WARNING: This chapter contains nothing bad! lol
Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. Linley grew like any normal baby would. Allanna had a lot of fun decorating the second bedroom, converting it into a nursery. They bought a crib, baby swing, toys, high chair, stroller, and all kinds of cute objects to spice the room up. Xavier’s money really helped them out. In fact, he finally confided in Allanna that he had enough money to last a lifetime. Allanna wouldn’t have to work unless she wanted to.
Normally she’d want to work just to keep herself occupied, but she had no college education and the only job she’d ever had was at the Stop and Shop in Duskwood, and that manager would hardly give her a good reference. Instead, she was content spending her time bonding with her daughter.
One of the best parts about Linley being only half vampire was that her skin wasn't extra sensitive to sunlight. Allanna was able to take her for strolls with no hassles regarding burning skin. Linley seemed to really enjoy this.
There was, however, quite a big problem with Linley. Because she was half vampire, she inherited the worst part about her father – she craved blood. She drank breast milk as well, but Xavier knew that she also needed blood. And he was the only one who could get it for her.
“Why can’t we just use animal blood?” Allanna demanded one day. “People are going to get suspicious if bodies keep piling up. It’s not easy keeping you both fed.”
“I don’t know what else to do,” Xavier replied. “We need it to survive. I can live off animal blood, but Linley needs human blood to stay strong. She’s too young and weak to live on animal blood. Besides, I don’t…”
“I don’t feel comfortable drinking animal blood.”
“Why the hell not? I hunt animals.”
“Wolves hunt animals in the wild. Vampires were always created to drink human blood. But that’s not why I’m uncomfortable.”
Xavier sighed before confessing, “Whenever I drink an animal’s blood, it feels like, in a way, it could be you. I know I’m not drinking wolf blood, but it just doesn’t feel right.”
“Well, you have to do better than that.”
“Maybe we can come up with some sort of compromise.”
“Well, maybe I can still obtain human blood, but instead of choosing the targets that smell the best, what if I only drank the blood of criminals?”
“They’re still human, and if all the criminals in town start disappearing, someone will notice. There has to be another way.”
“Well, the only other option I can think of is robbing the blood bank. And that’s very risky.”
Allanna pondered this. Blood banks were used to store blood donated by humans in the event of a needed blood transfusion. Still, they were safe, clean, and less noticeable to acquire…
“Allanna,” Xavier cut into her thoughts, “I don’t know about that. It’s very risky.”
“It can’t be more risky than killing people in public, even if you’re in the shadows. Please, can’t we give it a try?”
Xavier sighed. “I suppose, but keep in mind that it might not work.”
Just then, Linley woke up from her nap with a shrill cry. Allanna hurried to the nursery while Xavier looked heavenward, hoping that this plan would work.
When it got dark, Xavier left the apartment and headed toward the blood bank. He made it in without any problems, and made it out the same way. He was amazed at how easy it was. He’d grabbed as many bags as he could carry, and hopefully it wasn’t so many that anyone would notice they were missing. He even wore gloves to ensure that his fingerprints wouldn't be left behind.
Once he got back to the apartment, he poured some of the blood into a baby bottle and carried it to the nursery. Allanna was holding Linley in the chair and she looked up when she heard her husband approaching.
“You did it?” she asked.
“Yes, and it was surprisingly easy.”
“Good. Here, let me have that so I can feed her.”
“Actually, if you don’t mind, I’d like to feed her this time.”
“Okay, as long as you don’t go into a rampage because you smell it.”
“No, I’ve lived long enough to become accustomed to it. I’ll be fine.”
Allanna handed their daughter over to Xavier, who cradled her in one arm and inserted the bottle into her mouth with the other.
Linley eagerly drank the contents of the bottle. When Xavier pulled it away, she began to fuss. He was unable to read her mind, since she wasn't able to formulate words, but he could see pictures in her head of what she desired. And what she desired was more blood to drink.
"I wonder if she'll turn into a wolf like me," Allanna pondered out loud as Xavier returned the bottle to their daughter's mouth. "She hasn't yet, but for us, kids don't start to shift into wolves until they're older. It usually happens when they're between eight and ten."
"I have no idea if she'll be able to transform," Xavier replied as Linley finished up her drink. "I can read minds, but I can't see the future."
"So there isn't a vampire in real life that could be like Alice Cullen?"
"No, thankfully. That would drive me insane."
"Imagine how the rest of us would feel, vampires that could see our futures. That would be even creepier than vampires who can read minds."
Xavier let out a chuckle before he noticed that Linley's eyes were drifting closed. Drinking blood seemed to make her tired, so he placed her in her crib and went back into the living room with Allanna.
As they sat on the couch together, Allanna finally confessed, "Xavier, I'm worried."
"I'm surprised you haven't read my mind to figure that out. I mean, from our families' point of view, this whole thing we have together is forbidden. You and I fell in love, and we had a baby. To them, Linley is some sort of monstrous half breed."
"I've been hearing you think such things, but I didn't want to bring them up to you. I didn't want to upset you. But I understand where you're coming from."
"Her very existence is basically illegal, what if..."
"Never. I'll never let anything happen to her. They won't touch her."
With that, Xavier pulled Allanna toward him to plant a reassuring kiss on her tender lips. That kiss made her feel safer and less concerned for Linley's safety. She only hoped it would last.
One year later...
As Linley grew, so did her appetite for blood. She was now a full year old, but her appetite didn't cease. If anything, it got worse. Allanna was concerned that their daughter would be too reliant on blood, but Xavier assured her that this was normal.
"Baby vampires," he explained patiently, "need more blood than adult vampires, simply because they're weaker. They rely on it to grow. But I had younger siblings, and by the time they were two, they were practically weaned off of it. I'm sure that'll be the case for Linley, maybe sooner considering she's only half vampire."
"I'm just so worried," Allanna replied skeptically. "It's so risky for you to keep going to that blood bank, and if she's only half vampire, why wouldn't her appetite be smaller?"
"Actually, compared to full vampire babies, her appetite is small."
"Now that's just scary. How do you guys manage?"
"It varies depending on the parents. But the most common method is to find prey and allow the baby to feed on it."
"I thought you'd say that."
Allanna just rolled her eyes. She was glad that Linley's cravings would eventually decline, but there was so little she knew about babies in general, let alone one with both werewolf and vampire blood in her. She was grateful to have Xavier's mind reading ability; without him, she'd probably go mad trying to figure out if Linley wanted blood or beef.
As if on cue, Linley began to fuss, demanding to be let out of her crib. Xavier and Allanna had both deciphered her various cries, even without Xavier's ability to read her mind. Linley simply wanted let out to play.
Allanna placed Linley on the floor, and she immediately toddled over to one of her many toys. Because she was so strong, she was able to develop both mobile and cognitive skills faster. She'd begun to speak, was almost potty trained, and could already walk. She truly was one in a million.
"There's a very special occasion coming up," Xavier said with blatant eagerness in his voice. Allanna's face broke into a grin and she said, "I know. Our anniversary is next week."
"The celebration of us being married for one year."
"I still need to find you a present. Which isn't easy to do, by the way, with you reading my mind."
"My apologies. Maybe you should take Linley for a stroll one day and get something for me then."
"That's the problem, I'm not sure what you want. And I can't think about it because it'll spoil the surprise."
"Oh, don't worry. I don't expect anything other than your love. But I must confess that I got you something."
"Oh, Xavier, you shouldn't have. Now I have to get you something."
"Not at all. I got you a gift because I wanted to. I felt no obligation to do so, and you shouldn't either. I love you, Allanna, and that's what this gift will symbolize."
With that, Xavier pulled Allanna into a tight embrace, which she returned eagerly. It didn't matter that she and Xavier were born to hate each other, nor did it matter that they were both basically exiled from their original homes. All that mattered was that they were together, and they would be forever.
Still, though it was at the backs of their minds, they tried to force certain unpleasant thoughts away. But unfortunately for them, one of their worst fears would soon become a reality.