Beth was sat on the sofa at Alex’s house. Except, Alex was out. He’d been gone for a while according to Catalin. Catalin was sat in front of the fire, staring into the flames.
“Cat?” Beth asked.
“Hm?” she responded.
Beth hesitated, unsure of whether to say anything. “What happened the night that the blue frog sang?”
Catalin froze. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yes, you do.”
“Who told you about that? You’ve spoken to Robert, haven’t you?”
“Don’t tell Alex,” Beth said by way of agreement.
Catalin smiled. “I won’t.” She turned around to face her. “The blue frog...” Catalin said contemplatively. She said it as though it deserved capital letters.
“Well, if you know about The Blue Frog, I take it you know about the blood bond.” Beth nodded. “Alex doesn’t, so this conversation never goes any further than us. Okay?” Beth nodded again. “Well, the night that The Blue Frog sang. What a night that was. We were in France at the time. The year was 1853. It was the middle of July. Alex and I had an argument, so I stormed out of the apartment we were renting in Nice. I ended up in a tavern, a pub, called The Blue Frog. I don’t know why it was called that.
“I paid for a room, just for the night. And Robert was there too. He was as shocked to see me as I was to see him. He hadn’t followed us. We got talking, sat down at one of the tables. Somehow we ended up in his room. We talked a little more and then... he kissed me and—well, I’m sure you can work out what happened after that.”
“But... aren’t you technically siblings?” Beth asked, slightly shocked.
“To vampires, family doesn’t matter. To me, it doesn’t matter that Alex and I are related. It’s just that he’s my best friend. It doesn’t matter that Robert and I are related, not in our opinions anyway.”
“Okay... But why ‘the night that The Blue Frog sang’?”
“Well, there was a singer downstairs and her voice echoed through the wood of the building. Through the actual wood. It sounded as if the inn was singing.”
“So, is it what you imagined? The story?”
“No,” Beth said simply.
“I should think not, no.”
The girls were silent for a long time.
“Robert took me home last night,” Beth said quietly.
“He told me not to invite him in.”
“Robert will always keep his word, no matter what. It could be seen as a serious fault.”
“He doesn’t seem like the monster Alex has told me about.”
“You saw him yesterday, when Mr Ashfield was here. I was in my room upstairs. I heard everything. Robert wanted to kill him so badly. But he couldn’t, because he promised. The anger, the hatred that was bubbling inside his mind... Beth, Robert has slaughtered entire villages. He’s killed so many people. Where do you think he gets his powers from? Human essence.”
“No buts. He’s dangerous, Beth. I won’t tell you to stay away from him, but be careful, okay? For Alex’s sake if not for your own.”
Beth nodded. She was just going to completely ignore Catalin, and she knew that Catalin knew that too. Catalin rolled her eyes.