'd heard about it and had been wanting to see it, and I was glad that Marie was there with me. Before we left my apartment, I loaned her a couple of my AC/DC albums, so when I dropped her off after Dairy Queen, I made sure she still had them and I kissed her hand when I said goodbye and I turned to leave. I swear, getting back in the car and driving away was the hardest thing I've ver done.

I told Amy about my date with Marie, and I told her what I'd found out from her mind; particularly, her dreams. Amy nodded and said, 'Danielle was the same way. She was a half-breed, completely unaware of her vampire side. So, I told her about it, and after we got married, I fully turned her, made her one of us.'
'I'm thinking about it. I don't want to love her in a normal human lifespan. I want her with me for the rest of my life. I really love her.'
'Good. If you're right that she'll actually be okay with what you are, then she may want to be turned so that she can be with you. Especially if she realizes just how much she cares about you. You love her and it seems that she loves you. If she does, she'll want to be with you for the rest of your life. So, talk to her, be honest with her about what you are. But give her some time to adjust.'
'I plan on it. I just hope that it won't take her too long to adjust.'
'Danielle adjusted within a couple hours. And by the next day, she was eager to be a full-blood. I'm sure it'll be much the same for Marie. I wouldn't worry about it, too much.'
'You're right. There's nothing I can do, anyway, till we get back. I think I'll take her out on a date, then tell her everything before I leave again. That way, she'll have all year, and she won't have to make a decision right away. I really want her to be okay with it, so I'm gonna give her all the time she needs.'

We took a break for a day after almost four months of nightly shows. There wasn't enough time to go home, even though I desperately wanted to see her again. I knew that Amy was right, and I was head over heels in love with her. And I really hoped that she was in love with me. I really wanted to spend the rest of my life with the other half of my soul. We set up in the morning, and ran all of our sound checks before shutting everything down till that night. Our show started at eight, so we needed to be back by six to run our checks one more time. But at four o'clock, we ran into a bit of a snag. A group of about a dozen humans in trench coats, combat boots, and black shirts and pants were headed toward our buses. They were Hunters. Primarily vampire Hunters, although they would also kill Lycans and Loup Garroux if given a chance. But right now, they were headed for us, and we had no choice but to fight. I hated to take a human life, but sometimes, like now, it was unavoidable. But, just then, our security showed up and corralled the Hunters. A few moments later, the local authorities showed up and arrested them. This problem was taken care of. At least for now. We sailed through the concert without a problem, then, after the spectators had left, we started to pack everything away. As I was packing away my amp and my power cord, I suddenly thought of Marie. It was odd, cause I thought about her every time I picked up my guitar, but never when I was putting everything away. I sent a silent prayer for her to be well, and silently told her that I loved her and missed her. I couldn't wait till this trip was over, so I could go home. Fortunately, I would get to be home for two weeks before having to leave again. Our next tour would be our fortieth anniversary tour and we would be gone for almost two years. If I could manage it. But I was already looking to leave the band. But in a way that wouldn't strand everyone else.

Once we finished packing up and got it all stowed in the trailer, James came up and said, "We're gonna go feed. Come with us?"
"I don't know, James. I don't know."
"Marie?"
"She may be able to handle me being a vampire, but I don't know how well she'll be able to handle this. Humans are our food, and she's still human. What will she think of that?"
"I don't know, Les. Danielle was a half-breed, so Amy would know more than I would. You should talk to her."
"Yeah. Thanks, James." He clapped me on the shoulder and turned and left. 'Amy, I have doubts. How did Danielle handle it?'
'She was good about it. She freaked when I told her about herself, but other than that, she was good.'
'What about our…diet? How did she take that?'
'That's what's bothering you. She was okay with it. A couple times, she actually had to remind me to feed. As long as she didn't have to see it, she was fine with it.'
'I don't know, Amy. I don't know if I would feel comfortable while she's still human.'
'Well, there are other options. Animal blood, blood banks, that sort of thing.'
'I know. But I almost wish there was another way.' Amy slid her arm around my shoulders. 'I'm sorry, sweetie, but there isn't. That's really all you can do.'
'Thanks, Amy.'
'Yeah. Take a couple days to decide, if you need to. But more than that, and you're gonna start getting too weak.'

A couple days later, I told everyone that I was going out and I went to feed. It had been almost a week since I had last fed, and Amy was right, I was starting to get weak. I had to feed from a couple of humans to satisfy my thirst. I still didn't really want to, but it was necessary. I still hadn't fully decided, but I was leaning toward simply going back to normal. I just had to remember that these people, while genetically, virtually identical, were not Marie. Especially the male homeless that I preferred to hunt. On the way back to the bus, I heard someone playing "Have you Forgotten" and I made a mental note to make another donation to the foundation for the victims of 9/11. In a way, I was a victim, myself. My cousin, Miranda, had been in the north tower, visiting her husband when the plane had hit. Of course, they had both survived, but the entire Nation had pitched in to help. We had found the majority of survivors from the wreckage. So now, the entire Nation had a fund set aside for the victims. I reached the buses and Amy was waiting for me. 'Did you make a decision, or are you still struggling?'
'I'm still struggling, but I'm thinking that I'll just get back to normal.'
'That's good. Now, go get some rest. It's been a long couple of days, and it's gonna be a long night.'
'I know. See you on stage.'

We weren't doing my song tonight, so I went up to the mixer just a couple minutes before the band came onstage. I was feeling better about everything, but I was still a little unsure. I really needed to talk to Marie, but I didn't know her parents' number, and I wasn't going to go digging up information to get it. All I could do was wait till I got to see her, even though it was torture to wait. She was in my thoughts all the time, even if I wasn't consciously aware of it. Tonight was no different. Even while I was focused on what I was doing, I was also thinking about her. The time till we returned couldn't go quickly enough. Finally, after almost three months, we finally ended the tour and got on a plane to head home. All I could think about, the one all-consuming thing, was getting to see my beloved Marie, again. When the plane touched down at the airport back home, our agents met us on the tarmac and Dianne announced, "We booked you for a brief show at a club called Blue Moon. We need to hurry, cause it starts in just under two hours." If the others hadn't held me back, we would've been looking for two new agents. We went to the club and started our setup. I blew through it more quickly than usual, so that I'd have time to go see Marie and see if she wanted to come to the club. When I got done, I headed to the back of the club, where the shadows were deep enough to travel. There was a shadow deep enough in the parking garage, not far from my car. I stepped out and trotted over to my car, taking off out of there, driving to Marie's as quickly as possible, often going well over the speed limit, to get there in as short a time as I could.

I pulled up outside the house, and ran up to the door, knocking on it loud enough to be heard down the block. Soon, Marie threw open the door and flung herself into my arms. I could feel her sobbing, feel the tears that rolled down her cheeks, splashing onto my hair. Oh, how I loved this woman. I didn't realize, till I got a chance to hold her in my arms, just how much I had really missed her. I asked her about the club, and she didn't even hesitate to say yes. So I waited while she went back to change. Then we went back to my car and we headed off to the club. We arrived with just moments to spare, so I got her a seat, made sure the mixer was set properly for the first number, then jumped up onstage. I felt Marie's joy as we performed the song that I had written for her. John had just finished the lyrics last night, so this was our first performance of it. I was glad she liked it. I fell in love with her more every moment. She truly was the love of my life. I knew Amy was right and Marie was my soulmate; my other half. My better half. When the song was over, I went back to the mixer, and Marie came over to join me. I agreed with her that the lyrics were beautiful. "I like what John did with the music. He didn't try to fit in lyrics that didn't go with it. He has a way of finding lyrics that fit the music. That's why he's our main songwriter."
"Well, I like it, too. I'm glad he didn't try to alter it at all. After all, it was my song, right?"
"Yep. All yours." Though she didn't know it, she could've spoken in normal speaking tones and I still would've been able to hear her. Whereas I had to shout to be heard. Still, I wouldn't trade this for anything. After our performance, we broke everything down and put it away, then, once that was done, Marie and I went out to my car so that I could take her home.

On the drive, I began to plan a memorable night for tomorrow, if she wanted to go out. Beautiful dinner out, maybe a play, then something after, but I would have to figure out what. We talked and I told her that I had wanted to come see her sooner, but couldn't, due to the engagement at the club, which we didn't know about till we landed. As we talked, my plan began to come into focus more. So I asked her if she would like to spend the evening with me, and when she said yes, I told her about my plan for dinner, the theatre and dancing.. She was enthusiastic in her response, and I couldn't help responding in like kind. Goddess, she was gorgeous. When I left her at her door, I kissed the back of her hand and said goodnight before turning to leave. If all went well, then at the end of my two week break, I would reveal everything to her, so that she'd have a full year to adjust before I came back. All the way back to my loft, I felt like I was floating. Not only did I love her, but I would get to spend every day of the next two weeks with her. Provided our agents didn't book anymore shows without our approval. Even though everyone in the band was equal, Roger and I were, sort of, in charge. Either of us could get rid of anyone else in the band, given cause. And if we kept getting booked for shows without being told, we'd start searching for new agents. And if they screwed with my time with Marie anymore, then we'd be attending a double funeral.

It was gonna be a really long night, given that I had fed last night, but I started going through my closet to find something to wear for tomorrow. Then, I decided to separate my clothes out, since I had a walk-in almost as long as my bedroom. When I got done, if Marie decided to move in, there'd be room for her to put her clothes up next to mine, in the proper places. I knew what each cubby and slot was for, but if she decided to move in, I'd label them so that she would know, too, till she got used to them. I spent the remainder of the night reading, even while the rest of my mind focused on Marie. About eight o'clock, I got up and took a shower, then logged onto my computer, checking my email, and paying my bills, and surfing the net out of boredom. I didn't have anything to do, really, till this afternoon, when I was going to pick up Marie for our date tonight. So, I decided to clean up while I waited till one, when I could call for a limo for the night. Before I started cleaning, I called the owner of Martindale's to make sure that I would have my usual table. "Hey, Leslie. Table for six, tonight? I heard you guys got in last night."
"Hey, Martin. Yeah, we got in yesterday evening, but no, I just need a two head."
"No! You're bringing her?" I cracked a huge grin. "Yeah, I am. I figure she'll like it. I know the rest of the band really loves your place, but yeah, just the two of us. Tell Dale I said Hi, and we'll see you tonight."
"Alright. Will do. Talk to you later, hon." After I got off the phone, I started cleaning up the loft.

I stripped the bed and put the clothes in the washer, took a bleach/water mix and cleaned the mattress, dusted, vacuumed, swept, and mopped. I even cleaned and polished my wood furniture and countertops. Finally, I called the Limousine Company, and reserved car and driver for the night. When I was online earlier, I had checked local plays, made sure there were tickets available, and ordered a couple of them. I knew of a dance club in the area, so that should be the perfect end to the night. I still had a lot of time to kill, so I decided to work out. But being a vampire, I didn't need to run or lift weights to stay in shape, but I was a master of several martial arts. After all, being very intelligent, extremely fast and agile, and a lifespan of several centuries made it very easy. My favorite by far, was Kung Fu. There was a peacefulness to it that really appealed to me. So I stretched a bit, then started practicing the forms. Almost three hours later, I finished my workout and went to take a shower, then dressed and did my hair and makeup. When I finished, I left the loft, locking the door behind me and striding down the hall to the elevator, taking it to the underground car park, where the limousine awaited. The driver held the door for me, and soon, we were headed off to see my beloved Marie. At Martindale's, later, the owners came over and greeted us, and inquired about our meals, and how we were doing. We conversed lightly for a few minutes, then they left to oversee the rest of the restaurant. We talked for a while, but ended the dinner in comfortable silence. After dinner, we headed outside, where the car came around and picked us up to take us to the theatre. They were playing Romeo & Juliet, which was my favorite of Shakespeare's plays. Especially now, having met my soulmate. Now, the poignancy of the play took on a whole new definition for me. And I figured that it would probably be the same for Marie. About ten minutes later, we pulled up in front of the theatre, and when the driver opened the door, I stood and handed Marie out of the car.

She sucked in a breath when she saw what was playing. "I love this play. It's my favorite. Thank you, so much. You're the best." I just laughed and led her to our seats. We both knew the play well enough that we didn't need programs to follow along. It was almost eleven by the time the play ended and, as we were headed out to the car, I felt something wrong. Extreme malice was aimed my way, and no sooner did I pinpoint it, then I felt a bullet rip through my left shoulder. Thank the Goddess he missed my heart, cause I could tell by the way it burned, that it had been silver. If it had hit my heart, that would have been the end of me. As it was, he drew a silver stake from his coat and advanced toward me. I screamed at Marie to run; the stranger swung toward my heart with the stake and I gripped his hand, snapping his wrist as easily as a pencil. Marie was still rooted in place, but as I let loose and sank my fangs into his neck, she finally bolted. Now she was frightened of me, but I loved her, and somehow, I had to convince her. I needed to tell her. But I also had to give her the option to leave if she wanted to take it. Once I finished off the Hunter, I took off, following Marie's trail, cutting through an alley to get ahead of her. When she spotted me, she pulled up short, while I held my hands in front of me, palms up, praying that she wouldn't run. "Please, darling Marie, wait just a moment? Let me explain?"
"What are you?"
"A demon. I'm a vampire, Marie. The man I killed is a Hunter; he hunts and kills my kind. I'm so sorry you had to witness that. I didn't want you to find out, this way."
"So, how was I supposed to find out?" So I told her what I had originally planned, that I didn't want to hurt her, and that I loved her.

I knew she was in shock, but finally, after almost ten minutes, she ran to me, throwing her arms around me and I wrapped mine around her. She asked if I was alright, and I assured her that I was. I had already made up my mind to reveal everything to her, so when she asked me to, I said yes without hesitation. I would deal with the fallout when and/or if it became necessary. For now, she deserved to know about my world, so once we were back in the car and I'd relayed our final destination and instructions to the driver, I began to tell her everything. And I mean, everything. Our lives, our laws, the Queen, the houses, the Nation, our strengths and weaknesses, all of it. I didn't leave anything out. When I was finally done, I asked if she still wanted to dance. She said yes, so I told her that we had arrived, and we went inside. We danced till almost two, when it was time for the club to close, then we headed back to my loft, where I had a black cross for her. The black cross, being the symbol of the Nation, she would be under our protection. Once I clasped it around her beautiful neck, she kissed me, just brushing her lips against mine at first, but then harder. Then, I felt her tongue brush my lips, so I parted them. She tasted so sweet, and her lips were so soft. I couldn't imagine anything better than this. I didn't want this moment to end, ever. But, of course, it had to.

At her home, we shared another kiss, this one full of love. We made arrangements to go shopping the next day and we shared another brief kiss, then I headed back to the limo and she headed inside. Back at my loft, I tipped the driver, then headed upstairs. I contacted my cousin, Miranda, and said, 'I don't need to feed, I have time to kill and I have nothing to do. I'm bored out of my mind.'
'I can bring over some games if you want.'
'Sure, sounds fun. What games did you want to bring over?'
'Scrabble, Uno, Monopoly. Think that'll work?'
'Yeah. Our Uno and Monopoly games can run damn near forever and I've got about eight hours to kill. So those three should be good.'
'Alright. Be over in a minute with a couple friends.'
'Alright, thanks, Miranda.' So, a few minutes later, Miranda and her two of our other friends showed up with the games and we set up on the dining room table. Our Monopoly game lasted till almost ten-thirty, when I finally went bankrupt, leaving Mary-Ann the winner. "Thank you for coming over. I need to shower and change so I can pick up Marie at eleven." Miranda asked, "Who's Marie?" So I told her about the woman that I had fallen in love with. I didn't tell her that I'd broken the Cardinal Law; I wasn't about to make that public knowledge. Erin would probably find out soon enough, anyway. So, I showered, changed, and headed out. I had ten minutes to get there and it was a fifteen minute drive, in good traffic, and rush hour was starting. I managed to find a spot down the street from their house and I took to the skies, cloaking myself at the same time.

Invisibility in flight is extremely difficult, and I could count on one hand the total number of us capable of it, including myself. I arrived in her room in time to see her examine herself in the full-length mirror. A few moments later, I headed back to my car and, on the way, I passed a florist, and decided to stop and pick up a dozen roses for Marie. Later, even though I wasn't hungry, I started craving something spicy, so after we got done at the dressmaker's, I took her to lunch at Dairy Queen, where I could order the Flamethrower Burger. After we picked up Marie's clothes from Jack's, we went back to my loft, so she could change and I could see her in them, see how beautiful she looked. The jeans and shirt were tight enough to show off every curve, but loose enough to allow her a wide range of movement. When I saw her like that, it was all I could do to keep my hands off her. I wanted to make love to her immediately. I wanted to devour her, to drink her essence, but I managed to restrain myself, though we did share a warm, soft, loving kiss, and held each other close. I picked her up and carried her to the couch, sitting her on my lap, wrapping her in my arms. I truly loved this gorgeous woman and I couldn't wait till we were truly together. At first, I was doubtful about turning her, making her into what I am, but now, I was beginning to actually look forward to it.

And I knew that Marie was really looking forward to it. It was something she wanted very much. And I really couldn't fault her reasoning for it. Once she was turned, we would never have to be apart, again. I wouldn't have to worry about her safety, she wouldn't have to worry about me when I was gone, and we would be able to communicate across vast distances. No matter where we were in the world, we could be at each other's side in a matter of moments. So, yeah, I could understand her excitement about joining us. We're commonly referred to as undead, or in the old language; Urosla; German: Nosferatu. We called our band that, as an inside joke. Undead actually referred to zombies, mummies, ghouls, ghosts, wights, yadda, yadda, yadda. But, about a thousand years ago, some two hundred youngsters started hanging out in cemeteries and allowed humans to see them entering crypts just before daybreak. Humans would find them in coffins during the day, but it was a trap. Still, they allowed a few to escape the spread the lie. Between that, and the fact that they didn't know about the decomposition process, it led to the myth about vampires being the living dead. Others are based more on truth, and some are purely fictional, like crosses and not being visible in mirrors. It was part of our heritage; something we had to deal with. Once it was dark enough, we stepped into the shadow near the bed. It was the only corner of the loft that was dark enough to travel, since there were multiple objects shading that corner. We stepped into the cabin and I helped Marie to a couch against the west wall and went to the closet near where we had arrived.

Once I dropped Marie back home, I headed out to feed, since I hadn't for quite a while. I quickly found my meal, and drank, but when I finished, I still wasn't fully sated, but I needed to get back. I had a cellphone that I had picked up a while back, and kept forgetting to give it to Marie, so I traveled back to her home and waited for her in her bedroom. I didn't have long to wait. I cursed silently when she told me about the party. I figured her mother wouldn't want me there, but oh, well. Marie had asked me, and I was going to be there, whether anyone else liked it or not. I had been looking forward to an entire, uninterrupted night with my beloved, full of slow, passionate lovemaking. But, her mother had to go and fuck that up by forcing Marie to go to this party when she didn't want to. All because of me. The fact that she didn't approve of who her daughter loved. In a way, I could understand, but at the same time, she didn't even know me. But Marie did, and loved me anyway, in spite of what I was. What I am. I still had to feed again, but after that, I had to head back to my loft to find a dress for tomorrow night. Not what I was looking forward to. Never looked forward to being surrounded by humans. None of us like crowds, makes us feel closed in, claustrophobic. Still, since she didn't even want to be there, maybe I could convince Marie to leave the party early. I wanted her, badly. Every time I thought about her, I felt my body respond in a way I never felt for anyone else. It felt really good.

I picked out a dark blue, sequined, strapless, backless party dress I just knew Marie would love. And, it was easy to get out of. I went through and cleaned up the loft, worked out, and meditated till the sun came up. I had a project to attend to after sunrise, so once the sun began to peek over the horizon, I took a shower and dressed, and headed out to where my friend lived. I had promised to help him with some renovations while I was home. It was about an hour to his place, given that the traffic wasn't too bad, which, at this time of morning, wouldn't be. I listened to music on my way, occasionally singing, depending on the song. I love Evanescence, Nightwish, and the like. They were a bit softer than what we normally played, but still, they had some really good music. Once I arrived, I knocked on the door and waited for a response. It wasn't long before I was working right alongside my friend James, nailing up boards, then he came along behind me with a drill, screwing them permanently in place. He lived within a mile of the local military base and the jets taking off, set up vibrations in the nearby homes, and screws didn't respond to vibrations the way nails did. And given the noise of takeoff, he wanted to add a layer of soundproofing as well as new wall boards. But, just after noon, I got a call from the Queen. Somehow, she had found out that I had revealed everything to Marie, and the Council had been convened. I had to find Marie right away and get to the mansion.

I made my apologies to James and took off, running for all I was worth. I ranged out, searching for Marie's mind, and found her at the car dealership, so I turned that direction. It took almost half-an-hour to get there. It was a good thing she had decided to buy a car, cause there was no way we could get back to mine in time to make it to the mansion. If we weren't there to defend ourselves, the Queen and Council would issue a summary ruling. Although, even if we were there, our chances of staving off execution were pretty slim. But it was in our nature to fight for our existence. My pride wouldn't allow us to be summarily executed without even trying. Especially with Marie's life on the line. I was relieved when Erin sent the Council away. Most of them hated me for leaving my position as a Guard, and they hated me even more for falling in love with a human. They couldn't understand that she was my soulmate. Most of them didn't even believe in the concept; but with them gone, I could appeal to Erin directly, to the connection we'd always shared, growing up together. I kept hearing Marie's mind, practically shouting, 'Let her live. Kill me, but let her live. I don't care if I die, just let her go.' Her courage, her willingness to die for me, is what finally convinced Erin to let us go. On the drive back, I just felt so grateful that we were both still alive. When she dropped me off at my loft, we shared a long, passionate, powerful kiss, reaffirming our love and our bond. After she left, I headed back to James' house. We could still get some work done before I had to get ready for that stupid party this evening.

It was while I was getting ready for the party that the phone call came in. I had just stepped out of the shower when it rang, so I picked it up. It was our agents, telling me that, due to the interest in our shows, they had had to sell more venues in order to try and keep up with demand. "I told Marie that I'd be home for two weeks!" I screamed. "I know. I'm sorry, but we couldn't turn away over a million people just because one person didn't need the gig. Everyone else is willing to be flexible."
"It's not that I'm being inflexible, it's just that you're supposed to notify me before those types of decisions are made."
"We ran the decision by Roger and he approved it. He said there was no need to bother you."
"And I'll take that up with him, but next time, you notify me, regardless of what anyone else tells you. Do you understand me?"
"Yes, I understand. Next time, I'll run it by you, first."
"Thank you. Now, I need to go, I need to finish getting ready for a party that Marie invited me to. Bye."
"Bye." That shit really pissed me off. I couldn't believe they had done that, after guaranteeing that they wouldn't. For us, our word was every bit as binding as a written contract, but I, at least, kept forgetting that humans were a lot freer with their word than we were. But, even so, when someone made a guarantee, they should stick to their guarantee. Once I was dressed, I headed out, flying to the Grand for the party. On the way, I contacted Roger, chewing him out for telling Dianne that she didn't need to bother me. I was pissed at him.

'I didn't want to bother you, cause you were gonna be needing to face the Queen, and you didn't need this on your shoulders, too.'
'I didn't even know about the Queen until today. I should've been notified that you were considering selling extra venues. I'm co-founder; I'm supposed to be notified.'
'I'm aware of that.'
'I'm not joking, Roger. From now on, you keep me in the loop, no matter what else is going on. We have to approve of each other's decision. I want your word.'
'Very well. Regardless of what else is going on in your life, I'll make sure you're aware of what's going on with the band. You have my word.'
'Thank you. Now, I'm gonna go. I'll see you tomorrow.' I landed in front of an all-night music store, and picked up Rammstein's latest album, untranslated. Hopefully, it would make our separation just a little bit easier. Yeah, right. Nothing in the world would make our separation easier. I was looking forward to that even less than the party. I didn't want to be separated from my soulmate. And that was when I realized that I didn't want to go at all. I'd rather stay here, but I had to go, cause the others needed the work. But at least I was gonna get to be with Marie, in every way, tonight. That thought cheered me a little.

Marie was suitably pissed when I told her about the change in plans. We talked briefly about how we both felt about the whole thing. But before long, we were holding each other, dreading our separation in the morning. Neither of us wanted to be separated, especially so soon after discovering each other. I wanted to stay here, in this bed, forever, and Marie's thoughts were running along the same track, but unfortunately, that wasn't possible. Still, we could spend the rest of the night exploring and learning each other. I loved Marie and wanted to show her my love physically, as much as possible before we had to part in the morning. We made love twice more before she grew too exhausted to continue, so she curled up with her head on my shoulder, and fell asleep. For the first time, I wished that I needed sleep. I could go into hibernation, but it wasn't the same as sleeping the way humans do. Still, I lay there and held my love, till shortly after dawn colored the eastern sky. Our flight was early, this morning, and I needed to get ready to leave, even though I'd rather stay here. I gently disengaged myself and went to take a shower before getting dressed. I just stepped out of the shower when I saw Marie stirring. "Morning, baby. My flight is in a couple of hours. I just got done taking a shower, if you want one, too."
"No, I'll wait till I get home. I have clean clothes in my bag, but I forgot to bring it up."
"I can do that, as soon as I get dressed."
"Okay. In that case, I think I will take a shower while you get dressed, that way I'm not just lying here, watching you dress. If I do that, you'll end up being late for your flight."
"Yeah, and if I have to stand here and keep looking at you much longer, we're gonna have the same problem, so if you're gonna go take a shower, you better hurry up."

But instead of hurrying, she stretched languidly and took her time crawling out of bed. Goddess, I wanted her again. But if I indulged in my desires, I would definitely be late for my flight, and as much as I'd rather indulge, I couldn't shirk my duties. I had given them my word. So, I just pushed my arousal out of my mind, and focused on getting dressed. While Marie was in the shower, I headed to the parking garage, to her car, and retrieved her overnight bag. Then, it was back to the loft to give her the bag, so she would have clean clothes to wear. Once she was dressed, we headed out. I had Marie drive me to the airport so that I wouldn't be leaving my car in the long-term parking. Even for me, that got expensive. We said a tender, tearful, farewell and I promised to call her as soon as we arrived. I made my way through security, which was extremely crowded, which was not good for my peace of mind. Here I was, separated from my soulmate, and surrounded by stinky, noisy humans. Yeah, my mood was quickly becoming blacker than the deep black of space. And. That. Was. Not. A. Good. Thing when surrounded by people. No, this was not good at all. But, just when I reached the end of my patience, I finally reached the security checkpoint. I know people had reservations about the full-body scanners, which the airport had finally installed, and to some degree, I could understand. But, I had seen the way they worked, and all you saw was a vague human outline. You couldn't even tell the difference between male and female on the screen. It certainly made the process quicker. We didn't have to practically strip, going through the scanner.

At the plane, everyone else had already arrived, so the pilot began to taxi to the runway. Suddenly, my heart rate and respiration increased to near human norms, and the word 'no' kept running through my head. I was starting to get hysterical, but I couldn't seem to stop myself. Amy came to my seat and wrapped her arms around me. 'It's okay. It's alright. I know it hurts, honey. I know. It will be okay. I promise it'll be okay. It will get better, the pain will subside, I promise. Now, take slow, deep breaths, slow your heart rate, relax.' I nodded and started taking deep breaths in an effort to calm down. I was on the verge of full-blown hysteria. Amy funneled calm thoughts and soothing energy into my mind. This helped me focus and begin to lower my heart rate and respiration. Finally, I calmed down and nodded at Amy. 'I'm better now, thank you. I think I'll be alright, now. Thank you, Amy.'
'Okay. I'll go sit down. Let me know if you need me.'
'I need Marie. But thank you. I appreciate the offer.'
'No problem. I know how hard it can be, especially after the first night. The first time with your soulmate is the most incredible experience in the world. And being separated so soon afterward, is a crushing blow to your soul, for both of you.'
'It certainly feels that way. It's almost like I won't survive without her, as if, without her beside me, I'll die.'
'I know. I felt exactly the same way the first time I was separated from Danielle. I really thought it was going to kill me.

'It's the act of lovemaking that bonds the souls forever. For soulmates, the act is even more powerful than for other couples.'
'I'll have to take your word for it. Which is not to say that I don't believe you, it's just that I'll never experience the other side of it.'
'I now. Let's settle down and go into suspended animation for the rest of the flight.'
'Alright. I need to call her when we touchdown. We should have time.' So I slipped into suspended animation for the remainder of the flight, and once we got out of the airport and loaded onto the buses, we had a meeting with our agents. We were almost at the concert grounds before the meeting broke up, and I immediately found a secluded place and called Marie. We talked until they called me to help me with set-up. I couldn't believe how much I missed her. But we did our set-up, and our concert went nice and smooth, and after the crowd dispersed, we went backstage to pack everything up. We finished up and headed back to the buses to head off to our next destination. Once we arrived, we would be going out to feed. It was about a six hour trip, counting all the stops, and we pulled into the lot with four hours to spare before we had to be back for set-up. But just before we left, my phone rang. It was Marie, and I couldn't wait to be near her again. What she told me about her mother switching sides, so that she supported us, now, was really uplifting. That was one less burden on our shoulders. It didn't really matter where she wanted to be married, as long as we got to be joined forever. I loved Marie with everything that was in me. I couldn't even imagine loving anyone else.

I wasn't sure why Roger was so nosy, but it pissed me off. He wasn't like that before. We got off the phone, and even though I wanted to be back with her, I felt almost joyful for having talked to her. I told Amy, 'Even with Marie coming to some of our concerts, I can't be gone till October next year. I just can't. I have to find somebody to take my place. Please. You understand, I can't be away from her for that long.'
'You got it worse than me, but yeah, I understand. We'll start getting the word out once we get back. We'll talk to our agents and go from there.'
'Yeah, thank you.' We found our meals, fed, and returned to our buses. Over the next couple of weeks, we toured all over Asia without a day off. A couple times, we had to stop so that we could feed before we arrived at the concert grounds. One night, Miranda showed up after the concert, and I asked her if she'd be willing to pick up Marie and bring her to our next concert. "Sure. I'd like to meet her. Anyone that can hook you like she has is definitely worth meeting."
"Thank you. It means a lot to me, Miranda. I miss her so much. I can't wait to see her again. It's only been a few weeks, but it feels like it's been years. Amy said that I got bit worse than she did. I don't know, maybe just cause it's been so much longer for me. It's been over a hundred years since Amy met Danielle."
"Yeah. But I'm glad you finally found someone."
"No just someone. The one. My soulmate. The one person in the universe meant for me."

The new bus I had bought was parked with the rest. I went in and picked up the phone. I couldn't wait to tell Marie that Miranda had agreed to bring her to our next show. Plus, I wanted to hear her voice again. She had the most beautiful voice in the world. Though I know she felt that way about me. I wasn't expecting the dresses to be ready for another week, so I was glad that they were. I couldn't wait to see how she looked in them. I was willing to bet she looked absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. I couldn't even begin to imagine how beautiful she would be. I told her about Miranda, and she was excited, but I couldn't believe she wanted to risk staying with us till we got our break. She would be safe enough with the band, but I couldn't be too sure about all of our fans. Not only can humans get out of control at a rock concert, but we had to deal with potentially hungry vampires. I was glad she trusted us, but it still made me kind of nervous. But I was really grateful to have her close by till we got our break. And we'd be together for our break, but we'd have to see what happened after that. And meanwhile, I was still trying to find a replacement for the band. I liked what I did, but I wanted out. I wanted to spend more time with Marie, and the band took up too much time. Especially when we were gone for over a year on tour dates. I figured, since Marie was gonna be coming to our concert tonight, I decided to make sure everything looked really good. So, when we stopped, I went out to the store to pick up sheets, bath products, and other things we would need. I should have gone with the others after the concert to feed, but I was busy making sure the inside of the bus was clean and orderly. I'd have to hunt before the concert, if there was time.

After I got done picking the non-perishables, I went down the street to buy some groceries. Not that I expected either of us would be eating much. I figured we might grab something to eat when she got hungry, in between times in bed. I smiled, thinking about getting to hold her in my arms again.. I couldn't wait. I wasn't sure exactly what time she would arrive, but I figured it would probably be sometime during set-up. I got back to the bus and started putting everything away in its proper place. That was something I was really compulsive about; everything had to be in a certain place, a certain way. All vampires are OCD to one degree or another. For me, it was this. If things weren't put away properly, it irritated me no end. Since we still had plenty of time before set-up, I headed out to feed. I was really thirsty and tonight was gonna be a long, busy night. First, with the set-up and the concert, then with Marie. Eventually she would wear out and sleep, but it would be interesting to see how long she'd last. Goddess, it was like that was all I could think about whenever I thought about her. I didn't have that problem until the night of the party, but now I thought about it more than anything else. I needed to get my mind back to where it was before the first time we made love. But thoughts of her soft, sensuous skin kept invading my mind. The way her lips felt on my body. Whoo, boy. Anymore thoughts like that and I would need a cold, cold shower. Or a bag of ice. Mind back on the issue at hand, thank you. And my stomach growling forcibly reminded me that I was supposed to be focusing on finding a meal. And with as hungry as I was, maybe two. Still, it wasn't long before I found what I was looking for, fed, and headed back to the concert ground.

Yesterday, I wasn't able to perform at all, cause we had a problem with our mixer, which was still less than six months old. We shouldn't have been having any problems with it. I set the amount of bass and locked it in, then it would start fluctuating. So far, we hadn't been able to figure out why. Presumably, we would have the same problem tonight, unless we were able to figure out the problem and fix it. I felt it when she arrived. I was so excited to see her again. Finally, we figured out that the lock was sticking and not engaging. So, we grabbed some grease, got it working again, and I was able to perform Marie's song. After we got done with the show, Marie and I went back to our bus. We made love, slow and gentle, till almost dawn. Finally, she was too exhausted and had to sleep. She laid her head on my shoulder and soon fell asleep. She was so beautiful and looked so innocent while she slept; it really was no wonder that I fell so head over heels in love with her. We had enough in common to keep each other interested, but different enough to really complement each other and really keep things interesting. She saw something in me that I had never seen in myself, and still didn't. I had no idea what she saw in me, but it was like I was human, only better. It was like she didn't even see the demon in me. And her love made me feel, simultaneously ashamed that I had a demonic soul, and, like I was an angel. And that was how she looked at me. Not like a demon in human skin, but like some heavenly creature come to earth. But the longer I knew her, the more I felt as though she were the angel. She had to be an angel to love someone like me. That afternoon, I went out early to feed. I slipped out of bed, careful not to disturb her, and dressed quietly and slipped out. I ran for all I was worth so that I'd be back before she woke. Once I was away from the concert grounds, I ranged out to find my meals.

It was a good ten miles before I was able to find something suitable. The first, I just tackled and sank in my fangs. I drank deep and, when I was finished, I headed off after another one. I wasn't really sure when I would get to hunt again, so I wanted to make sure that I was well fed. My second target ran away and I chased her down and shoved her against a wall, when I caught up to her. I quickly mesmerized her and sank my fangs into her neck, sucking down her bright, red, oxygenated blood. Like humans with Hemolytic Anemia, a vampire's blood cannot sustain Hemoglobin, which means that without fresh blood, we would suffocate. But at the same time, our bodies put the oxygen to better use than human bodies are capable of. That was part of how our bodies work ten times better than a human's, at least in regards to our speed and strength. Other abilities are a result of our brains have more active areas than a human's. We don't really know why we age so slowly, though. I finished feeding and I took off, headed back to the bus, to Marie. As I ran, I checked in on Marie and found her to be awake. I picked up the pace, running faster than ever before. Roger was hounding her because I was gone, and I new that it was just about time to confront him. He couldn't keep doing this to us. I wouldn't allow it. I ordered Roger back to the stage, and I went to console Marie. Even though she didn't say it out loud, she was right, it was improper of me to not at least leave a note explaining that I was leaving.

After the concert, after making love, she asked about Roger and I told her everything. She deserved to know and, after she fell asleep, I slipped into her mind for the second time, but this time, I wasn't looking for anything. This time, I was showing her the night when I saved Roger. We made love again, but this time, it was rough, bestial in a way that I had never been before. Afterward, when she had passed out, I lay there for a time, my mind blank. Finally, the realization of what I had done filtered through my consciousness, and I got up out of bed, headed into the dining area, and sat at the table. How could I hurt her like that? How? I had vowed from the beginning to never hurt her, yet I had. What I had done only served to confirm what I already knew. I started sobbing, because I had hurt her, and now I hurt, too. I felt like my heart was slowly being torn from my body. I never imagined that anything could hurt like this. I think having my heart actually ripped out would hurt less than this. When she reached for me, I didn't want to let her touch me, at first, but even as addled with emotion as my brain was, I could still feel her love for me washing over me and I collapsed into my lover's arms. It took time, but I eventually got over hurting her, and in the end, it only served to deepen our relationship. She said she didn't care where we lived, as long as we were together, but I still started making plans for buying a house after München, and the tour was finished. But when we got to München, while we were doing set up, our head of security notified us that Lycans were headed our way. Thirty or more. This was gonna be difficult, to say the least. I sent Marie back to the bus, where she would hopefully be safe.

I headed back to the front line of defense to try and stop the Lycans from getting through and hurting anyone. Especially the humans in our group, and any who were coming to the concert. They passed out silver swords with wooden handles wrapped in fiber to protect our hands from the silver. I could tell these were cheaply done, though, because they were still uncomfortable to handle. I missed my swords, which were among the finest forged by the Queen's blacksmith, and the handles were designed to fit my hand, and they were perfectly balanced. This was a little heavy in the blade. I twirled it at my side and prepared to do battle. In a few moments, the Lycans were in sight of the concert grounds and the call came out to move into battle stance. When they were in range, we started slashing at them, cutting them open, and leaving them to die. One of them got past me and ran toward the buses. The only thought running through my head, when I saw that, was 'Marie.' I took off after him, catching him right as he reached the buses. I slashed out at him, catching him in the back. He spun, roaring in pain, and I thrust the sword through his heart. He threw his head back, screaming, again, and fell back against the bus, and headed back to the frontline. There was still over a dozen of them left, but there were more of us than that. We finally had the upper hand. It wouldn't be much longer and they would be dead. I breathed a sigh of relief that they wouldn't be getting past us to anyone else. When the fight was finally over, I headed back to the bus to clean up before the concert, which was now postponed. I showered, changed, kissed Marie long and loving, and headed up to the stage.

The concert went off without a hitch, and afterward, I went back to the bus and picked up Marie, holding her tight, swaying side-to-side. After we let go, we sat at the table, and I filled her in on the Lycans and what they had to do with us. I also told her how the experiments that created them were banned, but yet, the House of Lycons continued their experiments anyway, and when the Queen discovered their treachery, she had them exiled. I also told her about the House of Chthon, so that she would understand why the Queen had done what she did to Roger. Once she was deeply asleep, I moved gently away from behind her and headed out into the streets to feed. The fight had taken a lot out of me. To be honest, more than I could reasonably spare. I found my first meal quickly and took more from her than I really should have and, when I finished, I went after another one, to satiate my appetite. I returned to Marie a couple hours after I left, I undressed and, though I didn't need to sleep, I crawled into bed with my beloved. The next morning, we made love in the shower, dressed, and headed to the airport to catch our flight home. I never let go of her hand, for fear that I'd lose her, thought logically, I knew that wouldn't happen. On the other hand, where the heart is concerned, logic has nothing to do with it. Hmm, that gives me an idea for a song. On board the plane, we sat right next to each other, and we talked for a while, but soon lapsed into silence. After we touched down, I grabbed my guitar from the carousel, we hailed a cab, and headed off to my loft before going to her parents' house.

The way Marie's brother greeted me was a shock, but it was also pleasant. I really appreciated it. Even more shocking was her mother's greeting. She was actually pleased to see me, even though just a few weeks ago, she practically hated me. I was so glad to see that she had changed her mind about me. I knew Marie deserved better than me, but I loved her, and it was wonderful that her family finally supported us. But apparently, the possibility of being ostracized by the rest of the blue bloods didn't seem to matter to her in the slightest. When her mother and I embraced, Marie hugged us both. It felt so good. After we had gone inside, she asked about her sister, and found that she disapproved of our relationship. That hurt. It was a hard blow for both of us. Marie loved her sister and it was important for her sister to be there for her, to support her love. I asked if I could speak to her sister, try to bring her around, cause I wanted Marie to be happy. Another blow to your happiness was finding out that we wouldn't be able to use Notre Dame for our wedding. I called and spoke to the French Government and the Papacy, but I got nowhere with them, and it pissed me off. But I immediately contacted Erin and asked if she would help us. She said she would see what she could do. While we waited for word, we ate with Marie's parents, because she wanted to hear the results of Erin's talk. But once we found out that Erin had convinced them, we went shopping for groceries for the loft. I got all the ingredients I needed to bake cookies, cakes, and other delectable to tempt my lover's sweet tooth. And, I had to admit, mine as well. I liked sweets just as much as Marie. On top of solid food, it was good to get something different than blood.

After we got home, I prepped some pork chops for supper, and Marie helped me fix chicken for lunch. After we ate, we cleaned up, then headed over to her parents' to pack up her clothes and things to bring them over to my loft. I helped her put everything in its proper place, then we fixed supper, ate, watched a movie, and went to bed, where we gently made love till she fell asleep. The next morning, I made a call on a house in Paris, and I traveled through the shadows to meet the realtor and check out the house. I had left a note for Marie, so she knew where I was and what I was doing. I didn't tell her that I was going all the way to France, though. I wanted to surprise her with it after the wedding. We settled on the price and I promised to return within a week with the money. When I got home, Marie wasn't there, so I searched for her. I found her downtown at the Kung Fu Studio, training. I didn't know for sure why she was doing this, and I started crying, thinking that maybe she didn't trust me to take care of her. It was just that she wanted to be able to defend herself in case I wasn't around. I was grateful for that. That she still trusted me to take care of her and defend her. I told her, too, that she could spar with me anytime, because of all my belts, and the fact that she couldn't hurt me. We went home and showered, then headed to her parents' place for lunch. We were waiting for the meal to be served, and a phone call came in from Marie's sister. Carly called and Marie took the phone. She did her best to convince her that there was nothing wrong with our love and our relationship. Don't know if she succeeded, but she said almost exactly what I would've said.

After we watched the movies, I told Marie about my involvement in the whole fiasco in Greenwich Village. I still didn't fully trust the police, even after they repealed the laws the laws against homosexuality. During the following days, I went back to my friend James' to help him finish his renovations on his house. I told him about Marie, and that I had a replacement with the band. He was pleased for me, especially when I told him that I was marrying Marie. After I got done working with James for the day, I would often spar with Marie, honing and improving her skills in Kung Fu. Finally, the day came when the dressmakers called to tell us that our wedding gowns were ready to be picked up. So we went down to try them on. We were in separate rooms, trying on our dresses, so that we wouldn't be able to see each other. It was bad luck to see the bride in her dress before the wedding. It was so great that Carly finally came around in time for our wedding. She would get to be Marie's maid of honor. We left for Paris for our wedding, and I gave them a tour of areas of Paris that usually aren't shown by most tour guides. I wanted them to see a different part of Paris than most tourists ever saw. I helped them order at a local restaurant. The following day was Marie's parents' rededication and our wedding, at Notre Dame Cathedral. I couldn't wait to finally be wed to the woman I love. And after our wedding I had a surprise for her. Our own place, but we hadn't closed, yet, because I wanted her name on it, as well.

The Cathedral was decorated beautifully. You would think that the white & cream, and black & burgundy would clash, but the combinations actually complemented each other really well. The rededication was beautiful and everything went smoothly, then Marie and I changed into our wedding dresses in separate rooms near the front of the church and, when I finished dressing, I headed up to the altar to greet my bride as she walked up the aisle. I had brought my guitar with me because, in a fit of inspiration, I had decided to accompany the organ. I nearly choked delivering my vows, but somehow, I got through it, and so did she. We went to the La Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, then to our hotel room. I made sure she didn't want to go to my cabin before we went to bed. While she changed, I slipped out and sat in a chair in the front room of the suite, thinking about what I had done. It was what Marie wanted, and, in a lot of ways, it was also what I wanted, and though it was too late to go back, I needed to take time to think about the step we had taken. This was even bigger than our wedding. I sighed and smiled, finally glad that we had done this. We would be together for a good, long while. Even over the music, I hear Marie stirring and, when I was sure she was awake, I called her out to the living rom to join me. She was a natural at hunting for her meal. After feeding, we went back to our suite at the hotel and we made love, again and again. We went out to feed three times a week, and when we weren't feeding, we were making love or martial arts training. After three weeks, we finally got to start moving in to our new home, a few miles outside of Paris.

No sooner had we moved in that we discovered that there was a pack of Lycans heading toward Paris. I had less than a week to train Marie how to use a sword and fight the Lycans. After the week, we went out to meet our opponents. We fed first, then went out to meet the Lycans. There were going to be fifty of them and, thanks to the advanced notice, almost eighty of us. Marie and I talked a bit before the battle, but once it started, the road became chaos. It was really all I could do to keep track of my wife. We ended up back-to-back, circled by almost twenty Lycans. We swung, repeatedly, barely keeping them at bay. Finally, two went down, one for each of us, then two more. After that, they started going down faster, because we were getting our rhythm and striking more vital organs with every swing. Marie stabbed one that was closing on my left, while I was taking care of one to my right. Then, she jumped up on its back and sank her fangs into its neck. I was gonna have to feed again soon, too. This battle was tough, and it was taking a lot out of my reserves, as well. Marie was new, still, and burned through her energy a lot quicker. Plus, I'd had a lot more training, and so I knew how to conserve the energy I had. When I had a second, I glanced around and saw that we had really made progress in the battle. We were down to about a dozen Lycans and still seventy-five of us. The battle had tipped squarely in our favor and it should be over in a few more minutes. Marie was on one knee, her back to mine, and she said, "It's almost over. They have the last few tied up. I can't believe how hard it is. I feel like I have to feed again."
"It's probably a good idea. It took a lot out of me, too. We finish this up and we can go."

Once the battle was over, we cleaned up the road and Marie and I started leisurely flying home, on the lookout for meals, along the way. We finally found someone and settled in to drink our fill. These were upstanding citizens, whom had people that would miss them, so we only took two pints from each of the four of them. Marie didn't quite feel full, and that worried me a bit, but we headed home anyway. After we got back, we cleaned up, put away our weapons, and got dressed again. "I'd like to train as a guard. I want to learn."
"Are you certain? It's not gonna be easy. It'll be one of the hardest things you've done."
"Yeah, I'm sure. I've been thinking about it all week, ever since you told me that you were a guard. I want to do the same thing you did; and I think the training will be good for me."
"Ok. As long as you're sure. If you want, I can train you, then we can both go to the Queen to be assigned. It's up to you."
"That sounds good. And you know, as much as I love you, and love spending time with you, part of the reason I made this decision, is that I'm getting bored. I grew up not working, but I've never felt bored like this before."
"I know the feeling, though. While you were human, you slept a third, or more, of the day. You didn't have as much time to kill as you do now. Having an extra eight hours a day to get through, you're gonna get bored. And as much as I'd like to, we can't spend all that time in bed." We both started laughing about that. "Alright. Why don't we get started? We'll go to the training room and I'll start teaching you what you need to know to be a guard."

We were working with our swords, and I was showing her some advanced moves, when she swung a diagonal strike at my chest that I almost didn't see. I dodged it, but then immediately stumbled and fell to the floor. "Are you alright, darling? There hasn't been a day that I've known you, where you've lost your balance." After searching my face for a moment, she asked, "Baby, what's wrong?"
"My sister. My sister. She was killed. She was the only family I had left."
"How did it happen?"
"She was a soldier in the war. She went to OTC after 9/11. She felt such outrage about what had happened. She was jumped by a bunch of religious nuts. They must have figured out what she was when normal methods didn't kill her. They took her head…slowly. Then they set her on fire."
"Who told you?"
"She did. She felt them cutting into her neck. A guard that responded to her calls for help, saw them light her on fire. It was a matter of seconds. Oh, Goddess. She was my only family." Marie held me while I screamed and cried. Samantha had been my twin, the only family left after our parents died back in '97. Samantha and I hated Lycans more than most, because they were the reason our parents were dead. Vampires have a genetic compulsion to stay out of private residences, and it takes a real act of will to override that. Lycans don't have any such limitations. A full pack broke into our parents' home and help didn't arrive in time.

It was almost half an hour before I finally started to calm down. Taking a few deep breaths, I looked up at my wife and said, "First, our parents, now, my sister. I have no one left."
"I know. I can't even imagine what you're going through right now. I can't even begin to guess how bad this must be hurting you." 'But remember, I love you, and I'm here for you. I leaned on you when I was hurting, you leaned on me before, when Roger was exiled. I love you, you are my soul. Let me help you.'
'Thank you, my love. You're still the light of my life. You continue to make the darkness brighter. And I do lean on you, every day. Thank the Goddess I met you.'
'Oh, I do. But you'll let me help you with this?'
'Of course. Thank you, darling.' I laid my head on her shoulder and took solace in my lover's presence. She really was my guiding light. Without her in my life, I would be lost. I was still in no condition to move on my own, so Marie picked me up and carried me up to our bedroom. We curled up together on the bed, my head on her shoulder, my arm and leg thrown across her body. I was out of it for a while; Marie told me it was almost three days. I wasn't even aware of the passage of time because my body went into deep hibernation, like it does if I'm dangerously wounded. It wasn't surprising that my body practically shut down, even though I wasn't physically injured. It was emotional trauma, and it was deep. Not as bad as if it had been Marie, but it was deeper, even, than when we lost our parents. She was part of me, and now that part was gone.

When I finally came out of my catatonic state, I threw myself into Marie's training, trying not to think about the loss of my twin. And anytime I got too violent with one of my meals, Marie gently reminded me, making sure I didn't go too far. She kept me from slipping, falling into my demonic nature. She really was an angel. A benefit to my state was that Marie was ready to test in as a guard earlier than originally expected. When she passed the test, Erin came over to both of us. "Congratulations, Marie. You've gotten the second highest score, ever."
"Who has the highest score?"
"Your wife." Marie stared at me. "The highest score in the history of the nation?"
"Yeah. And the thing is, I didn't even know for quite a while. I didn't find out till I'd been here for over three months. Erin, I have a question. I'm sure the answer's yes, but did someone notify Sam's husband and wife?"
"Yes. Apparently, she notified them, same as you, and so did the guard who responded."
"That's good. I'd like to see them, if that's ok."
"So would I."
"We can do that, no problem. I'll speak to them, myself, and arrange for you to meet them. They're still at home, so I don't foresee any problems, and you should be able to meet them in a day or two."
"Thank you, Erin."
"No problem. Leslie, if you're coming back, I have an assignment for you."
"What is it?"
"Secret Service, Presidential Detail."

"Why? Why him?" Erin took a deep breath and replied, "I know he's not perfect, I mean, who is. But he's the best we've had for some time. And he's growing a backbone, so he's not as cowardly as he used to be. I'm not gonna force this on you, but I'd rather have you on it, than anyone else. At least think about it. Please. If you still refuse, I'll pass it on to someone else."
"Alright. I'll think about it. Do you have anything for Marie?"
"Possibly. Means she'd have to undergo additional training."
"You want to make her a trainer."
"I'm considering it."
"I would have to move to D.C. if I take this position. Where would you station Marie?"
"I wouldn't dream of separating you two. In fact, that was why I suggested the Presidential Detail. D.C. is where we need a new trainer. The current trainer is over seven hundred years old, and he's about ready to retire. Take some time, discuss it, and get back to me with your decision. I'll give you a couple days."
"Thanks, Erin. We'll see you Thursday with our decision." Marie and I left and headed back home. On the way, we both heard screaming, and she pulled the car to the curb while we both searched for the source of the disturbance. A few minutes later, we were flying down the street, on the trail of four vampires chasing a woman. I reached out with my mind and discovered that she was human, then I checked out the vamps.

All the Queens Guards learned a special trick to get past a vampire's natural mental barriers, and Marie was quickly becoming better at it than me. The vampires were all from Chthon and they weren't hunting for food, so we stepped in. I addressed them, identifying myself and Marie as Guards and ordered them back to their House. One stepped forward and refused to leave, stating that we had no authority to command him and his friends. I gave him my heritage, including my relatives, but he still scoffed at us. Marie was calling for backup, so I just stalled for time, till they could arrive, cause we were unarmed. A few seconds later, Miranda showed up, carrying the swords we had left in the car. Law stated that we weren't allowed to attack other vampires, except in self-defense. That included the exiled. The apparent leader drew a wicked-looking Bowie knife, two others drew Machetes, and the forth one pulled a rapier. I shook my head and waited for them to make the first move. The one with the Bowie knife attacked me, along with one of the ones with the machete, while the other machete wielder took off after Marie, and the one with the Rapier attacked Miranda. The battle was a blur of movement, blocking, parrying, swinging, thrusting, and dodging. The one with the Bowie knife went down with a slash to his chest, stomach and throat. He would heal, but it would be a few days. From there, the one with the machete was down, too. I was better than him, and his weapon was unwieldy.

Marie and Miranda both dealt with their opponents quickly, and Marie and I put our hand on each other's shoulder. "I've got Personal Guards on the way. They should be here in a few minutes."
"Okay. Thanks, Miranda." Marie said, "Something doesn't feel right."
"What do you mean, hon?"
"Look at this; the two with the machetes came after us. The only one carrying a sword went after Miranda. Silver is lethal to us, but the machetes are the more dangerous weapons."
"She's right, Les. I'd say those two were intent on killing you. You piss anybody off, lately?"
"Not lately. And I only know one person in Chthon, but he's not there by choice."
"But which of us is he after?" We both knew he was after Marie. He blamed for our troubles, for getting exiled. "Marie, you're getting to be better at getting into their heads than me, so can you get into their minds, confirm our suspicions?"
"Sure, babe, I'll try." She walked over and knelt in front of the leader of the group, putting her fingers on the side of his head to increase the effectiveness of her probe. After a few seconds, she winced. "He's really fighting me. He has defenses I've never seen before. This is gonna be difficult."
"Do you need some help, darling?"
"No, thank you, I'm getting through. His injuries are taking their toll."

The Personal Guard arrived while we were waiting for Marie to finish probing the mans' mind. "What's going on?"
"My wife and I were on our way home from seeing the Queen, when we heard screaming." I finished telling the Guard what happened, and our suspicions. Just as I finished telling him everything, Marie finished her probe and nodded at me. "It was him. He hired them to kill me, while two of them kept you busy. He counted on us being alone. He didn't count on anyone else getting involved. The woman was a trap, though she wasn't in on it."
"Ok. We'll take this back to the Queen and she'll issue judgment. All three of you, be ready to report to the palace at a moment's notice, if necessary. Failure to appear when summoned will result in summary exile."
"Yes, we know all the rules and regulations, I used to be exactly where you are now. Now, is there anything else, or can my wife and I go home?"
"You can go, but be ready." I took Marie's hand and we went back to the car for the rest of the drive home. "What do you think?"
"About what?"
"About being a Guard, so far."
"Well, if that guy's anything to go by, I'm not too flattered, so far." I laughed. "Yeah, he's a jerk. But he's been like that for as long as I can remember. He's almost two hundred years older than me. But being a trainer, you'd be training a new generation of Guards and you could have a positive impact on their attitudes."

The next day, Marie and I were led to Sam's house to meet her husband and wife. "Jamie, Geoff, this is your wife's twin sister, Leslie, and her wife, Marie. They came to offer their condolences."
"I'm so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine what it's like to lose a spouse." Jamie said, "Thank you, Leslie, and I'm sorry, too. I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to lose a twin. Someone who was so much a part of you." The three of us clasped each other and cried for a time, while Marie stood back, away from us, allowing us some privacy. Finally, we parted, and I gestured for my wife to come over. "I'm sorry for your loss, both of you. I don't know what I'd do if I lost Leslie. I can't imagine what you're going through, how devastated you are."
"Thank you, Marie. It's been difficult, I won't lie. But we get through as best we can, each day." Jamie and Marie embraced, briefly. We stayed for a few hours, periodically crying over the loss of Samantha. Finally, though, we left, promising to stay in touch, and I told them that they could contact me anytime they needed. They promised they would and Marie and I left, holding each other the entire way back home. "Are you gonna be ok, love?"
"Yeah. It'll take some time, but I'll be alright. And so will her spouses. I know that, to the outsider, we appear emotionless, but the truth is, we feel very deeply."
"Yes, we do." She encouraged me to place my head on her chest and she tightened her hold on my body.

Back at home, I wanted to discuss the positions that the Queen had offered us. We had to turn in our decision by tomorrow. "What do you want to do, Marie? Do you want to become a trainer? If you do, then I'll take the position guarding the president."
"I don't want the decision to rest entirely on me. I don't want to put you in a position where you have to do something you don't want to do. If you take this position, I want it to be because you chose it, not because I chose it for you."
"I may not like the president, but I don't care what I do, as long as we're together. Didn't you once say something similar to me?" I knew full well she had, and so did she. "Still, I don't want you to be trapped in a job you hate. That's not fair to you, not after everything you've done for me. The Queen said she won't order you to do it, so choose something you want to do. I want you to do something you enjoy."
"Same here. I love you."
"I love you, too." So we discussed the rest of the day, and all night, till we finally reached an agreement. We went to the Queen to give her our decision. "I'll teach Marie what she needs to know to be a trainer, then we'll both go to D.C. to take our positions. Is that agreeable to you?"
"That's fine. So you'll report in a couple months?"
"Should be, yeah."
"Okay. I'll tell them to expect you in two months. Let me know if there are any delays."
"We will."

Rather than going straight home, we decided to walk through the park near the mansion. It was a ground for homeless to sleep, but it was also a beautiful place. "Can we take a couple days, just get away before we start training?"
"Where do you wanna go?"
"I don't know. I just want to get away from everything. Away from people, from civilization, everything. What about your cabin?"
"We could do that. Any particular reason you wanna get away?"
"I just need to get away from civilization, get away from people. I still find it odd that I never used to feel this way."
"It happens. You're still settling into your new body. Your feeling are gonna fluctuate for a while. You should settle in another couple years."
"I know. It's just gonna take some getting used to." We finished our tour of the park and headed back to the mansion to head home. Once back, we started packing a couple bags to take my cabin in Alaska. We tried to travel through the shadows, but for some reason, I couldn't find the cabin on the other side. So, we went to a friend's house a few miles from there. My friend said that I could stop by anytime, so I figured she wouldn't mind using her home as a waystation on the way to my cabin. When we arrived at the site, we discovered the reason why I couldn't find it through the shadows. The cabin had been demolished. We landed and set about investigating. There were traces of Lycans on the boards. Tufts of hair, tracks, and their scent. The fact that there were still tracks in the snow meant that this had happened very recently. This was my place, my sanctuary, and they had destroyed it.

I looked over at Marie and she nodded. Whomever had done this, we would track them down and kill them. We took our swords out of our bags and strapped them to our backs, then flew back to my friend's house. We dropped off our bags and I wrote a note, and we headed back to the cabin to pick up the trail. 'East. They headed east from here. I don't know of any bases around here where they could be holed up.'
'Me, either. But, then, they could be headed to Canada. Their base doesn't have to be close by.'
'I know. Well, let's fly. Maybe we can catch them.' We took off, eastward, following the trail left by the Lycans. It was a small group, and they left clear tracks. 'It's a trap. They left too many clues; clear, fresh tracks; there's no way this isn't a trap.'
'You're probably right. If it looks like it might be a trap, when we get there, then we'll call for backup. Until then, we proceed under the assumption that it's just a small group, randomly doing damage.'
'Got it.' Fortunately, we were in the summer months, so even at midnight, the sun didn't sink fully below the horizon. This far out in the wilderness, even a Vampire would have trouble following tracks in the dark. Considering there was no moon. A few minutes after we started out, we spotted a forest, and the tracks led directly into it.

We landed at the edge of the forest and gazed in the direction that the tracks went. 'On foot?'
'No. Just above the surface. Below the level of the trees, but just above the snow.'
'Ok. Lead the way.' We hovered just above the snow and Marie followed me into the forest. We moved slowly, constantly checking the tracks, which seemed to grow clearer inside the forest than they were outside. I said, 'I think you're right. I think they're leading us into a trap. But there's no way dumb brutes created this complex of a trap. We got closer to whatever compound they're using as a base, and we'll call for backup.'
'Understood.' We stopped briefly and looked around, extending our senses. 'I feel them. Less than a mile to the east. If we hurry, we can catch them.' This time, Marie took the lead and we took off, fast, running almost full out. It was about five minutes before we actually spotted them, but we hung back, watching where they were headed. 'They're definitely heading for something. Maybe a compound of some sort. But who would be working with them?'
'I don't know. Is there a House of Lycons nearby?'
'No. Not that I know of. Although, they may have something out there. An outpost, a compound, something of that sort. Not exactly like we keep tabs on them. The only time we really pay attention is when they encroach on an authorized house.'
'Do we know why Lycans still work with members of the House of Lycons?'
'Not really.'
'Leslie, why don't you fly up above the tree line, see if you can see anything?'
'You got it, babe. Let you know in a sec.'

We paralleled each other for half-an-hour before I finally spotted something. 'There's a building about five hundred yards ahead. Looks kinda like a research facility.'
'You don't suppose they're still experimenting with the Lycans, do you? Way out here, more than a hundred miles from the nearest House?'
'Could be. Really wouldn't surprise me.' I flew down and landed next to my wife. 'I'll contact the Queen, let her know where we're at and what's up.'
'I'll keep my eyes and senses open and let you know if anything's changed, once you return.'
'Erin, we've got an issue up here. Lycans; and what looks, possibly, like a research lab. Not sure if it's empty and they're just using it as a base, or if it's a working facility. If it's a working facility, there's no way those mongrels are running it. Gotta be House Lycons.'
'Where are you?'
'I'd say somewhere just west of the Alaska/Canada border. Can you tune into our energy?'
'Barely. Something's partially blocking your energy, like focusing on an image through static.'
'Any way to focus well enough to pinpoint us?'
'I think so. Hang tight and you should have reinforcements within twenty minutes.'
'Got it. Thank you.'

'Alright, where do we stand?'
'No change.'
'Okay. We should have reinforcements in about twenty minutes.'
'Good. I'm thinking that you're better at cloaking than I am, so you can get closer, check out the interior, find out exactly what's going on.'
'Sounds good. Be back in a bit. Love you, baby.'
'I know. I love you, too.' I cloaked myself and slipped through the trees toward the building. Peeking inside the windows, I saw what was obviously a lab, cages, and what could have been meat hooks. Even as I watched, the hooks began to move and a naked male came into view. Being extremely careful, I probed the man's mind and discovered that he was human. But then, they injected him with something and, in a matter of seconds, he became a Lycan. So the House of Lycons was continuing their experiments. I showed Marie what I'd seen, and one of them turned toward the window. I dodged out of the way and headed back toward Marie. The one that had looked out the window poked his head out through the door and looked around, and I blended with the shadow of a tree. He looked around, trying to locate me, but when he couldn't, he closed the door, apparently going back to work. Marie stepped out of the shadow next to me. 'That was close. Must've caught a trace of your energy when you sent me that image.'
'Yeah, that's what I figure. Must be really sensitive to pick up thoughts that were as shielded as mine.'
'Alright, well, all we can do is wait for backup.'

About ten minutes later, our backup arrived and we briefed them on what we had seen, then we split up and surrounded the lab. On my signal, we broke through and attacked. The vampire scientists were disabled and detained, but the Lycans were fair game. These Lycans were more intelligent, and therefore, more dangerous than any that we had previously faced. We spread out, so that they wouldn't feel backed into a corner, cause if we cornered them, they would become even more dangerous. It took almost three hours to finish them off and finish clearing out the lab. "Someone bag those chemicals and someone get blood samples from these Lycans, get it back to our labs. We need to find out how they did this."
'Sorry, baby, so much for getting away.'
'That's ok. We get done here, we can rebuild the cabin and we can still get away. I still want that.'
'I know you do. And this shouldn't take much longer.' Sure enough, it was only about ten minutes to clean up. "Sterilization in two minutes. Everyone out. Let's move." We evacuated the building and gathered at a safe distance to watch the explosion. "We'll get these back to our labs and let the Queen know what we found."
"Good. We're headed out. Keep me apprised."
"Will do." Marie and I flew back to my friend's house and, this time, she was home. "Welcome, Leslie. And who's this?"
"Hi. My name's Marie. I'm Leslie's wife."
"Well, this is one story I definitely need to hear."
"Sure, Marie can fill you in. Meanwhile, mind if I use your phone? My cabin got completely destroyed, and I need the materials to rebuild it."
"Of course. It's right around the corner."

While we waited for supplies to arrive, I started training Marie so that, when we returned, she could take over as a trainer. Once the building supplies arrived, we went back to work and had the cabin rebuilt in three days, then went back to work, teaching Marie to be a trainer. When her training was complete, we stopped by to see her parents for a couple days before going to D.C. We rented a loft and, regretfully, put our Paris home up for sale. I went to the white house to introduce myself to the president, and Marie went to work training new guards. I showed my I.D. at the gate and they let me in without question. Inside, I was ushered into the oval office, where the president was apparently waiting for me. "Mr. President. My name is Leslie. I was appointed to your Security Detail." Without rising from his desk, he said, "Ah, the vampire."
"So you know."
"Yes. Let's get one thing straight. I don't want you here anymore than you want to be here. Just stay out of the way and try not to get anybody killed."
"Trust me, I have no interest in getting anyone killed." 'Although, allowing you to die sounds rather appealing.'
"Good. Then we understand each other." He returned to the papers on his desk, clearly dismissing me. I turned and left the room and a Secret Service agent came up to me. "Come with me and we'll get you a weapon, a security badge, and we'll order you a Secret Service badge. The president may not like you, but that doesn't mean we all feel the same way. Most of us that know are glad to have you with us."

"Like the president said, I didn't want to be here in the first place. I don't like him. But, our Queen ordered me to come here for Presidential Detail."
"I see. Will that prevent you from, potentially, taking a bullet for our president?"
"No. I'll protect him if I have to. It just means I don't have to like it."
"As long as you do the job, that's what matters. I know some of the others that would rather be elsewhere, too, so don't feel bad. Alright. Let's take your picture for your security badge. You do show up on film, right?"
"Yes. I do have a driver's license."
"That reminds me, you'll need to get a Maryland License and a federal one."
"I know. I'll get it done tomorrow." We left the white house and went to the headquarters for the Secret Service. I posed while they took a couple of headshots, then he took me back to my car. "It's gonna take a few days to get everything together, and probably have the results of your background check tomorrow. We'll call you when you can start. The president knew about you for over a month, but we didn't know until about five minutes before you arrived, otherwise we'd have everything ready."
"That's fine. Will I be working day or night?"
"Don't know yet. Let you know when I call you."
"Okay. Talk to you later, then." I got out of the car and into mine. Back in our loft, I stripped off my clothes and stepped into the shower. Marie wasn't due back till late tonight, so I was all by myself, but we still had plenty of unpacking to do, so I got started. The first box was full of photo albums. Pictures of our families, of us.

I spent some time just going through them, especially looking through pictures of my parents and my sister. I hadn't gone through them with Marie, yet, but I would tonight. I wanted her to know my family the only way she could. Between these pictures and my memories, she would get to know them. Finally, I set the albums on the couch and dug out another box. This one had all of our knickknacks in it, but I hadn't had a chance to set up the cabinet yet. The next box had movies, but the three after that, and four suitcases, had our clothes, so I put those away. I only had one dress suit, and that was the one I had worn today, so I had to get more. Once the clothes were put away, I moved our display cabinet into a corner, then moved the T.V. cabinet. Just as I was getting it situated, Marie came home. "Hey, baby. I missed you today." We embraced and kissed, lingeringly, lovingly. She caressed my cheek and said, "I missed you, too, darling. But I'm glad to be doing something."
"That's good. I'm happy for you. Now, care to help me get the furniture in place?"
"Sure." I placed the coffee table and she moved the rocker recliner. Then I picked up the dresser, which was a great, granite monstrosity that Marie had insisted on bringing with us when she moved out of her parents' place. It had been passed from grandmother to granddaughter for over two centuries. Because it was so big, I had left mine in my loft when we went to Paris. "You get the shelves?" She nodded and picked them up. After the dresser was put in place and the drawers put back, we went out to the living room and I invited her to go through the photo albums while I got something to drink.

We sat down and went through the pictures and I shared my memories with her. We cried and laughed together. Afterward, we went out to feed and, on our way back, stopped by the storage unit we had rented and picked up a few more things. The bed, unfortunately, would have to wait till we could rent or borrow a pick-up. It was simply too large to move by hand, even disassembled as it was. "You know, we haven't danced in a while," I said. "I know. I thought about that yesterday. Maybe we can go dancing after my class graduates. To celebrate."
"Sounds good. I'd like that."
"Me, too. I'd also like to have our bed back. One of the guys in my class has a pick-up, so I think I'll ask him tomorrow if we can use it."
"Good. I'd like to have our bed back, too." We stopped and kissed briefly, before resuming our journey home. The next day, Marie went back to work and I took off, just walking around the town, checking out the sights and familiarizing myself with the new city where we lived. For whatever reason, it was one of the few places I had never been to, before. I know that our managers had tried to get us gigs in D.C., but had never had any success. Not sure why. I saw the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and several others. I got back and started fixing supper before Marie got back from work.

Once I had both my licenses, Federal to drive in D.C. and state to go anywhere else in Maryland, and I had my SS badge and ID, I finally reported for duty. I had the night shift, which meant that he was less likely to know that I was there. Which was fine with both of us. But that meant that Marie and I would be apart almost the entire day. If I was lucky, she'd get home a few minutes before I had to leave. But I wouldn't be back till after she'd left. It wasn't the anxiety of separation that I was feeling, it was something much more basic. We craved each other. The feel of each other's body, the scent and taste of each other. From the day we were married, we had never spent even twenty-four hours without making love. It wasn't going to be easy to be separated like this, when such a strong desire for each other could linger for years. On the other hand, being soulmates, the feeling might never fade. We'd figure something out. 'I miss you, baby.'
'I miss you, too, my love. Come to me where you can. I'll be waiting breathlessly for you to come home.'
'Be ready. I don't know when I'll get to leave. Be ready for me, my darling.'
'I am. Always.' That thought made it a little easier to make it through to my break. I made it to a dark closet, shut the door, and went home Marie was on the couch, waiting for me. Goddess, she was so gorgeous. "I only have half-an-hour."
"Then let's make it count." She grinned broadly, held out her arms and gestured for me to come to her.

I returned to my post a lot happier than I had been earlier. This went on for weeks, till Marie's class graduated and she got some time off. We were lying in bed after making love when she said, "Baby, there's something I wanted to talk to you about."
"What is it, hon?"
"Well, first, I've been thinking that these ten hour days are ridiculous. I'm thinking of changing it. I want to train the purebloods 24/7. And this is up to you, but I was thinking that you could take the half breeds during the day. I mean, I hate being here all night without you, and I'm sure you hate being here all day without me. That is, if you want to go back to training, even part time."
"You'll have to talk to the Queen."
"I know."
"But if she says yes, then we can go ahead and do it." She smiled up at me and kissed me so passionately that we made love again. The next day, before she went to work again, she contacted the Queen about her idea to change the schedule for training. She got the go ahead to try it out, so I went with her. There were only two half breeds and I figured that, with the extra attention, they might graduate close to the same time as the purebloods. After training during the day, I would say goodbye to my wife and go to work at the white house. It was about seven months after I started doing both that the president approached me. "I don't want you around anymore. You're dismissed from my service. Turn in your badge, I.D., and weapon immediately. I don't want your kind around my family, anymore. Get out." And with that, he turned and walked away.

The agent who was sharing my post, said, "I'm sorry about that. We can probably find you another position that'll keep you away from him if you want to stay." I smiled a little. "Thank you. It's up to my Queen, but if she says it's ok, then we can figure something out. In the meantime, I better leave." We shook hands and as I left, I contacted the Queen. 'Erin. The president dismissed me from service. He said he didn't want someone like me around him anymore.'
'Never expected him to confront you like that. I knew what he said on your first meeting was just posturing to cover his fear.'
'Yeah. The agent I was with offered to help me find another position if I wanted to stay with the Secret Service.'
'Well, that's entirely your decision. I won't ask you to stay if you don't want to.'
'I really don't. I just want to help Marie train new guards. I enjoy doing that.'
'Ok. Go ahead and turn in your things. You're both excellent trainers. And I'm proud to have you both doing that work.' I stopped in to the office, told them what happened, and turned in my things. I left and went to see Marie. I told her what happened and told her that I would be helping her with training. Once the half-breeds were done for the day, I would help her with the others till morning. The Queen authorized the use of donors since we were working twenty-four hours straight. We had dozens of humans who willingly lined up for us to feed on, but they were usually reserved for the Queen's personal guard, who never left their post. And, of course, the Queen, herself.

It only took two weeks for the purebloods to graduate and three more days for the half-breeds. And since I was no longer working for the Secret Service, there was no reason to continue the twenty-four hour training, so Marie and I were home every night. We were both grateful for that time. Not long after the next class graduated, Erin contacted us both. 'We have a major problem. Lycans and vampires from the House of Lycons are on the move. We're not sure what they're planning, but they're on the move all across the country. They may be after us, they may be after humans, we're not sure yet.'
'What do you want us to do?'
'Get together every guard you can and prepare for an assault on our facilities, or the humans in the city.'
'Got it. We'll be ready.'
'I know you will. Thank you.' "Okay. How many guards do we have in D.C.?"
"I'm not sure. I'll have to check the records. What are you thinking?"
"If we've got enough bodies, I want to split them into two groups. One to protect the facility and the other to protect the civilians."
"If there aren't enough of us, we'll have to get the locals involved." I didn't like it and my first instinct was to argue against it, but the logical part of my brain kicked in and I knew that she was right. "Whoo. Yeah. We'll have to arm them with silver stakes and silver bullets. We may have to come out of the shadows. That idea doesn't thrill me."
"I know what you mean. Throughout history, humans have found an other to fear and hate and ostracize. We come out in the open and we'll be that new other."
"I know. That's why I don't like the idea. But maybe we can do it in stages. Start with the authorities for now. But first, let's see how many guards we have."

"Okay. There's no way we can protect the population. We have more guards than we need to guard our facilities, but even if we devoted everyone we have to protect the civilians, we wouldn't have enough. We're gonna have to get the civilian authorities involved."
"Yeah. You wanna talk to the Queen, or do you want me to?"
"I'll do it. Much as she may like you, I grew up with her."
"Ok." I told Erin about our predicament and our proposed solution. She agreed with me and, even though her first impulse would be to contact the president, that wasn't an option this time. So she left us to contact the authorities. "I'll get ahold of police, fire and rescue. You want to get the others?"
"Yeah. My sister had plenty of friends in the military." We made our phone calls, explaining in as little detail as possible. We would explain in greater detail what we were up against once they actually saw for themselves. But in the meantime, the less they knew, the better. Marie got done first and started notifying the guards in the D.C. area. We arranged to meet in a neutral, semi-public place to strategize. The next few days would probably determine the future for all of us. Human and vampire alike. But it wouldn't be the battle that would determine our future. It would be the aftermath.

When we got done alerting everyone, we sat on the couch and started planning the deployment of our resources. Some of it would depend on police and military, but soon, we had a working plan. Two days later, we met with the civilian authorities, the military leaders, and the guards. We laid out our preliminary plans and, just as I figured, the police and military didn't want to work with us. "Listen, we know more about the coming threat than you do. We have quite a bit of experience with it. The only reason we need your help is because there aren't enough of us to go around. We don't have enough forces to fight this threat and protect the people. That's all we need you for, to protect the civilians."
"Then give us the leeway to do so," said General Horn. "General, your normal tactics won't work. Neither will your weapons. We've had people all across the country manufacturing the weapons that you'll need. They've been working twenty-four hours-a-day since we found out," Marie said. "Why won't our weapons work?"
"You're bullets aren't made of the right material. They'll do some damage, but they won't stop them."
"What are we facing that we can't stop them?" I cut in again, "You honestly wouldn't believe me if I told you. You really have to see it to believe it."
"Alright. When can we expect this attack to start?"
"They should be getting here about an hour after dawn."
"I still don't fully trust you, but we'll get into position tonight."
"Thank you."

Marie came up to me and put her hand on my shoulder. 'We should go feed before the battle tomorrow. We want to be at full strength before they get here.'
'Yeah. Let's go while they set up.' We ran and soon found our meals. We each fed twice before walking back to the front line. We went to our hotel room to wait for dawn and we made love again, drowning out the horror to come, with love. A few hours before dawn, we checked our swords and picked up rifles and ammo. "General Horn, did you and your men get the new ammo?"
"Yes, we did. Are these silver bullets? What are we fighting, werewolves?"
"And vampires." He started laughing and I said, "I told you you wouldn't believe me. But you'll see. Make sure you aim for the head or the heart. Anything else will slow them down, but not stop them."
"Werewolves and vampires. Right." Marie and I traded glances, looked at the General, opened our mouths and let our fangs descend. Needless to say, it freaked him out. "What are you?" Marie answered, "We're vampires."
"And we're fighting against other vampires?"
"Yes. But they're not like us. They don't want to get along with you. They've genetically engineered these werewolves, of Lycans, to be more intelligent than their cousins. But they're just as savage. They'll kill and destroy everything in their path."
"We've been ordered by our Queen to blend in, not make waves, and act as human as possible. And we do. The ones coming our way, don't.

"Lycans are incapable of blending in. Unlike others who've been branded with the moniker over the millennia, they are truly savage." General Horn walked away shaking his head and chuckling a little nervously. "He'll see soon enough. They even brought some ammo for the M-60's and M-50's."
"Did the military bring M-50's?"
"Yeah, I saw them unloading six of them."
"Good. They hit, it won't really matter if they hit a vital organ, cause it's gonna leave a fist-sized hole in the body."
"Yeah, and It'll probably take out two or three behind them. But hopefully, they won't need them. What have we got?"
"We're borrowing two M-50's, two M-60's, and enough M-16's to arm all of our guards."
"Without taking away from the military and police?"
"Yeah. They'll be fully armed. And, of course, we have our swords for backup. We have three magazines each for the M-16's, two boxes of ammo for each of the M-60's, and four magazines each for the M-50's. That's a lot of ammo, but the M-50's and M-60's are gonna run out of ammo first, so we're gonna hold them back until we really need them."
"Good. You keep an eye on the guards, I'll coordinate police and military. I'll let you appoint someone to coordinate the rescue workers."
"Okay." She grabbed the front of my shirt in her fists and leaned in close. "I better see you in one piece after this is over."

"Same goes for you, my love." We kissed and went about our separate duties. I found myself a spot and hunkered down with my M-16 and three magazines of ammo. We only had to wait an hour before the scouts reported that the enemy had arrived. "Remember, our main job is to protect the citizens." They were only two miles from our position on the edge of town. "Hold fire till they're in range." A mile out from us were the guards, and among them, my beloved. They would be the first to engage the enemy, but they were too numerous to be stopped there. Not entirely. Almost half the force would spill over where we'd have to face them. I just prayed that my wife would be safe. We could lose every guard we had out there and, though I'd mourn, It would be nothing compared to losing my soulmate. A few minutes later, the enemy impacted our perimeter and, in a few more minutes, they were within range. I sighted along my rifle and opened fire, semi-auto only, preserving my ammo, making each shot count. The others around me were doing the same. General Horn, next to me, whispered, "God damn. God damn."
"I told you you had to see it to believe it." Even being cautious with our ammo, we ran out too soon. Once we were down to our last clip and-a-half, we had the M-60's and M-50's open fire to provide support. It took less than an hour to exhaust our ammo and we had to resort to swords, which had been distributed among the civil authorities and military.

The battle lasted for a little over three hours from the time they breached our defenses till the last filthy, mangy cur was put down. 'Marie, are you okay?'
'A few scratches. I'll be alright. One even tried to bite me, but it didn't get the chance.'
'Good. I'll see you at the debriefing.'
'Ok. I love you.'
'I love you, too.' We left the cleanup for later and headed to the command tent we had set up to go over what happened and plan our next move, as well as discuss our losses. I was just grateful that my wife was still alive and in one piece. Within half-an-hour, everyone had assembled and we began to hear reports. "My name's Joseph and Marie put me in charge of coordinating rescue efforts. I've broken down the reports into groups. First of all, the vampires: we've had twenty-one fatalities, eighteen seriously wounded, and over a hundred with minor injuries. Police had almost forty fatalities, but that includes FBI, etc. There were forty-five seriously wounded and sixty-three minor injuries. With the military, we're back down a bit: twenty-seven fatalities, thirty-two major injuries, and nineteen with minor wounds."
"Thank you, Joseph. Police Chief Johnson, if we could get your report?" We heard from the civil authorities and military on ammo usage, orders, and placement of defenses as the battle wore on. Then, we heard from the guards who had led the assault. My wife spoke for them.

"We set up a first defense approximately three miles out from the city and we encountered the first wave an hour and-a-half before dawn." She went on to detail the battle, including the Lycans' use of strategy during the engagement. "They've exhibited unusually high intelligence. Normally, a Lycan's intelligence level is somewhere below that of the average dog. But these were exhibiting signs of human-level intelligence. Somehow, the vampires breeding them must have boosted their intelligence, or allowed their human intelligence to transfer over when they transformed." A short time later, the meeting broke up and we started cleaning up. We took the bodies of the vampires and Lycans so that they could be properly disposed of. 'We got a live one over here. He's still breathing, but he's reverted.'
'Okay. Bag & tag, get him back to the facility, stat.'
'On it.' It took close to five hours to finish cleaning up. When we were done, Marie and I headed back to the compound. I wanted to 'interrogate' the survivor, and we both wanted to see the results of the autopsies from the dead ones. We both wanted to know how the House of Lycons had managed to make them more intelligent. 'You wanna go down to the morgue, see what they uncovered?'
'Yeah, you gonna go see about our prisoner?'
'Yeah. I'll see you in a few.' We didn't have a dedicated room for wounded prisoners, so we just put up our captive in a cell. When we got down to the prison level, Marie and I split up and she headed on down to the morgue.

"What's the word?"
"Oh, hey, Leslie. She was hit twice. First shot tore through her spleen, and the second one grazed the aorta. She has severe silver poisoning. She'll be lucky to make it another forty-eight hours."
"Alright. We need information. I need to find out what she knows."
"Go for it. She's so much dead meat on the hoof, anyway."
"Thanks." I picked up a silver implement off a tray and approached our captive. "I'm gonna ask you some questions, and I expect answers. If you refuse, I start tearing into you." What I held in my hand was a wicked little device that had teeth, and by clamping onto her skin, I could tear chunks out of her. It was going to be painful. And I could tell by the look in her eyes that she knew it, too. "Do you know what the House of Lycons was doing?"
"They were trying to increase our intelligence to counter our aggression. They wanted to domesticate us. Like common house pets. But we couldn't revolt. Something from our original breeding tied us to them genetically. We had no choice but to follow their orders."
"So why did they create you?"
"I don't know." I brought up the implement in front of her face. "I swear. Look, I'm dead whether I talk or not, so why would I lie to you?"
"Okay." I turned back to the guard. "Alright. I don't think I'm going to get anything else out of her." As I turned to leave, she said, "Wait. I'm gonna be in pain till I die. Can't you at least have enough mercy as to put me out of my misery? Please?" I drew my sword as I turned back toward her and smoothly removed her head from her shoulders. I wiped off the blood, sheathed it, and went to meet Marie.

"Hey, what's going on?"
"Hey, hon. When I got here, they were killing any vampires left alive and throwing their bodies into the fire, one-by-one."
"Did you tell them we need one alive to interrogate?"
"Yeah." She pointed to a corner. "There's our prisoner. Have to transfuse pints of blood before he'll be in any condition to reveal anything."
"Well, since he's this weak, his mental defenses will be down. It will make it easier to get in and get the information directly."
"Yeah. Once we get done here. What did you find out?"
"They were increasing their intelligence to offset their savagery. She doesn't know why. So that's why we need to find out. Why were they trying to domesticate them?" It took almost an hour to incinerate all the bodies. Didn't want to chance them recovering and attacking, especially the Lycans. We had the others clear out and we walked over to our captive so that Marie could probe his mind. A few seconds later, she withdrew and shook her head. "He's too weak. If I try to dig that deep, deep enough to find out what we need to know, he'll die before I can reach it and it'll be lost forever. If I knew for sure that the Queen had a prisoner that could give up that information, I'd say 'let him die', but we don't know that for sure."
"Alright. I'll carry him to the infirmary. Let them know to stabilize him, but don't let him get to full power."

After dropping off our 'guest', Marie and I headed home. I got out my guitar cause it had been a while since I had played and my wife sat and watched me play. After half-an-hour, she asked if I could teach her how to play. I agreed and passed her the guitar. I taught her the strings, which keys each one was, I taught her how to hold it, the fingering, and how to tune it. Finally, I started teaching her some of the simpler songs to get her accustomed to the instrument. It took some time, but she finally moved up to the more difficult ones when she said, "I've never asked you to buy me anything, before. But I'd like to get a piano. A big, grand piano."
"You know how to play?"
"Yeah. I learned when I was a teenager."
"Ok. I would've bought you one either way, but it's nice to know that you can play."
"Yeah. Maybe I can get you an acoustic guitar, if you'll play it; maybe we can play together."
"That sounds good. And yeah, I would play an acoustic. I had one till the Lycans took out my parents. I just never replaced it."
"Well, I'll get you a new one. I love music and I love you. The fact that we both have an aptitude for music, that we both play musical instruments is really nice. I'll go out soon and get your guitar." We kissed briefly and she continued to play. Meanwhile, I remembered an aborted conversation we'd had seven months ago. "Hon, you remember a conversation we had seven months ago, when you wanted to train the guards a full twenty-four hours?"
"Yeah."
"You said, 'first of all'. There was something else you wanted to discuss, too. What was it?" Setting aside the guitar, she took a deep breath and sighed, then looked me in the eye. "I don't know if you can understand, but I want a child."

That floored me. Not that I was against it, but that she had never mentioned it before. "Why didn't you bring that up then?"
"I wasn't sure what you'd think. I mean, your parents, your sister. All dead. Your entire family's gone. I wasn't sure if you'd want a child after all that." I nodded. "I…understand why you'd feel that way. But I have nothing against it. Especially if it's what you want. I love you, and if you want a child, we'll go talk to Erin and see if we can get an appointment with the doctors."
"Oh, thank you!" She flung herself into my arms and we held each other fiercely. A few minutes later, we were making love, right there, on the floor. The following morning, we went back to training new guards. Not only did they have to learn swords, but also staves, pikes, shields, armor, axes, knives and various other weapons. But more importantly, they needed to be taught rules and regulations that aren't part of our genetic memory. They also had to learn the mental techniques needed to get into the mind of a captive and how to cloak themselves from view. While it is true that only a master can learn to cloak themselves, guards are, by necessity, masters. We also try to teach them to cloak themselves while they fly and traveling through shadows. The former, only four of us are capable of, and it doesn't seem to be something you can gain with age, cause two of them are less than 150 years old. And as far as I knew, only Erin had the power to cloak herself while traveling through shadows. Yet we still try to train them, just to see if any are capable.

After we got done for the day, we prepared to leave the compound and ran right into the Queen. We both knelt and, when she bade us to, rose again. I bowed my head, briefly, before I spoke. "Your majesty, my wife and I have a request of you."
"Yes? What is it?"
"Yesterday, Marie expressed her wish to have a child. I would be honored beyond words and blessed beyond imagining if I could be allowed to be the one to give her this child."
"This is a wish from both of you?"
"Yes."
"Yes."
"Very well, then. I'll speak with the doctors and see when they will be able to see you."
"Thank you, your Majesty." Bowing my head deeply, I continued, "This means so much to us. We can't begin to thank you enough for your kindness and generosity." Marie knelt and said, "Our most sincere and heartfelt gratitude can't begin to convey just how grateful we are."
"You're welcome. Now, tomorrow, I'd like to sit in on your class. I'm thinking of making some changes."
"Your input will be most welcome, Majesty." With that, she and her retinue departed for quarters reserved for her. While it was somewhat unusual, it wasn't unheard of for the Queen to change something about the way guards are trained, or even just to sit in on a training session. And just because she said she was thinking about changes didn't mean she would. We'd just have to wait and see. But the Queen giving us permission to see the doctors was excellent news. There was only one case in history where she denied permission, but it was because they weren't the type to raise a child. They were a couple, but they "entertained" countless men, both human and vampire, had parties virtually every day, and kept a stable of blood whores: humans forced against their will to provide blood for their masters whenever they wished. These humans were kept in the most deplorable conditions and drained nearly dry, constantly, without being given the chance to recover. The Queen wouldn't allow them to have a child because she didn't want it growing up in that type of environment. It was because of them, in fact, that the edict began that you had to ask permission from the Queen, first. Before that, it had simply been common practice. And it was just gay, lesbian and bisexual couples that needed permission. It was straight couples as well, because the Queen was concerned about the child's welfare. And the nation was better for it. "This is great! Oh, baby, you really want to give me the child? You want me to carry it?"
"Yes. You were the one to express the wish, I figure it should be yours. But if you want another one, I'll carry it. Okay?"
"Sounds good." The Queen sat in on our training session the next day and approached us afterward. "Good work. You just stared with this class yesterday?"
"Yes, your Majesty."
"Excellent work. You've done in two days, what it takes the rest of the country five days to do. Congratulations, you're the prototype. The rest of the country is going to start following your example. I'm gonna have the other facilities start training in pairs like this. I'm fearful, not only the recent attack by the House of Lycons and the Lycans, but also the fallout from the exposure to our world. I'm afraid it will give Hunters a license to kill.

"That's the main reason for the change. I want enough guards that we can fight an all-out war if it comes to it. What did you find out, by the way?" Marie filled her in on what little we'd discovered and finished by saying, "We're still waiting to hear about our captive. Last we heard, he was still in a coma. They were trying to stabilize him without getting his full power back."
"Very well. Let me know what you find out. I'm afraid that, in other attacks across the country, we didn't have any survivors. Your prisoner is the only chance we have to find out why they did this. Now, I need to get home. Hopefully, I'll hear from you soon."
"Of course, Majesty."
"Yes, your Majesty." She turned to leave, then turned back. "The doctors will see you on Thursday." And with that, she left. Marie and I stared at each other for a moment in shock. We had been expecting weeks, even months before we could get an appointment. But to get one in three days was unheard of. Either Erin had arranged it, or there had been a cancelation in their schedule. Likely, she had arranged a cancelation. Marie and I embraced with all our strength. In three days, she would conceive my child. But, twins run in my family, so we had, roughly, a forty percent chance that we'd have twins. Unless there were twins on her side, in which case, our odds would go up to around seventy-five percent. So I asked her about it. "I don't think so. We get home, I'll call my parents. They should know."
"Yeah. Speaking of home, let's go. It's been a long day."

After class on Tuesday, we went shopping for supplies for the baby. As far as Marie's parents knew, there were no twins anywhere in their families, but we stocked up on duplicates anyway, just in case. We could always get rid of the extra, or keep it for another child, whichever we decided. We also got what we needed to childproof a home and Marie started looking through the ads for a home. She pointed out a three-story, five-bed, two-bath, central air, and a finished basement. "Sounds good. If you want it, go for it." So she made the call. He wanted to see us on Thursday, but that was the day of our appointment, so we decided to check it out on Saturday. So after class on Thursday, we went to see the doctors and, on Saturday, we went to check out the house Marie had called about. We closed on it two months later and let the loft go back up for rent. Then, one bright day in October, Marie went into labor and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Over the next few years, we had four kids: two were twins; a boy, a girl, and twin girls. Forty-three years after we met, Marie's father passed away, followed seven months later by her mother. About a week after her death, we found that Marie's parents had left us their house, so we arranged to have trainers take our place and we returned home. Back to the place where my wife was born.