After dinner, I still had quite a few hours to kill before I died. Not really knowing how to spend the last moments of my life, I alternated between pacing, stressing and restlessly twitching. As the minutes marched on and on, each one bringing the sun just a fraction of an inch closer to rising again, my heart started accelerating. I wasn't dying yet, just anxious. While I knew the actual act was going to be a bitch, the waiting around for it to happen was probably going to be the worst part. The mind was a cruel weapon at times, imaging every ache before the body even gets a chance to feel it.

Teren squatted in front of me when I started biting my fingernails. Smiling softly, he cupped my cheek. "Come with me?"

I looked around the room. All of the vampires were watching me, all with expressions of anticipation that matched the jumble of nerves in my belly. "Where are we going?" My voice hitched nervously.

His cool thumb stroking my cheek, he soothingly said, "Just for a walk, just to get your mind off things."

I looked back at him and raised an eyebrow, chuckling in a bubbly, anxious way. "You think that's possible?"

He smiled sadly and shook his head. "No, but I'd like to try."


I stood and nodded. Everyone in the room stood with me. It was almost like I'd suddenly become royalty and they were all following my every whim. It made me laugh inappropriately; none of this was funny.

Halina smiled at me but Alanna and Imogen only looked even more concerned. They all started to follow Teren and me as we headed towards the slider leading out back, but Teren shook his head at them. "I'd like a moment alone with my wife."

They all nodded and only Teren and I stepped through the glass doors.

I shut my eyes as the cooler night air blew across my face. I could smell the awakening of life in the wind - new plant shoots, pollen, freshly cut grass, blossoming night flowers. It gave me a sense of renewal, grounded me with the power of nature.

Teren had told me once that he felt more connected to the world after his death. I already felt more in tune with it, with my enhanced senses. I wondered if that would change even more.

Grasping my hand, Teren led me to the edge of the flat rocked patio. I smiled over at the chorine filled pool as we walked by it. I had a lot of memories in that pool - diving in on a hot summer day, teaching the kids to hold their breaths, getting in a water fight with Teren, trying to race with him and losing miserably. But mostly, that softly lit water reminded me of getting married. We'd said "I do" over those shimmering-in-the-moonlight ripples. Dead or alive, it would always hold a special place in my heart.

Stepping off of the back end of the patio to a trail of granite steps that led down to where the equipment was kept, I felt the distance of the other vampires in my head. My children were the farthest, sleeping peacefully with my mother back in the city. Halina and the other girls were just where we'd left them, in the living room, probably watching me through the windows as I disappeared with my husband down the back of the hill. I knew they'd be able to find me once I gave out. Locating me was never a problem anymore, not since I gave off a GPS signal to them too.

Heading down a light trail in the tall, tan grass, Teren started swinging my hand like we were on a first date or something. I smiled over at him, grateful for his calming presence. "Thank you for doing this."

He looked over at me, a light smile on his handsome face. "I only wish I could do more." He shook his head, his eyes glowing brighter the farther away from the lights of the ranch that we got. "I wish I could take the..."

His voice trailed off and he looked down. I filled in the blanks. "The pain?"

Glancing up at me, he sighed. "Yeah, I'm sorry. I'd experience it all over again if I could, just so you didn't have to."

He sighed again, his face forlorn, and I cuddled into his side, ignoring the shiver that went through my body when I pressed against him. "Hey, how bad can it really be? I mean, I've had two kids, it can't be worse than that."

I expected him to laugh, but he only looked at me with a raised eyebrow. Swallowing, I muttered, "Right..."

I closed my brightly glowing eyes and laid my head on his shoulder. We walked along in silence, our eyes highlighting the vague trail that repeated passings from the Jeeps had created. We walked back through one of the empty pastures. The ranch hand's house was visible to my very left, but the large home was empty. The family brought in help a few times a year, but this luckily wasn't one of them.

The man who led the rotated groups brought onto the property, kept in contact with the family often and I'd even spoken to him once or twice. Peter Alton was a genuine cowboy and seemed to have the stoic character down pat. He never asked the Adams any questions about their oddities, but I was pretty sure he knew. The family seemed content to let the quiet man believe whatever he wanted to believe, as he'd worked for them for years and had never betrayed their trust. I wondered if he'd be going to Utah with them, or if he'd be "retired" from their services.

As we moved away from the empty home near the barn, I thought about leaving my family behind in a year or so. Suddenly lonely for them, I squeezed Teren's hand. He kissed my head as I sighed, "I wish my family was here."

He kissed my head again. "I know."

I'd called my sister after dinner, not able to stand not talking to her, but she hadn't been home. It had alarmed me at first, until I realized that she was probably with my mom, entertaining my children with her. I couldn't call over there and tell her what was really happening without clueing in my mom. I was pretty sure Ash would cry, or freak out, or demand to come over here, and Mom wouldn't buy Teren's cover story after witnessing my sister going into hysterics. Ashley would just have to be told after the fact as well.

Watching the moonlight glint off the lightly waving grass, I buried my head in his arm. "I'm scared," I whispered.

Hearing me, he wrapped his arm around me and kissed my head again. "I know," he whispered back.

I peeked up at him, picking out the strong lines of his features with the light I produced. He really did know what I was feeling; he'd gone through it himself. Only his had been worse, so much worse. He'd had to wait to die, knowing that he'd probably kill me when he woke up. He'd waited around to feel excruciating pain while already being in excruciating pain, having had both of his legs beaten to pieces. I couldn't even imagine how terrified he'd been and I'd truly seen none of it. For me, he'd put on a brave face.

Stopping in the grass, I reached up to stroke his face. "Have I ever told you how amazing you are?"

He smiled and nodded in my fingertips. "Yes, once or twice." He chuckled then leaned down to kiss me.

Resuming our walk, we headed down to one of the ponds that Teren and his dad frequently fished from. Some small animals darted away as we approached. A low growl escaped my chest before I stopped it. The heartbeat I heard retreating was a small one, but it still revved up that part of me. I suppose that was just my body getting ready.

Teren slinked his hands down to my fingers, sitting down at the edge of the water. I sat with him, a little embarrassed at the primal part of me releasing. He smiled and laughed lightly. "Don't worry about it. It's just a part of who you are." He leaned in to kiss the scar on my neck, a spot that he usually avoided, but as it was sort of prevalent in the air tonight, he didn't bother trying to ignore it.

I smiled that he understood so much about me. Being married to someone who had gone through everything I was going though was very comforting. "Will that finally be gone," I asked as he pulled away from the constant reminder of my attack.

Peeking up at me, he nodded. "Yes, you'll heal," his eyes scoured my body, "everywhere."

I smiled that my stretch marks would be fading too then. Slinking my hand over his propped up knee, I exhaled slowly. "What is it like...waking back up?"

I knew he wouldn't tell me about dying, but surely he could warn me about coming back to life? He looked away from me, his eyes shifting to glow on the empty fields across the stream. Near silent, he finally said, "You won't feel like you. You'll be pure...animal. Nothing about who you are will feel familiar...not even your own name."

He sighed and looked back at me. "And you'll be hungry. So hungry," he whispered. I swallowed but didn't look away. His fingers came up to touch my cheek, to tuck a lock of hair behind my ear. "I want you to embrace the animal, to let it take over. It will help you fight through the pain, it will help you live. Don't fight the instinct...okay?"

His brow bunched as his face shifted into concern. I saw the fear in the depths of his pale eyes and knew that he was, again, holding back how afraid he truly was. I nodded, cupping his hand to my cheek. "I won't hurt you?" I whispered.

He shook his head. "No, I don't have a heartbeat. I won't be...interesting to you. You'll be looking for pumping blood, the harder the better." He shook his head again. "And you won't have to look far. I'll have it right there for you." He calmed his features as best as he could. "You have nothing to fear, Emma. I'll take care of you."

I inhaled a big breath, holding it for ten seconds, absorbing his words. I knew he was right, I knew that he'd die again before he let me go, but it's human nature to fear the unknown, and death is a pretty big unknown. He held me close as we sat along that bank, the light of our eyes highlighting each other's features as we talked about less frightening things - whether or not we put the kids in a public school, when or if my sister would find someone, my mom's health, his dad's, Hot Ben and Tracey's upcoming nuptials.

I could feel time passing by, but as Teren made me laugh, or kissed me, or made me smack him with some smart aleck remark, everything in the world seemed to stop. I wasn't about to die. My kids weren't a worry in the back of my mind. Halina's struggles weren't playing on repeat throughout my brain. For a moment beside that pond, Teren and I were just a couple in love. It was nice to go back to that simplicity.

But eventually as the night wore on we decided to stand and head back to the ranch. Teren stood first and, always the gentleman, held his hand out for me. With a smile on my face, I reached up to grab it. I was halfway to standing when the smile fell off my face. My heart missed a beat, like it did sometimes if I was really nervous or anxious. It was an uncomfortable feeling and I rubbed my chest. Teren's brows furrowed as I straightened my legs.

"Emma? Are you feeling...okay?" he asked tentatively.

I started to take a step forward, telling him that I felt fine, but my body had other plans. My half-step towards him brought me right back down to my knees. I looked at myself confused; it was an odd feeling to have your body do something that you didn't tell it to do. Before I could worry about it too long though, my heart missed another beat. This time it hurt.

Knowing it was happening, knowing that I was minutes away from dying, I felt my heart shift into overdrive. In my anxiousness, my breath picked up to near panic level. Looking around myself, I felt the world constrict around me, suffocating me. I wasn't ready.

Immediately Teren's calming eyes filled my vision. Strong hands grasped my face as he forced me to focus only on the hypnotic depths of his eyes. Oxygen flooded through me as my panic attack subsided."I'm right here, Emma, I'm not leaving you."

I started to nod, but my heart stuttered. My hands feebly went to my chest, like I could somehow externally help the organ along. My smooth running engine was sputtering, part of it wanting to keep going, the rest of it too tired to even try. Like my toddlers tripping over their own feet, my heart couldn't get back up again.

Fire erupted through my chest and down my arms as my heart surged and stopped. It was a different sort of pain than I'd ever felt before. Sharp and intense, dull and aching, and all the more terrifying because it was laced with a razor sharp edge of panic. I knew what was happening, and being aware made it ten times worse. I suddenly envied the cows that would probably be dying tonight as well. At least they had no idea it was coming.

As Teren clutched me to him, his calming influence keeping me sane, I struggled to not cry out with the pain. I bit my lip so hard I tore right through it. My fangs dropped as the taste of blood filled my mouth, but I couldn't even care.

Teren's eyes watered as he watched me, sympathetic tears forming. Oddly, a part of me wanted to comfort him, but the majority of me was too scared. I grasped his face, my body shaking as my heart struggled to keep going. "Promise me," I choked out.

He shook his head, looking like he'd agree to wrangle the moon if I asked. "Anything."

I shook my head, tears stinging my eyes as a sudden, sharp pain felt like it was splitting my chest in half. My voice heavy with held back agony, I sputtered, "Promise me this is forever." Feeling a surge of strength as the wave of pain ebbed and flowed, I quickly rambled, "Promise me that you won't wake up one day, sick of me, hating the fact that you're stuck with me for all eternity. Promise me that you won't ever stop loving me. Promise me that you won't leave me for someone else in a couple hundred years. Promise me that we'll feel this way for the next ten thousand years." My sobs finally broke free as my panic kicked in full force.

His arms wrapped around me. "I promise. I promise, baby. You never have to worry about that. It's you, it's always been you. It will always be you...forever. You're it for me, for eternity. I love you, I love you so much."

I nodded in his arms, embarrassed that I'd verbally doubted him. I knew he wouldn't ever leave me, no sooner than I'd leave him, but fear and panic can make you do and say stupid things.

"I love you," I managed to get out...then the real pain started.

Screaming as I jerked against his body, I felt him lay me down. As my heart sped up to an unnatural pace, he leaned down, his cool hands brushing over my fevered face. "I'm here. I love you, Emma."

I wanted to respond with something other than pain-filled cries, but I couldn't make any other coherent noise. Aside from the discomfort in my chest, it felt like pins and needles were pricking me from the inside as my vampiric blood prepared itself to take over. I couldn't believe that Teren had ever felt this level of pain; he'd hidden so much of it from me when he'd died.

My heart raced as I started convulsing, then, as if someone had flipped a switch, it stopped. I heard myself stop screaming, felt my body stop shaking. I smelled my own blood and fear in the air, but mostly, I felt relief. I was dying and all that meant in the moment was that the pain would finally be ending. As my vision faded to pinpoints and every muscle in my body relaxed, my hearing was the last thing I retained.

It brought a different sort of ache and the part of me that could still think, sort of wished that that sense had left me first. Sobbing into my shoulder, Teren was repeating over and over that he was sorry, and that he loved me. I couldn't move any part of my body to comfort him. As my consciousness slipped from me, the last thing I heard him say was, "I'll see you on the other side, Emma. Ya Tebya Lyublyu."

There was nothing about dying that met my expectations. I don't know if that was because I hadn't fully died, or if I was just completely wrong with my preconceived notions. There was no bright light, no awaiting family members. My long dead father didn't welcome me into his arms during my brief visit to his realm. Ironically, nothing supernatural happened to me while I was transforming into a mythical creature.

But there was peace in the void. A peace that was so warm and safe and welcoming, that I could have wrapped it around me and stayed in it for all eternity. No thoughts accompanied the peace. My mind was, for the first time ever perhaps, relaxed. A blank slate, no nags or worries intruded on my well being, only peace. I would have sighed with contentment, if I could have.

But then a feeling started breaking through that serenity. It was uncomfortable, and jostled the calm I'd found in death. Growing stronger second by second, it slowly awoke me, changing me. Everything I knew washed away as the feeling burned through my body, emanating from my stomach. Some primal part of me knew the feeling enough to give it a name - hunger - intense, burning, all-consuming hunger. A low, feral growl erupted from my dry throat as the uncomfortable feeling tightened and strengthened.

Slowly, and I had no idea how long it really was, the hunger started reawakening my other senses. Last to recede, my hearing was the first to reawaken. All I heard was chirping, like ten thousand crickets were circled around me, serenading me. My own body was oddly silent, but other rustles and murmurs filled my ears. The glow of my eyes kicked in, highlighting the darkness. It wasn't the comforting peace of the darkness that I'd left behind and I instantly hated it. Hazy shapes flitted past my vision, tilting my stomach, and I shut my eyes as nausea filled me.

But in wasn't really nausea that I was feeling. It was stronger than that, and ten times as painful. My stomach contracted as a ripping ache seared through me. I knew enough about my foreign body to recognize the danger. I was starving on an eat-or-die level. A stronger growl ripped from my throat as an instinctual desire to live filled me. I was an animal, an animal that needed to be fed.

As the hunger constricted my body, forcing me to action, all of my other senses dropped by the wayside. I didn't care about the crickets. I didn't care about the peace that I'd awoken from. I didn't care about the blurry shapes and indistinguishable rustling sounds.

I cared about blood.

A painfully, raspy hiss erupted from my parched throat as the creature within me demanded out. My mouth dropped open as my fangs were uncontrollably long, longer than I'd even thought them possible to be. I wanted to spring up and blur towards a food source, but my body was slow, tired.

Fighting the squeezing pain tearing through my abdomen, I opened my eyes again and flexed my aching body. My limbs responded to my silent commands, but they were heavy, sore. Some small part of me wanted to close my eyes again, to desperately find that peace that I'd left behind, but the fire in my throat wouldn't let me go back to that slumber. It was excruciating, worse than dying.

A creature crouched before me; it had no heartbeat and I ignored it. Words hit me, but I didn't recognize them. All I felt was pain, all I knew was thirst. Nothing else existed to me but quenching that thirst. There was nothing else I wanted, nothing else I understood, but wanting blood coursing down my aching throat. I couldn't even swallow. It hurt. Everything hurt.

I stood, stumbling on my feet. The creature before me moved as well, standing. I managed a deep growl, warning the irritant away. It didn't stop moving though, arms raised as if I might attack it. I didn't have the strength. I could barely keep standing. I could barely see. All I knew was it was lifeless, and I didn't want it. I inhaled for blood, using my unnecessary lungs for the first time. The warmth of a living creature filled my nostrils, burning them. My dry throat made a cracking groan and my body stumbled forward on its own accord.

A heartbeat, heavy and fast, filled my ears. It was all I heard, all that made sense to me. I stumbled towards it. I had no idea who or what it belonged to and I didn't care. It surged with blood. I wanted it. I needed it. Nothing but death would stop me from taking it. Hearing words that sounded like encouragement coming from the walking dead creature beside me, I dropped to my knees at the source of the pleasing heat. Something large and black was lying on the ground before me.

Its head moved and the creature tried to bolt, but other not-interesting, heartbeatless creatures held it down. Someone knelt beside me as I leaned over the struggling creature. My movements felt slow to me, my eyes felt heavy. I was so tired, but so hungry. I wanted to lie down and rest, but the drive to eat wouldn't let me.

"Eat, Emma. Drink, baby."

The words the undead creature spouted didn't make sense. Emma? I didn't know what that meant. All I knew was a pain ripping through my stomach up to my throat. My entire body felt like acid had been poured inside it. I growled painfully as my lips achingly slow found the furry beast. It was so hard to concentrate. Hard to keep moving. I wanted rest. I wanted food.

"Emma...please, eat." The silent hearted creature beside me seemed concerned. I paused, a desire in me welling to comfort the creature. I had no idea why. I blinked, the beast below me hazing in my vision. My throat burned, my eyes were heavy. I wanted to close them. I never wanted to reopen them. I wanted my peace back. Everything hurt. My entire world was pain. I wanted it to end.

"Emma, baby, need to eat. The pain will stop, once you eat."

Emma? That word again. A growl issued from my chest, weaker this time. My head rested on the beast, the heartbeat surging in my ear as I laid my cheek on its rough surface. My mouth opened wider, my fangs already as far as they could go. I was so close; I could feel the heat of the animal below me, but couldn't find the strength to make my mouth pierce the flesh. My teeth brushed the creature ineffectually. It tried to buck me away, the other undead beings around it keeping it still.

I was so tired. I was in so much pain. I just wanted it to end. I started to close my eyes.

"Teren...she's fading..."

The creature at my side cursed, then darted to where my lips were. It sunk its teeth into the beast beneath me, the animal crying and trying to jerk away. It ripped its mouth away and the scent of fresh blood ignited my senses. My aching throat squealed in protest. My partially closed eyes flew open. A rush of blood made it to my lips and my tongue darted out to lap it up. It was warm, sweet, heavenly. It was life, and I wanted more. A fire drove my tired body and my mouth attached to the gaping wound the creature beside me had made. The animal struggled and I held it down with my hands, the blood flowing down my dry throat giving me strength.

As the vitality of the animal flowed into me, I felt myself coming back to who I was. I was not a bloodthirsty creature of the night. I was a person. My name was Emma. Teren was my husband. Teren had just saved my life by exposing fresh blood to the air, forcing the instinct in me to take over. And taking over it was; I drained that animal, its frail movements slowing, then stopping.

Wiping my mouth, my hand lightly shaking, I sat back on my heels. Feeling dizzy and lightheaded, my throat still ached with thirst and my belly still burned with need. But I felt out of the woods. I no longer felt like lying down and never waking up again. Meeting Teren's concerned gaze as his fingers came down to cup my cheeks, I managed to mutter, "I'm still hungry."

He smiled, sighed softly, and nodded. "Well then, let's get you some more to eat."

As my vision cleared, I saw Teren's features distinctly. He looked as tired as I felt, heaviness in his glowing eyes. His arms wrapped around me as we huddled beside the beast I'd devoured. Sighing, I buried my head in the comfort of his neck, forcing my fangs back up. It was then, as he helped me to stand up, that I finally noticed something odd about him.

Blinking as I wobbled on my feet, I looked over his body. "You're not cold?"

He smiled and chuckled slightly, kissing my head. "Yes, I am, but you are too."

Grabbing my hand, he laced our fingers together. He wasn't warm, by any stretch, but the icy shiver wasn't there. Touching his skin was like touching my own. For the first time in a long time, we were the same temperature. I marveled in that fact as he helped steady me. Smiling lovingly down at me, he patiently let me explore his face, his silent chest. It was so odd for him to feel the same as me.

Tired, I snuggled into his chest to close my eyes again. He nudged my shoulder as he started me walking. "Not yet, Emma. I know you're tired, but you can rest after you eat some more, okay?"

I nodded against his body, then felt a different lukewarm hand reach out for me. I opened my eyes at Alanna smiling brightly at me. Imogen was next to her, with Halina excitedly standing behind them. Halina's bright eyes took in my blood soaked shirt, my stained mouth, and she smiled wider. "Ready to hunt, Emma?" she asked, her fangs dropping at the same time.

My stomach rumbled at the idea. I was still so hungry. The ache in my belly felt better, but I knew it would make a reappearance if I didn't satisfy my needs soon. Taking a step towards her, I nodded eagerly. "Yes," I whispered.

Halina growled and crouched, twisting her body to where I could smell the warmth of life in the fields.

None of the other cows had reacted harshly to one of their companions dying; they were all still standing around, waiting to die too. Surprisingly, a part of my body wanted them to run, wanted the chase, but I was too tired to really care. Imogen grabbed my other hand and she and Alanna pulled me after Halina. Teren followed us, a low rumble escaping his chest as his fangs lowered as well.

I let myself become what I was now, a hunter, a killer, an animal. I pushed back the human part of me that objected to what I was doing, and focused on what really mattered - getting through this transformation so I could spend that eternity with my husband and children.

The girls made a wide circle around the beasts that had been corralled just for this very purpose. They weren't the best of the best, like Teren had had when he'd died. His family hadn't had the time to get that kind of livestock for me. Instead, they'd used this opportunity to thin the herd of the sick and fragile ones. I'd heard them say mercy killings when they'd been talking about it.

Teren and the women made a wide circle around them, Teren's eyes flicking between mine and the beasts that I knew he wanted too. I crouched down, letting the instinct and the residual pain of thirst lead me. A low growl burrowing out of me, I found the strength to blur over to the largest one. I wrapped my arms around its neck, the scent of bovine overpowering me as I flung it to the ground. My teeth were sunk inside it seconds later. It didn't even have a chance to cry out. Snarls from the other vamps filled the air, and out of the corner of my eye, I watched Halina dart for one. Smiling wickedly, she took it down just as efficiently as I had.

Other thumps and light animal cries signaled the other vampires eating. Teren watched over me, not gorging yet. Smiling crookedly when I finished, he indicated one in the back with his dark head. I smiled, wiping my mouth as strength coursed through me. Each cow's life seemed to strengthen my own. We both twisted to look at the doomed beast, then darted towards it together. As soon as we brought it down, we sunk our teeth in. As hot, pulsing blood flowed down my throat, easing every ache I'd ever had, Teren's fingers came out to clutch mine. Holding hands over the fading life beneath us, I embraced the rising life within me, and clasped him back just as hard.

At the tail end of the slaughter, Halina frowned and looked up at the sky. My enhanced sight could see the edge of the sun along the base of the horizon. Sighing, she grumbled that she had to go hide away for the day. Imogen went with her when she blurred away, both girls chuckling over how entertaining it was to hunt as a group.

Alanna smiled after them as she watched them streak off to the safety of the house. As Teren and I stood from the last cow in the field, she walked over to me, encasing me in a warm hug. "Welcome to the family, dear." She patted my back as she held me and I felt my tired eyes start to water. I guess being dead didn't stop you from being emotional.

Smiling as I clasped her back, I whispered, "Thank you, Mom."

As Teren walked up beside me, she smiled over at her son, wrapping him in a hug as well. "I'm so happy for the both of you." Her eyes were watery with pink tears as she looked between the two of us. Looking back towards the house, she flicked a quick glance in our direction. "I'm going to go call Jack. He would want to know that you're safe, Emma, and that he can come home."

She smiled brilliantly as the first rays of light hit her hair. Then she streaked back to the home, to tell the love of her life that they could be reunited. I twisted to bury my head in the chest of the love of my life, my eternal life. His arms wrapped around me, warm against my skin. Glancing down at myself, I stared at my silent chest. I kept waiting to hear the heartbeat, but it didn't happen. If I had been purely human first, I probably wouldn't have noticed that lack of a beat, but I hadn't been entirely human in awhile and my enhanced ears had gotten used to the familiar rhythm. It was shockingly odd to not hear it anymore.

Teren's fingers lifted my chin so I'd look up at him. Brushing my jaw, he smiled softly. A shaft of light hit his eyes, making the gray flecks in them leap out at me. I smiled at the distinct clover shape in the right one; it was adorably beautiful. "How do you feel?" he asked softly.

Sighing, my hands drifted over the wet blood on my ruined shirt. Unlike Teren, who didn't have a spot of blood on him, I hadn't exactly been a dainty eater. I was pretty sure my face looked like I'd just filmed a horror movie. My fingers resting on my silent chest as I locked gazes with him, I smiled crookedly. "Dead tired."

He grinned, a soft laugh escaping him. All the tension seemed to release from his face as he scooped me up. The uncertainty of that situation had probably been just as terrifying for him as it had been painful for me. The memory of that pain tried to intrude on me but I blocked it out. Much like childbirth, some pains were worth going through.

Smiling as I rested my head on his shoulder, I felt him kiss my head. "Come on, I'll tuck you in."

Yawning, I reached up and kissed his neck. Through the cool warmth of his skin, I felt the river of ever-flowing vampire blood coursing through his veins. The same blood now flowed through me. Self propelling, no longer needing the extra effort of a circulatory system, I was now one level up on the food chain. But I was still the person I was before. Now that I'd gotten through that moment of insatiable hunger, I knew I'd be able to control it; I wouldn't be out munching on the townsfolk or anything.

In fact, Teren's skin was the only skin I'd ever consider puncturing. And he would live through any playful attack I made on him. As would I now, when he took a nibble from me. Self healing, I'd never die a natural death. It was an intimidating thought, but I knew that I'd have Teren by my side for all of it. Together, we'd face the daunting endless life in front of us.

Blurring us back to our bedroom, he helped me clean up and change clothes, then he tucked me under our covers. He held me until the exhaustion overtook me. Before completely caving into it, I muttered, "I want to see the children soon."

He nodded as he held me to his chest. "As soon as you get some sleep, we'll go get them."

Exhaling, feeling the pleasure from making the movement, but not the need to feel the air through my lungs, I vaguely nodded my head. "M'kay."

Chuckling, he kissed my hair. Before silencing my unnecessary breath, I heard him whisper, "I'm so glad you made it. I don't know what I would have..." Exhaling a quick, shaky breath, he held me just a bit tighter. "I love you, Emma."

I wanted to respond, to tell him that I understood his fear and I loved him more than anything, but dying was an exhausting experience and sleep crept up on me. Mumbling something unintelligible, I once again slipped back into the darkness, if only for a little while.