Some little boys want to be firemen or astronauts whenthey grow up. From the moment Jacob understood whathis fathers did, he never wanted to do anything but fightdemons. Andrew, Jacob’s father and a vampire, fights demonsbecause it’s a necessity: few others have the strength orskill to kill the strange creatures that started appearing thevery night his son was born. He carries with him someguilt, too, and the suspicion that the magic that madeJacob’s very life possible also opened the way for thedemons. The last thing he wants is for his son to ever jointhis fight and get hurt. As the years pass, however, and Andrew watchesJacob grow up and grow more determined, he slowly hasto accept there’s little he can do to deter his son. It doesn’thelp that Nicholas, Jacob’s other dad and Andrew’sChilde, starts giving Jacob sword-fighting lessons underthe cover of playing, or that Jacob discovers his mother’sdiaries and comes to the same conclusion Andrew didconcerning his origins and the demons’. Through snapshots covering Jacob’s life from birth toadulthood, watch all three members of this unusualfamily change, grow up, and find their place in the world.
Vampires and babies aren’t supposed to go together all that well. And yet… In more than two centuries of existence, he hadn’t had the occasion to hold many children. And yet, holding Jacob felt like the most natural thing in the world. He was so small, so fragile that Andrew expected the fear to rise at any moment that he might hurt his son without meaning to. Instead, it was the very opposite that Andrew felt: he was filled with the complete and all-encompassing determination that he would always do everything in his power to protect Jacob. He would keep him safe and make Cara proud. Maybe, he thought, she would be watching over them. Andrew had never been a religious man, not even when he was human, but now he was willing to believe in the afterlife if only it meant that Cara was still close to them. And Jacob, looking up at him so seriously, sometimes seemed to tell him he already knew all that.
Decades ago, Nicholas betrayed his Sire’s teaching and fed from humans, killing as he did so. He’s finally ready to move from that life and return to his Sire, Andrew, and it all starts with a new diet. Roxanne strode in as though she owned the place.One of these days, he would need to get his keyback; it wouldn’t stop her, but maybe it would beone more clue to her that he meant what he had said.They were done and over. “Ah, damn.” She pushed the door shut behindher and came to him, the heels of her knee-highboots clinking on the wooden floors. Her small nosewas wrinkled, her mouth set on a pout. “I washoping to catch you before dinner. God but thisthing stinks.” She had reached the kitchen and hoisted herselfonto the counter, crossing her legs so that the tip ofher boot pressed against Nicholas’ side. Ignoring her, he took another sip before pointingout, “It doesn’t stink. It’s human blood. Can’t youeven tell the difference?” “I can tell it’s not fresh,” she shot back.
Although Andrew welcomes Nicholas back into his life, the shadow of Jacob’smother, Cara, lingers over them. “She made this,” Andrew said, and while his voice was quiet, Nicholas could still hear the tremor in it. “The last two weeks…she was on bed rest. She had me get an album for her and stickers and things. She spent hours putting this together.” Nicholas didn’t need Andrew to add that he had spent every one of those hours at her side, watching her. It was all too clear in his tone. “Did you look through it?” Andrew asked, his eyes flicking back to Nicholas. Nicholas shook his head once. “That permission I’d ask,” he said, quieter now. “I just thought one day Jacob will want to see what she looked like, and you’ll want to have this close when he asks.” Andrew sighed and leaned his head back until he was looking straight up at the ceiling. His voice held more resignation than Nicholas had ever heard from him—more resignation than he was comfortable hearing. “You always need to have the last word, don’t you?”
Little by little, Nicholas makes Andrew talk about her…until Andrew reveals a lot more than Nicholas expected to hear… “Hey. He’s fine. Perfect little boy.” Andrew blinked, his eyes flickering back to the bed. “Iknow he is, I just…” The fear was still there, darkening Andrew’s eyes, fillinghis scent with a familiar metallic edge that Nicholas wasn’tused to finding in his Sire’s scent. “You just what?” Nicholas asked. “What are you scaredabout?” “You know these…beasts? These demons that have beenappearing everywhere?” Nicholas frowned, wondering why Andrew waschanging the subject. Or was he? “Yeah? What about them?” It was a few seconds before Andrew answered, and whenhe did his voice was pained, the words coming outlaboriously. “The first sighting happened the night Jacobwas born. Just a couple of blocks away from our house. Andthe two regions most affected are the city where he wasborn, and the one where he lives now. I can’t help butwonder—”
With demons attacking so often, Nicholas and Andrew train regularly…and thingssometimes get a little heated… A time always came during their training sessions when the mood changed. They would fight a little harder, a little dirtier, and eventually one of them would be pinned to the floor or to a wall—usually Nicholas, but he really didn’t mind, not when what followed made him forget all about swords or demons. That morning, he managed to catch Andrew by surprise and trip him up. Dropping his sword to the floor, Nicholas threw himself onto Andrew’s back, his hands tightening on Andrew’s wrists on either side of him. His hard cock pressed against Andrew’s ass. He knew better than to believe Andrew would let him do this without clothes on, but for now he arched against Andrew’s ass, in a shadow of the act. “You know, I could make it really good for you,” Nicholas whispered, his lips brushing the back of Andrew’s ear. “You wouldn’t have to do a thing, I’d take care of you.”
Sooner than his dads would like, Jacob gets his first look at demons… Jacob listened hard to hear if Nicholas was comingdown, but soon he became a little bored. He sawsomething in the trashcan that looked funny, so he pulledit out to look at it. It was a newspaper, like Daddy readsometimes. And the thing that Jacob had thought wasfunny was three pictures—but it wasn’t funny at all, nowthat Jacob could see them right. They were pictures of boogiemen, almost like in thescary book with the ogre, but even scarier than that. Therewere three different boogiemen, but they all had horns;one had them on its head, the other on its arms, and thelast one had them all over its body, but smaller. They were really, really scary, and Jacob didn’t want tokeep looking at them, but he couldn’t manage to lookaway either. His fingers wouldn’t move at all. His backfelt cold and wet, and his heart was thumping so hardthat he never noticed Nicholas approaching until he bentdown in front of the opening and looked at Jacob with abig frown.
Although he grows up surrounded by love, Jacob still has questions about his mother. The cover seemed heavy when Andrew flipped it open, revealing the first picture. It had been taken just as Cara’s pregnancy had started to show, and she was beaming as she looked down at her belly, a hand underneath it and a hand on top as though to frame the bump, or maybe keep Jacob safe. A pang of grief rang through Andrew. “She’s my mommy?” Jacob whispered, his little hand rising to the picture but falling again without touching it. “That’s your mom, yes,” Andrew replied. His throat felt tight, but he couldn’t remain silent now. Jacob was waiting for him to say something. He wished he knew what to say. “She’s very pretty,” Jacob said, still as quiet. Andrew pressed a kiss to his temple. “She was, yes. She was the prettiest lady I ever knew.” Jacob’s hand rose again, and this time he brushed the very tip of one finger against Cara’s belly. “She has a baby in her belly like Mrs. Linder?” “She does. And do you know who that baby is?” Jacob turned a questioning gaze up at Andrew. “Me?”
Sometimes Andrew and Nicholas don’t play nice, but Jacob is very good about helping them fix things up. Jacob lay down next to Nicholas, cuddledagainst his side. He threw his arm aroundNicholas’ stomach, and held on to his t-shirt. “Did you say sorry?” Jacob whispered. “Itmakes it all better when you say sorry.” Nicholas sneaked his arm around Jacob andheld him close. “I don’t think sorry is going to beenough.” “But did you try?” Jacob insisted. Nicholas sighed and brushed his fingersthrough Jacob’s hair. “No. But I will. Okay?” Jacob thought about it. It was hard to thinkwhen there were cartoons on the television.Nicholas had changed the channel, and Batmanwas trying to catch the Joker. “You give him a hug, too,” Jacob decided whenit was time for commercials. “Hugs make himhappy.”
Eventually, Jacob wants to learn to fight… and Andrew does not approve. A laugh rose from the first floor, muffled but still recognizable. Jacob’s. Andrew was descending the staircase before he even knew he was moving, following that laugh, and soon Nicholas’ voice. “You shalt not taketh my treasure, ruffian! I shalt run you through with my sword!” Confusion froze Andrew on the last step. It was Nicholas, yes, but where had that ridiculous accent come from? And what were those thumping noises? It sounded almost like— Frowning, Andrew forced himself into motion again. He strode to the training room and pushed the half-closed door open to discover that his fear had materialized. Yes, those muffled thumping sounds were swords clashing together. Foam swords that bent and wavered with each movement, but swords nonetheless. There was a sword in his son’s hand.
Rules sometimes make life go more smoothly, and so does trust. “I know you wouldn’t risk losing all of thisjust for a bite. I just don’t like that you’re goingat all. And I never will. But if you really haveto…” The smallest of smiles flickered on Nicholas’lips. “Why does it sound like the closest thingto a benediction I’m going to get from you?” Andrew crossed the last couple of feet thatseparated them. Raising his right hand, heslipped it to the back of Nicholas’ neck andsqueezed lightly. “Not a benediction, but a promise. I won’t bemad at you when you come back this time.” Nicholas’ smile widened, surprise coloringhis eyes. He didn’t say anything, but the kiss heoffered Andrew before climbing back onto thatbike and leaving spoke volumes.
For a child, there are different kinds of demons… Sam Jones was an idiot. Jacob’s dad always said it wasn’t nice to call people names, but Jacob was only doing it in his head, so it wasn’t too bad. Sam, on the other hand, was calling people names behind their backs, snickering the entire time with his friends. They were idiots too, but only because they thought Sam was funny and smart. At least they didn’t repeat the bad names. They were really bad, ugly names. Jacob wasn’t even sure what they all meant, but he knew they were bad. Bad names about him and his dads, and about Liz and her mommies, and about Louis because he talked funny sometimes, and about Amanda because she was ill and all her hair had fallen out, and other people too, because they were small or big or who even knew why. It didn’t make any sense at all that Sam made fun of everyone. And it was very unfair that he always did it when the teacher couldn’t hear so he wouldn’t get in trouble.
But Jacob learned the rules and he knows not to fight. “You’re proud?” he repeated. “For what? I let him say badthings about you and I let everyone else believe he wasright.” Andrew sat back on his heels and smiled, which confusedJacob even more. “I don’t care what anyone thinks,” he said, speakingslowly like he always did when he was explaining somethingimportant to Jacob. “You and I know the truth, and that’s allthat matters. And I’m proud because you listened. Howmany times have I told you not to get into fights?” Jacob shrugged. “I don’t know. A lot.” “And how much did you want to fight today?” “A lot,” Jacob said again, his anger at Leon reawakening. “But you didn’t.” Andrew was smiling even more widely,now. “You wanted to, but you remembered what I said, andyou didn’t fight. And that’s why I’m proud of you. It’s easyto say bad things about someone like Leon did. And it’s easyto get angry and start a fight. But what you did? Notfighting? That’s a hard thing. And that’s a good thing, son. Ihope you always remember that.”
Some things, however, are harder to learn than others. It was because of what had happened after dinner that Jacob couldn’t go to sleep yet. They’d been decorating the tree when Craig had called for Andrew to go help him. And Andrew hadn’t come back yet, so Jacob couldn’t go to sleep, not even if his eyes felt small and tired. It wasn’t the first time Jacob tried to wait for his dad to come back. Every time he went out at night, Jacob waited, and waited, but he always fell asleep too soon. Not this time, though. This time he wouldn’t fall asleep until his dad returned. This time, he knew that there was a chance, however small, that his dad wouldn’t return. It scared him more than anything else in the world.
Not everyone understands how this family works and one of Jacob’s teachers is concerned... “I understand that you fight demons, and I am gratefulfor your service. But maybe you should consider howyoung Jacob is. Children his age are more fragile than youmight think, especially when it comes to things likedemons, and violence. Our school’s policy is todiscourage any talk about demons so as not to upset thestudents. It’s not just about the story. I also overheard himtell his friend he was learning how to fight with asword…” She let the rest of that sentence hang in the air betweenthem, an eyebrow raised as though to punctuate it. A fewseconds passed in silence as Andrew tried to figure outhow to respond without resorting to a curse word or two.Her implication that he was doing a poor job of raising hisson made him want to bare his fangs, and all he couldhope was that he was keeping a tight enough control onhimself that his eyes wouldn’t flicker to gold and betraywhat he was.
Thanks to a bit of magic, Jacob gets the chance to meet someone very special and askher about his birth… “Hello, baby.” Standing up, he frowned at the woman in front of him, instinctively replying, “I’m not a baby,” before he could even tell who she was. And who she was left him staring, eyes widening as he couldn’t quite believe what he saw. “You…you’re Cara?” Her smile was as soft, as gentle as her smile on the picture he kept in his room. “You can call me Cara if you want. But I think I’d like it better if you called me Mom.” She sounded just like Jacob had imagined all those years, her voice light and musical, and completely different from anyone else’s he had ever heard. “You’re dead,” he blurted out. Her smile wavered. She reached out to brush the bangs out of his eyes with a light touch. “Yes,” she murmured. “Yes I am, baby.” “Stop calling me that. I’m twelve. I’m not a baby.” Jacob had jerked away from the touch and endearment both but he regretted it at once when her features fell for a second before settling on a smile that looked strained. “Twelve?” she repeated, her voice rougher now. “Already twelve.”
As time passes, Andrew gets used to the idea that, despite his wishes, his son might have to truly fight some day… On those nights when the demons killed someone beforethey could be stopped, when Andrew was too tired, too beatdown to be anything but honest with himself, he could admitin the privacy of his own mind that guilt was what kept himfighting. Even if he still tried to convince Jacob that theycouldn’t be certain about it, he had been sure there was a linkbetween Cara’s spell and the apparition of these strangecreatures ever since he read her journal. She talked of tapping into a different source of magic in thatdiary; talked about a different universe, parallel to the one theyknew. What else could she have meant but the place wheredemons came from? Andrew carried the guilt of thatknowledge with him, and he knew Jacob did the same. And on those nights when it was so hard not to push Jacob’sdoor open just a crack to get a glimpse of him sleeping, likeAndrew used to do when he was nothing but a child, there wassomething else Andrew could admit to himself. His son waslike him. And the only way he’d ever exorcize the guilt he feltwas with a sword in his hand.
In some ways, however, Jacob is just a normal teenager… “We can’t get stuff from there.” Andrew looked ahead at the department store, then back at a frowning Jacob. What was going on in his son’s head, and why was it so much harder to understand him, these days? “This is where we always shop,” he said slowly, as cautious as though he were entering dark woods in which demons lurked. Jacob let out an exaggerated sigh. “I know. That’s the problem. That’s where parents take their kids to shop.” Andrew’s expression must have made it clear he didn’t understand what the problem was, because after only a second Jacob added, “I’m in high school, now, Dad. I can’t dress like I’m six anymore.” The words struck Andrew like a two by four to the back of the head. In his mind, sometimes, Jacob was still the bouncing four year old who had made a cape out of an old blanket before running through the house, announcing he would battle all the boogiemen in the world. But here was his son, already a teenager—already in high school.
Nicholas, on the other hand, will never grow up, never cease to tease Andrew… and Andrew wouldn’t have it any other way. “Is that how you ask?” he said, affecting a chiding tone. Nicholas’ silent chuckle shook his entire body. “No, Sire,”he offered in his meekest voice, which nonetheless managedto sound teasing. “May I please have some of the sweetnectar that flows through your veins, Sire?” With a huff, Andrew cuffed him lightly over the head,careful to avoid the bump. “Idiot,” he muttered, already tilting his head to offerNicholas better access to his neck. Nicholas let out a quiet hum that deepened when his lipssettled at the crook of Andrew’s shoulder. Resting a hand atthe back of his neck, Andrew squeezed lightly in guise ofinvitation. The pain of fangs splitting Andrew’s skin was assharp, as brief as that cut from the razor. Nicholas’ handsclutched Andrew’s shoulders, squeezing to the pace of hisswallows. With each mouthful of blood he took, Nicholas’cock was growing thicker against Andrew’s thigh, andAndrew’s cock responded in kind.
It was unavoidable… one night, Jacob confronts his first demon sword in hand. “Jacob,” Nicholas said urgently. “You’re not ready. This isn’t a game or training anymore. I don’t want you to—” “I don’t want you to get hurt any more than you already are,” Jacob said, and bit back the question of how hurt they were exactly. There was blood on both of Nicholas’ legs where his pants were in tatters, so dark it seemed black, and blood matted Andrew’s hair, too. His eyes were closed, and Jacob had to remind himself that of course there was no heartbeat for him to hear—no heartbeat but his own and the demon’s, that was. And the demon had finally made up its mind and was skittering toward the ax. Jacob firmed his hold on the hilt of his sword and stepped forward, ignoring Nicholas’ words of caution. He could do this. He had been training for years for this. And besides, the demon was already wounded.
As he graduates from high school, Jacob knows where he is headed in life. Other things, on the other hand, are more difficult to figure out… With a glance at the door to check that it was stillclosed, he pulled the drawer open until he could reach tothe very back, behind boxers and undershirts. The box ofcondoms was still there, where he had shoved it after hisfather and he had had The Talk. He’d thought about that box since—thought aboutopening it and making use of what it held—but there’dnever been a right time, and in any case, he wasn’t in anyhurry. Whenever Kirsten was ready would be fine. Hewasn’t sure why Nicholas seemed so certain that they haddone it but he definitely wasn’t going to ask. He wasn’tgoing to ask either why Nicholas assumed they would doit on prom night. Although if he was totally honest with himself, Jacobhad thought about it. Twirling the box between his fingers, he wondered ifKirsten had thought about it too. How was he supposed toknow when she was ready? For that matter, how was hesupposed to tell her he was?
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