Lacey eventually followed him back inside and the remainder of the evening continued in more or less the same way. A few times, she found herself grateful that she hadn’t touched alcohol since being turned. It clearly held nothing for her since her first taste of blood, but more than that, she didn’t crave it in the slightest now that she was pregnant, and so restraining herself from the drinks served at the bar. Although the fresh blood from the bodies packed like sardines was more than tempting, too many of them had enough drinks in their bloodstream. Despite all that, Lacey did have her fun. It felt great being out again with her friends—friends that wanted nothing from her except her company, and wasn’t that refreshing? No rules, no restrictions, and no actual curfew unless she wanted to make it home without being caught in the sun. And she could manage that. Lacey had grown more responsible than anyone, least of all herself, could have guessed.
A few hours later, and it was about time to leave. The density of the lounge had drastically decreased and so had her companions’ energy. While it took just under an hour to drive everyone home, Lacey had accounted for it, and then some. She helped the last of them to his door—his balance was long gone—and wished him a good night. “Well—good morning,” she corrected before leaving. And then she was off, giddy once again, now because she could tell Aedan all about her night out.
It wasn’t his fault that he was worried about her. Lacey just… concerned him. It wasn’t because he didn’t trust or, or because he feared what she might do if someone began to bleed in public. It was simply because she was the love of his eternity, and when it came to the people he loved, he was very protective over them. He didn’t want a single bad thing happening to Lacey, and the thought of her being out with a bunch of other irresponsible college kids who had a high tolerance for alcohol made him uneasy. Because vampires had stomachs that were perpetually empty for the most part, they got drunk very quickly. Especially newborns. If someone dared lay a hand on his Lacey… ugh, the thought alone made him bristle. To relax, he undressed and slipped into the ocean water, letting its waves curl and rear up around him as he exhaled. This… this was where he felt at home when Lacey was not beside him. He began to move through the wades, swimming past sharks and other marine predators, who cowered in fear as he shot passed them.
Who could say how long he swam for? All he knew was that his limbs felt the barest hint of tiredness from his work out, so it was probably time to get back. Plus, some people liked to visit the beach in the early morning, and seeing a naked vampire rise from the ocean floor would most likely terrify them. He raced around the beach a few times to dry himself off, before getting dressed and racing back home. He arrived there quite quickly, and was disappointed to note that Lacey was still not home. He bit his lip, worry clear in his expression, as he poured himself a drink and slid onto the couch.
Lacey smiled at the text and slipped her phone into her large purse where it fell to the bottom. If she knew anything about that vampire of hers, he wasn’t ecstatic. When it came to Lacey, he was a bit of a worrier. And while she appreciated how protective he was, the fact of the matter was that it was no longer as necessary as it once was. She wasn’t human anymore, and the worst of her cravings were behind her. Surely Aedan had known that by now. It would only be a matter of time before he fully accepted it. She wouldn’t put their child in danger—only virgin drinks for her—and she’d be home before the sun even had a chance to glimpse at her. Lacey could be responsible, and as much as she adored spending time with the only man she’d ever loved, the young woman longed to stretch her legs and maybe have a taste of the things she’d missed for so long. She didn’t want her old life back, not even close. But there were some things she’d grown to miss. It was hard to be independent, after all, when Aedan insisted on her never lifting a finger.
After the first hour of being in the lounge, the majority of her group of friends were quite buzzed. She fed off their energy, if nothing else. In fact, she wasn’t sure she wanted to feed from any of them. It wasn’t only due to the fact that she’d filled up before hand or that she kept munching on normal food throughout the night, but she could smell the high percentages of alcohol in the blood of the people around her. Lacey’d never tasted it before, and didn’t intend to start tonight. No matter how close everyone danced, she proudly kept her composure. Every now and then a voice nagged that no one would notice, and she felt herself begin to give in. But remembering where her priorities were kept her grounded. At one point, it became too much and she stepped outside for a breath of fresh air. She sighed and leaned her head against the cement wall.
“Lacey? Quel est le problème?” she heard not a minute after she stepped out. One of the guys in the group she promised to drive home—she was the designated driver—looked down at her with a concerned expression, but his eyes were glistening, and she could smell the beer on his breath.
His heart was in the right place, however, which she admired. “Rien,” she answered with a smile. “J’avais juste besoin d’un peu d’air. Allez,” she insisted. “Allez danse.”
He shrugged then and paused for a moment before returning inside.
Well, why did she have to go out now? Almost sullenly, very close to pouting, Aedan fell back against his bed and released a sigh. He lay there for a moment, as vampires could often do—literally, just sit without blinking or moving—before he sat up and glanced around the room. What to do, what to do? It wasn’t like the ages old vampire couldn’t be himself without Lacey… but he preferred to be himself with her there beside him. Aedan and Lacey spent pretty much every single day together, nearly every hour. He left here and there because of work and other obligations—which he’d come to despise, really, because it brought them apart—but most of the time, he was with her. Hell, even when his body was away, his mindset was stuck with her spiritually. If he was working in Romania, where the business that he got his income from where held, he was thinking about Lacey as the numbers flooded his computer screen. If he and Evelyne were off hunting, he envisioned Lacey running beside him. She was on his mind day and night, and no matter how many days and nights they spent together, she would continue to be there. Simply put, Aedan loved her. He had fallen in love with the girl that everyone at Sanguine had expected him to hate. He had taken her spirit, and when everyone had expected him to break it—or to try to, at least—he’d set it free and let it grow. That was why he knew, now, that he couldn’t be overbearing and beg her to stay home with him. She needed to put that spirit to good use and go enjoy herself. Lacey was beautiful, a vision to all who witnessed her, and she had a personality that drove Aedan up the wall—in a good way, of course.
She was the kind of girl who, in high school, probably had a decent following. And though she was older now, that didn’t mean she needed to be a recluse. Even Aedan, at over six centuries old, was still close to the friends that he had. For vampires, relationships were important as they kept humanity intact. So Lacey needed to make friends, and that was the bottom line. She couldn’t stay his little shut in forever, no matter how desperately he wanted to be around her at all times. Why did he have to miss her so much? This wasn’t like him. He was a clingy lover, yes, but he’d never felt quite this way before. His love—the woman he considered to be akin to that of his wife, even if such vows were never spoken—was more special to him than anything in this world had been for a very long time. With a sigh, Aedan slipped off his coat and decided to go for a walk in the brisk Paris air.
He pulled out his phone and sent Lacey a text.
[text]: I love you. Heart.
He didn’t like typing in that stupid less than three symbol, since it didn’t make sense to him. He put the shiny metallic phone back into his pocket and made his way towards the nearest beach at vampiric speed. It was nice weather out for a swim, he had decided.
It got easier every day, but the process was slow, and Lacey longed for the weekends for more than one reason. Being in a college classroom full of a hundred or so students—all human, except for her, of course—was agonizing. Lacey found herself excusing herself constantly in search of fresh air. But the campus itself was still milling with people. The strain she was put through was unbelievable. But as the first few weeks went by, it got easier. Mostly because she made sure to fill herself with as many blood bags as possible before she went to class.
And, as dependable as the sunset every night, Aedan’s support was constant. Speaking of the sun, Lacey had learned after the first day how irritable being out during the day made her. Night classes were the best bet for her. While the population of the class wasn’t as dramatically increased as she had hoped, it did help. She’d even made friends, which was ironically unexpected. For the most part, in spite of her past, Lacey had planned on keeping a low profile. But the more people talked to her, the easier she found it to concentrate on their words instead of the thumping of their hearts. Soon enough, she was making real friends.
To be honest, Lacey had always been perfect content of the idea of spending the rest of forever with Aedan. No one else really entered the picture, and while she kept the fact that these people were human in the back of her mind, it felt good to socialize again.
Lacey: Going out with friends after classshe texted Aedan one night after class. Dawn was only a handful of hours away but a handful of the students had turned their schedules around so that they were about as nocturnal as Lacey was.
Drinks.Lacey had very little taste for alcohol these days—it didn’t compare to the high that fresh blood induced—and given her situation, it wasn’t an option. But that didn’t stop her from enjoying herself.
He would not be clingy.
He would not be clingy.
Aedan Durer did not do clingy. He was the one being clung to. Sure, he was an adoring lover in every sense of the word. He showered his lover with gifts and affection, sweet whispers of nothing and whatever else they asked for. He was there at their beck and call, and whatever they needed, he happily bestowed. But that did not make him clingy. And sure, he did all of these things for Lacey—and then some, if she let him—and he would leap across countries for her (he had already, hadn’t he? That awful excursion with Sibylla)… but he wasn’t clingy. No, Aedan made sure he kept his distance from his lovers because he didn’t want to drive them out of their minds. He was constantly afraid of pushing Lacey too far. After all, their love had changed her—and him, as well—but she wasn’t an entirely different human being. She still had that vivacious spirit that made him fall in love in the first place. He doubted that, if he clung to her like a vine to a wall, she’d be happy about that.
He couldn’t be that… lover. He would not monopolize her time and force her to be with him during all of it, because she was the kind of bird that was too beautiful to ever be caged. He’d never dream of it. He wanted her to be free and, most of all, happy. That was why he’d encouraged her to go to classes in the first place. Just because her heart had stopped beating, didn’t mean her brain had stopped working. To Aedan, education was one of the most important things in the world. And if he could give Lacey a good one then, well, damnit—he would. She deserved it, to say the very least. And he was happy that she seemed to be enjoying herself but, well… why wasn’t she home already? He wanted to hold the dark-haired beauty in his arms and tell her how much he missed her. Because he had—a lot.
The vampire glanced at the clock on the wall with a huff. Normally she got out and came straight home—that was what he expected his beautiful, pregnant wife to do. Come home and be with him. Make a little love—because, really, how were they supposed to resist each other with heightened senses and a house all to themselves?—and sit down and talk, converse the way they always did. When his cell phone buzzed, he leaped up and ran to it, eyes narrowing at her message. … friends? Another buzz. … drinks? Well… alright. The vampire blinked at the screen and pushed a hand through his hair. He didn’t like using smart phones—but he would, of course. According to the lady at the store, they were the best new things. He tried to keep up with trends, you see, to avoid becoming a fossil.
[text]: Have fun. Be safe.
With a sigh, the vampire set his phone down. He was not clingy… he just missed her.
Oh, damnit. He was so clingy.
Lacey would have thought it to be impossible, too. Sometimes she still did. But the truth was in the evidence. The food, the aversion to blood, and the growth. That part was strange. It was gradual, but it was still there. And what was what worried her. Once a person became a vampire, their body would not and could not change, no matter how long they lived. So, as she feared, the entire thing was becoming uncomfortable in more ways than one. Lacey herself was not fond of growing much longer, but her body didn’t seem to be adapting too well, either. Her skin always felt tight, and the muscles in her torso sore. For all she knew, that was normal, but Aedan was correct in saying that they should call people, those who had sme knowledge or experience in this area. Certainly if it had happened with her, she could not have been the only one. Lacey comforted herself with the thought of it being more common than she might have previously assumed.
Apart from Aedan’s own suggestions, Lacey had no idea what to do. It showed on her face, too. Besides the things she’d already been doing—giving in to cravings of human food and avoiding blood between bouts of denying it altogether and periods of wanting to blurt it out to Aedan—she was a sitting duck. What could she do besides those things? Between the two of them, Lacey was not the one with any medical experience under her belt. As she was pulled into a hug, she let out a light laugh, attempting to join Aedan in his sudden onset of bliss. “Hey,” she murmured gently, pulling back. Lacey ran her fingers through the hair above his forehead. “It’s okay, Aedan, we’ll be fine.” If it wasn’t obvious in her tone, it was written on her face that Lacey had no preconceived delusions about the entire situation. She had no idea how fine everything would turn out. But one of them needed to say it, she figured, since Aedan looked and felt like he was about to turn into a puddle of mush. Lacey hugged him tightly around the middle, willing him to stop shaking. He was her wall, she couldn’t have him lose his stability at a time like this.
Of course, now that he thought about it, Aedan knew he should have seen the signs beforehand. It was just foolhardy that he hadn’t. He was just chalking all of them up to anything but pregnancy—partly because he didn’t believe it was possible, and partly because he was afraid to believe it was possible. Her unwillingness to drink blood, he knew was merely her stubborness, and the fact that she had been turned into a vampire before she was ready to. But her like for human food? This wasn’t just a vampire trying to act like a human, no, she would have gotten sick a while ago. This was their… their child, crying out for nourishment that wasn’t blood. He laid in bed next to her every night, and he should have been more concerned at the way she was gaining weight—the rate of it, and where she was getting larger. It wasn’t like Lacey had gotten to be obese—hell, even if she did, Aedan would be floored by her beauty—but there was obvious weight gain, and not in the normal places. Her thighs seemed to remain the same, along with her arms and her neck—oh, he knew because he studied her so intently every day, ingraining her into his memory. Not a day went by where he didn’t make sure to simply look at her, practically inhaling her beauty, her flawless features. She was stunning, and he could only imagine the looks their child would have.
Oh, what a stunning creature he or she would become. He could see it now, their baby, growing up to be a perfect mixture of the two of them. He idly wondered how stubborn the child would be, and that brought a small smile to his lips. Surely the kid would have a temper to rival the ages, but also a sense of love and generosity that most would not. He didn’t know if he hoped for a boy or a girl more—either would suffice, really, to make him happy. Just the fact that he was going to be a father again, with the woman he loved more than he loved anything in the world, made him elated. When he moved her hands through his hair, he let out a half-laugh, half-sob. “Alright? Lacey—this is so much more than alright. This is perfect,” he whispered, staring in awe down at his love, his life. “My butterfly…” he pulled her close and kissed the top of her head. “Don’t worry,” he whispered, sensing the nervousness coming off her in waves. “You and I will get through this—together. We’re going to love that kid more than anything on this planet. And I—I am so honored to be his or her father,” he whispered, stroking her back. He slowly ceased his delighted shaking and chuckled. “Could you believe it? Us. Of all people. We’re going to be parents.” Oh, there was so much to look into, so much to learn—but they would do it together.
With each second that Aedan took his sweet time to react, to come to his senses, Lacey felt her gut twist with anxiety. Maybe it was a terrible idea to tell him. But they would have an elephant in the room that they would eventually need to talk about. She had simply figured that the earlier it was out in the open, the better they could deal with the situation. It was clear to the both of them that this sort of thing didn’t happen very often, but that didn’t matter. It was happening now. “Yeah,” muttered Lacey, a bit bitter as she tossed the rest of what was supposed to have been a nice meal into the garbage can. Really, truly, pregnant.
Lacey had taken it well when she admitted it to herself. For all the good it did her. She never wanted to be a mother in her entire life. Not until she died, that is. Lacey had never known a loss like the one she had when she awoke in that hotel room after her transition. She supposed it wasn’t that particular being that she mourned, but the fact that the entire possibility was ripped from her, along with her chance to grow as a human, to have the choice to be one, and the fact that she now unwillingly something she had once despised. Anyone who knew Lacey at all would be keen to the fact that she did not like either to be told what to do, or told not to do something. Whether or not it was good or bad for her, whether or not she actually wanted it was of no consequence. She had always been adamant about her free will. But when she woke up that day in that room free from any natural light, it felt like her world had been constricted and confined to a space just as small. While being a mother wasn’t on her immediate to-do list, coming to face the fact that it would never be possible for her was absolutely terrifying for reasons she couldn’t explain.
Which was the sole purpose of her acceptance of her pregnancy now. It was strange and uncomfortable in more ways than she would have liked, but the option of being a mother clearly wasn’t completely out the window now. And the same went for Aedan in being a father. It would have had him overjoyed that their love would create something—someone—together. Seeing the pure shock on his face was not comforting. As he approached her and turned her round, Lacey almost pushed him away. Perhaps she might have if she wasn’t so addicted to his touch or his presence. But what had he said about losing another child? She wouldn’t be forgetting that any time soon. Her eyebrows furrowed at his terminology. Shaking her head gently, Lacey brushed a hand lightly across his cheek. “Aedan, I don’t think I… Conceived after my transformation,” she told him, wondering if that was what he had been referring to.
Visions of Blossom danced through Aedan’s head, and he had to place a hand on the wall to steady himself. He saw her at the age of three, when he first met her. Little blonde curls around her head, big blue eyes that focused and unfocused on him. Her fingers curling around one of his, and that little gummy smile she would give him. She was the most beautiful baby in the world, to hell with the rest of them. He’d never seen a child so intelligent. He knew, and he wans’t being cocky, that she’d gotten this from him and not her mother. Because her mother, a blonde Irish woman with a name he couldn’t even remember, was dumb as rocks. That was why she’d believed Aedan when he told her he would come back for her. That was why she’d made love to him that stormy afternoon, outside, and finished up just seconds before the rain began to fall. She had been too trusting of him, and too trusting of Aedan’s mother. After all, she’d let Eireanne have custody of her baby when she and her family moved away from that dreaded little Irish town. She couldn’t take care of her, she had said, and she wanted Aedan to get a chance to be with his daughter… even if he would never come back to see her mother ever again. When Aedan saw Blossom, his heart had melted at the sight of her, and he had never wanted to leave her—but he had to. He knew he could not stay there, because his father would go absolutely mad and probably wind up burning the village down. Besides, he was poison, a vampire that was incapable of love and all things just as beautiful -those were his thoughts back then, at least.
He could tell she was a bit bitter, and possibly angry at him, but it wasn’t his fault. He truly just… didn’t know how to react. That was why she was mad at him, right? Because he was taking so long to answer her, and because of his odd reaction? That was what he thought, anyway. If only he knew it was because of his lies—or, rather, his lack of telling the truth. Oh, he knew he should have opened up to her about Blossom earlier—but when was the right time to do so? When she had been pregnant at first? Yes, possibly. He wished he would have, but he could not go back and change the past. If only. Blossom was so hard for him to talk about, his little girl who had—according to what he’d learned—killed herself at the tender age of nineteen. The age Lacey was when he first met her. The age he would never get to be. It chilled him to the bone. He knew his lover, his dearest, would want an explanation. And that would come eventually, soon enough. Right now, it was who who needed to learn. The child that he and Lacey had together had died in her womb when she was changed—right? When she said she had not conceived after her transformation, his eyes went wide as saucers. “Impossible,” he whispered, gazing down at her stomach. “W-what do we do?” He asked. And then he realized—he had to be strong here. He could not do this. Standing up a bit straighter, he sighed and bit his lip. “Okay. I need to call a few people, figure out the exact logic of this child, of when it will come and—” he laughed, pulling Lacey into a gentle hug, still not realizing how mad she was at him. “Christ, Lacey.” Tears began to fall, his entire body quivering, “My dream come true.”
Lacey’s eyebrows lifted higher, her eyes full of innocence and patience as she waited for Aedan to say something, anything to let her know that he was okay with it—so she could be okay, too. When they had first found out they were expecting, when Lacey was human, a lifetime ago, it felt like, Aedan was unbelievably supportive when as she wanted to do was crawl into a dark space with her thoughts of how her life was ending aburptly. Over the months Lacey expected such remarkable behavior from him. He was rational and clear-headed, along with passionate and loving in a way that she had never witnessed in her life. But now he was acting so strangely, Lacey felt her heart drop to her stomach. His eyes found their way there, and if Aedan had noted the gradual growth, it would be clear she wasn’t as flat-tummied as she once was. But today she purposefully wore a loose-fitting blouse when she left the house.
As the silence stretched on, Lacey only grew more and more worried. Why wasn’t he taking this as well as she had hoped? It was good news, wasn’t it? He was so excited the first time. And clearly it wasn’t as impossible as they had been led to believe. Aedan was off the table and pacing in the blink of an eye and Lacey swung her legs down to sit on the edge of the large wooden table. Don’t do this to you? Lacey almost spat with an attitude that would have been frighteningly reminiscent of that which she treated him during the beginning of their relationship in Sanguine. Instead she stayed quiet, surprising herself, though the fiery bit of anger was there as a reaction to his words. It wasn’t as if this was all her doing and she hadn’t been playing some cruel joke on him. She just couldn’t understand where he was coming from with this.
Her eyes narrowed at his statement. He’d lost a child before? Lacey tilted her head and her lips curled over her teeth as she pressed them together, her dimples appearing as she stared—glared—at him. Why was she only hearing about this now? She huffed and stood off the table. “It speaks for itself, Aedan,” she concluded, obviousness in her tone as she stomped off.
“I thought you’d be happier, you know,” she said before she could allow the words permission to leave her lips. By now she was back in the kitchen, throwing away the contents of the meal.
He wanted to believe that this was a joke, which didn’t seem to make much sense. After all, Aedan was the kind of man that any kid would want to be his father. Maybe a bit too strict in certain aspects, and maybe he had a past that could royally fuck up his future, but he knew he would be a good dad because his had not been. So, naturally, one would assume that he’d be jumping for joy at this occasion, grabbing Lacey in his arms and laughing about their soon-to-be future. That was the kind of Aedan he knew that she expected to be… but he couldn’t act like that right now, he just couldn’t. Because he didn’t believe her. Even though she’d told him the truth hundreds of times. When he looked at her stomach, he couldn’t quite see much due to her loose fabric… but eh did notice that the fabric did not fall against her stomach as it used to. No, there was a definite distance. And, to Aedan, it was easy to tell the difference between casual weight gain… and pregnancy. In his heart, he could tell it was the latter, but his head reused to believe such a thing. Because of the logic behind it all—that female vampires could not have kids. That was Jacqueline Meadow’s—a lover of his from the Sanguine Society—biggest problem in life. She wanted what she could not have. And though Aedan hadn’t ever thought of Lacey as the world’s most maternal woman, he knew that it was an awful thing that plagued many a female vampire, their sterility. And though Lacey’s transitioning case was a tad unusual, she should not have been any different in this aspect.
Oh, he wasn’t taking this well. Just one glance into his eyes and you could tell he wasn’t dealing with this correctly, not the way rational Aedan should be. Not at all. He was the logical one, the one that took situations into account before he reacted to them. He thought long and hard, and made intelligent guesses. If he were in his right mind, he would realize that she was pregnant, and though it was a phenomenon, he should have been happy about it. But he wasn’t. Because he was too logical, and too afraid to believe that something this good could actually be happening. But why? That was the real question. When Lacey told him that she was pregnant at first, he had been overjoyed, in a sense. Because he wanted a child so badly, more than he could ever express. He wanted to right the wrongs that his father had done to him. He wanted a child that he could love and cherish, to make something good. Because Aedan had left a lot of bad in this world, and he wanted a child to change all of that. He wanted to be better than his father had ever been—that was his main goal in life, always. And though it wouldn’t have exactly been hard to be a better father than Dragomir had been, Aedan was still petrified that he would never be good enough. He’d come to accept that, though he craved to be a dad, he just never would. It hadn’t seemed to be written in the stars.
At Lacey’s response, the vampire blinked in confusion. He’d hardly even realized he’d just confessed to the loss of his Blossom, a loss Lacey didn’t know about. He was taking a long time to think things over. Could he let happiness affect him this way? “Really… pregnant…” he whispered to himself. He watched her storm away before he stood straight up and took several deep breaths. Oh, he could sense the child. He knew he had.
He dashed over to her and grabbed her shoulders, spinning her to face him. “Lacey, I am happy,” he whispered, feeling the cold exterior he’d donned begin to break. “I just… it’s so hard to believe. Female vampires are known to be unable to conceive and yet…” his hand traveled to rest lightly on her stomach, his eyes meeting hers. “You have.” He bit his lip and blinked away tears. “… you’re going to have our… our child.”