I’d had a phone call from Serena. She’d sounded upset and she was close to giving birth but she wouldn’t say what was wrong. I wondered what had happened with Serena. Did she lose the baby? Had something happened to one of the girls? Had the social worker been? I quickened my pace.

When Serena opened the door it was obvious she was no longer pregnant and that she’d been crying. I came in and shut the door. “What’s wrong? Did you have the baby? Where is it?” She nodded and just stared at the floor. “What? Serena!” “It’s another girl.” My heart sank. Five girls. I’d been “blessed” with five daughters and not one son. I hugged Serena to hide my disappointment. “I’m sorry” she mumbled into my shoulder. “It’s not your fault.” She pulled away and looked at me, distressed. I stroked a tear away from her cheek and kissed her gently. “Where is she? What did you name her?” In response Serena led the way upstairs to the crib. She stood aside so I could see the sleeping baby girl. “Her name’s Amphyra.” I was impressed. Serena could be relied upon to come up with an interesting or different name. I wondered what Serena’s family background was. I stroked the baby’s cheek. Serena stifled a sob. I looked up to see tears falling again. I guided her out of the room so she wouldn’t wake the baby and into the bedroom. I sat her down on the bed and held her. “It’s ok Serena. I’m sorry I’ve put you through this.” “I’ve failed you. All this time you wanted a son and all I can produce is another daughter.” “No. It’s not so much having a son as having a child that looked like me…” I hesitated. What I’d just said sounded so vain. I looked at Serena. “You know I’m half vampire?” Her eyes widened but she gave a faint nod “I’d heard… rumours”. I said nothing, not knowing what to say. “That’s why you have interesting eyes” she said and smiled. I smiled back. I guess it was the eyes that I wanted to see in my children. Marla had big eyes and so did her daughters. Serena’s daughters looked like her. None of my five children looked like me at all. “Maybe Amphyra will.” Serena said, as if reading my mind. It was always hard to tell with babies. But I had my mother’s eyes – the eyes of a vampire.

I’d managed to convince Marla on the phone that I was needed at work overnight. I hated lying to her but Serena and I needed to talk. We lay in bed touching silently. Then Serena asked “Would you ever leave her for me?” “She’s my wife.” I said without thinking. “So?” “So I made vows to her.” Serena pushed me away and turned her back to me. “Serena.” “So I’m destined to just be your not-so-secret mistress, the mother of your illegitimate children? I’m going to grow old here just feeding the mouths of your babies.” “No!” “Then?” She turned back to face me. “What? What am I to you? What do you want of me other than children and a place to escape your other family?” I could think of nothing to say. I deserved her anger. I loved Serena and yet… I went back over what she said “’Not-so-secret lover’? What do you mean?” I felt a chill up my back. If Marla… “At least one person suspects that my children are yours” Serena replied. “Who?” “Alex Lillard” “How do you know?” “He was here, across the road, watching us” “What? What was he doing?” “I told you – just standing there watching us. He knew I saw him. The look on his face… he suspects.” This was bad news. Marla’s ex-husband, Alex, still kept in touch with Marla. At any time he could voice his suspicions to Marla. “Shit.” “You can’t keep us a secret, Damien…. You’ll have to tell her.” “I don’t want to hurt her.” “What about me?!” Serena raised her voice. “Shh!” She lowered it to an angry whisper “What about me? What about my hurt? You say you love me but what does that mean? How do I benefit? What am I getting out of all this? I barely see you!”. I lay back and stared at the ceiling. I honestly didn’t know what to say because I didn’t know what to do. I wanted… I wanted to be with Serena, I now realised. It was true I didn’t want to hurt Marla – Marla who loved me so deeply. If I had never met Serena I would have been happy. But Serena…. I turned to look at her. She was watching me with her dark eyes. My heart contracted…

Later Serena had tears in her eyes. “Serena” I whispered, stroking her face. “I love you, Damien. God help me.” “I love you too… I’m so sorry.” I lay on my side looking at her lovely face. “I want you very much.” “Then leave her! None of us are getting any younger. I don’t want to be old and alone.” “I can’t leave Marla old and alone either.” “Godammit, Damien! Who do you love more? You said you want me – prove it! Prove it in more than just sex!” It was true I was getting old…

It was then I had thought. “Damien?” Serena had seen it in my face. I was still thinking it through but I turned and voiced my thoughts. “I was thinking… have you heard of the elixir?” “No. What’s that?” “It’s a green potion that can make you younger. I’ve seen it.” “What? Where?” “At a client’s place.” Serena gasped “Who? Is it someone I know?” “No. No, it was in an attic…” “How do you know what it was?” “I’ve heard about it. You can only use it if you’re happy… Serena… if I can get this elixir, we can both use it and…” Another thought had just occurred to me. “And what? Damien?” I was half-vampire. “If… if I were a vampire…” “Damien?” Serena looked shocked. “What.. what are you thinking?” I looked at her. “I want you, as you are now, for a long time. We’re both getting older. I don’t want to be old any more than you do. But if..” We were both silent for a moment, taking it in. “You want to be a vampire?” I studied her expression of shock while deciding on my reply. “Yes.” Serena looked scared. “Damien… I” I kissed her lips before she said anything more. “I have a plan, sort of.” “Damien, if we used this elixir you wouldn’t need… I don’t..” “Serena, the elixir can’t be used indefinitely, as far as I know. This way we could be together forever, watching our daughters grow and marry and have children, being there for them, for their children and grandchildren.” Serena looked horrified. “It scares me, Damien. I don’t understand your plan. What about Marla? Are you going to wait for her to die before being with me? Are you going to turn into a vampire tomorrow? What? I don’t understand.” I sighed, suddenly feeling tired and fell back on the bed. “I need to think about the details. I can’t just turn into a vampire. I have to find one.” I looked at Serena, still with a shocked expression on her face. “It’s ok. Don’t be scared. We’ll talk about it later. Right now I need to sleep.” In fact I just needed silence so I could think.

In the morning once the girls had gone to school and the baby was asleep in the crib, Serena confronted me. “You weren’t serious were you?” “Last night? Yes.” “But… how? When?” I led her to the sofa and sat down. “I’m not planning on this happening immediately. First we need the elixir.” “But..” “Just listen. We need the elixir to stop ageing – to give us time to.. to do the rest.” Serena looked baffled. “We’ll have to wait until our youngest child has left home and then..” “So I have to wait another 18 years before I can have you?” “No.” I’d thought about it early that morning. “I thought it best to wait until Romania has left home before I…” it hurt to say it “before I leave Marla.” “How long?” Serena asked. I shrugged “Six years”. “Six years?.. I have to live alone for another six years? Why? Why not get it over with now? Just leave her now – why let it drag on? Damien, I need you here.” I said nothing. I wasn’t ready to leave Marla now. I wasn’t ready to break the hearts of my wife and child at home. Demonica would have a life of her own – it wouldn’t affect her so much, but Romania – she was still so young. I tried to explain that to Serena but she got angry again. “Serena, please, just give me some time.” “Hmph” I tried to hug her but she pushed me away and then the baby cried.

When she came back downstairs I got up to go. “You’re leaving?” “I have to get back. I told Marla I’d be home this morning.” Serena still looked angry. “I’m not sure I can deal with this, Damien.” “What do you mean?” “Seeing you maybe once every six months.” “Serena, I promise I’ll come and see you as often as I can. I need to sort a few things out, plan ahead.” I held her to me. “Promise me you’ll be patient. Please” I looked into her eyes. “I love you and want to be with you but I need to make plans – I need..” she was shaking her head. Serena pulled away. “I’ll be patient, Damien, but only for a short time. I’ll give you six months to decide.” “And then?” “And then… I’ll have to leave Veronaville.” “No! Serena, no! I don’t want to lose you!” “Then make a wise decision, Damien. Don’t hurt me any longer.” She was serious. The fear of losing her was real. I nodded slowly, then left. I walked back home with so many thoughts in my head. Before I could decide anything, I had to get some elixir. Then I had to find a vampire.