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The next few days were a blur.

Dana was arrested and, despite her lawyer’s efforts (I doubt they were her best efforts) sent to prison for the time being, while they decided on her punishment. Some were for life imprisonment, others thought she should be given the vampiric cure by force. Some thought both were appropriate. And after a psychiatric evaluation, the experts agreed. She would get the cure, and life in a mental institution, under heavy guard. She was thoroughly unrepentant.

Rory survived his ordeal. Luckily for him, he didn’t change into a vampire himself.  A new vaccine had been developed. If administered quickly enough, it would prevent the spread of vampirism in a newly bit victim. Rory had received the medicine just in time.

He was still in the hospital, resting. He had a few small fractures from his encounter with Dana, but other than blood loss, shock and the side effects of the anti vampiric drugs, he would make a full recovery.

As for me…

News got around that I was a vampire. There was…well, mixed reactions. Some didn’t care, and treated me with anything from casual friendliness to indifference. Others, most likely sharing the prejudice of their parents or elders, treated me with open hostility.

‘OCCULT’ was splashed across door to my room in blood red paint.

I was frequently pelted with over-ripe and rotten plasma fruits. My work, left unattended in classrooms overnight, was frequently defaced.

Mandy stood by me through it all. So did the teaching staff and admin.

It still hurt.

At the lowest point, I decided to take the rest of the year off and return in the fall.

I left before Rory returned.

___

Life at home was quiet. After what I’d been through, I needed the quiet very badly.

My parents were happy to have me home.

Dad was still a vampire. Mom had talked him out of the cure, reminding him of why he’d remained one in the first place. To my surprise, she’d even somehow got him to agree to allow her to become a vampire again, though he refused to change her til she was fully recovered.

Mom was looking healthier than when I’d left, though perhaps a few more months of rest were needed. She and dad were planning a trip to Egypt. Aunt Sophie and aunt Camryn had recommended it, advocating the need for fresh air, sunshine and good food. I wholeheartedly agreed.

I would stay home to watch the house while they were gone. Afterwards…well, my parents wanted to move to Riverview. My grandparents had recently passed away, and their house was left to my mom. Moving there seemed like the logical thing to do.

It was quiet and peaceful, and the prejudice wasn’t as much of  a problem there as it was in other towns and cities. I found myself looking forward to it.

___

The next month passed slowly.

Frequent postcards from my mom and dad arrived, assuring me that all was well and mom’s health was improving, and they would bring many souvenirs back for me.

I kept in contact with Mandy, who missed me terribly. She filled me in on what was going on at SVSA, and I let her know everything that was happening in Bridgeport.

Of Rory, there was no mention. I didn’t ask. She didn’t tell.

I busied myself in sorting and packing my things. The household items could wait til mom and dad were back from their trip, but I wanted my things ready ahead of time.

The only thing I didn’t touch was the half finished portrait of Rory. I wasn’t sure I could ever finish it. I couldn’t even look at it.

___

It was a cold spring morning. Love Day was fast approaching. Mom and dad were due back soon, and I was preparing a romantic surprise for them. It kept me busy and my mind occupied, so my thoughts wouldn’t dwell on how lonely I was.

I had just ordered fresh flowers, and was looking over the food available: cold cuts, fresh fruit, bread, plasma fruit jam, fresh butter, and a nice plasma fruit pie.

The pie was alright, I decided, but it looked like I was going to have to take a trip to the market. Cold cuts were, strictly speaking, not romantic enough.

I was looking through my recipes for a dish to serve (would mom eat plasma fruit still, or would I end up making two different kinds of food, I wondered) when there was a knock at the door.

“Well, that was fast,” I muttered, thinking it was the florist.

It wasn’t.

It was Rory.

We stared at each other for a long time, our breath misting in the chilly morning air.

“You left,” he suddenly blurted out.

“I had to.”

“You didn’t have to. You could have stayed.”

“What was the point? People think I’m a monster.”

“I don’t. I’ve never thought you were a monster,” he shook his head.

“Wait, what?” I asked, confused.

“I’ve always known, Jade.”

“How?” I asked, bluntly.

“May I come in? Your neighbours are starting to stare, and maybe we should sit down.”

 I let him in.

“Shouldn’t you be at school?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Then why aren’t you?”

“I had to come.”

“It’ll be bad for your GPA.”

“I don’t care.”

“Do your parents know?”

“Of course.”

He was clearly stalling. I wasn’t having any of it.

“Look! How did you know?” I asked again.

“My mom was a vampire for awhile,” he explained.”She was a victim of Drake.”

I gasped.

“It was thanks to your father that she found a safe place to lay low til a cure was found,” he continued.”She’s always said that Kale Alder is a great man.”

“He is,” I murmured.

“When I found out that he was your father, and I saw you up close, I just knew what you were. I could tell you were trying to pass for human, so I kept your secret.”

He seemed to hesitate.

“I just never knew that Dana was a vampire. Did you?”

“No,” I shook my head.”She had a lot of people fooled.”

Rory rubbed at his neck awkwardly, and I winced.

“Does it…does it still hurt?”

“Not really. It itches, sort of. The anti vampiric drugs gave me a rash,” he laughed.

I grinned slightly.

“Now, really, why’d you leave?” Rory went on, more seriously.”I know you better than you think, and you’re not the sort of person who’d be bothered by a lot of dumb crap like anti-Occultism.”

“I was afraid, Rory,” I replied.”I didn’t want you to think I was a monster.”

“Well, I don’t,” he said firmly.”Vampires are people too.”

He finally noticed the cartons and boxes I’d been hoarding for packing.

Following his gaze, I explained.

“Riverview? That’s pretty far away.”

“From here, yes, but not too far from Sunset Valley,” I frowned.”I’m not sure I’m going back.”

“If you don’t, that won’t accomplish anything but letting them know they could push you around,” Rory said.”And you shouldn’t let them. Anyway, don’t you want to finish your courses?”

“Sure I do. I could transfer to another school, though.”

“There isn’t a school that good with that kind of program closer to Riverview,” he pointed out.

“True, true,” I mumbled.”So maybe I’ll have to go back. I still need some time off, though. It’s…been pretty stressful.”

“I can imagine.”

“Maybe now I can finish that portrait. I don’t have as good of a memory as you do. Would you sit for me?”

“Sure.”

___

I worked long and hard, and actually finished the portrait, capturing all the things I loved about Rory: his penny brown eyes, his mop of red-streaked shining black hair, and the adorable dimples next to his devil-may-care smile.

I didn’t paint in the blush that mottled his creamy skin, though, when a gurgle issued from beneath his sweatshirt.

I really ought to feed him.

“My parents will be coming back from Egypt in a couple of hours,” I said slowly. I could always change my plans around.”Would you like to stay for dinner?”

“I’d love to.”

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