Sunday, June 21, 2015

Part 6 - The Sire

“What do you mean, he could die?” Jillian snapped. Isaiah had lowered the bottle, clearly hearing Austin’s distraught voice on the other end of the line.

“I released the cure too soon. Jillian, you’re fine, but there was one variable we didn’t consider when we were developing this thing.”

“And what the hell would that be?”

“A vampire’s age. We experimented on vampires that had been as such for a few years, but no more than twenty-five. Some were born vampires, and some were turned. But the outcome was always the same – until we brought in a few vampires that were older. Some of them are slightly younger than Isaiah, or have been vampires for a slightly shorter time, and the results of the cure were fatal to most of them.”

Jillian held the phone away from her ear so she could scream into it.

“Why the hell didn’t you tell us this before?! Do you realize what you’ve done?! Do you have any idea what this means?!”

“Jill, calm down,” Isaiah tried to console her as he came toward her with his hands raised, but she slapped them away, furious. It was a good thing she was no longer a vampire, or her brute strength would have shaken the house apart from her wrath alone.

“You have every right to be mad at me,” Austin replied, irritatingly calm despite Jillian’s tirade, “but I did tell you that a cure for vampirism was never even mentioned before, so the end result was the primary focus.”

“I thought you were supposed to be a genius! What kind of genius forgets a major factor like that in an experiment?!”

“The kind who’s doing his best, trying his hardest, to get something for one of his best friends for her birthday that’s a few months away, not giving a damn about anyone else. So yeah, I’m sorry. I’m only human. Sue me.”

Jillian put her hand to her face. She was tempted to sue Austin as he’d sarcastically suggested, but he had plenty of money now – he’d easily be able to buy his way out of it. And that would drive an even bigger wedge between her and Cheyenne. But more importantly, she knew Austin was right. If she hadn’t been so damn stubborn and kept pressuring him for results, he wouldn’t have rushed and overlooked any details.

What had she done?

Isaiah took the phone from Jillian, who was no longer angry but almost hysterical.

“Austin,” he said into the phone, “why would this kill me, exactly?”

Jillian’s ears could no longer pick up on the other side of the conversation, which just made her cry harder. Talk about karma.

“I see,” Isaiah said at last. Something long was being said, and intense based on Isaiah’s facial expression. “I understand. Thank you.”

He hung up and made his way to Jillian, picking her up with no effort and carrying her into the living room, where he held her consolingly on the couch.

“It’s not your fault,” he told her.

“Why?” she whimpered.

“According to Austin, depending on how long a person has been a vampire, the cure can backfire and kill that person. It doesn’t always happen, but it seems to be the most common result for people who have been vampires for more than eighty or ninety years. Essentially, their bodies have adapted to vampirism, and turning them back into humans sped up their aging process to catch up with all the years their bodies had been frozen in time, and the effects are fatal. He apologized, and said that he got over confident after so many successful results, so he mistakenly assumed that all vampires, regardless of their age, would be fine. It wasn’t until after we left that he got some results back from the older vampires.”

Isaiah kissed the top of Jillian’s head. She sniffled, then perked up.

“Wait,” she said as she sat up, “I have an idea. Just turn me back into a vampire. Then it’ll be okay.”

Isaiah frowned. “Austin thought you might suggest that. And he told me that they did test for that as well. Jillian, your body has been through a major transition. Actually, it’s been through two – first, becoming a vampire, and then reverting back into a human. Your body can’t take another shot of that. Everyone who turned back into vampires after being cured of vampirism once had the same likelihood of death as older vampires becoming human again. It’s just how our bodies have adjusted and adapted, and how much they’re programmed to take. So no, I won’t turn you into a vampire again.”

Jillian felt her eyes brimming with tears once more. Now she’d done it. She was stuck. She would never be able to be a vampire again, and Isaiah would most likely die if he tried to become human. They were right back where they’d started. Back where they’d been before. It hadn’t been that bad, but still, it had been nice to know that they both at least had the same amount of time to live together. What would become of them now?

“However,” Isaiah added, “Austin said there was only a chance of vampires of a certain age dying from the cure. There’s a chance that it wouldn’t hurt me at all.”

As hopeful as that sounded, Jillian shook her head fiercely. “No. I won’t let you even try it. I won’t risk losing you.”

“Jillian,” he stated, “I’d rather turn human again and have a short time with you before dying than live for the rest of eternity as a vampire without you.”

“I can’t let you do that. I’m not worth it.”


“I’m not! Please, don’t argue.”

“Jill, I’m a vampire. You’re a human. It’s what we are, and what we’re fated to be.”

“I don’t believe in that fate bullshit. Ever since Kenzie was bitten by that werewolf, I don’t believe in it. I believe in coincidences, and I believe in bad luck and karma, but I don’t believe that things are meant to happen in a certain way.”

Isaiah pulled Jillian down and held her tightly. “Be that as it may,” he said, “we can’t change what we are now.”

“Austin also said there was only a chance of me dying if you turned me back into a vampire. We could try that just as easily as trying to turn you back into a human.”

“No way. After all the turmoil you went through just to get this cure created, and after telling me how much you wanted to be human again, I’m not turning you back into a vampire, especially with such a high risk of death. And you know you don’t want to be a vampire again.”

“I want to be with you in whatever way I can.”

They were at a stalemate. Neither one of them was willing to let the other even attempt to sacrifice themselves so they could be together. For now, no one would win. But they’d still have each other.


Another week passed, and as Jillian busied herself with her work once again, she found that her heart wasn’t in it. She remembered when she and Isaiah had talked about moving to Sunlit Tides, but after being a vampire, she knew how hard that would be. But that had also been before vampiric sunscreen. Things could be different now.

She’d received an offer not long ago to have an interview done in a magazine based in Sunlit Tides, and she’d be provided with seamstresses, models, and everything she’d need to make her fashion career a bigger success. And that offer was still in her email inbox, with a follow-up inquisition even after all this time.

She stared at her laptop screen from her makeshift seat on the floor, not even bothering to use a chair or couch. A melancholy expression was etched onto her face. She’d thought that being human again would make her happy. And while it did, something was holding her back.

Was she being selfish? Was she even considering Isaiah’s feelings at all, really? Should she at least consult him before making a decision like this? Now that she was human again, she didn’t have to stay cooped up in the dreary town of Midnight Hollow, where the sun was somehow always behind a thick cover of clouds. But Isaiah was willing to go with her, right? It was something she’d just have to risk, something worth a shot.

She loved Isaiah, but she was worried about growing old by his side while he stayed impossibly young and handsome. It would be so hard for two vastly different species to be together, especially since one would live until the end of the world. But it was said that nothing worthwhile was easy. Jillian was willing to try.

She’d thought for a while if her relationship with Isaiah was the best thing. It certainly wasn’t the easiest, but that didn’t make her love him any less. But she felt compelled to stay with him, to be by his side. It felt like that was where she belonged. She’d heard old legends of vampires being sired to their creators, but she was a human again now. If she were sired, would the effect still be present?

But it didn’t matter. She loved Isaiah and wanted to be with him. They’d been through so much together and he’d saved her countless times. Leaving him would feel more wrong than expecting him to live with her in a sunny environment.

So finally, with a heavy heart, Jillian replied to the magazine company in Sunlit Tides and accepted their offer. She’d have to move there, but it was what she’d wanted to do before she’d been turned into a vampire. It was time to pick up the pieces of the past several months and get on with her life. She had to go forward, especially now that she could no longer defeat time.

She didn’t realize she’d been sniffling until Isaiah walked into the room.

“What’s wrong?” he asked gently, caring, just as gentlemanly as always.

She looked up at him as he took a seat next to her on the floor. She closed the laptop lid and slid the device away.

“I…I accepted that offer in Sunlit Tides.”

Isaiah held Jillian in his arms. “The offer that would require you to move there?”

Jillian nodded wordlessly.

“I see. Well, it’s a good opportunity for you.”

“But not for you. And not for us.”

“We managed before, when you lived in Sunset Valley.”

“I know, and I want it to work between us. But I can’t ask you to move there with me.”

“You’re not asking me. I’m saying I’ll go. I’ll follow you anywhere. Thanks to vampiric sunscreen, it’s possible.”

“But it’s not as easy as being a human would be where the sun is concerned.”

“It’s a risk I’m willing to take. I love you, Jillian, and unless you turn me away, I’m not going anywhere.”

As their lips touched, Isaiah remembered the promise he’d made to Kenzie. When Jillian had been kidnapped, he’d promised her that he’d leave Jillian to keep her safe. She now had a second chance. She could start over with the life she truly desired. He didn’t even have to be in the picture. She’d be sad for a while, but she’d heal.

But she wanted him with her. Isaiah valued his friendship with Kenzie, but he valued his love for Jillian more. He would leave the decision up to her. He’d endured a psychotic family that had tried to kill him, and a mother who’d turned him into a vampire (too long ago to reverse). He could endure this.


“Wow, you look just like you did before.” Kenzie gaped at Jillian, her eyes wide and her mouth open like she’d seen a ghost. If she didn’t watch it, she was going to run into something since she wasn’t looking where she was going. “I can’t get over it.”

“Uh…thanks,” Jillian replied. Kenzie laughed. Jillian hadn’t been this giddy in a long time. When she’d gotten the phone call from her friend telling her that she’d moved to Sunlit Tides and had taken a cure for vampirism, which she had asked Austin to concoct, she’d nearly fallen over. Of course, one of the first things Jillian had told her was not to blame herself.

As they exited the bistro where they’d just indulged in fine island dining, Jillian felt elated. For the first time in a long time, she felt alive. Of course, she hadn’t technically been “alive” as a vampire, but that was all behind her now. She still felt bad about Isaiah, but she knew he loved her. And she loved him. For a while, she’d contemplated if their relationship had been the best thing. After so many assholes, she’d finally found a good one, but she’d wondered if that made him the only one.

Now, she was convinced that he was. A vampire willing to move into a very sunny town just to be with his girlfriend? That was true love if she’d ever seen it.

“How have you been feeling?” Jillian asked her friend, referring to her random spouts of nausea.

“About the same,” Kenzie admitted, though she jokingly said, “and I’m the one that should be asking you that question.”

“Well, there’s not much else to tell, really. I just wish Isaiah and I could be the same species. If only Austin had called sooner, before I drank my cure. Or rather, if only I’d waited just a little longer until he called.”

“No one could have predicted that. I’m just glad you found out before Isaiah drank that stuff. He may be your boyfriend, but he’s a good friend to all of us. We’d all miss having him around.”

“Yeah, you’re right. I’d rather have him as a different species than not have him in my life at all.”

Jillian was already looking for a permanent residence, though for the time being, the magazine company would rent a house to her so she’d be able to work. She was eager to get started on new sketches and designs, and Kenzie had once again offered to be a plus-size model if she was ever needed.

“At least my chubbiness has two good things going for me,” she chortled, “Hayden likes it since, as part wolf, he loves meat, and I can model your awesome clothes that make me look sexy.”

Jillian laughed, too, as they circled back around to the house she was currently renting. Isaiah was still in Midnight Hollow, packing up some things and getting the manor appraised. He’d decided that he didn’t want to live in his father’s manor anymore, or even keep it in his possession. Even though his mother had been the one to give him the supernatural life he’d never wanted, it was his father that drove her to do it. He didn’t want his charity or his possessions, apart from whatever money he may get out of the manor to help finance their new life together. Jillian couldn’t say that she blamed him.

This whole situation had given her a lot of clarity. She realized that she was very fortunate. She’d been fortunate to have not died at the hands of the malicious vampire who’d kidnapped her, even if she’d been turned into a vampire to have that happen. And now, she was fortunate enough to have turned back into a human so she could live in the sun, she had amazing friends (Cheyenne had been ecstatic that Jillian was back to “normal,” and wasn’t nearly as hesitant as before where Mason was concerned), and fortunate enough to have a boyfriend – a vampire, no less – who was willing to move in with her in a very sunny town with no objections. Never again would she take what she had for granted. Plus, there was always the possibility of something else being invented that would work for older vampires like Isaiah. All was not lost.

Jillian and Kenzie spread out some beach towels and savored the moment by kicking off their shoes and sunbathing, welcoming the summer season with full vigor by feeling the sun beat down on their faces by the pool. Jillian’s birthday was two weeks away, and she had the best present she could ever wish for.

As she gazed up at the sky, Jillian was hit with a big bolt of serenity. For the first time in a very long time, she was happy. Her career was skyrocketing, she was human again, her boyfriend would be able to live with her in the sun thanks to an invention by one of her best friends, and her life was only beginning. It was a wonderful feeling. Though some might say that she was tied down by so many factors, in her heart, she only had one feeling – she was free.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Part 5 - The Risks

One month later, Isaiah and Jillian were driving to Appaloosa Plains, the preparations made for them to test the cure the vampirism as outside sources. Isaiah was just as eager as Jillian to get to Appaloosa Plains, but he had to admit that he was also nervous. He’d spent quite some time as a vampire, and it had taken some time to adapt to such a life. What would happen if the procedure worked and he turned human again?

But more importantly, he had to face the fact that what he’d been fearing had come true – Jillian had grown tired of being a vampire. He’d changed her in order to save her life, and though she was grateful, he knew she was right – she was destined to be a light in the darkness, a goddess of the sun. Someone with her beauty and bubbly personality wasn’t intended to live a life in the shadows.

The silence was awkwardly overwhelming, but it was like neither of them knew what to say. Jillian was feeling guilty having confessed the truth to Isaiah prior to actually testing whatever Austin and his team of scientists had come up with. Suppose it didn’t work. Then Isaiah would forever be burdened with the knowledge that Jillian hated what she was as much as he did, and neither one of them could do a thing about it. Plus, it made her sound like an ungrateful bitch, because if he hadn’t changed her, she would have died.

It was true that she’d discussed becoming a vampire with Isaiah one day, but she hadn’t thought long and hard about the long-term effects. She thought she’d be willing to give up the sun and a life of sandy beaches and going out with friends with no barriers like sparkling sunscreen, plus a normal social life with her family. But it had only taken her a few months for the regime to grow old. What did that say about her? And what did it say about her relationship with the man she supposedly loved?

“I’m sorry,” she finally blurted, her tone earnest. “I shouldn’t have told you the way I did.”

“Told me what?”

“I don’t want you to think that I’m ungrateful, that I hate my life, that I don’t want to be with you.”

“Jillian, I was with you when you were human, and it never bothered me. If you can go back to being what you truly desire, why would that bother me?”

“That’s not the problem. If this doesn’t work, I’ll still be a vampire, and you’ll see me as being something I hate, and you’ll blame yourself for it.”

“No. I won’t. Because I refuse to lose you. If there’s anything I can do to save you, to protect you, I’ll do it.”

Jillian bit her lip. He wasn’t making this any easier on her. But it was still comforting to know that he didn’t hate her, and wasn’t angry at her, either.

At last, they arrived at the clinic, which doubled as the science lab in Appaloosa Plains. They strolled in, hand in hand, and made their way to the science portion of the building. After the receptionist paged Austin to meet them, he greeted them and led them back toward a brightly lit laboratory.

“Let the record show,” Austin stated in all seriousness, “that I advised against you two being the first outside testers for this thing.”

“How did you even do this?” Isaiah asked, curious despite himself.

“Jillian was right about one thing,” Austin replied. “A lot of vampires were eager to try reverting back to their human forms. We got a lot of alpha and beta testers and tried a number of different factors, and thankfully several scientists besides myself were anxious to try to develop something like this. Normally, such a process would have probably taken years to create. Anyway, regarding those different factors I mentioned, werewolves have said to be lethal to vampires, right? We have werewolves on staff who have given blood, so we tried creating something with that. Not enough to harm a vampire, of course, but enough to maybe spark some kind of reaction. Unfortunately, that didn’t work. Jillian, remember when I told you I had a lead? Well, I contacted Paige’s coven, and it turns out that pure blood may have the effect we wanted. The purest blood known to exist belongs to fairies. So, we hired some fairy interns and experimented with their blood. The purity of it overshadowed the, theoretical, impure vampire blood. It didn’t turn vampires into fairies, but it purified the blood enough that it began to flow like a human’s again, and all vital signs of a human were present. They were all able to walk out in the sun, too, with no adverse side effects. Of course, other ingredients had to be used in addition to the fairy blood, so if a vampire were to drink fairy blood, it wouldn’t turn them into one in the process.”

It all seemed a little too complex for Jillian to wrap her mind around, but truthfully, she didn’t care. The important thing was that there was a cure, and she was about to possess it.

“Are you two sure you want to do this?” Austin inquired, a note of concern obvious in his voice.

Jillian looked at Isaiah. He was looking at her, as though asking for permission. But it was he who spoke first.

“I think we’ll take it home and celebrate privately,” he stated. He glanced at Jillian again and gave her a private, sideways grin. She grinned back and blushed.

“Okay, well, be sure to contact me, or this lab, with any side effects,” Austin instructed as he vacated the room and returned with two sealed boxes. He gave them to his friends, visibly hesitating while explaining the possible side effects (like shortness of breath after getting used to their lungs taking in more oxygen than was needed as vampires), as well as how long the cure would take to kick in. He then wished them luck as they left.

“We’ll take it at home,” Isaiah said as he drove, “and make a toast to our new lives together.”

“I love you, Isaiah.”

“I love you, too.”

They both felt it. The bond between them was even stronger than before, and now they could live a normal, happy life. Nothing could stand in their way now.


They arrived back in Midnight Hollow within a few hours. It was dark by then, so unfortunately they wouldn’t be able to test out the cure’s effects with the sun.

The cure turned out to be in liquid form, sealed inside a very intricately designed bottle. It wasn’t what either Jillian or Isaiah was expecting, but at least it would make their “toast” more official.

“So, two bottles, and each of us drinks one,” Isaiah said as he read the instructions inside the box.

“That’s quite a lot for one person,” Jillian observed.

“Imagine how much it would have taken just to test out the effects. I guess they want to be thorough, and ensure there’s enough to be effective.”

Isaiah set the box back down and took Jillian’s hands, looking into her eyes.

“Jill,” he said, “I never apologized to you.”

“For what?”

“For giving you this life. I know we discussed it, but you clearly never wanted it. I never gave you a chance. I was selfishly thinking only of myself.”

“That’s not true. You were thinking of me, too. And Kenzie, and all our friends. Not to sound conceited, but you all would have missed me. And you’d blame yourself for not changing me when you could have as much as you’re blaming yourself now.”

Isaiah smiled. “You’re so perceptive. I think you and Kenzie should open your own private practice.”

“Very funny.”

Isaiah chortled, then grew serious. “I think you should do the honors first.”


“Because this was your idea, and without your persuasion, there probably still wouldn’t be a cure for vampirism. And it is for your birthday present, after all, even if it’s still a month away.”

“Well, okay…if you insist.”

“I promise I’ll drink mine as well. I just want you to have your wish come true first, and it’ll be more special if it happens on its own rather than to me at the same time. Don’t worry, we can still have our toast.”

Jillian wrapped her arms around Isaiah, her heart hammering inside her chest. She knew this was what she wanted, but she was still nervous. But she had to face it. Austin himself had given her this cure, and it seemed to beckon to her like a bottle of promises that could never be broken.

Staggering forward, breathing heavy, she grabbed one of the two bottles and unscrewed the top. The noise was like a celebratory bottle of champagne opening, only this would taste much sweeter with her vampire taste buds.

There were some things she’d miss. Her fast speed, superior senses, rapid healing, and increased energy benefited her well. But that wasn’t what was most important to her, nor what truly mattered.

More than anything else, she wanted to be with her family again. And as long as she was a vampire, she couldn’t be. And she couldn’t be best friends with Cheyenne, either, because she feared her so, especially around her son.

Which was why Jillian felt nothing but confidence and bliss as she finally acceded and lifted the bottle to her lips.

It tasted like succulent blood with a faint sour tinge, but at least it was tolerable. And the end result would be worth it, she knew.

She licked her lips after downing the last gulp, waiting for the result. Austin had said that it usually only took a few minutes for the cure to take effect, and she waited while watching Isaiah eye her curiously.

“How does it feel?” he asked.

“Honestly, I don’t feel any different.”

“Odd, but maybe that’s a good thing.”

Before they could any anything more, Jillian felt a bubbling feeling rise in her stomach. It wasn’t painful, but it wasn’t particularly pleasant, either. Her vision blurred and she heard a loud pop in her ears, and her breathing rapidly increased as a red aura surrounded her, not unlike the one that had enveloped her when she’d turned into a vampire.

She realized suddenly that this was the cure’s effects taking hold. Her vision wouldn’t be as acute as when she’d been a vampire, and her eardrums wouldn’t be as strong. And of course the rapid breathing was a side effect explained to both her and Isaiah by Austin.

“Jill?” Isaiah asked, alarmed.

Jillian looked up at him, her eyes focusing at last, just as they had been before she’d transformed. It would take some getting used to, seeing without super vision again, and not hearing something as quiet as a pin drop, but her face broke into a broad smile. It had worked. The cure was a success.

“It worked!” she exclaimed. Isaiah’s face also broke into a smile as he walked toward Jillian and scooped her up in his arms, carefully as though she were a fragile piece of glassware (though she was much more fragile than before).

“How do you feel?” he wanted to know as he felt her lips, jaw, shoulders, and everywhere to make sure that she was still intact.

“I’m okay,” she laughed, feeling carefree for the first time in a long time. “I feel great. This is amazing!”

“No kidding. And this time, it’ll be your turn to teach me.”


“It’s been a long time since I’ve been a human. You’ll have to show me the ropes again, how it’s done without superior senses and the like.”

“Anything you need.”

Isaiah kissed Jillian tenderly. Her skin was already warmer to the touch than his own, and her blood was rushing through her veins at an alarmingly more rapid rate. It made her whole aura seem delectable, knowing how happy she was to be human again, and it was all he could do not to give into his nature, the one he’d had for nearly a century, and engage in their private erotic biting session.

Instead, he then made his way to the second bottle to take his turn. He was just unscrewing the cap when Jillian’s phone rang.

“Oh, come on,” she groaned. Isaiah snickered. “Just get it. I’ve waited this long, I can wait a little longer.”

Jillian rolled her eyes and answered her phone without even looking at the ID.

“Hello?” she said.

“Jillian,” Austin’s voice sounded in an alarming tone, “did you and Isaiah drink the cure yet?”

“Uh…I did. Isaiah is about to. Why?”

“Don’t do it. Swear to me right now you won’t let Isaiah drink it.”

“Why? What the hell is going on?”

“Jillian, if he drinks that cure, he could die.”

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Part 4 - The Ties That Bind

Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. Jillian was vigilant not to let her apprehension show in front of anyone, especially the highly perceptive Isaiah and Kenzie. She chatted with Austin online when she could, and he was keeping her informed, and the rest of the time she busied herself in her work.

Her fashion design studio was, for now, as close to the beach as she could get, she believed. Bright splashes of color were abundant, and there was no shortage of nautical d├ęcor in addition to the necessities for her career. The vibrant colors were a stark contrast to the darkness of Midnight Hollow, but at this point, Jillian didn’t give a shit.

Isaiah seemed to be oblivious to her heightened work ethic. But that was probably because he’d decided to make a career change of his own. Being a vampire, he had a lot of advantages when it came to treating and helping people. So he’d made the decision to earn his doctorate. Unbeknownst to Jillian, and all their other friends, he’d already earned a degree at the university in Dragon Valley not long before he’d turned into a vampire. The degree was still valid since supernatural creatures were no longer in hiding, and Jillian was glad that he’d found something to occupy his time to keep him from figuring out her secret agenda.

It was as she was stitching up the hem of a new dress that her cell phone rang, and Jillian’s heart skipped a beat when she saw that it was Austin. Cautious not to sound too eager, she put the needle back by her sewing machine and answered the phone with a nonchalant, “Hi, Austin.”

“Jill, I’ve got some news for you.”


“It’s not one hundred percent yet, but I think we’ve got the cure pretty much figured out.”


“Yeah. We’ve tested it out on several of our vampire subjects here, and they all turned back into humans. Now granted, it took some getting used to, considering their bodies are vastly different now, but so far, it’s been pronounced a success. We’re almost ready for outside testing.”

Jillian felt like jumping up and down. It sounded too good to be true. At last, she’d be human again! She’d be able to go outside and soak up the sun without having to resemble a glitter factory, and without any discomfort or burning at all! She could hardly wait.

Austin arranged for Jillian and Isaiah to be outside test subjects, mostly to silence Jillian’s beseeching on the matter. At this point, she was so close, that if something vile were to happen to her, she wouldn’t care.

Isaiah heard her shrieks of excitement and burst into the room, his expression concerned.

“What is it?” he inquired.

“Isaiah,” she gasped eagerly, “do you still wish you could be human?”

“What in the name of the creator kind of question is that?”

“Look, don’t be mad, but when I said I was going to Appaloosa Plains a few months ago to get pictures and inspiration for a new fashion line, it wasn’t the whole truth.”


“I, uh…my birthday’s in two months. And I know what I want as a present.”

“And you went to Appaloosa Plains to get it?”

“Not exactly. I mean, yes, kind of. But…what I actually did was go see Austin and ask him to come up with it.”

“Jillian, you’re not making any sense.”

“Here, sit down.”

Jillian led Isaiah to a nearby table and they sat down, Isaiah’s hand on Jillian’s. She was suddenly paranoid of what her boyfriend would have to say about this. But this was what he wanted, right?

So finally, taking a deep breath, she plunged ahead. “I love you. You know that. But you also know that I’ve always loved the beach and the sun. I’m grateful that we have a vampiric sunscreen to help us adapt to the sun, but living here in the shadows…it’s just…it’s not for me, Isaiah. And I know you don’t like it, either. We’re only living here as an extra means of protection for me. But I miss so much. I miss going to the beach and spreading out a towel, then laying on it while I listen to the waves crashing. Even with the special sunscreen, if I miss one spot on my skin, that one spot just tortures me if I’m out in the sun for more than a few minutes. And then the whole diet thing. Plasma fruit and juice aren’t that appealing, I worry about losing control around humans, and I miss my human food actually tasting good to me. And I miss my family, since they’ll hardly look at me like this. I can’t live like that anymore. It’s not who I am. So for my birthday…”

“You want to be human again?”


Isaiah held Jillian’s hand tightly. “Dear, I want to give you anything you want. I have the means and the money and resources to give you almost anything. But what you’re asking is impossible.”

Jillian shook her head. “No, I’m not done. I told you I went to see Austin. He’s one of the smartest people I know, if not the smartest. He helped come up with that vampiric sunscreen. So I asked him to go a step further. I asked him to find a cure.”

“A what?! A cure for vampirism? Jillian, that’s impossible!”

“That’s what he said. Until he just called me and told me that it’s nearly done, it’s been tested on several subjects, and it works.”

Isaiah looked genuinely bewildered. He clearly hadn’t anticipated this news, but at the same time, he did show a sign of relief as he gazed back into Jillian’s eyes.

“I appreciate you saving my life,” she added before he could say anything, “and I would have been okay with living out the rest of eternity as a vampire with you. But, if there was even a chance of being human again, especially if we both want it, I was going to take it.”

“I should thank you, actually. I do miss being human. I don’t want to spend eternity watching my friends and those I care about deeply just grow old and die. Even if you were with me, I know it would have been painful for you, too.”

“So…you’re willing to go to Appaloosa Plains and test it out with me? Austin said it’s almost ready for us to be outside experiments.”

Isaiah surprised Jillian by scooting closer to her, staring at her with nothing but seriousness and affection in his eyes, and replied, “Hell, yeah.”