Vampires, the New Endangered Species

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Chapter 11 A New Life

When Emily looked up from her book as she sat at the shop’s counter on a rainy Saturday afternoon, she was surprised to see the mailman pushing in a dolly with several boxes on it, “Good day Mrs. Emily, staying dry?”

“Hey Bert, yeah, do you want some tea to warm up your bones?” She was already pouring him a tall one in a to-go cup from the coffee bar that was closed on Saturdays, but Emily always had a pot of tea on hand.

“Oh yeah, that would be delightful dear! So it seems you had a good time in The States? Awful lot of boxes here!” He put the boxes behind the counter then pulled his dolly free. “How long were you two gone?”

She handed him the cup then went to sign the little computer he set on the counter for her as he helped himself to the sugar and cream on the copper counter of the bar. “We were gone from mid November to the third of January, we decided to spend the New Year there with my family since we took a longer honeymoon. Did you and your family have a nice holiday?”

Bert sipped the hot tea, “Sure did, I’m a grandpa for the fifth time now. My youngest girl had a fat baby boy the day after Christmas, what a great gift that was!” He took the computer and slid it under his arm holding the dolly, then took his tea and held it up, “Thanks much, this hits the spot, what do I owe you for it?”

Emily just shook her head, “Nothing at all Bert, thanks for bringing all this in. And congratulations on your new grandson!”

She walked him to the door and held it for him so he didn’t have to let go of the warm cup in his cold hand, “Stay warm and dry out there!”

“Cheery-O Mrs. Emily, see you on Monday!” Bert then put his dolly into his little mail van and headed on his way.

Emily stayed in the open doorway looking out onto the street, now her street. She really loved it here, the town was quaint and small but there were still the modern conveniences on the other side of town going towards London. She closed the door then started to unpack the top box that was shipped here from her parent’s house. This box had the china in it that one of her mom’s friends had given them, she just moved that box to the counter, she had no idea what she was going to do with the lovely white square set though. The next box had some clothes that she bought in the desert along with some of the other gifts from the wedding. She took out the picture frame her brother had given them; she turned it on and looked at the twenty pictures they downloaded after they got back from their drive up from Vegas.

After setting that down on the counter so she could look at the pictures again as they slowly scrolled by, she ripped open the third box in the stack. This one was heavier and had some books Marcus found in San Francisco as well as more clothes and a photo album her Aunt Sally had made for her. Sally had been into the scrapbooking craze for years and this book was so beautifully done that Emily couldn’t scoff at it as being a silly hobby like she used to. There were already some pictures in it from the wedding ceremony, modern printers were so great she thought, no need to wait a week to get them back from the developer anymore.

As she flipped through the book Marcus walked up, “Hey, what’cha got there?”

Tilting her head up for a kiss that he quickly delivered, he looked over her shoulder and smiled, “That was fun,” he looked at the picture that he took from the top of the Eifel tower on the Vegas strip. It was a picture of the strip below as he held the camera over the edge, Emily was clinging to the railing behind him as if she was going to be thrown over the edge at any moment.

“Yeah, lots of fun, I was so terrified, I cannot believe you made me go up there!” She started to laugh before she even finished.

Made you go up there? You were dying to go to the top of it. At least you were until we got into the elevator. Made you… pfft!” He laughed also then looked at the rest of the pictures in the half filled album with her. “So anyway, before I got distracted I came up here for a reason, I saw these in a catalog I was going through and was wondering if you wanted to get them?” He showed her the page he had the book open to and circled on the large, glossy paper were greeting cards. Emily leaned in to look at them closer, they were blank on the outside, but they were a creamy white with a pearlescent stripe along the bottom with a small yellow rose in one corner, “Oh Marcus they would be perfect for thank you cards wouldn’t they?”

“I thought so. We can get them then take them to the printers and have a message printed inside them, then you can hand write personal notes as you see fit.”

“Yes, definitely, how many can we order?” She looked at the quantities that were listed under the description, “you better get the box for 150. There were a lot of people that weren’t there but sent us cards and such that we should thank.”

“Great, I’ll order them today. Did we just get these boxes in the mail today?” Marcus started to pick up the box of china to put away when he noticed an envelope addressed to him under it, “What’s this?”

Emily looked over to the envelope he had in his hand, “I don’t know, I must have missed it, Bert must have just set it there while we were talking then I just started in on the boxes. Who’s it from?”

Marcus looked at the handwriting on the envelope with his name on it, there was no return address and it was post marked from Italy, he held his breath as he opened the envelope. Inside was a card that was on plain white paper with a blank cover, when he opened the card he almost fell over. Emily quickly looked over his arm to read the card. The handwriting was very eloquent and old fashioned looking, it read:

Marcus,

I heard of your marriage to a Miss. Cook, I send you and your new bride my congratulations. Of course I am startled that you have even been living with the Beaters for so many years, but am shocked that you would marry one. What are your intentions with her pray tell? Not my business I know, but it fascinates me to no ends of course. I have seen that you have been taking care of the Villa so well, thank you. I went in but had to make a quick retreat since a young woman entered with cleaning supplies. I would like to ask you to call them off for a month or so, so I can stay here for a time. My travels and work have taken me all over the world ten times around and I am weary and needing to be somewhere familiar and safe for a bit. I do hope that you and your bride were not planning on staying here for the spring. I will be in touch if need be.

Thank you.

S.

Marcus suddenly sat down in the chair behind him, “Well bloody hell. Wow.” He just stared at the card in his hand and Emily sat on the stool behind the counter, “So… Sebastian? What’s he doing back after all this time? And what the hell are ‘Beaters’?”

Marcus didn’t answer her questions for a moment, he was going through the entire message in his mind, why did he say that he needed somewhere safe? And what work was he doing now? He snapped out of his own thoughts and answered a patiently waiting Emily, “That’s what a lot of my kind call humans, because their heart beats.”

“Well we know how stupid of a name that is now! What do you think he will say of the lab now? Oh God Marcus will he be mad at what we did there? I know it’s been your house for a long time, but it’s still sort of his right?” Emily was actually very excited, she wanted to meet Sebastian very much, but Marcus didn’t look very happy about the note at all so she held her tongue and excitement.

Slowly he shook his head, “This is just too strange Em, something’s wrong, I can feel it but I just don’t know what.” Looking up at her he furrowed his brow, “I don’t want you in any danger at all, we’ll stay close to home until I can get in touch with him and see what he’s up to.” Without another word he stood up and went to his office to call the cleaning crew in Italy and let them know that he was having a business partner stay there for a while and he will call them when they can go in and clean.

He also let the post office know as well as Officer Pulitano who kept an eye on the place for him. He surely didn’t want the police stopping and questioning Sebastian for any reason. Once those tasks were complete he leaned back in his office chair and looked at the card sitting in front of him, what the hell was that man up to now he thought. After a moment he decided to call the Villa, the answering machine came on that had the generic computerized woman’s voice for a greeting; after the beep he simply said, “I got your card, thank you. Call me here at the shop when you can.”

When Emily came in carrying two of the boxes he just turned to watch her, she went back out, then came in with the last two boxes and set them down next to the others in the back of the office by the door that led up to their house above. She sat on the couch and looked at her husband, her face turned into a frown as she watched him looking towards her but focused on nothing at all. The light finally came on in his eyes and then he looked at her, “Sorry. I haven’t heard from Sebastian, in, shit I cannot remember how long, a hundred years or so maybe?” He ran his fingers through his hair and sighed heavily.

“So? Was he that terrible of a man that wrecked havoc everywhere he went? Why are you so scared, or worried, about him contacting you?”

“Well for one reason only, he said that he had been working and that he needed somewhere safe to be. Knowing the kind of trouble that he could find, that means a lot to me. He must have read the newspaper and saw our announcement in it. Of course I would still be here; he must have known that I’ve been here for years. And it’s not him per se, it’s what could be following in his wake that worries me.” Marcus stood up suddenly, “Well, enough of this, is it closing time yet?” He looked over to the clock on the wall, it was only one, and the shop didn’t close until three on Saturdays. “Nope, not yet, well let’s get this stuff put away then shall we?”

Emily just looked at him with awe, “Uh, okay.” She went over to the boxes with him and started to take out her clothes to bring upstairs. The books that Marcus gathered were for them personally, but there were some books that were old that he wanted to fix up and sell in the shop, so those he set down on his desk.

As they separated the items the door chimed and Emily went up front to help whoever walked in. Marcus stayed in the back and finished rummaging through the boxes and brought most of it upstairs. The clothes he put into the laundry room, then put the china into the buffet in the dining room. There wasn’t much room in there since there was already a set of china that was Alex’s. He couldn’t part with them, and they were beautiful enough to display, but they wouldn’t go with the décor of the house now. Granted they didn’t go with the décor before either he thought.

Once everything was put away he went back to the office and broke down the boxes and kept the bubble wrap, they were perfect for shipping things in from here. Emily was up front with the few customers that had hurried in while the storm outside took a break from the thrashing rain and wind. Glancing at the clock again he saw that there was only thirty more minutes until they closed up, he didn’t know what to do with himself suddenly so he cleaned up his office space and started to look at the two books that he wanted to repair. When Emily walked in he looked up and realized that he hadn’t even touched the books, then he noticed that the lights in the room that Emily emerged from were all dark. “Done already?”

“Yep, now let’s get you upstairs and into a nice, hot bath, you look as though you need it,” she took her man’s hand and they went up to their home. He obeyed as they went upstairs and she started the water in the tub to the scalding temperature he loved. Once he was undressed he got in and sunk down to his nose, he loved how the tub was huge enough for him to almost stretch completely out.

Quietly Emily went out and started to root around for what to make for dinner. There was still time for her to defrost some meat, so she took a chicken breast out of the freezer and put it in the sink with some cold water. It was too early for wine she thought, then said the hell with it and poured herself a glass anyway. Taking it into the office along with the scrapbook, she turned the computer on and started to go through the pictures from the weddings and their honeymoon. There was a picture in there from the Grand Canyon that was so breathtaking, she printed that one out and while she waited she thought back to that day.

It was so nice and sunny out, a usual gorgeous day for most people, but Marcus was nervous so they tried to stay in the shade as much as possible and avoid anyone that he heard come near. Emily was understanding but slightly annoyed about it, she wished they could do normal things like sunbathe and such. But they made it through the day with no drama until they got back to the park where they were camping. The picture was taken at one of those risky moments and she caught the backside of Marcus standing in front of the Canyon with the sun hitting his back.

Later that day, Marcus was building a fire and she was inside fixing dinner when a fight broke out at the campsite next to theirs. Two men who obviously had been drinking all day were in fisticuffs near their own roaring bonfire. Emily was nervous about one of them falling into the flames and was appalled that their wives, or the whores for the night, were cheering them on and not helping. Emily started to go to the site mangers camper and almost made it until one of the women saw her and cut her off. She started to yell at Emily and told her to mind her own business, of course being the defiant one she could be, Emily started to yell back stating that it was her business as well as the other people all around that had to witness the “Pure white trash of America!”

The woman took a slap at Emily and it caught her on the cheek. Emily, never having been in a fight before except with her brother, was shocked at first at what had even happened. Then the fury hit her all at once, as she balled up her fist she thought of all the people over her life that had ridiculed her for being a nerd, or a dork and made fun of her for her intelligence. Emily raised her right hand and swung with all her might at the mouth in front of her that was already missing three teeth. Before she knew it Marcus had her around the waist and was pulling her back towards their camper, the woman was flat on her back on the ground.

Marcus tossed Emily into the camper and closed and locked the door, he spun around on her and started to laugh hysterically. Emily thought for sure he was going to be appalled at her for hitting someone; she was starting to feel that way about herself. He was eventually able to gag out, “Oh my gosh Em, one minute I was looking at these two blokes knocking each other senseless, then I see little old you laying that woman out like a pro boxer. Steve taught you well!”

Now, Emily started to chuckle as she watched the picture pop out onto the tray next to her, she involuntarily rubbed her knuckles and remembered how much they hurt the next day after hitting the woman, she didn’t realize punching someone could hurt so bad. She went through the rest of the pictures and printed out the ones for the scrapbooking album, then started to cut them with the neat patterned scissors that Sally had given her. There were three pairs, one cut wavy lines, one cut zigzags and another even cut a more intricate design on the pictures. As she was gluing them onto the pretty pages she heard Marcus come into the room. She looked up at him when he sat down in the chair in the corner, “Do you feel better?”

“Much, thanks. Come here Mrs. Fitzgerald,” he patted his knee and she put down the picture she was trimming and sat down on his lap. Once she was snuggled into his chest he purred, “You are the best ever, I’m so happy that you’re my wife.” He just held her and looked into her eyes. She didn’t say anything and just returned his gaze. Emily felt that she was living in a dream some days, her life was so different and not at all what she thought it would ever be. Almost two years ago she came here expecting to finish school, then go back and get a job in California or something. But here she was, married to the most gorgeous and wealthy man she had ever met, she not only has her degree but owns one of the most profitable book stores’ south of London and lives in the most splendid house she could have imagined. She lightly kissed him and he returned it.

Then he pulled back, “Oh geez, I can’t believe I forgot. I’ll be right back!”

He stood up and she had no choice but to stand as well and ask, “What is it?”

Marcus gave her his mischievous grin, “You’ll see, finish what you’re doing.” Then he went out the door. Emily went back to her task on the floor and looked up when she thought she heard the garage door opening, “What the hell is that man doing now?” she said to the faces on the floor in front of her.

After thirty minutes she was putting the last picture in its place when Marcus came home. Emily got up and went into the kitchen to see what he had for her now. The first thought that went through her mind as she entered the bright space was, Now why is he standing there like that? The next thought that hit her, What is that noise? Is that a… motor…? Emily then took another step towards him and saw inside his two huge cupped hands two little, grey ears sticking up over his fingers.

Marcus looked from Emily to the itty bitty bundle and said so sweetly it melted her heart, “Kitty, this is Momma,” and with his toothy grin he looked back to Emily.

Then to her astonishment, the eyes of that tiny little head poked up, and in a very proud and loud kitten voice, she heard, “Meeoww”. It was so squeaky Emily let out a short laugh and was instantly picking the kitten up gingerly from Marcus’ nest like hands. Emily turned it over on his back and to her delight, the little boy kitty started to purr loudly and chattered to her as she tickled his tummy. Emily looked up to Marcus, and she laughed again when she saw the look on his face; it was full of wonder, love and excitement, like a boy getting a pet on his birthday for the first time. And in a way, it was. “Oh Marcus, he’s so adorable, thank you! I actually got so caught up in being back that I spaced it too. Guess my birthday is close enough. What should we name him?”

Marcus started to scratch the splayed out tummy in Emily’s hands, “I don’t know. We’ll have to see his personality tonight or so, see what fits him. What do you think?”

“Perfect,” was all she said, when he looked to her she was looking at him and not the cat.

They took Kitty into the living room and put him on the floor so he could wander around. As soon as he got to the bookshelf Marcus scooped him up, “I think we need to cat-proof the house before you start tearing off into the wild blue yonder little one.” Kitty was wide awake now after his adventure into his new home from the box at the grocery store and started to play with Marcus’ fingers as he was carried back to the safety of the rug with Emily. She kept him occupied with her fingers, then the light reflecting off her watch. Marcus walked over from the other room and Kitty ran into the crook of Emily’s arm for safety, “Oh I’m sorry baby, I didn’t mean to scare you,” Marcus gently lay down on the carpet and waved a toy in front of his little eyes. Kitty quickly jumped away from Emily and pounced onto the pink mouse. Marcus kissed Emily’s knee then quietly backed up and retrieved the bag of groceries that he bought for the new addition to the family. As Emily played with the ridiculous amount of toys that Marcus bought for the eight week baby, he set the litter box in the laundry room, then a smaller one in their bathroom, because of course Kitty would be sleeping in the bed with them, and put a cat house in the living room and three window hammocks in the sunniest rooms. She laughed as he was flittering about the house, not only for the fact that he was so darn cute making a fuss over a kitten, but that he was moving so naturally.

When they first met, and after she had gotten to learn his ways, he seemed like he was always thinking about every small move he made, every detail of everything. He was there in the conversations and such, but there was always another part of him that was observing everything. But now that they were in his home, which was now exactly that, his home, he was moving pretty quickly, but still aware of moving slower when he was near Kitty so he didn’t give the little thing a fright.

Emily was suddenly so happy that Marcus has a normal life now, this is what he has always wanted, since he was twenty-seven years old, twenty-seven from over 200 years ago. Not aware that she was being emotional, Kitty suddenly patted her face, he was catching a tear that rolled down her cheek. Reflexively, Emily pulled her face back and made him jump, then it dawned on her that he didn’t use his claws at all, he was so gentle. “I’m sorry sweetie, I’m sorry,” Emily lowered her head towards him and hummed softly. Kitty started to purr back and he touched his nose to hers and started to rub her and look for more loving, he was done with playing for the moment.

Obliging, she picked him up and cradled him into her arms and she walked him over to his new little house, and scratching post. He jumped into the little hole and seemed very happy with his new place. Marcus picked some of the toys up from the floor and put them inside the cave then followed Emily to the window bed and when she set Kitty down, Marcus put a small toy next to him. They made their way around the house and ended at the laundry room. Here Marcus was at a loss as how to make an animal poop in a box, so Emily told him what to do. He laughed at the thought of her having a friend that has a cat that uses the toilet. “He doesn’t flush mind you, but at least it’s easier. But we’ll stick to the conventional box.”

Once Kitty got the grand tour he was ready to eat then hit the sack. Emily put him down at the set up Marcus made in the kitchen. There was a little green and white mat with two stainless steel bowls in a wrought iron stand over in the corner by the table. He already had the soft kitten food in a bowl and fresh water in the other. As Kitty ate and sniffed around Emily made her dinner and Marcus continued about the house blocking up areas where the cat might get stuck, or put things out of his reach that he might tear up. He almost wanted to put up the books but Emily told him that they will train him to be gentle with books; he would have to be since he’s going to be down in the shop with them all day anyway. So instead of rearranging half the house, he moved a plant here or there, or got little pieces of trimming left over from the remodel and barricaded and sectioned off places where there were little gaps. He decided to just close the doors to the office and bathroom down here, then they would close him up in their room at night so he couldn’t roam around all night and get into trouble.

Once Marcus’ inspections were done of their bed and bath rooms he went back into the kitchen to see what was going on. As he trotted down the stairs he slowed his pace as a thought hit him like a ton of bricks, This is my house and now my family in it. After all these years… Part of him felt guilty, but another part felt prideful and happy that he had his family’s house. He always wanted it, ever since he saw Alex here for the first time so many years ago. Marcus wished he had seen it when his father first bought it, but that was the year ‘after his death’. He wondered who lived here before his brother did, how many families have these walls seen?

As he crossed into the kitchen to see the new family that resided now within these wise walls, his elation was complete. There was the most beautiful woman, his wife, in his house, the setting sun was shining through the window and made Emily look as though she were glowing, like an angel painted on an ancient chapel wall. Her smile shook him and he looked down to the little grey bundle rubbing in between his feet and standing on his back legs to stretch as far as possible to tap on Marcus shin for attention.

“You are just too damn cute!” He gathered Kitty up and just held him in the palm of his hand and walked over to Emily and proclaimed in a grand fashion, “Wife, I would like to take you upstairs and make love to you.” He then grabbed her hand in his free one and started walking out of the kitchen.

Emily just started laughing boisterously at his silly attempt of an old Western Cowboy accent, and the way he was just so straight forward; romantic he was, straight forward in this regard, he was not. “Yes Sir!” she snapped seriously through her giggles and followed obediently.

Kitty was shown the litter box up there again, and then was ignored for the rest of the night. Luckily he was so tired with a full belly and he loved his new bed, with his daddy’s shirt in it; he slept soundly for the entire night.

Emily woke up the next morning to a repetitive high pitched sound. As soon as her ears woke up, the rest of her sprang up, my baby, was her first thought as she sat upright and looked down at the floor. There was her little boy, sitting at the side of her bed meowing for attention. Emily bent down and picked his little fluffy grey body up onto the bed. She let him drop a few inches from her hand straight down onto the fluffy feather comforter above her lap. He landed with a thud and started to purr instantly. He wandered over the bed and sniffed around, Emily watched him, waiting for the squatting position at any moment. None came, to her utter joy, and he sauntered back over to her lap and sat down, looking right at her. Emily giggled, “Well good morning, Kitty.” He gave a little squeak back and proceeded to clean his little paw.

As he licked Emily scratched his fuzzy little head with the big ears, he obviously needed to grow into those baby’s! What Emily didn’t notice last night was that the little white spot on his chest, the only white spot on his entire body, was a perfect heart when Emily smoothed it down from petting him. Instantly cute little names for him started flowing through her mind; Romeo, Cupie, Valentine even, but none of them seemed to fit though. Deciding she was ready to get up, Emily gathered her baby boy into her arms and carried him down the long, huge steps that he was too little to conquer. Just as she was entering the kitchen, so was Marcus through the back door.

He seemed sort of startled when he looked up upon entering the doorway, “Oh, hi Doll, hello Kitty,” he cooed and kissed Emily’s lips and the kittens head. “I was just getting the paper, I didn’t leave the room that long ago, I must have woken him up when I left, sorry he woke you. I should have taken him with me but he was sleeping so sound in his bed I didn’t want to wake him.”

Emily deposited him into Marcus’ willing hands and she started spooning her tea leaves into the kettle’s built in strainer. After the kettle was placed on the hot burner she got her favorite mug down from the cupboard then leaned against the counter to wake up fully. As she was zoning out into space a little noise from behind her snapped her back into reality and her eyes focused on the tin of tea in front of her that she was apparently gazing at. It was such a pretty shade of grey, she first thought of which room in the house would look good that color, then she tried to figure out why the color looked similar to something she had. As she was visually scanning her closet, her gaze went over to Marcus playing with Kitten on his knees; then it hit her, Kitten was that color. Emily looked from Kitten to can a few times, then it hit her, “Earl.”

Marcus looked up from the tiny paws he was tenderly holding between his fingertips, “What?”

“Earl. He’s the color of this Earl Grey tea box,” Emily picked up the can and walked over to the stretched out back to compare the can to the patch of fur that was not much longer than the can. “His name will be Earl, what do you think?”

Not sure who she was talking to, Marcus looked at Kitty, “Well boy, do you like Earl?” As if in answer Kitty looked up and gave a big meow, then looked over his shoulder to the face above the box, and released another meow. Marcus looked at Emily, “Yep, that settles it, we all love Earl!”

“I knew it would just happen, it always does that way.” Emily put the can back into the cupboard next to the stove then sat down next to Marcus so she could play too. In silence the three sat in the quiet kitchen and tickled, rubbed, pet and kissed the sweet little thing that suddenly entered into their lives.

“How many pets have you had Em?”

“Well, Mitz, she got her name by her paws, that one was obviously a choice of a teenager. Scruff because he was, well, a scruffy little thing for the longest time. His hair was always going every which way no matter how we brushed it, and he was so skinny. Then in Texas we had a dog named Boo. He was a Chocolate Lab, I loved that dog so much. We gave him to a neighbor friend when we moved; she wrote to us over the years with how he was doing. But I think he was a gift when Steve was little, right before I was born maybe. My mom told me something about when he came out of the box, it scared Steve at first. Boo looked like a huge Jack-in-the-Box popping up from the box startling a year old boy going to look into the box. She laughed still as she told the story.” Thinking of the mental picture of anything scaring her brother always made her laugh anyway, but Marcus could envision it and silently chuckled to himself at the visual. She continued after her mental thought, “Then there was Thor, he was a hunting dog that my dad had.”

Marcus told her that he was told of the marvelous Thor on his hunting trip so there was no need for her to elaborate on that dog any further. “Well I think Earl is perfect for him, good job babe.”

“No sweat. It’s just amazing that anything can come from me that’s productive this early in the morning.” Pouring her tea, she grabbed sections of the paper and headed out into the living room. She got into her best spot on the couch and put the afghan over her legs and the paper on the floor at her reach. In moments Earl was on her lap and Marcus was at his place in the center of the couch under her legs with his sections of the paper at the far end of the couch where Emily’s legs ended. He had his big bare feet on the coffee table and started to read the Business pages. He always read the local news last, the world news as a whole seemed more realistic than just his small piece of land. As the Italian business stock’s numbers flitted past his eyes, his mind wandered to the letter he received yesterday. Right when he was pondering when and if Sebastian would return his call, Earl actually startled him.

“Oh shit!” he flinched as the cat in his lap went from resting to attacking a corner of the paper that had fallen into his reach. It ended up setting off a chain reaction that startled Emily and made her jump which in turn spilt just a little of her tea, thus creating Earl to get a miniscule amount liquid upon his delicate form making him leap from the heights of the couch onto the coffee table and therefore stabbing Marcus’ bare feet.

After Emily made sure the tea was dry enough with the tissues that were handy she looked from a snickering Marcus to a proud kitten standing at his feet.

“Now you can tell when a man, or even a child boasts about himself, but this is ridiculous! Look at that little boy stick his chest out at being a big kitty! You jumped far huh little man?” Emily held out her hand and he came strutting on over to her and rubbed his head along the knuckles of her outstretched hand. Emily looked over her shoulder towards Marcus, “What were you thinking about that made you jump like that?”

“I was thinking about the note from Sebastian then Earl attacked the paper. I was in my La-la Land obviously. Sorry you spilt your tea, do you need me to get you more?”

“I’m fine, thanks. Has he called you back yet?” Emily traded her mug for Earl and leaned back onto the couch, “Will you call him again or go and see him?”

Marcus was amazed, he never even thought of it, “Actually that never came to mind, to see him that is. If I don’t hear from him I’ll call back in a month or so. You need to remember that a month to us is like a week sometimes. And seeing as how Sebastian is over 550 years or so, he could sit still for a year and not even realize the day had passed from when he sat down to a thought. Once I left him for four months. When I came back I literally had to clean the dust on the floor and his desk. He never got up from his chair; there were papers all over the top and spilling over to the other side.” Marcus paused, then continued, “But I hate to admit it, I was hoping for a call by now from him. If he wasn’t there when I left the message, or in the vicinity to hear it, then he might not ever even know where to look for the answering machine. So he’ll call when he wants to, or I’ll try again later. I need to let it go I think. It’s just odd that it’s now that he decides to come back. He could have come back thirty years ago when I was here bored to death rotting away in a book-hole. But he decides to come back when I don’t want him or need him around right now. I like my little perfect world and I don’t want it spoiled.”

Emily could understand completely, she didn’t want anything changing one bit either, she loved her life. “Well then we’ll just be normal and do what we do, if he wants to be a part of your life now, then he’ll just have to revolve around your life, not the other way around. Besides, you can take him if you have to,” she gently slapped his bicep which was nice and strong but not large and intimidating looking by any means. “He didn’t write to you to mess things up, his letter was actually very vague and mysterious if you really want to look at the meaning behind it.”

“You’ve been hanging around Julia too much, I’m sure you can name most of the aspects of the psyche can’t you? But anyway, it was lacking in detail wasn’t it? It was based on me letting him use the house and to make the arrangements for his arrival, I thought it was odd that he felt put-out in a way on having to make a quick retreat though.” Marcus paused to think about the letter again, “Also how he showed shock of my living habits as well, like his have been ethereal? You’re going to be meeting this man so I should probably tell you more about Sebastian and his, psyche.” Marcus turned more towards Emily so he could look at her straightforward when he spoke, “He is very selfish by nature. It’s all about what he wants and what he wants to do. So to hear you say that he has to revolve around my life now… well that makes me laugh and cringe. You see, when Sebastian was a boy he was an only child, from a very wealthy family. Now imagine that boy grown up into an intelligent scientist that’s centuries old…” his facial gesture was of questioning the obvious.

“Sebastian also is somewhat of a “Know-it-All” as well,” Marcus used air quotes with his fingers when he spoke, then returned his hands to tiny Earl, “Obviously he really does know quite a bit, and I can only imagine him now with the capacity of the information in this day and century. So be prepared to be challenged on any and most, of your opinions and thoughts. I would actually love to get him and Julia in a room alone for three hours,” he silently snickered and continued, “Now I also have no idea where he’s been since,” he tugged at his lower lip as he tried to think of the time span, “I think Morty Jr. was a baby the last time I actually knew of his whereabouts, so… who knows? He will love you that’s for sure, he likes women that are tiny, makes him feel bigger. Height wise, he’s about five-nine or so. Back in his day he was average to tall, but now it’s average to short for a man, I’m about normal now instead of being Gigantor like I was back in my day.” He lifted a long leg straight up to accentuate his point. A leg upon which a little kitten just happened to be traversing across.

Earl stuck his nails out into Marcus’ leg to hold on and he froze upon the knee where he happened to be bridging. The leg log slowly moved down, then up again and the needle-like kitten claws stuck in a little further, making Marcus laugh a little more. Earl then slowly crossed the remainder of the bridge over to the table with his nails keeping a good grip so he didn’t slip over the edge to the soft rug so far below. As soon as he was out of harm’s way Earl jumped onto the dark wooden table as a safe haven. After a strut around his new found territory he sauntered over to the large foot and rubbed his cheek along the biggest toe there, wanting love as well as marking his claim.

Marcus continued, “Back to what I was saying, Sebastian is a good man, a smart man and a very intriguing man. He’ll let you know only as much as he thinks you should know, but if he likes you and wants to share, you could learn a world about a certain subject. If you do get to that level, well, be cautious around medical subjects, he’ll go way too far spewing off the Latin terminology of what certain body parts are called and the plethora of things that are in any way connected with them. But ask all that you want to know, he’s a walking library. I just wish I had his memory though. He remembers everything he has ever read or written. He said that he taught himself that over the years so he didn’t have to carry around books and books of his written research. It was hard to just hop into a boat, or walk for miles on end with a trunk full of his findings. So he would read and write as he was in a place, then leave it there for the people, or would burn it if it wasn’t anything worth sharing or able to share. “

Emily made a scoffing sound, “How I wish I had that ability, if I could remember every cook book I’ve flipped through, oh man that would be cool!”

He snickered in response, “Getting hungry my dear?” Rubbing her leg he finished, “But who knows when he’ll decide to call? We’ll do as you suggested, just move on, when he calls he calls. One way or the other I’ll get another note saying that he’s left the country again and to have the Villa cleaned,” he shrugged his shoulders, “So, what do you want for breakfast, waffles and fresh strawberries with banana’s?”

“Yummy, sounds great, I am way too blessed to deserve a hunk that can cook like a God, Athena loves me!” Emily looked faithfully to the ceiling in thankfulness.

Marcus gently pushed her feet to the side so he could get up but then just let them fall onto the couch, “I aim to please My Lady,” and made a mocking bow as he left the room.

Emily just laughed, put Earl onto the ground and went to get her second cup of tea. After she smacked the luscious butt leaning on the fridge Emily went upstairs to get dressed. When she was on the third step she heard a funny thumping noise, there was a little grey ball suddenly at her feet with another thump. “Oh honey, did you make it up three steps all by yourself? You’re such a strong little boy!” She picked him up and deposited him safely in the pocket of her robe so she could carry her tea and keep one hand on the banister. There was a center piece of carpet on the steps, but the steps themselves were an odd height for Emily’s untrained legs and she was afraid of falling still. As soon as she hit the top landing she picked a feisty boy from her pocket and put him on the ground. The moment his paws hit the wood he was ripping down the long hallway, curved back around and followed Emily into the master bedroom.

Her closet was a wonderland for the eyes at the six inch level. There were bags of colorful things hanging down, bright boxes to explore though, funny straps to tug at and eat, things to stick his head into, Earl was in a fun house! He raced all around as Emily got out jeans from the built in cabinets at the far end, and a sweater from one of the top shelves within her reach. As she pulled the wool over her head the scent of home came to her. Getting her vision back, she realized this was a sweater she hadn’t worn in a long time; it got packed this last trip along with more of her clothes that she left behind when she was packing for school.

In July she will have been here for two years. That was only four months away, shocked that the time had gone by so fast, but then again it seemed that she had been here forever for everything that happened in such a short span. Especially thinking of how long Sebastian has been around it boggled her mind how two, or even five years, was nothing. “Come on Earl, where are you little man?” Emily could hear the rustling and playful mewing, but there was no kitty to go with the noise. Finally finding him half way inside a shoe box ripping the tissue to threads, she carefully pulled him away from the fight and held him in her hands, “You are gon’na be a troublemaker, I can see it comin’! Now let’s get some breakfast into your belly little one,” Emily picked up her almost empty mug and headed down the flight of steps.

The sun poked its head out from the morning clouds and hit Emily on the right side of her face. Instinctively she closed her eyes as she turned her smiling face straight towards the bright ray coming in through the shop window. It was so nice to see and feel the sun finally. She was hoping now that April was mid way through, spring would decide join them. After inhaling as if she could fill her lungs with the warm, precious light, she opened her eyes and returned her attention to the books she was stocking.

After Emily put a few more of the tagged books away into the Arts and Entertainment section she turned to make sure Earl wasn’t getting into anything. Just as she had hoped, he loved being in the store. He was still quarantined to the back area and the office, where another small covered litter box was hidden, she didn’t want the front door looking too exciting to Earl just yet. He was right where she left him, in the box with the wrapping paper where the books had come from. At least there was one surefire way to keep him entertained for hours on end.

Emily reached into the box for the last two books when Marcus was suddenly at her side holding on to her as if she were about to fall off a cliff, “What’s wrong, what’s gotten into you?” She sort of laughed but his face was set rigid. The next thing she heard was the front door chime. It was Tuesday so Suzanne and Chris were up front. She heard Sue greet someone, then a very deep voice replied almost melodically, “Is Mr. Fitzgerald in by chance?” Emily looked over to Marcus, his face was void of all color by this point. Emily leaned over a little so she could see up the aisle to the front door. There was a man dressed in black slacks, black dress shirt buttoned almost the entire way up his neck and a floor length trench coat over his shoulders. The hair around his nice face was stark white, when he turned his head she saw that it was long and pulled back into a ponytail. Sue told him that she would fetch Marcus, and then was by his and Emily’s side quickly.

“Oh Marcus, there you are. There’s a nice gentleman up front for you, he seems very businesslike.” Sue gave Emily a raised brow and turned on her heel back to the front, “He’ll be right with you sir. Can I get you some tea or coffee while you wait?”

“No thank you. I appreciate your hospitality young lady,” he gave her a small bow and Sue slightly blushed at the handsome man paying attention to her. Before she could say anything in reply Marcus was walking towards them.

“Sebastian, good day,” Marcus held his hand out for the guest to shake and he did so enthusiastically.

“It’s so good to see you after so many years.” Sebastian was truly happy to see his old friend again. Of all their species he had surround himself with over the years, Marcus was truly his favorite.

Marcus relaxed a little after the warm greeting Sebastian had given him. Sadly he thought he might have given Emily the wrong idea about his old companion, Sebastian was a good man and he could be delightful to be around. “Come, come into my office so we can be comfortable. Thank you Suzanne,” Marcus smiled at her then led Sebastian through the store. Along the way he pointed to certain sections and books in the antique section.

One of the books Sebastian was quick to notice on the top shelf, “You still have that one?” He pointed to a book that was no larger than four inches in height, it was a book in Latin of love poems. “I haven’t thought of that book for years.”

Marcus was smiling remembering the day he got it when Emily walked up to interrupt his thoughts. Sebastian instantly turned his attention from upwards at the book, to down towards the gem that came into sight. Marcus looked at Emily and at the way she was being gazed upon, “Sebastian, this is my wife Emily. Emily, this is the infamous Sebastian.”

Emily held out her hand for him shake, “Hello, nice to meet you.”

He courteously shook it, “How do you do madam? Congratulations on your marriage to this fine man,” he looked over to Marcus and released her hand knowing that he would offend Marcus if he held on to it any longer.

She led the way into the office and offered him one of the two recliners on one side of the table in there. She herself sat on the couch where she was closest to the door so she could help out in the shop if she was needed. Marcus took his place next to Emily and gathered her hand into his after he was settled, “So, I’m surprised to see you, it’s been a couple of months since your note. How is the Villa?”

“Splendid, and that’s precisely why I’m here. First of all, where are my paintings and such, there are a couple I was looking for?”

Marcus knew how Sebastian just got right to the point of the matter, he wasn’t into formalities all too much, “They are in a secured storage facility, I will take you there with a truck to gather everything you want.”

“Perfect. Next, the lab. Good Hades man what have you been doing in there?” His voice rose a pitch and Emily flinched, then she realized that it wasn’t anger she was hearing, it was elation.

“I read through the book you started, my word you both have discovered something that will put the Vamp world on it’s ear! This is so exciting, I really must know more of what you found. I read the computer readings of the results, quite fascinating, quite fascinating!” By now the man was pacing back and forth beside the long work table that was also Marcus’ desk. Sebastian wasn’t looking at anything on the expanse of surface though, he was lost in a world of his own thoughts.

Marcus squeezed Emily’s hand and when she looked at him he smiled and winked, “See, told you.” Emily smiled in return and was happy to see Marcus’ worries and fears dissolved and the joy in seeing not only an old friend and confidant, but also another one of his kind. Knowing that, Emily took a moment to observe Sebastian, he was flipping back and forth so fast, if anyone else were to see him they would think he was running in a small circle. The scent of him as well was different. He had a sweet scent like Marcus did, but it was a different kind of sweet. More musky than fruity.

Sebastian’s voice finally caught her attention, “There are more tests that I can run that the two of you wouldn’t know about, I also have a facility with more equipment where I can run tests on more of our kind. Oh Marcus my boy, this is fantastic!” He rushed over to the young one and shook Emily’s tiny hand, “Thank you so much.” Releasing it just as quickly Sebastian then sat down in the chair with such grace and ease it was like he just magically appeared in a calm sitting position as if he never even moved.

Emily chuckled at that and Sebastian looked over at her, “What is so amusing my child?” He said it as an elder would to a little girl, which at first set her off. Then she checked herself, well, that was exactly what she was to this man, a little girl. She made her face serious but sincere, “Just that you are so energetic. And that you seem comfortable with me here. And, well I guess the fact that what he did pleases you so much.”

Marcus looked over to his wife, then to the elder and thought that this was it, the breaking point on how Sebastian will perceive Emily. Looking back to Emily then to Sebastian, he was relieved to see a smile on his face.

“Well yes it does please me very much. Now I can go back to places I have been and show many, including the Elders, how we are still much the same as to what we once were. I’ve been ridiculed too many times over the years over my findings, this will now solidify my status again.”

“Oh, so you plan on taking our work and claiming it as your own?” Emily was curious if he would actually do that or not.

“Well of course, that’s how it’s always been with us,” Sebastian looked over to Marcus and he in turn nodded his head in agreement.

Marcus turned to her, “You see Em, I don’t like the attention like Sebastian does,” he gave a smirk to accentuate his remark and Sebastian silently smiled as well knowing it was true. “So if I discover, or find, anything of importance, then he brings it around the world to try and help people. If there happens to be any royalties from the information, well he’s taken care of me one way or the other.”

Emily nodded her head, “Alright, that makes sense. How many more tests would you run?” Marcus winced, when he slightly shook his head and looked down Emily sighed to herself, Oh yeah, he warned me about this. She quickly made a retort before any sound came out of his already opened mouth, “Well what I mean is, will you have a ton of them, or just a couple, and do you have to kill anyone, of any breed, to get your results?” She figured she would be blunt and to the point as well, maybe it would keep him off the Tangent Trail.

Sebastian closed his mouth to let her finish her question, then thought about his answer for a moment before he spoke, “Well I’m not too sure how many tests, fifteen or so to start with. And of course no one needs to die, I am here to protect life, not take it. I’m sure that question comes from prior tests I have done that had, what we call, unfavorable ending results. Those I deeply regret. After Marcus took his leave for a spell I knew that I needed to take a different course in my life. When I chose to leave it was not only for my sake, but his as well,” he raised a long hand to indicate the man sitting next to her. “I went to Africa for a while to seek out some of our people to learn from, and get back to our roots so to speak. Did you know there is an entire clan of our kind living in the Lower Kingdom still? Wonderful band of people they are,” Sebastian leaned back in the chair and crossed his legs. When he pulled a pipe out of his jacket Emily was astounded, they don’t smoke she thought!

The pipe was already stuffed to the brim with a cherry scented tobacco, Emily could smell the sweetness from several feet away. But he never lit it, he took little puffs but used his nose more than his mouth. A soon as he focused on his hostess he realized this might seem odd to her, “I of course do not intake this substance, I do love the smell of the fresh tobacco, it’s quite pleasing since I cannot taste cherries very well any longer. I’m sure you have noticed your mate smelling everything he can get his hands onto lately? Tell me dear boy, have you been to one of those candle and lotion shops? Oh how wonderfully pleasing those are, I could spend all day in one!”

Now Emily really laughed out loud, “That is so funny you say that,” she turned to Marcus, “It’s really just been the last several months, but you do smell things all the time, I’ve caught you smelling Early about a thousand times already, how many baths have you given him this month?”

Being found guilty he shrugged, “Only three, it’ll hurt his skin if you bathe him too much. But it’s interesting you say that, I have noticed myself wanting scents more than anything lately.”

“As we age, we change with time like other humans. Instead of losing our hearing, sight or bowel functions, we crave different things that we cannot have. Since we cannot eat we want to smell. Mind you, you will start to try different delicacies. When I was about four or so I was in a jungle in China somewhere, well there were no deer or elk, so I had to see what was near to feed upon, and that opened a whole new world for me. Snakes tasted different from hog. The cougar…” Marcus cleared his throat and gave the ‘shut-up’ signal to Sebastian for Emily’s sake. “Oh yes, well anyway, things will taste different, but seeing as how your surroundings are much different, I will say you’ll begin wanting sushi, sashimi and steak tar-tar. For you now though it is the scent, have you already worn out all of the fabric in your home from touching everything as well?”

Marcus just nodded his head, “That was a few years ago, I thought I was going to be kicked out of a fabric store one day.” Then dramatically changing the subject he asked, “Tell me old man, how many of us are out there now?”

Sebastian liked it when Marcus called him that, it made him feel superior, “Not many dear son, not many. I have the notes back at the villa, I had everything shipped from all over so it is now all there. Ah yes, that was another thing. I need to expand the lab to put these findings in, you’ll take care of that won’t you? Of course I’ll take care of the rest of it.”

Marcus knew that he would hire the builders, but Sebastian would leave enough cash to pay for three times the amount over. “Yes of course, we’ll just add a library onto the existing work space, that way we can have the papers in a controlled environment to protect them for a while.

“Yes, splendid, splendid. What was I saying before? Oh yes, there are not many of us left to my dismay. We are so scattered about anymore, mostly in the U.S. now, Maine, Alaska and New York really; we blend in so well there. Then in Africa and Asia there are many small bands of clans. I even found some in Iceland believe it or not. But we are an endangered species, maybe only 200 or so left. When you were created dear boy there must have been at least 3,000. Sadly we have been killed off from misguided humans or the greed of our own kind.” When he stopped he saw the agape mouth of Emily, “Is it something I said my dear?”

Snapping her mouth shut she thought for a moment, “Alaska? Seriously, there are a bunch in Alaska?” Emily looked over at a surprised Marcus and then they both looked at the reporter.

“Yes, because of the lack of light in the far northern regions. We don’t get cold, so we can really move anywhere we like. But don’t worry darling, they are mostly in remote area’s taking care of the caribou and not living down town.”

There was a slight knock on the door and Emily jumped up to answer it. Suzanna was there and Emily stepped out and quietly shut the door behind her, “Everything alright?”

Suzanne looked surprised, “Yes, quite alright. It’s time to lock up and I was wondering if you wanted me to go ahead even though Marcus was still doing business?”

“He’s not business, he’s an old friend of Marcus’ he might even be spending a day or so here. But thank you for asking, you can go and have a great night, I’ll get the window sign and doors.” Emily walked Sue to the front seeing the register was already counted and the money was in the safe and Chris was all closed up as well and had already left for the night. “Good night, see you in the morning.”

As she got onto the sidewalk Suzanna turned, “Thanks Em, see you tomorrow. Night!” Suzanna walked the few blocks to where her car was parked, she lived on the other side of town where the huge, newer houses were. Emily waved then locked the door and turned the lights off and drew the blinds; the setting sun was hard on a few of the shelves so she liked to keep them closed as much as she could. Earl was not in the box anymore and Emily found him in his new favorite spot, on the last window sill where Emily used to sit and hide when she first started coming here. Gingerly she picked up the little sleeping boy and brought him into the office but kept the door open.

“We’re done for the day, you can feel free to roam around if you wish. Will you be staying here with us for the evening?”

Sebastian eyed the cat in her arms and chuckled when he saw Marcus start petting the little thing after Emily resumed her place on the couch. “Thank you, that would be nice, I would like to visit and talk before I head off again soon. I see you have yourself a little pet there Marcus?”

He just smiled in return, Sebastian wasn’t one for house pets, he thought them to be dirty and in the way. “We don’t travel much so it’s nice to have a little one to take care of.” The thought that he would never have a child crossed his mind, so pets were the next best thing for him and Emily.

Dryly Sebastian asked, “Cute, what’s it’s name?”

Emily answered, “Earl. He’s only a few months old, so he’s still a little baby.” Looking up from the kitten she asked, “So when do you plan on leaving, and where to first?”

Sebastian liked her inquisitiveness and curiosity, “I’ll most likely leave by the end of the week. As to where first? Probably to some friends I have in Germany, I can use their laboratories there. Some family, so to speak, in China would be very excited to hear of the new discovery. I will keep in touch now that I know where you’ll be for quite some time. Now my dear, it seems you have to get some nourishment into your system soon, to your abode perhaps? I don’t care much for public places at the moment.” No one could deny that Emily’s stomach was starting to roll into itself with hunger.

Marcus stood, “Of course, right this way,” he went to the door in the office and proceeded up the stairs. Sebastian held his hand out for Emily to go first, and as she did he finally got his eyeful of the delicious little frame walking above him.

As Emily took Earl to his dish and she started puttering in the kitchen, Marcus gave their guest the grand tour of the house. Marcus explained how it was transformed and told about the people in the frames scattered around the house. Once done they made themselves comfortable in the living room and started to speak freely about certain people they knew and what both of them had been doing.

Emily walked into the room to see what they were talking about while her rice cooked. She sat on the floor near Marcus and paid attention to Earl. Once her mind focused on the two men she realized why she hadn’t focused in on their conversation earlier, she could barely hear it. Both men seemed to be talking almost in unison, their voices were in whispers and the words flew out of their mouths so quickly Emily only caught a word here and there. She just sat there flabbergasted at the two of them. After a while Marcus stopped speaking then looked down at the eyes near his knee, “We were talking about the people in Alaska, and I asked him about Sedna. Sorry, we should have included you into the conversation when you walked in.”

Sebastian gave a slight bow of the head to convey his apologies for being rude to her.

“No, no it’s fine. It was actually nice to see you be able to speak like that. I know how much we humans slow you down, it’s great to see you be so natural with another person that can keep up with you.” When he reached down and gently stroked her face with the back of his fingers she closed her eyes and enjoyed the caress.

“Thank you,” he said to her then Marcus turned his attention back to his guest, “Sedna knew who I was right away, and Emily’s mom figured it out. Why do you think that is?”

“Well Sedna is obviously a great witch of the old ways, thus very powerful and knowledgeable. You said she was how old, 90? Well she might have witnessed The Migration then, so she would know you right away. As well as Mrs. Cook, all I can say is that she must be a Seer, and Sedna has helped her strengthen her gift.”

Emily cut in, “What’s a Seer, and what was The Migration?” She looked to both Sebastian and Marcus.

Sebastian answered, “A Seer is simply one who can see what others cannot. I would presume that you are aware of the gift your mother has? She knows what’s going to happen, she is very perceptive of people, and she knows who is calling when the phone rings. If you are sad or troubled she just happens to call?” When Emily just nodded in amazed agreement he continued, “And The Migration was just that. A group of about fifty of our people lived on the coast of central Alaska. About eighty years ago once the population was getting too large for their comfort they all packed up their belongings and walked to the other side of the state basically. To hear people speak of it there is amazing. Only the gifted ones knew these people were not an ancient Eskimo tribe moving their sacred belongings, they knew these to be the Hunters, as they were called. Sedna would have surely spoken to her grandmother about what was happening, and being who she is, she was told the tale of the Hunters and how they got there.”

“And how was that?” Emily was captivated, not only was Sebastian the best story teller she had ever heard, he told it with his hands and facial expressions accentuating a word or emotion, but even so, the topic itself was riveting.

Smiling he answered, “Well now that my dear girl is a great story indeed. But tend to your dinner and I will tell that tale at another time.” Just then her timer went off and she jumped up and went into the kitchen. The fact that he knew her food was ready was nothing new to her, Marcus was better than any timer, he always knew when something was done. Emily plated her rice and chicken then went back out into the living room with her plate and a glass of wine.

“Do you mind if I eat here?” She wanted to ask before she got comfortable at the coffee table across from Sebastian.

“Go right ahead, it’s your home. But I thank you for your thoughtful kindness in asking.” He again made a slight bow of his head to acknowledge her. “Well on this last journey to Africa I finally uncovered our origins, quite interesting actually. You see there was a tribe of cannibals in central Africa when the lands of the Earth were all still one large mass. Of course there are skeptical tones on this subject since no fossils have been found of humans of that period, naturally, but there is an old story that has been passed down through that tribe from the Elders. The story goes that a God descended from a waterfall that the people lived around; it was a sacred place of beauty and abundance. The people ate from the lands, but they also ate their own kin when they passed away. They believed that every animal must eat, but the thought of a wild beast eating their people was mortifying to them. They felt that if they took their loved ones within themselves, then they would always be alive and their spirits would bless all those with the fullness of physical strength, as well as mental.

“One year was horrible with many terrible storms and numerous deaths of the clan. The highest Elder was killed in such a storm by a lightning strike and his oldest son didn’t want any of the others to share in his fathers’ vast blessings. So the son took his father to a secret cave, cleaned and blessed his body to their customs, then proceeded with the rest of the ritual. Several weeks later the boy descended from the cave high in the mountains to his people below. He thought he would come home to a warm welcome, as he was now their new leader and he had all of the wisdom and strength of his father to lead them to prosperity. How wrong he was, the other Elders were furious with him, they said it wasn’t his right to take his father’s body, thought it was selfish not to share so much with so many people. The son was enraged at the ignorance of these people, he tried to bully them and control them, but to no avail, the people won and soon bound the unworthy son. They tied him to the log of an old tree and pushed him into the river above so he would plummet over the falls to a death he deserved.

“The priests pushed his log into the fast current and said prayers as he floated downstream and eventually over the huge deluge flowing down. At the base of the waterfalls all of the priestess’ were gathered, chanting prayers to help the dead soul go peacefully into the otherworld. Well according to the story, what the women saw shocked them beyond belief. As soon as the log crashed onto the rocks at the base of the falls it disappeared into the swirl of rushing water. Soon the log popped up out of the water with the young man still attached, but to their horror he was still alive! They cried that he was possessed with too strong of a spirit, that he couldn’t be killed. Then the eldest of the Priestesses jumped into the water and swam over to the log coming towards the bank. Pulling it to shallower water so she could stand, she placed a hand on the chest of the defiant man. He was screaming at her in a foreign language talking rapidly and his eyes were pale and his skin was white.

“Raising a hand to quiet all and for everyone to be still she spoke, ‘You have been cursed, not blessed now. The water does not want you, therefore no man will have you, nor will the Earth. You are destined to feed only off of what you have stolen; no other thing will satisfy your hunger or your thirst. You will walk the lands until there is no more land, you will carry the burden of your greed for eternity.’ He was shocked into silence as she pushed him away with one strong movement of her hand on his chest and the log pushed off into the center of the river with him still securely tied to the massive trunk.

“Just then the sky opened up and a great wind and rain came down upon the gatherers. The log was washed away instantly and the young man was never to be seen again. It is said that he came back to his native home many, many years later once the lands were done shifting. He was lonely and wanted a companion. Hiding amongst the trees and searching for years, he found a cannibalistic tribe he thought to be his own. Seeking out the priestess he took her away and changed her into what he had become. For years they searched the large land to find all the Elders of great tribes and changed them all to walk the lands with him for eternity.” Sebastian leaned back and took his pipe from his pocket and placed it gently between his lips.

Marcus was spellbound by hearing the history of his kind, Emily was dumbstruck and hardly ate anything at all throughout the story. Sebastian thought he might have made her ill, “I’m sorry for speaking of such dastardly things while you ate, please accept my apologies.”

It took her a second to register what he said, “Oh, no that’s fine, I can eat and listen to anything, that’s not a problem. I’m just amazed at the story. How interesting, and sad in a way.” She decided to put her fork down and sipped her wine instead. “So then did they make others or did they breed them?”

“That is exactly what I was trying to find out. Some say they bread several hundred children, some say they made them. I don’t know for sure, it gets muddy from there. By that time there were more people on the Earth, and news and stories got intermingled. But some of the Elders that I met were so old they only spoke every few years, they didn’t move at all, almost statuesque. Quite funny actually, I was roaming about and came across an old shrine, as I was inspecting a statue, what I thought to be part of the wall, suddenly came out and spoke to me. The statue I was peering at blinked so slowly I almost jumped out of my skin! Guess I have come to adore the modern scary movies too much. But the first of the two to speak was another of our kind, he was over three thousand years old, he told me, very slowly in his native tongue mind you. Can you believe that? I was there for days speaking to Al.”

Marcus laughed, “Al? His name was seriously Al?”

“Of course his name was not Al silly boy. But it was too damn long and difficult to understand for me, their tongue hadn’t been used for centuries. Back to my story, I was told that our people had scattered everywhere to preserve our heritage and our ways. So then I set off on a quest to find as many of our people that I could to spread the new knowledge I had gained, as well as look into our breeding problems. Oh now don’t make that face Marcus, it was nothing of the sort as before. I was talking to people and gathering as many facts from the Elders that I could. Of course when I came across a young one that wanted to, let’s say experiment, well I was quite happy to do some field work.” He gave a sly smile to Marcus and a quick look to Emily.

“Alright Sebastian,” Marcus said as he leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees, “are you going to try and reproduce our people since there are so few of us left?”

“Well if I can of course. But you see, I surely won’t make any, and unless I can unlock the secret to the birthing of one, there isn’t much I can do. Now I know how private you are dear Marcus, and my lady I apologize if I offend you, but I take you two have been intimate with no offspring as of yet?”

Emily answered since Marcus was appalled, “No we don’t have any offspring. We take all precautions so there are no accidents.” She looked over to her lover who was so embarrassed and spoke to her husband, “Marcus, please be patient, this is important even though it mortifies you to speak of it.”

He just covered his face with his hands and nodded for her to continue. “He won’t leave his seed in me. The fright of doing harm is ever present, and we would rather keep the pleasurable side of it there, not the horrible side. His seed does burn the skin, we found that out on accident, so ever since we make sure I’m as safe as possible.”

As Sebastian digested her answer, she thought of that day. When she and Marcus were by a stream when they started to make love. He pulled away from her but not fast enough and some of his ejaculation got onto her leg. It burned instantly so she went into the water to wash her leg. There was a slight red mark there for a week. Sadly Marcus wouldn’t get anywhere near her in that manner for almost a month, she had to beg and plead with him to find safer ways for her to enjoy his body and vice versa.

“Well,” Sebastian suddenly sat forward, “that is why human women and our male kind cannot mate. But two of our kind should be able to… Anyway, I will find out more later on that subject. Right now I want to focus more on the heart, I guess we cannot call you Beaters anymore can we?” He looked over to Emily who smiled and said no.

Sebastian stayed for that one night only, when Emily woke up the next morning he was gone. He left the Villa in Italy a couple of days later so Marcus had plans drawn up for the library next to the lab in the basement. He said he would have to go there and move the things out and would have to actually donate most of the medical equipment. Plus he needed to make sure anything pertinent wouldn’t be seen or read by anyone. Emily worked the weeks away in the store, then it was time for Marcus to leave for a week to be in Italy.

“I will be home soon, and of course I’ll call every day. If I can get everything organized in a day I’ll be right home, I promise,” he held her tightly before he had to board the plane.

“I’ll just miss you, that’s all. We haven’t been apart for a while and I’m just being a clingy little girl.” She got up on her toes and kissed his lips, “I love you, be careful.”

He just rolled his eyes, like he could get into trouble or hurt, “Yes dear. I love you too, Earl will keep you company, I’ll be home as soon as I can Doll.” Giving her one last kiss he let her go then headed down the walkway to the plane. Before he got out of sight he turned and waived, she waived back but stayed until she saw the plane backing up onto the runway. She drove back to their home in silence, then snuggled with a fattening Earl on the couch for the rest of the night.

While Emily was putting books on the huge back desk of the office for tagging and entering into the system she felt a slight touch on the back of her neck, she scratched thinking it was the hair of her ponytail tickling her, then she felt it again. When she raised her hand to swipe at the hair tickling her, she felt two lips touch the spot and making her jump out of her skin. She let out a small yelp as she turned to see her grinning man.

“Damn it Marcus, you scared the hell out of me!” Then gave him a slight slap on his arm.

“Hey babe, miss me?”

“You know it, glad you’re home sooner, it only took you four days to get everything done?”

Still keeping his firm hold on his wife he replied, “Yep. I just moved the things that Sebastian had shipped there to one side of the space then I covered the book shelves and the boxes with several layers of heavy tarp. I put another tarp over those and taped it to the floor so no dust would get in there from the construction, but also so no one would want to flip through the pages. I let the contractor know that they were all old books, mostly in Latin, and would be of no excitement to him and his crew. The hospital that I sent the equipment to had a truck there the next day after I arrived to pick everything up, so that was done right off the bat. The last day and a half I just made sure the crew was all set to get to work. They should be done in a month or so, then you and I can go back and put everything away. That way you can read through the stuff that Sebastian had shipped and get your fix.” Seeing her beaming smile at that thought made his heart glow, “Man I missed you too much. It’s pathetic that I cannot even be away for a week,” he kissed her to make up for the last four days, then decided to hell with it and carried her up stairs, he didn’t want to wait until dark to satisfy himself.

Emily was fine with leaving the shop for a week or so, she left it for over a month when they got married, and Chris and Suzanne were experts in their fields and were confident on their own without Emily being right there. Of course she still left all the numbers for them, and gave detailed instructions for how to take care of Earl. They decided to just leave him down in the shop for the week and put the food and such in the office so he could sleep on his bed in there.

The week flew by while they were away in Italy. It wasn’t at all like the vacation Emily had on her first trip here. They spent every day down in the new room of the basement. It was a completely controlled environment with humidity and air controllers on the outside of the room. Most of the interior consisted of metal shelves and there was a row of drawers in one corner for rolls and maps and such. First Marcus and Emily put all of the books that were already in the house in chronological order, again after Sebastian had pilfered through the books on his short stay and just set them back on the shelves willy-nilly, some were even upside down and backwards on the shelves. And sadly just as Marcus expected, all of the boxes were not organized at all. Luckily though they were boxed as such and shipped from every region so at least he was able to get the timeframe in order. He and Emily pondered whether they wanted to put them in time order, or order them by subject. They started to separate the items in the boxes, there were mostly loose papers of notes, but a few full notepads were scattered throughout. Emily had a stack of drawing pads started and those contained not only human drawings, but pictures of plants, animals, insects and places.

There was one drawing of a waterfall that was so splendid she gently tore it out of the book to take home and frame. She thought of the story and of the boy tied to the log, and that Sebastian drew this for the sake of the tale. Emily was probably going to get in trouble for tearing the page out, but she figured Sebastian would never even know it was gone and if he did go back to their house and saw the picture, well then Emily would cross that bridge if it ever came. When she turned to look at the back she found out her suspicion was right, on the back it simply said, “Congo. Africa. 1994”. After placing that on the steps that lead up to the house she came back into the lab to see that their hard work was making good progress.

They finished putting everything away, into subject then timeline order. Sebastian had collected notes on human anatomy, and stories of their people. Those were the two main topics. The others included flora and fauna that was pretty extensive, then Emily found enough information on different tribes of people so she had a shelf dedicated to anthropology. Finally Marcus made a quick version of a few books of the loose sheets that were taken of the geography and geology of places that had been traversed by his old maker.

On their last day there Marcus took Emily out to a nice restaurant and dance club. Luckily they would be getting back Saturday afternoon so she could rest for a day before the shop needed her attention.

On Monday she decided that Suzanne could survive on her own for one more day; so after she said good morning to everyone she took Earl back up to her bed and slept for most of the day. When Marcus came and kissed her she woke and stretched, “What time is it?”

He was sitting on the bench at the foot of the bed taking his shoes off, “After six, you’ve been up here all day. You must have been exhausted!” Earl jumped down to attack the laces that were menacing looking as Marcus dangled them around the floor.

“Yeah, I was beat, I feel so much better. Geez you’re a work horse; moving boxes all day, sex all night, you’re too much of a taskmaster!”

She giggled as he turned and tickled her foot, “Whatever, the nightly activities were your idea!”

“Anyway,” she said dramatically as he turned to finish removing his shoes and socks, “I guess now that’s done we really can be bored with our everyday existence huh? No more trips planned, no vacations or excursions. No book fares right?” She looked up at him and he shook his head no. “Good. Just me, you and Earl then, that’s all I need.” She rolled over onto her tummy to look at Marcus better. Yep, she thought, this is all I need.

The summer came quickly, spring seemed to last only for a week before the heat set in and Emily was out in their tiny back courtyard. She actually never really noticed it before until she looked out of the laundry room window and noticed a vine climbing over the window. Once her task of folding was done she went outside and found a gate that was half hidden on the side of the house, she pushed the creaky old thing back and sure enough, there was a ridiculously overgrown garden back there.

She called for Marcus and he came out, “Where are you?”

“I’m back here,” came the voice in the distance. He found her standing in the middle of the twenty square foot space, she looked like she was about to be swallowed up by a vicious man eating plant. “Did Margaret have a garden here at one time?”

Marcus looked around, “Holy cow I forgot this was back here. I’m sure there was one when they lived here, she was a very tidy person and wouldn’t have allowed this mess. By the look in your eye I can see that you won’t either. Well,” he said and raised his hands as he backed out, “Have fun!” As he disappeared around the corner Emily just laughed and started making her mental plans of what the space once looked like and how she wanted it to appear now.

Now as she looked at the bare dirt and fences after a cleaning crew came in and did all the horrendous hard work, she had a clean pallet to work with. The gate obviously needed to be replaced, as did the section of fencing that ran along one alleyway, the other alley fence was still in good shape since there weren’t as many plants on that side of the yard to rip the boards apart. The only plant that she kept was a cherry blossom tree in the back corner, it was trimmed back pretty far, but it would bloom beautifully next year. She sketched out the yard onto a drawing pad with a pencil. As she walked around and looked at the house, then the fences, she sat in a far corner near the gate to get layout that she wanted.

First she jotted down the colors that she wanted in here, then she noted where the sun was falling and tried to loosely calculate where the sun would shine throughout the entire day. After that was completed she started to draw a tree in the corner opposite her, which would be along the shorter fence, the cherry tree was in the far right corner where both fences met, so another cherry might look nice in the left corner to balance it out. As she looked at the wall of her house there were three windows, she drew them on the paper. As she looked up she had to do a double take; the window right above her was to the garage, then there was a smaller window in the center and higher up the wall, that was the laundry room, but the third window was level with the garage window. She figured it had to be to the office in the shop. Emily stood up and walked over to the glass and tried to look in, it was shut off from the inside, very well too.

She sat back down onto her original spot and went back to the task at hand, but making a mental note to look in the office the next time she was in there. After over half an hour she had several ideas drawn and notes written down of what she wanted. She took her measuring tape and made accurate readings of the entire plot, as well as what size fence and gate would be needed. Pausing to look at what she had done, she realized that the yard was in a trapezoid shape. The house side was the shorter side, and the long side was of the fence that separated the yard from the alleyway. The good fence was on the far end that was on the alley where the shop door was, and the gate with thin strips of fencing made up the final side and needed replacing. She liked the wood slats that were there, it made it very private back here, she wanted a spot where her and Marcus could hang out, sunny or not. As she was starting to leave she looked again at the garage window and the spacing of it, she wondered if she could make it a door, then they wouldn’t have to walk onto the sidewalk to enter the yard through the gate, and it would be easier for her to get to the gardening tools and such to tend to the space.

Since it was Wednesday at noon the shop was open and busy as ever with the nice weather. Chris was now serving Italian sodas and iced coffee’s, and people were snatching up the romance novels, fishing and hiking guides and sports books that Emily put into the front window as soon as it turned warm. She avoided the crowds since she was lost in thought and went to the gardening section of her store. There were about seven books on the local flowers and shrubs for their area so she took those and plopped onto the couch in the office.

Marcus just glanced over at her from the book he was repairing, but silently went back to his tedious task. Putting the open books on the couch, then table and floor around her she was starting to get an idea of exactly what she wanted back there.

As she took some colored pencils out of a drawer on Marcus’ desk she asked, “Can I…”

“Yep.”

“But you don’t even…”

“Don’t care, just do it.” Marcus never looked away from his task.

“Alrighty-then, thanks.” She knew he was so busy not only from his tone and lack of comments, but also because his nose was about an inch away from the book he was working on. She lightly kissed the back of his neck, then sat back down on the couch. Before she started adding color to her drawings, she remembered the window and got up and went to the back of the office space.

This area was sort of a hodge-podge of items; there were boxes broken down, a huge box full of packing material, some pictures that she couldn’t decide on hanging or putting into storage, and a few small boxes of odd things that she never got around to looking through. She pushed some of those boxes to the side so she could get to the back wall and saw where the window had indeed been walled over. “Why did you wall up the window back here?”

With a sigh he answered, “For the sun. Why?” He was obviously annoyed at another interruption.

“Sorry, I just noticed it from out back and was just wondering. Never mind, go back to work.”

“Thanks,” was all he said then swiveled the chair back to the front and continued mending the page of the old book.

Emily practically tip toed back to the couch and tried to make as little noise as possible from that point on. She colored the plants that she liked and hoped that this could help a landscaper at least a little, to make it look like she wanted. After some time she glanced at the clock and knew the noise she heard up front was Suzanne closing up, so she quietly rose and went out into the store to help out.

Once her ownership duties were done, after she locked the door, and gathered Earl up from the cushion he had been on for the last several hours, she returned to the office, gathered her pad and pencils then headed up stairs for the night. Once inside her door she put Earl on the floor and deposited her things on the end table in the living room. Making sure the turkey breast she took out his morning was defrosted, she started to get it ready to put into the oven. Earl was wrapping around her feet and she noticed his bowl was empty, “You’ve been eating like a pig, you must be growing!” As she poured the dry food into his bowl he gave out a loud thankful response and then dove into his dinner. Seasoning her meat and putting it into the oven she decided on a glass of wine tonight. Emily opened a new bottle, poured a glass and sipped it as she looked out the window onto the lane below.

When the door shut it startled her from watching the kids playing below to turning to look at her husband that was walking into the kitchen and plopping down onto a chair at the dinette set, “Damn what a day!”

It wasn’t often that Marcus had a hard day, he didn’t get tired like the average guy, and he had the patience of a saint, Emily felt bad for interrupting him so many times this afternoon so she said, “Sorry hon, I didn’t mean to bother you…”

He shook his head and interrupted her, “It’s not you, not at all. Sorry that I was such an ass earlier. That book was challenging to say the least, it kills me when people throw a bunch of books into a cardboard box then into their attic and wonder how they got so ruined. But anyway, I’ve had this strange feeling for about a week or so. I don’t know. I just wish that your mum could come out here and tell us what she “sees”. It’s not like I’m having a premonition or anything, it’s more of a feeling I guess.”

Emily turned from the red potatoes she was sautéing, “I understand. Sometimes we can feel a negative energy in the air and it puts us on guard for what may be coming. Have you heard from Sebastian lately?”

“No, not at all since he left the Villa and told me to call the cleaners.” He paused and ran his fingers through his hair, “I’m just probably being paranoid. Nothing to worry about.” He sat and looked at Earl for a bit then out the window for a while longer. When Emily joined him at the table he looked at her. “Maybe it’s just that I have much more to protect now than just myself. I have you, the house, Earl, the shop. Before none of it was actually mine so there was no permanent attachment to anything. Now I feel like I have to protect the world.” He reached across the table and took her hand, “I just don’t want any harm coming to you at all, I feel like I need to put you into a bubble, but can’t.”

Emily tightened her grip on his hand, “I understand hon.” There were no words to make him feel better, but she just thought that he needed to know that she knew how he felt anyway. They sat in silence for a bit until her timer went off for her to baste the breast in the oven. When she got up he said that he was going to take a bath then left her to her cooking.

As she ate she thought about their talk and wished there was something that she could do, but of course there was nothing in her power to alleviate his anxiety. After the dishes were done she needed a shower and headed up the steps. Earl bounded up after her, still only being able to take one step at a time though. He tried to jump two at once but fell short every time. Even though she tried not to laugh at his failure, it was still humorous to hear the thump and see him flail. As she entered the room Marcus was putting his PJ’s on. She undressed and started the shower, as she bathed Marcus lay on the bed playing with Earl.

Emily dressed in her favorite purple, silk nightie and crawled under the blankets. The two of them laid there for a while just petting their kitty and saying nothing. After a bit Emily was starting to get sleepy and turned the light off. Earl was now big enough to sleep on the bed with them since he could jump down to his box, and then back up to snuggle between their feet. Emily got into her position, a long pillow to her left, Marcus to her right and her little pillow under her head. Once settled she rolled onto her right to curl up against her lover, “Is there anything I can do for you?”

“No,” he put his arm around her, “thanks though.” After sighing into her hair he closed his eyes to rest his mind. He held her tightly until she fell asleep, then he rolled over onto his back and when Earl curled up on his stomach he pet the critter for a long time.

Morning came and he was still in bed with Emily, she was surprised, he was usually up and reading the paper in the kitchen at this time. Taking advantage of the moment she snuggled up against his frame and held him close. Marcus held her and said, “Morning.”

“Good morning Doll, sleep well?”

Emily half mumbled, “Humm, morning. Do you feel better this morning?”

He lied, “Yep. So did you figure out what you wanted to do with the backyard?”

As she stretched she thought, “I think so. I need to get someone in here though to help me out with where to put the plants so they’ll grow, not to mention which plants to put in there so they’ll live to begin with. I know nothing of plants, I don’t have the green thumb that my mother was blessed with that’s for sure. Do you have any thoughts since this is your house also?”

After thinking for a moment he said, “You know, I would like a hammock under a tree.”

Smiling, she replied, “I think I can manage that request. Anything else?”

“Nope, just you in the hammock with me, that’s all I need.”

“Then you got it babe. I’m going to make the garage window a door so we, and maybe Earl, can go there easily.”

Marcus made a slight grin, “That’s a great idea, call Russell today, if he can’t do it then I’m sure he knows of a master gardener in town.”

“Actually I called Mary yesterday and asked her who did their yard. The woman is coming over on Monday. And Mary sends her love by the way. It was nice talking to her. It’s been a few weeks since we chatted and of course she had a lot to catch up on. It’s amazing how much happens here that she knows about!”

Marcus thought of Mary quite often and sent her little notes or flowers all the time. It was as if Mort was controlling his hand when he wrote a note or a card at times. “I’m glad you did that, I wanted to invite her over for dinner some time soon.”

“I asked if she wanted to come over this weekend but she said that her daughter was spoiling her this weekend with a trip to London at a spa. We’ll catch up next weekend I guess.”

Emily rolled over and looked at the clock, it was after seven and she needed to get up and get dressed. Before she moved Marcus threw his arm over her and she jumped when he hit her breast, “Ouch!”

“Are you okay? What did I do?” He pulled his arm back defensively.

“Oh I guess my boobs are just sore, I’m alright, you didn’t break me.” She got out of bed and leaned over to kiss him reassuringly, then put on her robe and went downstairs to get her tea. She put pressure on her breast, sure enough, they were getting tender for the week.

As the day went on Emily realized that she had no patience and the smallest set back was angering her to no ends. By noon she decided to hide in the office and work on her yard plans and avoid snapping at Suzanna for a fourth time or bickering at Earl for getting under foot.

Marcus crept into his space at two o’clock and put a glass of sweet tea and half a turkey sandwich on the table for her. She looked up from her book, “Thanks babe. Guess you have to avoid me for the next week or so huh?”

He laughed as he sat in his chair, “It’s not the week of your cycle, it’s the week prior that I keep the silver bullets handy.” When he got the chuckle that he wanted to hear from her, and knowing he was safe, he turned around and went back to work on the torn book pages he was laboring over.

At five o’clock she decided she was going to go to the flower shop down the street where she used to live, “I need to ask Maria a few things, I’ll be back shortly.” She went over to Marcus and gave him a kiss.

“Do you want me to go with you?”

“No I’m fine. I wanted to talk to Maria about flowers, and gossip, no need for you to be glaring at me every two minutes; you can finish what you’re doing here.” Kissing him again she headed out the door for the short walk that she used to do every day.

When her feet hit the sidewalk from the alleyway she ran into someone, she looked, backed up and was surprised to see that it was Julia, “Hey! Long time no see!”

Julia also went from startled to happy, “Hi, it has been too long; and so much has happened this week!” She hooked her hand around Emily’s arm ,”I’ll walk with you, were are we going?”

Now excited for the walk, she slowed her pace, “Excellent, I’m heading over to the flower shop, I wanted to ask Maria about some of the flowers that I want to plant in the back yard. Plus I’ve been so busy lately I haven’t had the chance to talk to anyone outside of books and hobbies. What’s happened in your wonderfully glamorous life, since I saw you last?” It was silly because since her wedding, she and Julia had spoken or seen each other at least every other day. The time in Alaska had changed her friend a little; she lost one of her many hobbies, men.

At the beginning of the school year when they became friends Emily knew that Julia was this spicy, striking, Italian woman who loved to surround herself with high fashion, lots of unique people, rich men of all handsome ilk, and gossip. Within a week Emily knew every person in her class via lunches with Julia. But come graduation when Steve came into her life, her passion for men died down; now the fire was out completely, her passion was for one man only. Emily couldn’t believe it. There was no way that she would have paired her brother up with someone like Julia; she was so out of his league! Her brother would have seemed so boring compared to the millionaire playboy from Spain that bought her everything she wanted and took her to the most amazing museums, galleries, restaurants, bars and top notch parties. But here Julia was, as if that energy was now poured into a new passion; she not only keeps an eye on every article of clothing, and shoes with accessories that come in and out of fashion weekly, but Julia was trying to get a job in San Francisco with an up and coming woman from Paris as an interpreter.

As they crossed the next street Emily felt her arm being hugged tighter, “So if Chantelle calls me today or tomorrow to ask a few more questions, then I’m so in! Then Steve could come down to see me often. There are some cheap places that are really nice around the Bay Area that I want to be in. Oh, and how awesome is this? Talking to a real estate friend of mine down there…”

Emily’s laugh that emitted in a short burst rang out and she replied giggling, “You’re friend? When was the first, and only time, you’ve been to San Francisco? Beginning of December?” But as soon as it came out of her mouth, she knew that it was a very possible task for her clever comrade.

Julia stopped her pace for a moment, “You seriously doubt me darling?” A little tinkling laugh was released, “Oh goodness Em, when Steve and I went there for a week after you guys left for your driving tour… don’t give me that look, I know you wanted to see us on your last day, but we wanted you to be by yourselves. It was your honeymoon for Heaven’s sake! Anyway, we were down by the Wharf, and oh how I love the sound of the seals at night, and the seafood, oh, it was like being back home in Italy! But back to what I was saying to begin with, the real estate lady said that there is this flat above a tiny little family owned bakery. The awesome thing is that I can walk to work in about ten minutes.” The smile on Julia’s perfect toothed grin was of pure elation.

When Emily saw her reaction, she then realized something, “Is my brother planning on moving to the city with you?”

Again, that beautiful smile, “Does that bother you if he does?”

“Of course not, I think it would be perfect! He needs to get out of Alaska, he’s been itching to see more than Texas and Alaska! My parents would be fine with it as well. Do…” Emily paused, she thought she knew the answer already to her question, but she asked anyway, “Do you think you guys would get married eventually?”

“I sure do hope so!” Her giggle of delight was infections and Emily started to laugh as well.

They arrived to the front window of the flower shop then stopped snickering and looked at the front of the store. It was so pretty and vibrant. There were three huge glass vases in four different colors; red, blue, and one that was dark green and yellow, all full of different colored roses. Covering the floor of the window box were long silk scarves swirled around the bases of the wonderful glass masterpieces filled with water.

The women entered the magnificently scented shop. At first neither one of them noticed the women of house, as they were called, then Maria’s head popped up from behind a plant stand. Julia tip-toed over there then jumped up, “Boo!” she said just loud enough for the small woman to hear.

“Aahh!” Maria screamed, “What the heck are you doing woman, trying to give me a heart attack?” One petite hand set down a watering can as the other stuffed dead leaves and twigs into the pocket of her apron. “It’s been so quiet all day I’ve started to space out, sorry!” She gave Julia a one armed hug but made sure to keep her dirty fingers away from the breathtaking silk wrap around Julia’s shoulders.

“No problem darling, didn’t mean to give you that much of a fright. I brought company…” Julia let go of her shoulders and moved to the side so Emily could be seen clearly behind her.

“Hi, long time no see, for real this time,” Emily said the last part as she looked at Julia with a wink. Emily got a hug as well from the woman that she used to talk to on an almost daily basis when she lived above. Emily liked living on this side of town. Granted the three blocks or so she was away from here wasn’t far, but it seemed like a different world. This part of town was where the smaller shops were, just south of the center of town of where the Nook was located.

“I was on my way here to see you and I literally bumped into Jules. I discovered a wonderful little garden behind our house so I wanted to get some advice as to what to plant back there. I don’t have much if a green thumb as it is, but I have no idea what to plant with the crazy weather here. I was wondering if you had about thirty minutes or so? If not now then we can do it whenever you have a chance?” Emily knew she would do it now, but she didn’t want to impose.

“Oh of course,” Maria saw the books and magazines that Emily was holding. She picked up her watering can and took it to the back room. After a little bit of rustling around she came back up to the front with a pad of paper in her hand. “Come sit over hear dear,” Maria indicated to a stool next to hers behind the counter. “Julia, if you want to stay and chat there’s a comfy chair right there,” she pointed with a pencil towards an old but fluffy leather office chair on wheels.

Julia took the seat, “Oh this is nice, perfectly broken in, thanks. I was just telling Em about a job offer that I’m hoping to get in San Francisco.”

Emily was fine with hearing about Julia’s news again, but she really wanted to get her questions answered about the flowers, she had been thinking about the colors all day, but she was also concerned with the care of them as well. Maria wasn’t just knowledgeable about the types of flowers there were and how to arrange them; she also had one of the loveliest little English Gardens in a ten mile radius. Emily recalled a farm house at the far, east end before the farms really got big; one had had a garden she could have spent the entire day in. So to get Maria’s opinion on flowers for a pretty garden was something Emily thought lucky to get. But, she wanted to get out and talk to other people and find out what the rest of the world was doing while she surrounded herself with paper, so she sat quietly and started to lightly flip through her books to what she had in mind; while Julia told of the views from her future dining room window that she saw in the pictures sent to her.

Marcus leaned back from the book that he was repairing a torn page on. The diagonal tear was bad enough, but there was another small tear going straight up from the middle of the book three more inches. It was a horrid tear to begin with, but the fact that it was an unusually handwritten manuscript from the early eighteenth century by his client’s grandfather; made him feel like he needed to fix it well. It was written in French and told of his tales of being the son of a wealthy duke in Normandy. He was favored and had a good life. Sadly the book was never finished so the story has a mysterious ending. It’s as if the writer put it down one day, it got shoved to the back of the drawer, and was forgotten as the days, and then weeks, then years went by.

As he had his eyes closed just clearing them of everything, he heard a small motor like sound. He loved his kitty. Earl really had become one of the most amazing things he had in his life. Not only was he taking care of something like a child; the cat was dependant on him, but yet it was so independent. Cats were the best pet to have he felt, he wanted to kick himself that he never had one so many years ago. Earl was there to hang out with during the day, the best companion because he was so quiet yet he gave off such a positive energy into the room. The four legged baby would come pouncing after a toy mouse into the room and break a dead silence. Or he would suddenly jump onto the table to battle the pencils and paper in the region. Marcus needed to train him still not to do that but he didn’t know how to deter the horrid behavior. Emily told him to squirt him with a water bottle, but Marcus was very hesitant to use water near the desk. But if he tried to spray him when he was still on the floor then maybe he could keep the bugger off before he even got up to the table.

Opening his eyes, Marcus looked down and saw the now ten pound muscle kitty, looking to find a place to land on the large desk above. Now was his chance, Marcus slowly reached over to the small bottle of water that Emily placed there earlier that day and then sprayed Earl twice quickly. The shots hit in the head, right between the ears, and the other hit right onto his backside near his tail. The reaction surprised Marcus tremendously. When he saw the cat leap about thirteen inches into the air and scurry back towards the chair to clean the water off, he started to laugh with sheer amusement.

Too bad the cat hated it so much, he thought he could have gotten entertainment out of the funny spaz attack. But feeling bad he tried to soothe his little man’s whiskers, “I’m sorry Earl but you cannot get onto my work space. No desk baby, no desk.” Marcus attempted to make his voice firm but not mean in any way. Then he changed his tone to sweet and soothing, “Do you want some dinner sweetie? I can start something for your momma as well.”

Earl knew what that word meant, he was hungry and raced on through the new kitty door that was put into the door going from the office to the house above. As Marcus watched the cat go through, he opened the large door so he could follow. When the cat came to the opening where this stairwell connected with the main, and original staircase, Marcus thought again on how clever the design was. When he started working here with Morty he wanted a way to get up to the house without having to go through the shop, so he decided to make the addition. One side of the staircase wall was the wall of the office that the door was on. The office was already very large, so a stair case was built perpendicular to the wall, at the back of the room, near the now blocked window; when the stairwell was built, the window was covered up.

Marcus ran his hand down the wall as he stood at the connected landing. The contractor did a great job of rounding off the corners. The top step of the new adjoining staircase was a little larger than the fifteen steps below it; and it butted right into the fifteenth through twenty-first steps of the older staircase. How the old steps were made into large semi-circular steps to be accessed from two different angles was masterful. The opening in the wall was even high enough so Marcus didn’t have to duck at all to enter, it went up until about eight inches from the ceiling of the existing hallway opening.

Feeling a brush against mid shin, Marcus turned his attention back to the cat he started to ignore for a few moments; Earl loved to hang out in the stairwell now that the kitty doors had been put in. This had become his new domain, and he loved the middle curved step. He would walk along the fourth step as he rubbed his side along the front of the fifth step. “Alright I’m coming, let’s get you guys some food,” but right before Marcus could take another step, he heard a knock at the front door of the shop. Then a second later he smelt the familiar sweet scent, then heard his name being called. “Hold on there Earl, I have to get the door first, your tummy will just have to wait a few more minutes.”

Marcus turned to his left and went down the steps to enter directly into the bookshop, right next to the more exotic titles tucked in the back. This was a new section that Emily had added. It wasn’t ‘rated R’ or anything, but there were books that mothers wouldn’t want their smaller children roaming through.

There were beautiful art books on the human body, done while the male and female bodies were nude posing as if they were ancient Roman statues of the Gods and Goddesses. There were also books on massage and the human anatomy that were so lifelike with their pen and ink that some looked as if they were taken with a 35MM camera. One book that Marcus loved was in the very top corner, where no one would ever really look, was an old African fertility guide.

Mort was the one that found it on his last escapade around the globe around 1995 or so when he was in his late seventies. The book was a mass produced copy of one that was found about the natives of some north-western coastal village centuries ago. Mort stumbled upon this old couple that was trying to raise money for this poor tribal village. Their attempt at harnessing the key to a happy marriage, and life, one had to follow these different rituals and positions to achieve the highest rewards. The first reward was supposed to be the best orgasm that both parties have ever experienced; the other was that a spirit would carry your desires to come true according to which ever ritual you were performing. Naturally most of the rituals were how to bear children; but there were ones on how to have a boy, girl or even twins. But there were also rituals on how to obtain more money if both parties were lying on their sides facing each other with the woman’s legs around the waist of the man. If both climaxed at the same time then both would be prosperous. As Marcus passed the shelf where the book lay, he made a note to show it to Emily tonight, he wasn’t sure if she had seen it.

After he zipped to the door and opened it he said his greetings to Sebastian, “Hello, back so soon?” He opened the door wider for the older gentleman to enter from the dusk outside.

“Good day Marcus boy, how are you this wonderful evening?” Sebastian entered the book store and walked into the middle of the store. “All closed up for the evening I see?”

“Yep, it’s that time of day already. So what brings you here this night? I thought you were in the freezing part of the northern hemisphere by now?” Marcus started to walk past his friend that seemed a little jittery, “Come, let’s talk upstairs, I need to get some dinner started.”

“Of course, that would be grand, thank you.” Sebastian followed Marcus up the stairs and noticed the cat waiting at the top step. Right when the two men got close, he darted through the little door that was cut out just for him in the bottom of the large wooden one to go into his home.

Marcus entered into the house and held the door open for his guest. Sebastian flitted in and sat at the couch as Earl ran into the kitchen. Marcus followed the cat and told Sebastian, “I’ll be right back out, make yourself comfortable.” Adding fresh dry food and water into in his little man’s bowls he quickly started a red sauce and pasta for Emily. When he joined his visitor in the living room, Marcus took the chair near the back door, “How was your trip? Did you speak to any of the Elders?”

As his hand played with a long strand of white hair Sebastian looked at the tips of his locks, “I did speak to them. The ones in the Congo were instantly intrigued. You see, I gave everyone I visited a stethoscope, so they could listen for themselves. Some heard it and were astounded, but they were all younger ones. The Elders themselves only seemed to have one heartbeat every six hours. The older they were, the slower the beat, very interesting. Then I went over to Ireland, oh they were very enthusiastic about the find as well. I was there for about a month, they had people come in from all over Europe. Asia was about half and half. Some of them became angered that I even suggested a thing, it was a centuries old knowledge that our hearts were as solid as the jade in the mountains.” After releasing a slow breath of air, Sebastian continued on in his slight Italian accent that was now quieter than before, “Then I went to Switzerland for a short time, and then came here. Not too sure where I’m off to next.” He stopped abruptly, tossed the lock of hair that he had been toying with behind his back and looked over at Marcus sitting in the overstuffed chair to his right.

Marcus nodded, “I see, well that is quite interesting about the Elders. I had a feeling that there was going to be a mixed reaction about the news. The Chinese were as I suspected them to be. They always felt that they shouldn’t question the old ways and findings. Some of the young ones though that believe in the old ways are willing to find new ways to look at things. I heard of a name of a company that I might be able to do business with, or you can rather, about it. They are very active in the medicinal world and love to use modern science to defy or defend the old beliefs. “

“That would be splendid, thank you.” As he tried to look relaxed and at ease, Sebastian was having a hard time not being on alert. He kept trying to catch certain scents in the air. Leaning back into the couch he turned more towards his companion from so many years before. How both of their lives had changed so much over the last century amazed him. His life was now drastically different, and the young one was starting down a road that was totally new to their people as well. No one has ever married a human before, much less lived like a normal man in every way.

Sebastian wasn’t sure if he should stay here for a while or leave for the US tonight. There were so many people that he needed to speak to still, and it would be good to get across the water as well. While he searched his mind for something else to say he looked over to the cat that was sitting atop a carpeted tower of sorts. The base had a platform that was covered in toys half way up the trunk like center. At the apex of the trunk was a large barrel wrapped in the soft beige rug like material. Earl was standing on the top of the barrel cleaning his paws after his evening meal.

Sebastian noticed that the cat kept one eye upon him and the other on his papa. Of course his life wasn’t in danger; there wasn’t enough blood in a cat to satisfy anyone’s hunger, except maybe for a youngling’s first and desperate catch. He wondered if the cat eyed him was because he knew that the strange person in his home wasn’t like the rest of the people that he saw on a daily basis, this being smelled different and made different sounds. When the creature looked over to his care taker, Sebastian did also. Marcus looked like a cat on a hot tin roof. Sebastian wondered if he was making him nervous, if his host sensed that something was amiss. When he arrived into France from the hills where the home of an acquaintance lived, Sebastian realized that his life was going to be different from that moment forward. The entire time he turned around he felt as if a pair of eyes were upon the back of his head. Traveling to Italy for a day then realizing the eyes were ever present there as well, he decided to loop around and when he felt that he was alone he took a chance on coming here real quick. He wanted to tell Marcus to be careful, to watch his step. A note could have been sent but Sebastian didn’t want to leave that way again. He felt that he needed to go so he decided to get to the point of his visit so he could get going.

“Well I think I’m going to go to America next really.” He waited to see what his friend might say, when he saw Marcus look at him with a perplexing stare, he wondered what else he could have said.

Emily got the information she had been dying for all day. Maria had ended up filling out three pages of notes front and back with the best flowers for sun, shade, and partial of both. What annuals to plant in the summer and what perennials to put in there all year long, were added as well. Purples to attract the butterflies and reds to call to the bees were the main attractions. Julia ended up leaving after about forty minutes of telling Maria about Steve and her possible move. Emily spent another forty-five minutes with just Maria going through several of the books Emily brought, as well as three others that Maria had in the back.

Emily was done and wanted to get going, “Well I better get going on home. I cannot thank you enough for all this help. On a day off when you feel like getting dirty do you want to come on by and help me put them into the ground?”

“Of course I will, that’s the best part. You did it right; you pay someone to do the nasty work of pulling the dead and garbage out, then have fun putting the color and fun stuff in. Call me even if you want help at the nursery when you go to buy the plants.”

“Thanks Maria, you’re the best,” Emily gave her a big hug, “I’ll call you in a few days, how’s that sound?”

“Perfect. I have Friday and Saturday off so either day would be great to head on over.” Maria cleaned up the desk and the rest of the shop. The day was so slow that it took her only minutes to tidy up like she normally did. “If you can wait just a sec I’ll walk out with you?”

“Sure,” Emily stuck her nose in all of the roses in the front window, they were so lovely and spectacular she had to experience them fully. Their texture was so soft as well, the yellow ones felt like a thin velvet. Maria was up front in no time and they were heading out the door. Maria only walked with her for one block then turned off to the right to head back towards the other side of town.

Once Emily was in silence again she decided to slow her pace a bit to enjoy the serenity of the streets. The shop had been so full of people and loud the last few days she didn’t realize how she missed the silence. No one was around for the remainder of her way home; the night was creeping on so the light in the sky was a beautiful shade of purple and burgundy. Spotting the alleyway that led to her house she sighed with relief and turned right into the narrow street. Before heading upstairs she decided to look at the fence from a different viewpoint, it was in good shape on this side and the cherry tree in the corner was peeking up just over the top of the wooden slates.

Emily turned from her yard and was starting to head towards the door when she heard a noise behind her. Occasionally there were kids riding their bikes through here so Emily just glanced over her shoulder. When she saw a person walking it startled her since she was expecting a child. It made her look again quickly at the man that was now striding towards her.

He had a strange way of walking; Emily thought that perhaps he was drunk so she quickened her step a tad towards the door. When she was about one step away the man behind her spoke, “No need to rush away pretty lady, I just wanted a quick moment of your time if I may?” His voice had a strange accent to it.

Not wanting to be rude just in case it was a normal guy and not a drunken kid, she replied as she half turned, “Yes sir, do you need directions somewhere?” She kept her feet moving towards the door to let him know that she wasn’t going to stop and chat. When her hand was on the knob she turned more towards the encroaching man.

“I don’t need directions per se, I was just looking for some dinner.” He took another step towards her and placed his hands upon her shoulders before she had the chance to turn the door knob.

His sudden advancement took her off guard, she was just about to open her door when the man was suddenly holding her so firmly but gently in the same sense. Before she could scream out she was feeling a sudden and intense pain. When she tilted her head down she noticed that the man was biting into her, right where her neck and shoulders met. As she tried to release a scream fingers were pushing on her voice box to stop her from calling out. She released one whisper, “Marcus...” before the powerful thumbs cut the last bit of air she had going through her throat. Also with the loss of blood she realized it was making her feel very weak, and very hungry, at the same time.

When it dawned on Emily that she smelt tomato sauce her eyes closed from looking at the pretty purple sky beyond the red walls of the ally buildings. The next image she saw was one from her dreams, the one when she is in the old house being proposed to with her dream man, Craig. As she looked down to the man kneeling before her she realized she knew those eyes, they were the same eyes she looked into every day of her life, they were her Marcus’. Then it flashed to the dark room, and it was Sebastian growling in the corner and suddenly snatching Craig Marcus from her and leaving for years. Then a voice quietly said to her inner ears, ‘You hid the ring he gave you in the window seat of your attic just knowing one day it was to end up where it belonged, on your finger from Marcus’.

Just as the large, powerful hands that belonged to her assailant started to let her go a thought hit her like a ton of bricks, so much so; she felt like a dumbass for not putting the pieces together sooner, she, Emily, was actually Amelia, re-incarnated. Now, for most people there is no such thing, it’s impossible, ridiculous, and preposterous. But for others, it’s a way of life, a fact that can be proven with hypnosis, dream analysis, and meditation. Emily felt her entire life, that those past life regression moments were correlated with déjà vu. Now that her life was ending she felt it all come together. Then, just before her head hit the pavement she thought of her mother, then her father and brother. Then, of her Marcus again, her soul mate, her life, Craig Marcus.

Marcus was watching Earl clean his ears upon his throne, as he called it. He thought it was peculiar how his cat was watching this old creature sitting near him. Sebastian was acting quite odd, perhaps Earl could feel it as well. The room became quiet when there was a pause in the conversation when Marcus thought he heard something. When the sharp tangy scent of citrus hit his nostrils, he felt something, shift. He couldn’t explain it, but he knew something was seriously wrong. Then he heard Emily call him, she said his name just once. Instantly his feet were through the side door and springing around the corner in the stair well, as he ploughed through the door into his office, he leapt the four feet to the doorknob and flung it inwards to allow himself access to the alley. Just as the door was open enough for him to flip through he noticed that his requester was right here. She fell into his arms as he opened the door into the alleyway. He saw blood stained on her pale purple dress and felt her body cool in his arms.

Everything seemed to slow down into slow motion for him at that exact moment. He looked from his beloved up towards a figure running away onto the sidewalk. Just as Marcus was about set Emily down gently to go after her murderer, he was pushed to the side by Sebastian. Within a matter of milliseconds the white haired, jittery confidant was chasing down the villain. But before he turned the corner he shouted to Marcus, “Do what is right! Do what MUST be done!”

Marcus looked down at the small woman in his arms. Without a second thought he was racing up the stairs he just descended and was placing his fragile Doll onto the huge bed they shared every night. After he placed her down he released a howl of utter anguish and bitter rage. It seemed as though the very walls shook with the vibrations emanating from the powerful lungs letting a cry of frustration loose. Once the red haze cleared from his sight, Marcus looked down at Emily, she was still breathing, she was starting to take short gasps of air into her lungs. Right when Marcus was thinking that he was now facing his worst nightmare, the one thing he dreaded thinking for the last year and half; Emily’s eyes flipped open and found his instantly then fluttered closed again.

When those bright green eyes looked at him he thought, This is it, either I let her die or I change her. “Nnnnnoooo!!” loosed from his mouth. If he believed in all the Gods and Goddesses he would be crying to them right now, why would they toy with his soul this way? He looked back down into his lovers eyes, who were half open now, right before they closed once again she mouthed out in three tiny breaths, “Love, Craig, Marcus.” As the small delicate skin started to take those green orbs from him, he took her into his arms and bit right next to the original bite she bore from earlier.

As he took the last of her human blood out of her he tried to remember all of the things that he was taught by his teacher. He felt the pull of her heart, heard the beat slow down to almost nothing. Now was the hard part, worse than tasting her blood, he had to get her to drink enough of his. He pulled away from her and bit into his wrist and tried to put the blood onto her lips. She wasn’t moving, she wasn’t licking her lips or trying to swallow the drips he got onto her tongue.

When the thought of getting sick was starting to rise, he thought of something different, he kissed her. He bit his tongue, and then kissed her harder. He was begging for this to work as he held her unmoving body in his arms. Then he felt the pull slowly. The thought of a baby suckling its mother’s teat came to his mind suddenly. It felt good in a way to have Emily suck on his tongue; it felt similar to way she sucked on other parts of him as well. Right before his mind started to go to the gutter the pull became harder, fiercer, he felt as if she could dismember him. He withdrew from her and sliced open his wrist for her since the first bite had already closed up. Once the blood was pooling he put her mouth to it and let her drink as much as she could.

He held her head tenderly in an embrace that resembled a man hugging his child, her lips created a suction cup and her teeth sunk into his skin. He held her around her slim back and she was wrapped around him like a baby. Her legs and arms were twisted around his torso, all sets of nails were dug into his back and backside. And she drank, and drank, and filled her system with all that she could get. Marcus started to lose his grip on her, then they both slowly fell to the soft and comforting bed below. As Marcus’ vision blurred from him, of his wife before him, he thought that this was the perfect way to die, in her arms, right now, at this time of his long life. If he couldn’t live without her, what else was there?

Marcus awoke with a start, there was someone in his house with him, someone nearby. He picked himself up on one arm and noticed that Emily was not in the same position as how he left her earlier, she was wrapped in his arms when he fell asleep, now she was laying on her back with her arms crossed over her belly. He thought she was dead, he let her die. He face started to crumple into a ball when he noticed Earl laying next to her cleaning his paw, tail flicking at being disturbed recently. In that short moment of contemplation, Marcus thought he heard something come from the still body next to him. Suddenly there was another noise behind him, he spun around, defenses up, when he saw Sebastian opening his bedroom door.

“Awake I see, how are you feeling?” Sebastian was handing Marcus a large plastic cup half full of liquid, “Drink up, and rest.”

Taking the cup he put his nose down into the opening, elk blood. Marcus took the first three gulps in rapid succession, after taking a breath he took two more swings then set the cup onto his bent knee, “Thanks. What happened? She’s not dead is she?”

Sebastian sat down in the rocking chair that was in the corner of the room, “You’re welcome. And no, she is not. Good job my boy. A little rough around the edges, but I can presume that this was a first for you?” After entwining his fingers and laying them upon his lap he looked from them to Marcus, “She’s sleeping right now, I gave you a bit of my own blood, you let her suck too long dear boy. You must be more controlled about these things, you waited too long to drain her, then gave her too much of your blood, you were so drained when I walked in here. Good thing I came when I did, her bleeding needed to be stopped and you needed to be tended to. But there is a cup for you after you finish this one. You can go out and get some for her when she wakes up, just as I did for you. “

“I’m not leaving her side!” It was said with a voice of firm conviction, nothing would move him from her side until she woke up.

“I had a feeling you would say that. I will gather it for you, stay here until she wakes, then I will take my leave of you. I really need to finish my, ahem, my task at hand now.”

The words brought Marcus to a start, “Who the HELL was that man? Why did he try to kill my wife? Who did you bring here with you?” Marcus was no longer on the bed but holding Sebastian up by the lapels of his blazer. The shorter man wasn’t struggling to be free, he just hung his head low with shame.

“I’m so sorry. I had no idea he was still following me. I truly thought that I lost him in Italy. I am so, so sorry.” Sebastian just hung his head lower when he was done apologizing, he did feel regretful for what had happened to Emily. He also felt sorry for the loss of a fellow vampire.

Marcus set the man down, straightened his lapels then went and leaned his hands on the dresser. “I’m sorry, you helped me tremendously. Just. What happened?” Marcus looked up and caught his reflection in the mirror, he had blood all over the pale blue shirt he had been wearing. He unbuttoned the torn and stained shirt and tossed it into the garbage on his way to the bathroom. When Marcus was washing the dried blood from his arm and face, Sebastian stood behind him in the doorway and started to talk.

“I was in the mountains of Switzerland a few months ago, telling the elders about the new discovery. Well… well to cut a decades old story short, some of the clan there doesn’t like me from a previous skirmish with a woman that I met a while back.” He looked down to his feet when the man bent over the sink looked up, and glared at him through the mirror. Sebastian then continued, “But when Michael heard that I was back with more of my medical questions, well he wasn’t keen on it. After some encouragement to leave the area I did so and went to France to rest and regroup my thoughts. I noticed him there the next day so I fled to Greece, then France then on to Italy. I thought I lost him there so I came here through some very unconventional methods to keep him off the trail. But I wanted to come here and warn you to stay clear from anything at the Villa, and if anyone came by then not to mention me what so ever so you could be left alone.”

Marcus was done washing so he dried off then squeezed between Sebastian and the door frame, “So what kind of encouragement were you given to leave? And why in the hell did he follow here and cause this?” He raised his hands to bring attention to his wife on the bed. He was amazed that Earl was right there laying next to her as if she was taking a nap. Finding a black t-shirt in his drawer Marcus put it on then sat down next to Emily again with his back leaning on the headboard.

Sebastian took his seat in the rocker again, “Michael thought that I killed a woman in the nearest village. He was afraid that I would draw attention to his clan and he was quite upset about it. I in fact didn’t kill the woman in question by the way. It was shortly after you and I parted ways, I went there looking for more answers to what I was working on at that time.” He gave Marcus a raised eyebrow knowing that he knew what those projects were. “The woman that I met was a human and was very interested in my research. You see, she was also a witch and was very intrigued by our breeding problems. Well she and I mated one night. A couple of things arose from that wonderful evening though. The first was that unbeknownst to me, Michael was madly in love with the witch and was never able to be with her. The second debacle was that she was also the village Elder, the worst that brought it all together, she got with child.”

Marcus sat up, “What? You and her conceived?” He looked over to Emily, oh how he wished he could have done that with her, he wondered if Mort was right about that. Guess not now. Looking at her, he really wanted to change her dress that was ruined now. She was cleaned up earlier, but he wanted to bathe her properly; but he also wanted to hear the rest of the tale so he patiently waited and listened.

“Yes we did. You see, I went away from the village and the others for a while to let things settle down. I got a message from her that she needed to see me, when I did she was seven months pregnant and about to give birth at any moment. She wanted to tell me that she was with my child and that she knew one of them was going to die. She asked that if it were her, then to bury her in the mountains by the waterfall. If it was their child that died, than to cremate it on a pyre as if it was a god. If they both died, then I was to spread their ashes into the sea.” Sebastian wiped his face with his hand, he looked deeply moved as he told his tale, as if he loved the woman greatly and to remember one of the fates of his beloved was taxing on him still after all of these years.

“I burned them both on a pyre that took a week to die down. When I carried my beloved and my baby in a clay pot, to let their souls soar with the gulls to the heavens above, I vowed that I was never going to fall in love again. Never did I set foot in that country; until recently. I had to tell the Elders there of the amazing news of a heartbeat, I have been deemed as a traveler and messenger over the years, I felt it was my duty to continue it even in hostile territories. I knew Michael was still harboring ill feelings towards me, but I wasn’t there to see him and vowed to avoid his presence at all costs.

“After my message was delivered I planned on leaving straightaway for America. Sadly Michael stopped me on my way out of the mountain range, it was a point blank threat on my life. He told me that he was going to kill me for ruining his life by murdering the love he had since a boy. How was I to know that he wanked-off as a boy to the local mysterious witch? I always hated that man, let me tell you. Anyway, after he tried to remove my head with a very lovely jewel encrusted sword, I fled as fast as I could to get away from the madman. I didn’t’ think he was crazy enough to follow me around the blessed world for my head on a stick. But sadly he accosted Emily without even knowing who she was.

“After I followed you down the stairs, and saw who was running away, I knew I was the only one that could take care of the situation. You had to take care of Emily, plus I knew exactly where Michael was heading anyway. He started north to hide in the farmlands, I gathered he was going to feed more, and properly this time. “Michael still liked to dine on human prey on occasion. Some of the Elders in his area changed their ways, but they lived by the ancient creed as well. One of the reasons why I never cared for them much, such savages to me. Well by the time I caught up with him just past the river where that one hill starts up, we had a bit of a scuffle. I was finally able to get the upper hand and when I hit him so hard that he fell over a pile of rocks, I pinned him down and asked him what had Emily done to him to provoke the attack? He laughed in my face as I held him down and asked if she was going to be my next victim, he thought it humorous that he took something from me. Well at that I ripped his head off and threw him in the river.”

He said it with such finality that it left the impression of disgust since Marcus knew that Sebastian wasn’t one for fighting and violence in any way. “When I came back I saw a purse and several books laying in the ally still, so I gathered them up and put them on the kitchen table. I then found you both in here in a sad state. But with that said,” he stood up suddenly, “I’m off to find some food for the youngling here. She will sleep for another day or so, then she will wake up thirsty like never before. Let her drink her fill of what is here, and keep her here for a few days before she starts venturing out. And no offense,” A long finger pointed to the sleeping ball of fur, “You might want to keep a close eye on her with him, he might smell very good to her for the first day or so.”

Opening the door to let himself out, “I’ll be back in several hours, do what you need. Oh and don’t worry now, there won’t be any more disturbances.” Without another word he was gone in a flash. Marcus just said thanks to the air around him.

Now that he was alone he went and filled the tub with warm water. Marcus picked up Emily gently and carried her to the tub and undressed her from the now bloody and torn dress that she bought when her mother was here last. After putting her into the water he undressed himself and got in with her. He washed her hair and rinsed it with the wand. Then he bathed her with the soap that she got at the wedding from her mother. After every speck of blood was off her skin and out of her hair he dried her off and put her into a plain black cotton pair of pajama’s that he found at the bottom of her drawer. She looked so pretty in the black also, it wasn’t often that she wore black, but Marcus thought it made her hair look pretty. As he brushed her hair he thought the black brought out the red more. But as he kept looking at it, he thought her hair looked redder now than it did the other day. Deciding that it must be the light, or his eyes, he put the brush away and pulled the clean covers over her.

While she lay in the tub he quickly stripped the sheets that had gotten a few drops of red stains on them and he didn’t want to put her back onto a dirty bed. Now that everything was clean, he got into his night clothes and curled up next to her like they were both just sleeping. But as he put his arm over his treasure, he started to cry with the thought that she was so still, that she didn’t seem to be breathing at all. Once he stilled his own breath and emotions, he put his hand over her heart then just lay there with his eyes closed and his mind at rest.

To his delight he heard her heart thump several times over the course of the night. Marcus didn’t move a muscle in the hours it took for the sun to rise. Earl came and went in his usual nightly patterns. First the litter box, then the food dish, then the toys in the living room, a race around the bottom floor, in and out of the laundry room; then to make a sliding finale across the wood floor into the bedroom. Now he was on the bed pacing back and forth over Marcus’ legs to let him know that it was time for breakfast. He raised his head and opened his eyes, “Good morning little man, do you want to eat?”

He got a hearty meow in response, then Earl jumped to the floor to lead the way to where his dish was. Marcus was reluctant to leave the bed though. He looked down at Emily, she hadn’t moved at all in the night, she was just as he had placed her hours before. Deciding she would be fine, plus he would know it the second she woke up anyway, he needed to feed Earl and wouldn’t be gone long. Either way, he fed Earl in a rush and raced back up the stairs to lay back down with Emily.

Sebastian came in later that evening and Marcus got up again and met him in the kitchen. He was putting large plastic pitchers into the fridge. “Hello there. Here are about five gallons, that should be enough for three or four days.”

“Thanks.” Marcus sat down at the table and looked into Emily’s purse, he noticed that she had a message on her phone. He picked it up and pushed the center button, her mother called yesterday. Tossing the phone onto the table he placed his head in his hands, “Oh hell, how am I going to explain this to her family?” He groaned and his head sunk all the way down to rest in his arms that were crossed on the table. As the reasons, excuses and lies crossed through his head he thought of something else. Taking the phone back up he looked at the time that Naomi had called. She rang Emily at 8:47 p.m.; Emily was attacked at 8:40. Deciding to see why she called he hit the buttons and listened to the message on the speaker.

Naomi’s voice rang out into his kitchen, “Hi honey its mom. I just had an odd thought and decided to call to see if you’re alright. Please give me a call as soon as you get this so I know that you’re okay Sweetpea. I love you honey. Talk to ya soon.”

Marcus just hung the phone up after the message was done and plopped it into Emily’s purse. He leaned back into the chair and just stared blankly at the man that sat across from him at the small table.

After a bit Sebastian spoke, “Her mother is quite intuitive. Seeing as how she knows about you, I think you should tell her the entire truth right off the bat. If she knows that you changed her daughter to save her life, she won’t be upset, she’ll be thankful to you. Now as to the changes she’s going to experience, well, you’ll just have to deal with those as they come along.”

Marcus didn’t say another word, he just slowly rose then went back to Emily’s side on the bed. As the night went on Marcus heard Sebastian in the house making himself comfortable. He took a book from the living room into his room, the guest room up here, and read for the entire evening. Once the sun rose Sebastian actually went down and fed the cat that was in there prowling around and had become friendly with their house guest. Since Earl was taken care of Marcus just stayed right as he had been for the previous twenty hours. Emily had been asleep for one day and two nights now. Marcus was hoping that she would wake today, but he knew that it could still be a few more days before she decided to wake up. Everyone woke in their own time and in their own way. On this day though, Marcus decided to get up and get dressed. He went down into the kitchen and picked Earl up from the floor and gave him a bunch of attention.

He found his company sitting in the living room watching the telly, “Masterful design with hiding the telly, it took me a moment to find the bloody thing.” Marcus sat on the couch and just looked at the picture of the black and white movie that was on. Earl jumped onto his lap so he sat there and pet his little boy for hours. Both men didn’t move from their spots for a long time. When Marcus was aroused by a claw in his leg, he rose and gave the hungry kitty more food. The darkness out the kitchen window took him by surprise. Looking over at the clock it read one in the morning. When the phone on the table rung it shook his nerves to the core, he jumped and a yelp escaped his lips. He heard Sebastian chuckle in the other room, then he cursed himself silently for his foolishness. He took the two steps to the phone and picked it up; it was Emily’s mom again. He had to answer it, she had to know that things were at least fine.

With a shaky voice he answered it before it flipped to voicemail, “Hello?”

“Marcus? Is everything okay?” Naomi was trying to sound calm but she was so nervous that she hadn’t heard from Emily in a couple of days.

“Oh hi mum, yeah everything is just fine. Em’s just a little sick that’s all. It’s just a little head cold, nothing serious. How are things over there with you guys?” He was trying to sound relaxed but wasn’t sure if he was doing a good job of it or not.

“Everything’s fine here. But Em’s alright? Just a cold you say?” Naomi was skeptical, Emily never got colds. And the feeling she had the other night was just too odd. But Marcus said she was fine, so she must have been. “Well I know it’s crazy early there and she’s probably sleepin’, but I just had to call and see what was going on. I knew you’d be awake.”

“Of course. Well I’ll have Emily give you call in the morning, or when she’s up and around. No worries though, I’m taking good care of our girl.” He wanted to slap himself for being so corny. He just wanted off the phone so badly.

“Ok darlin’, well you have her call as soon as she can. Take care now, I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Sounds good, enjoy the rest of your day.”

“I’ll do that. Love ya, bye.”

“Love you too, goodbye.” Marcus was exasperated when he hit the red button then he tossed the cell phone firmly into the purse where it lived most of the days. He went back up to his room and lay there like he had been the day before.

After Naomi got off the phone she stayed at her desk and stared at her computer for a little bit. She knew something wasn’t right, but she didn’t know what, thus she didn’t know what to do about it. After finally realizing that there was not a damn thing she could do, she decided to get back to the kitchen she was cleaning out. Steve was going to be moving to California with Julia and she was packing him boxes of things so he didn’t have to spend the money on buying stuff for their house. She was so happy that he was going to be moving in with Julia. She was the perfect partner for him, strong, fun-loving, passionate and adorable. As much as she hated her baby boy to leave the roost, he was too young to settle in a place just yet, especially all the way up here in the middle of nowhere. He needed to see more of this great country, and the world to boot she thought. As much as it killed her to see her little girl get on that plane to finish college in another country, she was so happy for her. The world had so many things to experience and explore, staying in one place was ridiculous. Now that Steve was becoming more independent, her and George could start to do more traveling on their own. Deciding that she would call Em on Saturday if she hadn’t heard back, she went back to sorting the pots and pans with lids.

Emily started to wake up from a hazy dream. When she saw her room around her she relaxed and took in the scents around her. First she smelled Marcus, his sweet luscious scent that she loved so much. Then she could smell Earl, baby-sweet. Then she caught another scent that wasn’t a common one for her house. It was sweet and musky at the same time. As her eyes opened again she rolled her head to the side and saw Marcus laying there with his head tucked under his arm with his eyes closed. She tried to say “Good morning”, but her throat was terribly dry and scratchy.

After hearing a pathetic squeak that was emitted, Marcus’ head snapped up, “Emily, are you awake Doll?”

Now he instantly sprang into a seated position next to her, she tried to laugh, he had a look as though she had been sleeping for a month. When she tried to get up and felt weak, she had to stop and think about what she did the night before. She knew she hadn’t been drinking, so a hangover wasn’t possible, so why was it hard to just sit up in bed.

Marcus saw her trying to sit up and he helped her by putting his arms behind her and propping her up on a few pillows, “I got you baby, you’re alright”. She wanted to ask what the fuss was all about but again, nothing came out of her parched throat. When she opened her mouth to speak again the door opened up and in walked Sebastian holding a pitcher and a cup. Again she wanted to laugh, his timing was perfect, she could have drunk an entire gallon of iced tea right now. As the pitcher came closer though, it wasn’t iced tea that she smelled, it smelled more like an odd juice. Knowing Sebastian though, it was probably some crazy guava fruit from Africa or some remote island. “Good morning”, was all he said. She went to raise her hands to take the glass from him and as she gripped the blue plastic, she thought of how odd her skin looked just then.

Emily took a sip of the juice first to see what it was. When she couldn’t place it she took another larger sip, then her thirst came over her, she wasn’t concerned with the flavor of it, it was so refreshing on her throat that she downed the entire glass. Like a needy patient she held the glass out and took a huge breath, “Wow I feel better thank you Sebastian, I was so thirsty. Where is this fruit…” She stopped herself short when a few things came to mind: one, the liquid she watched being poured from the pitcher to her glass was thick and sticky looking. And red. The other thing was the sound of her own voice. Quickly she looked over to her husband who hadn’t moved an inch since Sebastian walked in the room, she realized that it not only sounded strange to herself, it sounded strange in general. “Honey, what’s going on here? What did we do last night, why can I not remember what we did?”

She leaned back and drank more of the juice absentmindedly. Marcus didn’t answer her, he only looked at her with a dumbfounded look on his face. She remembered going to see Maria, and Julia walked with her there. Then on her walk home the sky was so pretty, it was her favorite color of purple. Then, then she was having trouble remembering past that. After a few more minutes she said, “I remember coming home, oh wait, I stopped to look at the fence on the side of the yard. Then, then a man attacked me. Marcus,” she turned to face him and took hold of one of his hands, “I was attacked in the alley, you need to call the police. I don’t know if he took…”

Marcus stopped her, “Em, I know. I know. You’re fine, the guy, was um, the guy was caught.” He rubbed her hair down the side of her head, then looked into the eyes that he thought just a few days before were going to be lost to him forever. He took her into his arms and held her so tight, “I love you so much baby. I’m so glad you’re alright.”

He let go of her and she resumed drinking the glass that Sebastian re-filled for her. Once that was done she asked, “So what happened after I was attacked? Oh, and when did you get here Sebastian?” Emily knew something wasn’t right. Everything just seemed weird to her right now. She was wondering if she hit her head and was on any medication. She was trying to remember the attacker and what he did, as she replayed the evening over in her head she watched Marcus’ face shift and contort as if he was struggling with something.

He didn’t know if he should let her try and remember all that she could on her own, or if he should just tell her the play of events. He decided on the easier route, “Em honey, you were attacked, three nights ago. “ Marcus then proceeded to tell Emily about Michael, him following Sebastian here, then deciding to take a snack in the alley before continuing his search for Sebastian. Before he got to the hard part he paused, “Em honey, I had to do what I had to do. I was faced with a horrific nightmare that I would never want to challenge again. I couldn’t bear to lose you, the thought of you being out my life isn’t even an option for me.”

It was all starting to come back to her. As Marcus told of the events, Emily remembered everything, the attacker saying he only wanted a moment of her time, then his hands on her throat, his teeth on her neck. Then, she remembered her dream, her remembrance, her realization. As all of this hit her, something else knocked her over; she looked to her left and caught the mirror on the dresser across the room, “Oh my God!” She flew up, and amazingly enough handed her cup to Marcus and didn’t spill a drop, and was looking at her reflection.

She paused and looked at her feet, then at the bed where she was just sitting a moment ago, then back to her reflection. She was baffled at who was now looking back at her; it was Emily, the same little nose, the same little chin and rounded lips, except the eyes were different. They were such a pale shade of green she looked as though her eyes were made from the palest jade. Her hair was a strawberry blonde color now; there was no brown in it at all. She peered in closer to her reflection, her skin was different too, it was pale, paler than she had ever been in her life, and flawless. Turning around to look at the others in the room she realized what the rest of the story was, Marcus was starting to rise and go over to her, albeit slowly, and Sebastian simply took a seat on the edge of the bed.

She asked her husband as he inched closer, “You had to do what you had to do?”

He was so frightened that she would be furious with him, that she would lash out at him, “Yes,” was all that he whispered out.

Emily quickly crossed the short distance between the two of them, “Oh honey,” she took him into her arms, she knew how hard it must have been to change her, ”Thank you for doing this, for me.” The look of relief on his face was enough for her, she kissed him on the lips, and he returned her love instantly.

After she released him she looked over to the bed and Sebastian. He was smiling at them and she just smiled back. Then she looked at the sheets on the bed. There was a large brown stain where she was laying. She thought how nasty that was, then looked down at her pajamas. They were black cotton that felt cheap, the kind she used to wear, and they felt gross and dirty. She looked up at Marcus, “What is that?” And pointed to the stain on the bed.

“Oh, that.” He crossed over and started to rip the sheets off the bed to bleach. He bought cheap white cotton sheets so he could bleach them then donate them to the shelter. He and Emily were used to the Egyptian cotton and he didn’t want those to get ruined. The bed was bare in seconds and he answered her, “When we’re changed over our bodies excrete all of the toxins that were in it. Have you ever done a detoxification diet?”

“I’ve heard of them but never did one.” Emily suddenly wanted a hot bath but didn’t dare start to undress with company there.

“Well all of the chemicals, dirt, sweat and such get pushed out through your pores and hair follicles. This is the result,” he lifted the wad of sheets then placed them in the closet out of sight, he would bleach them as soon as his elder had gone.

Emily just shook her head, “Wow, that was gross, I can’t believe my body was that nasty, that that stuff was in it!’ She sort of shivered then looked at Sebastian when he chuckled, “What?”

He was now sitting in the chair that was in front of the window, “I’ve seen pools of almost black coming out of some men, you my dear were very clean for your living environments.” Crossing his hands on his lap he just gazed at her, this new young one. She was so ethereal now, her natural beauty was just exemplified a thousand fold in three days.

Sebastian cleared his throat, “Pardon me, but I will be taking my leave now, I just have a few words though, for the both of you.” When he got their attention he continued, “Emily, you need to stay in doors for a few days. The scents of things, animals, people, are going to be strange and difficult at times, be strong and just remember who you are. There is enough for you to feed off of in the kitchen for a few days. After that Marcus will guide you on how and what to hunt. Now Marcus, don’t let her out of your sight for a few months, she’s going to need all the coaching possible if you are to stay in this lovely little world that you have created here for yourselves.

Emily interrupted him, “Oh my gosh, how are we going to deal with that? I can always say that I dyed my hair, but what about my eyes?” Emily turned and looked at herself again, there was no way she could defend the unique paleness of the green in any way.

Sebastian answered her, “I can send you something in the mail. Sort of like contacts for vamps. They are made of a thin piece of glass so they won’t dissolve with our acidic fluids. Granted you still have to be very careful with them, no rubbing your eyes or anything of the sort, you’ll have to keep them in and not touch them so the colored part stays over the iris. As soon as I get to the US, I’ll have a friend mail them to you.” He stood up to leave and noticed the cat out in the hallway sensing that something was amiss, “Oh and another thing Emily, do be careful around your little pet here. I know he’s near and dear to your heart, but you have a different kind of hunger within you. Just be cautious of yourself at first, alright?” He held out his hand for Marcus to shake, then gave Emily a slight hug, “Goodbye you two, take care of each other, you are really a special breed now.” And with that, he disappeared out of their house through the front door.

Emily closed her eyes to take it all in, she couldn’t believe how her life had changed so drastically in one moment. While her eyes were closed she could hear and smell everything around her, it was thrilling! As she took air into her lungs through her nose she thought about all of it; Marcus, clean sheets, her new soap and lotion that was on her skin, bleach in the bathroom, Earl, cinnamon from the living room. Once she was still again she stayed motionless to let her ears take in the sounds; birds outside, water in the pipes, the dryer, a woman singing in the street, kids laughing further down the way, Earl’s breathing. She opened her eyes to see Marcus standing perfectly still with the silliest look on his face. Then she looked around her room to see things; the collection of little dolls on her dresser looked so vivid and colorful, remembering each occasion of each one, the red satin one from Rome, a green and orange dressed one from Ireland, a little German doll in a dark blue dress, she could even see the stitching in the dress of the first doll he got her so long ago. She also turned to see the brightness of the lamp, Earl’s fur, then back to her husband’s insanely gorgeous face. Emily giggled at him then took two quick steps to be right in front of him, “Hi.”

His relief showed and he exhaled deeply and blinked his eyelids very slowly, “Hi.” He bent forward and wrapped himself around the little woman in front of him. He breathed in her hair, she smelled sweeter than she used to, now she had the vampire scent to her skin as well what she had naturally. “I was so afraid that I lost you when I saw you outside, it scared me to death.”

Emily hugged him harder, “I was thinking that I was never going to see you again as I was passing out, that was the worst thought, that I would never have these arms around me again.” As she pressed herself into his chest she took more of his scent in, “You smell better now than you did before.” When he laughed the rumble in his chest felt so good on her cheek, she wanted to crawl inside of him suddenly. A thump noise from downstairs took her attention away, “What was that noise?”

“Get used to wondering that, now that your hearing is more acute all sorts of noises will drive you crazy. But that was just Suzanne locking up downstairs. We are completely alone now.” He let her go a little and backed up to take another look at her changes. “Your hair and eyes are so lovely, they really are. I’m glad your eyes were bright green instead of brown when this happened, they’re mesmerizing now. Death becomes you darling,” he laughed and she did as well along with him.

Out of the corner of her eye Emily saw Earl slowly creeping into the room, when she saw him she smiled then slowly went to go over to him. Marcus held his breath, he didn’t know what to expect at all from her. He didn’t think that she would attack Earl, but the scent of blood when you’re newly changed has a powerful effect.

Emily knelt down slowly and stuck her hand out for Earl to sniff her, she knew she had a different scent suddenly. As he stretched his neck out far to smell the digits she asked Marcus, “Where was he for the last three days while I was recovering?”

“By your side the entire time. He only went downstairs to eat and drink, otherwise both of your men never left your side.” He bashfully looked down, as much as he would tell her how he wrapped himself around her with worry for those three endless days, he still felt silly, especially now, after the fact knowing that she is just fine.

When Earl rubbed her fingers with his cheek Emily gently picked him up and put her face into his neck, “Oh now I see why daddy does this all the time, you do smell good!” As she started to carry him with her to go downstairs she nuzzled him more, and said to him, “How could Sebastian suggest that I might eat you for Pete’s sake? Why there wouldn’t be two sips in you anyway, I could never hurt my baby boy.” She bounded down the steps at a speed that was invigorating, and she got Earl some treats from the cupboard and gave him a huge handful by his bowl. When she turned around Marcus was there, waiting for direction as to what she wanted to do, talk about, or whatever.

Emily had a million questions and didn’t know where to begin, she took Marcus’ hand and kissed it, then looked into his eyes, “Can we sit and talk? There are some things that I really need to figure out first. Oh, and do we have any more…” she went to the fridge and took out more of what Sebastian brought for her, “Oh here it is.” Taking the pitcher out of the fridge she filled a cup to the brim that was waiting on the counter. “Come, let’s go into the living room and get comfy.”

She sat down in her usual spot, and Marcus took his as well. Soon Earl came trotting in and hopped onto his tree to clean. As Emily sipped her drink like it was a margarita, she looked around the room to take it all in. She wondered if drugs did this at all? Made everything so sharp and crystal clear looking? The sun was starting to set so she looked out the blinds and saw how lovely the sky was turning, “I remember the color of the sky the other day, it was such a glamorous shade of purple.” As her mind wandered to those first visions the diamond on her ring caught a speck of light and gleamed, she looked intently at the bands around her finger, “Where did you get my ring from Marcus?”

His smile was wickedly sweet, “Where do you think I got it from?” He wanted to see what she figured out. Her dreams over the last year were like little puzzle pieces to him, some of them made sense, some of them dumbfounded him to no ends.

“So this looks like the exact ring that you gave to Amelia, me, so many years ago. I had that dream that I hid it in the house where I lived, and now here it is. So you tell me.”

“It is your ring Doll. When you told me of your dream where you hid it, I went and got it right away. I had been wondering where it had gone so many years ago, you really gave me a wonderful surprise that day.”

Her look was of acceptance and bewilderment all at the same time. “Okay, I figured it was the same ring, but how in the world did you get it?”

“Well, let me tell you this story then my dear. Let me take it back to the day I saw you. When you turned that corner and I was able to see your face, I almost died all over again. You looked so much like Amelia it was like a bolt of lightning coming down from the heavens. After you left I started a massive research on past lives, reincarnation, being “born again”, anything I could get my hands on. I was actually pretty startled to read that many people believe that lives are always connected, the ones that have very strong bonds will always have strong bonds throughout the age of time. Well I knew you were Amelia born again to be with me. I don’t know how I knew it, I don’t know how it made sense, but as time went on and the more you and I got to know each other, and the more and more I learned about you, well I knew it for sure then.

“One day I decided to look for your old house, low and behold it was still there. It seems that Amelia left the house to her granddaughter, she kept it for a long time then passed it down to her son, he in turn kept it to raise his family in then he died in it. I lost track of the owners for a while as it changed hands to businesses, then back to residential, then back to business. It is now owned by a man that has his law offices in it. I asked the lady at the front desk for a very strange request, to look in the window seat in the attic for a ring that my great, great, great grandmother left so many years ago. I guess you could say she was enamored by me,” he stopped when Emily rolled her eyes dramatically and scoffed. He just shook his head and ignored her for the most part, “Anyway, she let me into the attic which was full of old boxes and files and such. She let me be and I went right to where I thought the ring would be. I sat on the bench and looked out onto the street that had changed oh, so much over the years.

“As the cars, buses and trucks zoomed on by, I thought of holding you there for so many nights as we watched the horse drawn carriages go by. But there was one strip of board on the seat in the corner near the window that had always been a little loose. I was able to pry the piece up with my car key and inside the shallow hole was a piece of linen. My hands were shaking so hard as I lifted it out of the space, I was nervous and anxious all the same time. Gently I unfolded the handkerchief to view the hidden treasure. There it was, the same ring that I bought so many, many years ago. A ring that I gave to a woman that I loved and who was taken from me so suddenly. Then, just as suddenly, you were given back to me. That’s why I told you who I was that first day, that’s why I was struggling so much to tell you so many things but I didn’t want to scare you off, or have you think that I was a total freak.” He stroked her leg as he thought about several things. When he looked up at Emily she had a funny smile on her face, “What? What is it?”

“God I love you! It was like every dream I had since the day I got here was leading me to you. They were telling me the story of my old life, and trying to put me back where I belong.” She set down the empty cup onto the table next to her and reached out and took his hand, “Thank you for still being here, waiting for me so to speak huh?”

“Yeah. It does seem like it doesn’t it?” He kissed her hand and set it down upon her leg but didn’t let it go. The two of them sat there for a long time just looking at each other.

For the rest of the night, until the sun rose, they sat and talked of everything; of the attack, of how he found her, Sebastian’s story and his role in killing Michael. They spoke of their life as it was and how it was going to be going forward. Marcus told Emily that she had to call her mom first thing tomorrow and they went over the things they could say. Emily knew this was a matter that she was going to have to sit on for a bit to digest how she was going to deal with her mother. It was amazing for Marcus, he was now able to tell her more things that he felt he had to keep from her before, like their life together and the similarities between her and Amelia.

For Emily it was great to be able to sit and talk with no interruptions, no stopping to get a drink, eat, use the bathroom. They were able to talk so quietly, now she understood more how Marcus and Sebastian conversed with each other. When the clock struck two Emily had a great idea, “Why don’t we bathe, get into fresh PJ’s and go to bed? If we can keep a pattern or routine, then maybe things won’t get too weird for me? I remember you telling me before how it was strange for you to get a normal life down. Maybe we can start a life together around our strange patterns?”

He just shrugged and nodded, “Sure Doll, whatever you want.” He knew she must be mentally tired, she wouldn’t be physically tired anymore, and he wanted her to rest. They both talked a lot and got a lot out into the open, as much as he wanted to make love to her tonight, he would behave and let her adjust to her surroundings on her own time. They took a nice long shower; she enjoyed how the hot water felt and the softness of the towels afterwards. To watch her put lotion on was amazingly humorous to Marcus, she did everything so slowly to get the full effect of the feel and texture as well as the scent.

Once they were dressed and under the covers, which now was awesome for Emily because he was no longer cold to her and he didn’t need to put a layer between their bodies anymore, they embraced each other tightly. She held on to him for a long time not moving, just feeling and smelling him. She leaned her head up to give him a kiss, “Good night darling,” he said his goodnight’s, then kissed her gently. Soon the gentle kiss became very passionate and heated. As Emily started to stroke Marcus, to feel his smooth and warm skin on his chest and stomach, to taste the sweetness of his lips on hers and the way his mouth tasted, was overwhelming. In a matter of minutes they both were undressed again and making love with such force and vigor that Marcus was afraid the headboard was going to damage the wall.

Emily was not anywhere near getting enough. She plastered herself next to him as close as she could get, she shoved him inside of her as far as she could. After she climaxed several times she wanted Marcus to, as husband and wife should. He was apprehensive at first, just for the simple fact that he had been so careful not to come inside of her for so long, that he was still worried about hurting her. But Emily was so sexy, sensual and so vibrant, he was having a hard time eventually doing anything but climaxing. He eventually came inside of his wife, for the first time ever in a year and a half with her, he enjoyed sex to the very fullest. It was so amazing to be with Emily in this way finally. Not only was he thrilled at the sensation of it, but he was also delighted that they could both now enjoy it together, and he could also take pleasure in it several times in a day.

Emily thought sex with her lover was heavenly before, now it was an all new experience for her. Everything was exemplified ten times, the feel of him on her and in her, his scent, his taste, the look on his face when he finally came into her; all of it was something that she felt she couldn’t get enough of. And for the next several hours, she attempted to get enough.

Since Emily was quarantined in their house for a week, they made up the story that she had a nasty cold and was only talking to people over the phone. She did call her mom the day after she awoke to reassure her that everything was fine. Emily was getting nervous though when her mother realized that her daughter’s voice sounded a little different; and it did because her voice went up a notch or two, it was higher pitched than before. Emily blamed it on the cold and brushed it off. It was probably the quickest conversation Emily had ever had with her. She knew that she was going to tell her mom the truth sooner than later though.

Marcus made an appearance in the shop a few times a day, mostly to let Earl in and out through the office, see on the employees, to check on orders and the other tasks that made up the general running of things. But for the most part, he was upstairs tending to his wife. The tending consisted of talking for an afternoon about the sublime things in life, how flowers feel, where other things go when they die, or what people are really all about.

The other part of his caretaking was to be her toy, anytime she wanted it, wherever she wanted it, and for how long she wanted it. It was a new world for them to be so open and experimental in their sexual lives. Of course Marcus brought up the book from the top corner of the shop, and he also brought home other books that had always been of interest to them both that they would never carry inside their somewhat modest walls. Emily attacked him in his office, coming out of the shower, going into the shower, as he played with Earl, she hopped onto his lap whenever the desire struck her. One night Marcus had to stop her, she bit him a little too hard, “You cannot bite as hard now Em, you can hurt me now you know.” Emily felt so bad for drawing a little blood to his neck that she showered him in kisses for several hours as an apology.

It was also a rush for him, not only to have his mate desire him so much, but now he felt that he didn’t have to wait for a reason or for her to be available and in the mood. As she watered the plants in the kitchen window one day he took her from behind over the sink. Not only was she receptive, but it spurned on a fun task of “blessing” the entire house. Neither one of them experienced sex on a stairwell before; they both were really enjoying the new aspect to their spectacular lives.

Emily called Maria and the landscaper to tell them to hold the plans for the garden for a bit. She hated to have to wait on it, she knew what she wanted and her patience wasn’t that great. She also called Julia to say hi and act like everything was as normal as could be. They talked for a long time and Emily promised they would have lunch as soon as she was up and around. By the sixth day of getting cabin-fever, Emily really wanted to go outside, to do anything. Luckily the package from America had arrived for her. Marcus brought it up to the house as she was reading everything she could find on line about horticulture and botany. He set the small unopened box next to the keyboard where she was sitting in the office.

Emily stopped her browsing and picked up the box, “Oh awesome, maybe now I can get outside without freaking anyone out!” She delicately opened the box and found two pairs of contact lens cases and a small note. Reading aloud to Marcus who was sitting in the chair next to the desk, she shared the message from Sebastian, “Emily, I hope these work well for you, there are two colors enclosed since green is not the easiest color to accentuate. Good luck on your new path in life. S.” She put the note onto the desk and picked up one of the cases, as she opened it she said, “Oh now don’t these look neat? Have you ever put these in before?” She walked out of the room and into the bathroom to her left, “I hope they’re comfortable.”

Marcus followed her, “I never have used them, I just didn’t face anyone that I knew previously, besides my brother. “ He looked over her shoulder as she gently put the tiny glass lens with a ring of dark green in the center, onto her eyeball. Involuntarily wincing as she did, he quickly put his hand over his mouth, it looked so gross to him, to touch your eye with a finger much less a finger with a piece of glass upon it.

After the lens was in place Emily kept her eyelid open for a moment to get the feel of it, then she slowly blinked her eyes. “Wow, I can’t feel it at all.” She opened her eyes then slowly looked from the left, right, up then down. After roving her eye around to make sure she could handle it she looked into the mirror, “That’s amazing.”

Marcus was just as amazed, her eye looked totally normal, “Put the other one in.”

Emily did and they both looked agape at her reflection in the mirror, he spoke first, “Well now you can go all about, they look just like they did before. Not any brown in them, but no one would notice that. What does the other color look like?” He went into the other room to fetch them, as he was coming back into the bathroom Emily was looking at her eyes very closely.

“My mom will notice them in two seconds,” With a sigh she took out the other lenses, they were a lighter green with a tad bit of brown in them, “Oh now these might be better.” Emily took out the dark green glass ones and put them back into their cases, then put in the new ones. After blinking a few times she looked at herself, these looked more natural with the brown added, “What do you think?”

When she turned towards Marcus he looked at her then smiled, “Now those are perfect. Think you can slide by your mother with those?”

“Not at all!” Turning back to her reflection she ran her fingers through her long hair, “So if I cut it then it stays that way forever?”

“Yep. You can’t color it either, it won’t soak up the dye. But it’s so long and pretty, you don’t want to cut it do you?”

She turned her head one way then the other thinking. After deciding she said, “Well I need to explain the color to people, I was thinking that if I got it cut just a tiny bit into a new style, then I can tell people that I had a spa treatment or something and it’s a new look?” She shrugged her shoulders and looked at him through the mirror.

Nodding his head, he agreed, “That’s a good idea.” Marcus thought for a second longer then elaborated, “So after you started to feel better from your horrible cold you went to get the toxins flushed out of you at a place in London and just got the works done. Yes, I think that would work nicely.”

“Excellent, I’ll put my shoes on, let’s go!” Emily started to head up the stairs before Marcus caught up to her and took hold of her waist, “Hold your horses there kiddo. We need to do a few things before you start running amuck around the UK.” She kept walking and partially pulled him along behind. She liked that she had a little pull now with him, it wasn’t like being a twig against a massive oak. Marcus liked the difference as well, he didn’t feel like he had to be so gentle with her anymore, they could rough house a little now for fun.

Once in the bedroom he tried to stand in front of her and she tried to move around him to get to the closet. As her laughter increased at the game he decided to get her attention fully, he picked her up and tossed her onto the bed. He sat on top of her with his knees on either side of her arms so she was pinned there. She laughed and squirmed, but he was still stronger than she was. He slowly leaned down and kissed her softly on the lips to try to get her to calm down. When she did he gave her a nice kiss then said, “Now my little spitfire, you need to feed before we do anything. The reserves are gone and you need to learn to do it firsthand.”

That thought stilled her, she was dreading this part of it, “But can’t you just run to the “Nature Store” and bring me back a gallon every other day?”

Emily made a pouty face and he had to laugh, “No darling, there’s no easy way to drain the blood of an animal just so you know, it’s not like how they do it at the hospital where they stick a needle with a tube attached to the other end and put it into a nice jug for you.” His sarcasm was strong and the look on his face was serious that it made Emily just crack up.

“Oh alright. But it grosses me out that I have to kill an animal. Let me add, with my bare hands and teeth, using a bow is totally different!” Emily knew he was going to say something since he knew about her hunting trips with her dad and brother. “Can it be something small first? And ugly? I don’t know if I can kill something cute.”

Now Marcus rolled off of her laughing so hard, “Something ugly? You’re killing me Em!” Once he got himself collected he turned onto his side and propped his head up on his hand, “So we’ll see what we can find for you in the hills, that isn’t adorable. How about we get a quick bite then head into London so you can get your hair cut? That way you can get back out into the shop tomorrow and start seeing people again. I’m afraid someone is going to start breaking down the door to make sure I don’t have you tied up in here.”

Emily thought about that for a second, “You know, I haven’t tied you up in a long time,” she started to run her pointer fingernail on his chest over his shirt, right where the hair stuck up just a little and where his collar bone was. This was her most favorite spot on his entire body for some reason. As he contemplated the answer she started to undo the top button that was right next to her fingers.

Marcus shook his head, “You are amazing you know that? First I can’t get you to think of anything else than going outside, now you want to stay in. I wonder if your hormones got zapped at the same time.” He tried to defend himself slightly as she pretended to take offence and she pushed him onto his back and she sat atop of him like he did to her earlier.

“Mister, now you’re gon’na get it!” She tickled the one spot that he had, and then she ravaged his body before she got around to putting her shoes, and the rest of her clothes, on finally.

They went to the area where Marcus first told her his story, at the top of the hill where the rock bench was. Marcus showed her how to be still to hear the animals and how to tell the difference in the heartbeats of the animals that were close by. He let her know that she needed to feed off of something that was the size of a small bobcat. A foe would be good also but she said that would have been way too cute of a kill and decided to see what animals lived in their area; Emily made a mental note to look up what the wildlife consisted of when they got back home so she would know where to go and what to look for.

After sitting about fifteen minutes Marcus heard a deer come near. He said that he would show her how it’s done, then she can do the same, there were more deer following closely behind the first. When the small male came into sight Marcus whispered to her, “Now you have to be quick and as quiet as possible. You’ll be able to outrun it with no problem, but the chase isn’t very fun. Come up from behind it, then grasp the neck firmly with your hands to bring it down. Put your shoulder into it, like when you’re tackling in football. Then pierce the neck at the vein and suck like a straw. Your instincts will kick in at that second,” when the look on her face went from grossed out to mortified he stopped. “What is it?”

“Well one, the cute factor still, but two, I don’t know if I can really do this Marcus…”

He took her gently by the shoulders, “Emily, you’re a vampire now. There is no more going to the grocery to pick up a few things. And since you are a vampire now, as soon as the hunt starts something shifts in you, you change into what you are now. There’s no stopping the being that you are from this point forward. Now you can do this, you can do anything that you want to, and you can even do anything that you don’t want to, that you have to do.” He looked at her over his brows for emphasis, “Now watch me, and do exactly as I do. Got it?”

She nodded, “Yeah. I’ll do it.” She got that determined look that he was so familiar with and he nodded his head in response.

By this time the deer was well into the field and he could hear the others coming up. With another quick look at Emily to make sure she was watching, he took off like a shot towards the grazing animal. Within seconds Marcus was on the deer and pushing him to the ground. Emily watched everything as if she were getting instructions on life. Watching where he put his hands, where he put his shoulder into the animal’s side to knock it off balance, Emily watched it all. She also saw where to bite and she could see that Marcus had to slightly tear the fur and skin to expose the source of their victuals.

Then without warning it hit her. As soon as Emily saw the blood and the scent caught her nostrils, it felt as though a switch was flipped on. She could hear another deer about to come into the clearing, she knew she had to act now before the animal saw what happened to its companion and fled the area. So Emily took off like a shot and as soon as the foe came into her sights she did exactly as Marcus had done. Pouncing on the animal with all her might she knocked it down to the ground and tore at its throat. The flesh ripped easily and the blood was surging into Emily’s waiting mouth. The first thought was of disgust, then when the warm liquid hit her system disgust turned to delight with the taste of the liquefied life, the warmth of it and the feeling of being instantly satisfied. When the last of the fluid was drained from the small animals lifeless body she stood up and licked her lips to clean them off.

Marcus sat watching Emily as she made her hunt, as soon as he rose from his catch he saw her sprinting off to the side. He sat right on the grass where he was and observed what she did and how she did it. He was amazed, she did it exactly as he had done, he was so proud of her. When she turned towards him she wore a smile of triumph and elation. The first kill was the hardest but the most satisfying he thought.

Emily swaggered over to him and sat down with him, “Not bad huh? I made a mess of my shirt though.” She had wiped her face with her hands then wiped them on the grass to get most of it off, she was a slight mess. Emily also quickly observed that her partner had not one drop of blood anywhere.

“That’s why I brought a spare shirt for you to change into, we’ll head out from here,” he paused to look her up and down, “well you need to wash, you can clean off in the stream over there so you’ll be presentable in public. “ He started to stand and held his hand for her to help her up.

Emily took the offered hand, “Thanks. So we aren’t going back to the house to get the car? We’ll walk to London from here? How long will that take?” They started their way down hill so Emily could clean up and change her t-shirt. They made it to the water in seconds and she was taking her shirt and bra off so she could get the sticky blood off her face and neck.

“You actually did a good job of not making too much of a huge mess,” Marcus sat with his back against the tree and watched his wife clean herself off. The sun was still out albeit low in the sky and it shone in speckles through the trees where they were; where the orange rays hit her body it was like accentuating a precious gem. Her skin was pale as his was now, but it was prettier he thought, granted everything about her was pretty. She washed her face then scrubbed the splatters of blood that hit her neck. “There’s a little on your elbow Doll.” His smile was of pride and love for her and she turned to look at him, then inspected her elbow to clean it as well.

She stood up and examined her half nude body, “Did I get it all? I don’t want to freak out the stylist doing my hair!” Emily double checked her nails, and sure enough, there was sticky red under a couple of fingernails. Bending back down to scrub them she asked, “So if I cut my nails, or if they break, then they don’t grow back either?”

Trying not to laugh but not being able to stifle the chuckle, he replied, “Correct dear. But you will notice how strong they are now, it’s hard to break them. You might want to trim them down some though so they aren’t too long.” He stopped giggling when she shot him a look, “What? It’s just that your questions are humorous to me, I guess there were a lot of things that I never thought of. One being a man and two the times are different now for things to worry about. I don’t mean any offence babe!”

When she got closer she flicked the water from her hands onto him, “I guess I just think of everything then huh?” Putting her bra back on took a millisecond while Marcus took her shirt that he had folded nicely, but small, to fit into his blazer pocket. She took the shirt and unfolded it, before she put it on she shook it out then pulled it over her head and smoothed it out. Emily was very thankful that she had pulled her hair up into a bun so it was still nice and clean. After smoothing it over her torso she stated, “Not too wrinkled, thanks for bringing it. I just assumed we were going back to the house so I didn’t bother bringing a bag.” This time she put her hand out to help him up and he took it even though it wasn’t needed at all.

As soon as he was standing he gave her a kiss, “Your new body suits you well, you’re getting accustomed very quickly.”

“I think being with you and knowing what to expect has been the best thing really. If it happened like it did to you then I’m sure I’d be freaking out. But you’ve made it a wonderful experience.” Emily paused to ponder that last part then continued, “Yeah that sounded odd, but anyway, but if you didn’t do what you did, then I wouldn’t be here at all and you would have a funeral to tend to. This is a much better alternative if I must say so myself,” she hugged him hard then they started on their jaunt to the city.

As they walked, and sometimes ran so Emily could get the thrill of it, they talked about her body. She asked, “So how am I going to explain this paleness? It’s summer of all times! If this happened in the winter I could explain it more, but we’ve had so much sun this year. Now I can see why people leave their families and friends, there is too much to try to explain and account for.” They were walking hand in hand now through the suburbs on the outskirts of the south side of London.

Marcus pondered her question for a bit, “Yeah I’m not too sure about how to address that one. But no worries, we’ll think of something.” Giving her hand a slight squeeze of reassurance, he then glanced at his watch to check the time. Before they left he called a salon to make an appointment for Emily and they still had thirty minutes before the time. They were actually almost there so he thought of something, “Do you want to see the old house?” They would have plenty of time to zip on over to the house to look at it and still make the appointment in time.

“Oh I would love that! Is it near here?” Emily was suddenly very excited and forgot about her skin issue for the moment.

“Not far at all. The offices should be closing up now so we won’t go inside, plus we don’t have that much time, but there’s plenty for you to look at though. Let’s go this way,” Marcus turned down a side street so they headed west instead of north for a bit.

Within five minutes they were in a part of town that had old and new buildings, most were houses that had been transformed into offices or dress shops and even a little diner was transformed from what looked to be an old duplex. Emily was watching the people getting ready to close up and head home, some were sweeping the walks, one was taking jewels out of the window and putting them into a box, there was also a woman washing a window before she closed the blinds to shut out her art and sculptures from the world for the night. Marcus stopped at an intersection and Emily thought he was waiting for the cross walk but then she noticed that he wasn’t waiting, he was looking.

When Emily looked from him to where his gaze landed her breath was taken away in a gasp. There was the house; the house that she had dreamt of for the past two years. It looked exactly like it had while she slept. The green shutters were perfect against the white siding that were very thin planks. The porch was small yet big enough for a table and set of chairs on one end and a lovely old rocking chair at the other end. As her eyes scanned the exterior they roamed up to the top window, her secret attic. The window was blocked off by what looked like an old pull down screen like they made in the seventies, so she couldn’t see into the space. Emily noticed a woman in the front window turning off a computer, then closing the curtains off from her peeping eyes. Marcus just stood there holding her hand as she took it all in.

After about ten minutes he gave her a light tug, “We have to get going; but we’ll come back one day and you can walk through the inside, the office manager is a very nice lady and will let you wander around I’m sure.”

“Sure,” was all that came out of her mouth. As her husband turned and walked away she kept the mental image of the old home burned into her mind. All of it was becoming more surreal, here was a house that she lived in with her father in a past life over two hundred years ago. Now here she was with a man that went into that house on a nightly basis when he was a younger man.

They flitted over to the salon that was about six or so miles away and they arrived a minute early. While they waited Emily flipped through some books to see what style she wanted to have, forever. She had never been into fashion and make-up and hair much, so it was hard for her to think of anything that would look good on her. When her name was called she went up and just told the effeminate man to take a little off the bottom and to clean up the dead ends, then to taper the sides a little. Her bangs had grown out to her chin so she decided to leave them and start the taper from there.

As her hair was washed and cut the man chatted to her about the weather and asked if she did anything exciting over the warm season so far. She had to laugh to herself as she thought, Yeah I was bitten to death then my husband turned me into a vampire and I ate a deer on my run over from fifty miles away. He noticed her smile so she just answered, “Nothing too exciting, just starting to design our garden in the back yard that’s been neglected for too long.”

“How fun!” he proclaimed enthusiastically, “Are you hiring anyone or doing it yourself? Gardening is so wonderful for the mind and soul!” He sighed and looked far away as in remembrance of something that made him happy, then he started to snip away again at her gorgeous red hair.

“Well actually I was going to hire someone, but I might do a lot of it on my own, I don’t know yet.” The thought was appealing to her now, she had been reading on what to put in there and to her wonderful amazement, she could remember everything she had read, it was like her mind soaked up all the words that she studied. The hair dresser became even more enthusiastic and talked her into doing it herself. He said there was nothing more rewarding than getting dirty and reaping the glory afterwards. After a pause when he was done convincing her about her garden he asked suddenly, “So is this your natural color or did you get it done somewhere?”

Emily wasn’t too sure what to say, “Do you like it?”

He laughed, “What’s that supposed to mean honey?” He looked at her through the mirror, “Well let me put it this way, if this is your natural color, it’s gorgeous! If not, then someone needed to add a few more highlights to add more dimension, know what I’m saying?”

She laughed in response, “Yes I do. And it is my natural color, guess the little bit of Irish came out there.”

“Sure did honey, well its lovely, don’t change it at all, you sure can’t mess with Mother Nature!” He gave her a wink and continued to cut. After a few more minutes of silence he said, “Okay Sugar, we’re done. What do you think?” He spun the chair around so she could see her reflection.

As before, seeing herself in this new body still took her by surprise, it was so unusual to see her pale skin and light hair. Her eyes looked normal, at least right now with the lenses still in. “It looks great, thank you so much!” She ran her fingers through her new hairdo, it was still well past her shoulder blades but now had a slight taper around her face. The funny thing she thought, at least she didn’t have to worry about split ends any more.

Flamboyantly waiving his brush then resting it on a jutting hip the stylist exclaimed, “Excellent, you look lovely darling. Thank you for coming in. You said that you live around here?” He took the cape off her then blew dry the cut hair that was clinging to her still.

“Just south of here, my husband and I come up quite often though.” She looked over to Marcus who was looking at a magazine in the lavish waiting room.

The stylist followed her gaze, “Oh, how lovely.”

Noticing the funny look on his face Emily decided to challenge him, “Are you sorry that he’s straight and married dear?” She shot him a look over her eyebrow that was accompanied with a smirk.

His laugh rang out again, “Oh hell, was my glare that obvious? You must get that all the time?” They both laughed at that knowing he was correct. She just nodded in consent as they walked to the counter so she could pay.

After she was done and thanked the stylist again she and Marcus headed out the door. Emily looked over to him as she took his hand, “Well now that you don’t have to take me out to dinner anymore, what do you want to do?”

Marcus looked down at her with a little start, “I never thought of that. And seeing as how you won’t get too tired we can do whatever you want. Do you want to dance, start heading back to our house, go for a walk, or whatever?” He put his arm around her lower back just for the simple fact of having her body closer to his, “We literally have all the time in the world now Doll.”

Emily looked twice at him when he said that, “Wow, I guess you’re right, that just sounds so strange now that it’s an actual fact!”

They walked in silence as they looked into the darkened shop windows until downtown ended and a suburb began with new houses mixed with older ones from the turn of the 19th century. Emily started to laugh as she thought of that phrase, “Turn of the century is so funny now to me. So you have lived through two, the change from 1800’s to 1900’s, then 1900’s to the 21st century. When I think of it, we just had a change of the century, so to describe houses or clothes that way would be silly now wouldn’t it?”

“Yes, yes it would be. Again, your philosophical questions blow me away. So anyway, what do you want to do?”

She thought for a moment, “You know, can we go home, I want to see my little boy and I don’t think we’ve had enough sex today.” She started to laugh as she finished the last part of the sentence knowing that was a silly thought for her lately, but granted if they did it for twenty-two hours she would still feel short-changed lately.

Marcus rolled his eyes, “Whatever. Geez I feel like I’m Beauty in those “Sleeping Beauty” books by A. N. Roquelaure, without all the crazy toys though thank goodness!” He slightly nudged her knowing that she had already read the very erotic books. When she bowed her head in what would be a normal blushing stance he had to marvel that her cheeks didn’t turn the scarlet that they usually turned to when he said something that hit her moral chord. “But I would love to go home, you’ve made such a lovely home for us that I want to be there all the time now. Plus as much as I hate to say it, I miss Earl. I love that kitty!”

“Isn’t he the best? He has such a great personality, I love how he looks at things like he‘s thinking about them, or trying to figure something out. Not to mention that he’s so cute!” As soon as the word cute came out of her mouth she thought about what she said earlier about her first kill, then how she didn’t even think about the adorable little animal’s life that she took just hours ago. Her joy turned into a sort of thoughtful melancholy as they continued their walk.

Marcus knew that her mind started to wander and brought her back, “Hey, I’m proud of you today Em. You did a great job, and I’m also proud of how you’ve been handling this entire change. I know how hard it is, but for you especially since you’re trying to live the life that you had before. I at least slipped away and started over. I’m not too sure which option would be worse actually. But either way, you have made me the happiest husband in the world. For that, I thank you.” He stopped and gave her a small kiss, just to say that he loved her.

Emily returned his soft kiss and thought how her life was still the same, just a little more twisted maybe, but still the same. Letting him straighten back up, she leaned back to look at him, “Thank you. It has been hard, but so exciting though. I’m sure in a month or two it’ll all hit me and who knows how I’ll think then, but for now, this is so amazingly wonderful.”

They walked for a bit longer then when they came to an area where they could start running wild without anyone noticing they took off at their own speed. It was a rush for Emily to put so little effort into running but be able to go as fast as a car. They hit the surrounding farms soon and as they were zipping close to the trees Emily thought she smelt something. She slowed her pace a little to catch what was in the air. When the scent hit her she stopped completely, it was as though her stomach hit a buffet and she had to get her fill. She soon saw the fox that was prowling close to a sheep farm.

As her feet led her that way she said one word to Marcus, “Wait.” Then she stalked slowly and low to the ground until she felt that she was close enough to pounce without the animal being alarmed and running away. Within seconds, as the fox was getting close to the fence and judging where to crawl through, he was taken by surprise by a large predator he wasn’t expecting. But before his little brain could process his danger any further, his heart stopped beating and he thought of nothing else.

Emily rose from the still animal at her feet, before the human thought of sadness hit her she turned and walked away from it to join her companion waiting for her just a few yards away. She felt as though she had to explain herself, “Sorry, it smelled good and I heard it, so I just acted on it.” She shrugged her shoulders and said nothing more but started on their path again. The smell of the animal and some of its blood were on her and she wanted to clean it off desperately.

Keeping his hands folded in front of him, he looked down at her as she approached, “No apologies needed, I understand completely. It’s almost as though we have this inner animal inside of us, we have to become predator when it says to. And for the first few months as soon as you sense an animal those instincts will kick in. But feed as much as you like, you’ll need it for a while. After a bit the thirst isn’t so bad though. You know that I only feed occasionally now, and Sebastian feeds only about once a year.” He stepped into place beside her and they walked on in silence for quite a long time. They eventually reached a ridge on the edge of a pasture where a row of houses began and the farmland ended. From this vantage point they could see their town to the south of this little patch of homes and businesses.

They would be home in about twenty minutes, less if they ran at it. Emily stopped to look at the small twinkling lights spread before her with a patch of darkness separating the two areas of lights. She thought about where they were and the darkness must have been the Wey River. A laugh crept out of her throat, “It’s so strange not being breathless, not feeling an ache in my calves or lower back from walking. The only reason why I want to hurry up and get home is so I can bathe and see my kitty man.” Emily smiled over to her partner, “Wanna’ run and get there quicker?” She raised her eyebrows in a playful manner and smiled up at him.

“Of course, here, take my hand,” Marcus held his hand out to engulf her small one and they took off in a flash. Since he knew the short cuts to their house he led her down back alleys, over low fences, between quiet streets and away from all people. For Emily it was thrilling to be pulled this way and that but still running on her own, it was like an interactive video game going at high speed. When they slowed down Emily recognized the ally they were entering, it was the one that ended by the flower shop, she then looked over her shoulder and realized they were near Maria’s house.

They walked hand in hand back to their own home on the old beat they used to walk on a daily basis. As Emily put her arm through Marcus’ she thought how funny the last two years have been for her, “I never would have expected my jaunt to London to be so eventful. I thought I would be back in Alaska right now with an awesome photo album, great stories, and a degree. Who would have thought it would turn out this wonderful?” Looking up at her amazingly sexy husband she laughed, “And to boot I have the most luscious man for the rest of existence. I must have done something right in a past life.” Emily nudged him with her hip and he laughed with her.

“I feel like I’m the lucky one, I can eat you up all day long and never get enough. And I concur about the fate of this all, if you would have gotten an apartment on the other side of town you would have never even walked into our shop, you would have been going to “Bartholomew’s”. Marcus looked down at her and made a funny face about the name of his competition. He made a slight smirk though, the Bartholomew’s were a wonderful family and not much competition at all, they catered more to the college students and were really into the more unique and bizarre books. Marcus actually found some books on the ancient history and culture of Stonehenge from Ira Bartholomew when he was still alive and only about thirty years old, that was about fifty or so years ago now. “I think Ira and Mort would sit and play pool and smoke cigarettes years and years ago, they got along great.” Both of them suddenly paid a moment of silence for their missed loved one.

Right before they turned into the alley to go home Officer Grey stepped out of it. He was looking forward and wasn’t startled at all to see them. Marcus knew he was there but Emily hadn’t learned how to distinguish one scent from the other just yet so she was the only one that jumped slightly.

Officer Grey looked at Emily, “So, sorry miss, I didn’t mean to give you a fright.”

Emily covered herself quickly, “Oh no that’s fine, it’s just that.” She stopped thinking of what was she to say? Tell the cop that a vampire jumped her in this alley a week ago. Not knowing what to say and feeling awkward about looking him in the eye she just looked down into Marcus’ arm that was clutched in both of hers.

Grey looked over to Marcus thinking that the girls look was a little different from the last time he saw her, but he spoke to her mate, “Well I was looking around more closely in the alley’s, we’ve had a few strange calls lately and I just want to make sure things are all fine on my watch.” He gave Marcus a look of which one man to another would understand, that he better keep an eye out on his property and family.

Marcus caught the message instantly, “Hey dear, can you go on up and start the kettle please?” He looked down at Emily and gave her a slight squeeze that the other man wouldn’t have caught.

“Sure thing.” Looking at the towering officer she said, “Good night Officer Grey, have a good evening.” Emily then went off and disappeared into the doorway of the book store office.

Once she was gone the cop looked at Marcus, “Thank you, listen, to be frank with you, we had a few calls last week about a strange looking man on this block. Then yesterday morning we find a body picked away by the critters just into the farmlands by the Wey. You know the creepy thing? The body was headless.” Officer Grey shivered unwillingly when he said it and closed his eyes and refrained from crossing himself. After he composed himself he continued looking back at Marcus’ now slightly shocked looking face. “I’m sure the head will show up eventually, but we have no idea what took his head off, it wasn’t cut, but it didn’t look like anything a cat would do up in the hills you know?”

Marcus wasn’t surprised to hear the gruesome news, he knew Sebastian wouldn’t have disposed of the body properly, the head would be found in a month or two with nothing left on it to distinguish it from one human to another. Not to mention the fact that Michael didn’t have any dental or DNA records that would make any sense to the police; if they had the money to get the advanced technology it would show that he’s a four hundred year old man, and that of course was impossible. “That is so horrific to think about happening here. We’ve never had any trouble in these parts, even with the college. Do they know who the dead man was at all? Where he’s from?”

“Don’t know anything yet. Seems a loner though, his clothes were different, so he seemed foreign. Maybe just a wanderer passing through who got caught up in drugs or something nasty. This one went ‘upstairs’ so we’ll be getting a coroner’s report soon enough. But in the mean time, someone might have killed him so you better lock your doors and keep an eye out on your family.” Officer Grey looked over to the shop door and continued, “Let me know if you see anyone odd walking about.”

Marcus nodded, “Will do Officer Grey. Thank you for the information, I’ll sure call right away if anyone looks out of place. Be safe tonight.” Marcus smiled at the man as he went to join his wife at home.

“Good night Mr. Fitzgerald.” Officer Grey went on his way but stopped to turn around and looked at the now quiet and empty alley. As he turned back and continued walking his beat, he thought about the look that Emily had gotten on her face. Not only did her color look off, but she looked as though she knew something about the man in the news. He knew that she wouldn’t hide anything important, but her look was still peculiar to him. As a few young boys went running across the street his attention went to them and from the young Fitzgerald’s.

In the following month Emily tried to get back into her regular routine at the shop and home. The shop wasn’t as hard as she thought, everyone loved what she had done to her hair, thank goodness her lenses worked like a charm and no one said anything about her eyes. And as far as her skin was concerned, Emily made up this terrific story that when she was sick her body was lacking in a bunch of vitamins and minerals and she lost so much coloring. Reassuring everyone that she would get back to normal in no time, she made an effort to look like she was researching foods and such to help her to recover quickly.

As the days and weeks blended into each other she spent more and more time in the back office with Marcus. Not just for the companionship and questions that she got from him, but also for the fear that someone was going to figure her out. Emily was so paranoid about being caught. Sometimes she moved too quickly, or said something too fast for a customer. Luckily her personality was adorable so with some effort she was able to cover up her flaws and move on graciously.

It was also easier for Emily to slip out and get something to eat when she was in the office. For the first two weeks she fed every day, sometimes three times a day. At first she had to have Marcus with her, and then when he was too busy at the shop one day she just went on her own to the farmlands. After that she left the house or work whenever the mood struck her. Now she was going out only every other day, and she kept it to the evenings.

This last week she had wanted water though as well. At first she just went to the tap and filled a glass of cold water and drank the entire thing down without a thought. Then the following day she did it again as her and Marcus were in the kitchen feeding Earl. When she put the glass on the counter she noticed the odd look on Marcus’ face. “What?”

“Have you been drinking water since you were turned?” He wasn’t too sure what to make of what he had seen.

“No. I think it’s just been the last day or so. I’m thirsty, not for food, but just like a thirst when you were a kid from playing out in the hot sun all day. The water doesn’t taste like anything, but it just feels good.” Emily shrugged her shoulder’s and filled her glass up again and took another sip. She handed the glass over to Marcus, “What does it taste like to you?”

He walked over to her and took the glass from her. He swallowed a nice gulp of the cool liquid. “It doesn’t really taste like anything except that it has a metallic aftertaste.” The familiar sensation of bubbles in his throat after he consumed anything but blood was now present and he made a funny face, “I get the usual bubbles in my throat as if I had a glass of juice or wine. But I really don’t find it refreshing. Have you tried to eat or drink anything else?”

“No, not at all.” Emily walked over to the pantry for something to try. The fridge was now empty except for a couple bottles of wine that she didn’t want to get rid of in case she had company over. She flipped on the light that only came on now if she needed a bag from the lower shelf or to get Earl’s food. Finding a jar of peaches, she grabbed it and went over to the sink. She popped the jar open with no delay, which she laughed to herself silently thinking how she always used to need help getting these things open. Emily put her nose close to the opening and sniffed, it smelled nice and sweet to her so she took a small sip. It tasted wonderful so she quickly took a gulp.

When she set the jar down on the counter and licked her lips her look changed from delight to disgust. “Oh that’s horrible now.” Emily looked around for something to take the taste out of her mouth when her throat felt like it was starting close up on her from the bubbling feeling that Marcus had described. She looked over to Marcus and he just laughed knowing what she was feeling. At first his laugh angered her, she was freaking out and he was laughing at her. Then she thought that he must know what was happening and her reaction was humorous to it. With that thought she relaxed and breathed and took another sip of her water, the water that started all of this.

“I didn’t mean to laugh at you Doll, it’s just that the look on your face was funny, you looked as though you were going to have worms crawl out of your ears. Feels strange when you eat actual food huh? See what I mean about the bubbly feeling in your throat?”

Emily nodded her head, “Yes but it felt more like it was constricting my throat, not bubbly like Pop Rocks or soda.” She paused for a moment and looked at the half full glass of water in her hand, it was strange that she wanted it suddenly. The thought never occurred to her that Marcus, nor Sebastian, ever drank at all. Now the thought of her doing it was very peculiar. Emily put the glass into the sink, she would wash it later, there was no use putting it into the dishwasher, that was never used anymore either. As she turned and looked at Marcus, at the blank gaze on his face towards her, she asked, “What are you thinking?”

Marcus looked into her eyes, her new eyes that he felt he loved even more than he did previously. He heard her question, but he didn’t know what to say. After another second he replied, “I don’t remember now actually. I was off in a mental tangent. I think it started off by me thinking about anyone of our kind that drank, or ate. But I don’t know of anyone. I’ll call Sebastian and find out.” Not moving just yet to the phone though, he kept his position next to his wife, now his wife for eternity. He couldn’t help but smiling at the thought and she in turned smiled. “I was thinking this time at how amazing it is that you are my wife forever, literally. And that made me smile. I just hope that you love me enough, eternity really is a long time darling.”

Closing the space between them she put her arms around his back, “That makes me enthralled husband.” After hugging him hard she pulled away and looked at him, “I love you, very much.” As soon as she started to get onto her toes he closed the gap this time and kissed her. Once he let her go she said, “Please call Sebastian, this does get me wondering why water is something I want.” Emily released him and stared as he went to the phone on the wall and removed it from the cradle. As she watched him dial, she realized that she could see his fingers push the eleven digits to the cell phone number that was given to Marcus as Sebastian left, in a whisper as he hugged him farewell. When Emily was still human it amazed her how he could dial a number so quickly that it looked as though he had just picked up and then it was instantly starting to ring.

Emily followed Marcus to the living room and she sat upon the couch as he stood in front of the windows watching the street below. While he stood quiet, she glanced out of the same set of windows at the sky beyond. The colors of the glorious masterpiece in front of her were changing from blue to a reddish purple. As the purple slowly shifted into a darker shade she thought of that dreadful night not that long ago. It was almost the same color of violet now as it was when she walked ignorantly towards a life changing event.

For some reason she instantly thought of her mother. When the mental picture of her mother sitting in her kitchen just making her coffee then getting the paper from the paper box that was attached underneath the mailbox on the street in front of her old home, she suddenly wanted to speak to her mom. Her eyes blinked several times then she looked down at her hand, it was ever so slightly, and absentmindedly, caressing her stomach. Scoffing at herself she stood and went to fetch her cell phone from her purse. Her purse must have been in her room since she hadn’t driven the car in quite some time and didn’t keys nor her license. Since her changing she had loved running all over the place. Granted since their trip to London for her new look, which luckily everyone loved, she hadn’t been far from home at all.

When she was getting near the stairs she heard Marcus leaving a voice mail for Sebastian so she took the steps two at a time and was into the room in seconds flat. Her purse was in the closet and her phone was there with a dead battery. She walked over to the end table by her side of the bed and plugged it in then waited impatiently as it went through turning itself on.

Finally it rang to life and she hit the three buttons with lightning speed and the phone was ringing to her delight. Her mother answered on the third ring, “Good mornin’ Sweetpea, everything okay?”

“Yeah great mom, I just wanted to talk and say hi. How’s dad and Steve?” For some reason Emily felt for the first time that she couldn’t talk to her mother about her problems or worries. For the first time she felt that she had to hide her life from her best friend. As her mom talked about her father and brother Emily went off into a trance about how their relationship had changed drastically so suddenly. Then her mother asked her, “How are you doin’? You alright since your little flu bout, do you have a good doc takin’ care of you?”

Naomi knew something was amiss with her daughter over the last month or so. Ever since she got sick she started acting differently, Naomi felt as if her daughter were slipping away from her for some reason. She wanted to barrage her with questions but kept them to herself.

Emily’s mind scrambled, her mother would know that something was amiss with her, there was no way that she was ever able to hide anything from her, why would she be able to start now? But now was different, she wasn’t hiding a broken heart for the boy that her mother told her to stay away from, she wasn’t hiding the fact that she got a B- on a test and was so upset with herself over it, nor was it the time that she even broke her mother’s favorite casserole dish and tried to hide it behind the pots and pans. Now she was hiding a secret that was devastating, mortifying and unexplainable. She didn’t know what to say, didn’t know how to answer, but she had to say something, anything, “Yeah, I’m great.” Liar! Her mother was going to see right through it, she knew the onslaught of questions was going to come and she closed her eyes and braced herself for it.

“Oh, well that’s good dear. I just want to make sure that you’re alright. I worry about you being so far away an’ all,” As her hand went over her eyes Naomi had to stave off the urge to call BS on her daughter, there was no way that she was fine and everything was normal. But again, she really didn’t want to have this talk, it upset her that her daughter couldn’t talk to her about it, killed her that she lost that confidence of her little girl to come to her with any problem. But she had to face facts that Emily wasn’t a little girl anymore, she was a grown and married woman that didn’t need her mommy as much; but it still hurt.

Emily heard the pain in her mother’s voice, she wanted to blurt it out, blurt out that she died but was brought back to life just to never die again, ever. She wanted to cry, but she knew no tears would fall, all that came out was a sigh, “I have a great doctor mom.” After a long pause that was almost uncomfortable she said, “And you don’t have to worry about me, I’m doing great. Marcus is fabulous, the shop is great and everything is… perfect.” It was perfect in a way, just not in the fact of the bond that Emily used to have with her own mother, she felt that bond was severed now, and it hurt her to no ends. If a baby could remember what it felt like to have the umbilical cord cut, Emily thought that it would feel like this; a feeling of separation of total and utter loss, the sense of never getting back what was once had.

Not knowing what else to say, “That’s good dear, I’m happy to hear that you’re doin’ so well.” She felt the tears starting to well up, “Well I better get to makin’ Dad’s breakfast, give Marcus a hug for me. I love you Sweetpea.”

“I love you too mom. Have a good day.”

“You too darlin’.” Naomi hung up the phone and put her head onto her folded arms and silently cried for her daughter and for her own selfish reasons.

When Emily tossed her phone onto the bed she picked a sleeping Earl up into her arms and snuggled him close to her chest and buried her face into his furry back. After a bit he stopped purring and just stayed still, Emily knew that he had had enough and wanted down. She held him for a moment longer then put him down on the ground and got up to find Marcus. Her depression was suddenly overwhelming and she needed him to cheer her up.

It was a Saturday morning a couple of weeks after her minor five hour depression period, as Marcus and Emily lay in bed petting Earl, like they did every morning. As usual the night was spent either reading or talking, they vowed not to do peculiar things in the middle of the night so they could lead as normal lives as possible. Emily spent the night reading about the plants that she was going to put into the back yard. She finally, and officially, decided that she would do the project herself. Now that she had the new found knowledge that she needed from a plethora of books, articles, websites, TV shows and asking gardeners questions, she felt that she could achieve exactly as she wanted with successfully not killing any innocent plants in the process. Marcus was finishing up reading the last of the Clive Barker books that had ever been written, so when the sun rose they both put their books down and started the new day talking about what they wanted to do after Emily closed up the shop for the day. After making the hard decision to go dancing, Emily had the sudden urge to be sick. She dashed out of bed and rushed to the toilet. After dry heaving for a moment she sat back on her haunches and found a terrified Marcus standing in the bathroom doorway.

Emily stood, washed her face then turned to face her husband, “I have no idea what that was all about, I felt like I was going to puke!”

“You sounded like you were trying to. Are you feeling okay, what’s wrong?” Marcus was now in near hysterics, after the water episode he wasn’t sure what to make of things, but since that strange discovery two weeks ago his wife had also developed the urge for raw fish as well as water. Sashimi he would have been able to handle, but she wanted a fish right from the stream, still squirming and all. Then her habit of cleaning became almost overwhelming in the first week, luckily he had been able to convince her that bleach will in fact kill everything and was able to keep her scrubbing to once a week instead of everyday. But now this, yesterday she had gotten sick, now again today.

She put her arms around him after she washed her face, “I’m fine. I’m sure it’s just my body adjusting to its new diet and habit’s, that’s all. Don’t worry Love, I’m just fine.” She kissed him then moved past him so she could get dressed. She wanted to jet out for a moment to feed before she had to get to work, once the shop opened she wasn’t able to get away for several hours, and the hunger was hard to control still if she let it go too long. While she put on her jeans she heard Marcus sit on the edge of the bed, then heard his breath in stuttering intakes. Of course he was worried about her, she was worried about herself. She knew this was not her body adjusting, not once in the Book did she read about anyone having any of these symptoms. “Did Sebastian ever get back to you?”

“No. Not yet.”

Damn, she thought, he was the only one that could shed light on this peculiar topic. As Emily started to zip her jeans she gasped, Marcus was to her side in moments.

“What? What’s wrong?” He was so jumpy at her every discomfort or anguish.

Emily stood staring at her zipper, it wouldn’t come together, her tummy had a slight bulge, she wore these jeans several times a week for the last year or so, they were her favorite pair, now they were too tight on her.

“Do vampires gain weight?” Emily looked up at his face that was paler than pale and his eyes were larger than normal.

“No. No they don’t.” Marcus put his hand on her tummy, “Take your pants off and lie down.”

Emily looked at him, “What? I appreciate your vigor but really Marcus, I’m not in the mood at this exact moment.”

“Seriously Em, I need you to lie down for me please, and it’s not sex that I’m curious about right now.”

Now she was perplexed, she took her jeans off then lay on the bed.

Marcus knelt on the floor next to her then placed his ear on her tummy. They both lie perfectly still for about ten minutes then Marcus slowly lifted his head, looked at Emily then stood. He crossed the room over to the phone on his end table. Emily kept her silence as he dialed then paused as the phone rang to connect whomever he was trying to contact.

After a few seconds Emily could hear the computerized voice of a voice mail system, then Marcus spoke, “Sebastian, it’s me. Please call me immediately, it’s imperative that you call right away. I think Emily is pregnant.”

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