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Committing to marry Travis was no problem. After all, he was a doctor, he was as sarcastic as I was. He liked playing darts, drinking tequila and watching burlesque with me at Dita’s. His impressive resumé also included being an animal in the sack, incredible tidiness (a must for me), kindness, ohmigod hotness and, the best part, he was as crazy in love with me as I was with him. It also helped that he didn’t care that I wasn’t human.
I didn’t hesitate to say yes when he asked me to marry him, I loved that we got married in a no-muss-no-fuss ceremony at the Justice of the Peace and had the reception at Dita’s, both of us dying laughing watching our family dancing with the performing troupe.
Travis didn’t mind that my super-cool vampire power wasn’t actually super-cool – most vampires became amazingly hot or really strong or fast or persuasive, but everyone changed somehow due to their DNA. No, according to the manual, I got attention to detail as my power. Great for my job as an accountant, awesome to balance our chequebook, not what I would exactly call sexy. But he didn’t care, just like he never pushed me to turn him. He got it, he read the newspapers just like I did, he knew how complicated vampire divorce was. It made my head spin just thinking about it and that was saying something. Staying together for a human lifespan was hard enough, for vampires it was almost impossible.
It’s not like I was a hundred years old or anything, I had chosen to turn once I was 19 (the grand finale for my adolescent rebellion). Everything was already a matter of state law before I was even born anyway, thanks to the Equal Rights for Non-Humans Movement. No, Travis and I were actually the same age when we got married, even if we didn’t look it. Our private joke was that he got to have a wife with the young looks of a third wife and the brain of a first wife.
We had been married for ten years and I was blowing out candles on my 35th birthday cake (which I still insisted on, even if I didn’t eat more than a teaspoon of it) and I realised my wish was actually to spend the rest of my actual life together with him. Naturally, I reacted awesomely to this revelation by hyperventilating, which is really embarrassing when you don’t even need to breathe any more. I refused to talk about it for a week, trying to play it off as a panic attack, which he wasn’t buying at all, but he left me alone about it. Finally, I got up the nerve to ask him and he smiled his gorgeous smile and said yes, of course.
When his number came up in the lottery, I quickly realised a lot had changed in the 16 years since I had been made a vampire. We needed a pre-immortality pre-nup to try to keep the red tape to a minimum in case things didn’t work out. Definitely more testing, I had to give blood work as well as complete an exam to demonstrate that I wasn’t a sociopath or anything. The county needed references, my W2, and of course our lawyer needed to witness the document asserting that I would be Travis’s legal guardian for a period of five years (which of course caused me to heckle him endlessly). I glided through all of this effortlessly, right up until I was informed of the change in procedure in the actual … well, procedure.
‘Don’t we just put him under at the hospital and the council witnesses it?’ I asked in confusion at the Office of Non-Human Affairs.
The Liason to the Office of the Council of Vampire Affairs for our county looked down her nose through her glasses at me. ‘You could do it that way,’ she said primly. ‘Of course we advocate for a more natural approach now. Studies have shown it’s much better for –’ she glanced down at her paper ‘– Travis. A quicker recovery time, a better bond between you and he …’
I ran my tongue over my incisors, another nervous habit I had acquired over the years, catching myself before I drew blood. ‘Natural?’
‘Yes, we find it’s best that you do the exchange post-coitus in situations involving parties with romantic involvement,’ she said, matter-of-factly.
Travis laughed under his breath so I quickly stepped on his foot to shut him up. ‘Like, the council, um, will …’
‘Watch the entire process? Of course, dear.’
The blood drained from my face and pooled in my stomach. ‘The entire process?’ I said faintly.
Gwennan Thomas has twenty years’ experience as a writer and editor in the book and magazine publishing business. Mentored by Xcite author and editor-in-chief Elizabeth Coldwell, she started out as a regular contributor to Erotic Stories magazine, and co-founded the Guild of Erotic Writers. She previously worked on the original Black Lace and Nexus imprints and joined Xcite as an editor in summer 2012.