When the helicopter started its descent, I could barely contain myself. As soon as it touched down on the beach, I jumped out and raced to the hut. Corrine opened the door. She looked exhausted and her face was filled with concern. I barely greeted her as I pushed past her and entered the sitting room.

“Sofia!”

My vision blurred when Sofia whispered my name and rushed toward me, placing her arms around my neck. I had to fight to hold back the tears as I held her waist and pulled her shaking body against mine. I wondered why she was so cold. I ran my hands up and down the length of her back, hoping my rubbing would warm her. I placed my lips on her collarbone, then her neck, her cheek, and finally her mouth. Her tears wet my face as I kissed her hungrily, my tongue pushing between her lips. I had been starved of her for too long. My body was now coursing with levels of passion I could barely contain.

I knew that she would still be very sensitive from the birthing. I had to be careful with her. But it was clear she felt the same passion when she put her hands beneath my shirt and ran them up my torso. I was about to pick her up and carry her into the spare bedroom for some privacy when I felt it: a sharp stab in my lower lip. I let go of her and took a step back, confused. I touched my lip and saw blood on my finger. Then I looked more closely at Sofia’s pale face.

“Sofia?”

Her eyes still filled with tears, she opened her mouth and bared fangs.

“I’m so sorry,” she sobbed.

“You’re… how?” I gripped her shoulders and looked at her desperately, praying that my eyes were deceiving me.

“I-I just woke up and saw the fangs. I craved blood. I don’t understand how. I thought I was an immune!”

My head started reeling. Doubts assailed me about what her transformation would mean for her, our family, our future. Will the cure work on a vampire created directly by the Elders? Is that even a risk I would allow her to take?

“How on earth did you escape?”

“A rogue vampire, one of the vessels—he helped me. He was a servant to the Elders and had their trust. Whenever he came to my cell to feed me, I begged him to have mercy on me. Eventually I guess I got through to him and he smuggled me back through the gate into The Shade.”

“The Shade? But that place is swarming with Elders! How could they not have noticed you?”

She looked up at me wearily. “Please, Derek, no more questions about what I’ve been through. I don’t want to think about it any more. I’m here now. Isn’t that enough?” She placed one cool hand on my face and tugged at my shirt. Then she whispered in my ear. “I can’t stand it any more. Can’t you see I’m dying for you? Our time together was much too short.”

Although my mind was still burning with questions and anxiety, I gave in to her request. I determined to shut everything out and just focus on Sofia, my beautiful wife who had returned to me. I tried to pretend that at that moment in time, nothing else existed except our two beating hearts.

I picked her up and walked to the bedroom. Placing her feet gently down on the ground, I undressed her, kissing any part of her body my lips could brush against. When I hesitated, she said, “You won’t hurt me, Derek. Remember I’m a vampire now.”

Then she pulled off my clothes, lay on the bed, and, gripping my hair, pulled me down toward her.

Although Sofia had lost her warmth, she was still as beautiful as I had remembered her. No matter how long I lay there with her, her body intertwined with mine, it felt like my appetite for her would never be satiated. And it appeared that she felt the same way.

Until a strange darkness flickered in her eyes, and she began to draw blood.

I thought back to when I was a vampire, how much control it had taken to not force blood from her whenever we slept together. But, although it had been a herculean task, I had managed it. Surely it should be easier for Sofia to not give into the darkness. After all, she was the one who had trained me to control my cravings.

Why are you doing this, Sofia?

Chapter 8: Sofia

As soon as I woke the next morning, I found myself getting out of bed and walking to the window to pull down the blinds, blocking the rising sun from streaming into the room. Then I turned to look at Derek, who was still asleep in bed. His body was covered with bruises and bite marks. Horror and guilt surged through me.

The Elder had released me from his control a number of times since Derek had entered the hut, allowing me to display my own emotions. But once my teeth had started sinking into Derek’s flesh, his blood seeping into my mouth, I knew the Elder had taken back full control. I’d seen the pain in Derek’s face. His eyes had betrayed that I was hurting him on a much deeper level than merely physically.

I had tried to cry out on several occasions. Each time, my voice had been choked back. All I could do was pray that the evil inhabiting me would find some speck of mercy and make me leave the hut, disappear to some place a thousand miles away. I might as well have prayed for my best friend Ben to come back to life.

Derek stirred on the bed and groaned. He opened his eyes and when he saw me standing by the window he managed to smile as though nothing had happened.

“Good morning, beautiful.” He beckoned me over to the bed. I lay down next to him and he pulled me in for a cuddle. Kissing the top of my head, he asked, “Did you see Rose? Her eyes, they’re just like yours.”

“Of course I saw her. She looks so healthy. You and Corrine have been taking good care of her.”

“Corrine has some friends in the village down the road. One of them has a baby of her own and she offered to breastfeed Rose. Corrine and Ibrahim have been taking her daily—Ibrahim is… well, that’s a long story.”

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