Retrospective—Ten Years Later:

When Johnny awoke it was still light enough to bother him. He left the water where it was mostly shaded by two big pine trees. He wasn't surprised to find Lisa there already, waiting with a change of clothes and a nervous smile. She offered her cupped palms. Grinning so that his sharp canine teeth showed, Johnny reached down to pierce just the tip of her index finger. A token only.

Lisa's eyes searched the still, dark water behind him.

"It's too soon for Crystal." He spoke with a hint of censure, his own eyes sweeping the woods in back of Lisa. "You know that."

It was too soon. Crystal still needed the healing powers of the lake to temper her craving for blood. Not like him. Johnny didn't need the blood—he just wanted it. Besides, it was time.

"Why did you come alone?" Johnny pulled on the jeans and shirt Lisa had brought for him, while she averted her gaze to give him a little more privacy—or so she wouldn't have to lie to his face. Knowing Lisa, Johnny suspected it was both. "Stay here and wait for you daughter, then. She won't come. Not today, not for a long time. Perhaps if you had brought the boys . . . ."

Lisa's eyes snapped back to him. "Would that have made the difference?"

"If her brothers made the offering?" Johnny shrugged, secretly enjoying the flutter of alarm that set Lisa's heart to beat faster. "Possibly." His eyes darkened. "You should have brought them, Lisa. It's time."

Long ago, when the boys were barely older than babies, Lisa had pledged them to Johnny in return for his protection. They had made the blood offering to both Johnny and Crystal, even though Crystal was not a true vampire at the time. Her brothers also carried forbidden strains of the family blood in their veins. They could, conceivably, become like Crystal. Lisa had already lost one child; she did not want to lose her two remaining children also.

"Come on, Lisa, let it go."

Johnny draped an arm around Lisa's shoulders and pulled her with him up the short path to the dirt road where Lisa's car was parked. The late afternoon sunlight made Johnny's exposed skin redden and blister. Lisa knew if Johnny didn't get nourishment elsewhere, he'd take it from her, to her detriment. Without comment she started the car, waiting for Johnny to slide in across from her. He could have gone on his own through the woods to the nearest human development, but if he did, he would be even more burned and somebody would have to pay the price. No, this way was better. She could control his depredations a little bit.

Tonight was the autumn equinox. Twice a year on the equinox Johnny took the blood offering from the boys and gave them a taste of his own blood. Sometimes Crystal would also participate, but after last time . . . . "Kevin's still at school—football practice," Lisa said. Ian was already at home, but she didn't want to admit that to Johnny. If Ian had realized where she was going, he would have insisted on coming along. He idolized Johnny. Of her two sons, Lisa feared the most for Ian.

"Tell them to be at my house at midnight," Johnny said, waving for Lisa to pull over. They were in a newer part of Lockwood with lots of houses in a concentrated grid of planned streets. Mostly younger families lived there—fresh blood as opposed to the old town blood.

"It's a school night," Lisa murmured.

Johnny got out of the car, heedless of the sun that burned his face and arms. "Nine o'clock, then," he said, slamming the car door behind him. He waited until Lisa drove away before he darted off behind one of the houses. Lisa didn't need to know which family he picked.

Later he slipped open the front door to his and Crystal's log house and let himself inside. Lisa had a key. She checked on the place for them when they stayed under the lake for long periods. He could see her touch here now. Fresh, flowery bedspread on the king bed, table set for a feast neither he nor Crystal would partake in. But Lisa had her dreams. She'd also opened the bathroom window to let in a little fresh air. Johnny closed it and pulled the shade to block out even that little bit of light. Sometimes Lisa forgot who she was dealing with. She had obviously hoped Crystal would come this time. In Lisa's mind, Crystal was still her little girl, her human little girl, even after ten years.

Johnny lay on the bedspread and closed his eyes. The house was cool and quiet. He missed Crystal's solid presence beside him and told himself he was being foolish. They would have an eternity to spend together. It was more important that Crystal stabilize her needs in these early years, and that meant spending long blocks of time underneath the healing water. They had learned the hard way that she needed that rest.

A car drove up promptly at nine. Four doors slammed. Not surprisingly, the whole family had come. Johnny opened the door for them. Ian, laughing, clapped Johnny on the back in greeting before Kenny cleared his throat. Then, chagrined, Ian stepped back and offered his cupped palms to Johnny. Kevin did the same. Kenny was making it clear that these were family, and therefore to be protected. As if Johnny didn't already know that.

Shaking his head, Johnny said, "Later. Come in. It's good to see you. How's school?"

That was all the boys needed. Excitedly talking over each other, Kevin and Ian vied for Johnny's attention as they filled him in on everything that had happened in the six months since they had last seen him. Meanwhile, Lisa set out snacks and drinks on the already set table. Kenny and her boys dove right in, the boys without missing a beat in the conversation. Only Johnny abstained.

Afterwards, the boys and Johnny sat on Johnny's big bed to play cards while Lisa tidied up. Kenny sprawled back with his elbows on the table and his feet extended towards the fireplace. Lisa brought him a cup of tea but her eyes kept glancing back at Johnny, who seemed in no hurry to do the blood exchange. Kenny pulled Lisa down beside him. "Relax. The equinox isn't until tomorrow."

"What?" Lisa twisted around to look at Johnny, who smirked knowingly at her. He'd told Lisa exactly which day to wait for his return. She naturally assumed it was the equinox. "But I thought—"

"I know what you thought, Lisa," Johnny remarked lightly. "That's why I came back a day early. We will do the exchange tomorrow."

Over the years, Kenny had become Johnny's keeper. Paul had stayed for a while, but eventually he went back to Scotland with Ellie. Although the family remained close, Johnny was now the only blood-drinker on this side of the Atlantic, to their knowledge. Johnny, and now Crystal. As a keeper, Kenny had to protect his blood-drinker and also protect the family, which in their case was half the town of Lockwood, no matter that few of them actually were aware of their unique bloodline. Kenny would not have mistaken the equinox nor would he have tried to prevent the inevitable. Better that his children make their choice with open eyes. Lisa understood that also, when she wasn't reacting emotionally.

"But for now we will make the offering," Kenny said. He beckoned for his sons to stand beside him and Lisa. "Blood of my blood," he said in the old tongue, and the others echoed him. "Blood of my blood."

Johnny didn't need it. These were his family in every way possible, by blood, by choice, by marriage. He didn't need their blood in order to extend them his protection, but oh, how he craved it! Family blood was like no other. He carefully pierced each palm, letting the blood well up in the center before he gently sipped it, closing the wound as he did so.

Lisa stared at her palm, which itched a little. The faint redness would disappear by morning. She marveled again at how the process worked. Johnny's bites could be so vicious, but they didn't have to be, and for family, acknowledged, they never were. She gave him a hug as they were leaving.

Ian paused at the door, poking his head inside for a final word after making sure his parents were already in the car. "Meet me tonight? We'll go for a run?"

Ian sounded too eager. Slowly Johnny shook his head. "Maybe," he said, not at all what he had intended. Ian enjoyed blood too much. His mother knew—how could she not?—and she was deathly afraid Ian would follow in his sister's footsteps. Johnny was not about to let that happen. Johnny didn't need another companion. Someday he would need another keeper. Still, the line between the two was very thin. "All right," he said, against his better judgment. Lisa wouldn't like it; neither would Crystal, though she at least had no grounds for complaint. Crystal had been even younger than Ian when she'd first cajoled Johnny into taking her out for blood. Contrary to what Lisa thought, Johnny would never take either of the boys under the water until they were much older. It had been too soon for Crystal.

Even so, a little blood now and then wouldn't hurt Ian. "I'll come for you," he said as the door closed behind the boy. It would be fun. Kevin, Ian's older brother, was not averse to a little blood-taking either but, unlike Ian, he wouldn't have asked. Maybe Johnny could drag the two of them with him tonight. He grinned at the thought of Lisa's reaction should she find out. That alone was worth it.

At precisely midnight Johnny opened Ian's bedroom window and slipped inside. He did it partly to be contrary, since Lisa had given him a hard time about it already. So what if it was a school night? He didn't get to see the boys as often as he would like. Both Ian and Kevin were awake and waiting for him. Johnny motioned for them to follow him out the window.

Hunting with the boys was different than hunting with Crystal. They were human, slow and noisy. The few times he had taken them hunting in the past they kept to the woods. Johnny let them sample animal blood, something that Crystal had disdained from the beginning. But Kevin and Ian weren't Crystal. Animal blood would do. He brought down a deer and let the boys taste. He could have let it go, then. He was not particularly hungry. But it was time the boys learned. When Ian moved back, Johnny bent forward and savagely ripped the deer's neck. Kevin jumped out of the way of its thrashing hind legs. Johnny took as much as he could, and when the deer was in its dying throes he offered it back to the boys. "Finish it," he said gruffly, his mouth smeared with blood.

Kevin hesitated, alarmed at Johnny's show of savagery. But Ian moved right in and drank from the doe's torn neck. After a moment, Kevin joined him. Because of the ragged cut, both boys ended up with blood covering half their faces.

"Now we need to dispose of it." Johnny showed the boys how to take care of their messes, which brought the reality of what they had done crashing back. Ian wiped his chin repeatedly with his sleeve while Kevin focused nervous eyes on the place they had buried the remains.

"Your mother is going to see the bloodstains," Johnny pointed out. Ian stopped rubbing his chin. "Next time, we hunt humans."

Kevin blanched. The memory of Crystal's slip was fresh in his mind, brought home by the violent killing of the deer he had just witnessed. That was what Johnny wanted him to see. Satisfied, Johnny trotted slowly through the woods back towards their house, followed by the two boys. They needed to understand what he was, what their sister had become, and what their future might be, should they choose that path. Even if they did not, they still needed to understand.

"Tomorrow is the equinox," he told them quietly as they stood outside their window. "I'll come for you when it's time. Wait for me by the little beach."

To their credit, both boys nodded. They would be there. The deer incident did not scare them off. They both climbed up the outside drainpipe and shimmied over to their bedroom window, which remained open a crack. Ian waved as he straddled the sill. Lisa was going to know. In the dim moonlight his left sleeve shone rusty red.

Shaking his head, Johnny continued on around the darkened front of the house to where Kenny waited on the porch. He took a seat beside the man who had become his friend as well as his keeper over the years. Once Kenny had tried to kill him. That hadn't worked out so well, but they were past that now.

"Everything okay?" Kenny asked, keeping his voice down. Lisa was a light sleeper.

Johnny grinned in the dark. "They're fine," he replied.

"You're going to try to bring Crystal back, aren't you?" Kenny could be perceptive at times. The last time Crystal had wakened from the water had been disastrous for all concerned. It was better she sleep.

"I was thinking about it," Johnny said. He leaned back and stared up into the night sky. "If the boys make the offering and do the blood exchange with Crystal this time, it might give her the control she needs to stay awake a little longer."

"Is it safe?"

Johnny eyed Kenny in silence before he replied. "When is it ever safe? I could take her far away from here until she learns control, but what's the point? She wants her family and I know Lisa wants her here with them."

"We all do." Kenny yawned. He stood up. "I should tell you not to do it, for the sake of the family, but you wouldn't listen anyway, so I'm not going to bother. We all miss Crystal, the old Crystal. Do what you can to keep my sons safe."

Johnny nodded. He would, as much for Crystal's sake as for theirs. He wandered down the old roads, stopping at the cemetery briefly before circling the quiet lake. He missed this. At the little beach where tomorrow evening hopefully Crystal would join them, Johnny trailed his hand in the cold, still water.

Later he slept fitfully in his king bed. A century ago, even a decade ago, he would never have left himself exposed to humanity in such a manner. No one, save Crystal, had ever known where he slept. Now, too many knew the secret of the lake, and four in particular knew he sometimes rested here. Four people he trusted with his life because Crystal did. The old Johnny would have been horrified. The old Johnny would never have stayed this long.

The morning light pulled at Johnny despite the room-darkening curtains that blocked the only window. He groaned and rolled underneath the covers, but eventually his restlessness made him get out of bed. It wasn't that he couldn't tolerate the sun—he could. It hurt fiercely and made him need that much more blood to compensate.

Johnny quickly dressed, donning a hat and jacket to give him a little more protection. He had a car, but it was at Lisa's house, and that's where he was going anyway. Why take just any blood when there was family who would not begrudge him a little of hers? Johnny's lips curved up. Lisa would not deny him. She never did.

Lisa looked old. When had that happened? Her blonde hair had threads of silver in it and tiny wrinkles adorned the corners of her eyes and mouth. Johnny almost changed his mind about taking blood from her. He settled down on the couch next to her as she flipped through the channels on the television. "That's all you do all day? Watch TV?"

She jumped. The clicker clattered to the floor. "What are you doing here! What are you doing up? It's—" Lisa glanced at the television screen. "—noon! Are you all right? Did something happen?"

Same old Lisa. Johnny chuckled as he let his eyes darken and waited for her to understand the significance. When she did, she sank back into the cushions and stared at him with big eyes.

Johnny had lived too many years ignorant of blood promises or family. He no longer intended to kill her, and on some level Lisa knew that. But Lisa had met Johnny before he had rediscovered his past. She knew what he was like. She knew what he wanted, what he needed.

"Blood of my blood," she whispered in a tiny voice, awaiting the inevitable.

Johnny grinned. At least she had made it legitimate. He ignored her proffered hands and went straight for her neck. They were old friends. Careful not to take too much, Johnny drank until the pain of his sun burns dissipated. He laid her gently out on the couch and went to get her a glass of water and a vitamin. This, too, was an old routine.

When he came back, Lisa was still staring at him, her hand cradling her neck which now sported a red rash. It would be noticeable. It couldn't be helped—Lisa had offered.

"Will the boys be home soon?" Johnny asked, surfing through the channels since Lisa seemed to have lost interest in watching TV. "I was hoping we could play some video games before tonight."

Tonight. The equinox. "Kevin will be home after practice and Ian doesn't get off the bus until close to four," Lisa answered. "You should rest for a while." She hesitated. "I saw the blood on Ian's shirt."

Johnny gazed at her implacably until Lisa looked away.

"Johnny?" She rose unsteadily to her feet and drank her water. "I'm glad you came back."

He took Lisa up on her offer, though she didn't know it, and disappeared up the stairs while she was in the kitchen. There was a hidden space behind the top of the stairs. Johnny had claimed the space years ago when Crystal still lived in this house so that he could stay close to her. That was before he was sure she would be able to change. The room remained hidden from the rest of the family, dark within the bowels of the old house. Johnny curled up and let the lethargy of the day lull him into sleep once more, until he heard the voices of Kevin and Ian questioning their mother about him. "He was here earlier, but then he left," Lisa said. What else could she say? Her reddened neck was a dead giveaway. Sighing, because the weight of the sun still pushed at him even though it was late afternoon, Johnny slipped downstairs.

"Who's up for a video game challenge?" he asked, leaning on the kitchen door jamb.

"I am!" Ian immediately volunteered and ran to set it up. Kevin lingered, glancing at his mother.

"She's fine," Johnny said in exasperation, although he had half expected this reaction. He was more concerned that the younger one had shown no reaction whatsoever. "She offered."

Lisa nodded, giving Kevin's arm a reassuring squeeze. "It looks worse than it is. I'm fine, really."

Looking doubtful, Kevin let Johnny lead him into the den, where they had hooked up the video console to an old TV. Johnny held him back at the doorway. "Family blood is like no other. You know that. Tonight we will do the blood exchange, if that is what you still want. It's your choice. Did you think it would always be little tastes? I told you next time I'd bring you and your brother to sample human blood, so you can see the difference."

Kevin frowned. "Will you kill them like you did with the deer?"

So that was the problem. Annoyed, Johnny answered, "No, why would I? We're just going to take a little bit. Whoever we choose won't miss it." It wasn't the whole truth, but it was all the truth Kevin needed to know right now. Johnny rarely killed these days.

"Oh."

"Do you still want to do the exchange tonight?"

"Yeah." Kevin gave him a small grin. "Of course I do."

Johnny wondered if Kevin would feel the same if he knew Crystal would come.

"Hurry up!" Ian called from inside the den. He had his controller in his hand. "Who's going first?"

"Me!" Johnny said, ruffling Ian's hair. Ian was a lot like Crystal.

They played until Kenny came home. Johnny took his leave while they were having supper. He would use the time to get his own supper, in case things didn't work out as planned later on. "Meet me at the little beach at seven," he said. "Lisa, bring a robe."

Lisa paused with her fork halfway to her mouth. "Crystal?" she said hopefully.

"We'll see," Johnny told her. "It depends on the boys."

Kevin met Johnny's eyes. "I can do it," he murmured. This was why Johnny had taken them hunting and why he had let them see how he drank right from their mother's throat. Crystal wouldn't be gentle. She might not remember they were family, not until it was too late, like last time. Kevin gazed steadily at Johnny.

Last time was four years ago. By the time Johnny had realized that Crystal was out of control, she had nearly killed her best friend Ellie, Paul's wife, who had been four months pregnant. Paul had thrown himself in Crystal's path to divert her attention, which is what saved Ellie. The blood promise had meant nothing to Crystal that time, although Johnny believed that on a subconscious level it had stopped Crystal from killing them outright.

Lisa got up to stand behind Ian's chair. Her desire to see her daughter warred with her need to protect her other children. "Does Ian need to be involved? He's still a child."

"I want to, Mom," Ian protested, indignant at being called a child. "Crystal is my sister. Blood of my blood." He said the last in the old language. "She won't hurt me."

She might. It was on everyone's mind although no one spoke it out loud. Crystal had lost control last time and Ellie had paid the price, to Crystal's utter horror when she came to her senses. Crystal herself had begged them not to let her awaken again. Johnny agreed with her. When he was young, he had spent years, decades underneath his loch in between summonings. Staying awake was not the norm for his kind.

But Johnny had only just found Crystal. He didn't want to wait decades to be with her in the flesh again. And he didn't want to add one more burden to her if he woke her years from now and her precious human family were long dead. He had to try to bring her back. "Do what you want," he told them all. "I'll be at the lake at seven."

With that, he disappeared to hunt. He would still do the blood exchange himself with the boys if that was what they wanted. It was up to them.

As usual when Johnny was troubled, he was less than gentle with his victims. He avoided town and any trace of family blood, preferring to hunt in the next town over. He took a family very similar to Lisa and Kenny's while they were in the middle of their own dinner, laying them out like cordwood on the kitchen floor when he was done. They never saw him. Johnny was careful to take from places where a slight rash would not be so remarkable when they woke up—the inside of an elbow, the back of a leg. He didn't care if they woke up puzzled by how they had gotten on the floor. They were lucky he left them alive.

Johnny told himself that to justify his own actions. He had no intention of killing anyone tonight.

A little before seven Johnny went back to the lake. When the Browns arrived, Kenny nodded to Johnny and sent his two sons ahead of him to the beach. Already the night sky pressed down like a physical hand. It was nearly time.

Johnny tilted his head enquiringly and both boys nodded. They were willing to try. Johnny stepped to the water's edge where he slashed his palm with one long tooth and squeezed his fist to let his blood fall into the water. The moon was weak tonight, in the dying part of the year, but Johnny could still see the ripples his blood drops made. They spread out wider and wider until they disappeared.

Now they waited.

Almost twenty minutes went by before Johnny caught movement on the still lake and a slender woman rose from the water. Water cascaded from her naked body like jewels in the scant moonlight, leaving darkness as her only garment. Her hair clung to her back and her midnight eyes rivaled the night sky. Johnny drank her up as she emerged, his Crystal, his heart.

Lisa glanced at him, the soft, white bathrobe she had ready folded over her arms. Johnny shook his head. The creature rising up out of the water was not her mortal daughter, nor strictly a blood-drinker like him either. At that moment Crystal resembled most a spirit of the lake. But they would soon find out which she truly was. Johnny gestured for Ian and Kevin to come forward instead. Lisa's mouth opened, then closed again, and she stepped back, resigned.

Johnny watched Crystal carefully as she wove her way through the shallows towards the two boys who knelt in the damp sand, their hands outstretched above their hearts. If she went for their throats he would try to stop her.

"Blood of my blood." The boys' voices chimed through the night, echoing around the empty beach. Behind them, Lisa and Kenny fell to their knees also, hands lifted. If she went for the boys' throats, they would be next. And after that, Crystal wouldn't be able to live with herself.

Crystal's eyes seemed to glow, the blue almost black now, black like Johnny's when his need was upon him. She still hadn't spoken, hadn't acknowledged any of them on the beach. Not even Johnny. She was fixated on Kevin and Ian, moving inexorably for them. Would she accept the offering? Right in front of them she stopped.

Puzzled, she turned around and spotted Johnny standing by the water's edge. His blood had called her from her sleep. Did her eyes soften, or was that just a trick of the weak light cast by the half-moon still low in the sky?

"Blood of my blood." The two boys chanted together again, bringing Crystal's attention back to them. Swifter than a snake, her hands darted down and she grabbed one wrist on each boy, pulling them to their feet. Johnny started to run towards them.

Crystal bit Kevin's wrist and drank before Johnny got near enough to stop her, and had already let go and taken Ian's wrist into her mouth when he moved between them. She growled, Ian's wrist still in her teeth, warning Johnny off. He glanced at Kevin, who was shaken but unharmed, and stepped back. Crystal drank from Ian also. "Mine," she whispered, her voice hoarse from disuse.

Her eyes lightened, and Crystal glanced over the boys' heads at Johnny, giving him a slight smile. "Drink," she whispered, biting into her own wrist. She offered it first to Kevin, and then to Ian, completing the pact.

Johnny came up behind Crystal and placed his arms around her waist. "Mine," he murmured in her ear. "I've missed you."

Crystal twisted in Johnny's arms and kissed him, holding on to him tightly as shudders ran up and down her spine. "Johnny."

He held her until she stopped shaking, and then he called Lisa over and helped Crystal into the white bathrobe. "Shall we finish this?" he asked, stroking damp strands away from Crystal's forehead.

Crystal slowly turned around, realizing that it was her mother who had held the robe as Johnny dressed her. Kenny was there, too, standing next to her two brothers with whom she had just exchanged blood! Crystal shrank back against Johnny. "Don't let me hurt them," she whispered.

Smiling widely, Johnny replied, "You won't—you didn't. Kevin and Ian did the blood exchange with you and they're both fine. Shall we continue?" Johnny had yet to do the exchange. Strictly speaking, it might not have been necessary since Crystal was a blood-drinker too, but Johnny wanted to leave no doubt in their minds that he was theirs as much as they were his. He slashed his own wrist. Tonight was a night for more than a little sip, that much was clear. "Blood of my blood," he intoned, offering his wrist to both Kevin and Ian, and lastly to Crystal, whose eyes clouded with tears at the offer.

"Blood of my blood," the brothers repeated, offering wrists too this time, since that was the way of things. Johnny drank, and when Crystal held out her wrist with a slight smile, he laughed softly and took her neck instead, the intimacy not lost on any of them.

"What about us?" Kenny asked. He stood with Lisa in the shadows, smiling wryly.

"Mom, Kenny." Crystal tightened the sash on her bathrobe as she went over to hug her parents. Kenny, ever the keeper, insisted on kneeling for the ritual blood-offering as if Crystal had never lost control and nearly killed someone once.

"Blood of my blood," Lisa said, holding out her hands. She couldn't help smiling at her beautiful daughter, no matter that Crystal might easily kill her.

What could Crystal do in the light of such trust? "Hold me, Johnny," she whispered as Johnny came up behind her. With his arms around her, Crystal bent to taste the blood of each of her parents. "Mine," she said ritually, then spoiled it by throwing her arms around both of them and bursting into tears. She hadn't hurt them; she hadn't even felt close to being out of control. "I love you so much," she cried. "Can you ever forgive me?"

Paul and Ellie had both been badly hurt. The two of them had left for Scotland not long after the baby was born. They were fine, now, and their little boy showed no ill effect from the experience. Back at the house, Lisa showed Crystal pictures of the little boy with Uncle Robert and Lachlan. Ellie was pregnant again, Lisa told Crystal. She bore no grudge against Crystal and in fact would probably love to hear from her again. "She understands, you know," Lisa said, "She doesn't blame you for what happened."

"She should," Crystal muttered. Since they had come up from the little beach, Crystal had not let go of Johnny's hand. She didn't trust herself even though she felt no pressing need for blood yet. "I can't stay." Johnny squeezed her hand.

Finally, at midnight after Lisa yawned three times in a row, Johnny took Crystal home. The log house was theirs alone, and for the first time in four long years Crystal was in their bed. Johnny would bleed the earth dry to see her like this. He couldn't stop touching her now that she was here. Crystal was right. She couldn't stay. Not for long. Someday she would have the control she needed to stay above the water for long periods. For now, a day or two was the most. Johnny was all right with that. Now that they knew her brothers' blood at the equinox would give her a measure of control until she could develop it on her own, Crystal could visit her family twice a year for a few days. Johnny would go with her under the water, knowing that when she rose, they would have this time together to experience the pleasures of the flesh—and blood.

They felt the sun rise above them and snuggled deeper under the covers. Johnny felt tired but he knew how to get around that. He kissed his young bride and then he bit her neck right where it joined her shoulder, eliciting a shiver of surprise from Crystal which quickly turned into something else as she wriggled within his embrace. That's what Johnny was going for. He grinned, licking his lips, and suddenly felt wide awake.

Tonight, he would take Crystal hunting and then they would say a last good-bye to their human family and return to the lake to await the next equinox.