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A Dawn of Strength(A Shade of Vampire,Book 14)(19) by Bella Forrest

“Baby,” I whispered into her ear, closing my hands gently around her fingers. “Please let me go. I can’t protect you or our child while I’m a human. And your brother needs all the help he can get.”

Breathing out sharply, she ran her fingers through my hair and pulled me down for another long, hungry kiss.

“Okay,” she said finally. “Just, please… be careful.”

I pressed my lips against her forehead, then, lowering myself to my knees, I kissed her stomach through her dress. I stood up again, looking into her eyes one last time before backing away and hurrying out of the chamber.

It was with a heavy heart that I exited the Black Heights, escorted by Kyle, and began to consider whom to approach to turn me back into a vampire.

For now, our honeymoon was over.

Chapter 14: Rose

After we’d locked up the humans securely in the Black Heights, it was time for Caleb and me to deal with those who’d opted to turn into vampires. I hadn’t been able to count how many had chosen this route as they were leaving the clearing, but when we arrived in the town square, I was surprised by the number. There were just over a dozen in total. I’d have thought more would take this opportunity to turn.

Still, this was a lot of new vampires to handle. Although they were often harmless for the first few hours as the transformation took hold, and normally just needed to be locked up in a room with a bed until their fangs started to poke through, Caleb and I would need help in carrying all these people somewhere safe, and then at least three vampires ought to stay with them to make sure their turning went smoothly.

I stayed with the humans while Caleb ran back into the woods in search of help. He returned a few minutes later with five vampire guards and, to my surprise, Griffin. They approached me and looked over the humans.

“We need to find the best place to do this,” I murmured. “It has to be somewhere they won’t get in the way, but they also need to be safe.”

“We could just do it in one of the penthouses,” Griffin said. “Mine, even. My parents are in the council meeting, but I’m sure they won’t mind.”

“Okay,” I said, glancing at Caleb. “Let’s do this.”

We hurried to Griffin’s treehouse with the humans. As we walked through the front door, the humans stood huddled nervously in the center of the living room.

“Let’s hurry,” I said. I looked at the humans. “You all know how this works by now, right?”

They nodded, although they didn’t look any less anxious.

“So, who wants to go first? Seven of you, please step forward.”

“Wait, Rose,” Griffin said. “I can help look after them, but I’d rather not turn anyone. I’m still a young vampire myself.”

“Okay,” I said impatiently. “Six of you.”

Six humans shuffled forward after a moment’s pause.

“You can just lie down on the floor,” Griffin said. “We have a bunch of spare bedrooms, though not enough to hold all of you. Some will have to share.”

The humans lay down on the floor before the vampires. I stood next to Caleb as he knelt down before the young man, Nolan, who’d chosen him as his turner. I’d never actually witnessed a turning close up before, so I watched with morbid fascination as Caleb took a deep breath and leant toward Nolan’s throat. Groans sounded around the room as each of the vampires sank their fangs into flesh.

When Caleb surfaced, his mouth dripping with blood, his eyes appeared darker than I was used to. I hurried into the kitchen and grabbed a roll of tissues. Ripping one off, I walked back to him and wiped down his mouth. He staggered back and leaned against the wall, staring at Nolan, who was beginning to writhe on the floor.

Griffin walked up to Nolan and, picking him up, carried him off toward one of the spare bedrooms.

I frowned at Caleb. “Are you okay?” I asked.

He nodded.

Once all the turning humans had been carried out of the living room, we had to start turning more. This time, it was a middle-aged woman named Roxanne whom Caleb ended up digging his fangs into. As he drew away, he had the same expression on his face—almost shocked at what he’d just done.

When the rest of the humans were being carried away, I caught his hand and squeezed it. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m okay, Rose. I just haven’t turned a human in a while. To infect someone with this curse… it’s a strange feeling.”

We didn’t have time to discuss it further as Griffin and the guards returned to the room. I was just glad for the reassurance that Caleb was all right.

“We’ll stay with them here,” Griffin said.

“Okay,” I said. “Caleb and I need to go. I told my father we’d meet him in the Great Dome after we finished with the humans.”

We bade farewell and hurried down to the forest ground. I climbed onto Caleb’s back and he was about to launch into a sprint when I caught sight of Xavier hurrying our way.

“Hold on, Caleb… Uncle?”

“I heard there’s a mass turning going on?” Xavier said. His face was pale, his lips dry and cracked.

“Yes, we just came from there. Up in Griff’s place. You’re going to turn?”

He nodded grimly as he looked up toward Griffin and his parents’ penthouse. “I’ll see you later then,” he said, walking toward the elevator.

As Caleb and I continued on our way toward the Dome, I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would take Xavier to return to his normal self. Since this wasn’t his first time turning into a vampire, I assumed that the transition would be easier and he wouldn’t have to wait long before he was in control of himself.