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Mom and dad were happy to meet Rory. They correctly guessed he was the reason for the happy colour in my naturally pale cheeks.

Mom was looking well rested and healthy as she bustled around, and insisted on cooking that night, despite my protests.

“Thanks for offering, darling, and I do appreciate the thought, but if you’re trying to impress your young man, there, it’s better if I cook instead,” she whispered to me.”And thank you for the roses.”

I suppose she was right. I could cook, you see, but truthfully, not very well. Mom and dad would have eaten anything I put in front of them without a whimper, but I really didn’t want to poison Rory.

I insisted, at least, that I helped with some of the dinner, though.

While Rory and dad talked, mom tried to guide me through some of the finer points of food preparation without setting the kitchen on fire. It was…interesting.

I could appreciate how hard it was to make just one dish, let alone three (tri tip steak for Rory, tofu steak for mom, and plasma fruit soup for dad and me).

Rory loved the steak.

He even asked to try a little of my soup, which I let him, though I could tell the taste was a little disagreeable to him. He still smiled (with watering eyes) and said it was good.

“It’s an aquired taste,” I explained, offering him a glass of water.

“You might like this,” mom said, offering him a slice of plasma fruit pie.

He liked it a little better than the soup, I could tell, and even ate a second piece.

“Plasma fruit makes a better dessert than it does a main dish, for a human at least,” mom laughed.”Even I don’t mind it so much like this.”

___

After dinner, we had a good long cuddle. I felt safe with his arms around me.

My parents invited Rory to spend the night, which he accepted without hesitation.

It was hard to sleep, knowing he was sleeping in the room directly under mine, but somehow I managed.

In the morning, dad drove Rory back to Sunset Valley, leaving me with a chance to really sit and talk with mom for the first time in ages.

We sat and talked about this and that, and she admired the finished portrait and approved of my taste in men. Then she brought up what had happened when she’d…when she’d…died.

“I appreciate what you did,” she told me, very softly.”But I never wanted you to risk your own life for mine.”

“I had to do it,” I said simply. That was all there was to it. Mom nodded, and smiled.

___

After moving to Riverview, I kept in touch with Mandy and Rory. By the time fall came around, I was ready.

I walked through the doors of SVSA, proud and confident, and met any hostile stare head on. I let everything roll off my back without so much as a blink, and burried myself in class projects and assignments. I was now half a year behind Mandy and Rory, and no longer in their classes or dorm, but I saw them between classes and at meal times.

At last, the two years were over, and I’d finished all of my classes. Both Mandy and Rory had stuck around for an extra semester of classes, and we were graduating together.

It was one of the happiest moments of my life, but the happiest were yet to come.

___

Two years passed.

Rory and I married not long after we graduated. He moved to Riverview to be with me. He’s made me the happiest woman alive. I do everything I can to make him just as happy. I adore him with all my heart and soul.

We have an art gallery in Riverview, which is every bit as successful as Rory predicted it would be, to the surprise of many. We’ve sold our work as far away as France and China.

Mom and dad welcomed him into the family. Mom, once more a vampire and entirely content that way, has kept Rory supplied with plasma fruit pies when she and dad visit.

And dad has taken him under his wing in all manner of things, from painting (sorry, Rory darling, I still think my dad is the best painter, ha ha) to tracking and hunting, for Rory has expressed a desire to one day be turned. We’ll see how that, um, ‘turns’ out, shall we?

We live in the house mom grew up in. It was a wedding present from my parents, who have decided, now that I’m settled, to move to France and live in the old home my grandparents once called their vacation home. They assured me it was exactly what they wanted, and it must be, for I’ve never seen them happier and more in love.

Rory and I have been blessed with a daughter we call Ella. Though not yet walking, she’s quite a handful. We’re not sure about more children, but who knows what the future may bring, right?

All in all, Rory and I couldn’t be happier.

Looking back at my life so far, there isn’t much I’d change. I have no regrets.

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