I WAKE UP with Callum staring at me. Embarrassingly I blush again and he hugs me closely to him lovingly. I will have to decide whether I was going to play it safe or if I was going to take a step of faith toward Callum.
He traces my face softly with the tips of his fingers while he holds my eyes captive with his. It feels as if he cannot only see my thoughts, but also my dreams.
Loudly my stomach growls.
He pulls back from me abruptly. He is about to pounce up and laughingly, I explain, “It is my stomach, silly. The last time I ate was yesterday morning and it is not very happy.”
He sits up and perplexed he says, “You are extremely noisy.”
I cannot help laughing helplessly although I still feel as if he cannot accept me the way I am. He stands up as I sit up.
He bends down and he pulls me up off the ground. I look down at my dress and try to smooth it down. I have managed to ruin my dress anyway, sleeping in it.
He looks at me amused. “I have some things here still. Wait let me fetch it.”
He brings me a white shirt and tracksuit bottoms.
I laugh. “I’ll drown in those. I am going to go to my room and change. There are no secrets in this house anyway. By now, they all know we slept down here. Amanda would have looked in on William, and she would have noticed me gone. She would have put two and two together, which I assure you, would not have been difficult to figure out.”
He stays in the kitchen, while I walk past everybody hurriedly, ignoring their curious looks.
Later I walk back into the kitchen and I hear Claude tease Callum about his crinkled state. They stop abruptly though when I walk in.
I look around the room and I ask Amanda, “Where is William?”
She replies, without looking up from the popsicles she is making, “He is playing in the den with Justin. They are playing that new gaming console Peter bought for him. We have all had a go this morning. It is fun. You and Callum should try it.”
It dawns on me for vampires who do not eat, they are always converging in the kitchen, and I smile amused.
I look up and I catch Callum looking at me, and weirdly, now that I know my every emotion is like a giant billboard, I blush even more vividly. I feel frustrated and I pull the fridge door open violently. The bottle of milk in the door topples over and the contents spill out onto the floor.
“Ugh,” I groan loudly. Callum kneels down next to me and softly he puts his hand over mine. I feel a sudden calmness rush through me and I cannot help smiling when I say, “Don’t come here with your hocus-pocus and try to calm me with your skills of subtle persuasion.”
Claude laughs, “Hocus-pocus, more like survival skills.”
He helps me to clean the spill on the floor and I decide to have a simple meal of cereal. Callum sits next to me, but it feels awkward having him sitting so close to me. I am sure he can hear every crunch as my teeth bite down on the cereal flakes. I decide to suck them, rather than chew them, but I do not finish the bowl of cereal because I am too self-conscious.
While I rinse the bowl and the spoon, Callum waits for me.
We leave the kitchen together and when we are away from the prying eyes of the others, Callum takes me around my waist and he pulls me closer to him.
He says softly, while we walk to the den, “There is no rush, but I need to know your answer by the time it is your birthday again.”
I look at him insolently. “When it is supposed to happen, it will happen.”
“That is easy for you to say when my world revolves around you.”
Before I can answer, we walk into the den and I laugh instantaneously when I see Justin running in one spot. His skinny legs are pumping up and down while the virtual him is running a marathon on the big television screen.
Peter looks back over his shoulder where he is sitting on the couch and he smiles. “Don’t laugh. You are next.”
We walk into the room and protectiveness fills me when I see William rush to Callum and latch himself to his leg, instead of running to me as he always did.
Callum picks him up and lifts him in the air, catching him again securely. William giggles with glee and the glitter in his eyes match those in the eyes of Callum’s.
Callum puts him on the ground again and then William takes his hand and pulls him further into the den. They play a game after Justin finishes running his marathon. I cannot remember when last I had so much fun. We laughed, we joked and we acted silly. Without any inhibitions when Callum held me tightly to him, I hugged him back, sighing blissfully.
That evening after dinner and after William had his bath I take him to bed. He falls asleep with a soft smile on his lips and I remain next to him. I look down at his sleeping face for the longest time and then when I cannot stifle a yawn, I walk to the connecting door.
Walking into my room, I am startled when I see Callum sitting in the French antique settee in the corner of my room.
He stands up when I enter the room and I see an unexplained sadness etched on his face. He walks directly to me and then he wraps me into his arms, he is much taller than I am, but he does not lean down to me, he pulls my head to his chest and he holds me closely to him. My head fits perfectly in the hollow beneath his collarbone.
“I wanted you on my terms and now I just want you to give in. Please, will you marry me? I promise it will be according to any conditions you may have. If you do not want me to turn you, I would not. If you wanted to grow old, it will be okay.” Apologetically he continues, “We will be careful because you can never fall pregnant again, be the mother of my child.” He cups my face in his hands and he gently lifts my face up to his. With his thumbs, he wipes the tears from my cheeks and he smiles down lovingly. “You are so weird and wonderful.”
I feel an inner sadness and I smile up at him forlornly. “Will you stay with me tonight?” I see him hesitate, so I add, “Until I fall asleep.”
We lie down awkwardly and then he folds me into him and all my fears and worries rush to a dark corner in the back of my mind. I feel myself tumble deeper into him and before I fall asleep, I cannot stop the words tumbling over my lips, “I love you, Callum.” His arms tighten around me.
I wake up. For a moment, I do not know where I am when I feel arms folded around me. It dawns on me quickly, then I reach up to him, and softly I press my lips to his.
Softly he mutters my name and I see him smile. He murmurs, “This is nice. You should marry me.”
He brings his lips to my hair, my eyes. One kiss follows the other quickly. It is as if he cannot get enough of me. My body clings to his magnetically. I feel tenderness spread through my entire body, as he pulls his shirt over his head. I spread my hands over his back and I pull myself even closer to him. He nudges me gently onto my back and leaning tentatively over me, he kisses me more determinedly and passionately. His fingers trace from my waist upwards under my shirt, and his fingers spread the heat through me. Swiftly he lifts my shirt over my head, leaving my arms entangled in the sleeves and then he traces kisses down the swell of my chest, while I push my head back into the pillow and arch to him, moaning softly. He brings his lips back to mine and kissing me single-mindedly, he lifts himself upwards over me. Abruptly, he stops and drops down onto the bed next to me. Dejected, I turn my head to his and look into his sad eyes, where he is laying on his side staring at me fixedly.
I turn my body completely and move into him again.
He says determinedly, “Marry me. Let me change you.”
“I haven’t decided yet,” I say hesitantly.
Unexpectedly he sits up quickly. He pulls his shirt back over his head and then silently he leaves my room.
The next morning, Edward asks me amused, “Are you still leaving?”
I look up at him confused. I have not been paying attention to their conversations. Absent-minded I gave William his breakfast and I sat staring at nothing.
I shake my head, no. “Maybe another time. William is too young to go with me now.”
Claude laughs softly. “Ask Callum to go with you, I am sure he will.”
I look at Callum nervously.
His head is lowered, but he glances up at me, lifting his brows. “You are hell-bent going on this wild adventure and I have decided to take you so you can get it out of your system, once and for all.” He smirks. “At least I will be there to protect you from yourself.”
Still frowning, I say softly, “I have decided not to do it any more. I have to consider William first and foremost.”
Callum sits back and I think I see a glimmer of hope in his eyes.
Later, while I am working my section in the vineyard and William runs around me exuberantly, I notice Callum walking in my direction. I continue pruning until he takes the clipping utensil from my hand.
Holding my hand softly in his, he asks, “Is it because I wanted to go with you that you decided not to go any more?”
I look up puzzled. “No. I have already decided the day William was born I did not want to challenge death any more. I only wanted to leave now, because I was scared.”
Concerned he asks, “Scared of what? Me?”
I smile slowly. “Not you, specifically, but my feelings for you.” I feel frustrated, when I add, “You would not understand. I love William so much. He takes up a tremendously large space in my heart. I am scared I would lose those feelings once my heart stops beating. In addition, the Four Judges might agree that I change again, but they would never agree, should William have the virus.”
He steps closer to me. “Even if you give up on me, you could not stop it if William has the virus. He would still change. I will always be here to protect him and I will never let them touch him. I swear.”
Looking up at him despondently, I want to believe what he is telling me. Can I really choose what is best for me, or must I choose what is right for William? If I changed, I would be able to protect William against the changing world. When the Four Judges came, I could protect him more easily. After living so long, eternal life is terrifying. Although I will no longer feel my heart reverberate through my body, I know living has nothing to do with the beating of my heart, or how close I come to dying, it is all about my soul, my feelings, love and yearning, hope, endurance, my spirit and my complete essence.
He smiles brilliantly. “I am not going to stop until you give in to me. Marry me.”
I look at William digging in the sand across from me and I say quietly, “I love you, Callum, and one day, I promise, I am going to choose that you change me, but not just yet.”
He takes a step backwards and he asks softly, unbelieving, “What?”
I look up at him, into his dark eyes and I smile. “I did not say yes. I said maybe.”
He smiles mischievously. “Still, it is not a definite no. You know if I change you, you will be my life-long responsibility?”
I laugh embarrassed. “If you don’t mind, I don’t mind.”
He scoops me up in his arms and he hugs me to him. “I love you, Susanna.” He kisses me firmly and I forget where we are. My arms creep around his neck and I lift myself higher.
I hear Edward’s voice from a distance, “Behave yourselves, there is a child here.”
Callum lets me go reluctantly and then he walks away from me elated. He ruffles William’s hair as he walks past him and William smiles up at him admiringly.
I grin happily while I go back to work. Soon I will marry him, but not yet.
This story will continue in 2018: William The Legacy