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“Ben,” he said, looking seriously at our son, “I’m guessing that you’ve had this thought already, but your mother and I have been talking and… we don’t think you should wait any longer to turn into a vampire.”

Ben’s lips parted, his eyes widening.

“Understand that we’re not forcing you into this. But you know the risks now that come with remaining a human. You know you’ll be hunted down as long as your blood remains as it is. This is your choice, so if you decide you would prefer to remain a human, that’s fine. But you need to understand the risks. As for your father’s and my preference, we just want you to be safe.”

Ben leaned back in his chair and looked up at the ceiling.

I felt worried that he didn’t answer immediately. I’d hoped that he would be able to give me an answer without even thinking because at least that would indicate there was no doubt in his mind. Previously I’d been afraid of my twins’ ardent desire to turn into bloodsuckers, and now I was worried about the possible lack of it at the time when he most needed it.

Derek and I exchanged glances.

“I suppose I’d grown used to the idea of turning at eighteen,” Ben said slowly. “Having these last few months as a human… But I agree. I should turn. Rose should have turned too.” He looked down at the table, his face ashen.

“Rose can turn as soon as she returns,” I said, trying to put confidence into my voice I didn’t possess. “We were thinking you could turn at the end of the week. That way, if Rose returns in the meantime, you can both turn together.”

He nodded, still staring at the table. “Okay.”

I reached out and squeezed his hand. “You don’t have to go to school for the rest of this week if you don’t want to. You can do whatever you want this week, while you’re still human. Spend more time on the beach in the sun… anything that doesn’t involve leaving the island.”

He heaved a sigh. “I’d rather just go to school. At least it helps keep my mind off things.”

I swallowed back the lump in my throat. “Okay, honey. If that’s what you want.”

“Then we’ll have to decide who will turn you,” Derek said.

Ben looked from me to his father. “Do I have a choice?”

“Why? Who would you choose?”

“Well, it’s not so much me choosing as someone already volunteering. I was talking with Abby the other day and she said she’d like to turn me when it comes time. Of course, she was thinking about when I turn eighteen.”

Abby. While it thrilled me that the two of them were striking up a friendship, I wasn’t comfortable about letting her turn Ben. She’d never turned anyone before and I wanted someone experienced to turn my son. When I looked at Derek, I could see by his expression that he felt the same.

“Actually, Ben, I’d rather turn you myself,” he said. “I’ve turned my fair share of vampires before. I turned your mother. I don’t feel comfortable letting Abby turn you. I don’t want to risk anything going wrong.”

Ben didn’t seem too concerned either way. “All right,” he said. “I guess that’s best.”

I squeezed his hand. “You’ll be in safe hands with Dad.”

Ben gulped, nodding. He motioned to stand up. “Well, if that’s all, I need to go or I’ll be late for first period.”

He stood up, reached over the kitchen table and slung his bag back over his shoulder. I watched as he exited the penthouse. Derek and I remained silent as we listened to his footsteps fade outside on the balcony, the creaking of the elevator as it carried him downward.

“I told you it wouldn’t be a big deal. He’s already prepared himself for it,” Derek said.

I nodded. Ben would make it through. He was a fighter, a survivor, just like his father. “And I guess, when he finds a girl and wants to start a family, he’ll just have to turn back, like we did. Hopefully, things won’t be as dire as they are now… We ought to visit Kyle and Anna now.”

We left immediately, jogging through the forest toward their home in The Vale’s town center. Kyle answered after three knocks. He looked like he hadn’t slept for days, dark circles beneath his eyes, but he didn’t look surprised to see us.

“Come in,” he said, ushering us through to the living room. Anna sat on the couch, cradling her sleeping baby.

We took a seat opposite them. Once Kyle had sat down next to his wife, I began, “We just spoke to Ben. He’s agreed to turn at the end of the week.”

Kyle and Anna exchanged glances. “We talked too,” Anna said. She looked just as run down as her husband. “We were up all night with Jason and Ariana, trying to make them understand what vampirism involves. How they will change. What they will gain. What they will be giving up. Both agreed to turn… We’d like to turn them as soon as possible, rather than give them time to worry. So we agreed to do it in two days’ time.”

Kyle cleared his throat, wrapping an arm around Anna and looking down at his baby. “As for our little one, we’ll have to do the best we can to protect him as he is.”

I nodded. “There’s no other choice,” I said. “Who would you like to turn Jason and Ariana tomorrow? Derek is going to turn Ben at the end of the week.”

Anna looked at me. “I was hoping you would turn Ariana, and if Derek wouldn’t mind turning Jason…”

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