Robert tipped his head to the side, ever so slightly. Then he stepped off the tree limb and landed on the earth. Beth couldn’t help but notice the gracefulness with which he completed the action. She found herself likening this man, this predator, to a tiger, or a leopard; graceful, lithe, powerful and – Beth had to admit – very attractive. And of course, extremely dangerous. She recalled a moment earlier in the day, when Alex had said that Robert was impulsive and reckless, never thinking plans through.
“’Things’?” Robert asked, quoting her.
“Why does Catalin hate you so much?” Beth asked, folding her arms around herself to keep warm.
“She likes to pretend,” Robert said.
“What do you mean?”
“Has my brother told you about blood bonds? The sharing of blood between two vampires?”
“He mentioned it once.”
Robert’s eyebrows shot up. “He told you? I would have thought him too scared to tell you. Would you like to know more about them?”
Beth nodded slowly. She did want to know, but how much of what he was about to tell her would be true?
“A blood bond, between vampires, is pure. Purer than any human love. Such a connection is only achieved through the sharing of blood.”
“What does a... blood bond do? What’s it for?” Beth asked.
“Well, it connects the two vampires, mentally. Meaning true telepathy is achievable. Where vampires can tell the nature of human thoughts, we cannot hear them. And certainly not another vampire’s, except with a blood bond or with your sire. Catalin and I have one such connection. So do Catalin and her brother, now I come to think of it.”
“If you wish to know the answer to that, you’ll have to ask Catalin what happened the night that the blue frog sang.” A small, knowing smile spread across his lips. It was gone before Beth had even a chance to think about it.
“‘The night that the blue frog sang’?” Beth asked doubtfully.
“If she wishes to answer, she will. But I will not tell you.”
“Why do you not call Alex by his name?”
“I wasn’t aware this was a night of interrogation,” Robert said jokingly, without a hint of malice or cruelty.
“I won’t force you to answer,” Beth said quickly, not wanting to offend him.
“No, I will answer your question, though it may require more explaining on my brother’s behalf,” Robert said cryptically. He leant back against the tree and crossed his arms. “Well, as I’m sure you know I turned Catalin, who turned our brother. But before that, while we were all still human with no clue that vampires existed, there was a girl. She was one of my sister’s personal maids, her second favourite. She was beautiful. Her straight strawberry blonde hair, her light brown eyes... I thought I loved her. I wanted to propose to her but, of course, I wouldn’t have been allowed. The shame; Prince Roberto marrying a common maid.
“So, I gave up hope. I rebelled against my father and my professors—”
“Professors? How old were you?” Beth interrupted.