Eden’s resident vampires.

Zeke and I were together constantly. It was strange; the more times we shared blood, shared ourselves and our emotions, the deeper the bond grew and the harder I fell for him.

I’d once wondered if I could ever trust someone enough to stay with them for a lifetime; now, forever with Zeke didn’t seem nearly long enough.

Still, even though I was happy with Zeke, more content than I’d been in a long time, I was restless. The laboratory had been fixed, one of the first buildings to be restored, and every human in the city was in line to receive the vaccine as often as it could be synthesized. Eden would soon be immune to Rabidism, but what about everyone else? The rest of the world knew nothing about the cure, that it even existed. Who would tell them? Who could tell them, with the country so infested with rabids, vampires and other monsters?

I knew the answer, of course. Though it was hard to think about; the enormity of the task was simply staggering. If the world was ever going to be normal again, someone had to go out there and take the cure to everyone. Eden shone like a beacon of hope in the darkness, a safe haven for its residents, but it couldn’t reach the whole world. No, that burden would have to fall to someone else. Someone who cared about saving both humans and vampires. Someone with a lot of time on their hands.

Now, it is your turn to leave your own mark on the world.

So, I would.

I stood at the edge of a lonely dock, cool wind tugging at my hair and coat, gazing over the dark waters of Lake Erie.

Beside me, a simple rowboat bobbed up and down on the waves, knocking quietly against the planks. Empty but for a tiny cooler with a couple blood bags, a handful of syringes, and a case with several vials of the precious vaccine. Dr. Richardson couldn’t spare much of the synthesized version, but I wasn’t worried about running out. As long as I was alive, so was the cure.

A breeze hissed across the lake, warmer now, hinting of rain. Winter was nearly over. It had been almost a year since I’d become a vampire. A year since that night in the rain, where I’d died in Kanin’s arms and begun a new life. Who would’ve thought that cynical, jaded street rat would end up here, a vampire ready to set out into the world, following the footsteps of her sire?

Can you see me, Kanin? I thought, gazing into the darkness.

Overhead, the night sky glittered with a million stars, and a full moon peered down at me, a halo of light around it. I hope I’m doing what you wanted, what you tried to teach me. It’s going to take a long time, but I won’t give up, just like you didn’t give up.

And I pray that, wherever you are, you’ve final y found your peace.

Footsteps thumped behind me, and Zeke slipped his arms around my waist, drawing me against him. I reached back and looped an arm around his neck as his lips traced my jaw, brushing it softly. My blood stirred at the contact, reacting to his presence, as if recognizing the other half of itself. A feeling of deep contentment stole over me, and I leaned against him.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” I whispered, closing my eyes against his touch. He nodded.

“We’ve done all we can here,” he murmured back. “Eden is safe. Mayor Hendricks told me the last of its citizens will receive the vaccine tomorrow. Most the buildings have been repaired, and they have enough supplies to last the rest of the winter. Spring is coming,” he added, brushing a kiss against my ear. “The planting season will start soon. They don’t need vampires for that.”

“Have you said goodbye to Caleb and Bethany?”

“Oh, yes.” He chuckled. “You should’ve heard the tantrum Caleb threw. Guilt, tears, the whole song and dance. He even threatened not to like me anymore if I left. But I promised we’d come back. Someday.” He sounded amused and sad at the same time. “Though he might be grown up with kids of his own when I see him and Bethany again.”

Feeling a little guilty, I turned in his arms, gazing up at him. This was Zeke’s home. I didn’t want to do this alone, couldn’t imagine being without him, but I wouldn’t drag him on an endless journey if he wasn’t absolutely sure he wanted to go.

“Are you really certain this is what you want?”

“Yes, Allison.” Zeke put a hand on my cheek, his eyes intent. “I’m certain. We finally have a cure, but the rest of the world needs to know about it. It’s up to us to spread the word, to let humans know they don’t have to live in fear. Eventually, people will populate the world again, and things can be like they were Before. They’ll have to figure out how to live with the vampires, how to coexist, if that’s even possible. But it has to start somewhere.” He took my hand and held it to his chest. “This is the beginning, right here. With us.”

“It could take a long time,” I said, not to discourage him, but as a warning. “A very, very long time. We might never be finished, Zeke. It could take forever.”

He smiled, lowered his head, and kissed me. Long and lingering, a promise full of love, and courage, and hope.

“I love you, vampire girl,” he whispered as he drew back.

“And forever is exactly what we have.”


Tags: Julie Kagawa Blood of Eden Book Series
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