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It was a dark and stormy night (no, really!)

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"There's something I've always wondered," Alexis says, approaching his bookshelf. Rick glances up at her, frowns at the look on her face before returning to the plot he's working on.

"What's that?"

She pulls out one of his books, flipping through the pages. "This one - Dark are the Nights?"

Rick winces. "You mean the sci-fi/fantasy novel I wrote in my pre-bestseller days that flopped like a half-dead fish?"

Alexis laughs. "Like a deck full, from what I remember."

He stops typing. "You weren't even alive when I wrote that one. How -"


"Ah." Making a face at his screen, he deletes a few lines, and starts typing again. "So," he says, "what about it?"

"Besides the fact that it's nothing like your normal writing, I've always wondered about the dedication." She flips to the page, smooths it down, and in a deep, dramatic Dad-impression reads, "To JW and sons, for opening my eyes." Returning to her normal voice, she asks, "Opening your eyes to what?"

Rick keeps typing, but the clicking sounds grow more infrequent as he comes to a gradual stop. He licks his lips absently, remembering.

He was young, curious, and always getting into trouble. Or so Mother said - Rick was of the belief that she had no room to speak, being worse than him on every front but one. But hey, age isn't everything. Still, the warehouse he noticed on the bad side of the river wouldn't have caught his attention if it wasn't for the pair of teenage boys taking a bunch of huge knives inside. They didn't look like they were gangsters, so something interesting had to be going down. There was nothing to do but follow them in.

What he saw in there was - god, he still hardly believes it. Suffice it to say neither Stephanie Meyer nor Anne Rice has it right. Rick nearly watched the entire thing without making a sound, except the last one was closer to him than he'd thought, and the blood spray from his - its? - jugular went just about everywhere. He couldn't help it; no one could. He defies anyone else to get vampire blood on their face and not scream.

It wasn't one of the teens who found him, but their dad - John, his name was John - and Rick only managed to get him to explain everything when he threatened to go to the police with their real names if he didn't. And then John explained everything. And it was -

"Dad?" Alexis is starting to stare.

Rick coughs. "Well, that story is a little -"

She sighs. "You'll tell me when I'm older?"

"Yeah, let's go with that."