"I think we should wait a while...until we get married."
I slowly glanced up at Shane, watching his reaction to my words and silently praying that he would understand. We were sprawled out on the couch, arms wrapped around one another, barely paying any attention to the television playing quietly. Only three days had passed since my visit to the laboratory and Myrnin had already begun conducting tests, taking blood samples as a starter, much to Shane's displeasure.
There wasn't many answers yet apart from a few details; Shane would have the lifespan of a normal vampire and it would be very difficult to kill him, his skin didn't react to the sun as harshly and he only craved blood a few times every few weeks. I didn't care, just grateful to have him with me again. It didn't matter to me that Shane was a half-vampire and after all, he had accepted me as a vampire back when I had turned despite his deep hatred for them.
But ever since Myrnin had started his experiments and research, Shane was constantly in a bad mood although he seemed slightly better when we were together. Right now, he was lazily tracing patterns on my arm, occasionally pressing kisses to my head. I cherished these kind of moments, revelling in them. They made me forget the past and made it easier to put it behind me where it belonged.
"You...you're not having second thoughts are you?" Shane murmured, the hand on my arm becoming still for a moment before he started the gentle ministrations again.
"No! No...of course not. I just think that we both need some time...to get back to normal...or as close to what it was like before..."
"Yeah...but I don't think life will ever be the same now...I guess that's what makes it more exciting...not knowing." He spoke quietly, pulling me back against his chest even closer.
I squirmed in his arms until I turned around so that I faced him, one hand tangling in his ruffled hair, the other wrapping around his neck. He grinned and tangled our legs together, holding me close again, lips finding mine. When we pulled away, I sighed lightly with content, engraving the memory into my mind so I could remember what I was living for now if I were to ever relapse. A shock danced up my spine as a warm touch was pressed to my wrist, the place where my scars would have been if it were not for my skin which could heal so effectively.
Remembering brief flashes of the reason behind the scars, I jerked and pulled my hand away, biting my lip to prevent the protests from escaping my mouth. The light touches only served to make it harder to forget what I had done to myself not so long ago. I was grateful that my skin had healed and didn't show the reminders of the pain that I had felt. But it was as if they were still there, only hidden.
Shane gently grasped my chin and turned my head until he was staring straight into my eyes and I watched slightly confused and with discomfort when he lowered his lips to my wrist again, placing delicate kisses along my pale skin.
"Shane...don't..." I whispered, pleading with my eyes. I didn't want remember that pain.
"Claire...just promise me one thing...please, don't ever hurt yourself like that again."
A tear escaped the corner of my eye and trickled down my cheek and I pulled in a shaky breath, feeling the air whistling through my lungs. Slowly, I nodded my head and Shane released my wrist, wrapping his arms around me once more to pull me against his warm, solid body. Warm. He was still warm but not as much as when he had been completely human. There wasn't many differences in his body or behaviour apart from a few minor changes. His skin was only slightly paler than before but not a major difference in the complexion.
The tiny flecks of crimson surrounding the pupil of his eyes could only be seen up close and with a vampire's eyes. I knew that he preferred to keep his fangs hidden away. It must have been hell for him...becoming a creature which he despised with every fibre of his being apart from the few exceptions like myself and Michael. Shane had accepted us and still loved us despite the change we both went through, albeit for different reasons. But for Shane to have to accept himself and as a half-vampire...he was the one who needed me now.
"I love you." I said, leaning forward to kiss him, lingering for a while longer.
"I love you too." Shane replied, returning the kiss, smiling against my lips and I couldn't help but smile in return, feeling so grateful and just completely happy that this was real and everything seemed to be falling back into place like the way it had been before.
A few hours had passed and we had remained on the couch, still embracing tightly and stealing kisses here and there. The television droned on in the background, the only other sound in the house. Eve and Michael were both working respectively and it would be a while more until they returned home. It was nice, just the two of them together in the house. The rain had finally disappeared and the sun was shining brightly in the cloudless sky, so there wasn't much that they could do apart from staying in the house and away from the dangerous rays.
Apparently, the sun could be potentially harmful to Shane as well although if he was exposed, it would only be a very painful sunburn or in the worst case scenario, minor burns. Fortunately, it wouldn't be fatal if he was under the sun's rays for a prolonged period of time but it would be ideal to avoid doing so. We were still learning about him and I knew that the experiments would last for another couple of weeks until Myrnin had gathered enough information and it was clear that he loved to aggravate Shane each time. I just hoped that the experimentation was almost complete.
My thoughts were interrupted by the loud ringtone of my phone on the coffee table, the shrill sound echoing around the room. I wiggled out of Shane's grasp, only to have him grab me and pull me against his chest again. A very undignified squeal burst from my lips and I barely remembered to control my movements, knowing that I could easily hurt him.
"Shane, let go!" I laughed, reaching my hand outwards for the phone. My fingers wrapped around the device and I hurriedly clicked the button, forgetting to check the caller ID but not thinking anything of it. However, when I heard a familiar voice quietly say my name, my entire body froze and the greeting died on my tongue.
At that, Shane immediately released me and we both sat up on the couch. I breathed deeply before speaking, suddenly feeling very nervous and unsure. The last time that I had communicated with my parents was not a pleasant memory and I wouldn't ever forget their fear towards me.
"Uhm...hi." I mumbled pathetically.
"Claire...it's good to hear your voice again. I heard that you've gotten better recently. Amelie explained everything to your father and I over the phone. I'm so relieved...I hope that Shane is well...although, it is...difficult to understand."
Blinking slowly and allowing the words to register in my mind, I sucked in a breath and although unnecessary, it was more of a way to give me a moment to think of a response. "Yeah...I-I'm sorry. For everything...but I'm doing better now. Uhm...how have you been? Is dad alright?"
"We're fine, sweetheart. When I found out that you're recovering, it's been easier. Your father is still a little shocked and hurt...he just needs some time."
"I never wanted to hurt you...I'm so sorry." I whispered, tears welling in my eyes. Shane reached over and wrapped an arm around my waist, resting his head atop mine, gently kissing my temple. I leaned into him, his warmth and comfort, silently thanking him for being there. I focused on the sound of my mother's voice, realising just how much I had missed it and how much I missed my parents after everything. They had tried to help me but I had only pushed them away when I needed them the most.
"Ssh...Claire, it's not your fault. We understand, I know you would never want to hurt us. It's all in the past now, you just need to get better and focus on your future. Promise me, you'll do that much for us? Claire, your father and I will always love you, no matter what. You're our precious daughter and nothing will change that."
I felt the salty tears trail down my face, but my lips formed a small smile and my heart felt as though it would burst in my chest from the words. They still loved me even after all that I'd done. My parents would remain a part of my life. Knowing how much I needed both of them and having the reassurance that they would be there, that gave me strength. The strength that I would need to cope and move on.
"I love you too...always. And I promise."
"Honey, I'm proud of you. You're so strong yet you don't seem to realise that. But we're here for you and I know you have your friends, and Shane with you. You'll be just fine."
"Thank you...you and dad should visit soon."
"We will, very soon. But I want you to call me in a few days...keep me updated on the engagement." She answered, laughing lightly at the end.
"The engage-b-but...how did you know!?" I asked, eyes widening and I pouted when Shane chuckled beside me, clearly able to hear the conversation.
"Well your friends also spoke to us with Amelie, to help explain a few things and we found out. But it doesn't matter, dear. We're very happy for you...although, your father wasn't too pleased at first. He doesn't want you rushing into anything but I suppose it can't be helped. Nothing will keep you two apart."
I glanced over at Shane with a smile which he returned, while wiping the tear stains from my face and placing a soft kiss to my skin. "No, it won't. I know that I belong with Shane. I-I'm glad that you're not angry about my decision."
"It's your life and all I want is for you to be happy. Oh...I better go make for dinner! I'll talk to you very soon, sweetheart. We love you!"
"I love you too...bye." I said, hearing a click and the tone, signalling that the call had ended.
I slowly placed the phone back onto the coffee table and sat back against the plush cushions on the couch, suddenly feeling overwhelmed at how much support I actually had, not just from my family but from my friends and of course, Shane. Even Amelie was on my side. I wanted to recover, not only for all of them but for myself. To prove that I could overcome the demons inside my head and not allow them to control me any longer.
Everything seemed to be falling back into place now. Those that had hurt and destroyed me were gone, never to come back. My family and friends were there for me, Shane was here and he would always be there. We had made a promise to each other, the ring symbolising that as well as our love. I was learning to control the demons inside of me and hopefully, I would be able to make them disappear one day. Shane's half-vampirism was going to be kept a secret inside Morganville and Amelie had sworn that we had nothing to worry about now.
We could live in peace, eventually getting married and having our own home. But we could plan all of that on another day. Right now, I just wanted to be apart of the relatively normal lifestyle that we had once lived before and were creating again. For the first time in a long while, I felt happy.
It was a simple way to describe it but it was true. I felt like myself again. With a content sigh, I turned to Shane and leaned into him, hugging him tightly. He laughed and kissed my forehead, winding his arms around my waist and pulled me across the couch until I sat comfortably in his lap. I tangled my fingers in his dark hair, feeling the softness of the strands against my skin. His scent filled my senses, wrapping around me and I kissed him, savouring everything. The taste of his lips, his breath, his touch. Now that he was back, I wasn't going to let him go.
"Mhm...I love you so much." I whispered, forehead against his, lips barely brushing his own.
Smiling, he kissed the tip of my nose and laughed when I scrunched it in protest, the sound echoing around us. "I love you too." He murmured softly, grasping my hand and pressing a kiss to my ring. I smiled in return, leaning against his chest, one hand gripping the fabric of his shirt, the other remaining intertwined with his and lay my head into the crook of his neck. Shane hummed happily in response, holding me close.
"We should probably go make dinner..." I mumbled, my voice muffled slightly. I didn't want to move away from the position we were in but Eve and Michael would be home soon and I could tell that the sun was beginning to set, the small gap in the curtain indicating so. Luckily, the rays couldn't reach us where we were situated in the living room. Shane groaned, only embracing me tighter in his arms, sinking back into the cushions.
"Give me a few minutes...I want to stay here, like this a while longer."
With the softest of sighs, I gave in and cuddled as close as possible to him. I preferred doing this much more anyway, so dinner could wait. This is exactly what I had wanted to return to and it was real, it was happening. Shane would never know just how grateful that I was to have him, but we had a long life ahead of us and I could prove it to him. Slowly, I closed my eyes and listened to the heartbeat underneath my palm. The insanity that had plagued me was under my control now and it would remain that way for as long as I existed.
I silently made that promise to myself, while the sun set on another day in Morganville.
A/N: I can't believe I'm finished writing this...it was my first major project and I know there was a large gap in between updating, but I finally completed it. I'm still shocked and slightly overwhelmed by the response this story got and I am so so so grateful for every single review, follow, favourite, anything and everything that you all gave in support. It really means a lot to me!
Thank you so much everyone and I really hope you enjoyed this story.
Whenever I get a chance and when I'm not working on other projects, I will be doing a clean-up on this particular one...I'll go back and edit some chapters to make them better and fix anything which needs it. There won't be any major changes but I just want to bring it up to standard.
Thank you again everyone! Drop one last review?