A group of people stood near the limo. About ten plain clothed men waited at the bottom of the stairs. As I stepped onto solid ground, they flanked me on either side. I presumed them to be my new bodyguards. I walked slowly toward Paul who stood beside the limo, his face like granite. A loud cheer caused me to look beyond. I’d not noticed the large crowd behind the wire fence. Many of them were waving small national flags.

Paul took a few steps toward me as I approached, his eyes like chips of ice. I felt his antipathy and I heard his troubled, angry thoughts. The wintery smile he displayed did not reach his eyes. It was fake, just like everything else about him. Holding his arms out wide, I walked into his embrace and stood stiffly while he made a big show of welcoming his supposed long lost son. His vampire scent was overpowering. I was glad when he let go. Taking my hand in his he raised our arms and pulled me to face the crowd. Another loud cheer broke loose.

An adorable little girl with blonde curls and big blue eyes, about five years old, walked shyly toward me carrying a bouquet of magnolias and roses. She curtsied and held the bouquet out to me. I crouched down and took the flowers from her, then lifted her onto my arm. “What is your name?” I asked. She was cute as a button.

“My name is Amy. What’s yours?”

“I’m Joshua. Thank you for the beautiful flowers. Did you pick them?”

She giggled. “No, silly. They are from the flower shop.”

I laughed and felt like clasping her warm little body to my chest. It was my first bodily contact with someone outside the science building, and a little one at that. It caused a strange sensation within me, a longing to have a child I could call my own. For just a split second, I inhaled her scent, the aroma of young fresh blood. Though I didn’t need to drink blood, I could scent it easily. I quickly set her down on the ground, kissed her little hand and watched her run back to her parents.

I got into the limousine. Paul joined me. That, I had not expected. The doors closed and I was alone with him. The limo, followed by two others, slowly drove off the field. Men marched next to it until we left the airport and headed toward the palace.

Paul sat opposite me, his icy gaze fixated on my face. I shifted uncomfortably. “I know you hate me, but remember, I didn’t ask for any of this,” I finally said.

“I’ve had the temptation to have you terminated many times.”

I didn’t let on that I knew that, often having picked up his murderous thoughts. “So what stopped you?”

“You’re right, what stopped me. I hate you with a passion that’s almost akin to love. I can’t kill you or have you killed. That time, when I finally visited you, I had all the intentions of killing you myself.”

“Again, why didn’t you?”

“You’re part of me. It would be like killing myself. You’re the son I could never have, yet you’re not my child. You weren’t born of the woman I loved more than life itself. You’re a product of technology, of science. But a product that is a duplicate of me, except for a few differences to make you look more authentic. You have Juliette’s eyes and hair. It would be like harming her.”

I have a soul, I thought, while you’re soulless and an icy monster. Yes, a monster, even if you can’t kill me. I could feel no love for this man, but like Paul, I couldn’t hurt him and I had no idea yet how to stop his murderous escapades, his killing, without harming him. I wondered silently if his resolve not to try to kill me would remain.

Paul continued, while studying my face, trying to read my thoughts. “You’re going to take over where I left off. You’re going to lead my life, the life I’ve built for so many years. You’re going to rule my island. Mine, not yours.”

“Paul, you have to be reasonable. Think about it, you’ll live for hundreds of years, maybe more than a thousand if no harm befalls you. It would be impossible to explain to the people how their king can live that long. You couldn’t reign forever. You finally have your deepest wish now. You’re free to roam the world.”

“And how would you know my deepest wishes?” Paul asked, frowning.

I was silent for a few moments while I thought. Then I made the decision to tell him. What could he do to me now? “You forget, I’m you. I’m a vampire. I can read your thoughts. I know everything about you.” There, it was out, now he finally knew.

His face turned into a mask of fury. “A Vampire?” he shouted.

His voice was hoarse, his face distorted with anger. I thought he’d explode.