My husband John was the first. He told me he worked away sometimes. One week per month he worked out of head office. The time away sometimes started mid-week, but he said it was about contacts overseas, so I never really questioned it even when I didn't hear a word from John during those days.
I was unpacking his bag one time and found some of his clothes in rags. Frightened for him, I asked what had happened. He fobbed me off with an excuse about a drunken night out and a prank that got out of hand. Next time he was due to go away, he invited me to tag along.
“Come on, let's ask your mother to have the kids. I could treat you to a few nights out, maybe a special meal. It'll be like when we first met.” He curled my hair round his finger. “We might even think about working on a new family member whilst we're away.”
So I left the children at my parents' house and tagged along with him, my best frocks packed for a week of luxury. We booked into a country hotel. He said he had something special to show me.
We strolled hand-in-hand around the grounds as the shadows grew long and the dusk came on. I felt closer to him than I ever had. As it finally fell dark, we arrived at a shingle beach accessible only by the small path we had walked. This must be it, I thought, as clouds moved from the moon and it's full light shone on the water. But I was wrong.
John's hand grew hot and changed as I held it. He was twitchy and made croaks in his throat. I was scared as he continued to croak and twitch, then fell to the floor. As he writhed, his croaks turned to moans and yowls. His body grew hairs and his nails grew into claws. His jaw stretched and formed a muzzled. I wanted to look away but the sight of my husband morphing into an animal before me stopped me.
When he was a full werewolf, he stopped moving. His face snarled at me and he growled. Then he pounced. He bit me and, well you know what that means.
So for a long time we both went away every month, hiding out in caves and remote barns until the phase passed and we could join our family again. I think my parents enjoyed it and the children certainly enjoyed their time away. It was all going so well.
Then James hit 12 and it started to go wrong.
John talked about how we could bring him with us, and Jenny. We could be a proper family all the time. No secrets and no worrying about babysitters. He said James was a perfect age and Jenny was a bit young but she would grow up with her heritage. Just a small nip for them both he said. It'd hardly hurt and then we'd be together forever.
I think it was the forever that did it. As a parent you always want better for your children than you had for yourself. There are some good bits to this life of ours, but it's more a curse than a blessing. I couldn't see my children facing this forever. I won't let him turn my James and Jenny. And I can't risk one day I might think it's a good idea too.
So this time I've packed 2 silver bullets.