We stayed in Mountain Home for a year before we had the wedding. It was in a church but I found I didn’t mind. It wasn’t just Frannie in the end but the three vamps and a couple friends we’d made including Charles. They all knew that we’d go on our honeymoon to Ian’s home state (Louisiana) and then the others would follow us down. During that ceremony I felt the happiest I had in a long time. In the minute Ian slid the ring on my finger I found that I had mellowed enough over the last few months to forgive my mother. I also forgave Mr. Masen because I had experienced the misery that someone’s hatred could cause. When Ian kissed me I felt a surge of joy, he was mine forever. We went back to our house for a while, receiving many congratulations. I also got many compliments on my dress which pleased Bethy. It clung to my body and went straight down at the skirt. The sleeves were ¾ lengths, just long enough to cover my scar. The body part glittered and sparkled. It was very simple but very elegant. I smiled into Beth’s, now gold, eyes whenever I caught Beth’s smug smile.
Finally it was time to leave. I slipped out of my wedding dress and packed it and pulled on the dress I wore when I first met Ian. I made sure I had everything important in my traveling case and Beth helped me to carry outside. We had bought a car to travel in. Ian packed our luggage in the car while I said my final goodbyes to all my friends I’d made then walked over to Ian and took his hand. Beth came to hug me and Fran while the men spoke with…my husband. I liked that; my husband
“See you soon, Mrs. O’Callaghan,” Beth whispered as she hugged me, she also gave me quick peck on the cheek. I’d used the name on my birth certificate so the marriage would be official. When I was reciting my vows I had decided I didn’t really mind being Will or Willow especially now I’d forgiven Mother. I’d liked the sound of my new name; Willow O’Callaghan
“Love you, sis, have a good honeymoon,” Fran breathed in my ear and kissed my forehead. I swatted her playfully. Tom took me by surprise by giving me a half hug. Then my adopted family stood back and Ian swept me up into his arms. He carried me to the car and put me in. This was the first time I’d been in a car and it was thrilling. Our wedding party waved as we drove away, several of them crying.
It took a few days before we reached Louisiana. We were going to a small house out in the country in the north of the state. I woke up about an hour before we arrived at the house
“Are you sure about this?” Ian asked yet again
“One hundred percent,” I replied keeping my voice patient. He turned off onto a little almost unnoticeable turn off. We bumped down the narrow road until he pulled up beside a pretty little cottage. He got out the car and shot around to my side to help me out. We carried in our luggage and set it down inside the doorway. He took my hand and showed me down the hall. We walked into a room on the right. It was a bedroom. It was very light, probably due to the walls being the purest white I’ve seen and the sheets on one of the biggest beds I’ve seen were like gossamer. Ian was in front of me, he put a hand under my chin and tilted his head to the perfect angle
“I love you, Mrs. O’Callaghan,” he whispered
“I love you, too,” I responded. His lips met mine and we didn’t say anything else for the rest of the night. For the life of me I couldn’t have said anything.
* * *
I woke the next morning lying across Ian’s chest with him stroking my side. I was very sore but content. I’d heard that making love was a great pleasure but I’d never imagined it was that good. My eyes fluttered open and I looked up into Ian’s smiling face. I smiled too. We didn’t need to speak there wasn’t any need for words. Instead we just lay there as the sun rose in the sky. As the sun’s rays hit his skin it sparkled like thousands of diamonds. I traced them lightly, looking for patterns that weren’t there. I looked at his face again stunned by how beautiful he was. It hurt just to look at him. What did I ever do to deserve this? I asked myself silently. Ian bent his head to kiss me, not like the kisses of the night before but a gentle one with just a hint of the past ones. I pulled back smiling. I rolled out of the bed and went to retrieve some clothes. I pulled on a new dress of mine, a violet-blue one. Ian, too, pulled on some trousers and a shirt. He left the shirt undone so I could see clearly his smooth perfection. We walked to the kitchen and he started to cook some breakfast for me
“When did you learn to cook food? One: You don’t eat and two: You’re a man. Cooking is usually designated to women,” I wrapped my arms around his waist
“I live on my own a lot so I figured to keep up my façade then I’d better learn to cook since a man living on his own would have to eat at some point,” he smiled down at me. I stepped away so he could put it on a plate. I ate everything then washed up, my husband kept a safe distance this time. After I’d finished we sat together on the sofa. Just sat.
“How long will we be here on our own?” I asked
“I’m not sure, probably a week or two.” We sat in silence for a while
“Will you change me and my sister when they arrive?” I twisted around and wrapped my arms around his neck. I kissed him, “Because I wouldn’t mind a few more weeks human.” Ian laughed
“We can wait a few more weeks I’m sure, if that’s what you want.” We stayed in all day; I was exhausted from the journey and from staying up most of the night. I drowsed occasionally. I made myself dinner and when we’d cleared away we decided that we should retreat to the bedroom for a while.
We went on with this routine for two weeks; just relaxing, there was no rushing or panicking or worry; just relaxing. Eventually of course Ian had to go hunting. I stayed at home planning to do some gardening or cleaning the house. I walked to the bedroom, I had on one of Ian’s shirts and nothing else (who other than Ian would see me?) so I needed to change. I pulled out a nice casual dress I didn’t mind getting dirty and undid the buttons on the shirt. As I was about to pull it off I froze. I couldn’t think. My heart began to hammer in my chest. I felt dizzy and sick. I whirled for the bathroom and threw up. I cleaned myself up. You’re imagining it I tried to assure myself it’s not really there, it’s impossible. It’s just your imagination getting out of control. I went and changed into my dress, not really concentrating. I slumped on the bed. I closed my eyes and touched it. Feeling it made me realize it was real, not my imagination. It was hard. I froze again not moving an inch. In fact I didn’t move until Ian came home. I heard him open the door and call to me
“Will? Will where are you? Are you alright?” His voice got closer until he was in the door of the bedroom. My eyes flickered to him but other than that I didn’t move. “Will what is it?” Ian asked alarmed and worried. Then his eyes dropped to my hands, my hands that were still resting gently on my stomach. I knew he could see the defined bump between my hips, in my dresses it was fairly obvious. Ian froze too when he saw it, “That’s impossible,” he breathed. He darted over to me and sat next to me
“No,” I said my throat hoarse from not speaking, “Not impossible. Goddamnit I should have paid more attention to that vision of the Cullen’s!” Ian hugged me as tears spilled out. I leaned into him
“What vision?” he asked
“I had a vision a while ago – not long after leaving Chicago – in it was my brother as a vamp. Beside him were his mate and daughter. His daughter was a half-human. I think that the birth was not what you would call, ah, traditional. Edward had to get venom in the mother quickly before she died”
“So what shall we do?” Ian pressed
“Wait,” I requested, “Give me a minute.” I scanned the future picking up what I could. Looking into the future is difficult because everything I saw could change. “Two more weeks and then the baby will rip free. If we cut it out a few days before then it will be okay. You tear the baby out with your teeth since it has a… protective layer as strong and impenetrable as vamp skin. Then you change me as soon as it’s out.” I pulled from the indistinct visions of the future and focused on Ian’s face. Ian stared at me for a long time, his face was agonized. I held a hand to his cheek, “Please Ian,” I begged, “I can’t kill my baby. It’s a life; to kill it is as bad as murder. Also it’s our baby, a part of me and a part of you. Our little miracle.” I grabbed his hand and put it on my stomach. A second later our baby nudged his hand. Ian met my gaze, his face filled with a reluctant avidness and wonder. He nodded, leaned closer and kissed me; not moving his hand from the bump
“I’m going to call the others and get them to come here as soon as possible. You’re going to need your sister,” then he was gone.
* * *
It was lucky I had always been strong. The next two weeks of pregnancy took almost all my energy. Frannie and Beth were always by my side while Tom and Ian hunted animals for me to drink blood from. I refused to have human blood, not even if it was donated or mixed in with animal blood. The blood helped me keep my strength but my baby was also strong from the blood. My baby broke my bones but I remained strong and my love for my little miracle never diminished. Frannie used her medical knowledge to take care of my breaks the best she could. George just glowered from a distance, never helping me. Frannie had initially been disapproving of my decision because she hated the pain the baby caused me physically but she had grown to love her niece/nephew more each day as my love and happiness began to affect her more than my pain from broken bones.
“Have you come up with any ideas for names?” Beth asked curiously the day before we planned to take my baby out of me. Beth was quite good at resisting blood (among our own small coven she was second only to Ian) and had come up with a plan to help Ian deliver my little miracle. I cradled my balloon-shaped belly. Tom glanced over, Ian too, they were also curious to know if I had any names. Frannie squeezed my hand (she had heard my ideas in my head as I mulled over it)
“Well,” I began hesitantly, “If it’s a boy I was thinking Carlisle Ian O’Callaghan, for their Daddy and my adopted papa,” Ian smiled at me
“If it’s a girl?” Bethy prompted
“Faith Coriander O’Callaghan,” I murmured, “Coriander was my Grandmother’s middle name. Faith is to remind her to never make my mistakes; I lost faith so I lost myself.” I stroked my stomach absently when suddenly it lurched painfully and a there was a ripping sound inside me. My whole body jerked. They all looked at me alarmed by the movement of my body. My eyes were wide as I looked at them
“I think I was off by a few days,” I whispered as an unendurable agony began. I was losing awareness. I did notice Frannie screaming uncontrollably and understanding light in Ian’s eyes before it turned to panic. I saw him leap into action before the blackness rushed in suppressing me.
I was screaming my head off. Will’s body were jerking and thrashing in ways that weren’t possible. I could her bones shattering. The only blessing was that I could no longer feel her pain which meant she wasn’t suffering because she had slipped into unconsciousness
“Frances, shut up!” Ian yelled at me. If he hadn’t looked so terrifying I would have kept on screaming. The baby was trying to rip its way out of their mother. Ian yanked Will’s thrashing body off the sofa and ran with her to the dining table where he laid her out. Beth, too, had leapt into action. When blood had began pouring from my sister’s mouth she had pulled Tom and George from the house since resisting the lure of blood was harder for them. Now she sprinted back into the room and grabbed a sharp knife. She threw it to Ian, who caught it, before pumping Will’s heart to keep it going
“What can I do?” I demanded. I’d been hovering but I wanted to help save my sister’s life. Ian was cutting open her stomach
“Keep her breathing by blowing air into her lungs,” Beth ordered. I moved swiftly over to the body of my sister. Ian was tearing through some kind of bulge with his teeth, it sounded like metal being shredded into pieces. I shook my head and bent over my sister’s face. I put my mouth to hers and blew air into her. Beth carried on her pounding of Will’s heart. I blew more air in every time Beth paused what she was doing.
Don’t die I begged please, Will. Please, sister, please don’t die. Suddenly she coughed and her eyes scanned around. They found me before looking around again and stopped on Ian. It was then I noticed that Beth was smiling at him and the strange shredding metal sound had stopped. I glanced over at him and blinked stunned at the small, beautiful person in his arms. I smiled too and glanced down at Will
“Faith Coriander, sis. A perfect name for your breathtaking daughter,” I laughed softly stroking the hair back from my sister’s face, “She looks like her Momma.” Will smiled weakly before falling unconscious again. Beth took my niece from Ian and he set to work. He bit her in several places
“Is she going to be alright?” I faltered
“Yes,” he responded when he was finished. He turned to me, his face grim. “Are you ready?” It took me a minute before I could comprehend the meaning of his question
“You mean..? Now?” I stuttered
“It is the best idea. When she awakes, she’ll have little control and if you are still full human when she wakes you will be most at risk since you are the most tempting target,” Ian looked at me apologetically
“Alright,” I said, “Hold on.” I turned to my sister resting my hand on her disheveled, beautiful face. A second later I screamed stumbling back. I held back more screams. “She’s beginning to burn and I can feel it through our blood-tie,” I gasped in explanation, “She is strong and so holds back her screams.” I took a deep breath.
Will? I pushed myself into her head
Yes she responded very faintly
Stay strong, Night. I love you
I love you too, sis. I ducked my head and kissed her forehead.
“I’m ready now,” I said to Ian. He nodded, scooped up Will and carried her to their bedroom. He changed her out of her bloody clothes into clean ones, kissed her then followed me to my room. I lay on my bed and closed my eyes. I refrained from crying out as he bit me. It took a few minutes before the burning began. I wanted to scream and thrash as it spread throughout my body but I was distantly aware of my sister’s struggle. We’d had it impressed upon us over and over that it was the worse pain imaginable the endless, excruciating burn but we hadn’t known that it would be twice as bad for us because the pain was doubled as we experienced our own and each other’s burning. My sister was managing to remain silent through the agony. I admired that greatly. Sometimes I looked up to her like she was the older one. I wanted to do her proud and so took some of my sister’s strength to remain silent myself.
Together, my sister and I burned.
“How much longer do you think?” I heard Ian ask Tom anxiously. I focused hard on every sound Ian made; his breathing, his voice, the shifting of his body and it made the burning just a little more bearable
“Hard to say exactly but not long.” Someone – Ian – took my free hand. The other was gripping Fran’s. Somehow I’d managed to ask they bring her to me without screaming. I’d asked this so we could at least comfort each other as we burned silently. I could hear my heart beating frantically and Fran’s was too.
I don’t know how much time passed but suddenly I could feel Fran’s burning begin to retreat. Her heart picked up speed, I felt her body move. Then her heart stuttered to a stop. There was no sound other than my ragged breathing, too fast heartbeat and the breathing and fast heart of a small person
“Frances?” Beth said tentatively
“Their heartbeats,” Fran whispered in a new yet recognizable sing-song voice, “I… I want…”
“Come here, Frances,” Beth soothed yet coaxed her, “Tom and I’ll take you hunting. Come on now before you hurt anyone”
“Okay,” Fran breathed. I felt her get off the bed and heard her move over to Bethy. “Is Will alright? How come she hasn’t changed yet? After all she was bitten first”
“It varies; the time of the burning,” Ian murmured from close by, “Go hunt now, Frances, Will wouldn’t want you hurting and she wouldn’t want you endangering our daughter.” So that was the small thrumming heartbeat I could hear. I listened as they all but Ian and my… my daughter left to hunt. It was about two hours later when the burning began to gradually retreat from my hands and feet. My heart picked up speed as the burning in my chest got hotter and hotter. My chest rose off the bed before slumping and my heart beat its last.
I opened my eyes and truly saw the world for the first time. Everything was clear and defined. I could see every miniscule detail, smell every scent, taste the flavors in the air and hear the quietest sounds. The first thing I saw was Ian’s face, anxious, above me. The first thing I heard in my new body was the beating heart of my daughter. I could smell both of them. Ian smelled of the outdoors; a mix of freshly cut grass, the rain and the sun. My daughter while she smelled deliciously of food she also smelled like vamps. I found resisting her blood very easy. I pulled myself into a sitting position on the bed and spotted her in the corner. Ian had a firm hold of my hand. I gasped at the sight of Faith
“How long was I burning?” I asked quietly in a musical voice
“Two and a half days,” Ian answered promptly. I’d known what to expect but it was still a shock. My daughter was sitting on the floor gazing at me curiously. She looked weeks, possibly months, old. Faith was supporting her own torso. What was really shocking was Fran hadn’t been exaggerating; she was the spitting image of me… as I’d been in the years before finding out the truth. She had my old emerald green eyes and the same bronze hair I’d had before it’d darkened. It had natural streaks of black in it, though, from Ian. Other than her forehead matching Ian’s everything else was me. She had my nose, my mouth and my cheeks. She was utterly unique though and even more beautiful than her father. Faith Coriander O’Callaghan; my daughter. Faith smiled at me and Ian chuckled. I glanced at him and he nodded encouragingly. I darted off the bed with Ian close behind me. Faith reached for me as I approached and I bent to pick her up. I hugged her close and pressed my lips to her forehead
“Hello Faith, my baby,” I said quietly. I smiled at Ian and he smiled back. Faith played with my hair as her papa kissed me softly. Ian took my hand and I carried Faith to the lounge. We sat on the sofa. Faith crawled on my lap and I held her to my chest. Ian sat by my side and put his arms around both of us, hugging us close to him. After a while, my daughter drifted to sleep.
The other vamps returned from hunting. They smiled at us. Ian and I rose being careful not to wake Faith. I handed her to Bethy and gently hugged Frannie. I was relieved, my thirst was getting unbearable. I took my husband’s hand, “Let’s go hunt, Ian,” he smiled and nodded
“You haven’t hunted yet?” Beth was stunned
“Who’d keep an eye on Faith? I wouldn’t put her at risk while I hunt for the first time,” I responded
“We’ll take her tomorrow. That monkey loves to hunt,” Tom said grinning affectionately at the sleeping girl. I chuckled softly and ran out the door with Ian to hunt for animals.
Hunting was thrilling and it seemed I had a flair for it. I was a clean hunter. I had a play fight with Ian before returning home. Ian liked to play with his food and his shirt was torn and bloody. I’d rolled my eyes at him (it seems becoming a vamp didn’t kill that habit). I’d held Faith for a while before slipping with my Ian to our room.
The thrill of the hunt, the happiness I was feeling, the love I held for my family and theirs for me, the completion I felt; it made me feel like I was still alive. Somehow, though, I knew it was to be short-lived and that my life would be thrown into turmoil.
Just then, however, I didn’t care.