Alex nodded, studying the sheets of paper before him. “Robert, where did you get these? I can’t imagine this is the sort of stuff they have in the library.”
“Well, little brother, it was simply a matter of breaking and entering, without the breaking,” Robert said vaguely, with a knowing smirk.
“Care to elaborate?” Cat asked.
“I stole them. From a certain Mr Stuart’s study...”
“You broke into Beth’s house?” Alex exclaimed, and worried for a moment that he’d woken Beth. There was no noise coming from upstairs.
“I told you: without the breaking. All the windows were open; it was just choosing the right one. I didn’t particularly want to be caught. A large raven inside a house could be seen as odd, especially when it’s rummaging through files.”
Alex sighed exasperatedly and shook his head. What else had he expected from his older brother? Roberto Vittorio Amadeus Giuseppe Emanuele di Savoia had never been renowned for honest methods of getting what he wanted, whether it was blackmail, larceny, fraud or robbery. Robert smirked, clearly getting the gist of Alex’s thoughts.
“What does it matter?” Catalin asked, turning her laptop off. “We got the information we needed, let’s move on from how it was acquired.”
“Thank you, Catalin,” Robert said. “Now, you can sit here and search through that list if you wish, but I’m going to check how Beth is.”
“I’ll go with you,” Alex said, getting up.
“I can handle it,” Robert said, holding his hands up in the air before going up the stairs.
Robert silently opened the door to Beth’s room. She was lying with her back to the door. Robert could hear her heart racing, but that could have just been part of her illness. He walked further into the room, shutting the door to. He gently brushed Beth’s arm with the tips of his fingers. She jumped and looked up at him.
“God, Robert, you scared me,” she said quietly, her heart going even faster than before.
“Sorry, I thought you were asleep, tesorina. How are you?” he asked softly.
“The headache’s getting worse.”
“Do you want something to eat? Something to drink?”
She shook her head gently. “What... What would it entail, drinking vampire blood?”
Robert’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. He hadn’t expected her to ask that.
“Well, drinking straight from the vampire is the most common method of taking blood.”
“But that’s dangerous.”
“Believe it or not, there are those of us who do this sort of thing willingly on a day-to-day basis.”
“Are you one of those?” she asked. She started to pull herself up into a sitting position. When Robert started to protest, she just put her hand on his arm and gently pulled him down to sit beside her.
“A long time ago, but not anymore,” Robert said in answer to her question.
“Well, one of my friends dared me to work in a hospital for six months, in 1799. Of course, this was when the answer to everything was to cut off the affected limb with a blunt saw.”
“I took on their dare. One day, towards the end, a newly married man came in, seriously ill, with his young bride. She was horrified, she begged me to save her husband. I did the best I could, but he was seriously deteriorating. So I fed him some of my blood. And he still died, but he became a vampire. So I had to kill him. And I became very, very ill.”