By dawn we were not only out of Chicago but out of Illinois itself. We cut across the border into Indiana. The vamps found an empty building and we hid inside one of the apartments. We were lucky; there were three bedrooms with beds in each. George said he’d hang around what, I think, must be the living room since vamps don’t sleep. Bethany and Tom claimed one of the rooms with a double bed (I didn’t ask any questions). Ian and I claimed the other room with the smaller double bed and Frannie had the room with the single bed. I asked her if she wanted to share with me but she assured me she’d be fine on her own.
   We stayed inside, making as little noise as possible, all day. Beth and Tom retreated to their room for a little while (from the looks on George’s and Ian’s face, the Cole’s were having a lot of fun just too quiet for Fran and I to hear). I went out to the shops to get some food for Fran and me. I messed with the server’s head a bit so he wouldn’t be able to recall me too well. When I came back I gave Fran some bread and took some myself before snuggling with Ian on the couch. George who was sitting on the floor sneered at us while Fran just curled in an armchair. I’m sure I caught a couple smug, knowing smiles on her face when she looked at us. I’m also sure that Ian shot her some warning looks as if to tell her to keep quiet. After failing to work out a reason for their curious behavior I pondered about a different matter
   “Where are we going from here?” I asked
   “William Liades, the guy who employs us, his work base is down in Kentucky. We would go there but Ian wants to stay here because Kentucky office is where Mr. Brigant is most likely to call first. William will be very angry with us so it might be a good idea not to return for a while”
   “Sounds logical. He won’t be very happy to see me either,” I said ruefully
   “No, he probably won’t,” Fran laughed, “Vampires have good memories and are prone to holding grudges. Not always, but most often”
   “Here’s the thing, should we wait until you’ve been changed before we see him? Or do we see him then change you?” George turned to Ian, “And of course there is the other matter as well, Ian, do you wish to seek his consent?”
   “He doesn’t rule me and it is not his place to decide what I do or don’t do,” Ian growled. It was dark by now and Beth and Tom finally emerged
   “Sleep alright?” I teased. Beth smiled and winked at me, I had a feeling we were going to become good friends. Tom smiled, too, briefly before turning serious
   “What are we going to do about hunting? Street tramps that aren’t missed?”
   “No,” I interceded before George could answer, “Hunt animals, it doesn’t satisfy your hunger completely but it keeps you strong and satisfies your hunger enough”
   “Animal blood?” George spat out, “That is the most - ”
   “Interesting theory we’ve heard,” Beth finished George’s less polite sentence before he could get it out
   “It’s not a theory. Carlisle drinks animal blood. It’s not… appetizing as I understand it but it’s better than killing innocent people. Carnivores are better tasting as I understand it”
   “Then we’ll go hunt some animals,” Tom stated on all their behalf’s, “Come on George.” George scowled before following the other two from the apartment. Ian remained on the couch with me not moving
   “Not going hunting?” I asked
   “I don’t need to, I’m good for another night or two,” Ian smiled. I smiled back and snuggled closer to him. I closed my eyes sleepily when Fran jumped up suddenly from her chair startling me so much, I was alert in an instant and scanned around for an attack. I frowned at her and noticed Ian was scowling too
   “I think I’ll go to bed. I’m dead on my feet – no pun intended”
   “You had to startle Will and me for that? Anyway, anyone who can move that fast can’t be that tired”
   “I just thought I’d give you two some privacy,” I threw a cushion at her but she ducked, “Have a good night,” she winked at Ian and he rolled his eyes but smiled slightly. Fran kissed my forehead and headed down the hall to her room closing the door very deliberately behind her. Ian rolled his eyes again
   “What was that about? What did she mean?” I demanded from Ian. He looked strangely uncomfortable
   “I know it’s belated,” Ian began, “but I have a birthday present for you. I told your sister first because I wanted to know what she thought, her knowing you best,” Ian put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a small velvet box. He handed it to me, visibly anxious, a strange thing for him, “I hope you don’t mind it’s not wrapped,” he laughed nervously. I took the box, curious; I pulled off the lid and gasped quietly. I had frozen; half of my brain was thinking wow, it’s really gorgeous half was thinking what the hell is he doing spending so much? Looking back I still can’t believe I missed the obvious. Inside the box was a small delicate ring. It had a thin silver band and a black pearl. Black was for night and pearl for my birthstone. Also black pearls (believe it or not) are associated with love. It was beautiful; I touched the cold pearl lightly with my fingertip. Gently, I pulled the ring from the box and noticed there was an inscription on the inside, I will always love you and forever means nothing without you. Some part of my brain was trying to tell me something but I was so touched and stunned that it wouldn’t register. Ian’s cool hand cupped one side of my face and turned my head so I was looking at him. He took a deep breath
   “Will Night, I promise to love, cherish and protect you forever. Will you do me the honor of marrying me?” I was so shocked. I’d thought that one day maybe we would get married but I’d never expected him to ask me so soon. I just gazed into the depths of his eyes
   “What would you do if I said no?” I whispered. Ian tried to keep his face smooth but I saw pain in his eyes, and fear, fear at rejection
   “I would change you into a vampire – and Frances –  if that is truly what you want, then let you decide if you wanted to stay with us or go on your own”
   “And if I said yes?” His eyes now glowed with hope
   “I would marry you, give you a real honeymoon – if you wanted that – change you and your sister into vampires before taking you down to Louisiana and living there with you for a few years before we have to move on.” I had a further inner debate. Was I really ready to get married? At sixteen? Plus, could I have the courage to enter a house of God when I’d turned my back on Him so completely? Just one word could change my future utterly, affect my future. On the other hand, was I really going to hurt Ian – and myself! – So much? I knew my answer though, no matter what I asked myself there wasn’t really any choice. One word, Will, just one small word I thought. I smiled at Ian and put my hand on his cheek
   “Yes,” I said simply, “I love you, too, Ian O’Callaghan. So, yes I will marry you.” Ian looked shell-shocked for all of two seconds before beaming at me widely. He took my left hand and the ring. He slid the ring on my middle finger. He held the ring and my hand for a moment longer, both of us looking at it there and enjoying the sweet sight of it there. I closed my fingers around his and he bent to kiss me, as lightly and softly as a feather. When we broke apart we cuddled close again and I allowed the peace to wash over me. I fell asleep and dreamed sweet dreams.
   When I woke, the sun was high in the sky. Ian must have carried to my bed. I grabbed my bag and pulled out my brush and a clean outfit. I teased out the tangles in my hip-long hair, always a difficult task but there was a knock on my door. It was Fran I called her in. She immediately glanced at my left hand and grinned widely. I rolled my eyes at her. She took my brush and got out the tangles for me. When the tedious task was complete we left my room. There was only the Cole’s lounging around
   “Hey, Will,” Beth called. I smiled at her and grabbed some orange juice. We were lucky enough to have a couple glasses around but I had to clean them thoroughly
   “Good morning,” Tom greeted me. He had his arm around Beth’s back. She was sitting on his lap with her head resting under his chin
   “Nice ring,” Beth grinned at me, “I also notice your choice of finger to put it on, does that mean what I think is does?”
   “Sure does,” I smiled, “Ian and I got engaged last night. Speaking of Ian, where is he this morning? And George?”
   “They’re trying to find a phone,” Beth answered, “They’re going to call William to tell him about you’re engagement and our plans to change you and Fran. We’re hoping he’ll understand our decision. We’re also going to assure him we’ll break all ties with him so if the Volturi should find out before you’re changed so they won’t go for him as well.” I nodded and downed my drink before cleaning the glass again and grabbing some bread. I sat down with Frannie on the couch and Beth began an enthusiastic conversation about what I’d like for my wedding.
   We’ll have to contact the Masen’s and Sylvia to tell them, or do you think that’s not such a good idea? I asked Fran telepathically
   I think that you shouldn’t. It’s best if we break all connections with them, make the separation easier.
   You’re right
I conceded but still felt a pang for my lost Wiccan family.
   By the time Beth had finished her bombardment of wedding discussions, including recounts of her own marriage ceremony, Ian and George had walked in. Ian had nodded to Tom, grim yet pleased, before smiling at me.
   Help I mouthed smiling back
   “It seems my Bethy, here, has just finished talking about what you’re doing for your wedding,” Tom grinned at Ian, “She’s missing one key thing; when are you getting married?” We all laughed and Beth mock punched him
   “Sorry to disappoint you, Beth, but it’ll be a private ceremony. Just Frances is going to be there with us. She’ll be the witness. The wedding will take place whenever Will wants it to”
   “Oh,” I laughed, “Let her have her fun. Anyway, I haven’t a clue what to do first so allowing Beth to do everything will hopefully let me relax. So when will it be at a guess, Beth?”
   “I don’t know, since we’re lying low for a while probably a few months?”
   “Months?” Ian raised an eyebrow
   “She deserves a wedding that is befitting of her. Since she’s so beautiful, she needs a beautiful wedding, to complement each other, you know? To match,” Beth widened her eyes innocently, “In all honesty, why rush? What are the chances of the Volturi visiting here or us them in the next year, at tops? A wedding is a day to be treasured and should be as special as possible,” Beth reasoned
   “Fine! Fine!” Ian laughed, “You argument is infallible.” Beth quieted down smugly
   “If you two could focus on more important matters,” George inserted dryly, “We cannot stay here indefinitely, from our call to William it seems when Will and Fran’s disappearances were discovered along with ours, young Felix Brigant told every one of Ian and Will’s affair. Now there is a search on”
   “Then we must leave here and move as far away as possible,” Beth said calmly
   “Yes,” Ian agreed, “William also said he would direct the searches west to Iowa. He offered us his congratulations and best wishes upon hearing of our engagement. We promised we wouldn’t contact again, at least for a decade at minimum. He mentioned that the Masen’s and Marksons weren’t assisting with the search and don’t say anything about the matter other than you two are big girls who can take care of yourselves and if you want to come home then you will.” We all sat in silence for a while; Ian came to sit next to me wrapping an arm around me. George slumped into the other armchair (really for an abandoned building and apartment it had a lot of basic furniture). While I moved as close to Ian as possible, I reached for Frannie’s hand as she reached for mine
   “How about we moved to Arkansas? Say we’re travelers but we’d like to settle for a year or so while we prepare Ian and Will’s marriage, stick with saying Tom and George are brothers and cousins to Ian while I’m Tom’s wife. Oh, and we say Fran is Will’s closest relative being her sister,” Beth suggested. It wasn’t a bad idea; we were sticking to the truth as much as possible if we went for that story. We all thought it over before nodding. Beth and Tom went to pack their few possessions along with George while Fran went to our room to get her things and sleep. I, too, retreated to my room with Ian trailing behind me. I chucked my brush and dirty clothes in my bag before shimmying out of my clothes until I was down to my under clothing. I folded that dress to wear again next morning. I slid under the covers. Ian slid in besides me. I smiled as his arm wrapped around my waist, no matter what I had Ian, as long as we were together: everything would be alright. I held the hand of the arm draped across me in both of my own. I kissed his hand and he kissed my cheek. I fell into a deep sleep. At first my dreams were just images that flashed in quick succession then they shimmered into a clear scene. Ah hell I thought strangely aware for a dream, but of course, this was not a dream. It was vision; the only difference in this vision from the others was this one was a good premonition whereas all my past ones had been awful. I felt light, just like I always did when I had a vision. In this vision I saw something that made me feel happy… yet sad. I had a sense that this was something in the very distant future (I’d guessed about a century in the future). In my vision was Carlisle holding hands with another vampire. She was about 5 foot 6” with caramel colored hair and a heart shape face. She had a kind face, the face of a mother (not someone like my mother). Esme the name crossed my mind, I felt happy; this was Carlisle’s mate-to-be. He would find someone who was to him like Ian was to me. I looked at the next faces; there was a tall blonde about 5 foot 9”, who was very beautiful for a vamp. She also looked vain but underneath that there was softness to her. Rosalie I just knew that was her name. Standing behind her was a very tall male of around 6 foot 5”. He had dark hair and looked a bit bear-like. This was Rosalie’s mate, Emmett. He was very strong for a vamp. I shifted my gaze to another couple. One was a male of 6 foot 2” with honey blonde hair standing near a very short girl of 4 foot 10” with short spiky black hair. He was standing slightly protectively close to her, their love was obvious. Jasper and Alice were their names. Finally I looked at the couple that made me feel happy and sad at the same time. I was looking upon the face of my brother. I was glad that if he had to become a vamp it was Carlisle who guided him. I felt responsible for him being a vamp, felt that it was my fault but felt pain if I’d try to picture what would’ve happened had I not influenced Carlisle. I felt happy though because he was happy, standing next to him was a 5 foot 4” girl with dark hair that fell to her waist. Her hair had hints of red in it, I noticed, and in her arms was a girl. This girl was quite obviously Edward’s and his mate’s daughter. She had the same bronze ringlets as me that were in curls while mine were straighter. The girl’s eyes were a chocolate brown. I knew that Edward’s mate was called Bella and his daughter Renesmee. This was the future Cullen family. I locked my eyes with Carlisle and he smiled at me before my eyes burned and flashed open. I awoke panting before steadying myself and my eyes burned again. Ian was hugging me tightly
   “What is it?” he whispered. I shook my head
   “Nothing, just a dream, not even a bad one.” He squeezed me again but didn’t push the issue. I drifted back into sleep; thinking all the while about Edward’s little family among the bigger family.

*  *  *

   We left about three hours before sunrise. It was the same as before; Ian carrying me and George carrying Frannie. We move steadily but speedily southwards while we traveled the vamps debated whether we should cut back through Illinois and Missouri or continue south through Kentucky and Tennessee. Eventually we stopped in a small town and hunted for another abandoned building. We weren’t as fortunate this time because the building wasn’t completely abandoned and wasn’t furnished at all. The vamps kindly gave us what they could to make sleeping as comfortable as possible. Fran and I ate some fruit I’d brought the previous day before sleeping on the floor. Ian came and put his arm under my head. I heard Beth and Tom whispering in the background. I slept for a long time when I woke, the sun was setting. Fran was sitting cross legged on the floor munching on some bread (it needed to be used quickly)
   “Where are the vamps?” I asked
   “Hunting,” Frannie said shortly then softened, “Sorry, it’s just imagining that one day we’ll be like them, we’ll need blood to be strong. When they go hunting it makes me think, how many people will I kill until I can control myself?” I reached over with a hand and patted her arm in reassurance. She picked up on my thoughts
   “No,” Fran whispered, “I’m sticking with you even if it is forever. Remember, Night, nothing can break our blood-tie not even if you’re becoming a vamp”
   “Then we’ll help each other get through it,” I said. We changed our clothes and packed our bags checking we had everything. The vamps came back around midnight and we left immediately before anyone could notice us. We were just a few miles from the Kentucky-Indiana border when we stopped again (honestly travelling with vamps means you get places real quick). We followed this pattern for four more nights, running through the night hiding in empty buildings and sleeping through the day or hunting. We finally reached Arkansas and a town called Mountain Home. The vamps had a lot of money and bought a nice good sized home for us. It had three floors, on the first floor a kitchen that was sort of split into a dining room too, a study/drawing room and lounge. On the second floor was a bathroom, two single bed rooms and one double bed room. On the final floor were a double bed room and an en suite. Beth and Tom had the top floor while George and Fran took a single bedded room each so Ian and I took the last room. We were there for a few days before people started greeting us. It was clear we were from the north because of our accents. The local people regarded us from a distance. I went to buy food with Fran after three days from moving into our home. We stocked up on coffee, juice and milk. We bought meat, bread, cereals, fruit and such. We were paying for our things when the shop assistant struck up a conversation
   “How-de-do,” he smiled, “You two lovely ladies are new in town are you not?” His accent was very pronounced
   “We are,” Fran smiled back. Her face and voice were softer and more reassuring than mine. Mine always had a confident yet hard undertone to it from those days of hardening after finding out the truth. I smiled as sweetly as I could. I’m told when I smiled it enhances my looks and I briefly believed that to be true when the assistant’s thoughts became scattered wildly it took a while before he got them under control
   “Oh… er… nice to meet you. I’m Charles. May I have the honor of your names, young maidens?”
   “Of course, Mr. Charles,” Frannie replied, “I am Frances Marksons and this is my sister Will”
   “Will? That’s an unusual name for a girl, if you don’t mind me saying. What brings you and your sister here, Ms. Marksons?” Charles asked courteously, “And who are your attractive companions?”
   “We love to travel, Mr. Charles,” Fran smiled, we’d gone over our story many times, “Our friends like to travel also. We met up with them on the road and my sister ah… found some attraction for the one called Ian O’Callaghan – the one with black hair. The other two men are Ian’s cousins; they are brothers; Tom and George Cole. The woman is Beth Cole; Tom’s wife. We have decided to settle here for a year or so while we prepare for Ian and Will’s wedding”
   “Congratulations to you, Miss,” Charles smiled hesitantly at me and I beamed back
   “Thank you, Mr. Charles,” I said as quietly as possible to keep the indistinct harshness out of my voice
   “If you don’t mind my asking,” Charles said, “You two don’t look like you’re related so are you actually sisters?”
   “You are observant, Mr. Charles,” Frannie commented, “We are not sisters in the sense that we have the same parents but we are sisters in the way we love each other. We treat the other as a sister; once you’ve known us for a while you will start to doubt we are not sisters for we are very alike in our thoughts”
   “So what is Miss Will’s true name?” Charles was hesitant
   “Willow Masen is the name on my birth certificate,” I answered instead of Fran, “I prefer Will Marksons, though, and so it is the name I go by,” I decided ‘Night’ was too random and didn’t want to explain. Frannie carefully kept her surprised delight off her face. Charles nodded
   “What of your parents?” he asked
   “I have no parents,” I replied, technically I didn’t lie since I feel like I don’t have parents – I definitely don’t have a father. Wait! Yes I did, I had Carlisle so I added, “But I have met a man whom I have been proud to call my father”
   “Mine live far away. When Will decided to travel I decided to go, too. She is more a family member to me than anyone and I didn’t want her to go one her own,” Fran explained also truthfully
   “You both look a bit young to be traveling on your own,” Charles observed
   “I am twenty-two and Will is sixteen. Will likes adventure and excitement,” Fran laughed, “She needs someone to stop her going over the limits. Plus, my love ties me to her, we will always be together; in our hearts. Now, if you don’t mind, Mr. Charles, we must be going now. It’s been nice meeting you,” Fran nodded and smiled at him. He smiled at her and gave me a half-hearted one. We grabbed our shopping and left briskly yet casually. Though we tried not to look at each other we caught each other’s eyes. I rolled my eyes to let her know what I thought of Charles’ questioning and she giggled. When we reached our home, only Beth was at the house. She was sitting in the drawing room sketching furiously, when we passed the open door. It looked like she had been doing a lot of drawings and writing a lot of notes. I nudged Fran to indicate we should go to the kitchen to dispose of our shopping and she began to move still looking at what Beth was doing when suddenly she laughed. Beth glanced up and smiled ruefully. Fran just kept on laughing until she couldn’t breathe
   “I’m glad you find it amusing,” Beth said with dignity, “I don’t have anything else to do you know. I thought I’d get as much done as I could while Ian and Will were out. I’ve gotten caught up in it though which is why I didn’t stop when you walked in.” As soon as she mentioned me I decided not to be polite and examined her work more closely. When I realized what it was I closed my eyes and shook my head slowly in disbelief. Fran began to laugh again. I opened my eyes, glared at her, before using my telekinetic powers to make her shopping bags float (she dropped them when she had doubled over laughing) and directed them to the kitchen following them. I began to put the food away in the cupboards and refrigerator. Beth had been organizing an outline of wedding ideas and she’d been sketching out various wedding dress designs. I finished putting the groceries away and made some coffee. I walked back to the study and found a free chair to sit in. I cradled my coffee. Fran’s face was filled with anticipation while Beth was gnawing her lip in anxiety. A vamp anxious of a human! What was the world coming to?
   “What have you got then?” I asked taking them both by surprise. Beth gaped for a second before her face split into a grin
   “So far I’ve worked out several wedding dresses that I’ll make myself. I need you to look at them before deciding on one and I need to take your measurements. I’ve also come up with a wedding bouquet for you”
   “That sounds good. Let’s have a look at these wedding dresses then,” I said. For the next few hours we immersed ourselves in her ideas. The men came back pleased with acquiring jobs. Ian was especially pleased because he ran into a priest and the priest agreed to do the ceremony. He also agreed to change ‘until death do us part’ to ‘as long as we both shall walk this earth’. Even George was in better spirits. Fran and I cooked ourselves dinner, the vamps wrinkling their noses in response to the smell. We ate at the table in the dining area of the kitchen. When we finished we washed up, the vamps watching us with interest, we caught each other’s eye and I grinned mischievously. Her eyes brightened with amusement. The vamps were quite close to see what we were doing clearly so we, Fran and I, cupped our hands filled them with water and threw it at them. Beth squealed while Ian and Tom shouted out startled. George just leapt back out of range but the others were not as fortunate. I got Ian in the face and on his chest while Fran got Tom in the abdomen and some hit Beth’s leg. The wet vamps blinked once, stunned. Then George burst out laughing and they shook themselves and lunged for us. Fran and I shrieked and grabbed some more water throwing it at them before attempting to run. Beth missed by a centimeter because Fran used teleportation to move to the other side of the room. I wasn’t as lucky because Ian caught me, his arms circling my waist and picking me off the floor. We were all laughing hard, me included although I was struggling too. My back was wet from the water on his chest and dripping from his hair
   “Bethy, Tom, get her back for us. I’ll hold her still,” Ian grinned at them and they grinned back
   “We’d be delighted,” Beth’s eyes sparkled with laughter. They scooped out some water and I struggled hard but it was useless. Ian pinned my arms to my sides with one arm and covered my eyes with the other so I couldn’t use magic
   “At the ready,” Tom said
   “Throw!” Beth yelled and they did but they forgot one key thing. I heard the Coles yell in surprise and then George and Ian laughed. I squirmed and Ian let me see. Yep, I knew it. Fran would never have let the water touch me she had sent the water back towards Tom and Beth after they’d thrown it. They were both drenched. Ian dropped me and I turned to look at him
   “You knew Fran would do that,” I accused with a smile
   “I sure did,” Ian grinned. We, that is; Ian, Fran, George and I, laughed harder
   “You devil,” I said and went up on tiptoes so I could kiss him.
   After the vamps had dried off we just lounged around chatting and laughing. It was the most peaceful atmosphere I’d experienced in a while, all six of us, Tom and Beth, George, Fran, Ian and I… all of us together.

The End

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