Authors: Bella Forrest
OF VAMPIRE SERIES
OF KIEV SERIES
EAUTIFUL MONSTER SERIES
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© 2014 by Bella Forrest
Cover design inspired by Sarah Hansen, Okay Creations LLC
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hat did you just say
I didn’t answer Derek for several moments as I continued staring at the television. Although the screen had changed, the image of two missing blonde twins remained etched in my mind.
Truth be told, I’d been considering this for some time now.
“You heard me,” I said.
My husband sat bolt upright on the sofa next to me, his electric-blue eyes staring into mine. “But why?” He reached for my knee and gripped it.
“Because I’m worried, Derek.”
He ran a hand through his thick dark hair, an exasperated expression on his face. “But how would this help?”
“After all we’ve been through… I just hate to feel powerless. Especially now that we have Ben and Rose.”
“But after everything…” He trailed off, still staring at me disbelievingly. He glanced back at the television, which was showing photo after photo of missing people. Victims of kidnappings, the police assumed. Kidnappings that had become worse over the last couple of years.
We had been used to such things when the Elders and Hawks had a foothold on Earth. But they were banished now.
“We don’t even know who is taking these people.” Derek reached out to brush my cheek. “It could be humans at the bottom of this.”
Even he seemed to lose conviction in his own words.
I raised a brow at him in disbelief.
“Eli and Ibrahim would disagree with you there,” I said.
“Maybe.” He sighed. “But they’re not sure either.”
“They’re damn sure that whatever force is at work here isn’t human. Something strange is going on. Derek, these people are just disappearing without a trace.”
“But they still don’t have any
that this is anything supernatural. This is all pure suspicion. And I’d say we’re all biased to assume supernatural causes, wouldn’t you agree?”
I sighed and leaned back against his chest. He wrapped his arms around me and kissed the top of my head.
“You’re right,” I said. “We don’t have any evidence. But I still feel uneasy living here. We’re smack-bam on one of the coastlines where these disappearances are going on.”
We both fell silent. I snuggled closer against him, listening to the steady beat of his heart.
“You know what that would mean, right?” he asked finally.
I nodded and my throat went dry as all the implications washed over me. We both looked around the sitting room of our Californian dream home.
We’d have to sell this house and live in The Shade full time. Ben and Rose would have to leave all their friends. We’d say goodbye to making sandcastles on the beach together every Saturday afternoon. No more running around with them outside in the sunshine. Derek and I would once again become vampires.
I’d had this urge to turn back for a while. The main problem was that if I became a vampire again, Derek would have no choice but to do the same. Otherwise, I’d have to watch as Derek aged and passed away. He had fire-wielding capabilities and he still had superhuman strength thanks to Cora. But he didn’t have immortality.
“I suppose it won’t be that much of an upheaval for them,” Derek muttered. “They’re still young. The Shade is already their second home during the summer holidays. And—”
I held a finger to Derek’s lips. He was avoiding the subject.
“I know what this means for you,” I whispered as he looked down at me. “I know how much you despised what you were before.”
“I can’t deny that the idea of being a vampire is associated with some pretty traumatic stuff in my past,” he replied, smiling slightly at his understatement. “But you can’t compare what it was like before to now. I’ll have you to tame me.” He kissed my cheek.
I looked wistfully again around the room. “And what will happen to this place?”
“Well, this is no longer your dream home if you’re scared living in it.” He shrugged. “And it’s certainly no longer my dream home if you’re unhappy here. We’ll sell it.”
I looked into his eyes again. Despite his trying to ease my guilt, I knew that turning back into a vampire would be a sacrifice. I couldn’t have loved him more than at that moment for what he was willing to do to make me feel safe.
“Rose and Ben will have to get used to having vampires for parents,” I muttered. “No more coming to us in the middle of the night for cozy time. We’ll be the ones craving their warmth.”
I thought again of our beautiful five-year-olds tucked in bed upstairs. Rose with her long straight black hair, Ben with his shorter cut that stopped just above his ears, both sharing the same sparkling green eyes and long dark eyelashes. Derek was right that they were still too young for this to be too much of an upheaval. They made friends easily at this age. And they were used to The Shade. They had so many wellwishers back there—more than they even knew about. They were the sweethearts of the island, the little prince and princess. And everyone spoiled them rotten—especially Corrine.
Still, I couldn’t shake the worry that I would be depriving them by sheltering them for the rest of their childhood on that small island. I would be depriving them of the more varied experiences they would have had if we’d stayed here and they’d attended a regular school, rather than the one run by the witches of The Shade. Although I had no doubt that those witches were far more knowledgeable and qualified than any junior-school teacher could be, I craved a life of normalcy for my children. Because normalcy was what I had always craved growing up. Normalcy was what I’d never had.
Derek stroked my head. “You’re right for wanting this, darling. We’re doing what’s best for them. We’re keeping them safe.”
I nodded, although my throat still felt parched.
“We’ll send them to summer camp once a year as soon as they’re old enough,” he continued. “Aiden can take them to Europe—far away from these kidnappings.”
I nodded again. I couldn’t deny that the idea of them going to summer camp made the weight on my chest a little lighter.
“I just want to shelter our children during these first few years,” I said. “I want them to live without struggling or fearing. We owe them that much after the rough start they had in life.”
Derek stood up, and, pulling me up toward him, placed both hands on the small of my back and drew me close to him. I wrapped my arms around his neck and held tight.
“One question that still remains is,” he whispered, caressing my bare shoulder with his lips, “are we finished having children? Is two enough for us? Because… well, you know how it works.”
I nodded. We would no longer be able to conceive once we were vampires.
Derek and I had discussed this before over the past five years. We’d gone back and forth on whether we wanted more children. But it always came down to the same fact: we both felt blessed with the children we had and hadn’t felt the urge to have more. They were five years old now, and we still hadn’t made plans for more.
Still, it was a heavy question to answer, knowing that now it would be final. Unless of course we were both willing to take the cure again and turn back into humans.
We both stood in each other’s arms in silence for what felt like an eternity. Finally we looked into each other’s eyes.
“I think we are,” I said quietly.
He nodded in agreement.
Then an obvious question struck me. “But do we even know you can be turned?”
“We’ll have to consult with Ibrahim and get his opinion.”
“Because if there’s a risk, then—”
“There’s no point speculating,” Derek said, holding up a hand. “We’ll ask him what the risks are.”
I nodded and gulped down the lump in my throat.
“Derek,” I said, removing my arms from round his neck and clutching his hands in mine. “If you can be turned and we go through with this, we must promise not to tell our children why we left the outside world and moved to The Shade. I don’t want them growing up in fear.”
“I don’t like the idea of them growing up naive,” Derek said, looking down at me seriously. “Oblivious to the world around them. That’s dangerous.”
“I know,” I said, sighing. “I know we can’t hide them away from the world forever. But I want to wait at least until they’re older, in their late teens.”
Derek paused and continued looking at me. Eventually he nodded.
“Seventeen,” he said. “We’ll wait until they’re seventeen. Agreed?”
We continued staring at each other, the gravity of what we were planning to do settling upon us.
“Have you considered that, unless Rose and Ben turn too, they could end up older than us?” Derek said.
“Oh. That would be… strange,” I said slowly, trying to wrap my head around the notion. “Really… really strange.”
“They would have to turn before they reached our age,” he said, running a hand through my hair. “But what if they’re immunes, like you used to be?”
“That’s unlikely. According to the witches, immunity to vampirism normally skips a generation. But still, it’s something we’ll have to discuss with them when they’re older,” I said. “There’s no point thinking about it now. So much could happen between now and then. We still have a good few years ahead of us before that time comes.”
“Hm.” A grin spread across Derek’s face, mischief sparking in his eyes. “So you’ll be my forever sexy twenty-three-year-old wife.”
“And you my forever sexy twenty-four-year-old husband… well, technically you’re also twenty-three, actually—”
“Enough with pedantries.”
Before I could object, he swept me off my feet and carried me up the stairs to our bedroom. Laying me down on our bed, he began slipping off my nightdress. He paused, the smile on his face fading.
“If we’re really planning to go through with this, it ought to be sooner rather than later. Because…” He trailed off and looked down at me seriously, so much that I held my breath, wondering what was wrong. He leant down, as though examining me. “I can already see a wrinkle forming in the corner of your eye.”
I giggled and slapped him on the shoulder.
“Derek! We shouldn’t be making light of this situation. We still have a lot to—”
“Yes, we still have a lot to do,” he whispered, his voice husky, “While we’re both still warm.”
He finished pulling off my nightdress and then ripped off his own clothes. My skin tingled as his heated body slid beneath the sheets next to me.
Sometimes when we made love, in Derek’s abandon, he would become almost too fiery for me to touch and we had to stop until he calmed down a little. On a few occasions, the sheets he had been gripping had become singed.
No, a change of temperature wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for my husband.
ver the next month
, we arranged the sale of the house—which thankfully wasn’t difficult due to its location—and made final arrangements for leaving. We packed up all of our belongings and made sure that Ben and Rose had an opportunity to bid farewell to all their pre-school friends.
When asked by our neighbors and other parents where we were going, we told them that we had decided to relocate to Europe to be close to an ailing relative.
My father, Aiden, arrived on the doorstep the night before the new owners were due to take possession of the house. He was dressed casually in a loose short-sleeved shirt and jeans. I’d told the twins to sit by the door on some suitcases so that they were out of the way, but they jumped up as soon as their grandfather walked through the door.
“It’s Grandpa!” Rose squealed.
“Grandpa!” Ben yelled.
Aiden’s face lit up as soon as he saw them. He had gotten rid of his Hawk form thanks to Ibrahim who, after several years experimenting with a combination of spells and potions, had finally managed to transform him back into a human with the help of several other witches.
My father wrapped his arms around each of them, planting kisses on their foreheads. I walked over to him and kissed his cheek.
“Thanks for being on time,” I said. I turned around and called, “Derek, Grandpa’s here.”
Derek walked out of the kitchen with our final suitcase. He put the case down on the floor and smiled at Aiden, “Hello, Grandpa.”
“Hello,” Aiden said, smiling back. “Xavier and Vivienne are waiting in the sub in the usual place.”
It had been four months since we’d last visited The Shade. Excitement bubbled up inside me at the prospect of seeing my sister and brother-in-law again.
Aiden headed straight to the submarine to drop off Ben and Rose. Then he returned to help Derek and I carry the rest of our luggage down to the harbor. It took us several shifts until we had it all moved. We’d included all our furniture in the sale of the house, but it was amazing how many personal belongings we had accumulated after having children.
Once we’d finished, we knocked on the hatch and Vivienne pushed it open. She looked radiant as she smiled down at me, happiness showing in her laughter lines, her violet-blue eyes sparkling.
Derek, Aiden and I lowered ourselves inside and fastened the hatch above us.
“I’ve missed you so much!” Vivienne gushed.
She pulled Derek and I into an embrace and kissed our cheeks. She led us into the control room at the front of the submarine and we each took a seat.