Kally Sten
When I saw Lena on the dance floor of The Edge, I thought I was imagining things. Of course I had to be imagining things. She couldn’t be there. It was just wishful thinking.

I missed her so much, I’d seen her face everywhere since I’d been turned. I’d been very careful not to go any place where I thought she might be. The last thing I wanted was for her to attract my Sire’s or my clan’s attention. She deserved better.

I knew she was still looking for me. Still hoping. There were still flyers posted around campus, with my face, my name and her phone number. I so wished I could have called, but what would I have said? If I’d told her to stop looking for me, she’d only have looked harder. If I had told her what happened to me, she’d have wanted to see me. No, it was better if I didn’t try to contact her.

But when I realized I wasn’t imagining things, when I realized she was really there, I forgot everything, forgot all the reasons why it was better if I stayed away from her. And I just went to her.
Kally Sten
I don’t want to go to that Halloween party.

Alice nagged me for weeks about it, and I guess in the end I just said yes because I wanted her to stop asking, but the truth is, I don’t want to go. I’m really not in the mood to party, or do much for that matter. I won’t stop studying because it was Liam’s dream as much as it is mine to become a doctor, but everything else seems to have become unnecessary.

I know my friends and my family worry about me. I know they’d like me to move on. But how can I, when we don’t even know for sure what happened to Liam? Maybe he’ll come back. Maybe he’s just fine. Maybe…

I don’t want to go to that party. How could I have fun when I’ve lost the one man I ever loved?
Kally Sten
I’ve never had as much fun as I did last night. I’ve pranked the frat house for four years in a row, last night was the fifth time – and the last – but it was also the best prank ever. And the fact that Hunter was there with me made it even more special.

When I went to college, there was this guy I kinda liked. We tried doing a few spells together, but his fraternity brothers decided that anyone pretending they could do magic were lying, and they convinced him to stop. I’ve been proving them wrong every Halloween ever since.

It’s always the same show I offer them: illusions of light and sound, icy bursts of wind. None of it would harm a fly, but it always spooks the frat boys and their party friends. But this year, with Hunter at my side, it was on a whole different level. We combined our skills and made up an entire army of ghosts wailing their way into the frat house, crashing the Halloween party there. Hunter added some thunder claps that sounded as loud as though lightning had fallen right outside. I raised a phantom wind that rattled the windows.

It was just moments before people started running out screaming.

It wasn’t much longer after that when we started hearing police sirens.
Kally Sten
This was the craziest night of my life – or at least the craziest night to date. I have a feeling that this might not be the last time Cole invites me along for a wild ride.

For the past week, he’s been teaching me new magic spells – more impressive ones – and pushing me beyond what I thought I would be able to do. He always says I have more raw power than he does, but he’s had years to practice and hone his skills. I didn’t even know I had the potential to do magic until I met Cole and he told me about it. It’ll take me many more lessons before I get to the point where Cole stops telling me I can do better.

Then again, I don’t exactly mind spending time with him, so I’m in no hurry.

Tonight was the most magic I’ve done to date, and the most magic we’ve ever done together, too. It was Halloween, and he asked me if I’d help him prank this frat house at the university he attended. He didn’t say why he wanted to prank them, but it’s not all that hard to imagine. He’s a loner. Frat boys would be pretty much the opposite of who he is. Clashes sometimes leave scars; revenge can be a soothing balm…

I said yes – of course I said yes – and when he drove us down to campus, he told me that he doesn’t know anyone in that frat house anymore, but he’s been pranking them every year on Halloween; it’s his own little tradition. This year, he wanted to make it beyond anything he had done so far: a grand finale of sort before he moved on, and he wanted me to be part of it.

He parked across the street and we got out of the car to stand in front of a large, wannabe-Victorian mansion. We could hear music from across the street; clearly they were having a Halloween party. Cole looked at me and grinned. He asked if I was ready. I was – or at least I thought I was. I never expected things would turn out so great. Or that we’d end up running from the campus police.
Kally Sten
All I wanted when I left home was to see the stars. Travel from world to world, meet other people, discover things I couldn’t even imagine.

I didn’t care that the Danaus was a small, beat up ship. She’s home, now. And I even started referring to her as a ‘she’ like Kar does.

I didn’t care either that Kar couldn’t offer me much money. As long as I am in a spaceship, money doesn’t matter all that much. I mean, it’d be nice to be able to buy souvenirs when we stop somewhere, but even if I don’t get trinkets I’ll always have my memories.

And I especially didn’t care that what we did wasn’t always on the legal side of things. It was all part of the adventure.

I thought that, as long as I was in space, I wouldn’t care about anything else. But then I started caring a great deal about someone. More than caring, in fact. Jay wasn’t any of the things I’d have expected I’d want from someone, but I do want him, more than anything – almost more than I want to travel.

And then we did that heist on that moon, and the way I looked at Kar changed, too.

It’s a strange path I’ve taken, and I don’t know where it will lead me – where it will lead us - but that’s all right. It’s the journey that matters, not the destination.
Kally Sten
Strictly speaking, the Danaus didn’t need a third crew member. I’ve never had a problem with manual labor, and being the captain just means I get to make the decisions; it doesn’t stop me from loading and unloading cargo. And as far as maintenance is concerned, I’d rather get my hands dirty than trust the Danaus to anyone. She’s temperamental and likes to give me scares at the worst possible moments, but she’s a good ship and she’s mine. If anyone is going to play with her insides, it’s me.

Jay is pretty good at carrying his weight as well. I’ve got to say, when I first hired him I didn’t expect him to last long. He’s a good pilot – he’s a great pilot – but the tattoos around his neck made it clear that he never had to work with his hands. I’m also sure he never suspected that anyone can survive on food squares for weeks at a time. I bet he’s more used to fancy food served fresh from the field. He never complains, though. He has looked at the food with everything from disgust to annoyance, but he has never complained, not about what I feed him and not about being asked to help loading cargo when we have big jobs. I like that about him.

The problem is, it’s not the only thing I like about him, far from it. And I know it’s a bad idea for me to take a close interest in Jay. Not because he’s my pilot and I’m the captain. That doesn’t matter one bit. But what does matter is the tattoo on his neck. One of these days, the Lodge is going to come looking for him, and if he doesn’t go quietly it’s not going to be pretty.

This, ultimately, is why I took on Wil during our last stop – well that and the fact that Wil was ready to work practically for free as long as he got to be on a spaceship. I had a feeling, right from the start, that the two of them would hit it off. I figured that if they got together I would stop looking at Jay too closely. I’ve never been one to hunt another man’s game. Steal things, yes, but not someone’s affections.

What I never expected was that they’d be so open about it. The Danaus isn’t a big ship, sure, but they could still manage to be discreet if they only tried. But they don’t try, or not that hard. And now, not only am I still lusting after Jay, I’m also starting to develop a thing for Wil, too.

That can’t possibly end well.
Kally Sten
I can’t remember anymore when I first decided I wouldn’t take my place in the family business the way I was expected to. It seemed so evident, maybe I always knew I’d end up running away.

I know my mother thought I was only going through a ‘phase’ as she called it. She tried everything she could to get me out of it.

Punishments. Those consisted of taking away things and activities I enjoyed; the only time she ever raised her hand on me I was an adult, and that was the day I left.

Bribes. She thought that by giving me more and more things, I’d realize the way to always have what I wanted was to follow the path that had been traced for me. All it did was make me grow tired of possessions that had no meaning.

Threats. She took me to a planet on the outer range, once. We walked through the dusty streets of something that could at best be called a village, and she pointed out all the things that these people didn’t have that I took for granted. All the things I would lose if I continued to rebel. All I could see was how much more alive these people seemed compared to us.

None of it worked. I knew what I wanted, and it wasn’t anything she or anyone in our world could offer me. The tattooed circles around my neck only meant one thing, as far as I was concerned: I had been collared from birth, and I needed to free myself.

So I did.
Kally Sten
I’ve had a weird schedule ever since I started dating Chase. He does most of his hunting at night, so we can’t often go on evening dates unless he takes a night off. At first, I found it a little off-putting, and I wasn’t sure I could be in a relationship like that. But I fell for him, hard and fast, and that small inconvenience didn’t seem to matter so much after a while.

Also, I grew used to having him drop by in the morning and wake me with gourmet coffee, fresh bagels or croissants – and all right, maybe I got used to getting naughty, first thing in the morning. I’ve been late at work quite a few times over the past few months, and thankfully my boss doesn’t care as long as I make up for the hours in the evening.

The best days are often on weekends. Chase stays at my place or I go spend the night in his ‘lair,’ as he calls it. Being together for a full day and night is always great. It makes me wonder what it would be like to go one step further and live with him. We’ve only been dating for a few months, but I feel redy to go that far.

Or even further.

He’s nothing like what I had expected the night I first went to The Edge, but he’s everything I ever wanted in a man – and even more.

I just hope he knows how much he means to me. How much I love him.
Kally Sten
I used to hate On The Edge. A lot of people go there to find someone. Sometimes all they want is a one night stand, sometimes they want more – sometimes they want blood. It used to make me mad just to think about it.

When I went there that night, I was looking for a prey. I don’t usually hunt in the club; for one thing, the security personnel really don’t take too kindly on my kind ‘harassing’ the customers, as they say. For another, it’s hard to hunt in a moving crowd. But I had been given a tip that someone that had eluded me for a long time was there, and it was as good a place as any to look. It certainly beat haunting graveyards.

I never expected to find someone like Anna at the club. Or rather, I never expected that someone like Anna would find me. And never, not in my wildest dreams, did I imagine anything would come out of that chance encounter. With what I am, dating a ‘normal’ woman can be difficult, and it never was something that troubled me much – not until I met Anna and realized what I had been missing.

And so, I don’t mind the club so much anymore. I still go there, once in a while when I need to find someone, but it now feels like a warmer place; more welcoming, too. This is where I met the woman I love, so it can’t be such a terrible place, can it?
Kally Sten
Learning – or re-learning – to live with Blake is a slow and painful process for me, and probably for Marc as well. I guess after the first night, after Blake’s first breakthrough, we both hoped things would get better right away. It can’t be that easy, though. It took decades and decades for the demons to break Blake, to teach him fear and pain; a few days, even a few weeks or months won’t be enough for him to do more than start healing.

His body is better. His voice, too. At times, it’s all but impossible to tell there’s still something wrong with him. But at other times…

He won’t touch me, for one thing. If I take his hand and set it on me, he leaves it there but only until I let go, then he pulls back again. It makes me want to rage every time, makes me want to ask why and how they trained him, conditioned him not to touch me. Because yes, it’s only me. He doesn’t seem to have a problem touching Marc anymore, at least not usually, and as much as I try not to think anything of it, it still hurts. I promised myself not to be jealous, but I can’t always hold on to that promise.

Sometimes, and those are the hardest moments I ever lived – harder even that fights against demons during which I wasn’t sure I’d survive – Blake just… breaks down. Curls up into a ball, makes himself as small as he can, and shakes even as he tries not to cry. That’s already bad enough, but to make things even worse my intervention, in those moments, only upsets him even more. The best I can do at times like these is to stay back and let Marc try to calm him. I’ve never been very good at staying back and letting others do everything. The fact that it’s Blake doesn’t make it any easier, far from it.

I guess if we knew what triggers these episodes we could try to avoid those stimuli, but Blake is stubborn as all hell about it. He never wants to talk about what happened. We ask him, after he stumbles, when he’s calm again. Ask what we did or said to send his mind back to that place. He always refuses to answer, always says it was nothing, and he’s fine now, and it won’t happen again.

He’s trying to protect us, I understand that, but how can we protect him when we don’t know what we’re doing wrong in the first place?

Marc says we have to give him time, and that he’ll get better, little by little. And he is getting better, I can’t deny that. But at this rate, it’ll take him years, or even more than that before he can go weeks or months without stumbling on one of his nightmares again. That might be fine for Marc, he has centuries in front of him, he can afford to let Blake go at his own pace. But I don’t have the luxury of time. Is it too much to hope that Blake will get better before I grow too old to ask him to turn me?
Kally Sten
I’ve never felt so lonely in my life.

Just weeks ago, I was happier than I thought possible. I had my Childe and I had Kate. I was good friend with Daniel, and I had a purpose with his squad, helping to close breaches. And now… It feels like I lost everyone and everything that matters to me.

Blake was taken from us first. I’ve lost a Childe before, I know the pain of that broken bond and I could have endured that. But what happened is worse than simple death. The link between us simply vanished, like it had never existed. Like Blake had never existed.

Then Daniel refused my guidance. I thought he understood, when he asked me to turn him, what being Sire and Childe would mean. I thought I made it clear to him that he would need his Sire there to learn what it means to be a vampire, but he completely shut me out.

And Kate… Losing her might be what hurt the most, because it was my own fault if I lost her. We could have strengthened each other, supported each other, taken comfort in each other. And instead… We pulled away. We locked ourselves to the other and we drifted away.

I had everything.

What do I have now?
Kally Sten
I found the dress first. I wasn’t looking for anything like that, but as soon as I saw it, I knew it had been made for Kate. It was hanging in a small shop window, and if not for the moon peeking out from behind clouds at the very moment I walked in that street, I might not have noticed it. In the light of the moon, it glowed like silver. I’d never seen Kate wear anything like this – I’d never even seen her wear a dress – but I knew she’d look amazing in it. Not that she needs a dress to look beautiful; I just thought she would like it.

And I knew that Marc would love it on her, too.

At that hour, the store was closed, of course, and I couldn’t exactly come back in the middle of the day, so I scribbled a note and put it in the mail slot, asking the shopkeeper to please hold that dress in the window for me and that I’d come the next night right at nightfall if the owner would please wait for me. Business is slow enough that accommodating potential customers is a priority for most shopkeepers, and when I showed up the next night the shop was still open for me. The shopkeeper was surprised when she saw a man walk in; I guess she’d expected a woman. We haggled a little over the price, but not that much. I had to have that dress, whatever the price. Besides, it was a handmade creation, and well worth the price.

She had shelves of gently used shoes in the back of the shop, and with a bit of work we hunted down a pair in Kate’s size.

“She’s a lucky woman,” she told me when I left.

“No, I’m a lucky man,” I replied.

Me and Marc both, but she didn’t need to hear that.
Kally Sten
I’ve figured out the way to reopen a breach after we close it.

Or at least, I think I figured it out. It’s not like I can try it to check if it actually works.

It has taken me a long time to make up that spell. It’ll be a hard one to cast, too. Harder than the spell to close a breach, and that one is already something.

The closing spell is how I got my big break, actually. I’ve deconstructed it, word by word and ingredient by ingredient until I could tell what each little part did and change it to open instead. The person who made up this spell was either much better at magic than I am and knew things I don’t, or they were patching things together from sources they didn’t quite understand. One or the other, and I can’t decide which is more likely. There are things in that spell that by any law of magic I know should make the whole thing useless. And still, despite them – or maybe because of them? – the spell works. Of course it works. A dozen breaches have been closed already, and the spell is spreading around, so that in just a few months, maybe even sooner, all the breaches in the world might be closed.

And that’s where my dilemma comes from. I can’t tell anyone I made a spell to reopen breaches, can I? They’d think I’m crazy. Kate would understand, but she’s so invested in this, so hurt by Blake’s disappearance, that she’d probably have me try right away without thinking it through. After all, she’s the one who suggested I try reopening the breach through which Blake fell. It was months ago, but every now and then she still asks if I’ve had any new idea about how to get Blake back. I hate to say no, but I don’t want to give her false hope. It’s bad enough that I’m hoping so much myself.

Because even if my spell works, there’s the whole part about not knowing where Blake actually is. We could think about it for weeks, plan everything, in the end all we know is where he disappeared. Who knows what the demons dimension is like? Who knows where Blake was taken?

Who knows if he’s even still alive?
Kally Sten
When they were still married, my mom and dad used to argue all the time. They didn’t argue a lot in front of me, but I could tell when something was wrong. Their voices would be cold when they talked to each other, and when they said something like ‘Pass the salt’ or ‘Don’t forget to buy bread’, I always felt like there was a lot of things hiding behind the words. Ugly things. Hurtful things. I didn’t like it.

My dad has a new girlfriend, now. I kinda like her. She doesn’t talk a lot to me but she’s nice when I visit. She always bakes cookies or cupcakes for me, and all the foods my dad likes. But I don’t like the way my dad talks to her. He’s always telling her to do things, not asking. He doesn’t say please or thank you. Sometimes, her eyes narrow and she pinches her lips tight together like she wants to say something back, but she never does, or at least not when I can hear. I wonder if they argue when I’m not there. She doesn’t look very happy. Neither does my dad. Maybe some day she’ll leave him like Mom did.

My mom has a new boyfriend, too. And I like him lots and lots. His name is Ray, and he’s a vampire. I thought it was weird at first that my mom has a vampire boyfriend, because her job is to catch bad vampires, but Ray is a good vampire so I guess it’s all right. At first he just visited sometimes, but since we moved into the house he came to live with us. Mom asked me if it was okay if he did and I said yes, because he makes her happy. She’s been smiling a lot since he became her boyfriend.

The best thing about Ray – no, wait. The second best thing about Ray is that he can draw better than anyone I know, even better than my art teacher at school. He made a picture of Mom, Grandma and me, and Mom put it in a big frame in the living room. She always smiles when she looks at it. I’m not very good at drawing, but he’s been teaching me and he says I’m getting better. I hope I’m as good as he is, some day.

The absolute best thing about Ray is that he and Mom never argue. Never ever. Sometimes he pouts when she says we can’t have pizza or watch TV late, and sometimes – not very often but sometimes – she sighs and changes her mind, and sometimes she even watches TV with us. He gives her the best spot on the sofa when she does, and sits on the floor close to her, and she messes with his hair the entire time we watch the movie. It’s annoying when she does that to me, but I think he likes it because he always half-closes his eyes and smiles. Sometimes he even purrs, like a cat. I think he loves her very, very much. And I hope they never argue and fight and split off like my mom and dad did.
Kally Sten
I made a mistake.

No, I made several mistakes.

The first one was to allow that woman to play with my Childe. I hear she died. I can’t be sorry she did.

The next one was to leave town without him. I was afraid that he would notice I felt guilty about that scene fiasco. I’m his Sire. I’m his Dom. I’m not supposed to feel guilt where he is concerned.

But I’m not supposed to let him get hurt – really hurt – either.

My next mistake was not to take him back with me after I returned for my things. I had planned to have him accompany me back west, but when I met that Special Enforcer, when I realized they had played together, when I saw the pictures he had drawn of her…

Jealousy is only one more thing I’m not supposed to feel.

My last mistake was to delay my return for too long. I believed Ray would have tired of his new Domme by then. I thought he’d be ready to come back to me, to someone who knows him inside and out and who can give him what he wants – and more importantly, what he needs.

I was wrong.

I made mistakes, and they cost me my Childe. It’s a heavy price to pay for a harsh lesson.
Kally Sten
I never expected this.

When Keller turned me, I started thinking that I’d spend the rest of eternity – literally – with him, and I was fine with that. I enjoyed having him as my Sire, my Dom and my lover. We had a few good years, and I thought, I really believed things would keep going the same way. I never saw it coming that he’d leave town – and leave me behind.

When I met Mistress Red, all I imagined was that she might give me the scene I craved. I was glad to see her return, even more glad to play with her again. My Dom was out of town and I needed someone to take care of me. She did so to perfection. I never thought anything more permanent would come out of this, especially after I discovered she was a Special Enforcer. But here we are. She’s my Mistress, and I proudly wear her collar – and will wear it for as long as she allows me to do so.

When I moved in with her and her daughter, it was with a small sense of trepidation. Family life was not for me, I was sure of it. I liked the kid, and I wanted nothing more than to make my Mistress happy, but I wasn’t sure how it would all work out. I guess part of me expected the arrangement to fall through after a few months – maybe even a few days. I’d have gone back to the apartment, and Mistress Red would have visited me there, or we would have met at the club. But here I am in a nice little suburban home, cooking for these two ladies to the best of my abilities, helping with homework and chores, and feeling – truly – that I belong here.

No, really, when it all started I never expected any of this to happen. But Grace entered my life. She transformed it. And I couldn’t be happier that she did.
Kally Sten
Did I make a mistake?

He’s a vampire. I knew that from the first night we met. And I know what vampires are capable of. I know it better than most people. It’s my job to know, after all. My job to track down vampires who kill and punish them. I’ve seen a few bodies, drained of their blood, two bite marks at the crook of their necks. I’ve seen scared, frantic, hysterical people who still didn’t feel safe even after the vampire who scared them was banned from entering their home.

He’s also a submissive, and that, too, I knew from the start. He expects things from me that I have no issues giving to him, but that’s a part of my life I always confined to discreet clubs before. I’ve never had an exclusive sub. I’ve never lived with a sub. This… this is a huge change. A huge step forward.

And if it’s a mistake, it’s going to be a huge mistake.

I trust him, though. I trust him more than I ever trusted anyone, including my ex back in the early, happy days of our marriage. I trust him not to bite and hurt anyone. Not strangers at the club, not me, not my daughter or mother. I trust him to keep the BDSM part of our lives where it belongs: behind closed doors, away from innocent little eyes. I trust that he wants this to work just as much as I do.

And I do want this. In the past few months, every time I went to spend a few hours with him it became increasingly hard to find reasons not to do this. After all, I told myself, Laura met him, and liked him – and I know he liked her too. Same with my mother. Even after I told Mom that he’s a vampire, her opinion of him didn’t change.

“Who cares if he has fangs,” she said, “as long as he makes you happy? He does make you happy, right?”

He does. He really does. And it’s not just the submissive part of him, either; it’s nice, of course, to let the Domme part of me out to play, but it’s not enough. It’s not just the sex either – although that too is really, really nice. It’s just… him. The way he looks at me. The way he smiles. His patience with Laura as he teaches her how to draw. The way he tries to learn to cook my favorite dishes. And a thousand other little things that add up to this certainty:

No, I did not make a mistake when I asked Ray to move in with us.
Kally Sten
I still can’t believe she called me.

After our… discussion at her sister’s wedding, I was rather sure I’d never see Daisy again, and I wasn’t particularly bothered by that. She’s cute, sure. More than cute. Beautiful. Like her sister. But being glared at and all but called a charlatan are not part of what attracts me in a woman.

She doesn’t believe I can do what I say I do, she made that very clear, and she won’t let me prove her wrong, so we’re pretty much at a stalemate. I’m not sure how that meshes with her request that I read her friends’ future. Either she believes me or she thinks I’m going to con them. And since she doesn’t believe…

She’s confusing, that’s what she is. And now I wonder – what is she going to do, during that evening? Sulk in a corner while I give visions to her friends? Try to convince them not to do it – or convince them they hallucinated after they do? I can’t imagine she’d ask for a vision of her own. She made it very clear on the phone that she’s organizing this for her friends and only because they asked for it, not because she thinks it’s a good idea.

Still, she won’t be able to deny something is happening when all her friends tell her that something did. Will she change her mind, then? Will she ask – or let me talk her into it? Truth be told, I wouldn’t mind reading her. As unlikely as it is that she might be the one for me, there’s still a small chance that she could be.

I’m so tired of looking without finding.

So tired of being alone.

Could it all end – start – with that unexpected phone call?
Kally Sten
I don’t want to call him.

I really don’t want to call him.

Why did I even mention his name to Alicia? I should have erased him from my mind as soon as the wedding reception was over. He’s a crook, and being good looking doesn’t change that.

And I don’t know why I keep thinking he’s good looking. He’s not my type at all. I like tall men, with a nice smile and a sense of humor, and pretty eyes, and dark hair

He’s a crook. That’s the important thing here, not what he looks like. He’s a con man, and I don’t know how he does it but he’s very good at it. He had Helen completely convinced. My sister should be smarter than that. I know she’s smarter than that. She doesn’t believe in that kind of thing. So he conned her somehow, that’s the only explanation.

So maybe Eric is a good man and really is the love of her life. But she would have found him without that so-called seer’s input. And my friends would do just fine without meeting him, too. What if he messes up their lives? It’ll be my fault if he does.

Oh, why did I say I’d give him a call? Why? I don’t want to see him. Not at all. Not ever again.

Do I?
Kally Sten
Tomorrow is our anniversary.

It’ll also be five days since I lost you. Five long days and five even longer nights. It’s all blending together like one unending nightmare.

At times, I think that surely it is a nightmare. Surely I’ll wake up soon and you’ll be right there by my side, curled against me, your hair spilled on the pillow. We’ll make love. I’ll tell you about my nightmare and you’ll call me silly. We’ll go about our day, and go hunt at nightfall. Tonight, we might even manage to finally execute Ann together. And then…

But I’m not waking up. And I’m not going to, am I? It’s not a dream. It’s really happening. You’re gone.

I killed Ann three days ago. Two days too late. She was laughing ‘til the very end, asking me if I would kill you too. If I’d go hunting for you, or just wait for you to come home to me.

To come home to kill me.

Ah yes, she was very vocal in letting me know you’re a killer now. I called her a liar. Then I staked her. I wanted to ask her where you were, but if she had told me I’d have needed to go look for you, and I don’t think I’m ready for that. Not yet.

As much as I want to believe, to hope she was lying, a little voice inside me can’t help but ask – what if she wasn’t? What if you really are a killer? The very thing we were taught to hunt…

I hope you’ll leave town now that your Sire is dead. You have to know she is. We were told at the Academy that Childer can feel their Sire’s death, so surely you felt Ann’s. I’m sorry you had to feel that pain, but I’m not sorry I avenged you. Because in the end, that’s what it was. Revenge. I didn’t care anymore that she was a known killer, that she’d been on the S.E. list for years. All I cared about was this one thing: there’s a jewelry box at the bottom of my sock drawers and it’s going to stay there because she took you from me. And that’s why she died.

Tomorrow is our anniversary and I miss you so much I can hardly breathe. I don’t know how I’ll get through the day – or the night.

Will you think at all about what day it is – about me?
Kally Sten
Waking up with fangs was like being born again.

At the Academy, I had been taught that vampires’ senses are more developed, that their bodies are faster, stronger, more resistant to injuries. And I had confirmed each and every one of these facts from direct experience during my time as a Special Enforcer.

But what no professor ever told me, what no book could convey, what I could never have guessed without living it for myself was what it felt like to have these keener senses, to move faster than you even think you can or to crush something in your hand without meaning to.

Learning - re-learning – to use my body was quite a process.

Some parts were beautiful. I’ll always remember my first glimpse of the starry sky with my improved vision, or the smell of wilting roses after nightfall, like a last cry of defiance against death. A whole new world was at my fingertips, similar but subtly different from the world I had known.

Other parts were… less pretty. Cities stink, and that’s an understatement.

That’s not all there was to it, though. The physical aspect is one thing, one very important thing, but becoming a vampire also changes your mind and the very way you think. I realized that much at the very instant I laid eyes on Ann after waking up. She was the woman who had killed me, who had taken everything and everyone I’d ever loved from me and made me the very same thing I used to hunt. But when I looked at her, the only thought in my mind was ‘Sire;’ the only emotion, a deep need to listen to her and do as she said. Exactly as she said. And when she made me kill to feed… I expected to feel guilt, or even to be unable to finish the act. But I did, without remorse, and only a sense of waste. Vampires are hunters, a voice whispered at the back of my mind. Killing could be avoided, but it was nothing to be ashamed of.

Only one thing didn’t change. One small, insignificant thing – and yet more important than anything else. My Sire tried to tell me it wasn’t possible, and yet, there it was.

I still loved Logan.
Kally Sten
Looking back at the past couple of years, I keep wondering how I could be so blind. I should have known. I should have guessed. I should have added up these little clues and figured it out.

First, there’s the fact that I’ve never seen Jacob’s dads outside during the day. Or wait, no, that’s not true. They came to school once to pick up Jacob when he got into a fight. I remember that it was a beautiful day – until clouds surged out of nowhere and rain started falling, just before they arrived at the school. I remember because I had been waiting for Jacob outside, but when it started raining I gave up and ran home. It had to be magic that brought that rain. Jacob mentioned before that Julie can alter the weather. I bet she did, that day.

Then there’s the ‘energy drink’ in their fridge. It’s blood, of course. I should have realized what it was the first time I saw it. Or I should have noticed why Jacob felt so uncomfortable whenever I opened their fridge.

What’s weird is, they eat real food, too. I’ve seen Nicholas eat pizza before when I came over to watch movies, and I remember them eating cake at Jacob’s birthday party. And of course tonight they invited me to have dinner with them to talk about everything and they did eat food with Jacob and me. I wonder, do they do it just to blend in? Or do they actually need the food, too, and not just blood? I’d never thought about it before, but I really don’t know much about vampires. Maybe Jacob will tell me more, now. He has to know a lot.

Maybe the most obvious clue of all was that they fight demons – that they’ve been fighting demons for years, and that much Jacob told me long ago. There have been reports on how strong demons are, how humans need to work in pairs or small groups to have a chance at killing them, and how even the best fighters can’t keep it up for long before getting hurt - really hurt. I know Jacob’s dads have been hurt before. Just a few months ago Jacob missed a couple of days at school because they’d been hurt fighting demons. But that was it. A couple of days. And when I saw them next, I couldn’t tell at all that they’d been wounded. Only vampires heal that fast. I should have known.

But then… Not figuring it out meant that Jacob had to tell me. He had to trust me with his biggest secret, and had to risk angering his dads, just so he could tell me the truth. Just so he could share this one piece of himself with me – this so important piece that explains so much about him, about the way he is and the way he thinks. He’s never told anyone else before, he said. Only me.

I love him so much.
Kally Sten
Today is the day.

Today, I’m going to break the first rule I was ever taught.

Today, I’m going to tell Kirsten who I really am. Who – what – my dads are. What my mother did to get pregnant with me. I’m going to tell her everything.

I’ve thought about it a few times while I was growing up, but the only other person I was really tempted to tell my secret to was my best friend Joey. I’ve known him for a long, long time, and he has shared all his secrets with me. I always felt bad about holding back, and hiding part of me from him. But that was what my fathers demanded, what they begged of me, and I respected their wish.

I mean, I understand why it has to be a secret. I’d probably end up as the subject in a science lab if the authorities ever learned about me. Either that or they would accuse my dads of kidnapping me and would start looking for my real parents. Neither option sounds all that appealing.

But I have to tell Kirsten. I can’t bear lying to her anymore. As time passes, as I fall more and more in love with her, my guilt about lying to her just grows deeper. We’ve promised each other we wouldn’t lie to each other, but it feels as though I’m doing exactly that, every day, every hour I spend with her.

Today I will finally tell the truth. The entire truth.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more scared in my life.

I have no idea how she will react. No idea what she’ll say or do. Will she even want to be with me, when she knows what kind of freak I am? Will she be mad because I lied for so long? Will she even believe me?

There’s only one way to find out.

And today is the day.
Kally Sten
I found it.

I found the spell.

Well, not so much found as finally figured out how to combine the different parts I had elaborated so far. And the answer was under my nose the entire time, in a magic book I bought on a whim the day I first laid eyes on Andrew.

It’s very tricky magic. Only a practitioner with a lot of raw talent as well as very fine control of that talent would be able to actually perform the spell, and only someone well-versed in magical theory would be able to put it together to begin with.

I’m not boasting when I say I am that good. Some of it is chance, of course. Whether a person will be magically gifted or not has a little to do with heredity and a lot with sheer luck. But I’ve developed my magic from the moment I realized what I could do. I learned everything I could, read every book I could find, practiced increasingly difficult spells and finally started inventing my own.

This miracle I seek to accomplish won’t be a product of random happenstance. I worked hard for this. I worked for years. And I was almost ready to give up. Andrew has never been anything other than supportive, but I think he was ready for me to stop trying. He’s been more and more worried over the years that I was trying too hard. But I know, I just know that it’ll be worth it. When he first sees our child, when I do, all these years of efforts will be paid for in full.

Should I tell him about this spell? A couple of times before, when I thought I had the solution, I told him, only to see him disappointed like I was when it didn’t work. I know it’ll work this time, it can’t not work, but just the same…

No, I won’t tell him. I’ll do the spell tonight and the next three nights like I’m supposed to, and we’ll see in a few weeks if it worked. If it didn’t, I’ll be the only one disappointed. But if it does…

Oh, God, please, let it work this time…

Kally Sten
Cara and I dated for two years before she moved in with me. Two more years passed before she first raised the topic of children – a question that could have been innocuous but that was anything but.

“Have you ever wanted children of your own? Not… what do you call them? The vampire thing? Childer? I mean, you know. A real child.”

“My Childer are real,” I remember replying, but I was only delaying and she knew me enough to see that. She didn’t say anything and simply waited for an actual answer. I just wasn’t sure how to respond. What did she want to hear? She knew that it’s physiologically impossible for vampires to have children. Why raise the question at all?

“The short answer is yes,” I finally said, resorting to simple truth. “Back when I was human, I did want to have kids.”

Her eyes widened a little, already gleaming with a little flame I wasn’t sure I liked at that moment, and I hurried to add, “But I knew what I was getting myself into when I allowed my Sire to turn me, and I never looked back. It’s not something I can have regrets about.”

I’ve often wondered over the years what would have happened if I had said that I didn’t want children. Would she have tried to find a donor? Or left me, maybe, and found someone who could and would have a baby with her?

But I said yes, and from that moment on she made it clear that there was no alternative for her. She wanted a child, and she wanted it to be my child. She was so stubborn. So convinced that there was nothing she couldn’t achieve if she put her mind, her heart and her magic at work. Jacob reminds me a lot of her in that regard.

At times – no, most of the time – I feel guilty about it all. Not only did I not ask her to stop trying, but also by answering yes to that first question I started her on the path that led to her death.

But at the same time… I can’t imagine her leaving me to find a father for her child. And I can’t bear the thought that Jacob would never have been born if I had said no.

For better or for worse, she asked, and I answered. It transformed all our lives – transformed the entire world, maybe, if the demons really did came from this incredible feat of magic.

And it may be selfish of me, but I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.